Tuesday, November 26, 2019

You Have Time - By Jim Duggan

The most common excuse for not training regularly is "I don't have time." This weak rationale for not working out has been in existence for as long as people have been engaged in the pursuit of Physical Culture. In other words, making excuses for not exercising is nothing new under the sun. You hear them all the time, especially around this time of year when the holidays are approaching. It just so happens that time constraints are the most common excuse. But, let's be brutally honest: If you want to do it badly enough, you will find time. Or you will endeavor to make time. Either way, you find a way to get the job done.

We all have twenty-four hours a day. That comes out to 1,440 minutes a day. Over the course of a week, that equals 168 hours. If you work forty hours per week, and sleep 56 hours per week ( eight hours a night), you will still have 72 hours left over. Naturally, your work - or school- schedule may vary, and perhaps you require more than eight hours of sleep per night. You can still arrange your time so that one or two hours each week can be used to build your body. In other words, you can still find time to train.

Depending on your goals, you can easily find a couple hours during the course of a week to exercise. If your goal is simply "to get in shape," you will require less time than someone who wants to maximize his/her potential. If you want to build maximum size and strength, you will require more in the way of time to reach your goals. But, even if you want to get as big and strong as possible, you do not need endless hours in the gym to build strength. Great strength can be developed by doing two or three heavy workouts per week. You will still be able to hold a job, go to school, and lead an active life. In other words, you do not have to live in the gym, despite what you may read in the various muscle magazines.

If you are determined to get stronger, then you find a way to make time for your training. Determination to get bigger, stronger, and healthier will help you achieve your goals. One of the best ways to build determination is to force yourself to do things you would rather not do. If this means waking up an hour earlier in the morning in order to complete a workout, then so be it. Every day you must do things you don't want to do, if for no other reason than the fact that doing things you don't want to will strengthen your character.

Don't be a procrastinator. Don't wait until tomorrow. One of my favorite lines from the movie Rocky III was when Apollo yelled at Rocky: "There is no tomorrow!" Think about that the next time you feel like putting off your workout. When it comes to finding time to train, there is today. Now. Don't put it off. As I am writing this, there are less than forty days left in the year. In a little over a month, we will be ringing in the year 2020. How will you spend the last month of this year? Will you get a jump on the new year and push yourself to work hard towards achieving your goals? Just think, if you've been planning on starting a strength-training program, you can get a head start on the New Year Resolutioners by getting started right now. You will be richly rewarded for the effort to you put forth. Let the weak-minded procrastinators wait until January 1st. You will be ahead of the game, in more ways than one. The best part is that you don't need a lot of time. Twenty or thirty minutes, several times a week, is a good way to begin. Whether you train at home or in a commercial gym is not important. Just get going, and continue with your routine.

You will fail only if you don't start. It may seem trite to say that you get out of lifting what you put into it. Don't let anything interfere with your ambition. If you put forth the effort, you will derive the benefits of strength and health. Last year, I wrote an article titled "Strength and Health Must Be Earned." And while nobody ever said that it would be easy, progressive strength-training will be the best investment you will ever make.

This is the time of year when it is customary to take inventory of ourselves. What have we accomplished over the past year? If you are currently engaged in a weight-training regimen, then you should plan now to continue with what you are doing. What if you are not satisfied with the progress you've made? Or what if you have stopped training for one reason or another? Then you must determine what mistakes you have made, and formulate a plan to go forward. Set a goal, devise a plan to achieve that goal, and then don't allow anything to deter you from achieving what you want.

Don't make excuses, and, especially, do not claim that there isn't time. One of my favorite quotes came from a High School yearbook. The Principal's message to the graduating class ended with these words: "Time is the only thing of real value that you possess. Don't waste it!" Don't wait for tomorrow. It's time to lift.
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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Adaptations and Adjustmants For Training Longevity - By Burt Gam

This is probably the most difficult article I will write but I think some things, no matter how distasteful, need to be said. Over the years I have trained, studied, and learned a lot about training. The methodologies may have changed over the years, but at the core of it all has always been driven by the concept of progressive overload. Progressive overload is probably the one link that all spheres of lifting and strength sports have in common.

Powerlifters, bodybuilders and Olympic lifters all are based on either steadily increasing poundage (intensity) and/or the number of repetitions performed (volume) over time. Unfortunately I like many others have reached a crossroad. Due to acute and chronic injuries which have accumulated over time, I have been forced to make some adjustments in my training. Bad knees due to osteo-arthritis from years of wear and tear have made squatting and deadlifting painful some days. Rotator cuff issues in my right shoulder have made any kind of pressing meaningful weight impossible.

