By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
How realistic is it to get a great chest workout with very little weight?
I’m talking about those moments when the gym isn’t an option OR you work out at home with your own equipment (and you don’t have very much of it).
The good news is it’s actually very realistic to intensely work out with limited weights. You just need to be pointed in the right direction.
Even if the only equipment you have for working out is a lousy 80-100 pounds of plate weight, a barbell and a pathetic flat exercise bench (rust is optional).
Listen, after 25 years of working out I still like doing bench presses big time like most guys. Throwing 225 lbs around for reps is fun but that isn’t gonna fly with nothing more than a measly 100 pounds of iron and a barbell in your garage.
But we all need to start somewhere and frankly most guys training from home don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on heavy duty racks and tons of weight. I totally get that.
So what would you do if you were limited on equipment?
Well, as I said, you do have options. Here is what I would do with that so called “worthless” 100 pounds and a barbell for hammering those pecs, shoulders and triceps.
Micro-Burst Chest Workout
For a period of three months and twice per week on non-consecutive days do flat barbell bench presses with the 100 pounds for no more than two sets; do as many reps as possible.
Here are some bullet points for you in part one of this workout:
- 90 days
- 2x per week on NON-consecutive days
- No More than Two Sets
- Rep until failure
The key is to always try to do more reps in each workout!
In other words, don’t settle for less than one additional rep each set per workout. Rest two to three minutes between the first and second set.
Upon completion of the second set strip the bar completely of all poundage and position it securely on the floor. If you must, use some type of wedge on either side of the collars to keep the bar from moving or rolling under you.
Get into a regular push-up position and grasp the bar with your regular bench press hand spacing. Now do two sets of bodyweight push-ups only for as many reps as possible.
Again, mimic the instruction given for the barbell bench press. Do as many reps as possible on each set and try to desperately add one additional rep to each set each workout.
You will experience a tremendous pump from this micro-burst chest workout but even better, at the end of three months, you will hold most of the previous gain factor on your 225 bench press reps. You may even make an increase in poundage or reps with 225 lbs.
I’m using 225 lbs as a bench mark since it’s such a common poundage used across the country for testing etc.
NOTE: It’s always recommended to hit a gym occasionally even if you work out at home most of the time. The gym gives you an opportunity to do more sub-maximal or maximal weight lifting safely which actually needs to be done here and there if strength is important to you.
There’s just no good replacement for testing yourself with 80-90% of your 1 rep max.
Remember, as long as you’re ‘properly’ destroying your body with light to moderate weights, it’s amazing how much strength you can retain when you go back to heavier weights intermittently.
By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
Here is a Super Circuit Leg Workout that a six-time Mrs. Olympia revealed to the viewers on her ESPN Body Shaping TV show, many years ago. Any guesses?
Her name is Cory Everson and she had some of the best legs you ever saw.
Anyway, I know what you’re thinking so let me explain.
Normally I wouldn’t dig out something from the past from a 1980’s ESPN TV show but it was so tortuous, so cruel and so insane, I just had to!
Once you see it, you will understand why I had to share this crazy leg workout with you. It will rid you of your miserable flabby legs (just kidding) once and for all and be one of the most demanding leg routines you’ve done in recent history or ever.
Now all you have to do is stay away from the Big Mac’s, French Fries and Sodas. On to the workout…
The following eight progressive-resistance exercises are performed in the order they are listed. This is a non-stop circuit for 20 full range of motion reps each. Rest for two minutes only after a circuit is completed. Try to take only 10-20 seconds between exercises to keep yourself from resting too much. Like I said, this is NOT for beginners.
Do three circuits total and good luck walking normally the rest of the day.
