Category Archives: lifting geek facts

Why I Enjoy Using Forced Reps

Usually, you will see that a plan of certain reps is to always be followed when you’re working out. We all have those days where strength is not our strong suit and we will unfortunately have ourselves disappointed. Don’t just take this as the truth, there is a way that you can increase your strength, even when your body isn’t feeling up to the task. Forced reps are a kind of lifting style that you can use after you’ve exhausted all other options. The science behind a forced rep is simple, when you are at the point that you cannot complete another repetition, you pause for a moment and then force more reps. What you want to aim to do is only for us a couple more reps, or until you can meet you limit, do not force more than five reps.

The reason behind not wanting to continually force heavy reps onto your body is that you could really hurt yourself by doing this. Forced reps should not be used during every workout and when they are should only be used as a last resort. For example, you wouldn’t want to force a rep on every exercise you do but if you find that you’ve been struggling with your squats, forcing a couple more reps could be that last determining factor and you lifting more from that day on. I came up with the concept of trying forced reps into my training when I had finally had all that I could take.

I was steadily increasing my strength and most everything that I did, with the exception of one or two workouts. I found myself continuously more and more upset that I could not break through this simple plateau. I have even changed up the days that I lifted and put more space in between my days off but nothing was able to allow me to get that strength I wanted so badly. For the exercise that was giving me fits, my goal is to complete eight reps at 250 pounds. Something else I would advise, if you are thinking about forcing reps into your regimen, is that you’ll want to stick with a weigh that is only slightly higher than what you’re used to.

Again, not knowing where your strength range is and trying to complete an exercise with something you can’t carry can easily break your bones and shred your muscles. I would keep getting stuck on only being able to complete two repetitions of this very very powerful movement so I would gradually try to force another rep at the end of the exercise. Over time, I did finally get past my old limits and with the use of forest rats was able to finally complete the 250 pound lift for eight repetitions. After those weeks of forcing myself to do more than I thought I was able to, I quickly would go on to be able to actually hold 300 pounds, a feat that I am very proud of. Listen to me, your mind is telling you that you can’t do something, your body can be the one that shows your mind who the real boss is!hes-mad

If you are thinking that you’ll be stuck lifting the same amount of weight until the day that you die, it doesn’t have to be that hard. Remember, sometimes the brain is only telling us the negative thoughts that we give it. You know that to lift well you have to fuel not just your muscles, but your mind, as well!

Angry Exercise Not Good on Your Heart

You may want to read the following closely, if you are someone who enjoys nothing more than a good workout while they’re angry. Before the following study is mentioned, it was natural to want to work out when you’re angry. Having done it numerous times myself, I always found that an angry workout helped me to grow more muscle. Nevertheless, after hearing about just how bad for you angry exercise can be, I know that I will definitely have my mood in check before I pick up a set of weights. The study that was done has found that your three times as likely to have a heart attack while working out angry, when compared to being a normal state of mind. When looking at the numbers, I know that I wouldn’t want to gain muscle at the expense of the health of my heart. If something is bothering you enough to make you extremely angry, it would be better to let cooler heads prevail before you take that anger out in the gym.

As our bodies are adjusting to going through the motions, certain parts will react accordingly. When you find yourself mad or upset, your heartbeat will speed up. With a heart rate that is already sped up, the last thing you want to do is start an activity that’s going to speed it up more, this is where the increased risk for heart attack comes into play. The same holds true for aerobic exercises, not just tied to weightlifting, but other forms of activity that can also speed up the heart should be avoided while you’re in a bad state of mind. As good as it may feel to conquer the iron while you’re pretending that you’re taking your anger out on someone else, you should just lay low until that anger subsides. Trust me, you won’t need to stress yourself out further over worrying about minuscule muscle gains.

