Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anaerobic for Dummies - Part 2

Here is a generalized work out, {Day Two} that I am keeping record of to hand out to people when they need a start on getting into shape. You can see Day One Here, and there are many directions in that entry that need to be followed in this one, so if you didn't read it then do so before you even start this one.

Since Day Two is all about the back and shoulders I need to go into more detail than I had on the last one about personal safety. You can overwork your pectorals, your biceps or your triceps and still get about your day no matter how much the pain can be at times. Aside from an all out tear which usually only happens with those muscles if you have years of overdoing it, steroids and a flaming case of idiocy aside, it is a lot easier to hurt your shoulders or back. It also is a hell of a lot less easy to go about your day to day with these injuries, and more over they don't go away all that soon either. This is no reason to be afraid of working these muscles, as long as you use your head. Strengthening these muscles also decrease the chances of injuries in time.

The most important thing to remember with shoulders is that the muscles are extremely intricate and wind themselves around a very complex series of joints. Tear a rotator cuff and you will have agony for years if not the rest of your life. Herky Jerky {my favorite term} motions are the number one and almost entirely relevant way of injuring the shoulders. You will keep in mind that anything I tell you to do will be slow, and in control of the weight at all time. This also means that you will not act like a super hero with your weights. I start all of my free weights as it pertains to my shoulders with 15 lb weights and I am pretty impressive looking. I don't have to show off so neither do you. If the weight itself is forcing you to go fast or become erratic then YOU ARE USING TOO HEAVY WEIGHT! Starting particularly low will also show you where the range of motion is before you get the crunches and pops that mean “now you've done it!”

The upper back is unusually strong as compared to the rest of the muscles in your body, while your lower back is unusually fragile. Ask anyone {like myself} with a back injury and they will tell you how miserable it makes life, no matter how much you recover from it. I suggest using a good Valeo {or similar} weight belt at all times when working your back, but if that is beneath you then at all times maintain perfect posture and aim your weight low. DO NOT ever bend over for anything at the gym. This includes picking up and putting away weights. Bend at the knees and rest your elbows on your knees when holding heavy weight. DO NOT bend over to grab rowing cables. Grasp them with your knees bent up and push yourself back with your legs with your shoulders back and your back up strait. DO NOT use any weight so heavy that it would arch your back forward. As always YOU ARE NOT AT THE GYM TO SHOW OFF! Perfect reps and sets are the key, not the weight involved. I personally can take half the weight I can do, and by executing perfect motions I can feel more burn than the lunk heads that throw weight around easily.

Day Two .. Back
Pull Downs – Using a cable with a long bar and the knee pads to hold yourself in place, pull the bar down to your chest and bring back up in a very fluid motion. Your elbows need to go strait out, and your grip needs to be about 6 inches past your shoulders. This is the standard for widening your back. Ladies, this gives you that killer hourglass that make men hot for you. Men this gives you the proper wings that make your stomach look smaller. I can't tell you how many people I have met that have spent hours a day on their abs to always look like crap because they haven't developed their Latisimus Dorsi.

Rowing – BE CAREFUL! You take two single hand cable grips {for better range of motion, don't use the one that has the two handles welded together. It doesn't work as well} and with your back perfectly strait you pull the cable towards your stomach with the end point being with your hands on each side of your stomach. Keep your elbows and arms strait downward and not outward. This is extremely important because it expands your back outward. With proper diet it will help to give you an ass because you will start having a curve at your lower back which usually is missing on people that don't work out.

Arch Angels – This is NOT for the faint of heart and it will take you time to do it right. You need to take the handles off of the fly cables {that you used for your chest on day one} and you will leave the carabiners {the clips} on them. The “balls” that are on the cables already are what you are going to be gripping onto. VERY LOW WEIGHT to start, you will grab the cable so that the ball is on the other side of your fist {just like using the ropes} and then you will grab the carabiner with the finger on the hand of the cable you are already holding, so that you will be able to grab the other cable the same way. This will have your arms outstretched in each direction. Now you need to spin around so that the cables are crossed over your head and your hands are together also over your head. Keeping your arms as strait as possible and moving slowly you will bring your arms down to your sides, with the cables crossing behind your back. Again you need to be careful because this can hurt your shoulder if you don't move slowly and controlled with a small enough weight. Don't despair if you can't do this in the beginning because you will sooner or later. They are great for strengthening your rotator as well as the muscles in the back of the shoulders.

Upright Rows – Here's another one that is a lot easier than it looks. Take the two handles that were used for the rows, and attach them to the low cable pully of one tower. This is a MAJOR Bend at the Knees moment. Use a lighter weight until you are used to it. You will be standing up holding the handles between your knees and your belt. You pull the weight up with your elbows outright until your hands are on each side of your face. Slowly and surely you will do this to prevent injury. This works the muscles in the middle of your back known as the Trapezius, but most people only notice them beside your neck and next to your shoulders. This muscle actually goes down your entire back and needs to be strengthened and stabilized so that your entire form is proper, but it also does a lot of good for your shoulder muscles and rotator cuff.

Day Two .. Shoulders
Snow Angels – You see a lot of people do laterals {holding two dumbells at your side and then with the arms strait bringing them up at a 90 degree angle then placing them back at your sides} which is actually what you will do until you are comfortable with Snow Angels. USE VERY LIGHT WEIGHTS for your first set and gradually raise the weight on each set. Snow Angels are the same thing only you want to continue the motion until the weights are strait up and touching over your head. I can tell you this, when I started doing it this way I stopped having the aggravations in my shoulders that all my friends at the gym have. Most of them won't abandon laterals for Snow Angels because of ego. I can do about 40 pounds in each arm with laterals and at best {for reps of 8} 25 with Snow Angels. The goal is to SHOW OFF ELSEWHERE and I assure you that the benefits are far greater in range of motion and cut of the muscles.

Reverse Laterals – Most gyms will have a machine for this {it looks like the chest machine where you bring your arms in front of you in an arch only in reverse} which is what I would advise, but if it doesn't you have to do reverse laterals. It is like what we had just discussed only you sit on the edge of a bench and bend over so that your chest is against your knees. You then bring the weights from almost touching the floor to being strait out at your sides. This exercise SUCKS but it is important for making sure that your shoulders are well rounded as opposed to big in the front and not in the back.

Military Presses – This is a standard staple of shoulder exercises. Most gyms will have a machine for this and I hope yours does. I just find it to be a lot safer that way. If it doesn't you have two choices. You can sit on a bench {and hopefully your gym has one that will adjust strait up, I always worry because doing military presses with no back support can hurt your back} and take dumbells {moderate weights} and hold them to your sides and press strait upward with them. This needs to be done slowly and strictly because of the shoulder issues. A tip if you need to do this with dumbells is to grip the handles and place each one on your knees. By kicking your legs upward you can get them both into position, without straining yourself too much.
This is the end of Day Two. It looks daunting but it should only take 30 minutes to 40 minutes after you do it a few times. After I list all the days you might change it around to your liking. I know a lot of people that have to work “Shoulders and Arms” together but it never worked well for me. I never liked working “Back and Chest” together either. Day Three will be Legs and Torso, so stay tuned for it