- Alternate Front Leg Lunges – 20 reps
- Cory’s Dynamic Leg Lunge – 20 reps (explained below)
- Bodyweight Only Single Leg Calf Raise – 20 reps
- Barbell Frog Squats – 20 reps (explained below)
- Machine Leg Extensions – 20 reps
- Machine Leg Curls – 20 reps
- Barbell Back Squats – 20 reps
- Step-Ups – 20 reps
Step-ups are performed on a sturdy exercise bench or wooden box. The vertical measurement of these items should be in corresponding ration to your physical height. If you are:
Under 5-foot (Use a box 12-inches in height)
5’1”-5’3” (Use a box 14-inches in height)
5’4”-5’9” (Use a box 16-inches in height)
5’10”-6’ (Use a box 18-inches in height)
Over 6-foot (Use a box 20-inches in height)
The amount of progressive resistance used on each exercise will vary depending on individual differences. Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of this program. It is very demanding. This is an excellent program for men and women alike who are interested in shape-training the total leg, without acquiring additional muscle bulk and power.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot.
Here’s How to do Cory’s Dynamic Leg Lunge and a Brief Tutorial on Frog Squats
Cory does an unusual version of the front leg lunge in which she reverses the procedure by stepping backward with the rear leg first. In other words, to lead with the left leg she first steps backward with the right, keeping it as straight as possible while still allowing the front left thigh to become parallel to the floor.
Give it a try and see what you think. If you’re confused or having difficulty with it, default to a standard alternating reverse lunge.
Just to be perfectly clear, Frog Squats are super challenging and not intended for guys and gals with knee issues.
First, you must drop DEEP into squat position. I’m talking ATG style.
Once you’re down as low as you can go, only raise up your butt while staying down in the bottom of the squat. This is like holding the bottom of a super deep squat for time but with movement of the hips which slightly extends the knee but not that much because your thighs only come up to parallel with the floor. There are many videos on YouTube showing this exercise so do a quick search if you must.
Enjoy and don’t blame me for rubbery legs the next few days…I warned you!
By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
Below you will find three Q&As shedding some light on effective calf training, calorie consumption for hardgainers and 3 quick tips helping guys to reach the Alpha Zone.
25-15-10 Calf Blast
Q) People laugh whenever I roll up my pant legs. Ah, let me explain. Like everybody else in bodybuilding, I have been neglecting my calves or they just won’t grow so I skip them and they are really undersized so I am thinking that I really need to give them the attention they deserve. I don’t want to spend a ton of time on them so can you come up with a short and sweet calf routine for me?
A) So you want a short and sweet calf routine! Okay, how about this. It is called the 25-15-10 extended set technique.
While doing the standing calf machine, do 25 full range of motion reps (from the bottom stretch to the top peak contraction) doing each one in a slow and deliberate manner, stretching at the bottom and squeezing and contracting at the top.
Upon completion of the 25th rep and without any rest what-so-ever begin doing 15 Super-Fast Speed Reps in the high one-quarter to one-third range of the movement.
These partial reps will appear almost bouncy in nature. Once you have completed the 15 reps and again without rest finish off with a final 10 full range of motion reps in super-slow fashion.
This completes one cycle. Do 3 cycles. On the 25 and 15 rep phase of the cycle stretch the calves at the bottom of every 5th rep for approximately 10-15 seconds. The 3 cycles of this calf blast should be performed 3 nonconsecutive training days per week.
Blender Magic for HARD-gainers
Q) I need to pound down some extra calories each day and up to now I have been buying those convenient ready-to-drink shakes at the gym but they can get really expensive especially when I need 2-3 or more of them a day. I don’t have a clue about making my own protein/gain weight shakes home so I’d like to know what you recommend.
A) The GORILLA BIG BULK WEIGHT GAIN DRINK FORMULA will give you some extra calories and compared to the ready-to-drink shakes it isn’t that expensive.
2 cups non-fat milk
2 tbsp. peanut butter
2 raw eggs
2 scoops of quality ice cream (as natural as possible)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. 100% egg protein
8 tbsp. powdered milk
Mix ingredients in a blender at high speed for 20 seconds and drink entire amount twice daily or more in addition to regular meals.