Since strength is not directly tied to anger, once you have calm down you should find that you’ll still be able to lift as good as you always have been. Don’t think that you’ll be sacrificing any muscle if you wait until you feel better to work out. What is most important to keep in mind is that your health should always be your number one concern, I don’t care how quick you could gain muscle. By making sure that your mental well-being is taken care of, this joy will extend to your physical sense of well-being. It is common for the heart rate to accelerate when exercising, the worry occurs when you speed up an already quickened heartbeat. When something does set you off and angers you, you will feel differently than you did when you were in a good mood. What isn’t as easy to see is all of internal shifts that happen, once you decide that your mood is changing. I can’t say that you should never be angry, that would be impossible to expect. What you can do though, is to wait and let that anger subside before you go out to the gym.

We all have our own distinct motivations that separate us from everyone else. You don’t have to go through life being mad at everyone, practice relaxation or if you feel that this rage is always there, you might need to think about seeking professional help.

Weightlifting Maneuvers You’re Missing Out On

You’ve heard about the old-school techniques to becoming larger, we all have. Withstanding the test of time, the staples to any real weightlifters repertoire haven’t undergone a drastic change, in the past decades. As tidbits often will, we have concentrated on the legendary lifts of the past that we’ve left a few behind, where they should not be. Without further ado, I present these three lifts that aren’t in your weightlifting regimen, but should be.

Hack Squats
Take everything that you’ve learned about how to do low squats and toss it out the window. If you don’t like lifting that squat formmakes you feel slightly off-balance, you might need someone to stand behind you. Yes, if you just starting hack squats, you could feel a sensation that you are leaning back too far, albeit a false fear. With squats that are of the hack variety, you need to put a bar to the rear of you, picking it up in a similar motion to squatting. If you wear shorts to workout in, be advised a bar, being lifted close to the back of your legs could scrape them up. I find that an occasional scratch on my skin, while hack squatting, isn’t far off from scraping my shins during a deadlift. Please keep in the forefront of your brain to not even attempt to lift what you normally squat, you’ll still be making use of your calves but the weight won’t be resting on your shoulders.

Kneeling Tricep Extensions with Dumbbells
While I enjoy gaining tricep strength, over most other groups of muscle, this exercise is responsible for the back of your arms getting a nice burn. To effectively carry out a tricep extension where you’re kneeling, balance is super important. Even if you are only using five pound dumbbells, falling over on one side could leave you with a broken arm. Falls are painful enough, holding weights while nearing the ground only intensifies that pain.

Barbell Shrugs
I never see anyone doing heavy shrugging, which leads me to believe that those same folks are likely missing out on some easy added mass. The setup to this exercise couldn’t be much more simple. To effectively do this exercise, you’ll need to grab a barbell (DO NOT lift from the floor), preferably rack your weights on a stand, if one is nearby. After that, slowly take the weight down and shrug your shoulders, try to get five reps. What I like with doing shrugs is that you can go heavy with them, since you are recruiting more fibers, than you would be with other lifts. While not quite a compound lift, but certainly not one for isolation, the shrug is somewhere in the middle.

These lifts aren’t the easiest ones to do and they sure won’t seem familiar, however don’t let that stop you from attempting any of these listed exercises. As with any new lift that you implement into your already routine schedule, give yourself time to learn. The first time that you try any of these exercises, take the hack squat for example, you won’t feel like you are doing the motions correctly. Whenever I start changing up mundane workouts, the first time that I try out a new lift (no matter how many videos I’ve seen concerning form), I still feel like the new kid on the block who is messing it up. Get limber, take the word no out of your head, and get a little confidence as you step up to the plate to put these new lifts into your weekly plan!

The Extreme Stakes of Becoming an Olympian

As we are all glued to our televisions to find out which country will reign supreme, there isn’t much known about the high costs just to compete in this amazing event. Many will go for years to try and get onto their countries team but it isn’t poor effort that can keep them out of the running. What most don’t realize is the sheer expense to becoming an Olympic athlete is a costly one that leaves even the most optimistic hopeful, crawling away.

