Zumba is all the rage right now, but just like bare foot running, you need to ease into anything new, and perhaps, if you are really out-of-shape avoid Zumba until you have worked yourself into better shape.
I found this article on Zumba injuries and I agree with it–you can read it by going here.
Please do not think I feel Zumba is bad–no–you can get hurt doing any form of exercise.
Something’s you can do–in my opinion–to help prevent injuries–from any new activity are:
Warm up before you start exercising–ten minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike will work.
Also, if you have some light dumbbells you can use them to warm up your shoulders, back, and biceps and triceps.
Also, before starting something new, as pointed out in the article we linked to above, do your research and find the best instructor or instructors that you can and then take it one step further.
Before you sign up talk to them and ask them are there any special things you can bring to class to help yourself along, like special shoes or other gear that will help you get a better workout and prevent injury.
Lastly, and I know this sounds too simple, but listen to your body and use common sense.
YOU are paying for the class so if YOU feel things are going to fast for you–stop.
Just do what you can do.
Also, if you feel pain–stop.
Do not push through it.
To go directly to MSNBC’S home page–which is where I found the article–click here.
With Christmas just days away I am sure plenty of people are lamenting the holiday season pounds they have gained, I found this interesting article, which you can read by clicking here. It contains eight tips that anyone can use to start losing weight.
In my opinion, the best way to use information like this, is to pick out one or two tips that you like–and even more importantly–KNOW you will follow–and implement them.
Then, when you get comfortable with the one or two you picked–add another one or two and go from there.
Too many people get all excited and try and implement everything all-at-once.
Make changes SLOWLY and you will be more likely to keep them.
One thing not mentioned in this article is plate size.
Instead of using your normal size plates, when you are trying to lose weight–or even just eat less in general–try using smaller plates.
This trick can help you eat less as well.
To go directly to MSNBC’S home page–which is where I found the article I talk about above, click here.
GO FOR IT
I don’t think too many people would argue with the idea that the perfect X-Frame physique starts with wide shoulders.
To me wide shoulders are impressive and as I have noted before, you really don’t see too many people around today that posses truly wide shoulders.
Before we begin, I feel we need to make a distinction, while it is true that some people are born with a naturally wider shoulder structure than others—EVERYBODY can, with hard work on the side deltoid head, create the illusion of having wide (or at least wider) shoulders.
The two exercises that you will be focusing on to build up your side delt head are the overhead press done with either a barbell or dumbbells and lean away laterals—done one arm at a time with a dumbbell.
I am only going to go through the overhead press for this post, and will, in a future post, write about lean away laterals.
THE OVERHEAD PRESS
Before I begin my description of how to properly do the overhead press, I want to address something that I feel is important.
I know people think the overhead press is dangerous, but this is ridiculous, any exercise that you do with improper form is going to be dangerous.
If you do the overhead press in strict form, the right way, and don’t goof around with it—you will be fine.
Onto the exercise.
DESCRIPTION OF THE OVERHEAD PRESS
I am going to assume you will be taking the barbell off a rack to do your presses, if you do not have one; it is ok, simply just clean the bar to your shoulders and start from there.
The first thing about overhead presses that I simply cannot stress enough is warming up, trust me, if you hurt your shoulders you will regret it.
Taking the time to do two sets of twenty reps with an empty bar, before you begin adding weight, will go a long way towards keeping your shoulders and elbows healthy.
O.K., rant over, now take the barbell off the rack and set your self, make sure your feet are planted firmly, in fact actually try and grip the floor with your toes, make sure your abs are tight, along with the rest of your body.
Take a breath and press, keep your wrists locked and once the barbell is past your face (it should almost brush your nose) put your head through the space, do not look up, keep looking forward, and lock out at the top, hold for a count, and slowly lower.
A COUPLE OF POINTS
At the top of the rep you want the bar to be over the back of your head and when you lower the weight your can raise your shoulders to kind of create a kind of shelve you can rest the bar on while you re-set your self for the next rep.
And that is an important point, please reset for the next rep (making sure your whole body is tight and your feet are firmly planted), especially when you are first learning the lift. Do not worry about how much weight you are using, simply master the lift first then you can start adding weight.
