Category Archives: in the gym

Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Weightlifting Equipment

We have all been there, hitting up that home gym, multiple times a week. Eventually, you will notice that your setup is lacking a little something. I’ve always been the person who doesn’t get different shoes until they are literally falling apart at the seams. Even I know that there are some signs to look out for, here are a few of them. If it makes you feel better, I have had each and every single one of these incidents happen in my life. Making the change to suck it up and get better equipment knocked out all of these worries, in just an afternoon.

Rusted Weights – Though more of a visual detail, no one wants their weights plagued with rust. This will only be a problem if you have metal weights but the appearance of rust just doesn’t look great. If you are lifting in any kind of condition where wetness can form on the weights, it is highly suggested that you move them to a drier spot in your home.

weightlifting glovesGloves that are Falling Apart – I go through weightlifting gloves like most people go through groceries. It is so tough to find a pair of gloves that will actually hold up to the wear and tear that I put on them. Having gloves with holes in them is not just a cosmetic issue, it could lead to more serious issues. Let’s just say that you don’t want to be lifting weights with gloves that have holes, it could lead to a bunch of gripping issues. Your hands are very important to you and you don’t want to have faulty gloves that could get tangled up, mangling your fingers!

A Bent Barbell – Look, I get it, that barbell is bent and you are thinking of it as a sort of badge of honor. How about we keep that barbell somewhere else and get you a new one! Even though it looks cool and you can brag about it to your buddies, a bent barbell means that it getting closer to breaking, depending upon how strong your barbell is. I have heard of most men keeping the bent barbell in rotation, not wanting to get another one. You could assume that the bar will never break because it is made of metal. However, do you want to take the risk that the bar is strong enough to not break, while your entire body is under it?

Extremely Worn Down Bench – Again, being a money saver, I put off getting my bench replaced for a long time. I wish that I could go back in time and kick myself for waiting so long. The bench would wobble a bit when I got onto it, to begin my bench pressing. I would also use the bench itself, to assist me with my lat raises, never thinking about how much continued stress was being put on the bench. I really could have harmed myself by not focusing on the bigger picture, my life over my lifting.

Not all of these signs that you need to invest in upgrading your equipment are vital to get fixed right away but you can easily fix all four of these problems at once. Head over to your local sporting goods store and get the items that need to be replaced, especially if you do have a bent barbell because that one is essential to take care of.

4 Proven Ways to Get Stronger

It’s time to make you strong again but how should you do it? With so many approaches to becoming one of the strongest, it gets difficult to find just one path. I have listed four personal techniques that have always led me out of where I was and into newfound strength, enjoy!

  1. Eat More – One of the most common ways I see beginning strength trainers fail is because they are not eating enough. I know it isn’t always easy to stuff your face. I was a devout breakfast skipper for years. While missing the important meal of the day made me happy, it definitely wasn’t helping me gain any weight. Also, if you were already sleeping and missed breakfast, you have burned off those calories from dinner for about twelve hours.
  1. Lift, Even If Not Feeling It – Look, unless you are sick or injured, you really shouldn’t be skipping your workouts. I know that life happens and things come up to prevent you from spending that precious time pumping weight but try to limit it. I, myself, have had all kinds of situations come up where I didn’t really feel like working out but sometimes you can surprise yourself. I have found that, even if I am having the worst day, something about finishing a workout just feels right to me.
  1. Pick Up Heavier Weights – Now, this could seem like a no brainer but not everyone knows about the different ways to transform your body through weights. There can be differing lifts that you can do but if you aren’t focusing on strength, you are going in the wrong direction. On the opposite side of this, I wanted to start lifting for size but just figured the size would come from lifting heavier weights than what I was used to. Big mistake because I wasted a couple of years getting strong when I was wanted to get bulkier, lesson learned!
  1. Take Something – If all else fails and the above three methods aren’t cutting it for you, you’ve got to have a bit of help. I won’t go into which supplement would be right for you, as there are tons of them out there but if you look below, you will find what has helped me get the most out of when I lift to gain strength, above everything else.

There it is, four easy ways that you can use to get stronger faster!