If it takes a big budget to become an athlete, how do the lucky ones become rich and famous, with enough assets to keep them set for a lifetime? Endorsements, which means that another company sponsors you, is a deal that every hopeful hopes they get signed to. If you have found that you start chewing your fingernails when you think about a job interview, you have no idea what the applicants in the Olympics have to face. In most instances, the funding to get an Olympic level athlete trained and prepared will come from the pocketbook of the parents, adding extra strain on the family.

It can take up to, and this isn’t even the highest number, one-hundred thousand dollars, just to get a shot at competing. If you were to lose this competition, you have just blown the money needed to tryout at the Olympics, better luck in the next four years, right? If you are one that competes in sports, during only one season, it takes four years to try over and you thought getting a letter that you didn’t get that job was bad! Imagine putting your entire life savings into taking on the entire world, so to speak.

At this moment, there is no real avenue for Olympic hopefuls to get funded, meaning that we could be missing out on the best athletes in the universe, because they don’t have their own private source of funding. It can take an entire decade, made entirely of training and being determined, before anyone can obtain that dream success that changes lives. While all stand on the starting line, in amazing condition, waiting for the sound of the starting siren, only one or two could be fortunate enough to get that coveted spot on a Wheaties box. There have been voices raised about the unfair practices that one must go through, just to be looked at seriously by a sporting committee. I know that I couldn’t have raised what it took to go to the Olympics once, can you imagine the poor families who try, more than once, to get their family member closer to Olympic stardom?

I’ve read about athletes, who are already spending most of their free time practicing, having to get a full-time job, just to help cover the fees associated with becoming an Olympian. I wish there was some scholarship program that could provide the raw talent of these young athletes, with a less financially troubling path to take. In alleys behind buildings, old outdoor parks, and garages all across the country, there are those who want to compete for their country and win. Why are we letting the money that it costs to enter hold back talent that wasn’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth? If we had a system to track applicants, solely on talent, perhaps USA would run off with even more medals than we already have, at this point.

Achieving More from the Military Press

Known as one of the more rapid methods to attaining stronger shoulders, the military press has been around for ages. Although it is very beneficial, this lift is not that beginners have the easiest time grasping. I remember when I first started performing the military press, I would get these weird pains, in the middle of my stomach. Along with presenting the reason why this pain kept happening and what I did to stop it, I also have some techniques to try that will get you a set of wide shoulders that will have them all checking you out. When taking on implementing a military press into your workout routine, you have to figure out which type of bar you are going to use.

If you have a EZ bar laying around, the one in which the bar itself is curved, this is a great way to see where your strength lies for this lift. You don’t have to load up the weight until there is no more room, start with ten pounds. You have to remember that, if using an EZ bar from the floor, that you are going to be picking this weight up over your head. Many back injuries are caused from lifting weight that is too heavy, over the top of your head. The movement of weight being behind your back carries a high risk of pulling a muscle in your back. Until you are equipped with enough strength to get used to the overhead motion, you don’t want to overburden yourself.

shoulders frowingOnce the weight is up, slightly bend your back backwards and push the weight in an upward motion, never bringing the weight behind your head. You will want to have the barbell lightly come back down in the center of your chest. When doing a military press, you don’t need to be speedy but will want to take things slowly. Jerking motions while doing an exercise that requires balance could have youT ending up laying on the floor!

Getting back to the issue of abdominal pain, when this started, I had no clue why it was during the military press lift. As I began to record how I was standing, I learned why I was suffering from such sharp pain. What was happening was, as I started bringing the bar up, my body would subconsciously bend backwards slightly. After I figured out my movements were causing abdominal pain, it took time to swing things back in my favor. It took many months before I was able to progress to using military presses with an actual full-size barbell. If you attempt to work on your shoulders with a big barbell, you have got to be fairly strong.