On the surface the overhead press seems like a simple lift, but it is not, which is why I recommend that beginners to the lift (or those coming back to it after a long lay off) start with the basic 5×5 (that’s five sets of five reps per set) program.
The overhead press is a wonderful lift that will build your shoulders from front to back, but again please take the time to learn the lift and be aware while this post is a good beginning it is just that, a beginning.
SOME MORE CLOSING POINTS
If using a barbell hurts your shoulders switch to using dumbbells for your presses.
In fact, it would be a good idea to rotate between using a barbell for a week or two and then switching over to dumbbells, as dumbbells will have a totally different feel and activate the muscles differently then the barbell.
Over time this will result in a more complete development of the shoulders and this is a good thing.
The overhead press done with either a barbell or dumbbells will work your shoulders from front to back and side-to-side, along with hitting your triceps and middle back.
Along with this it will also help keep your rotator cuffs strong.
The overhead press is a hard lift, but don’t be scared off—a wider set of shoulders—not to mention a perfect beginning to your X Frame—
Awaits the trainer who can push through and really master the lift.
Until Next Time
WORK HARD BUT SMART
Even though bodybuilding is my preferred choice of exercise, I know, that as we get older it is important to take care of things as best we can.
What I mean by this is, if we are to stay as healthy and strong as we want to—as we fight getting older.
Then cardio—and by this I mean—some form of aerobic exercise is a must.
CARIO AND THE OLDER LIFTER
Honestly, this, in my opinion, applies to lifters and non-lifters alike; the best form of cardio is walking.
I know, I know.
But really, it is about as low impact as you can get, and when done vigorously enough it will give you a wonderful workout.
I know some of you just will not do it, so here is my second option.
Do whatever form of cardio you like best.
However, just make sure you do it often—and that it does not interfere with your recovery for the weights.
HOW TO FIT IT IN
The easiest way to fit your cardio in is to do it on the days that you do not workout.
Of course, you can do a little bit of cardio on the days you work out too, but I would advise against this in the beginning for people just starting to workout.
As it could simply be too much too soon for the body to handle.
As for those of us who have been lifting for decades—we know the drill—so just fit your cardio in whenever you can and it will be good.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a very physical lifestyle outside of the gym—and yes I do consider what I do outside of the gym cardio.
But truthfully some of it qualifies as both cardio and weight work.
So if you are like me, just make sure you take extra days off when needed if things really ramp up.
I know some people consider cardio boring—but here is the thing—cardio will help keep the body fat off as will get older, so if you want to maintain a lean body—do it.
I cringe at some of the stuff I used to eat when I was younger.
And I am sure most people reading this think the same.
As hard as it is, one thing we must keep an eye on as we age is—nutrition.
I know some of you might be thinking, but back-in-the-day I used to eat junk stay out all night and I still was able to recover from some massive workouts.
Trouble is, when you hit forty and beyond—that approach simply will not work anymore.
POST WORKOUT NUTRION
If you are like me and stayed in the bodybuilding game for decades chances are you still read the magazines every month, and if you do then you have probably seen the ads for all of the wonder supplements.
Truth-of-the-matter is all you really need post workout is a high quality whey isolate and some dextrose.
That is it.
Sure you can put some creatine in the mix—but honestly it is not needed.
And in the interest of total honesty—I just use protein mixed with natural unsweetened cocoa.
This is not because of any super top-secret discovery of mine; I simply just never got into adding carbs to my post workout shake.
I know, I know, crazy but it is the truth.
Also, lately I have been adding in 5 to 10 grams of L-Glutamine into my shakes—not just my post workout shakes.
Have I seen anything as far as training gains are concerned—again total honesty—I really have not.
But I feel that L-Glutamine has other benefits so I will be keeping it in my shakes.
If you are wondering what those benefits are, I feel L-Glutamine helps with gut health and helps keep the immune system strong.
Because when I was growing up reading the muscle magazines I always wondered what the author of an article I was reading took—what brand—I will tell you what brand of L-Glutamine I have been using.
I use GlutaLean from Labrada Nutrition.
Why Labrada—well I feel Lee is a good guy and I like his company so I decided to give him a shot.
