I decided to start filling you in on things that really bother me in the gym and occasionally elsewhere. I am a very laid back person but for some reason things seem to strike me wrong while I am working out. Most of these pet peeves are based on common myths that people uphold with their workouts resulting from lack of knowledge so I intend for it to be educational as opposed to me just blowing off steam.

With that said, the first pet peeve I will address is walking on the treadmill or elliptical. I’m not talking about walking for recovery from your previous 5 days of lifting where you want to get the blood pumping but are too worn out to do intervals. I’m talking about the people whose workouts revolve around them walking.

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Ladies, I hate to call you out, but this is mostly directed at you. If you are a male and do this, just head over to the dumbbell rack and lift something.

It seems to be even more of an issue on the beloved elliptical. Believe it or not, those things will not break if you get up to the speed of a jog.

I’m not sure why it bothers me other than it’s a waste of time and the people doing it usually don’t have the ideal BMI (nicest way I could say they are chubby).

You could spend 1/5 of the time in the gym doing either intervals or move at a pace where you actually break a sweat and accomplish the same caloric expenditure. You resting metabolic rate would also be raised for much longer after your workout was completed.

This issue also carries over to people that hold on to the handles while they walk at an incline. You are basically letting the treadmill drag your legs while you hold on for the ride. Don’t jack the incline and speed up so high that you can’t walk like you would on normal ground. You are only lying to yourself by actually thinking you burned as many calories as the treadmill said you did.

Dont-Hold-On-To-Your-Treadmill

Instead, push yourself to do a real workout. There is nothing wrong with basing your workout around cardio as long as it is challenging.

 

 

Somewhere along the line, a terrible myth was born that cardio was the key for fat loss (when I say fat loss I also mean weight loss). Running miles every day and spending 40 minutes on the elliptical at a pace that wouldn’t even be considered a jog are the answer to cutting into those fat reserves you’ve built up over the years.

Unfortunately, that isn’t true at all. I have explained why HIIT training is an effective fat loss method. Many of the same principles and ideas carry over when using weight training as a method for fat loss.

Here are two of the basic scientific reasons it is better to weight train for fat loss:

For starters, lifting weights increases your resting metabolic rate. Muscle has a higher energy cost than fat so as you add lean body mass, your body has to constantly work at a higher level. This results in burning more calories throughout the day while just sitting around.

Another bonus of weight training is the hormonal response involved. Testosterone levels are increased along with insulin. This leads to more efficient break down of protein and carbs. It also helps with the mobilization and metabolism of fatty acids. Your body actually learns to be more effective with breaking down and moving fat to use as a fuel source.

Two other big reasons the general public doesn’t utilize weights when trying to slim down:

  1. Jogging is easy. You don’t have to push yourself when you are jogging at a nice easy pace.
  2. The general public doesn’t know what to do in the weight room or how to properly do it. You see people wondering from machine to machine using a weight they could complete 35 reps with but are surprised they aren’t seeing any results.

Skinny fat people jog. No one wants to be skinny fat. Or have a barbwire bicep tat.

Don't be skinny fat

So what should you do?

Challenge yourself. The weight should be heavy enough to where the last rep is difficult to complete whether you are doing a set of 3 or 15… and stay below 15.

Full body workouts, 3 days a week. Multi-joint lifts (squat) burn more fat than isolation lifts (think bicep curls). Drop the upper and lower body splits and go with full body days so you can incorporate exercises like a DB Squat to Overhead Press.

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Superset. Stop standing around and socializing in between sets and add a superset. Start with pairing a more intense exercise, like to DB Squat to Overhead Press, with an isolation lift, like a bicep curl. This will allow you to do twice as much work in the same amount of time. Take 15-30 seconds of rest between the two. As you progress, make the exercise pairing more difficult or add a short sprint on the treadmill.

Circuits. Once you get a hang of supersets, start doing circuits. Circuits have the same idea of a superset, just more exercises. Put together 3+ exercises and complete them in succession with short breaks in between each exercise. Once you finish one round, take a 1-2 minute break and go again.