Alpha Zone Training Tip from Vince Gironda
Q) Vince is better known as the Iron Guru and celebrity trainer of the stars. Anyway, a person wrote to him years ago in a Muscle Mag issue and said that he could normally do a 10 rep maximum in the barbell squat with 250 pounds but in a recent workout he did 18 reps.
He went on to say that he was able to only do it for one workout and then he was back to the same old 250 pounds for 10 reps.
He was curious as to why his squats were so exceptional for one workout only. Gironda answered and said it had something to do with going into an Alpha Zone, where the mental and physical powers merged to optimize normal strength levels once in a lifetime.
Can You Explain in More Detail Exactly What Gironda was Talking About?
A) The Alpha Zone theory that Vince mentioned represents to me a number of conclusive factors.
First, the muscles involved in the squatting process must be fully recovered from say a previous workout. Without maximum rest and recovery, you’re never going to get everything your muscles have to offer.
Second, the motor nerve pathways to the muscles are heightened or very well established through a tremendous mind-muscle link. You are not merely the muscle; you have become the muscle. We’ve talked about this relationship in part articles. The Mind-Muscle or Mind-Body connection must be so strong that the two actually become one.
And third, there is a very strong psychological motivation to perform (perhaps you are functioning in an environment where friends you want to impress are around that normally aren’t) and as a result you are either “enjoying the pain” or have “turned it off” as you go far beyond your previous best maximum repetition set ever.
It’s the culmination of these three factors that gives a lifter or powerbuilder that supreme effect when hoisting the heavy iron. Suffice it to say, I don’t have a firm understanding of Alpha Zone training yet and I doubt many others do either. Vince was way ahead of his time and we are still learning from him years after his death.
By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN
Could a guy on a deserted island get buff? Is that even possible without weights?
Most powerlifters and bodybuilders would argue that ONLY free weights can deliver ultimate muscle mass and strength. Frankly, it’s hard to disagree with that assessment.
However, contrary to that opinion, there are several factors that indicate that muscles can come from body weight movements alone without the need for heavy equipment.
One thing to always remember is that muscles respond to external forces much the same way. Muscles do not know if you’re bench pressing a heavy bar or you’re explosively doing plyo push-ups. The key is to provide a stimulus requiring the muscles to respond and the more muscle fibers (more about those later) you can recruit at once, the better it is for muscle growth.
While attaining a monster 1RM is a remarkable measure of overall strength and muscularity, we must also remember that men hundreds of years ago developed large, powerful muscles without stepping foot into the gym. They did so by living a life of survival. A life that required them to be strong in many different ways in order to hunt, build shelter and defend themselves from animals (or other people).
That’s not to say free weights aren’t awesome and highly encouraged. Bang those plates around gentlemen and spend plenty of time doing compound exercises that work the entire muscular system.
But remember that the body can be its own BEST free weight. And sometimes that kind of resistance training can provide all the stimulus we need to gain muscle mass, burn calories, lose body fat and do so without as much concern for injury and tissue damage.
Take for example the Pull-up. It not only works nearly every muscle in the upper body but it provides maximal response due to the nature of the exercise. The body is completely suspended forcing the laws of physics to work their magic against you.
The pull-up can mesmerize people and for that reason, you see plenty of guys NOT doing them. For men who are lean and have a low body weight, they are capable of astonishing things on a pull-up bar. This is precisely why the military uses it as one of their most important measures of strength and conditioning. Even if you’re big and strong, you may only get 3 or 4 reps due to your body weight.
For the guy on the deserted island, doing pull-ups in order to survive may be a daily requirement. By the way, this imaginary island came equipped with many coconut palm trees for him to climb. His need to be not only good but great at climbing and pulling his body up could be a life or death situation. A guy like this would have very large back muscles along with superior strength in his arms and that’s just one exercise.