You can head on over to bodybuilding.com to buy it.
Again, I get no money for recommending this product—and I will tell you when I will benefit from things I recommend—I just feel it is a good product.
END OF RANT
Sorry for getting off on a tangent there—but honestly that is really all you need post-workout.
THE REST OF THE DAY
As far as the rest of your meals, to me, as long as you focus on high quality foods like white meat chicken and lean beef for protein.
Good quality fats from nuts and seeds, and fatty fish like sardines.
And high quality carb sources like steel cut oatmeal (if you like it I don’t) and fruits and vegetables, you will be fine.
I like the idea of having a salad everyday, throw whatever you want in it, not only will it help fill you up—but it will provide you with plenty of fiber and healthy nutrients.
I know that eating right and doing cardio is no fun.
But the effects of a good clean diet—at least most of the time—along with a good cardio routine are well worth it.
After all who doesn’t want a lean and hard body well past middle age!
GO FOR IT.
I want to cover how to start bodybuilding for beginners—and not people like myself who have been bodybuilding almost forever—because unlike people like me—who have a past filled with experiences to draw from—beginners do not.
SO WHERE TO ACTUALLY BEGIN
I know some people will disagree with me on this, but I feel the best way for most (as there are always exceptions) beginners is to start with the classic 5×5 program—for those that do not know what that means it is simply this—five sets of five reps per set for a total of twenty-five reps.
To take it even further, for the people reading this that are the most raw of beginners, if you picked up a dumbbell and curled it five times—that would be a set.
You would rest for a certain amount of time—and then attempt to do another five reps—that would be set number two.
The reason I like the classic five sets of five program for beginners is this.
When you are a beginner most people will tell you to start with a weight you can do for twenty reps—sounds good—right—after all you will not be using much weight—so all is good.
Or is it?
To me it is simply silly for a beginning lifter to do high reps—because when a beginner does high reps—his or her form brakes down—and this is where injuries come from.
However, when you use the five sets of five program—there really is not much chance of a beginners form breaking down that bad.
I would like to make one thing clear—I am not against high reps—once you have been using the 5×5 program for awhile and have the form down on exercises like squats (if you can do them) dead lifts (same thing), over head presses—etc.
You can then shake things up—but not until you have the form down.
Just because you will be doing 5×5 does not mean the weight on the barbell or dumbbells will be heavy—no!
In fact, some people would be wise to start with an empty bar—or the smallest dumbbells available—and work up from there.
In the beginning you will be leaving a lot in the tank for the next workout—again this is O.K.—remember you want to get the form down right on all the exercises and then and only then worry about adding weight or changing things up.
For my money the best way for a beginner to start is on the classic (yes again) Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine.
This gives you plenty of recovery time.
If you can back squat I would start with this fantastic exercise.
Squats not only work the legs, they work the whole body.
Please do not worry if you cannot do back squats—try them with dumbbells.
If you cannot do those, try body weight squats.
After this do good mornings—these work the lower back hard along with the ham strings.
Again, this can be done with dumbbells if a barbell does not work.
Up next is over head presses—to me this is a fantastic exercise.
It works the too often neglected rotator cuff muscles—works the middle back—and hits the delts and triceps.
I prefer (and use) dumbbells on these as they are easier on the shoulders.
You can use a barbell for these—but it really is not a must.
Now move into bent-over rows—again I prefer dumbbells on these.
They work the middle back hard—along with giving the biceps a good workout.
Word of warning on these, they can be hard on the lower back, so start with very little weight and work up from this starting point.
I know some people with be thinking where is the arm work.
After the main work is done you can do a few sets of curls and still arm pull-overs for the long head of the triceps.
THE WEDNESDAY WORK
The above was for Monday for Wednesday for example, say you did dumbbell squats on Monday for Wednesday you can body weight only squats.
Again be careful with these, just because they are body weight only—you can still get hurt.
So stick to the five sets of five work.
Up next, say you did dumbbell good mornings on Monday for Wednesday do dumbbell almost stiff legged dead lifts.
Please, please, leave some bend in you knees—DO NOT lock-out your knees on these as this could be injurious to your lower back.