What you have to look at is the specific groups that you are trying to pack on size to. An empty barbell doesn’t seem so weighted down, when pushing it with your arms. However, once all of the weight is on such a small sized muscle group, like your shoulders, you have to go lighter with this exercise. If standing up and doing a set of military presses can not be done, there are machines that let you sit down. I find the movements needed to effectively perform this shoulder lift were far too awkward to accomplish on a machine but you could have better luck than I did.

Follow This Strategy to Improve Your Core

The core is one the most heard of, yet least understood groups of muscle around. Surprisingly, I have heard of folks lifting with their arms, claiming that they are really hitting their core. Not only is the core not taken care of, the way that it should be, some don’t even know what it is. I think why people put up such a wall when it comes to focusing on these muscles is that there is way too much confusion out there, concerning this group. Combining the muscles in the lower back and abdominal areas, mastering how to get these two groups working hard has enormous benefits. Maybe after reading about them, you will give your core the thirty minutes that it deserves. A quadruped arm and leg raise is a great relief to those who are suffering from excruciating back pain.

My father has always had back issues and I think that I must have inherited them from him. No matter what the cause is, practicing a stretch like the one in the last sentence can bring your core to life and could potentially alleviate an aching back. Planks are a whole entire change up to any tired sets of stretching, if you utilize a twisting motion with your exercising, you can reap even more work to your core. Why planks are great to rush into your training is because they work the abs using different motions. By adding a twist (done slowly) to the end of a plank, you are working as many of the muscles in your abdominals, including your sides.

If you are wondering what in the world core strength has to do with your entire body, I will explain that for you. Think about your sets of muscles as an important item that you need to ship. If you were truly worried about how safely this item would stay after being jostled around, would you choose to pack it with the right material that is strong and will protect it? Of course you would and if you are core training you are giving that same protection to your surrounding muscles. Having a core of steel will help to keep important organs protected, like your spinal discs. Do you find that you are having bad posture and don’t really stand up straight?

core strengthI used to believe that I was standing up perfectly straight until I had to see how tall I was, straightening my back to the wall made me feel like a giant. I had swore that it felt as if I had gotten about four inches taller, just from standing up straight and maintain a better stance. When you activate the muscles in your core, they will support you in a better way. The increased support that comes with stronger abdominals will cause you to stop feeling hunched over. The gift of great posture is one that you won’t notice you have received but it will be there. I wouldn’t consider myself to be tall but if I look a bit taller, that is not an opportunity that I am going to pass up. There have been endless findings that state taller people get ahead in life, whether it be through home or at the workplace, I am in! Not just for looking good at the beach, a strong core will make you limber and free from pain. After being known as one of, if not the most common pain, getting rid of an aching lower back is highly sought after.

5 Tips for Surviving Summer Workouts

You are not going to let a little heat keep you from getting your work in, good for you! Before you get to your next training day, allow me to present you with five ways to keep cool while working out this summer!

1. Keep Yourself Hydrated
water bottleWhen you are exercising on a hotter day, no matter what type of activity you are doing, you are going to sweat. On those scorching days, where the temperature is climbing, you will be sweating much faster than normal. Normally, you won’t be able to gauge how much sweat you are exerting, since that is hard to keep your attention on. Better to be safe than sorry, bring an extra bottle of water with you for those sweltering days. I also like to take an extra bottle of water with me that I put in the freezer in the morning. By having two water bottles, one frozen and one that isn’t, it is almost like having two ice cold servings of water on a hot day.

2. Have Someone Workout with You
If you are pushing yourself to the limit, the heat can be quick to knock you right out. I don’t mean that you are going to get physically hit but you could end up dropping from heat exhaustion. While having a heat stroke is bad enough, having one without anyone to get you out of that heat could be fatal. Call up a friend and have him/her there, not to help you but to step in if you should succumb to a heat stroke.

