Glutes Gone Wild @ T-Nation…

I have been looking for some ways to spruce up my glute focused workout, but nothing has seemed to work exactly the way I want it.  I love the site T-Nation and found some good ways to change up exercises I already do now on their site.  I will perform this workout next week, so I will let you know how it went.  I have not had sore glutes in about 6 months and I truly miss that can’t-sit-down-on-the-toilet-for-2-days feeling!

T-Nation Glutes Gone Wild

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What’s the deal with 3 sets/10 reps?…

Everyone has their own way of studying for a test.  You might go hard for hours with no rest in between.  You may take many breaks and focus on a lot of different info during the study session.  Or, you just pace slow and take breaks when needed.  So, when it comes to exercise why does everyone hear about and follow the same “3 sets of 10 reps” rule?

What this means is that every time you workout, you are focusing on performing the exercise 3 times.  Every time you perform the exercise it is performed for 10 repetitions.  When you have completed 3 sets of 10 reps you just performed 30 repetitions.

When you do your own research on this topic you are going to find an array of people agreeing, disagreeing, and people getting outright enraged with everyone and their theories.

First off, if you have specific goals in mind (strength gains, bodybuilding, toning, etc.) this will change the amount of repetitions you are to perform during sets.  If your goal is to gain strength, the general rule of thumb is to perform around 6 reps.  If you are looking to tone you are going to end up in the higher rep range which is around 13-20 reps.  If you want to focus on muscle hypertrophy, then your rep range is usually between 8-12 reps.  So, the amount of reps you perform is pretty much based on your fitness goals.  Since we are all individuals and our bodies are all unique, adapting to stimulus differently, even these numbers will need some adjusting during your training.

But, what about the rule of 3 sets?  Man, oh man!  There is just not a set answer out there!  The 3 sets 10 reps rule began in the 1940’s and 1950’s when an Army surgeon general concluded that three sets were better than one.  But, there are training programs that do use the 1 set rule as a training regimen.  People that use this training method of 1 set say that mental focus, intensity, and speed of the rep are detrimental to this type of training.  I have to say, aren’t ALL of those factors detrimental to any training regimen, regardless of sets?

First off, if you feel the 1 set rule is working for you I truly think it is important to at least get a warm-up set before you perform the high intensity 1 set workout. In my opinion without having a warm-up set, it is difficult to perform a heavy weight, high intensity 1 set workout.  A warm-up set can even be necessary when abiding by the 3 set rule.  Remember, it’s really all personal preference, but you don’t want your muscles to be tight and not loosened up before a workout.

Second, studies are showing that when compared to 1 set, the 3 set rule is allowing for greater strength gains…up to 46% in one study!  Some people even exceed the 3 sets rule and aim for 4-6 sets, but usually with less reps and heavier weights.  Most studies only focus on the 3 set rule, so there isn’t much data out there on strength gains exceeding 3 sets.

Lastly, just remember what your fitness goals are and find ways to adjust your workout to fit your desired outcome.  I generally do not lift to tone.  I lift to put on some muscle and am hoping in the near future I can train to put on more.  I do live by the 3 sets rule (sometimes adding in a 4th set if I’m feeling freaking awesome!)  and I lift until I cannot lift anymore, which is between 8-10 reps.  I want to lift heavy to put on muscle, therefore I do not perform a lot of reps.  If I can lift a weight more than 12 reps, I am now into the toning stage of training and my weight is not heavy enough for my training desires.  I also lift with intensity, focus, and I lift slowly-not lifting fast compromising my form.  But, I have had days where I was sick and all I performed was 2 sets of each exercise.  2 sets are better than none!

You can always change up your sets by using drop sets, pyramid workouts, circuits, 21’s, super sets (click and see super-sets for bi’s/tri’s and shoulders), negatives, partials (21’s again), etc.  Just find ways to tailor sets to your workouts.  Everyone is different and we all succeed differently.  That’s what makes us unique and allows for so much debate on the 3 sets 10 reps topic!

Check out this article for information regarding working out for beginners.  It’s great and sets forth some clear strategies and key points in exercise.

Another In-Your-House-Cardio-Circuit…

Here is another In-Your-House-Workout.  No equipment is needed.  It’s a great cardio circuit created by fitness celebrity Lindsay Messina.

Metabolism with Alicia Marie…

This is hilarious and super informative in a very humorous way.  The woman in the video is Alicia Marie.  She is a fitness supermodel and you can find her in Oxygen Magazine every month.