Up next, would be incline dumbbell presses in place of the dumbbell over head presses.
And for the bent over rows you can do one arm dumbbell rows with you knee up on a bench.
For your arm work you can stick to barbell curls and stiff arm pull overs if you like.
However, for the sake of variety you can do dumbbell hammer curls and triceps kickbacks.
O.K. SO WHAT ABOUT FRIDAY
For me, especially in the beginning, you can use Friday to work on you form on exercises you are finding hard.
Or in the same vain, you can simply “try out” certain exercises to see how they feel.
For example, if you are feeling intimidated by back squats, give them a try on Fridays with an empty bar.
Go down slowly—only as far down as you can keep an arch in your lower back—pause and come up slowly.
Who cares if you can only do a few reps—big deal?
Remember, work on your form—learn to do the movement—correctly—every rep—every time.
Same goes for any exercise that you are having trouble with.
Seek out someone you trust and work with them on those movements.
Work on them until you get them down.
I know some people will be wondering—but I thought the older bodybuilder had joint problems and should do higher rep work.
Yes, for the most part, the majority of older bodybuilders—especially the ones who have been training for decades should, when, the body has had enough of the heavy stuff make the switch to higher rep training but…
Again, first, we are talking about beginning bodybuilders here…
Second, the weights they will be using are not going to be heavy and I do not want them pushing the reps to failure—they should go until they feel they can still do three more reps and then stop.
Once they have the form down on the above exercises, then yes, they can gradually run the reps up—but not until then.
Lastly, I realize that some people will not be able to do every exercise listed, no problem.
Again, the older athlete must take into account old injuries, arthritis pain and any other physical limitations that they may have.
You cannot just plow forward—well you can but you will end up regretting it.
As stated above the above routine is merely a starting point—you DO NOT need to follow it exactly.
Do what feels right to you—and nothing more.
Also, do not push things at this stage, take your time and learn the movements.
Leave something in the tank for the next workout—remember you want to look forward to your next workout—not dread it.
In the next in this series I will talk about cardio and nutrition for the older bodybuilder.
TAKE IT SLOW
In part one of this series I talked about the challenges faced by what I call bodybuilding lifers, people like me who got bit by the bodybuilding bug at an early age and have been lifting ever since—but are now approaching forty or beyond.
In this post I want to talk about men and women who take up bodybuilding (or weightlifting if you will) either as they are approaching forty or after they have already hit the big 40—as a means of getting back in shape—and fighting the aging process.
THE GIFT OF NEW BEGINNINGS
Really the people who were not very active when they were young have an edge over people like me who have been lifting almost forever—actually now that I am thinking about tit, they have several.
First, they more-than-likely, do not have the host of injuries someone who has been training for decades has.
And second, and maybe more important, they do not have to un-learn bad habits.
Like always thinking they have to lift heavy.
TOO MUCH INFORMATION
The problem beginning lifters face is that there is so much information around now-a-days.
Back-in-the-day all we had were the magazines—which only came out once-a-month.
Now, all you need to do is hop onto the internet—anytime—and you can find pages of information.
This good, yes, but for someone who has no reference point, in can be too much of a good thing.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Before you get started pumping the iron, you need to take stock of your current situation.
Any aches and pains?
You know like a shoulder or hip that acts up when it get cold—or when you lift too many heavy grocery bags at the supermarket.
Also, how many days per week can you realistically workout per week?
Honestly, one or two days a week might be perfect in the beginning, so do not worry if you feel you do not have too much free time.
Lastly, and most importantly, what are you goals—what would you like to achieve?
Want to lose some body fat?
Want to regain some of your previous strength?
Or do you simply want to feel better overall?
As mentioned in a prior post, I was very weak back when I started bodybuilding and the strength I have gained has come in handy.
I can do physical work—and recover from it.
So for any women reading this, first do not be afraid of getting huge—it is simply not going to happen.
Second, if you are simply turned off by lifting weights, trust me the strength you will gain—and the confidence that will come with it, will be well worth it.
I was going to finish this post by ending with a good beginning routine, but I feel it has gotten a bit long, so I will save that for part three in this series.
