Saturday, January 20, 2018

Proper Form. What’s That?

Are you going to the trouble, preparation and expense of getting yourself to the gym, then sabotaging your workouts by ignoring proper form?

Proper form makes all the difference between progress and, well, plateauing, meaning, no progress. Proper form is not a mystery, yet many are clueless on this.

Numerous times I have seen someone working out next to a person who is admirably fit, and doing the exact same exercise—for instance, a guy doing biceps curls who has a terrific set of arms. Yet the person next to him doing the same exercise seems totally unaware that he might learn something from Mr. Big Arms. He is so checked out that it doesn’t seem he even realizes he is performing the same exercise as Mr. Big Arms, much less he might watch, imitate and learn.

My point is most people using bad form have no idea. It doesn’t even occur to them they are using bad form. It doesn’t occur to them that the guys with the awesome bodies are doing something they are not, and therefore they might pay attention to these achievers and learn by example.

If you haven’t made progress within the last month, you need to change it up. When you use proper form you’ll see a big difference, not in the following month, but that very same day at the end of your workout by achieving a good pump. If your arms don’t look noticeably improved immediately following your arm workout, it’s because your form is poor.

Thanks to YouTube and its thousands of workout videos, there is no longer any excuse for poor form, yet poor form remains endemic in gyms and home workouts. Instead of looking for a “new” exercise due to frustration over lack of progress, know that every classic exercise works wonders if performed with proper form.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Diabetes: I’m Calling Bullshit On Trump’s “Excellent Health" Diagnosis.

The avalanche of lies told by Trump’s toadies and sycophants continues unabated as evidenced in the bogus stats released with regards to Trump’s recent “physical.”

The fact is, this "doctor" neglected to mention that Trump has heart disease,  a detail later disclosed after the fact, or that he has diabetes or at the very least, pre-diabetes.

We don't believe bogus cognitive test results since we all have ears that hear the daily rambling disconnect. An old man who is confused, grotesquely obese, who eats mountains of garbage and deplores and denigrates physical exercise is in SHITTY condition, physical and otherwise. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Don’t Let A Number Get In Your Way

Weight - The same person can have a weight number of 160 lbs. and be flabby with minimal lean muscle mass, or he can weigh 160 lbs. and be jacked and hard. The actual number means nothing. Forget the scale; embrace the mirror. “Quantity vs. Quality”: For bodybuilders who are aiming for a certain weight number (quantity) rather than quality physique, the number means nothing. The mirror will reveal the truth.

Age - People use the age number to excuse themselves from engaging in physical activity. Others use age to dismiss older people in the fitness industry having decades of experience to draw upon for their knowledge and advice.

Measurements - Those who are working toward 21 inch arms may find their size is won without any regard for esthetics: there exist men with beautiful, sculpted, multi-faceted 21 inch arms, and men with bloated, smooth, fat, shapeless 21 inch arms. Once more: the mirror.

Length of Workout - I respect Jeff Cavaliere’s YouTube advice, except for his claim you should spend no more than 40 minutes (!!) working out. There are multiple reasons for longer workouts, ranging from sheer enjoyment, stress relief and self satisfaction, to only having two days to spare for a gym workout each week—and more. Only you can decide the optimal number of minutes or hours spent in the gym.

Reps and Sets - The classic “3 sets of 10 reps” is not set in stone. Aiming for 10 sets can mean utilizing shitty form for the last 4 or 5 reps just to race toward completing that number. As a trainer I tell clients that I’d rather they do one rep with optimal weight and perfect form than 10 sloppy reps. Once you master that one perfect rep, you can then aim for two, then three. Within months you’ll be up to 8, or 10, or 12 perfect reps—that number is up to you. And your results will zoom. Once you’re in the groove, your body will tell you that day’s number. It may be more, or may be less, than the number from the previous workout. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

What Does A “Challenging” Workout Feel Like?

Age 36: Only after embracing the discomfort of a challenging workout
did the results begin to come my way.

In my early 30s I hit a wall at the gym. When I pushed myself to my then-limit, I felt really uncomfortable physically, dizzy and hot. I wanted to look a certain way but to do so I knew I had to break through that barrier of discomfort.

I convinced a competitive bodybuilder at my gym—who had already shed 3 other workout partners because they could not cope with his work ethic—to take me on. I was determined to reach my goal and by choosing this guy I knew it would be a matter of “sink or swim.” He took me on, I gritted my teeth, and I broke though.

Whenever I hit the wall previously, I stopped. But when I hit the wall with this guy, I had to keep going, and amazingly, once I pushed past that initial discomfort and overheating, I felt cool and powerful. I realized I had built my own barrier, and then for years afterward refused to break through it. 

Discomfort comes with the territory.

If you are not making progress in your workout, not seeing the results you think you deserve to see, there are most likely multiple reasons for this. First off, keep your smartphone in your locker. If, after performing your set, you can immediately pick up your phone and begin scrolling, then your set was absolute shit. 

As you perform your set your mind must be completely focused on the target muscle. Your chosen weight should be such that doing 10 reps provides an unpleasant challenge, and as you near rep number eight you should feel depleted of strength, light-headed and fighting for oxygen. After that set, your mind as well as your body should be entirely preoccupied with recovering—so much so that your hands should be trembling, enough to make picking up your phone and scrolling the last thing you want to do at that moment. Then you want to rest no more than one minute, and repeat.

On leg day if you don’t feel light-headed during and after EVERY set, you’re doing it all wrong. Smaller muscle groups, such as biceps, will not have the same dizzying effect as legs, but DEPLETED is exactly how you should feel after completing a properly executed set for any given bodypart.

