6.25.2002

Workout Philosophies



I've come to realize that there are many differing ways to look at working out, lifting weights or circuits or cross training or whatever gets your blood pumping. And it may make some sense to detail my own evolved sort of workout thoughts down into the blog. Credentials? We don't need no, wait a second. Yes, I was a personal trainer all over the US and overseas while I was in Africa. I've trained top level athletes from body builders to special Olympians. So yeah, think I've got a reasonably good set of credentials.

And along the way I've picked up some tricks to make the workout better and easier to get through. Or just more effective which means, in the end, that you work out less and get better results and that's never a losing proposition.

The best and easiest trick I know is the half count. Basically its the idea of counting up until you've reached half your target reps for the set, from then on you count back down. Set of twelve, count up to six and then back from six to zero. If the weight's correct then the last few reps are tough and you have to grit them out. But the reverse counting does several things, among them it distracts you slightly by having to think about what rep you're on. It also gives you a much better sense of the end approaching. Its not perfect because it can lock you into a set set of reps and that's not a good idea, so think of going into negatives if you're not there yet when you're back to zero. And next time, use more weight.

The second best trick is take your time. Not between sets, the intra-set interval should be two minutes at most unless you're doing maximums and then the whole workouts different. No, the idea is that you take your time with the weight so that at no time are you allowing momentum to do your work for you. Four seconds on the contraction and four seconds on the negative (lowering the weight back down again). And that works out to almost a full minute for a 12 rep set. The fools who use their chests like springboards to bounce barbells off of to put up more weight than they can safely lift, they will suffer badly for it in the form of a depressed solar plexus, torn shoulders, rib muscles and all kinds of other maladies. Slow and steady means that the weight is in control and you're muscles are getting the entire benefit of the exercise. And as my old, old Scottish soccer coach, Mr. Merrill, would say "Yer only cheating yerselves lads and lassies, yer not ahurting me". And I take that to mean that, if you're going to put the effort in to go to the gym (or get on your bowflex, soloflex or other home version) then you might as well get the most out of it. Otherwise you're just wasting time looking at shapely asses going up and down on the stairmaster, which, granted, isn't a bad way to spend time but there's no rule that says you can't enjoy the view and get a great workout in at the same time.

My third and final tip for the day is to increase the weight after each set and decrease the number of reps. Usually its a factor of 5 or 10 pounds per side up and two reps down. So that, if on set #1 you benched 160 (after a good warmup, of course) for 12 good clean, no bouncing reps then on the next set go up to 170 or 180 and reduce the reps to 10. Next set up some more and down a few more reps. If you're still popping with energy after three sets then reduce the weight to a notch or two below your starting weight and do another full set as slowly as possible. Concentrating on the muscles you're working (and you DO know which exercises work which muscles, right? Right?).

One last no-brainer that doesn't count as a tip but more of a reminder. Drink water! Drink a good amount of water during your workout and your recovery the next day (or two in the case of my leg workouts) will be that much easier. Water helps to flush out the lactic acid in your muscles that is the by product of the burning of ATP (basic unit of muscular energy, adenosine tri-phosphate or something like that, can't spell this morning, or type for that matter but that's why I have a backspace key).

One other thing to consider is that working out in the morning elevates your metabolism for the entire day before sleep resets it again (though it will be slightly faster than before the workout) so morning workouts give you a better long term return, all other things being equal, than night time workouts.

And this endeth the sermon for this morning. I'm sure I'll find more stuff to vent on later on today though. Oh yeah, I loved the Martha Stewart non-interview this morning. She's so tight right now that she might just burst and that would make for some fabulous television! I'm sure she'd explode like a pinata with beautiful little boxes wrapped with home made ribbons and pine cones glued on. Ahhh, the imagery!

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