Archive for February, 2014

Weight Training Do’s and Dont’s

Over the years I have observed thousands of people training in almost every kind of gym. Watching someone work out, it is simple to almost instantly evaluate the level of their experience. Advanced lifters are easy to spot by their intensity and attention to form and focus. Intermediate trainees show signs of progress although they are often found chatting around the squat rack.

In the third and largest group are beginners and usually they are completely lost. They don’t understand the principles of resistance training, don’t have a plan and don’t know how to perform the basic movements. They go haphazardly through the motions, flirt with injury, see minimal improvement and usually drop out.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY! The fundamental principles of weight training are simple. Here are the top five that will take you a long way toward becoming lean, strong and fit.

1. FORM AND FUNCTION. You have to understand the movement and the purpose of each exercise. Books or online videos are good learning tools if you pay attention to the details. Forget about the “muscle mags”. The quickest way to get off to a good start is to hire an experienced certified personal trainer who is willing to teach you how to lift. With each exercise, make sure you understand exactly which muscles you are training and learn to feel them work.

2. SLOW DOWN. This is related to form but deserves special attention. Throughout the entire exercise, you must be in complete control of the weight. Most trainees perform the movements too quickly. When you swing a heavy weight out of control you increase the risk of injury, but you also allow inertia to do the work instead of fully challenging the muscle.

TEMPO is important. Because most trainees use a weight that is too heavy, they perform the exercises with rushed and jerky movements. SLOW DOWN. A good norm is to lower the weight to a count of three (3), raise powerfully to a count of one (1) and pause in the contracted position for a one (1) count before lowering again. This can be expressed as a 3.1.1 cadence.

3. COMPOUND EXERCISES. Trash your body building magazines that show champions doing hundreds of bicep curls and focus on exercises that develop full-body strength and conditioning. Additionally, most people are concerned with burning calories and losing weight. This is done by emphasizing basic, compound exercises. These are the ones that work the body’s largest muscle groups in conjunction with one another.

Primary muscles are the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus, back, chest and shoulders. The primary compound exercises are squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rowing and overhead presses. DO NOT waste time doing isolation exercises for biceps, triceps, forearms and the individual small muscles of the shoulder. These are worked adequately as part of the large compound movements.

4. USE THE CORRECT WEIGHT. Beginners use too little weight and then, if they are bold, progress to using weights that are too heavy. The definition of the correct weight is one that challenges you to work VERY HARD on the last repetition of your exercise but allows you to do so in PERFECT FORM. If the weight is too light you will not overload the muscle sufficiently to stimulate growth. If the weight is too heavy you will cheat, swinging and swaying and allowing inertia to do the work for you.

5. EXERCISE PERSISTENCE AND PATIENCE. All good things are earned and take time. PERSISTENCE says that consistency is critical and that you will see real results in about twelve weeks if…. you DON’T SKIP WORKOUTS and if you challenge yourself to work hard during every session.

BE PATIENT and resist trying every red-hot workout you read about. Most of them are nothing more than variations of basic programs. Give your current routine a chance to work. Patience also says that more is not necessarily better. You need at least forty-eight hours rest between weight workouts and when you are stronger you may need seventy-two hours or more to recover. Remember that plenty of rest and a diet of fresh, unprocessed food provides a foundation for all of your hard work.

Resistance training is the fastest way to lose weight, change your body shape, increase strength and improve your health. You can do it if you learn to make a sport out of it (or better yet, a game). Take the time to learn proper technique, apply a high degree of vigor to every workout and see just how good you can get.

And always remember… “Be Strong…. Be Lean”.

Howard McGarity is a “Human Performance Specialist”, Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach who has studied nutrition and exercise science for most of his fifty-six years. He creates online programs for MyVirtualGym.com as an effective way to help busy people learn the best ways to get permanently lean, strong and healthy. Get the Free e-book, “The Five Fastest Ways to Fitness”> http://www.MyVirtualGym.com/

Explode Through Tackles Using Power Cleans

Power cleans are an excellent exercise for football players to practice exploding off the ball and through other players. The whole concept of football is to hit the other guy harder than he hit you. Here we’re going to go through the usage of a proper power clean and how it can help your players explode through your tackles on the gridiron.

Many coaches have their players do hang cleans, but this is only half of the movement. A football player is trained to bend low at the knees and explode up through the hips and chest at the target. A power clean reflects this movement better than a hang clean by forcing the player to start with knees bent and bring the weight from the ground. If a player can learn to explode from the ground up, they will generate more force toward the player they are hitting than if they starting generating power halfway through the movement.

Power cleans are a full body compound exercise, so if your split is based around muscle groups you may be confused about where to fit it in. I don’t use muscle group splits with athletes but if they are already in one, I add power cleans to the leg day. Power cleans are crucial to football and most resemble the motion used by players to make or break tackles so I make them the first exercise of the day after warm up so that the athlete is fresh and can give 110% to the movement. Depending on whether the player is in season, pre-season or off-season will determine the percentage of one rep max (1RM) and sets and reps used. If the player was in off season the exercise would be set up like this.

Power Clean

1 set x 15 reps at 50% 1RM

2 sets x 12 reps at 60% 1RM

2 sets x 5 reps at 80% 1RM

By setting up the lift like this, you give the athlete two types of training. Repetitive endurance training in the higher rep ranges and power and strength in the lower rep range with higher weight. Make sure that the athlete places an emphasis on proper form over weight lifted. Speed will generate more force during the hit than strength and it is important to make it clear to the athlete that the power clean is a tool to make the athlete faster as well as stronger. It is a good idea to combine the power cleans with work on the jammer or explosive squats to prove this point. The athlete should have a faster explosion through the movement with the same weight after training with power cleans.

Using this exercises in a well balanced training program will create a faster, more explosive athlete off the ball and at the tackle. Remember to always focus on safety and good form and never pressure athletes to lift more weight than they are capable. As always be safe and have a good lift.

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It seems impossible for to lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and have a nice, fit, muscular body, let alone build muscle. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian body builders and weight lifters in the world. They have taken the trouble to go out into the world to get themselves informed about how to get lean muscle as vegetarian/vegan. You don’t have to compromise on protein in your health anymore with these three secret ingredients that bodybuilders use to build lean muscle.

1. Peanuts

The humble peanut has been used as a snack for centuries. Simply including it as a side dish or even as a garnish to a salad will add some healthy pounds of muscle to your frame. The possibilities are endless with this legume.

2. Eggs

Eggs are another versatile favorite for people who do not eat meat. They can be poached, fried, boiled, scrambled… having an egg a day will surely add some healthy definition to your body if you’re looking to bring out dormant muscles. If you’re game, you could even drink raw eggs for that extra protein infusion. Mix in some banana if you retch the first time.

3. Mushrooms

This fungi has a surprising amount of protein that not many people are aware of. Again, it’s another ingredient that can be used in many different dishes. All that’s required is a bit of imagination! You can sautee or stir-fry them, or have them fresh in a garden salad. A high source of iron, mushrooms being somewhat tasteless can add a protein kick to your everyday meal.

These are just three types of foods you can eat as a vegetarian if you think your current diet is neglecting in protein. Heck, even as meat-eater, you might find that eating these sorts of foods might be what you’ve been looking for if your muscular growth has been a bit slow! Who says that the muscle gainer’s diet has to be boring?

If you’re tired of finding site after site of hype-filled rubbish, if you’re tired of being bamboozled by crazy terms that make no sense, if you’re tired of being disappointed at another program that didn’t give you the results you wanted on your body, check out HowToGetLeanMuscle.com. Warning: only strong-willed men who believe in working hard to get their ideal body are welcome!

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