The only way you will make progress is by challenging yourself, by adopting stricter form, upping your weight, and increasing the number of reps to get you within your DISCOMFORT zone. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Don’t Ruin All Your Hard Work With Poor Posture

Posture…what a pain, right? But actually it’s the easiest part of looking the way you’ve always wanted. Posture takes attention and practice—24/7 practice.

There’s an older guy at my gym who is in his 50s who has an awesome physique, the kind of body any guy would be proud to have. He’s has an abundance of esthetically distributed natural muscle on his 6-foot-plus frame, but the problem is that his poor posture ruins the overall effect.

You will notice that any guy’s physique that you admire and would like to emulate is always displayed with great posture at its foundation. Probably you never considered this before in trying to figure out why some guys look so much better than others even though their physiques are basically similar.

It makes no sense to hide what you’ve accomplished, yet it’s not uncommon to see guys fully covered head to toe in sweats when it’s clear they have a fine physique underneath. But so much more common are those men and women who walk around slouching, round shouldered, belly out, literally undoing their basic intent to look good. If you’re spending hours each week in the gym or working out, it makes no sense to allow lazy posture to cancel out all your hard won gains.

There are endless resources on the net that will teach you how to stand and sit to best advantage. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Eating For Results vs. Eating For Fun

There is a middle ground between eating whatever you’re in the mood for, because it tastes good, and eating for specific results. Taking the time to make a master list of your favorite foods that are also nutritionally compatible with your fitness goals, and then using this list as your food shopping list, kills two birds with one stone.

When most people get hungry they grab the nearest tasty satisfying thing and gobble it down with no regard for “macros”: fat, carbohydrate, protein and vitamin content. Those who have set a goal, to lose weight, gain weight, pack on muscle, increase endurance and fitness, etc., need to educate themselves about nutrition in order to best achieve their goal. The internet is crammed with this kind of information for those serious about learning and improving.

Planning ahead instead of winging it is the way to success. For example I always take a thermos with a cold protein shake with me to the gym for consumption afterwards. After the gym you might find yourself so hungry that you’ll falter and visit a fast food drive-thru just to ease that discomfort — unless you bring food with you. If you are building muscle and minimize fat gain it’s essential that you eat specifically for that purpose, and the only way to achieve this is by consciously planning your meals rather than playing it by ear.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Checked Out: Clueless Doctors And Others

Photo from Pinterest

Recently it was advised I have minor surgery to correct a medical problem. The surgeon entered the operating theater, scowling, his behavior very odd and unfriendly. I wondered if he might be under the influence, also because he literally looked like a homeless person. His disheveled hair and ridiculously wrinkled clothes looked as if he had just been dragged out of bed against his will. I stared in silent disbelief for about 7 seconds before saying “I would never let someone who looks like you cut into me,” and I walked out. I then arranged for a different surgeon even though he was located 200 miles away and I would be responsible for all travel expenses including airfare.

I am my own best advocate, as you should be too. 

Recently also, dressed for a workout afterward, I went to have my stitches removed. The medical tech who took my vitals asked a number of health related questions, including “Do you engage in any exercise?” I replied, “Are you kidding me?” inferring but not saying out loud "Are you blind, lady?" The clueless idiot just sat there not concluding that literally no one my age or even those younger she  encounters day-to-day in her job looks more fit than I do.

Some years ago when living in Los Angeles my primary care physician resigned and I interviewed a new one whose medical office was in the heart of West Hollywood, where the number of gym bodies is almost unequaled anywhere else in the world. On my first and only visit, sitting there in my tank top, muscles rippling and having a 7% body fat reading at that time, this moron looked at me with disdain and informed me I was 15 lbs. overweight. I laughed, thinking he was making a joke, but he was serious. “I’m concerned,” he said with fake concern. “According to the chart, a man your height should weigh no more than 170 lbs. You weigh 185. You’re going to have to go on a diet.”  I responded “‘The Chart?’ You’re going by some ‘chart’? Bye-bye.” Not too long after I was told he had been diagnosed as bipolar and was under investigation by the California State Medical Board for a history of improprieties.

I keep on top of my health and fitness. I am not at all reticent about seeing a doctor, and I take advantage of every perk my health insurance offers. In the last two years I have encountered about 20 doctors and related medical staff: ophthalmologists, dermatologists, primary care, MRI techs, etc. I see what’s sitting out there in the waiting rooms, people of all ages, most in lousy physical shape, and not one, even people in their 20s, coming anywhere near my level of fitness. Yet of the 20 medical pros who I engaged with, only one ever made any comment as to my exceptional physical condition. One would think that of all people, doctors and medical staff would be most aware of the difference between people like me who do what doctors advise, and the majority who are non-compliant and uncaring of themselves, and might make some positive reinforcement reference to that. Nope. It is not a case of me seeking acknowledgement for doing the right thing, but rather interpreting this as a complete lack of awareness on the part of these "professionals."

What this tells me is that most people are disconnected from their own bodies, not to mention those of others. They are as unaware as they are uncaring. While a minor segment of the population might fixate on Instagram fitness models and movie stars’ transformations, in truth the majority of people are totally checked out. This should be obvious by visiting any Wal-mart store. I don’t think this is due to denial of their terrible condition, as they don’t seem at all aware that they are in terrible condition fitness-wise, or of their obvious diminishing looks and strength, their increasing disabilities, aches and pains and all the rest.

Old people—especially those who are undeniably going downhill fast—have the bizarre ability to convince themselves that everything will turn out just fine somehow without their having to do a single thing to bring about that end.