Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: The Fourth Thirty

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 91
Protein is the key to building muscle. We all know this and we have all known this for as long as we have known how to build muscle, but do you know how to keep track of the amounts of protein you take? Actually it is pretty easy. If you are maintaining your weight while doing serious muscle building, you need about 1 gram per pound of weight on you. In my case it would be about 165 grams. If you are really serious about gaining muscle mass then you need 2 grams per pound of weight. In my case that would be about 330. At 4 calories per gram that's 1320 calories which should be about a third of your "gaining" diet, or in my case 3960 calories. On a maintain diet it would be 1980 calories. Tadah!

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 92
Picture if you will a day when the very thought of not going to the gym two days in the same week gives you complete withdrawals and a feeling of second guessing the entire day. It actually happens, and there are weeks like this one where I actually have to miss two days at the gym, The reason for this doesn't matter as long as it is legitimate (and too lazy isn't legitimate). The most important thing to remember is to take your supplements. In a lot of cases your supplements work the day after you work out, just as much as the day you work out. The second most is to spend your time looking forward to getting back to the gym and not making excuses for why you should skip again tomorrow.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 93
Be extremely careful when you change your diet around. In a lot of cases you really have no idea how someone else's "miracle food" is going to effect your system. I personally am so guilty of this. I think to myself it would be brilliant to eat a lot of vegetables one day and then OUCH, my intestines are tied into knots. Some people can't process milk, MOST people can't process soy. Remember this when you see "Healthy Choices" in a vending machine or convenience store shelf. The "Healthy" ingredients might be hell on your system.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 94
Well I am going to steal a phrase from the AA meetings here, because it definitely relates to overall health and the gym. Today is the only day you have. An alcoholic learns to not drink "One Day at a Time" because it really is the only way to conquer an addiction. Well in terms of getting healthy you need to think of being unhealthy as your addiction, and try to use the same principals. Today is the day you get healthy because tomorrow never gets here. Especially when it is your favorite excuse to not work out.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 95
Time will heal everything. The hardest thing for a trainer, or even someone who is trying to help others out in fitness is the "instant gratification" crowd. Miracles don't happen overnight, and when someone asks me what I did to look like I do, they never like the answer of "two hours a day everyday for many many years" and I blame the workout video industry. You can't turn on a television without hearing about the miracle to getting fit and getting in shape. It's OK to tell some people to go try those and get back to your workout.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 96
It doesn't matter what motivates you to go to the gym. Some do it because they hate to look at themselves, some do it because their spouse hates to look at them, and of course there are those that go because everyone hates looking at them. The important thing to remember is to keep going when you and everyone else have accepted you for who you are, because a lot of times there is still a long way to go.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 97
How often do you change your diet? Now seriously, even if you are someone who doesn't need to lose weight, feels that your progress is working great, and appears to be getting all the gains in the world, you need to mix it up a bit. At least every couple of months I add or subtract something from my diet to see if it helps or hinders and then I add that to the pile of hit or miss foods. This is especially important considering that new buzz words like "superfoods" come out every few months too, and if you just flow around with these flows you could easily add 15 pounds of avocado calories to your hips or miss out on the gigantic amounts of anti-oxidants that you actually can find in an acai berry.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 98
Pulling the old switch-a-roo might be the spark that your muscles need to get over a plateau. This can be easier than say "adding different exercises" or "reversing the order of your exercises" but why not just change the ways you do them? Use a lot of dumbbells? How about doing the exact same exercises on cables? The pressure on the muscles is more continual, yet the weight can remain the same. That should actually lengthen out your muscles and give you that strength boost that has been avoiding you. That is assuming you can get over the whole "kiddie pool" attitude your friends give you when you head over to the cables.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 99
A good imagination is one of the best allies in the world of working out. Some people use it for good, and others use it for evil. Well theoretically your own mind being your worst enemy and all it will use it for good or evil depending on the situation. When I look in the mirror I see Captain America, and I can imagine that a lot of other people see the Shmoo. I know I have seen the Shmoo in the past, and choose to see Captain America now. I know every time I look in the mirror I can see all the improvements that are on the way instead of all the misery I used to inflict on myself with a spoon.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 100
Pain is a good thing, especially the day after you work out your muscles, but a good bodybuilder, workout enthusiast or overall healthy person knows the difference between the good pain and the bad pain. Yeah I know, good pain doesn't sound like it exists but here's MY example so that you understand. I changed up my legs routine and because of that I had leg and glutial pain for a couple of days. That is a good thing. I also had an oblique pain that was not. Of course I had NO back pain which was an excellent thing, and today I have no pain, which is good because it is the day I have to go back after those legs again. Wish me luck!