GO FOR IT
Over the years I have read tons of articles on the importance of nutrition.
Some say it is eighty percent of bodybuilding success.
I really do not know what percentage of successful bodybuilding nutrition comes down to, but for most of us as well grow older nutrition becomes important—especially for one thing—body fat control.
By now, most people realize that it gets harder keep body fat off as we age.
This stems from a number of factors—for men testosterone levels decline—which if I understand things correctly—ends up meaning more belly fat gain.
Not to mention that the body’s metabolism does not burn up calories like it did when we were eighteen.
I realize that with bodybuilding we can gain muscle as we age—which can help stave off some of the negative effects of aging.
We need to make concessions; otherwise we will end up packing on too much body fat.
I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I have a very physical lifestyle outside of the gym—which does make it easier to maintain a low body fat level.
And if you are reading this, and have a similar situation to mine—you know this has its positives and negatives.
Nevertheless, I try and watch what I put in my mouth, so as to not add too much body fat.
DO WHAT WORKS (FOR YOU)
They talk about it in the muscle magazines—whole food is better than shakes—and the truth is plenty of muscle has been built over the years with good food—no special supplements necessary.
However, for me, I have found that protein shakes work well.
While I eat a lot of regular food—I admit that I do rely on protein shakes quite a bit.
But again, I have been training for a long time, and have figured out what works best for me.
My point here is that, if something is working for your right now—stick with it—but if you find that what you are doing is not working—make a change.
The best approach is to eat something—nutritious—every two to three hours.
For me, I prefer protein and healthy fats over carbs—but again, over the years I have found that this works best for me.
But for most people, a diet filled with lean protein from high quality sources like white meat chicken and turkey along with quality carbs like steel cut oatmeal and all manner of fruits and vegetables along with healthy fats from natural peanut butter and fatty fish like sardines works well.
Of course, you will need to adjust the amounts to suit your activity level—but by sticking to high quality natural foods you will be alright.
WHAT ABOUT JUNK
Again, I will use myself as an example, I like my milk chocolate bars, gummy worms and powdered sugar doughnuts—but I eat them in moderation.
And sometimes having such an active lifestyle is bad because you think you can get away with more than you can—not good.
If you have a particular food that you really like, have it in moderation a few times per week and you should be O.K.
Growing older is no fun, but you can still look and feel great, if you take the time to eat high quality foods—and maybe just a little junk.
If you are reading this, I assume you are either rapidly approaching forty or are already there.
Some of you might have—like me—been training since forever, while some of you might have recently made the decision that you are not going to sit back and age gracefully—you are going to fight it tooth and nail.
For those of you that have been training forever—yes bodybuilding can continue well past forty—but you simply cannot burry your head in the sand and keep doing what you have always done.
Well, you can but the truth-of-the-matter is you will probably get hurt, and at this stage that is a disaster.
Truthfully—and this depends on your past injury history—you more-than-likely will need to lower the poundage on the bar a bit (yea scary I know) and up the reps.
I know this will take some effort and is hard on the old ego—but again I am going to assume that you are reading this because you have had some trouble with your training recently and want to find out more information on how to continue to add muscle to your frame for years to come.
I like training hard and heavy—and honestly it is the only way I have ever known—but I also realize that I am not twenty-five any more and I need to be more careful.
Case in point, as I write this, it is early fall and I have been cutting bushes and doing a lot of physical work outside.
So I had to cut back on my training—sometimes I am only able to train once per week.
Yes, I know some of you are cringing—once per week I’d shrink and lose strength by the hour.
Yea, I know what you are saying because I thought the same thing but the fact is I have not shrunk, but I have lost a little strength (which is a bummer because I was super weak when started training) however, I know that losing a little strength is nothing compared to getting hurt.
And again, this is my personal situation, I have a very physical life outside of lifting, your situation might be different, but my point here is that sometimes you need to back off and just maintain or even in my case lose a little in order to keep going long term.
Think of it as taking one step back instead of ten—it is a lot easier to pick up where you left of when you are not hurt then coming back from a six week lay-off.
As mentioned above I have a very physical lifestyle out of the gym and while this helps with staying lean—it does pose a problem for recovery.