Progressive overload is no longer possible on these key movements. Mentally this is very tough for me to digest since I am an old school and hard nosed hard-ass. At 63 I have gotten about as strong and probably as big as I am going to be in this lifetime. There I said it. Ouch....

The good news is I feel I can still continue to work out at a lower level. I always knew this day would come but was not ready. I can probably maintain my strength on these movements and avoid atrophy and loss of strength through lowering the resistance and performing more repetitions. On days when the pain is higher I have experimented with other exercises. For example, today I could not squat so I substituted leg presses.

Good mornings and stiff legged deadlifts take care of the hamstrings and lower back. Bench presses, inclines and overheads can be performed for reps with lighter weight. Lately I have implemented stiff arm pullovers to work the specs and lats and stretch my shoulders.I also perform shrugging and neck exercises as I find them to be therapeutic. I am able to perform most other exercises and even add a little weight here and there with the exception of lateral raises. I strongly feel that the things learned over the years teaches us to be creative and adapt when inevitable changes occur in our bodies.
Overcome and adapt and make the necessary adjustments. Allowing more time between workouts to allow the body to heal is necessary as we age to prevent overtraining. I also feel as we get older our bodies benefit greatly with stretching and flexibility exercises. This can help overcome stiffness and soreness in the muscles. Including a bit of low impact cardio will not hurt you. The body can still improve other parameters of fitness. So what does all this mean?

At the end of the day we must recognize and accept our limitations. Even when progression over time becomes impossible, we can still continue to train around our physical issues. We can also continue to acquire more knowledge and apply this to our unique training situations. Simply because we are no longer making consistent gains should we throw in the towel. If the day I die I can still lift 10 pounds I guess I went out a winner. When it comes down to it, the quality of life and the ability to perform daily tasks efficiently is more important. Avoid injury and train smart. You will last longer and live better. Good night and good training.
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Monday, November 4, 2019

My 10 Undeniable Truths of Weight Training for Beginners - Part 4 - Train Infrequently - By RJ Hicks, BS, CSCS

One of the hardest concepts of proper training people refuse to accept is training infrequently. Far too many programs have people lifting weights four, five and even six days a week. It is hard to progress long term on any program like this as a natural trainee. For best results in the gym try training the entire body no more than twice a week.

Many of the old-time greats trained and preached infrequent training. These men knew recovering between workouts was need to progressively get stronger.They instinctively knew training everyday was incorrect. In fact, they always suggested irregular training on abbreviated workouts for people who were severely underweight. They were no strangers to the idea that the body needed time to rest and grow. It was learned early on training irregularly allowed you to work up to your limit or beyond on a regular bases.

It can be hard to follow this simple principle. Beginners fall into the trap of listening to all the bad information in this field and begin to believe more is always better. The current fitness fad is to have no off days. People brag about how much they go to the gym, but rarely talk about how much stronger they are in each exercise. So many of them are so screwed up they don’t even understand what progressive resistance training is. If your goal is to getting bigger and stronger you must go against what the majority believes and cut back the amount of training days. More training is not better, hard, progressive, safe training is.

Stop following the routines from the muscle and fiction magazines or the neighborhood drug users.It is not possible for 99% of natural trainees to train all the time and make anything past beginner results. Many of the programs that insist on high frequency training cannot be followed long term, usually because of injury or burnout. Training the body four to six times a week is grossly overtraining for a majority of people. One or two days off a week for recovery does nothing. You can pretend to split up the routine anyway you like, but a most of these programs have too much muscle overlap and create too much systemic fatigue, if you are truly training hard. No adaptation or growth can occur when the body is constantly being trained like this.

To avoid wasting years in the gym with little progress try limiting your workouts to no more than two full body training sessions a week. Peary Rader made no notice gains in weight training for several years until he switched to a twice a week training program built around heavy high rep squats. You can even take an extra day or two of rest if needed as long as you get two workouts in a 10 day span. There is no rule which says you must get all your training done during the week, as long as you don’t completely fall into the minimum mentality Training twice a week or twice every 7 to 10 days allows, two to three days of rest between each workout. If you plan on training the whole body using the big pushing and pulling exercises for both the upper body and lower body (which every healthy individual should), you will need the rest.

Many of the top researchers suggest there is a 72-96 hour window of recovery before de-conditioning occurs and muscle atrophy begins.This is why two to three days off between workouts is perfect. It maximizing recovery without risking muscular atrophy on a regular bases and ables you to work past your old training limits for years.

Trust the advice of men like Bob Hoffman, Mark Berry, Sig Klein, George Jowett, Peary Rader, Bradley Steiner, Dick Conner, Stuart McRobert and Bob Whelan and train infrequent. You might just be surprised how strong you get.

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Friday, November 1, 2019

The Importance of a Proper Warm-up - By Jim Duggan

"A pitcher warms up before he pitches a ballgame, I gotta warm up before I play the piano." - Ed Norton to Ralph Kramden.