Workout Oddity: Anti-Gravity Journeys

If the initial though you had when looking at the above title is one of confusion, I know why! There is a new trend that is filling up classroom of only the trendiest workout locations across the world. This new workout, a term that I use loosely will have you hanging above the floor. Now, get rid of those images that you could have of pull ups or some intense new exercise method. Allow me to collectively burst all of those bubbles at once, because when you hear how they are changing workouts, as we know it, you will probably have to pick yourself back up off of the floor.

hanging outRecently, my local gym had some changing of their employees, bringing our gym crew with some different instructors. It was sort of a sudden change, something that left what new classes would be offered up to the public. I had never heard of a anti-gravity method of exercising before. After first walking everyone into their proper room, I couldn’t fully process what I was taking in. I wasn’t alone, as the other people around me were beginning to starting to complain, I held off my reservations.

Imagine a room that is filled with a horrifying image, straight out of a horror movie. Bodies all lined up in cocoons, doesn’t that sound scary or is that just me? Like something out of the movie Killer Klowns from Outer Space, this is just about what you will be seeing if you sign up to take one of these classes. This is seen as an innovation in the way that people are getting their fit time, I really don’t know what else you can call that.

The wild fact remains, however, that these classes truly are gaining buzz, whether it be positive or negative, it really has the people talking. I would love to sign up for one of these classes to keep the wife off of my back about me when I turn into a couch potato. Let me step it down a little bit on the negativity, I really want to give this exercise trend a fair shake that I feel that it deserves. The pictures that I have seen of people performing these classes does look fun and honestly very relaxing. At least, I would think that it would be relaxing just kind of hanging in the air.

Sure, it could look a bit silly to walk into the room and see these creepy cocoons there. However, I think that it would feel simply awesome to just float, it would possibly make me very sleepy. I also would imagine that I would feel more on board with this class, if they were a bit smaller. Something about sleeping (or at least trying to) around 30 other men and women would make me more than a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps having one of these machines in your room, or somewhere a bit more private, where I wasn’t surrounded by people.

If this kind of class does interest you, these classes are becoming increasingly popular, bring them to a wider audience around the clock. Also, I feel that I need to clarify what this kind of class is clarified as, which is more yoga than an actual exercise. I hear that the yoga routines that they will have you performing will vary in time and intensity. I, personally have never really taken a yoga class myself, so I can’t attest as to how easy or hard these stretches sound.

The Myths and Truths of the One Minute Workout

With so many people scraping together time to do just about anything, it’s no surprise that quicker exercise is becoming the norm. As tests have shown, people really do prefer the shorter workouts, as opposed to the normal half hour ones that we’ve been conditioned to be used to. I get why this can be such a big win for people, exercising is hard and spending less time doing it would seem like the wiser option. When you look at the benefits of a quicker workout, who could blame you? Experts are saying that the one minute type of work out can have some of the same health benefits as longer workouts. However, I do think that some of the information here is a little bit skewed towards certain workouts.

For example, someone who does 30 minutes of running could have the same health benefits by only running for a minute. Whether or not it seems too good to be true, the facts are there. These sort of smaller and quick exercise sessions are gaining a stronghold with the working world. If you simply have no time in your day to dedicate anything towards a strong set of rules for exercising, this is the work out for you. I do encourage you to stick with the 30 minute workouts, if you’re still doing those.

The reason for sticking to the exercises that you already can do is because taking a shorter time to exercise could derail all of your progress. As far as weightlifters go, hold on to your seats, the one minute principle of working out will not apply to you. Weightlifting is a way to exercise where you are building up on your latest progress. Even if you’re picking up weights and throwing them around like a mad man for a solid minute, you aren’t going to have enough time to build a strong base to improve upon. Lifting weights is something that takes time and is a style of exercise where results aren’t always instant. For the joggers and cardio freaks, I see a lot of pluses to a one minute workout.

Getting that heart rate up and lowering your blood pressure are always two things are great to do, if you can put the intensity needed for 60 seconds, more power to you. For functional strength, that’s just going to be not enough time for you to get everything that you need to get done finished. One big plus of this new style of exercising is that I can get people on board that would not have been on board to exercise, otherwise. The rush of endorphins that come with an intense workout can be had it and just about 60 seconds, which has more people on board with trying this and sticking to it, as well.

clock

Which exercise you choose to perform for 60 seconds, is up to you. The main opinion seems to be that as long as they get you moving and is intense, the skies the limit. First starting out, I would try some intense sprinting. For this exercise, sprint as fast as you can for one minute. There are warm-ups that should be performed just to make sure that you are ready to do this kind of exercise, so use those wisely and give the one minute workout a shot for yourself.