3 Key Concepts that Make Body Weight Training so Effective
#1 Manipulation of Time under Tension
#3 Body Position and Placement
Now, there are other variables that can determine the “intensity” and thoroughness of your training but let’s focus on these three common ones.
Key #1: Time under Tension or (TUT)
Time under Tension or (TUT) is simply the amount of time you load your muscles during an exercise. A body weight squat can take 3 seconds to complete or 10 seconds depending on how slowly you perform a repetition.
Something as simple as pausing at the bottom of the exercise for 5 seconds can make a set of 10 reps significantly harder and much more effective. This principle can be implemented in so many capacities and there are so many examples that could be mentioned to demonstrate how valuable a tool this is but for now we will stick to the squat example.
Key #2: Speed
The Speed in which we perform our body weight exercises also determines quite a bit about our body’s response to the exercise. When we do a push-up slow and controlled, we recruit a certain amount of muscle tissue (fibers) to help us move through the exercise. However, if we go from doing a standard push-up to something a bit more explosive like a clap push-up, the response is different.
The clap push-up is one of many variations of the household gem that has measured a man’s strength for generations. When performing a clap push-up, the body must accelerate and decelerate along with providing enough explosive force to lift the body high enough to allow for the hands to come together and then go back into the original push-up position. Because of that additional element, we have forced ourselves to do the exercise faster which recruited more muscle fibers to get the job done.
The stimulus or message to the muscles was so strong and so intense that the body reacted with greater force to get the job done.
It’s no different than if you had to build a house in 3 months or in 3 weeks. The ONLY thing that would change would be the number of people helping to complete the task. A group of 10 men with the right skill level may be able to complete a home in 3 months-time whereas a workforce of 30 men may be able to complete the same task in only 3 weeks. You RECRUITED more people to get the job done faster.
The body is no different and this concept goes for any exercise done faster and more explosively. The element of speed is a very powerful strength tool.
Key #3: Body Position and Placement
Lastly, Body Position and Placement can also provide effective ways of building muscle and strength. Let’s look at the basic crunch exercise for the abdominals as one example. The standard crunching motion is simply flexing the spine and demanding the abdominal wall to contract raising the upper body (shoulder blades) off the floor.
Taking that same exercise and adding in a twist as you near the top of the movement can make a basic exercise more challenging. Why? Because you’ve added a dimension of rotation which requires more muscle to be stimulated which equals more work for the body. This goes back to muscle recruitment.
The more muscle we recruit at one time, the more effective and powerful we become. This also helps to fatigue our bodies faster which often times is the intended goal with a workout program.
Here is one more example to help with the placement element. When doing a plank exercise in a prone position with arms extended (like the start of a push-up) we must fire several muscle groups to maintain good posture. The level of muscle contraction for this would be considered low to medium for such an exercise. But, if you removed one point of contact with the floor, the level of intensity would drastically increase causing the body to respond differently.
With the right arm now extended straight out overhead (as if to shake hands with someone) you have now forced the legs, abs, planted arm, chest, back and shoulder muscles to work a lot harder. The once easy to hold 4-point plank has now become a 3-point plank causing the muscles to react with stronger, tighter contractions and the overall workload to improve considerably.
Implementing more body weight training into your workout program can pay off and be a well-deserved break from all of that free weight training. By manipulating the 3 variables mentioned, you can go from having a light high rep therapeutic workout to something far more intense demanding the body to work significantly harder. The choice is yours.
By Chris Wilson, CPT author Anabolic AfterGrowth
Growing up I always wanted to be BIGGER like my older brothers. I mean, they were monsters compared to my little 9 year old butt. They had a 5 year head start on muscle building and puberty helped too!
Like most juveniles, I began lifting with those old school rusty free weights in our garage. I had NO IDEA what I was doing but I was getting stronger all the same.
By High School, my football buddies and I spent quite a bit of time benching but we had absolutely no programming or lifting cycles to track our strength gains. We had zero direction in the gym and without question, our form and technique was pathetic.
