Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Heading Straight Into Weights

Now it’s going to get a little more complicated, for those that are novices to the world of lifting weights. It might seem a little basic for those that have some experience with lifting weights, but I assure you this is the next step in building the new you. We've all been there so you are not alone and you will not be the last person to walk this walk. If you have gone the last few weeks walking the treadmill and watching the people in the gym, you should actually already feel pretty confident to take this next step, and here it is.
We’re going to start off doing something called a “straight set” or a “simple set” which means that you are doing one weight per body part. I’m sure you have heard things like “pyramid sets” or “super sets” or even “giant sets” but it all starts with the straight set. There’s a reason for this, which for most people at this stage of the fat dumb and wonderful chain, is the fact that you’re just plain new. In other phases of the fd&w chain, it’s because you have been trying all of those other ways with no real luck whatsoever.
Now to execute the straight sets, you have to do a little work the first couple of weeks. You need to find your weights without hurting yourself. The goal is to find the weight that you can do twelve (12) times. The most important number in bodybuilding is the number 4, because you can do everything safely in 4s. Three sets of four is twelve, and twelve is the graduation number, just like high school. If you can do 12 reps of anything then you are ready to go up in weight. If you can’t do 4 reps of anything then you are lifting too heavy. Between 8 and 12 you can use your judgment as to whether you can go up or not, and the same can be said for whether or not you go down between 4 and 8. Over the first week you will pretty much be getting to your goal weights to use, and then you can use the 4s to adjust from there.
Your first weight training program will get you through the first sixty (60) days, and it will be on a one on one off platform. You will work every major muscle group in your body once every other day, and on the days that you aren’t weight training, you will want to hit the treadmill, the exercise bike, the elliptical etc. 30 to 45 minutes for every aerobic day, and 30 to 60 minutes for every anaerobic day.
Here’s where we begin, starting low and working your way up. For the time being you want to go from muscle to muscle in order, and you just want to do one exercise per muscle. Do two (2) sets of each exercise, using the same weight, and over time you can go to three and even four. Four sets is where you stop, and start reflecting on whether you are using enough weight of course.

Starting with the legs you will be doing a Front Lunge (dumbbell or barbell). Target Muscles: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteus, Calves
Your starting position: Place a bar across the back of your shoulders or hold a pair of dumbbells at the sides of your body with arms fully extended (palms facing your body). Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forwards. Lift your chest up and look straight ahead.
The Movement: Take an exaggerated step forwards with your right leg, bending the knee and lowering your hips. Lower yourself down until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your knee is at an angle of 90°. Your left leg should be about 3 to 6 inches above the floor. Hold for a count of one. Push hard with your right leg to return to the starting position. Complete the desired number of repetitions; then repeat with the left leg leading.
Exercise tips: Keep your front knee positioned directly over your ankle. Do not allow it to extend further forwards as this can cause strain to the knee. Keep your body erect throughout the movement. Do not lean forwards.
Other variations: Step length changes the way the muscle affects your legs. A shorter step forward places more emphasis on the quadriceps and a larger step forward places more emphasis on the gluteal and hamstring muscles.

Moving on to the torso you will be doing the Oblique Crunch. Target Muscles: Internal and external oblique, rectus abdominis, lower back and spine
Your starting position: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet either resting on a bench or flat on the floor. Place your left hand by the side of your head, and your right hand on the floor for support.
The Movement: Lift your left shoulder diagonally, aiming it towards your right knee. Hold for two counts; then slowly return to your starting position. After completing the required number of repetitions, repeat the exercise on the other side.
Exercise tips: Imagine your rib cage rotating to the side as you curl up. Lead with your shoulder rather than your elbow. Make sure you lower your upper body slowly back to the floor. Do not twist your head, only your torso. Exhale as you contract your abdominals.
Next you will be moving on to your chest with Incline Dumbbell Bench Press (alternated bi daily with the Flat Bench Dumbbell Press). Target Muscles: Pectoralis major (upper chest), Anterior deltoids, Triceps, Pectoralismajor
Your starting position: Sit on an incline bench, angled at 30-60° (the steeper the incline, the greater the stress on the upper pectorals and anterior deltoids). Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and place them on your thighs. Lie on the bench, at the same time bringing the dumbbells to shoulder level. Your palms should face forwards.
The Movement: Press the dumbbells directly over your upper chest until your arms are fully extended. Hold for a count of two. Lower the weights slowly until they are by your shoulders. You should achieve a maximal but comfortable stretch. Pause for a second before pressing the dumbbells upward again.
Exercise tips: Press the dumbbells in a straight line, not back over your head. Do not set the angle of the bench too high otherwise the anterior deltoids will be targeted and take much of the emphasis away from the chest.
Now to confuse you just a little bit, you need to alternate the incline bench dumbbell press with the flat bench dumbbell press so that you get a full range of motion in your chest. For example, if you were to do the incline bench on Monday, then on Wednesday you would do the flat bench, and then back to the incline on Friday. The motions are basically the same just with different bench angles.
Now as you move on to your shoulders you will be using the Military Dumbbell
Press. Target Muscles: Anterior and medial deltoids, UpperPectoralis major, Triceps, Shoulder girdle muscles (Trapezius, Supraspinatus)
Your starting position: Sit on an upright bench, angled at 75-90° so that your lower back is firmly in contact with the bench. Hold a pair of dumbbells, hands facing forwards, level with your shoulders.
The Movement: Press the dumbbells upwards and inwards until they almost touch over your head. Straighten your arms but do not lock out your elbows. Hold momentarily. Lower the dumbbells slowly back to the starting position.
Exercise tips: Keep your torso upright - don't lean backwards or arch your spine as you press the bar upwards as this will strain your lower back. Hold your abdominal muscles taut to help stabilize your spine or, if you are using a very heavy weight, wear a weightlifting belt. Lower the dumbbells until they touch your shoulders. Don't shorten the movement.