 

 

HIIT Glute Circuit…

I have uploaded the workout I described in my post “Bring it up a notch with a different approach to HIIT…” to My Workouts page titled: LOWER BODY HIIT w/ HEAVY WEIGHTS & CARDIO.

Like I’ve said before, when doing the side jumps on the plyo box, you should really push off your foot and spring up into the air, but because my plyo box is in my basement (dang winter keeping it indoors) I don’t push off as high as I should or I’d crack my head on the ceiling.

And pardon my lip syncing at the end. Thank goodness for mute!

5 minute warm-up

10 reps squat, deadlift, walking lunge, squat jumps, side plyo jumps, 1-2 minutes fast cardio…rest and repeat total of 3 times.

 

The Endorphin Rush is saving the day…

I’ve been completely exhausted lately.  Going on a month of complete and utter fatigue.  It’s exhausting being this exhausted.  To add to this complete fatigue, other issues requiring plenty of thought and life changing decisions have added to the stress of being this flat-out tired, sluggish, and lifeless.

My workouts have suffered this past month.  If I’m not getting out of bed to workout, there is a definite problem.  Then that adds to my stress, because the feeling of completing a workout always makes me feel amazing, and now I’m not getting that.

Saturday morning it took hours for me to finally get downstairs and workout…I mean hours!  I finally dragged myself off the couch, with plenty of help from my husband.  I decided to go with something a little different for me and did an Insanity dvd.  It took about 4 minutes and I was already feeling better and when I finally completed the workout I felt amazing.  And the feeling lasted for hours.  It’s that feeling of the endorphin rush that always saves me.

I live for this feeling!  Exercise, mainly cardio or very high intensity workouts, create this endorphin rush or feeling of euphoria.  If you hear people who run (and actually enjoy it) talk about “runners’ high”, this is what they are talking about.  It feels as if you can go on forever.  Your mood becomes enhanced, you are invincible, and you become ready to take on the day and anything that is thrown at you.  You feel less stressful and your sleep becomes better.  All of this can be attributed to that endorphin rush.

Endorphins are hormones made and produced in the brain. They are a natural painkiller or feel-good hormone made by the body and released during exercise.  These hormones have actually been proven to help people with depression and anxiety.  Why do you think doctors encourage exercise to their patients?  It helps us on so many different levels. Marathon runners have continued to run on some serious injuries, but the release of endorphins during their run actually masked their pain.  Endorphins also act as that second-wind you feel during a workout.  It may take as quickly as 10 minutes for some to feel this, and sometimes up to 30 minutes for others.

The hard part for me the past month is getting my workout started.  But, missing my workout does even more damage.  I know how amazing and fearless I feel after a great workout and what that release of endorphins does for my body, brain, and overall mood.  The endorphin rush is helping me make it through the day.

 

Here are a few bodyweight endorphin rush workouts you can do in your home, no equipment.

Just found this one…remember to be creative if you don’t have equipment…jumprope, jog in place, run stairs.

Crazy 8 Body Weight– yep, still love this one

Or, try something like this….

Do a 5 minute warm-up of cardio, your choice.  Follow this by 30 seconds of the following, no break in between exercises.

Jog in place

High Knees

Fast-paced Jumping jacks

Burpees

Split-Squat jumps

Squat jumps

rest a minute and repeat 2 to 3 times

 

Bring it up a notch with a different approach to HIIT…

I’m preachin’ it again!  High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the absolute way to go if you are looking to shape your body and see results quicker than traditional approaches.  HIIT has the ability to help you see results quicker than traditional methods of training by releasing growth hormones, increasing your VO2 max, and pushing your body to its limits working at max or near maximum abilities.  It is also a great training technique to help get your heart to recover quickly.  Getting your heart rate to recover means bringing it down to levels that are lower than they were while working out at a higher intensity.  For example, when performing an interval workout, you may get your heart rate up to 176 beats per minute (bpm).  Within a minute you are able to bring it back down to 116.  Your heart rate does not have to work as hard to pump blood because it is getting stronger with each training session.

Why is recovery heart rate so important? Well, imagine if your heart rate never, ever recovered after a workout.  It would probably explode!  Being able to get your heart rate to recover quickly means YOU being able to recover quickly.  The faster it slows down, the less exhausted you are.  Your breathing slows down.  You are no longer huffing and puffing.