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 101
Nobody should have to earn your respect. If you are someone who expects a certain level of respect then that is what you give people, and hope that they give it to you in return. Now disrespect on the other hand is something that you wholeheartedly earn. Remember this when you treat the "new guy" like some sort of joke that needs to be ridiculed. Most of us were the new guy, and it doesn't matter how you were treated when you started showing up at the gym. If you respect yourself then you respect others, if they respect you back, then life is good, if they don't then THEY earned what they get, and you weren't a part of that process. Don't live with being an asshole if you don't have to, because you should feel good about ALL of you.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 102
This is probably the most important of all thoughts. Don't knock it till you try it. We say that about food, but let me tell you it definitely applies to exercise routines. Two of my best workout routines (Over the head cable curls and Over the head lat pull ins) came from watching other people do them a long time ago, and fighting off the need to laugh at them long enough to try them myself. This should be the way anyone who is into health, bodybuilding or any kind of fitness treats what they witness when they are at the gym. Sure there are a lot of goofy things people do that don't work but take a moment to prove it first.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 103
Ever get stuck over-analyzing what created a strength increase? Yeah it happens, you go into the gym and you are on fire, every set you do is easy, you add weight to everything you do, and you just feel strong as a bull. Then you try to analyze what exactly it was that changed that workout around, but you can't pinpoint it. This happened to me yesterday, and there was a series of problems with the analyzing process.

1. I ate nothing but pizza and cookies all day, and I finished the day off with a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Hard to pinpoint that "nutrient" that helped.
2. I accidentally forgot to take my happy pill yesterday morning.
3. The idiot that I can't stand was working at the gym yesterday.

So now that I have all of these factors in place that could have caused an adrenaline rush, I am forced to do what I always do in these situations. Hope it was just my muscles getting bigger.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 104
The simplest way to remember your muscles and how they work is to remember this short phrase which a professor of mine had always said, "All muscles pull." Despite all of the workout terms that involve the word "push" or "press" like push up, bench press, leg press etc, not one of these muscles are actually pushing or pressing anything. Once you actually understand that then it gets a LOT easier to simply and instinctively know what muscle is working what movements. Chest pulls your arms in, back pulls your arms towards it, arms pull towards the direction of the muscle you are working. Now get out there with your new found smarts and get those muscles "pulling!"