You’re getting there, but we have to work the back by doing some Lat Pull-downs first. Target Muscles: Latissimus dorsi, Rhomboids, Biceps, Posterior deltoids,Fore-arms
Your starting position: Hold the bar, with your hands just over shoulder-width apart and palms facing forwards. Sit on the seat, adjusting it so that your knees fit snugly under the roller pads. Your arms should be fully extended.
The Movement: Pull the bar down towards your chest until it touches the upper part of your chest, arching your back slightly. Hold for a count of two; then slowly return to the starting position.

Exercise tips: Keep your trunk as still as possible. Avoid swinging backwards. Focus on keeping your elbows directly under the bar and squeezing the shoulder blades together. Do not shorten the return phase of the movement. Extend your arms fully. Do not lean back too far. Use wrist straps to improve your grip when using heavy weights. Do not pull the bar down behind your neck. This can stress the weaker muscles in the shoulders and reduce the work done by the back muscles.
Other variations: Using a close grip works the inner portion of the latissimus dorsi rather than the outer portion, thus creating more depth to the mid-back. Use a triangle bar attachment and bring it down in front of your neck until it just touches the mid-point of your chest. Using a reverse grip also thickens the latissimus dorsi rather than widening them, thus creating more depth to the mid-back. Use a short straight bar attachment and hold the bar with your palms facing towards you, about 15-20 cm apart.

Just two more exercises to go, so let’s hit those biceps get into the Dumbbell Curl. Target Muscles: Biceps brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis
Your starting position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart or sit on the end of a bench. Hold a pair of dumbbells, palms facing in towards your body. Your arms should be fully extended.

The Movement: Curl one dumbbell up at a time in a smooth arc towards your shoulders, rotating your forearm so that your palm faces your shoulder at the top of the movement. Hold for a count of two; then slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. Repeat with the other arm and continue alternating arms.
Exercise tips: Curl the dumbbells up slowly - do not swing them up. Keep your upper arms fixed by the sides of your body. Keep your body absolutely still- make sure you do not sway backwards. Make sure you fully straighten your arms when you lower the dumbbells; do not shorten the downwards phase.

Last but certainly not least it’s time to do the Triceps Push-down so we can finish up the arms with the triceps. Target Muscles: Triceps (Especially the outer and medial heads),Brachioradialis
Your starting position: Attach a short, angled bar to the overhead cable of a lat machine or one side of a cable cross over machine. Place your hands on the bar, palms facing downwards. Bring the bar down until your elbows are at your sides and bent at about 90°.
The Movement: Keeping your upper arms close to your body, press the bar down, moving only your forearms, until your arms are fully extended. Hold for a count of two; then slowly return the bar to the starting position.

Exercise tips: Keep your elbows fixed firmly at your sides throughout the movement. Do not lean too far forwards. Keep your wrists locked and your palms facing you.
Other variations: Some people like to use a short bar. You may use a short straight bar instead of the angled bar, although this places more strain on the wrists and forearms. I personally prefer to use a rope attachment, and then separate my arms away from my body at the end of the movement. It’s all in how you feel better about it.

Now that you have finished your muscle building routine, you will have about 30 minutes to get a balanced meal replacement into you. I suggest a serving of Muscle Milk because it is easier than just about anything, but a sports bar that is less than 250 calories and has over 20 grams of protein will be fine. This is NOT something you can skip either, because your muscles require the essential amino acids that you had burned off during the workout to lean out your muscles and straighten out the overall physique. This is what you are here for anyway isn’t it?