But, we continued to show up and bench (and curl) A LOT until we could barely move. I guess that was how we measured our success.
While going to college I began learning HOW to be a diehard lifter with some level of skill. Like most 18 year old guys, I wanted huge muscles, to be a monster in the gym and to impress the ladies at the same time. I was super dedicated and some would say a little overboard with my training habits but I loved the way I felt with my swollen muscles after 2 hours+ of crushing it in the gym just about every night (when I wasn’t tending bar or goofing off playing video games).
The ladies seemed to like it too, so of course that influenced my desire to get to the gym and bench my brains out!
I laugh now because I was neglecting some of the key lifts that would have truly sky-rocketed my results but I was seeing decent gains on the bench and getting bigger arms, so nobody was going to steal away my thunder and drive to gaining muscle mass.
But of course, things change.
After college, I worked for World Gym in Connecticut and was exposed to all kinds of bodybuilders and powerlifters and finally started to realize the error of my ways. I was so focused on gaining a stronger chest and larger biceps (like most 20 year olds), that I totally missed the boat on the TWO mega-mass builders, Squats & Deadlifts.
I knew from High School football that squats were important to gain leg strength and become more physical but they hurt and weren’t really fun…at all. So doing them routinely was not a priority.
But working alongside some monsters who could throw around the iron gave me a whole new perspective. Every chance I got, I picked their brains while drinking my post workout protein shake. They would tell me how doing more compound lifts helped them gain crazy strength on all their lifts and they watched their muscle mass soar.
Plus, it seemed to give their body a “DENSE” quality that I just wasn’t seeing after years of hardcore training.
Needless to say, it also saved them serious time in the gym bouncing around doing isolation lift after isolation lift and barely making any noticeable progress.
I felt like a dope but it was a good lesson indeed and just the wake-up call I needed.
Legendary Muscle MASS Forged From the 3 Big Lifts
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the ultimate example of how powerlifting generated the Greatest Bodybuilder to ever grace the stage. Prior to all that fame and attention in the 1970s, Arnold was working on one thing…Getting Stronger. Guess what, it worked like magic.
In the Mid-60’s, the Austrian Oak was routinely competing in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting contests. His personal bests are quite impressive considering he is known primarily for his physique. Squat – 545 lbs., Bench Press – 440 lbs., Deadlift – 710 lbs.
It was this focus on the fundamental lifts that created “The King” of the Bodybuilding Universe. Even his best friend, Franco Columbu (pictured far right), followed this approach to bodybuilding and was a champion powerlifter and even competed in the World’s Strongest Man competition.
Implementing the ‘BIG 3’ Power Lifts & Making Gains
After a few years working for World Gym, I got an awesome job at a private training studio in a wealthy area of southwestern Connecticut and really began to apply all of this new insight into muscle development. It was here that I really saw my strength shoot up as I worked alongside gifted lifters who were much smarter and experienced than me.
We got to train young athletes in high school and college who required the BIG 3 lifts to excel in their sport along with middle aged men and young mothers who desired to get stronger and drop serious body fat. I of course applied this same approach to my own weight lifting program with amazing results.
My young, muscular body was noticeably BUZZING with the muscle building hormones that literally made me Feel Stronger on a DAILY basis.
BOOM! Within weeks of this new approach my Bench Press totals shot through the roof as I started squatting more and more weight.
I was told that focusing on leg strength would instantly improve upper body strength and I discovered that to be 100% true!
The increase in strength was undeniable and undoubtedly due to spending a majority of my time on Squats, Bench Press and Deadlifts. No combination of barbell lifts demands this magnitude of working muscles.
- Squats require all the muscles of the legs to fire along with the entire abdominal wall not to mention the upper body muscles that keep the barbell in place.
- The Bench Press targets the chest, triceps and shoulders but also engages your biggest muscles, the lats, as well as the legs creating a strong platform to bench from.
