Wednesday, October 7, 2015

High Intensity Interval Cardio Training

Before I ever started training or doing cardio, I told myself, “the harder you work, the better the result.” Makes sense, right?

Well, then someone told me, “No, actually, when it comes to aerobic work, you’ll want to do longer duration, less intense exercise for the greatest fat burning.” It took awhile to buy that, but then I did – for years. So there I was, doing low intensity, hour long workouts on a treadmill, thinking I was burning adequate fat.

Truth was, I was dieting hard enough that the fallibility of that theory didn’t show itself.

But the other reason the theory about low intensity cardio came into being is that studies showed it burned a greater percentage of calories from fat, not carbs.

So years later, when someone else told me that high-intensity aerobic work would burn more fat than low intensity aerobic work, I had a hard time buying it.

“No, just try it,” he said.

So I did. And without dieting, without other efforts, I lost more body fat than I had ever imagined possible – and all from HIIT Cardio.

High Intensity Interval Training for Cardio is just that – a series of high intensity moves that work within intervals. That is to say, moderate cardio interspersed with high intensity work that works the heart rate between moderate and intense ranges.

The great thing about HIIT is its versatility – whether in the gym or out. I like running stairs or doing track sprints, but sometimes it’s just nice to get it all done in the confines of my gym. Driving to a track, with these gas prices, might be unnecessary. After all, you can sprint anywhere.

To gain maximum benefit from a HIIT program, you’ll need to perform HIIT exercises – two different types of cardio within two pace ranges that differ – at least four times a week. Off days are perfect for HIIT cardio days and I try my hardest to get most of them in on days I’m not training.
Studies show that HIIT burns up to 50 percent more fat. It also has been shown to burn more calories, by and large, than traditional cardio. But the greatest thing about it is that most of those calories and metabolic boost will occur after you’ve finished!

That’s because your body has gone into EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). In English, that means, you have consumed a lot more oxygen recovering from the exercise session than you might have if you had just done a workout utilizing a steady pace.

The easiest way to work into HIIT, (and you will have to work into doing it), is by choosing one piece of stationary equipment in the gym – such as a stepper or elliptical trainer or cycle – and varying pace and resistance for short durations, back and forth.

Cardio Workout

So, in a first week, you’ll want to do 2 minutes of cardio at your normal pace, then bump it up for 1 to 2 minutes to a sprint, then back to normal and so on. You’ll want to do this for at least 15 to 20 minutes and just do what you can.

Seeing where you are is important, because it dictates how to proceed. If you suck wind at 1 minute of sprints, then stay there for a week or two and increase as you can – but try to push yourself.
Another good way is to jog for a minute or two and then sprint for a minute or two – going back and forth. With jogging though, you’ll want to do 30 second intervals of jog and sprint. And at the 10 minute mark, do a brisk walk instead of a jog or sprint, and resume, or quit, depending upon your fitness level. If it’s poor, 10 minutes of jog and sprint outside is about the equivalent of 20 minutes of the same on a stationary cycle. Fact is, it’s just harder outside moving your own full weight.
Some people recommend doing just 4 or 5 minutes total on your first day. Don’t kill yourself, but 4 or 5 minutes isn’t going to anoint you into the ways of HIIT. Every other workout, you’ll add a minute to your workout.

Here’s how a variety of HIIT workouts might look:

10 to 15 Minutes:
30 seconds jogging
30 seconds stair run
2 minutes moderate elliptical trainer pace
1 minute sprint pace on elliptical trainer
1 minute cycling
1 minute sprints

Some people like sticking with 30 second intervals throughout, and just increase the span of time within which they are working. So, for example, in their first week, they’ll do 10 to 15 minutes of 30 second intervals, but after the sixth week, they’ll be working within a 22 to 25 minute total range.
Whichever is most comfortable to you, but the point is you don’t want to exceed 2 minutes of high intensity work, since it is anaerobic. You want to get in and get out. I recommend doing 1 to 2 minutes of sprint or high intensity work on stationary equipment mainly because you aren’t fighting the gravity of your own body, so you must work harder.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Upright Row Workout

Upright rows are a movement which are embraced by some, and condemned by others. Some trainers and bodybuilders believe the movement is just plain awkward and causes injury. Others, most notably Bob Paris, owner of some serious cannonball deltoids in the mid-80s, believe they are essential for complete development. They hit the muscles of the shoulder like no other exercise, and are essential, they feel. A third group believes they are useful in a limited capacity in pre-contest training, when the shoulders cannot handle their normal training workload. Let’s take a look at each argument, and discuss the validity of each.