The above quote is from The Honeymooners episode titled "The $99,000 Answer." And while it might seem odd to mention The Honeymooners on a website devoted to Strength Training, Ed Norton hit the nail on the head when he mentioned warming up. The importance of a proper warm-up cannot be overstated. This is true for all athletes, including - and especially- strength athletes. Whether you are just starting out in the world of strength training, or you are an experienced lifter, a thorough warm-up is essential if you plan on lifting heavy weights. In fact, the stronger you become, the more important it is to do a proper warm-up.

There are many reasons to warm-up before a workout, but the most important one is to prevent injuries. If a muscle isn't warmed up adequately, then there is a greater chance of sustaining a tear or a "pull." This is particularly true if you are attempting maximal or near-maximal poundages. Nobody playing with a full deck wants to sustain an injury, and pulled/torn muscles are frustrating, as well as painful. Nothing can derail your training worse than an injury. Strained muscles can set you back a week or more. Tendon and ligament injuries, on the other hand, can be very serious because their recovery times are usually much longer.

It is important to remember to warm-up on each exercise that you're doing. Begin each exercise in your workout by warming up for that particular movement. In other words, if your workout calls for you to do Squats and Bench Presses on the same day, then you should do a separate warm-up for each movement.

Every lifter should determine just what constitutes an adequate warm-up. This is something that you can learn from experience. I remember reading about some of the Soviet Weightlifting champions from the 1970s. They would begin each exercise by lifting an empty bar. I have always tried to use a similar approach in my own training. Regardless of what exercises I'm doing, I always begin with an empty bar to get the blood flowing, so to speak. By warming up, you actually are increasing blood flow to the muscles. Increased blood flow means more oxygen to the muscles. The trick is that you want the muscles to become warm, and not fatigued. You want to get your body ready for the heavier sets that will follow.

Naturally, as you get older, you may need to make allowances and give yourself extra time to properly warm up. You can't get away with doing things that you may have done when you were younger. At some point, youthful mistakes will catch up with all of us, unless we learn to train smarter as we get older. An example of an extra warm-up would be riding a stationary bicycle for five or ten minutes as a way of increasing your body temperature before you begin your warm-up sets.

Once you're properly warmed up, and have commenced your workout, you want to stay warm. This is usually not a problem during the Summer months. And if you train in a commercial gym, the temperature is usually set at a comfortable level. Even during the Winter, most commercial gyms are set at a comfortable temperature, so staying warm is usually not a problem. What if you train at home? A "cellar dweller," or "garage gorilla" may find it challenging to keep warm when the temperatures take a plunge. If you train in an unheated garage, then a proper warm-up is even more important. Obviously, a portable heater will make it easier to keep your body temperature elevated for the duration of your training session. I remember when i was fifteen years old, and had just started lifting weights. My training area was an unheated porch in the back of my parents' house. Naturally, when the temperatures plummeted, it was freezing in that porch. We had an old wood burning stove in that porch, but we were never allowed to use it ( my Dad, being a Fireman, was VERY cautious about that sort of thing.) Despite wearing layers of sweatshirts, it was hard to keep warm. But I never missed a workout, and I think it was that determination that caused my Dad to relent and allow me to light up the stove whenever I lifted weights. Problem solved! When I joined Bruno's Health Club at the age of nineteen, I thought the problem of keeping warm during the Winter was over. Boy, was I mistaken! Since Larry's heat rarely worked, his gym was almost as cold as my parents' porch ( except that there was no wood-burning stove to provide relief.)

A very important thing to remember when it comes to staying warm, is to avoid resting too much and cooling off. Don't take too long between sets. We've all seen people at the gym who seem to take forever between each set. But if you allow yourself to cool off, then you are defeating the purpose of warming up in the first place. If you are doing multiple sets of low reps ( heavy weights), then you should rest only as long as it takes to recover from your last set. You don't want to take time out for anything that might interrupt your workout for more than a few minutes. In today's climate, that means no phone calls, selfies, texting, or other distractions. Do yourself a favor and leave the phone in your locker, if you train in a commercial gym. Leave the constant texting to the pumpers and toners. They're in the gym for the wrong reason anyway, so let them waste their time. But don't waste yours!

The whole idea behind warming up is that you want to prepare your body and mind for lifting heavy weights. Don't underestimate the importance of getting your mind ready for the task at hand. A thorough warm-up will prepare you physically, as well as mentally. Your body will be prepared to lift progressively heavier weights. Your muscles will be able to function at a high level. Your blood circulation will be improved, providing more oxygen to your muscles. This will allow you to train hard, heavy, and injury-free.
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Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me: bobwhelan@naturalstrength.com
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