- The Deadlift is considered the most primal of all the lifts. Nothing hits all the muscles in the posterior chain better than this pulling movement.
I was routinely doing reps with 315 lbs. in the squat rack which made my bench press jump from 275 lbs. for reps to well over 300 lbs. and my body fat % was as low as it had ever been.
Without even focusing on cardio activity, my body was INCINERATING FAT at an all-time high level.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to WHAT you’re doing in the gym. Reps, sets, rest and tempo are also important aspects of your workouts but WHAT you’re doing determines your fate…good or bad. Sure, it’s fun to do some isolation training with higher reps and get all pumped up but that should be your REWARD for crushing the BIG 3 lifts.
Get really good at squatting, deadlifting and benching in the 80-90% range of your 1RM and watch your SIZE & STRENGTH explode like never before!
Click The Link Below to UNLEASH Your Anabolic Hormones…
What HOLDS men back from getting BIGGER & Stronger?
Wow, that’s a LOADED question! Let’s start with FOUR key factors holding men back from muscular greatness.
In my opinion, the first key limiting factor is Stress. Constantly putting our body through periods of stress greatly reduces our body’s ability to release natural growth hormone while at rest. It becomes the silent BURGLAR of testosterone like a thief in the night. If we honestly focus on reducing stress in our lives, we increase our body’s potential for gaining muscle mass and strength.
Another HUGE hurdle for many men in America today and the world over….TIME. There is a lack of time to squeeze everything into our super busy schedules. We try to please so many others in our lives that we often times forget to please…wait for it….OURSELVES.
Being selfish to a degree and making the time for yourself to exercise is paramount. You can’t have excuses, you must have action! Take time away from other LESS important things (TV, Internet) and make the time for the gym.
One of the most overlooked KEYS to muscle and strength are the ‘S’ word and the ‘N’ word.
Sleep & Nutrition of course…..
Why, what were you thinking I meant?
Sleep like a baby and EAT like a warrior…somebody said that once I think (me?). Getting those essential Zzzz’s at night and consuming the proper calories everyday on a consistent basis lead to a nice physique with “limited” time devoted to exercise. Imagine then if you actually follow my second KEY factor holding you back….whoa!
Lastly (and this is a BIG one), stick with LARGE, complex lifts that maximize time and muscle response. Don’t follow the teenager workout model of biceps, chest, and abs FIVE times per week and, “oops, oh yeah, I should do some Leg Presses every other Tuesday.”
C’mon man! Haven’t we learned anything by now? The more time we give to the ‘heavy-hitters’ the more we will see that reflect in the mirror and on the scale.
Devote your time to pushing and pulling with a majority of your attention on movements like squats, deadlifts, overhead press, rows, chest press and planking until your abs quiver and your knees buckle.
Follow those 4 points and results won’t just come, they will come ROARING!
What Are the Most Common Mistakes Made in the Gym Inhibiting Strength Gains?
Number one has to be too much focus on aesthetics and not enough focus on strength. The side effect of getting stronger with the right exercises is…you got it, looking good!
Most men spend far too much time curling and doing chest exercises while neglecting the posterior chain, barbell squats and other more challenging lifts.
Secondly (and I’m 100% serious) is guys taking advice from people (other guys) that don’t know what the heck they’re talking about…even if they look good. Decent genetics can fool the average guy into thinking he knows more than he does. Do your homework first and confirm that “Joe” at the gym really does know what the heck he’s talking about before following his instructions.
Thirdly…”Did somebody say Groundhog Day?”
Let me explain. If you’re doing the SAME exercises in the SAME order w/ the SAME frequency, using the SAME weights, while doing the SAME reps and SAME sets year after and year and never seeing the results you want, you’re doing it WRONG!
Know anyone like that? Yup, me too. Variety is the spice of life gentlemen. Learn to shake things up every 2-3 months and watch the GAINS come much faster.