Never use upright rows
The upright row involves starting with a barbell at waist level, and hands about six inches apart. Bring the weight up almost to the chin, and then lower it back down. This exercise does put the shoulders in a position that many trainers do consider awkward, especially at the top of the movement. Rotator cuff injuries are extremely easy to acquire, and often require surgery and months of rehab in order to recover from. Be smart and just avoid this exercise. There are plenty of other movements which deliver success without such risk. Upright rows belong in a box with barbell presses behind neck and lat pulldowns behind head, with a big label that read ‘Do not open!”

Upright Rows Workout

Use upright rows all year long
Upright rows train the deltoids, the trapezius, and the upper back. Secondary muscles worked include the biceps, forearm, and grip. As long as you warm up properly, which all intelligent bodybuilders do, you’ll be perfectly fine completing this movement. No movement as succinctly brings together the muscles of the shoulders, neck, and traps. There are muscle fibers stimulated by this exercise which aren’t touched by another other movement in your gym arsenal. This movement is used by the greats of the sport, as well as gym rats around the world. Use it!

Only use upright rows in the pre-contest phase
It’s at this time that the shoulders are at their weakest due to caloric deprivation and extreme cardiovascular training. The repetitions are high, and the energy low. You’re training for a pump to bring out the detailed etchings of each muscle group, and shoulders are no exceptions. With low body fat, there is some serious danger in placing a heavy barbell in the barbell press position. Therefore, barbell upright rows should be used as a replacement.

The conclusion, of course, is that upright rows have a different role for all bodybuilders. Just as rookie phenom Ben White was able to build some of the best legs in the sport without squatting, or Masters Pro champion Bob Cicherillo was able to develop a world class chest while never using the bench press, it’s entirely possible to build an impressive set of shoulders without the use of upright rows. However, the use of this movement will just help move you to possessing better shoulders that much faster, if you’re willing to face a little bit of risk using the movement. The choice is yours!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Supersets: The Ultimate In Chest Training

Q: What do you think about combining chest and back in a superset? I hear that it should be a large body part like back and biceps, or within one body part, such as legs. What are the upsides and downsides of doing it either way?

A: There are no upsides and downsides, per se, because training has no right or wrong answers beyond flat out “overtraining” and “training with poor form”. I personally feel that combining large body parts means that something has to give. But it depends on what you want out of it, how often you do it and how carefully you choose exercises and combine them. Single exercises combined into a superset, such as what Arnold used to do: Incline presses combined with pull downs – is a great way to keep the intensity up in both body parts and using the time in alternating body part sets to rest one body part optimally. But then why wouldn’t you just train that body part normally? The idea if you do combine that is to choose just one exercise per body part and stick with it for a series of supersets – somewhat like the GVT question, but a little different. I prefer to do supersets within one body part alternating exercises that recruit slightly different muscle within the group. But as with anything, try it for yourself. Some people really only like to train using supersets, and this is just one way to try it.

Chest Supersets

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bodybuilding Training On The College Level

Q: I am starting college football in the fall at University of Oregon and I know that I will have access to the best strength and training coaches. But I want to go in a little stronger than I might otherwise just coming off summer vacation. I want to be a superstar in the first weeks and really get noticed. Any suggestions?

A: Well, first off, I don’t think that you should have the superstar mentality going in – it’s a sure way to get hurt. I do think you can do things like boost your cardio a bit, train regularly in the gym and keep your diet tight so that you are “in shape” coming out of summer. But apart from that, you can’t really design a good training program that they can’t do for you. Then again, I do have a link to a great pdf file online that will help give you some direction and really explains things well. Try this link to see what you’ll probably be doing in the fall:

Remember, football workouts depend upon your position, despite most pre-season workouts being uniform on the field. But having said that, I can give you a short version if the link is too complicated. Here is a great way to train for the month or two preceding the first practice:

Power Cleans 5×5
Squats 4×8
Bench Press 5×3, 2×8
DB Incline 2×20

Incline Press 5×5, 1×8
Squats 5×5 (light day. top set should be 50lbs lighter than Mondays top set)
Good Mornings 4×10
Calf Raise 3×30
Biceps 2×20
Triceps 2×20

Squats 5×3, 1×8
Shrugs 5×5
Bench Press 3×8, 1×2
Close Grip Press 3×8
Biceps 2×20
Triceps 2×20

(Note: When it says 4×8 that means 4 sets building up to a top set of 8 (135, 225, 315, 405×8) and not 4 sets of 8 with 405. Sets listed after commas are done to failure. Follow all workouts with a weight gain shake. This is for power, so don’t do cardio with it. But if you want to be able to withstand the field exercises, go lighter and do a little cardio).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bodybuilding Training Tips For Washboard Abs!

Q:  Okay, I have some crazy abs – everyone says so. My abs are like ledges on a cliff face. That is, in the upper region. My lower abs are, in a word, nonexistent. Do you have recommendations for exercises I can do to thicken my lower abdominal wall?