Taking Dips to Another Planet

Ah, yes, the dip, one of the most beneficial exercises that you are not doing. What’s that, you are doing your dips and you don’t know why I am picking on them? I’ll explain more about this: if they are not a part of your routine right now, you need to introduce yourself to this powerful exercise. Known as one of the best ways to build up your triceps and chest (yes, your chest, believe it or not) the dip is an old-school strength builder that has now taken on a new love by many weightlifters. I want to show you some advanced techniques when performing dips that can take your strength to a whole new world.

When most start out with doing a dip, they will put their arms up on a weight bench, with their feet on the ground, and start doing the exercise, wrong! Sure, this method of doing a dip can be great for those with no strength, yet, but I want to show you the way to really pack on some muscle. When doing an exercise that is focusing on your triceps, the main source of strength for your arms, you should be seeing some quick gains in functional strength. To start out with some really intense dipping, prop your feet up on something so that they are parallel and you are sitting at an L angle. Right away, you will notice that these kind of dips become much harder. You will notice an increased burning feeling in your arms. If you feel the burning in your shoulder, primarily, readjust how you are dipping to ensure that the work is put on the triceps.

Once you are able to perform over twenty repetitions with your body weight, we can ramp it up again. I want to mention that these kind of step ups, concerning the dip, should not all be done in one exercise session. To progress to the final section of doing this exercise correctly took me about a month to get to. The cool thing is that once I got my triceps a nice base of strength, I was noticing some of the fastest muscle that I have ever packed onto my arms. My method might be a little more crazy than what you are used to do but, I promise, it works. As a matter of fact, I would attribute the dip exercise to having good sized arms that I do today.

If you have a backpack laying around, put a couple of small dumbbell plates into (think 5-10 lbs to start out). After that, perform your dips like you normally would. By consistently being able to dip down and back up, with more weight on your back, you are putting increased pressure on your triceps. Provided that you only increase the weight in small increments, over a specified length of time, you will continually break down and rebuild those triceps and your chest, as well. Again, if, at any time, you feel pain in your shoulders, this is a sign that you are putting strain on the wrong part of your body. Dipping is not easy and it is a way to test yourself to see what you are really made of. However, if you want triceps that hug your shirt every so tightly, you have got to be doing some weighted dips!

Is PHAT Training As Good as They Say?

Does anybody want to try a new training program? Ok, so it might not be the newest program around but it could very well be new to you. This P.H.A.T (we will get into the name in a second) training program, created by a bodybuilding great has done well for most who have braved it. Far from being a nice and breezy routine that will barely have you breaking a sweat, this isn’t for beginners. I have heard it classified as an intermediate to advanced lifting program. However, the diversity that this routine has with what parts to train, leaves customization room for those that would want it. I couldn’t imagine needing to tweak the lifts here, except out of absolute necessity. Everything presented in the base weekly plan of this program hits about every major and minor muscle group that you want to see growth on. It won’t take too long being around any group of weightlifters before the rep question comes up.

inventor of phat trainingI used to find myself very confused on just what exactly I was to be lifting and for how long. Everyone has different answers to this age old question, the best solution may be combing both lifting techniques. Using the Reese’s peanut butter cup strategy, Layne’s PHAT (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training) system combines elements of both power and definition lifting to perfection. This type of training that would be done, if one were to start this up would be a full-body split. This type of split means that every major group will be worked, on alternating days. One thing to be weary of is that you will be putting mega stress on your entire body, the rest days are there for a reason so use them! If I had to summarize what makes this program different from any other one is that it creates more opportunities for muscular growth. By raising the amount of weight that you can lift, you will get stronger. Using this newfound strength increases for your definition days will create better muscle growth. After understating the basis behind why this routine, the science is really sound on this program. Here is what an example of this program would be, starting the week with Sunday in this example:

Sunday: Upper Power
Monday: Lower Power
Tuesday: Break
Wednesday: Hypertrophy Day for Shoulders and Back
Thursday: Definition Day for Legs
Friday: Definition Day for Arms and Chest
Saturday: Break

You still have two rest days but beware, you will be tested on those last two workout days of the week. The good news is that you are going to be growing in two different ways, taking techniques from each camp of how to really get big. When you borrow a little from one thought group and another, you see the best of both worlds. It is also advised that after a couple of months, you take a week or two off from lifting altogether. To continue a program that is this intense, without a break, will not be good if you are trying to avoid injuries. Also, with such a brief break, you won’t have to make yourself sick at the thought of losing that hard-earned muscle, either! This routine has brought countless others some far superior looking bodies, it could end up doing the same for you. If you are needing to spice up that old and boring gym routine, give the P.H.A.T style of training a try!

