Yes, It’s that time of year again….
This is when gyms sell more memberships than all the rest of the year….
…….. It’s New Years Resolution time.
I’ve got nothing against the idea of changing your life for the better.
Far from it –
I’ll spend a lot of time each and every day preaching the benefits of diet, exercise and supplementation to anybody who’ll listen.
The problem with these New Years resolution things is the utter transience of them.
Most (85-90%) of the people who buy a gym membership in January will not be using it in April.
And, from years of hard experience as a Certified Strength Trainer, I can tell you why that is so.
(Even though, if the truth was told, a lotta gym chains would rather not see you except at renewal time. )
Let me tell you how the average new gym member experience goes……
The new prospective member walks in, is met by a sales person who takes some basic information, gives em a tour of the facility, signs em up, and gives em a membership card.
Now, the member is asked if they want a trainer. If so, more information and money is taken, and a trainer is assigned/picked.
This is where the experience goes left or right… ’cause most people don’t spring for the trainer…..
………. that means, they’re on their own.
And those same ‘most people’ haven’t a clue on how to proceed from that point.
And so, most folks end up doing something I call “newbee see, newbee do”.
This mainly consists of riding exercise bikes and walking treadmills, while watching people who have no idea what they’re doing using the machines, in the hopes of figuring out how to work them.
Of course, working out successfully is just taking a road trip to somewhere you’ve never been…. you don’t just follow other cars on the highway – — you gotta have a map – a plan.
Those other cars might be going somewhere entirely different, out for a Sunday drive, or maybe they’re just following another car who’s following everybody else – everybody ends up getting to the same place – nowhere.
It’s like that 70’s joke bumper sticker:
“Don’t follow ME, I’m LOST, too”.
This lack of a plan or program is what kills people’s initial enthusiasm about going to the gym.
They stop going, and thus, their money, time and enthusiasm ends up getting wasted.
But it’s natural they get to feel that way, because:
They feel lost, overwhelmed, out of place…
… they’re afraid people will see them doing an exercise wrong and laugh at them,
… they’re worried they are wasting their time,
… they’re concerned what they’ll look like in Lycra,
… or they feel like they don’t fit in.
— All of these feelings are due to the lack of a program.
(And– after all, nobody looks good in Lycra.)
Now, I’m not saying you oughta sign up for 2738 prepaid sessions with a trainer-
– the truth is, five to ten sessions should give you all the basic fundamentals you need to work out efficiently and successfully on your own. If you can’t afford that, you can learn the routine yourself. Most trainers spend their time directing people through the same workouts week after week –
– the main benefit for the client is the motivation and monitoring the trainer provides.
The program is pretty much set on the first couple sessions…
only the intensity level and resistance really changes.
Sure, changes can and are made from time to time to the program, but overall this is not anything complicated.
What I’m saying here is that you shouldn’t ever feel like you can’t do this with just a little help…
and your Ole Buddy Muscleheaded is here to try to get ya hooked up fer nuthin.
Having been a Trainer myself, it’s not that I don’t want your money.
and I’ll tell ya where to send me all the money you want .
– A position I had years ago that I enjoyed immensely,
(unfortunately, working for a company that treated their employees abominably, and is now out of business ) was as a “Training Mentor”… talking to members and the public about their goals, teaching people how to work with weights & machines, as a free service of the gym.
The gym’s logic being that the more involved people are, the more money they’ll end up spending, and the more referrals the gym’d get.
Once the member was acclimated, I would turn them over to an individual trainer, or simply continue to provide guidance as needed so they could work out on their own.
It was a damn good idea that fizzled in the search for almighty corporate profits, which should come as no surprise to anyone.
I left and went back to what I like and specialize in – strength training, which I still do on a part time basis, when it doesn’t interfere with my own workout schedule, or my fulltime job.
Feel free to consider any counsel given as a public service of this here blog.
(but — no refunds)
What I’m gonna do here is give you folks who don’t give a hoot and holler about this subject a chance to bail…
…… the rest of this is gonna be pretty dry detail on workout stuff.
You can check out my Muscleheaded Gym blog for other fitness stuff you might like!
Just pull up the main page, and search for the topic you’re interested in.
Still with me?
let’s get down to brass slacks,
— you know….
that dry, detailed, workout stuff.
One thing you must realize is that working out at home isn’t the same thing as working out in a gym.
Sorry, it just ain’t.
Those home-gyms are okay for an occasional day when you don’t have a lot of time, but that 20 minutes a day, three times a week to look like a fitness model crap just ain’t in anybody’s sphere of reality.