Abdominal MusclesA: Remember that abs are a crapshoot – you either have great shape underneath it all or you don’t. In your case, your upper abs are very well developed – both from resistance and workouts, and from genetics. But your lower abs may truly lack genetics for thickness. Some bodybuilders have abs that stop above their navel and it’s smooth as a baby beneath that. So, let’s think positively and imagine you CAN build your lower abs. Squatting occasionally without a belt helps this, and is one reason people lack abs below the waist. We’ve become too accustomed to helping aids during heavy workouts. The best thing you can do is hanging leg raises, provided you keep good form and reduce swinging. You can also use an “ab wheel” – the rolling apparatus that you get into a pushup position and then roll toward your lower abs as your body arcs at the hips. You can also do an exercise called “climbers” – which is hands down in a push up position, bridging the body as if you were climbing a flat wall. Start with one leg forward and alternate in a climbing fashion, kicking one leg back as the other comes forward.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Which Calcium Supplements Are Effective To Your Bodybuilding Training?

Q: I want to supplement with a calcium product, but don’t know which to use. I am also unsure as to what the ratio of calicum to magnesium ought to be. What is the rule here?

Calcium Supplements
 A: The correct calcium to magnesium ratio is always 2:1. Magnesium is always needed in any calcium supplementation because it helps the body absorb calcium at optimum levels. But Vitamin D and potassium also help the body absorb calcium at the gut level, so they are important in factoring in how your body will “actually” take in the calcium supplements you give it. What you want to avoid is the practice of supplementing in high doses with individual supplements. There is a reason that multi-vitamin/ multi-mineral compilations exist: They keep things in balance. Supplementing high levels of one thing can negatively impact other levels of minerals and throw the body off balance. The recommendation for calcium is between 1000 and 1500 milligrams daily, with a magnesium ratio of half of that. But since the body can only absorb about 500 milligrams at a time, it is always a good idea to supplement 2-3 times per day, throughout the day. It’s hard sometimes with commercial preparations of calcium-magnesium because they are usually in the 1000 to 1500 range in one dose. Remember though that as a bodybuilder your bone matrix is also strong – more than someone who does not work out – because bone density increases as a result of resistance exercise. Blood tests are also a poor indicator of whether you are deficient in calcium because that blood level of calcium in a fixed number, for the most part. Just supplement using a multi-vitamin/ multi-mineral that is formulated for very active people, and you should be fine.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Back Muscle Building Training

For many body parts, attaining a pump is the key to muscle growth. If you are able to flush blood into the region, you are able to create growth. Picture the abs, or the forearms, or the shoulders. High-repetition routines with low weights tend to cut these muscle groups right up, and deliver some sparkling muscularity.

For other body parts, using heavy weight is an absolute must. You can do leg extensions for ten years, but you’ll never develop massive quads without doing squats and leg presses. You can do cable crossovers until you’re blue in the face. But until you pick up some dumbbells or a barbell and do some heavy chest presses, your pectorals will always be lacking. And with no body part is this belief more true than the back. Bodybuilders need to use compound movements with heavy weights to build a massive back. It’s that simple.

Back Training

This movement allows a bodybuilder to let his powerlifter side show through. Even the great Ronnie Coleman, 8-time Mr. Olympia, would do doubles with deadlifts (two reps at 800 pounds) in the final weeks before the Mr. Olympia contest. Usually, choosing a rep scheme below 5 reps is a bad idea for bodybuilders. The muscles receive a powerlifting-style workout, but don’t get the full stimulation that bodybuilders require. With deadlifts, however, the stimulation is there, and then some. The jarring impact upon the body of those extremely heavy sets is very useful for stimulating muscle growth.

Barbell Rows
This movement shouldn’t be completed using the same low rep scheme that deadlifts allow. However it is still a very useful compound movement in the 6 to 12 repetition movement. Barbell rows require many cross-sections of the back to come into play to move the barbell through its range of motion.

Chins create back width like no other movement can. Use them weekly. Bodybuilders with higher bodyweight may need assistance from a spotter or through the use of machine chins, which reduce the workload placed on the back. If you’re a lighter athlete, you can attach a 45-pound plate or two to your weight belt using a chain, and increase the workload by 45, 90, or even 135 pounds when doing chins. This will inspire back thickness growth very quickly.

Don’t neglect your traps – barbell and dumbbell shrugs are essential for complete upper back development. Often, the biggest difference between an amateur and professional bodybuilder – visually – is that thick upper back. Shrugs help with this greatly.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bodybuilding Training And Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is defined as the force that blood exerts upon the walls of the blood vessels within your body. It’s used as a measurement tool for determining cardiovascular and circulatory health. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and other conditions. High blood pressure is caused by a variety of factors, including diet, weight, genetics, daily stressors, and level of physical activity.

