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kokusho

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 416

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Posted: 23 Feb 2011, 16:19
I am posting this in an attempt to help people who are new to working out. Too often I see people at the gym doing things in a way that goes against everything I have read about proper workouts, building muscle, and cutting fat. So, to shed some light on working out, I will just go ahead and give a few examples of what I see at the gym and why I think it is the "wrong" way to go about it. If anything I write goes against the way you do things at the gym, you also have to consider the factor motivation plays. If the way you do it is fun and you want to continue doing it that way, there is nothing wrong with it. It's better to be doing something than nothing. This is merely to share what I have learned through books and experience, so if you find that you're one of the people that I describe, I really hope some of this information helps.

"The spending way too much time at the gym guy" - I met an old friend at my gym when I started working out and over the next few weeks, we got to talking about working out and what he's been wanting to accomplish. Turns out, our goals are the same. We both werent happy with the way we looked and wanted a six pack, but the difference is that he was "normal sized", and I was obese. At this point, he had been working out 2hours a day and 5 days a week for a year and a half trying to accomplish this goal. Now, fast forward 6 months later and he looks the exact same after 2 years of working out while I have shed 50 lbs and look more muscular than he does after only a fraction of the time. My workouts are on average 40 min in length and most of that time is spent resting between sets. There really is such a thing as working out too much and he is not the only one at the gym I see overdoing it.

I see quite a few people lifting weights for an hour and then doing cardio for another hour. This sends your body mixed signals about what it should do, so the first thing you need to decide when you start working out, is what your priority is. What is your end goal? Which do you want to focus on more, building muscle or losing weight? Do you want to look fit and athletic or just plain skinny? The reason you should ask yourself these questions is because your body can only do so much, and you need to know what direction you should steer.

If you lift weights for an hour, you are telling your body "Hey, I need to be able to lift heavy things so please build me some more Type 2 muscle fibers." Then if you go run for an hour immediately afterwards, you're telling your body "Hey, forget about those Type 2 muscle fibers, I need endurance so build me Type 1 muscle fibers." It's a contradicting style of working out. Cardio is meant for cutting fat but shouldn't be overdone if your prime objective is muscle growth.

Working out for such a lengthy period of time just isn't smart. The amount of energy required for a serious 2 hour workout is more than your body can extract from food and body fat in time. This means that it will have to borrow energy from muscle, stripping it down. Remember, there are only 500 kcal in a lb of muscle.

You should also give your muscles time to recover and not workout the same muscle more than once a week. Remember, in order for your body to build muscle, the muscle fibers must first tear and break. Then once your body is done fixing the microtears, it will want to build "more" muscle so that this does not happen again. Building muscle is a defense mechanism.

"The too many reps with too little resistance girl" - I saw a girl working out yesterday during my rest between sets. It was my tricep day and I noticed that she was working out her triceps as well. She set the weight unbelievably low and started doing tricep pushdowns with ease... She must have done over 30 reps as I was standing there... never even looking like she was straining herself... I see this all the time.

Please tell me, what is the point of that? You're not straining your muscles so your body won't feel the need to change, which in turn means that you won't be building muscle. You'll be burning calories doing this type of workout but it'll be far fewer than you would getting on the elliptical for a min... so, what's the reason for this? In my mind, it accomplishes nothing.

I think that women are too afraid to get "bulky". The truth is, they won't. They don't have the necessary hormones to trigger muscle growth like guys, and even if they did, becoming bulky doesn't happen in a day. Women should workout the same as men to get that "toned" look that they want. This means working till muscular failure in a 8-12 rep range. If you can do more than 12 reps of an exercise when you push yourself, you need to up the weight.

And if you're on a calorie deficit, which most of us on these forums are, then you really don't have to worry about getting bulky.

"The do a million crunches/day person" - Your abs are the same as all your other muscles and need to be worked out the same. This means that doing 40 sit ups isn't going to accomplish the same thing as doing 12 reps with weights on your chest.

Your muscles should be reaching failure on your last rep of every set. The 80/20 rule actually applies to muscle building as well. Basically, 80% of your muscle gain will come from the last 20% of your reps. This is why it's important to work towards failure every single time. If I curl 30lb dumbells 10 times, but my bicep could have done another 3 or 4 reps before failing, it means that I have done nothing but wasted my time. Pushing your muscles to failure ensure that you're sending your body the maximum amount of "build muscle" signals.