Most people think of cardio as the only form of HIIT.  Even endurance athletes throw in some HIIT in the form of sprints.  This allows them to have a faster recovery heart rate and a heart that is able to pump blood more efficiently without causing too much exertion on the athletes’ part.  But, don’t think of HIIT as purely cardio.  You can perform HIIT with weights as well. One of the ways you can do this is by lifting heavy weights maxing out between 8-12 reps.  Maxing out at this weight at 8-12 reps means you can’t lift a single rep more if your life depended on it.  Follow this with little rest between sets, no more than 30 seconds tops.

Combining this type of HIIT with weights, along with HIIT with cardio, you have a pretty solid workout program.  OnFitness magazine just put out an article that states combining these two types of exercises will have “the heart muscle itself begin to increase its contractility and its ability to pump more blood per beat”.  Contractility is the “intrinsic ability of heart muscle to generate force and to shorten, independently of changes in the preload or afterload with fixed heart rates”.

Here is a workout that I do that combines both heavy weight and cardio HIIT for the lower body.  I’ll also throw this on my workout page for quick reference.

I take 4 of the exercises that I do for my glutes (which you can find on my workout page).  I perform them 10 reps and I’m lifting heavy.  I run through each exercise one time, 10 reps each.  After each set, I jump on the elliptical and go hard for 2 minutes.  Remember, if you don’t have cardio equipment get a jumprope, do jumping jacks, run the stairs in your house, run in place…whatever you need to do!  After this I take a minute break and run through it again a total of 3 times.  Here’s the program:

5 minute warm up on elliptical (cardio of your choice)

10 reps of each: squat, deadlift, walking lunge, side box jumps

2 minute of elliptical going hard

1 minute water break

Repeat 2 more times

5 minute cool down on elliptical at end

I will use this in place of my traditional glute workout since I am utilizing the same muscle groups.

Listen to your body.  If you are feeling pain or something doesn’t seem quite right, then slow down.

 

Add a little Negativity to your workout…

I can’t get my biceps to feel sore anymore!  And I hate it!  I used to love the feeling of heavy arms after a workout, like blocks of cement were just filling up in there.  But, I just can’t seem to leave an arm workout without a feeling of complete exhaustion in my biceps anymore.  I also don’t feel like I can lift weight that is much heavier than I do now.  So, something else needs to change.  I understand that the feeling of soreness is not necessarily a good indicator of an amazing workout (I did glutes on Tuesday and still can’t sit on the toilet!), but I do enjoy that heavy feeling in the muscles after a good workout.  I have supersetted them, changed rest time between sets, and switched up my routine some.  I think what I am going to do next is focus on the negatives.

When lifting weights, your muscle actually goes through two contractions.  Most people think of the actual lift of the weight as the only part of the lift.  But, there is a second part.  Let’s use the Bicep curl as an example to explain both parts of the lift.  The concentric contraction is when you take the weight and lift it up towards the body.  The muscle fibers are actually shortening during this phase to pull the load up towards the body.  As you bring the weight back down to its starting position, this phase is called the eccentric contraction.  The muscle fibers are lengthening to help lower and control bringing the load back down.  Most people starting off don’t realize that an eccentric contraction is even happening or the importance of this phase of the lift.  If you didn’t have eccentric muscle contractions, you wouldn’t be able to sit down in a chair.

For my Bicep workout I’m going to focus more on the eccentric contraction, which is also called the negative contraction.  I’m going to spend more time lowering the weight down to its starting position, and not so much on the lift itself.  From everything I have read, this is a good change in your routine, but not something you want to do every workout.  It can really exhaust your muscles and you want to give yourself adequate rest.  It also takes a little more time because you are spending more time each rep on lowering the weight back down.  I’m going to do this next Thursday when I do bi’s and tri’s and I will let you know how it goes.  Here’s an informative article from Bodybuilding.com explaining negative training.

Kick your own butt and Lose weight doing it…

Ok!  You want to kick your own butt, increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and burn calories well after your workout is over…all within 4 minutes?  Who doesn’t want this?  There is a form of training that can provide all of this for you, but it definitely takes some dedication, lots of towels to wipe the sweat that is pouring off your body, and maybe even a garbage can for some well deserved vomit.
Tabata Training.  Tabata training is taking an exercise, or a series of exercises, and performing them 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for 4 minutes, non-stop, at 100% capability.  You can perform Tabata Training with pretty much any type of exercise: running, swimming, jumprope, biking, weight training, combination of exercises (mountain climbers, squates, burpees, plyo (jump) drills,….).

I have done Tabata training with sprints.  I sprint full effort for 20 seconds and walk for 10 seconds.  I do this continous for 4 full minutes.  You end up performing 8 total sets in this 4 minutes.  And let me tell you, 10 seconds of rest is nothing!  When my 20 second sprint ends, I’m into my 10 second rest still trying to slow down, and then 10 seconds is up and back into my sprints.  It’s a very rough workout, but you feel like you have taken over the world when you finish it!