It’s all smoke and mirrors – only concentrated effort, in a gym environment, will provide the correct focus, motivation, and top quality equipment to get ya where you wanna get.
It’s basically a very small investment in a very important person- yourself. There’s no substitute for being around people with the same goals and interest in fitness, having that special time and place for YOU – watching other people’s progress- the whole deal goes into keeping you motivated and on track.
(Leave your cell phone in your car- you’re not taking no calls – you’re at the gym. This is your time.)
AOL ran some stupid headline recently “Don’t Spend Hundreds on a Gym, a Bosu Ball gives you a great workout for $60,”
BULL. Just how stupid do they think the public is, anyway?
(Wait. Don’t answer that…)
Lounging around on a glorified Hoppity-Hop for 20 minutes ain’t gonna do you any more good than me trying to increase my mind power by tugging on my hair.
I spend 15-18 hours weekly just working out-
You really think I’d do that if I could watch TV & flop around on a balloon to get the same result?
All I care about I strength — raw power.
And that ain’t gonna cut it,
…. for me,
or for you either, no matter what YOU care about, if you want results.
Avoid gimmick diets and exercise programs.
Suzanne Somers may look good on her workout tape, but not because of that stupid program she pitches, but because SHE has a trainer, and a dietician, and a cook, and goes to the gym.
And just doing push-ups with a rotating handle aren’t gonna make you look like a UDT-SEAL no matter how many times you do ‘em. He knows that, I know that, and now, so should you.
Because it’s not all about targeting muscle groups- general fitness has to come first.
You might look in the mirror, and see fat around your middle or your butt, and say:
“I need to do some crunches”,
— but that’s not really a solution, in and of itself.
Fat doesn’t burn off of one specific area (“spot toning”) just because you’re working that area.
If fat’s a problem, you gotta burn it off all over.
That means CARDIO in the proper heart rate range (for most people, about 135BPM)
– too slow, and you don’t get the metabolism going,–
– too fast, and you don’t burn fat, just muscle.
In most gyms, there are treadmills with heart rate monitors built in – use em.
Start slow, and try to build up to 30-45 minutes a day, four times a week… results should start
showing pretty quick.
(Bring your Ipod along- the music in every gym I’ve ever been in suffered from serious suckyness. )
Circuit (resistance) training also plays a big part in this deal..
’cause improved muscle tone is what makes your body fun to look at…
(ok, ONE of the things…)
– looking weak and skinny doesn’t look any better than looking obese.
There’s all kinds of ways to weight train.. but if you’re just looking to drop some inches/pounds or gain some ndurance/strength, machines can do you a world of good. These days, you may never even need to touch a ‘free weight’if you don’t want to.
We’ll talk about free weights later, but seen from the
perspective of the new member, free weights require a level of instruction and a learning curve that machines just don’t.
Besides, some people are just too intimidated by the sights and sounds of the weight room to really get into them. That’s jest fahn. No problem-o.
I’m gonna give you a beginners machine-oriented circuit training split that I like to use with new peeples.
This is called a split because instead of working your entire body in one workout a couple times a week, you focus your energies on a couple specific sympathetic muscle groups one workout, a couple different ones the next, and the rest on the third workout of the week. The fourth workout of the week, you only do 45-60 minutes cardio. ( you do 30-45 mins cardio after each workout days 1-3.)
Days 1-3 can be spread out a rest day apart.. and should take 45-60 minutes (before cardio).
Note that I said cardio AFTER your circuit training.
Numerous studies have shown cardio is most effective for fat burning and even recovery when done after circuit training.
Setting a machine for how much weight (resistance) you want to use is the first thing you’ll need to do before using it. If you’re new to the gym, this can cause some consternation. If you use too much weight, you could conceivably hurt yourself, — too little and you’re wasting your time. No worries.
One way of determining how much weight (resistance) that you should use is called the 3(12/RM) system… 3 sets of 12 reps, at 65%1RM.
OK- I know that sounds complicated, but it’s not really.
1RM is equal to the maximum amount of weight you can do for 1 rep (only) without rest. This is called ‘maxing out’ – and this weight should NOT be used for working out.
What YOU want, is to figure out your ‘working weight’ on a specific device or exercise… and that normally falls somewhere around 60-75% of your 1RM weight.
But, how do you figure that without ‘maxing out’?
Well, if you start out with a very light weight, try it out for a rep or two, then work up to a weight level wherein you can get 12 good repetitions out, but be working hard to get that last rep, and then recover enough after 2 minutes to get 12 more, you are there. That’s your working weight on that machine or exercise. Do that for 3 sets of 12, and then move on to the next implement. Then, every 30 days or so, add 5 pounds to your working weights.