And lastly, spending FAR too much time doing treadmill/recumbent bike/elliptical cardio machines. I’m not saying to stop doing cardio machines, it just shouldn’t be your only form of cardiovascular activity. It typically gets you moving in ONE gear for a prolonged period which has diminishing returns for hard earned muscle and strength.
Adding in some resistance conditioning is so much more effective metabolically speaking. It allows our body to burn fat effectively WHILE adding on quality muscle mass. (E.g. sprints, plyos, jump rope, box jumps and broad jumps to name a few.) Plus, doing exercises like those listed takes less time, you can mix a few together and the level of enjoyment goes up considerably.
What Are the BEST Programs to Follow to Get Bigger, Stronger and Leaner?
The 5×5 method is the most effective way (in my humble opinion) to gain Size and Strength simultaneously. When you gain muscle size, you increase your body’s “internal furnace” allowing you to burn calories better while at rest.
It’s simple, muscle consumes more energy than fat while at rest so by increasing muscle mass your body will burn unwanted body fat without even focusing on it. Getting leaner becomes a bi-product of focusing on gaining size and strength. It’s literally a Win-win-win situation for all THREE goals.
With the proper warm-up and occasional de-load weeks, the 5×5 Method can be buried treasure for men searching for muscle gains.
I do also highly recommend some programming with 8-10 rep work mixed in with this approach. Heavy all the time can be VERY hard on the body, joints, tendons, ligaments, nervous system etc. Having some workouts each week dedicated to hypertrophy (the muscle pump) targeting more volume, more reps and more muscle fatigue can be very motivating for most men.
‘Burning out’ can be more fun and in several ways with less wear and tear on the system as a whole. Having fun while working out can certainly keep a guy coming back for more!
I HATE Cardio But I Know I Need Something More Than Just Weight Lifting….
Well, we kind of touched on this point already but let’s dig a little deeper.
I definitely find interval training, slow-med-fast (Fartlek, HIIT) to be the way to go with a bulk of your cardiovascular workouts. I DON’T recommend long distance at all since it totally works against muscular development. If your goal is MASS & STRENGTH, miles of running will not help your efforts!
Jumping rope is amazing at slashing calories, building a strong foundation (calves) and helps improve explosive power along with several other leg exercises like box jumps, broad jumps, jump squats, jump lunges and so on.
I do however feel a water rower or rower machine to be tremendous for short distance sprints. A rower is super challenging and the total body impact is AMAZING. They have been around for decades and recently I’ve seen them come on strong at places like Orange Theory Fitness. Nothing pushes you harder when going for 300-800 meters (depending on your level) in only a few minutes. They are phenomenal at attacking the entire body for short, high octane bursts.
Now I can’t leave out one of my favorites, Jumping Jacks. Simply mix jumping jacks into your routine with sets of 25-50 between other exercises. This adds to your calorie burning potential and they’re not too fatiguing. JJ’s benefit all kinds of muscles and keeps the HR elevated while your muscle get a break from the weights.
Nutrition Can MAKE or BREAK Our Efforts in the Gym…What Are the KEYS to Get the Most From my Diet?
I approach it this way, [What SHOULDN’T I eat?????] If we look at what we consume each day that is artificial versus what the earth provides naturally for us, it’s unbelievable. I try to all but eliminate the stuff that I know is harmful to my health: fast food, sodas (club is fine), chips, candies, cookies and cakes are the WORST offenders.
Moderate stuff like ice cream (buy ones w/ FEWER ingredients), drastically reduce bread intake, be super strict w/ juices (maybe a 4-6 oz. glass at breakfast), cut way back on cereals (most are crap-shredded wheat and cheerios are better than starving) and remember most prepared foods are outrageously high in bad fats and simple carbs (there are some exceptions that aren’t so high in sodium, trans fats and empty carbs).