3. Switch Up Gym Days, If Possible
They often say that prevention is a great measure to avoid danger. In the case of exercising when it is really hot outside, they are right! If you can watch ahead at weather forecasts and see that some days are going to have highs of around 100 degrees, you should try everything possible to skip that day. Instead, use that day to get done whatever you have putting off. The weather will always cool back down but what could happen if you overheat yourself, might not be as easy of a situation to get out of.

4. Leave Any Doors Open
I used to get nagged at by the wife over this all of the time! I hate to admit it but I should have listened to this advice a long time ago. This particular trick will work best for people who, either: workout at home or have some major leeway at their gym. If there is not adequate ventilation in your locale, leave a door open to let the heat escape. Doing this won’t turn a hot place into the Arctic but it will create airflow, letting the stale air escape. At first, this method could seem futile but if you keep any doors/windows open, the heat will began to die down.

5. Take Frequent Breaks, Lose the Ego
The last tip that I have is to space out the time that is spent directly lifting weights. I don’t care what the last fitness thing that you read said about taking breaks, on certain days you have to throw a rule out of the window. If you not in suitable conditions for heat, get to those conditions while in between sets. Regardless of where you are lifting weights, there will be a cooler place nearby, go to it when you can to help minimize heat stroke.

How Working Out Can Fight Onset of Dementia

Having a good exercise program in place is a great way to battle many of the ailments that you will face in life but did you ever think about those same ailments that you will encounter down the line? Dementia might not be at the front of your mind right now, as far as things you are worrying about but it will most likely affect you later. Being of the belief that the best offense is a good defense, it makes sense that you would want to do whatever is possible to fight off the chances of developing dementia early on. What makes this ailment easier to fight than others, is that the type of exercise is completely up to you, it is said that as long as you spend some time being physically active, you lessen the onset of this disease. I have dealt with family members with dementia and it is one of the hardest experiences that I have ever been through. Having a family member, that you have grown up with all of your life not know who you are is heartbreaking.

Having to keep in mind that, even though they don’t remember you, isn’t their fault was the only thought I could focus on. I knew, as I watched the elderly family members in my life suffer with this disease, that I would everything in my power to take every possible measure to lessen the odds that I would end up with dementia. I urge you to add this as another reason to take a small amount of time, when you can, to be fit while you still can. Most of the roadblocks that I can almost hear you saying now, behind that keyboard, are going to be ones that you have created. We all know that you don’t need to invest a ton of time to performing exercises, it is just that people who don’t want to do this will find any way that they can to get out of it. Many of us think that seeing those, so-called workout enthusiasts, that we are only in it because we are vain and it isn’t true. I hate being labeled as a narcissist because I choose to dedicate part of my life to doing what other people choose not to.

No more time for excuses!

I don’t think that my desire to exercise makes me better than anybody. However, I do get a good feeling by knowing that I am doing what I can to stick around longer. Now that we are all aware that exercising can help battle dementia, I have another reason to keep me getting up early and continuing to be one of the fit people in the world. If you want to stack how you can actively fight dementia right now, a good diet can also be an effective tactic to use. Foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids can be a big help to fighting the onset of dementia. When I am looking to get the most omega 3 that I can in my diet, I will usually aim for tuna. Tuna is not only a great source of these fatty acids but it is also really cheap to get and can be stored for a long time. When the store that I go to is having a sale on this super food, I usually grab as much as I can, as it is also an easy source of protein!

Forming Habits that Lead to Sticking to A Plan

If you are feeling a bit unmotivated or just flat-out bored with exercising, this is normal. I wanted to talk about the power of habit and how it can help to stick with your desire to keep exercising. I remember learning from a teacher, many years ago about the power of habit. I have applied a way of thinking, when it comes to finishing any task in front of me that has worked well over the years. Before I get to that, I wanted to speak a bit more on the how powerful habits can be. When I first learned about this amazing power, I was sitting in a classroom, fighting falling asleep at my desk! The class that I learned this in was a notoriously boring one, where I never thought I would take anything with me from. One fateful and otherwise boring morning, I was fighting heavy eyes when I heard something that changed the way my life would be forever. The teacher was in front of the class and talking to another student about her dieting. The student had asked a question to the teacher, she was not picking on the student, just wanted to clarify that.

