Monday, April 26, 2010

Anaerobic for Dummies - Part 3

Here is a generalized work out, {Day Three} 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 you can see Day Two Here, and there are many directions in those entries that need to be followed in this one, so if you didn't read them then do so before you even start here.

Since Day Three is all about the legs and torso I need to stress that a lot of the things I brought up about back and shoulders apply here as well. Most of which involve safety, because your lower back will play an even more integral part of the process of working your legs and your abs, as working your shoulders and back. I need also stress that I am a man that has had a severe back injury so my work out will NOT involve a lot of the more “notable” leg exercises that are used for mass in the quadriceps {like squats and dead lifts for instance} because I have not found the benefits of these things to outweigh the need for my personal back safety. I do understand that for more healthy people than myself it may be a important part of their workouts. I recommend that you get a competent person to show you how to do those things before you undertake them yourself.

I will also stress the same way I did with back and shoulders that you need to always start VERY LIGHT. Do not assume that any set that appears to light is a waste of your time. The first set should only take about 1 minute out of your day, and using it as a warm up, also will tell you the points on your legs that are stressed out, or improper form before there is to much weight to do anything but damage to you. I have an issue with my knees for instance, and the warm up sets will tell me how I need to approach working on my legs by how painful it is, or what forms of pops or aggravations the day will hold for me. By the time I am done with the low weights and I am into the heavy weights I have adjusted my form to make it more adequate to prevent a serious injury.

I will also stress even more so than with back and legs that stretching properly between EVERY set is of the utmost importance. As I had said the aggravation of sore muscles in your back and shoulders is ok, as long as it isn't an actual tear, well in your legs it is even worse. Picture the day when you wake up and your entire calves are nothing more than charlie horses that you can't put any pressure on? It's very hard to go without the mundane things like “walking” that you never think about until you can't actually do it! Everyone will find their own methods of stretching but I make damn sure that I place my arms on the machine and push my legs back in a modified “hurdlers stretch” for a count of 20 to 30 to make sure that I stretch the pain out of each calf muscle. By the end of my workout I usually feel no aggravation in my calves when I stretch them, and in turn I don't feel any the next day. I should also stress that this is a workout for a MAN. All of these exercises should be used by a woman and it is a great starting point, but sorry ladies, you have more and far more complex muscles in the hips than a man does, so you will need to check out the weird leg machines at the gym to deal with the hip flexors and use them as well, which will add an extra 15 minutes or so to your day, but very important.

Day Three .. Legs
Leg Presses – I have seen two types of machines for this and it usually comes down to preference. I prefer the one where you sit and press forward as opposed to the one where you lay down and press up. Mostly because you can adjust the angle of the seat back. Women will usually want the thing all the way forward {because it will put more emphasis on the hips and ass} and men will usually want it back about half way because it will put more emphasis on the quadriceps. I always say whatever works best for you will be revealed the longer you do it. The most important thing about leg presses is that you put your feet HIGH on the press board, and you space your feet about shoulder length. I leave my hands on my thighs so if anything goes wrong I can use my arms to help get the weight back without injuring myself. After your 12 good slow and measured presses, you aren't done. On each set you need to bring your feet down to the bottom of the board so that your heel is hanging off the bottom and do a set pressing out with your feet, so that you can work your calves. When your legs are in tune your calves and your quads should be able to do the exact same weight and this is how you get them “in tune” and it is a waste of time if you don't do your calves at the same time. Remember that you are walking to the water fountain and then stretching your calves out really good between each set.

Quad Extensions – This is the machine where you sit down and you have your legs bent down with the weight pressed against your shins. You extend your legs upward until they are out strait in front of you. Here's where most people screw up. You need to adjust the machine so that your knee is perfectly even with the joint that swings the bar. Like a leg brace for instance. When you extend the legs forward you want to do it slow and measured. Drop your weight if you aren't doing this fluidly, because you are not getting any benefit out of it. When you reach your final rep you need to hold your legs out strait for a count of 5 or 6 so that you can really feel the burn in your quads. Very Important!