By slowly adding resistance, you’ll be gaining strength and endurance, while continuing your metabolic progress.
(Obviously, you’re gonna need a little notebook or pad to keep your routine and working weights in, as well as tracking your progress.)
I like to say that machines are ideal for beginners, because they tend to ‘force’ proper form…
that is, your body is placed in the proper position by the design of the seat and the way you interface with it, so you can focus on pushing or pulling instead of worrying about a lot of details.
There are often instructions right on the machine to show you how it works, and what muscle groups are being utilized. Still, there are a couple things to keep in mind.
As a good general rule, your back should never be ’rounded’ on any exercise.
“Rounded” means that your head is arched forward toward your toes, chest in,
–as opposed to “Naturally Arched”: (head & shoulders slightly back toward your heels, chest out.) Naturally arched is generally the position your body should be in during circuit training.
Don’t be tempted to go too heavy and skimp on reps. This is a good way to hurt yourself, tear your tendons and other connective tissue up for no good benefit.
If you can’t push it ‘clean’ for 12, lighten it up.
Going “too light” and adding reps is ok for building stamina and warming up, but the 3(12/RM) formula is clearly the most effective for building muscle, strength, and general fitness.
You know the saying “what goes up, must come down”?
Well, machines work that way, too. If you push weight up, it must logically come down again.
Don’t just concentrate on pushing- contracting your muscles and controlling the weight on the way down is just as important. In other words, once you get to the limit of the machine’s movement, you’re only half way done with the rep. Control the weight all the way – start to finish.
Please- Don’t slam the weight down.
Some gyms will actually exclude you for this.
… in my gym, you’ll just get a dirty look…. probably from me.
I like to stop just short of the bottom and top, hold the contraction for a second, inhale, then continue with the next rep.
Breathing is always good. Don’t hold your breath when exercising.
Breathe deeply and naturally. You can inhale on the positive eccentric, exhale on the negative, or just breathe.
(I know some wise guy out there is saying “What about when BLOCKING??” Well, buddy, if you know about blocking, you don’t need a primer on weight training, do ya? Stop wastin your time jerkin around on the internet and get to the gym!
and remember… Butt down, Head up. )
Oh, and one other thing….
– proper nutrition, hydration, exercise, and supplementation all go together.
Don’t just go ape shit on one, and ignore the others. We’ll talk more about these others soon enuf, but a good place to start is cutting out all excess sugars and fats, get plenty of protein, stop smoking, drink at least 64 ounces of water per day, and add a vitamin supp as well as BCAA’s and L-Glutamine.
Remember Muscleheaded’s Rule Numero Uno:
HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE!
(actually, that’s number two…
number one is “Stay Away from the Snack Bar”.)
Here’s your training split.
Every gym should have these machines, or a bench for them. If the one you’re looking at doesn’t, don’t sign up. Email me, and I’ll find you a real gym in your area.
Day 1 (upper body): Chest, Incline, Tricep Press, Bicep Curl,
Laterals, Overhead Press, Pec Dec Flyes
———— plus 30-45 minutes cardio
Day 2 (leg day): Hack Squat, Leg and Calve Press, Leg Curl,
Leg Extension, Butt Blaster, Hip Abductor
———— plus 30-45 minutes cardio
Day 3 (ab-back): AbCrunch, TorsoRotation, Back Extension,
Long Pull, Lat PullDown, Seated & TBar Row
———— plus 30-45 minutes cardio
Day 4 : 45-60 minutes cardio only
Ok. Let’s say you’ve got yer mind made up.
Damn it, you’re gonna do dis thang.
But, you don’t wanna do it halfway.
You’re a balls to the wall kinda guy
(– or gal (in which case, tits to the wall…)
— and you want to know lots more.
Hey – say no mo.. cause there’s lots mo to no.
Whatdaya wanna talk about?
Choosing a Gym?
You say you got questions?
Well, email em to me, and I’ll send you a private answer.
Or, if you ain’t shy, just post em in comments, and I’ll answer ‘em there.
Whatever makes you happy.
Now, Go Get It.
…. and various legal crap to keep my walnuts outta the fire:
The following post and any other posts of mine are strictly for entertainment-information purposes only, and are not to be taken as medical advice or any other kind of advice for that matter; the information expressed are the opinions of the author, who is not a Doctor. ( but wishes he had that kinda spending money. )
See your doctor before entertaining any ideas of using any of this entertainment for your own entertainment.