Monthly Archives: February 2016

Top 10 Reasons Everyone Should Start Weightlifting

Whether you have been curling like crazy for years or, are just starting to think about if you want to dip your feet into the world of lifting, you might need a nudge in the right direction. Telling my wife, who thinks I am nuts about fitness, why I love it so much seems to go unheard. I knew all of you could understand some of those feelings that only we know about. I put together this nifty list with ten great reasons you should start lifting right away.

  1. Getting up and just moving is great for keeping your risk of getting certain diseases that we all are prone to. It is always smart to stack as many good things together as you can. When you combine being able to feel better about myself with lessening any sort of health issues that come up as we all age.
  2. Setting goals for yourself and watching you achieve them is quite the rush. The daily list of chores that you might be doing every week aren’t satisfying to do, once you approach the one hundredth time of completing them. That isn’t the case with knocking it out of the park on a good set, that pride that you feel doesn’t stop coming.
  3. If you are having trouble finding friends, this can easily change through joining a community. Those of us brothers (and sisters) of the barbell are always happy to welcome another to our group. Many times I have reached a point where I had no one else to talk to but my friends that I have made through our times pumping iron.
  4. Watching yourself progress through different stages in your overall fitness level is a great way to pass the time. Another boring year won’t seem to be as such while you are seeing and feeling yourself go from Mr. Banner to the Incredible Hulk!
  5. The confidence that comes with completing a grueling fitness challenge will always keep you coming for more. Going to the locker room all pumped up knowing that you defeated every trial and tribulation that was heading your way, you will feel like you are on top of the world.
  6. Downing your favorite ice cold and refreshing drink when you have ramped up your temperature. The refreshing moment when that beverage hits your mouth and cools you down, it is hard to find another moment in life where your thirst is more quenched. I have to admit that I made myself thirsty by thinking about that great drink after a lifting session
  7. Seeing other people that are lifting weights that are smaller than you. It is somewhat of a selfish victory, but let’s be honest, you know that you get a certain sense of pride when you know that you are not the biggest weakling in the weight room.
  8. Conquering an all you can eat buffet and watching the horror on the workers faces as you go for your fifth plate. Being able to put down food in a quicker manner, the way a weightlifter does, will have you being hungry more often. You could be forced to expand your eating horizons with this new found hunger that you will have as your body grows larger.
  9. Watching someone that might have given you a hard time in the past, quiver when they see you walk into the room. I don’t like any kind of violent actions but I also hate any kind of bullying. In my opinion, if lifting some weights and getting bulkier keeps the bullies away, that is never a mistake.
  10. The bittersweet feeling of having to retire your old gym attire to step up to a bigger sized type of shirt.

Why You Should Always Keep an E-Z Bar Handy

For anyone who is looking for the next thing to add to their home gym setup, I have got to tell you about an E-Z bar. This shorter version of a normal sized barbell, is great for doing those lifts that are a bit awkward to carry out. My current home setup is a little bit cramped, so anything that can save some space for me is always a welcome addition. Sometimes also known as a curl bar, this bar makes doing any kind of curls much easier. By looking at a picture of the curl bar, the first thing that might stick out is just how different it looks from what you are probably used to. This bar is one that you won’t want to load up with the biggest plates that you can find, most of these bars can only fit about 100lbs max. Don’t let this be something that leaves you with a sour taste, you won’t be doing as much heavy lifting with these bars. Mainly for working the triceps and biceps, an E-Z bar will save your wrists a ton of unnecessary pain.

person curling weights

The number one muscle group that you will be targeting with a curl bar will be the biceps. If you have ever attempted a set of bicep curls with the giant barbell you had laying around, you know that this is a difficult thing to accomplish. Oftentimes, the barbell will be so long, you will have trouble just moving it without knocking out a wall! Once you get the gigantic bar where you need it, you have to start moving that for reps, it isn’t as easy as you think it might be. It feels so awkward trying to do bicep work with such an over-sized barbell. You will spend more time just trying to keep your balance, as opposed to concentrating on the task at hand. Even though I have mentioned just one group of muscles, the triceps will grow immensely from picking up an E-Z bar. I usually do an oddly named exercise called skullcrushers. This lift is when you lay back and bring the curl bar behind your head repeatedly. Also going by the name of the French press, doing this lift can bulk up any set of triceps.

Providing more support and taking additional strain off of your wrists, a curl bar can really give you a ton of value. Considering that most of the larger barbells look similar, this is an area where a curl bar differs from the pack. What threw me off, when I started lifting with the smaller barbell, was where to put my hands. The curl bar will have a spot for your wrists, that is diagonal. From what I have found, you can lift with either the straightened or curved part of the bar. Something that I like to remember is to put on a lower amount of weight, if I am going to be gripping the bar closer to the weight ends. If needing to lift something heavier, for my wrists, I would position my hands closer to the inside of the barbell. I remember seeing the other E-Z bars that would have that closed off look, where your hands are completely surrounded by metal. Having my hands kind of stuck in a metal encasing just did not seem like what I wanted to have going through my head during every lift day.