Two Men Break Into Gym and Begin Lifting

Have you ever had the urge to sneak in a workout whenever your gym is not that busy? This seems like a common feeling we could all say that we have had, at one time or another. Two young men had the same idea but they actually followed through with it. These men waited until their gym was actually closed and broke into it. This, alone is a really dumb thing to do but it got worse. After the two men were able to sneak into the gym to, presumably steal from it, they stopped and decided to lift weights. Yes, this was something that really happened to a gym in Kentucky.

All of this was caught on a surveillance camera, which had to be one of the funniest things that the staff had seen. Of course, these guys were caught and are now facing charges. I don’t understand what would compel someone to end up doing something so dumb. I mean, they probably had to have some idea that they were going to be filmed the entire time. Since they decided to go ahead and lift while they were in there, they didn’t even end up stealing anything. Let’s be honest, they could have just gone to the gym while they were open, if all that they wanted to do was lift weights. I don’t know how the twenty-four hour gym hasn’t caught on everywhere but those two guys would have benefited from using one of those instead. These guys didn’t come into their gym with working out being their first intention, after they could not get into where the money was, they just worked out.

But, Wait It Gets Worse!

The details of this incident make it even more embarrassing to be in the shoes of the gentlemen that we have mentioned. Their attempt to mess up the security cameras that were at the location had only backfired. When one of the men went to adjust the camera, he only ended up pointing it directly at him. I would love to read some official reports on what all the police saw, upon arriving to this scene. The one big thing that confuses me about this story is the decision to stay somewhere you just tried to break into! What told these guys that it was a smart idea to try and break into anywhere? Beyond that, why in the world would they just hang out for a couple of hours, at that very same place? I can’t even fathom doing something like this, that would put my future in such jeopardy.

I am sure that there were some jokes, made among friends of the working out robbers, when they heard the news of the break in. I hope that some of you have learned an important lesson today: don’t stay and work out at a place that you are trying to break into. Also, don’t break into any places, either! Believe me, I have experienced this happening at a place that I worked and it really does more damage than you think. The owner is left feeling very scared and hurt when a break in occurs. It troubles the employees as well, so don’t think about doing something so stupid. Instead, learn from these two guys and know that karma always has a funny way of setting things straight.

Take the Time to Learn Your Rep Percentages

Have you ever been reading all about a new set of exercises that you want to try out? I mean, everything is going well until you start seeing more percentages than in an algebra textbook. This will be the point where I will click over to somewhere else, that can explain their plan in an easier way. I have only just started to take the time (not much, by the way) to figure out what my lifting percentages are. By doing this, not only am I being able to more closely customize my what I lift but I also get to know my limits a bit better. In a sport, or hobby, in which you are constantly pushing yourself to new limits, wouldn’t it be nice to know what the ones that you have already are? As time moves forward and you are looking into moving into an intermediate or advanced level, knowing specific numbers over guesswork will be important.

You don’t need some long and drawn out guide, or a twenty minute video to really find out your rep numbers, just start by grabbing a dumbbell. To get started, pick a specific exercise, like a curl, and get a weight to see how many reps you can do with it. This is not the safest way and I don’t recommend starting off with this but I will find out what my max is, before anything else. To do this, I grab a dumbbell and use some good old fashioned trial and error, until I find a weight that I can only bring up one time. After writing down the number of weights on the dumbbell, I now know my max. As we move into the bigger weights and a bar is required, make sure you have someone spot you. It is an incredibly dangerous idea to find your maxes on heavier lifts by yourself.

You can also do the opposite, which would be to start with what you can do more reps of and work your way up from there. When it comes to specifics, you can get as technical and detailed as you would like, although, it will save you some time if you find two to three percentages. There is a wide difference, depending upon who you ask, about what percentages are the most important. When I need to know, I will figure out my 25%, 50%, and 100% rep range, the last one being what I max out at. By having these three base percentages, guesstimating becomes a lot easier as I progress. The beauty of this method is that you can be as detailed, or not, as you want to be. As long as finding out where your strength levels lie does not change the time that you are actually lifting, you have full freedom to learn whichever rep percentages that you want.

Even though it is often ignored, you have nothing to lose by scheduling some time to find out more about how you lift. Although it might seem like a time drain, learning, literally, what your strengths are will make you a smarter lifter. So, the next time that you go and grab some weights, take a pencil and paper with you and learn how to scientifically get bigger. This will require a small level of time and actual work, you owe it to yourself to do this because the end result will be a much smarter lifter when it is all done.

use this for percentages

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.