In another post I will talk about things that bodybuilders over forty should be doing to help foster recovery.
I’d like end this post by saying this, always remember, when in doubt do less not more.
Trust me, when you wake up the next morning and feel sore, but not wiped out—you will be grateful.
Outside of big arms, I do not think that there is another body part that is more worked by the beginner and intimidate bodybuilder than the chest.
Yes, almost everyone who starts bodybuilding wants a massive chest, and they want it yesterday.
I cannot promise you that your chest will magically grow overnight, but I can tell you that the three exercises that you will find below, will help supercharge your chest growth.
O.K., lets get started.
Yes, incline presses and not flat bench presses are first up, and I will tell you why, the incline press develops the often neglected upper pecs, and has a far lesser rate of injury than the flat bench press.
Plus, since you have to keep your form tight on incline presses, this helps to ensure that it is your upper pecs do most of the work, and not momentum.
For the incline press, start out with not much weight on the bar and take your time and learn to do the movement right.
Stick to the basic 5×5 program (that is five sets of five reps per set for a total of twenty-five reps) for the first couple of months before you start to run the reps up.
There is a misconception among beginning and intermediate lifters that higher reps are easier, but this is not true, because when you do higher reps as a beginner your form has a tendency to break down.
Not to mention the fact that you have to maintain concentration for even longer than you do for sets of lower reps.
PARALLEL BAR DIPS
I am not talking about triceps dips here; I mean the kind that you do with parallel bars.
Most people do not know this, but along with the overhead press, dips were one of the major upper body lifts people did back-in-the-day, before the bench press took over.
And with good reason, dips work the chest and work it big time.
However, you must be careful with dips, no bouncing at the bottom, you must keep your form tight and I mean ultra tight.
I know these are hard and like chins/pull-ups a lot of people cannot do many, but that is O.K., just take your time with these and learn to do them properly.
If you do this, I know you will see some nice chest growth.
Lastly we have the good old push-up.
Yes, the same push-up you did in gym class.
Well, for one thing they work great as a finisher, that is the final exercise you do in your routine to try and end your workout with a pump.
Second, you can do them all different kinds of ways, normal, explosive (where you try and explode your body off the floor and clap your hands in the air between reps).
You can also do them with a weighted vest and you can do them between chairs.
Does not matter how you do them, just tack them onto to the end of the above exercises and try and crank out one long set?
Your chest will explode with a great pump.
Not a bad way to finish off a workout!
If you have never used the above exercises or have simply gotten away from them, ease into them gradually and then, overtime work up to using some good weight on the incline presses and dips, along with being able to pump out a set of one hundred push-ups at the end of the workout.
When you can do this I know your chest will be expanding with new growth.
For the first post on this blog I decided to talk about something I was guilty of doing and I am sure most beginners are guilty of too.
OVER COMPLICATING THINGS
You have probably heard the express, people look for complicated solutions to simple problems–and this applies to bodybuilding.
Instead of spending the first six months (or more) simply hitting the basics hard, most beginners worry needlessly over the fact that they are missing out on the “magical routine.”
You know the one that all the professional bodybuilders are secretly using, which is why they are so massive.
Of course, this does not take into account the fact that most professional bodybuilders were to be blunt, born to be big.
Yea, I know, there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, these men and women were already pretty big and muscular before they ever picked up a weight.
END OF RANT
If this sounds like you, or if you have been training hard for years and people do not even think you workout, I urge you to take a step back and spend the next six months working on the basics.
Squats, deads, over-head presses, all kinds of rowing and chinning movements, along with incline presses for chest.
Combine this with a high quality diet that contains plenty of protein from lean beef, chicken, turkey and fish along with plenty of good fats from nuts and seeds and fatty fish like sardines.
And enough high quality carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, yams and all manner of fruits and vegetables, and you will be fine.
Yea, Yea, I know you might be thinking, where are all the fancy supplements.
Honestly, you do not need them.
A good big bowl of chicken and rice after your training will work.
I know, I know, it sounds too simple, where are all the fancy split routines and all the good stuff.
Again, in the beginning, focus on the basics–and if you do–things will work out right.
Be back soon.