"The drink tons of protein powder guy" - I see this all the time too, guys that drink way too much cheap protein powder. In my opinion, you really only need a protein supplement one time post workout (between 20-30g of protein). This protein supplement should be hydrolized (none of that cheap stuff). If the protein you take in post workout isn't hydrolized, there's almost no point to it. That jillian michaels tub at walmart or any of the other cheap protein you can find there should only be used as a protein supplement if you just happen to need more protein for the day. But for a post workout shake, hydrolized protein is what makes it worth while. Hydrolized protein, in the most basic sense, is protein with the amino acid chains already broken down into ones that your body can use. This will reduce recovery time and therefore allow your body to build more muscle during the post recovery, or "overcompensation" phase. Your muscles only have a small window when your body will allow them to recover and overcompensate, and speeding up the recovery period leaves more time to overcompensate, i.e. build muscle.

Anyways, I could go on forever with bad habits I see at the gym. These are all the things I did when I first started out and I hope other people can learn from my mistakes. I know a good deal of this was regarding the building of muscle, but that's because I think it's really important, for guys and girls alike. Muscles help us look the right "shape" once we're done stripping all that fat from our bodies. Nobody wants to go through all the trouble of losing a bunch of weight only to once again not be satisfied with the way they look.
"Going to war without France, is like going deer hunting without your accordion." -Norman Schwarzkopf
dianapa86

Joined: Mar 11
Posts: 1

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 11:28
Veeery helpful! And I'm afraid I might belong to one of the categories you mentioned which might explain my failure on toning. I never considered the "working towards failure" concept which I definitely will keep in mind during my strength training sessions.
Do you think is productive to do cardio and strength training on the same day?
kokusho

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 416

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 11:53
Yes, if you do it right. Basically, in order for you to not send the wrong signals to your body, you need to keep your cardio workout short. This means doing an intense cardio workout instead of an hour of light jogging. I would recommend HIIT type training on an elliptical for this. Here's the type of HIIT I like:
2 min of medium speed
20 sec as fast as I can
10 sec medium
20 sec as fast as I can
10 sec medium
20 sec as fast as I can
10 sec medium
20 sec as fast as I can
10 sec medium
Then back to 2 min medium speed
I do this for either 10 min or 20 depending on how tired I am after lifting.
I wouldn't recommend doing more than 20 min of cardio after weight lifting if your primary goal is to build muscle, or "tone". Also, upping the resistance on the elliptical helps reach much more "exhausted" levels and helps you burn the amount of calories you normally would on a 60 min run, but in a shorter period in time.
"Going to war without France, is like going deer hunting without your accordion." -Norman Schwarzkopf
Nimm

Joined: Dec 10
Posts: 669

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 12:01
Yeah, thanks for this. This info is what I need right now...I've been doing mostly cardio for the last several months with a little half-baked resistance here and there, and I'm at the point now where I don't feel the need to burn more than another 2 to 5 pounds of body fat at the most.
So I'm trying to ease up on the cardio and start on resistance so I can build some muscle mass. This is all very helpful.

I don't really have convenient access to a gym, so I'm going to be starting off at home with some heavier dumbbells...do you have any suggestions for what sort of schedule I should use to start out with?

The fact is, I now enjoy the exercise I get, and I'm used to doing some every day - I like it and it feels good. But I don't want it to be counterproductive.

I was thinking of alternating days of weights and cardio - do you think that would be productive? And if so, roughly how much time on each?

Thanks again.

EDIT: I should add I'm also thinking about starting P90X and just following that 100% ... any thoughts on it?
gerdik

Joined: Nov 10
Posts: 38

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 12:11
Kukusho is right regarding the HIIT training. Just like what he said, I tend to do my cardio AFTER my strength training, at least 2-3 times a week, limiting it 10-15 minutes. After about 20-25 minutes of HIIT it becomes more of an endurance switch in your energy depletion and there's only so much a body can do to utilize both glycogen storage and fat storage...therefore the only energy left is muscle storage and that will negate growth. HIIT training also is value added in efficiency post workout. Your post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is higher than doing steady state cardio, which means higher calorie burn. Your body is constantly trying to reach homeostasis so when you "stress" it at high levels it requires the body to work harder to get back to normal.