Disclaimer: Circuits are hard, really hard. If they aren’t hard, you are doing something wrong. I personally hate doing circuits because of this reason, but if you want to cut some fat, it’s the way to go.

Below is a sample circuit. Complete 1 set of each exercise then move on to the next after a 15 second break. Take a 90 second break after each time through all 5 exercises. Complete the whole circuit 3 times. Start with 10 reps at a low weight and increase reps first, then weight as it gets easier.

  1. DB Squat to Overhead Press
  2. Push-Ups
  3. Forward Lunges
  4. Lat Pulldown
  5. Tricep Ext
  6. 10 second sprint on treadmill

The possibilities are endless with circuits. A general rule of thumb is to make the first two exercises a multi-joint upper and lower body lift and work more towards an isolation exercise. I also like to throw in some type of cardio to really elevate the heart rate.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. If you have any other suggestions for circuits or personal favorites, please feel free to share!

New Year, New Opportunity

Posted: January 14, 2013 in General Health
Tags: ,

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I’m excited to announce that I have started to write for STACK. For those of you that aren’t familiar with STACK, it is a website and magazine that offer great videos and articles on workout and health information. They do a great job of showing you what the professionals are doing and providing workouts and exercises that are specific to each sport.

You can check out there website HERE and their Youtube page HERE. My first article is on offseason core training and can be found HERE.

I am very grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to a successful partnership.

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. For one, you set yourself up for failure. If there is something you want to change in your life and you aren’t willing to change it immediately, are you really going to do it just because it’s a new year? Doubtful.

Secondly, the resolutions almost always include something along the lines of exercising, eating healthier, or just improving overall health. It bothers me when people don’t place a premium on their health. Shocker, I know.

How do you define exercising or eating healthier? Walking 5 minutes a day and not dipping your fries in the leftover grease from your burger? I hope you haven’t broken that one yet.

The idea of resolutions is great. The carrying out of the resolutions is the problem. We fail within the first 10 days of the year and throw it out the window because we just don’t quite have it this year. But next year is definitely the year…..

So what should you do instead of making resolutions? Lucky for you I have the solutions to your resolutions. See what I did there?

Set Descriptive, Attainable Goals

As I pointed out earlier, saying you want to exercise every day doesn’t mean anything. Be detailed with your goals. Also, don’t set goals you know you have no chance of completing. I’m not saying don’t push yourself, but be realistic. If you never workout, are you really going to start working out for 2 hours a day, 7 days a week? Probably not.

Set Smaller Goals to Complete the Main Goal

Maybe eventually you would love to be able to work out for 2 hours every day, but start with a smaller goal. By completing the smaller goals, you give yourself a sense of accomplishment and a way to track your progression.

Be Creative

Setting the same cliche goals as everyone else is basically setting the goal of being boring and average. Set a goal for yourself that will separate you from the norm.

Have a Partner

Setting the same or similar goals as a friend will give you accountability and the extra push you may need to stick to it. My workouts are always significantly better when I go to the gym with someone else. We are able to push each other and provide a spot for each other when needed. The same principles translate over into life.

Don’t Let Perfection be the Enemy 

Don’t let one slip up ruin the goal. For instance, nutrition expert Dr. John Berardi has a 90% rule. He believes that it is important to stick to healthy eating habits 9 out of every 10 meals. The 10th can be a cheat meal. Ideally you aim for 100%, but a mistake here or there isn’t the end of the world. I think this rule could be applied to almost any area of life you are trying to change.

Hopefully this gave you some ideas that will make 2013 different for you. Start knocking out your goals immediately and don’t let anything stand in your way.

While resting your arm is an important part of the offseason, it is just one of the many pieces to the puzzle. Professional and amateur players alike should have a progression they go through so they are ready at the beginning of their respective season. Wondering aimlessly through the gym for 4 months doing random exercises, reps, and sets is basically lying to yourself that you worked hard this off season. And while work ethic might not have been the issue, there is someone out there who is working just as hard…and smarter.

Since this topic is rather broad and I could write a book on it, let’s break it down and start with the moneymaker: The arm.