By analyzing WHAT I eat, making smarter choices and substituting, I have made drastic improvement in my own physique just this year….dropping 5-8% BF in the past 6 months and holding!
EAT BIG in the morning and after workouts, drink a ton of water, eat at least 1 big salad every day and use spinach and kale instead of regular lettuce or mix them together. Remember, you want nutrition not just a big bowl of empty calories. Be careful with the dressing too!
Try to cut out the starchy carb at dinner unless it’s following a workout when you could use it. Lean meats and vegetables pretty much whenever you want. Fish, eggs, chicken, some red meat and protein shakes should satisfy the bulk of your protein needs. Adding beans to salads is always great, control your dairy intake (some milk and cheese is fine) and watch your portions. However, breakfast and post workout meals can be exceptions to portion control. “Breaking the fast” with a big breakfast is fine with quality calories and consuming high calories after a workout can be super helpful more muscle mass gains.
Are Any of the Popular Supplements Useful or Just a Waste of Money?
Amino Acids are useful, no doubt about that. They are the building blocks of muscle so adding those in pre/post workout can benefit muscle gains. A quality whey protein powder is good to go for on the go and as a replacement when food isn’t available but don’t rely on it. Try first to eat clean foods and drink water as your main source of calories and fluids. Hey, it’s worked for THOUSANDS of years pretty darn well.
Juicing (with vegetables and fruits) is fantastic. Is it time consuming and costly up front YES, but well worth it in the long run when you buy organic fruits and vegetables. In terms of vitamin & mineral potential and freshness, there is NO substitute to juicing….natures ENERGY food! It might be the best pre-workout you can have!
In recent years, Fish oils certainly have become popular and for good reason. The benefits for the blood and heart are well researched and studied. Many cardiologists today recommend them to their patients if dealing with heart issues. Omega 3 (and 6) fats are SUPER beneficial to the body and proper brain function.
There are so many others out there, it would be hard to name them all if I had an hour. Much of what’s out there is marketing and fluff. If you find you are deficient in some things after getting some blood work done, supplements can certainly help. The more important aspect to consider is WHO you are getting the supplements from. Do your research and find reputable companies that manufacture and distribute quality supplements.
The most important nutrition takeaways: Have a diet very high in leafy greens (dietary fiber), eat tons of vegetables (fiber/vitamins/minerals), moderate fruit intake (fiber/vitamins/minerals) consume quality, edible protein (shakes are good but not the best) and get essential fats from meats, fish, eggs, nuts and healthy oils. You can only IMPROVE your health by sticking to these guidelines and using the 90/10 Rule. If 90% of the time you are good, the other 10% you can enjoy some “victory” meals without ill effects.
Consistency and dedication are the only things holding you back from seeing miraculous results!
We Live in a World of INSTANT Results and QUICK Fixes…How Long Should it Take to SEE Improvements?
Okay, with 30 days of consistency and effort you can BEGIN to reveal actual results…HOWEVER…
Most people in this day and age require ‘Quick FIXES’…..that’s what our country wants today. Stuff like 7 day diets, abs in minutes, instant internet access….the list goes on and on.
If people actually give themselves realistic goals when trying to CHANGE their bodies, say 90 days as the overall goal w/ 30 and 60 day progress reports, that’s how you can see REAL, lasting results.
But many people want the NEW body 100X FASTER than it took for them to get OUT OF SHAPE. Ten years of ZERO focus on being healthy and NOW I want to look like Brad Pitt in the next few weeks because I was a good little boy…WAKE UP Man!
We need to BUILD on little victories and substitute bad habits with good ones. The key is to ONLY do it one habit at a time, don’t overwhelm yourself or it will never stick. Lots of inspirational and motivational books talk about this KEY ingredient to making change a reality in your life.
Have the mindset of a champion. Know that progress is hard work and self-discipline comes with sacrifice. If your mind is right, it can demand so much from the body and you will amaze yourself at what’s possible with a winning attitude!