Friday, May 30, 2014

The Negative is Actually Quite Positive.

Every exercise has two components or movements: the positive and the negative.

The exertion half of the exercise, such as raising the dumbbell while doing biceps curls, or raising the barbell when performing the bench press, is called the positive.

Returning to the starting position is called the negative.

Most people put all their effort and attention into the positive movement but ignore and thus discard the enormous benefits provided by attentively performing the negative movement.

The negative is just as essential to shaping the muscle and building the muscle as is the positive.
You can amplify and accelerate your growth by paying as close attention to the negative as to the positive, but it will require increased effort and further depletion of your stores of energy.

The negative is all about keeping the target muscle flexed, rather than relaxing the muscle as we return it to the starting position, and maintaining control over the weight while doing so.

Most people concentrate on a number — the number written on the side of the weight — and once we achieve a larger number, graduating from a 25 lb. dumbbell to a 30 lb. dumbbell for example, it is anathema to consider going back to the 25. But since utilizing the negative takes far more energy than allowing the weight to just drop without resistance, backing off on the weight will be necessary.

Remember that this is just a NUMBER, and that the added component of the well-performed negative will MORE than make up for the lessened weight.

It is as much the intensity of the exercise as the weight of the dumbbell or barbell that provides us the results we seek.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Denial Concerning The True Enemies Of Your Fitness Goals

Baiters are people who have the troubling compulsion to control others’ lives. Those who criticize you directly or indirectly concerning your healthy goals — specifically, losing weight, becoming strong and fit, and/or becoming more physically active — are a special kind of baiter: the saboteurs. They sabotage others because they can, because as their prey you allow them to remain in your life. As impressionable children many of us have had questionable beliefs drilled into our heads by parents, teachers and religious figures that we have never adequately questioned, and thus need to be reexamined or even completely excised. One of these is the old chestnut that we “should” give other people the benefit of the doubt even when they have made it clear they are working against us.
What “giving the benefit of the doubt” to others really entails is ignoring or refusing to trust your own primary instincts. And the people who are advising you to give others the benefit of the doubt should be considered your primary suspects.
We all have had the experience of knowing someone who gives us an uneasy feeling that we can’t quite put our finger on. Our gut is telling us to tread lightly, or to avoid this person altogether, yet that instinct often gets overruled by the bizarre mantra that we should ignore our own hard-won feelings that are warning us about those individuals. We are branded, or we brand ourselves as “judgmental” when in fact it’s our lifetime of experience accumulated from having dealt with bad people that is the source of this warning signal. When someone in your life brands you as judgmental because you interpret others’ actions as being unfriendly or hostile, you need to reexamine the relationship to your accuser as well.
The most diabolical saboteur is the one who poses as a loved one; a toxic parent, significant other, relative, or “best friend.”
Recognizing these people and the damage they do, yet allowing them to remain an influence in your life, makes you a volunteer victim. Sometimes we cannot so easily leave these people behind, but we can limit our contact with them.
Saying “My life is none of your business” and then walking away makes for a good start.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Check Your Ego At The Door

 The great appeal of the internet is that it allows everyone on the planet to publish, to have their say, as opposed to the olden days when an editor — or a group of them — looked over what was submitted to them long and hard before approving material for publishing. The goal of many internet writers, who are in reality common trolls, is to provoke rather than to instruct.
Recently DETAILS magazine ran with a piece by one of their resident experts-in-everything titled “The 5 Exercise Machines You Should Never Use at the Gym,” which of course features 5 classic workhorse machines that everyone should be using. To make it worse, a link to this farce on the DETAILS site was found on MEN’S HEALTH website, making it doubly crazy.
Also, on MUSCLE & FITNESS (and to be fair, other bodybuilding sites as well) the put-down of those who caution against deep squats has reared its crazy head again. I’d like these macho-inspired deep-squat proponents to produce a selection of deep-squatters over the age of 50 — no, let’s make it over 40 —  who still have their real knees and can get up from their easy chair without screaming. You know, to prove their point of how safe and beneficial deep squatting is.
Deep ass-to-the-grass squatting has no extra physical benefits but does provide a host of dangers to knees and lower back.
The Number One Rule in strength training is “Check your ego at the door.”

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My Cable Technique

Supplements Aren’t Substitutes

After noticing him wandering around the gym from person to person for an hour making small talk with whoever he could corral, with virtually no time spent with a weight in his hands, he walked up to the counter as he headed out the door and spent $200 on supplements.

His routine was not a unique one.

Nothing takes the place of putting in the work and eating intelligently for the workout. Supplements don’t build muscle; the workout does, along with plenty of good healthful food.

From age 13 to 33 I had worked out but was always troubled by my lack of progress. I believed I was working hard at the gym because I worked harder than anyone else — until a true bodybuilder joined, and I witnessed the intensity and focus he invested. He was 21. I was 33. Impressively, he was quiet and sane, not one of the show-off grunters. Most notably, he rested little between sets. My previous problem was that once I began to overheat as I worked out, finding the feeling very uncomfortable, I’d rest, rather than push through.

I approached him, having seen him take on much larger guys than I as temporary workout partners, and seeing these guys buckle under the intensity and flake out on him, I asked if he’d like to take me on. To my surprise he said yes.

I’d experienced nothing like it — the hard work, the gasping for oxygen as I tried to recover from the last set only to have him push me into the next set. I didn’t flake out. I saw it as my do or die opportunity; either I’d push through the barriers I had myself erected to see what was on the other side, or I’d quit.

I kept at it. It killed me for three weeks, as the guy was on a 6-day-on, 1-day-off schedule. Previously I worked out just 3 days a week. I pushed through somehow, driven I guess by the previous 20 years of frustration and feeling that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. Last chance. It wasn’t really, but that’s the attitude I took. And I learned quite a bit about myself in the process. The big discovery was the benefit of pushing through to the next level, of answering that challenge.

I discovered supplements later. Slowly I recognized that supplements were an adjunct to a healthy diet, and except to experiment occasionally, I stuck with whey protein and creatine. The glossy ads and testimonials in the magazines didn’t sway me. I believe that the most that whey supplements do for us is to allow an easy way to ingest a lot of protein. It was good food eaten every 3 hours or so (the classic brown rice/chicken breasts and broccoli/asparagus meal) and an intense 5 or 6 day a week workout routine that was 95%+ responsible for building the muscle and rewarding me with the physique I’d always wanted. Supplements were in no way any substitute for this. Unless you’re working at the gym at full capacity, my advice is to save your money. Supplements are only  for those who are doing everything right when it comes to eating, sleeping and working out.