Anyways, I was hearing them talk about something that had to do with twenty-eight days. My ears had perked up by now and I wanted to know more about this power of habit thing. What I learned was, performing a task, no matter how big or small, was much easier if it ended up being a habit that was repeatedly done. The hardest part to following this plan is getting to the 28-day point. I have never found that this method of doing things to fail me over my life. As we continually repeat something, it feels easier because our mind is so used to doing it. When you start a new job, you are probably going to feel terrified driving to your first day at work. As you near the first week being over, you could still be nervous but you are most likely feeling more at ease with showing up to work. You don’t have to deal with anymore of those awkward first meetings and you start to feel like part of a team. On a side note, isn’t it awesome when someone starts their job after you? You are no longer the newbie at work!

Getting back on track, after you have been going to whatever your new job is for twenty-eight days, you have now formed a habit. The habit of your new job, that used to be so new and scary, is now something you feel comfortable with. You don’t have those butterflies in your stomach because you have created a habit that your mind recognizes as such and sees as normal. This way of thinking is great for anyone just starting to exercise. For those new to the gym, apply this style of thinking and it will greatly reduce the chance that you end up being one of the unlucky few that give up on their goals. Get a calendar and start your own twenty-eight day plan, you can do this. Every single time that you end up completing some exercise, put an X on that calendar. Keep the chain going about a month and you will find yourself so committed to staying fit, you won’t ever want to stop. Just make sure that you toss a thank you up to your mind, for the extra help!

How Muscle Memory Created A Comeback Story

Not the name of some new game, muscle memory is quite an amazing phenomenon. It’s the way that I was able to go from a twig, to a beefed up guy, back to being small, and finally hitting my stride! When we really start to look at just how muscle memory even happens, it can really wow you. This special type of memory happens the more that a muscle learns to do something. When said action is done repeatedly and over a long period of time, this sticks with us. To be more specific, it sticks with your muscles that get used to the habit of doing the same action over and over again. An older man that I would end up going to the gym with had first told me about this. He explained this memory as how he was able to end up taking home a local trophy in a show that he did. He had been working multiple jobs and just starting out with a family of his own. This was quite the change of scenery for someone who was used to spending most of his free time doing what he wanted to do. He wanted to appear at one more show and knew he would have to sit down with his wife to talk this over with her. At first, she was not on board with the idea but eventually decided it was best to let him do what he wanted to.

At this point, he was so excited to be able to train again that he dove in head first. I admired the courage that he had to start from scratch, so to speak, but felt like he was sprinting in a marathon. Seeing him in the mindset that he was in, day after day, I really wanted to believe that he could get anywhere close to the shape that he used to be in. As we approached out third trip to the gym, this was when muscle memory came to his aid. When I saw him pull his car into the gym parking lot and get out, it was like he never took time off at all! This blueprint that he had spent years, if not decades in creating had revived his muscles into going back to the way that they were. Like stepping out of a time machine, memories stored within his mind had transferred back the way that they had looked before.

how they remember

As magical as it may seem, you don’t want to make a habit of using muscle memory as an excuse to be lazy and neglect doing some work. This can lead to your internal organs going into a frenzy from a rollercoaster ride. Instead, look to applying muscle memory in extreme situations where you know that working out is just not going to be a priority. Isn’t it odd that someone will stop working out and not come back to starting it up again because they think it will take all of that time? If more people knew about muscle memory, I think that we would see higher percentages of them sticking with a less sedentary lifestyle. If you are reading this now and used to train but have since stopped, your muscles will still remember. It might take days, or weeks but this amazing memory that we have will kick in. When this occurs, expect everything to start coming back.