Methods to Correct Strength Imbalances

One of the most frustrating things that I have ever had to go through, as a weightlifter, were those dark times where I wasn’t getting any stronger. One of the first things that you want to check for, if this happens to you, is a strength imbalance. For a quicker method of taking care of this, there are ways to gain more mass that you take which are perfect for getting your weaker side to an optimum level of strength. This imbalance can occur when one side of your body is getting stronger than the other one. There are many reasons why this can happen. It will usually come back to an issue of not having the right form or simply being forgetful when you go to pick the right dumbbell. Let’s say instead of curling 30s for eight reps, you mistakenly curl 8 reps with 35 pounds. This mistake that you just made was so small that you don’t notice it, but your muscles do.

lessstrong

I actually had this very same problem happen to me when I started weightlifting. I had never noticed, but it took someone else to point out something shocking, my right forearm was bigger than my left one. At first, I couldn’t believe how I had never noticed this, but I hadn’t. After finding this out, I went right to looking at some older workout numbers to find out the root of this problem. As fate would have it, I began doing a certain kind of curls and this was where it all started. One reason why I always encourage people to log their workouts every time, with no exceptions is because of how easy this can happen. Why this was happening with me, was because I had one workout where I mistakenly lifted more with one arm. Not thinking things through, I kept the workout going and didn’t think anything of it. Mistakenly, I was only making matters worse by continuing to lift more with one arm. It was so stupid that I was doing this but I was such a newbie to the weight room, that I didn’t know I was doing anything that bad.

Once you have a strength imbalance happening, that goes unnoticed, it can get progressively worse. I started noticing something was mega wrong whenever I could barely move the weight that I was deadlifting about a week before. I knew that I hadn’t skipped any meals or anything like that. Plus, I had actually been getting some great sleep prior to going and lifting, so I knew that wasn’t the cause for concern either. Needless to say, it all started from performing one exercising in an incorrect way, to have everything spiral out of control. The nagging wrist pains that I was receiving was bad enough to where I could barely push a door in to enter a building, how sad is that?

Use my cautionary tale, to make sure that you don’t make the same big mistake that I did. I am sure that some of you are thinking that this is not really helpful to you, but you would be surprised at how many new lifters don’t know these kinds of things. If you should ever come across a strength imbalance issue in your life, take the steps to correct it as soon as possible. I know that there are so many small distractions that will take place while you are working out. Do your best to stay focused and write down the amount of weight that you used for every rep/set. Sure, it sounds like another headache right now, but it might be something that you will wish you did whenever an issue occurs.

New Plan to Get the Most from My Workouts

Recently, I came up with a lifting schedule that has been great for adding on some muscle. I figured that I should share this with anyone that is interested. Feel free to change this to your liking, as I know you might not be able to do some of these exercises. Primarily, I have noticed that I have added the most muscle to my back and arms. I will be continuing to change this up, based on where I see areas that need work. When we are talking about the bigger muscles in our body, this is where you have the freedom to add more weight. I tried to make these workouts balanced between strength and conditioning. I have never been a big fan of focusing too much on one goal over the other. I try to find (or make) something that will be able to let my muscles grow bigger, while also being able to gain strength. I think that by gaining both strength and size, this will make your next workout that much easier. This plan will not be the easiest one to follow, but I can say that it is one of the best for pure advancements.

Let’s take it from the top, for shoulders, you want to keep the reps higher and not use an insane amount of weight. The reason being is that your shoulders are, as you might be able to tell, not the best showing of how strong you are. For my upper back, I always use heavy weights and a medium amount of reps. I am someone who has a back that will continue to grow, if this doesn’t sound like you, feel free to replace this with higher reps, at a low weight.

You may see that some parts that you lift with are not in this plan. If so, substitute some exercises that don’t fly with you and replace a couple with what does! With lifting in this style, you want to make sure that you eat well during your time using this routine. I am never someone who stays super strict on their dieting, so just do the best that you can. Needless to say, if you are better at watching what you eat than I am, expect to get even more from these workouts than I did. For example, I usually don’t do anything with my abdominals, although I have seen it in a lot of other plans. This is not due to an injury, or anything like that, I just find that I don’t have the time to give my abs the attention that I need.

Some of the days that you will be lifting will be longer than others. I did this, to help me still be able to complete the workouts that I needed to during the week. I am someone that just has too much going to spend an hour and a half throughout the week treading through long amounts of time lifting. Best of all, this is something of a myth in the fitness community, the longer time you spend working out DOES NOT mean that you are going to get that much more muscle. Usually, the body only really needs thirty minutes to an hour of physical activity. Sometimes, anything over an hour of working out can actually be detrimental for you. Keep these tips in mind when you start this plan and you will have a great time, as long as you do not have a problem with getting sweaty! Also, pictured below is a great way to find some reasonable substitutes, if the exercises I mentioned are not doable.

do-these-exercises