I recently decided (within the last 15 minutes) that I hate the term “arm care”. Care is a word that is associated with physical weakness. I’m not going to use a word that goes completely against the goal and mindset I am trying to accomplish. For that reason, I will now refer to it as arm training or strengthening. Creative, right? Go ahead and jump on the bandwagon now. You heard it here first.

In all seriousness, you will never hear me say “arm” and “care” in succession again. Here is a very basic overview of what a pitcher’s offseason should look like for arm strengthening specific work ONLY. I will get to the other parts of the body in the near future.

Professional Pitchers 

Weeks 1-2: Completely off.

Weeks 3-4: General adaptation aka get back into the routine of lifting. Normal upper body exercises

Weeks 5-6: Light manual/weighted/band rotator cuff work, scapular mobility work

Weeks 7-8: Shoulder stabilization (overhead carries, lateral core extensions w/ med ball, o’head oblique extensions, turkish get-ups), wall dribbles

Week 9-10: Overhead med ball throws, arm motion w/ weight 

Somewhere around this time throwing will start back. Schedule the arm strengthening around your throwing. Throwing should be done before the workout or on off days.

Week 11-14: Overhead med ball throws decrease in frequency and weight as throwing increases. Shoulder stability, scapular mobility, arm motion with weight, and rotator cuff continue

Week 15-16: Throwing distance should be increasing, flat grounds start, weighted ball throws from 90/90 position to release,

Week 17-18: Bullpens begin, long toss intensity increases, Overhead med ball throws cut down to once a week, weighted ball throws from power position

Week 19-20: Bullpen intensity increases, weighted ball volume decreases

Week 21-22: Ready for spring training. Bullpens and long toss at 100%. Normal in-season arm maintenance

Final Thoughts

For weighted ball throws, I would stay in the 6-11 oz range. My rule of thumb on weighted throws is decrease weight as range of motion increases. Weighted balls should be thrown into a net, not to another person. I would also not recommend using weighted balls without the instruction and supervision of someone in the strength and conditioning field that knows what they are doing. They could possibly cause injury if misused, or if you are not physically developed enough to use them. It is important to have a solid base of strength before using weighted balls.

This article was meant to serve as an overview of an offseason arm strengthening program. Obviously, there is a lot of detail left out. Hopefully it can serve as a general guide as you shape your offseason program.

I’m sure we have all stretched our hamstrings before or after a workout by bending at the waist, reaching our hands to the floor, and keeping our legs perfectly straight. While this does provide a stretch for the hamstrings, let’s take a look at some added benefits we could get by tweaking the stretch slightly.

For starters, it only stretches in one plane. Since everyone moves in 3 planes of motion (4 if you count diagonal), it makes more sense to stretch in this manner. Think about running. Only in the 100 meter dash do you run straight. Any other sport involves turning or cutting.

Back and Front Superficial Lines

Also, because the hamstring connects to the tibia (lower leg bone) and the gastrocnemius connects to the femur (thigh bone), the myofascia of the upper and lower leg link when the knee is straightened. This is the reason you cannot stretch as far when your knees are locked out compared to when they are slightly bent. The slight bend separates the fascia of the lower and upper leg, allowing for more movement.

To isolate the hamstring when stretching, it is more effective to have a slight bend in the knee and rotate the leg to simulate a movement in different planes. Below is the stretch Chuck Wolf uses to create a more functional stretch. While the biceps femoris is defined as part of the Lateral Line (semitendinosus and semimembranosus are shown in picture above), it too will be stretched using this procedure.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you. Also, please share any other functional stretches you may use for the hamstrings.

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Christmas with their family and friends. Since you are probably stuck in your house with some less desirable in-laws or extended family, here are some body weight workout ideas that you can knock out.

 

If you are as fortunate as I am to have a 60 lb weighted vest willing to jump on you at any time, I suggest using it.

Here is Charles’ contribution to the post. He also recommends a few games of basketball on a hang-on-the-back-of-a-door goal for good cardio.

 

 

Merry Christmas from the Stovers!