Some advice that I have read says that trying to get through 6 sets the first couple of times is where you should set your mark.  This means start off following the 20 seconds on 10 seconds off, but if you feel like you truly can’t make it another 20 seconds on, extend your rest set a little longer.  This means you will accomplish less sets in the 4 minutes, but you still are performing each set to exertion.  It’s also extremely important to warm up before Tabata training.  If you jump right into this without warming up and stretching your muscles, you can really injure yourself.  Get in a 5-10 minute warm-up. Do some dynamic stretching.  And, do a few sets of the exercises you are performing at around 60%  your maximum effort.  This will help to loosen up a little more and see where your pace and endurance is at.  End with a 5 minute cool down and some more stretching (static).

I’ve provided some links with more info on Tabata training below, if you don’t believe anything I’ve said.  The last link has a lot of good info and some great Tabato workouts and videos.

T-Nation-Tabata Training info

Good background info on Tabata Training

T-Nation-some good workouts here

NUTRITION: Metabolism, meals and keeping your company above water…

I’m sure you have heard before how your body is comparable to that of a car; no fuel, no go.  You don’t put dirt in your gas tank and expect it to run.  And you don’t wait for your tank to be completely empty before filling it up.

Your body is the same way.  If you fill it with garbage, it’s not going to last as long and be as healthy as it should be.  And, you shouldn’t wait until you are starving to fill your tank!

You need to understand a little about metabolism.  Metabolism is a process that the body goes through and its basic purpose is to provide your body with the energy it needs to function.  Through a series of chemical reactions (and I’m not a scientist, so the rest is up to them!) your metabolism is what takes food, breaks it down, and converts it in to energy.  You then use that energy for everyday functions…including working out!

Here is where your metabolism will begin to fail…with age, certain diseases (if you experience weight gain with no cause or change in diet and exercise, it’s recommended that you check up with your doctor), and it will fail, most importantly, by how you fuel it!!

People feel that if they eat less, they will gain less.  If they skip breakfast, they will lose more weight.  They couldn’t be farther from the truth.  When you stop feeding your body, your metabolism has nothing to break down.  After hours and hours of not eating, you then decide to eat your first meal.  You know how you feel when your alarm clock goes off on an early Monday morning after a long weekend?  That’s how your metabolism feels when its first meal of the day is lunch.  It’s tired.  It doesn’t want to wake up and it’s working at a slow pace.  It never had a good breakfast to wake it up and get its day started.

The other thing people do to mess with their metabolism is by eating a few meals throughout the day and stuffing themselves during that time.  Think of your metabolism as a machine.  If you throw too much into the machine at once, it’s going to jam up and not process everything.  This makes your metabolism slower and your body now has a harder time breaking down food for energy and food starts getting stored as fat!  Eating infrequent meals, larger meals, or starving yourself all results in a slower metabolism and weight gain.  Your body basically starts holding on to fat because it’s in protection mode and knows a certain amount of fat in the body is necessary to insulate and protect.  Think of it like this…A company has a lot of people working for them, but needs to make cuts.  Some of the positions are very helpful, but not necessary.  Are you going to get rid of the coffee guy or the girl who has clients that brings in the most money for the company?  You’re going to get rid of Starbucks boy and keep the lady who is keeping the company above water…you’re going to keep the fat because it’s what your body (company) needs to keep it going without losing too much.

You can keep your metabolism working hard not by starvation, but by small, frequent meals.  I believe it takes around 2-3 hours for your blood sugar to drop and this is why you want to fuel your body before you start to feel these effects.  Eating small, frequent meals or snacks every 2-3 hours or so, will not only keep you satiated, but it keeps your metabolism active and working.  Make sure you are eating healthy snacks, though.  It would be counterproductive to eat every 2-3 hours meals that are composed of sugars, trans fats, etc etc. etc.  If you incorporate some lean proteins into your snacks, you will also find that you stay satiated longer…chicken breast, salmon, tuna, Greek yogurt, eggs, quinoa,….

If you haven’t been eating small, frequent meals and you’ve been eating less in the hopes that you will lose weight, you will eventually (if you haven’t already) hit a point where your body won’t lose and it’s holding on to the fat.  Try eating small meals more frequently (and healthy) and you will start to see your energy levels increase, your workouts become more productive, and, what you’ve been waiting for, weight loss!

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