Bodybuilders and powerlifters are especially susceptible to high blood pressure, or hypertension. The heart and blood vessels cannot tell the difference between a 300-pound muscle man and a 300-pound obese man when it comes to pumping blood – it’s a great deal of extra work no matter what. Diet also comes into play. Bodybuilders consume a great deal of calories each day, including a high level of fats, which do contribute to higher blood pressure. Lifting extremely heavy weights also contributes to higher blood pressure.

Hypertension in Bodybuilding

Ready to take the plunge into improving about your own blood pressure? First off, you should have your blood pressure tested. As far as specific numbers: 120/80 used to be considered normal, but recently some doctors have lowered that a bit. People who are in top physical shape will have lower heart beats a minute rate, something between the low 40′s and 50′s. Some take this as a sign of good blood pressure, but this is not always the case. Some people think that by working out often will make the heart stronger, thus lowering blood pressure. But this also is not always the case either.  A strong heart does not always mean there is no danger from high blood pressure. Many bodybuilders have high readings and do not know it. Take a look at some of the top pro and amateur bodybuilders. Their faces are often beet red, even when at rest.

Suppose you test higher. That 160/80 would be considered in the “red zone” with regards to high blood pressure – with a greater pressure/force the passing blood extends against the blood vessel walls. The top reading would be of more concern to a doctor. There is no perfect reading, as each of us differs. Family history, mental stress, drinking/drug use, weight, and other factors all have a bearing. High blood pressure is pretty easy to control these days with medication. Whatever your reading, keeping an eye on your blood pressure is a way to ensure you have a long, healthy life. Don’t wait – get tested today!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bodybuilding Goals By Age

Age in Bodybuilding

Gyms are filled with men and women of all ages. With different ages come differing goals, and it’s important that trainers recognize the differences, train according to the stage they fall into, and respect those in differing stages. Breaking down each decade of life into general gym goals and pitfalls allows us to be more realistic about our own expectations in the gym, and recognize the successes of others as they move upward into the later decades of life.

Age 20-30
Your goal in your twenties is to pack on the muscle. Your testosterone and energy levels are the highest they will be in your life. You heal/recover faster. Watch for the metabolism drop off around age 25. This is the best time – enjoy it and pile on that raw muscle.

Age 30-40
The name of the game now is injury avoidance and muscle maturity. You’ve been training for 10 or 20 years now (hopefully) and your muscles will reach their peak this decade. Prepare for the testosterone drop-off as you reach 35. Most top amateur and professional bodybuilders (and athletes in general) find their absolute peak from 32 to 36. Nearly all bodybuilders achieve their best vascularity in their late thirties.

Age 40-50
Your body may begin to break down this decade. Stay on track, but move a bit of the time dedicated to dangerous weights over to cardio training. Your heart is very important and cannot be ignored. Devote four 45-minute sessions to cardio every week for long term viability.

Age 50-60
In your fifties, you’ll want to avoid risky lifting and pushing max poundages. Weights are great, as it is imperative that you maintain some muscle mass. But cardiovascular fitness is more important. Look into HRT this decade – your body’s levels will begin to decline rapidly this decade. In the 50s, being strong and active will certainly begin to differentiate you from your peers.

Age 60 and beyond
Staying active is the most important thing as you pass sixty and move into your golden years. Lift light and frequent. Engage in cardiovascular activity. You’ve made it! After all, the goal IS to get old – you just don’t have to look it. Use weight and cardiovascular training to make the most out of life, and to live the longest life possible.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

High Volume Training Tips

Q: What do you think of high volume training? It just seems to me that these pros are lying – guys like Jay Cutler do six exercises and then do between two and three sets for those six, each. How is that possible?

A: Do you want the short answer? The short answer is they are on steroids and can do it. High volume training is the best way to utilize a cycle, in fact, because it’s virtually impossible to over-train. You recover from almost anything, so getting in tons of high volume work is the best thing for maximizing a cycle’s potential to pack on mass. Could all of us do that much work on a cycle, all things being equal? Probably not. These guys, remember, are pros for a reason. It’s one of the reasons that you could take what Jay Cutler takes and probably never achieve what he has. But you can push yourself as hard as Cutler, relative to your own goals and development currently. I recommend that you try some high volume training on your next cycle. Work up to it, and start with 4 exercises and do 3 to 4 sets for each, doing maybe 10 reps in each set. Try also to work up to taking less rest. Focus during this time on moderate to heavy weight, rather than heaviest lifts of all time. It won’t work if you try to do it all, because something always has to give. You’re going to hate it at first because it’s damn hard to do, but once you get over the hump of “endurance” if you will, you’ll see the benefits of high volume training. But remember, don’t do high volume work in an off-cycle phase.

Jay Cutler Bodybuilder