As for a routine Nimm, if you plan on doing something like HIIT. I would suggest every other day on top of your weight training routine. So for example if your split ends up being Back/Bi, Legs/Abs, Chest/Tri, Shoulders/Traps I would place HIIT after Back and Chest. Or if it is Chest, Legs, Back, Shoulders, Arms it could be Chest, Back, and Arms day that the HIIT can apply.
NCSF - Certified Personal Trainer (Oct 2010)
kokusho

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 416

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 12:25
Since you don't have access to a gym, some muscles will be harder to work out than others. Legs, for example, you'll just have to do the best you can. Below is an example of what you can do with dumbbells for different muscles.

Shoulders
Overhead Dumbbell Press - 2 sets (3-4 min)
Dumbbell Lateral Raises - 2 sets (3-4 min)
Dumbbell Shrugs - 2 sets (2 min)
Legs
Dumbbell Squat - 3 set (3 min)
Dumbbell Calf raise (standing) - 3 sets (2 min)
Chest
Dumbbell press - 2 sets (3 min)
Dumbbell fly - 3 sets (3 min)
Back
Dumbbell Deadlift - 2 sets (4 min)
Bentover dumbell rows - 2 sets (3 min)
Biceps
Dumbbell curls - 2 to 3 sets (2 min)
Triceps
French bar curls (you can use dumbbells instead) - 3 sets (3 min)
Abs
Weighted sit ups - 3 sets (2 min)
Dumbbell Leg Raises - 3 sets (2 min)

Just remember to keep it in the right rep range (8 to 12). Make each rep last about 3-4 sec (a completed rep, both up and down together). And if you can do 12 reps or more, then you need to up the weight for next time.

Rest one week before you tackle the same muscle again.

An easy way to push yourself to "failure" is to try to progress. So, if you can do 9 reps of dumbbell curls at a certain weight one week, next week shoot for 10 reps, and then 11 the week after, and so on.

This way, you'll also see just how much your strength is improving. I remember starting off doing preacher bench curls at 50 lbs about 8 months ago and now I'm up to 95lbs, about to move on up to 100lbs. And that's on a calorie deficit!

As far as P90X goes, if you don't have access to a gym that might be the better way to go. The only issue I see with it is that you will reach a plateau after awhile. It'll be crazy hard for the first month and then it will taper off. This is because for most of the exercises you're using your body weight. With weight lifting you're supposed to be increasing the resistance over time whereas doing calisthetics like P90X will give you the exact opposite response, since you'll be losing weight and therefore decreasing resistance.

EDIT: The amount of min. behind the parentheses is how long you should rest between sets of that same muscle. Legs are a bigger muscle than biceps, for example, which means that it will take them a longer time to recover to the point at which you should start your next set.
"Going to war without France, is like going deer hunting without your accordion." -Norman Schwarzkopf
kokusho

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 416

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 12:27
I agree with gerdik. You don't need to alternate between weight training one day and cardio the next if you do HIIT and keep it under 20 min. If you don't have an elliptical or bike, running is the next best way to go. You'll just be alternating between a brisk jog and sprinting during the workout.
"Going to war without France, is like going deer hunting without your accordion." -Norman Schwarzkopf
Nimm

Joined: Dec 10
Posts: 669

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 12:36
Thanks a ton for this info, Kokusho and Gerdik.

I was dragging my heels on starting any real weight training just because I couldn't figure out how I should be going about it at home. This helps a lot.

Is there any other simple, not-very-large piece of equipment that's worth getting along with the dumbbells? Something that would expand the number of useful exercises I could do on several muscle groups, in a significant way?

Basically, what else should a beginner with limited workout space get to go along with dumbbells?
kokusho

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 416

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 12:54
A declining and inclining adjustable bench. I'm sure there's one being sold on craigslist somewhere in your area. It will help with the abs and chest workouts. And if you can get a cheap barbell (craigslist again) because a lot of the exercises can be easier done with this and it's also easier to increase the weight as you just need to put more plates on the end whereas you'll need a lot of different dumbbells to make sure you have the right weight handy.