Hamstring Curls – I have seen three different versions of this machine. There are ones where you sit upright just like the Quad Extension {like my gym, these are my least favorite because they are awkward and gravity interferes with the process} there are the ones where you lay on your stomach {these are the best because gravity works on your side} and there are the ones where you stand {which are somewhere in between}. The goal is to curl your legs at the knee behind you so that you can work the hamstrings and the glutes behind your leg. Just like the Quad Extension you have to have the pinion of the machine level with your knee or you are doing more harm than good. Be careful not to go to crazy when you do these because a Hamstring pull ends professional athletes seasons!

Calf Machine – If you do this right you will hate me for it. All gyms have a dedicated calf machine. I won't go into details because they are all so different but the one thing that needs to be explained is that to do it right you have to do it REALLY SLOW. Many people do these things and they just bang through it with heavy weight and feel great about themselves. They also have sad looking calves and those of us that know what we are doing laugh at them behind their backs. When you do the exercises really slow and strained you will feel quite a burn, and it will be of huge benefit to you to have nice calves. Don't forget to stretch them out properly between each set.

Day Three .. Torso
Back Machine – NOTE! [Only use a low back machine that has some sort of rounded pad that you can roll your back against as you do the exercise! If your gym only provides one of those archaic ones with no back support, please feel free to skip this part of the exercise because I have never found any benefit of them] Now the real reason you do this exercise is for stamina, and not for strength or body building. Let's face it, there aren't any real “build worthy” muscles in your lower back and for the most part if you are doing any heavy weight it is just working your hamstrings. Use a very low weight and always keep your hands on your knees so that you can keep stability. What you are really doing with this is loosening up your back on the back support, so DO NOT use any heavy weight on this. After a few weeks of doing this properly you should lose any tightness that you get in your back from working out in general.

Leg Lifts – IMPORTANT! [Nobody likes doing these, but the lower abs can ONLY be worked out this way. I can't tell you how many people do sit ups ad-nauseum and wonder why they never get any results, and it is because the “pooch” on your belly only gets worked doing these] Using an upright hanging leg lift board {the thing that you rest your forearms on pads and hold the handles with your legs hanging. If your gym doesn't have one of these find a new gym!} you will be bringing your legs out strait in front of you with your knees only slightly bent. When you bring your legs down again you need to do it SLOWLY. This IS painful when you do it right, but it is the basis of having a flat stomach. I do two sets with my legs strait, and two sets with my legs bent and coming up sideways. This will look like trying to touch each hand with your ankles. You can alternate these sets as you feel fit. In any case a set isn't specifically in 4s like I had explained in part 1. When working abs it is always to failure {when you can't do anymore}

Sit Ups – Most gyms will have some sort of Ab Rocker or Crunch bench, where you hold handles and the machine will bend with your back. DO NOT DO THE ONES THAT USE FREE WEIGHT! All abdominal exercised use gravity only. Adding weight to your ab workouts are not only a waste of time, it is counter productive because you want to build the muscles but making them freakish, looks silly.

Bar Twists – Many people think this looks silly and doesn't work very well, but like most things, if you do it wrong then you don't get the proper results. You need to take a wooden pole and place it on your shoulders with your arms outstretched holding it. Simple enough you are twisting your body from side to side, but what you are actually doing as you do this, is squeezing your abdominal muscles in and forcing them to fight against your obliques. Do this at a moderate speed and take your time so that you don't hurt yourself. It will strengthen your entire torso and loosen it up at the same time. If you are doing it properly {squeezing the muscles and all} you will actually feel a burn and strain with as few as 20 twists. If you aren't you might just turn yourself into a helicopter and never finish until you take off.

This is the end of Day Three. This is the shortest of the 3 building days, so don't fudge on it. As I had said before there are probably about 4 other exercises that ladies should be doing, but most gyms have specific machines for the 3 phases of glute development that a woman needs to do, or there is usually a staff person with ideas. The next part will be the wonderful world of Aerobic exercise, or Day Four