Also, if you don't have access to a bench, an exercise ball will work as well and it's fairly cheap.
"Going to war without France, is like going deer hunting without your accordion." -Norman Schwarzkopf
gerdik

Joined: Nov 10
Posts: 38

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 13:07
As for back...look into the ironman pull up gym. You can do pull ups and chin ups by hanging it on/under a doorway for back/biceps. You can even utilize it for pushups/situps I believe as well. The are relatively inexpensive and you can get them just about anywhere - Dicks Sporting Goods, Kmart or Walmart even.
NCSF - Certified Personal Trainer (Oct 2010)
shmiller

Joined: Mar 10
Posts: 504

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 13:36
What do you think is more important in an HIIT workout: resistance or speed? (Or both?) I've worked my way up do 20 seconds "on," (about 7.0 on my elliptical), 40 seconds "off" (about 5.3) but I don't change the resistance between the on and off intervals. Is it better to do both? In my "on" cycles, I'm going all out, to the point I feel like I can't keep it up (which is how it was explained to me that I was going fast enough.) But I wonder if I should spread the intervals out and do a higher resistance instead. (My goal overall goal is fat burn and muscle tone, so after I HIIT I lift.)

This is what makes this site rock: so many knowledgeable folks willing to share their expertise and talents.
"The grass ain't greener, the wine ain't sweeter, either side of the hill" The Grateful Dead
IdaMarie78

Joined: Jan 11
Posts: 95

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 14:20
I am going to print this out now. Thanks gentleman Smile
I have fallen and failed, BUT I am picking myself up and starting this journey AGAIN!!!
kokusho

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 416

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 14:37
I don't change the resistance between on and off intervals either. But I do add a lot of resistance to it right off the bat so that I'm not paddling around with my feet at a 100mph. I feel a much better burn and I can keep the speed reasonable (between 65 and 90 rpm).
"Going to war without France, is like going deer hunting without your accordion." -Norman Schwarzkopf
shmiller

Joined: Mar 10
Posts: 504

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 15:11
Thanks! This technique, and the weight training tips you've outlined above, have made a huge difference for me. Of course everyone is different, but I workout every day with a lady whose body is much like mine (or was when we stared). She's done straight cardio (40 minutes of run/walk on the treadmill and/or elliptical) and I've done 10-15 minutes of HIIT and 20-25 minutes of weight training. I've lost 35 pounds, she's lost just over 10. I'm down from size 20 pants to size 14, and she's in the same size. If her food journal is correct, and again EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, we're in pretty much the same food intake zone as well. For me the difference is stunning.
"The grass ain't greener, the wine ain't sweeter, either side of the hill" The Grateful Dead
chmilz

Joined: Feb 11
Posts: 76

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 15:26
Does it matter in what order you do your cardio vs weights in? I usually do it before any weight lifting. I like to get it "out of the way" first because i hate cardio so much and it makes me feel "warmed up" so i'm not lifting "cold".

oh, PS your tips are fantastic gentlemen!
kokusho

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 416

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 16:47
I personally think it depends on what is more important to you, cutting fat or stimulating muscle as much as possible. Whichever you do second, lifting or cardio, is going to suffer a little bit. If you run first, you'll have less energy to push yourself when lifting and if you lift before you do cardio, you'll have less energy to push yourself on the elliptical or whatever you are doing.
"Going to war without France, is like going deer hunting without your accordion." -Norman Schwarzkopf
Nimm

Joined: Dec 10
Posts: 669

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Posted: 02 Mar 2011, 22:41
Well, I went out this evening and got a pull up bar along with an adjustable-weight dumbbell. Loaded it up as far as I could go to do 8 reps on the bicep/back exercises....arms are jello now.
Feels like they worked a lot harder than the weight-enhanced cardio I'd been doing though. But fun so far! Can't wait to see how my progress goes....
Wendyree

Joined: Jan 11
Posts: 12

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Posted: 23 Mar 2011, 18:58
Many thanks, Kokusho.
birdybrain

Joined: Aug 10
Posts: 38

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Posted: 23 Mar 2011, 19:38
Great post.
JoanneLM

Joined: Mar 11
Posts: 14

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Posted: 23 Mar 2011, 21:34
What a wonderful post! Now I'll get my dumb question out of the way and ask what does HIIT mean?? Next, what is a good brand of protein powder to get? And lastly, I usually change up my weight routine with either upping the weight, or doing the reps really slow until I feel the burn. Is that ok to do? Is it better to just keep increasing the weight or is it ok how I'm doing it?
Thank you for any input you can give me. Smile



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