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 105
Don't skip days! If you run on a split system, do not skip days, because even the days of the muscles you hate to work contribute to the muscles you like to work. I mean aside from the hilarity of the guy with the huge upper body and the scrawny legs that you don't want to become, there is also the fact that your body needs the testosterone it produces on the days other than the others. Are you confused? Well think of it this way, if you don't get the results you want in your arm routines maybe it is because you aren't putting in enough effort on the other days to create the building blocks that your body needs to repair itself. You could be wasting more time than you think.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 106
Just to demonstrate that I can commit gym blasphemy, I am going to just blurt it out. It's ok to take a day off from lifting weights. Yes I will allow you all to catch your breath before I continue along. There are days when you wake up and your body is stiff and sore to the point that your scheduled day of lifting is a little too intimidating. Many factors happen here. You didn't get enough sleep, you have the flu, constipation, or many other factors, but always remember not to hurt yourself. This DOES NOT mean you have an excuse to skip the gym or the day of lifting in question. It just means that you should hit the treadmill, and maybe do some extra core exercises today, and then tackle the lifting routine that you feel will not get done right today, tomorrow. This happens to be what I am off to do right now.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 107
Aggressively attack the weights. Aggressively attack your diet. Don't aggressively attack those around you. The gym is a place to assert control over your physical well being, but if you can't assert control over your attitude or mental well being then you are a failure. I've always considered a great workout to be where after every set I want to scream and kick over all of the weights and machines, but to not do any of that because I am just as internally strong as I appear on the outside to be physically strong.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 108
The art of "Making Do" is something a bodybuilder or health enthusiast has to become accustomed to sometimes. You're either on the road, or your gym is being remodeled, or even because you have to move. It's important to learn the routines that work for you, but it is also important to learn the routines that can be done with the most minimal set of tools. There isn't always going to be cables and machines, so make sure you know ways to get a good workout with dumbbells and body weight. It's a lot like saving money for a rainy day.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 109
A while back I had to give up most of my two arm exercises, and switch to a heavy dose of dumbbells and independent arm cable routines. The reason for this being that my right arm (the dominant one) was getting weaker and weaker while my left arm got stronger and stronger. The fact that I did a lot of barbell, and two arm exercises covered up the fact that I had a neck injury that was effecting the nerves going down my right arm. The sad part was that the problem was easily corrected, but it has taken me years to get the two sides of my body symmetrical or at least a lot closer to being symmetrical. Don't let this happen to you, by making sure you have a good balance of exercises that work each side of your body independently.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 110
There really is no secret to being healthy, losing weight, bodybuilding or any of the things that a healthy lifestyle brings you. This is a problem for most people, and it doesn't mean that it has to be yours. Those that can do, and those that can't hold on to the hope that by some sort of miracle they can accomplish what you have through hard work and determination without all that boring hard work and determination. Many years of spending an hour or two a day at the gym is what it took to look like I do. You can start that process today or not but there is no secret that will get around it.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 111
Be careful of the "healthy" foods that you eat. Many of the things that are packaged and sold as healthy could be the worst thing for you at the time. I see it often when some hopeless do-gooder decides that the vending machine at work is full of too much junk food, and they get so mouthy with the vending company or management that they fill it up with "healthy" items. The problem with most ignorant people is that they don't know that most pre-packaged "healthy" foods are full of Milk and Soy products. High in protein, low in fat, completely toxic to most people's intestines. You shouldn't be doing something good for yourself and have it torture you the entire day.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 112
I usually say that my best workout is my next workout, but there are those times when you hit the gym, you throw it all on the table and you leave with absolutely nothing, but the amount of energy it takes to get home. No more, and no less. If you know what I am talking about, then you also know what it is like to chase that dragon every time you walk into the gym. Feels good huh?

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 113
Nothing interferes with physical progress like laziness. I know it sounds simple, but when we talk about laziness, we are talking about the way your brain lies to you about how to achieve your goals. In a lot of cases we have the drive and desire to improve our bodies, but we lack the ability to see the overall picture. Symmetry is what most people lack when they work out and it keeps us locked in the old way of thinking about ourselves while at the same time our own innate laziness aids in that narrow view of ourselves. If your waist seems too big, have you looked at the parts of your body that surround it? Are they by any chance too small? Does your lower body seem really pathetic compared to your upper body or vice versa? Every muscle on your body requires the same attention as all the others or else you may never look the way you want to. Now go out there and get the plan together to work the whole body folks ...

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 114
Where ya been man? This is one of those things that keeps a lot of people from going back to the gym. That overwhelming fear of having to face the people that know you haven't been there in a while. Myself, I tend to use it as the motivation to make sure that I never be that guy coming back after not being there a while. Actually if I have to miss two days in a row I feel like crap, much less three or four. Think of it as a new form of motivation, being the person that gives people a ribbing for not being at the gym because you on the other hand have been there every day.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 115
A training journal is one of the most important things a new workout enthusiast can bring to the gym with them. We all think we do everything we are supposed to, and we all believe that we are pushing ourselves to the maximum limits but guess what? It's a good idea to keep track of these things too. A lot of us think we are doing all the right things and aside from having a really honest friend who doesn't mind if you think they are an asshole watching your every move, you may just need to keep track of these things yourself.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 116
Diet is one of the most difficult parts of a healthy lifestyle. You want to look like all the people you see in the pictures of healthy people, but you don't realize that you can only look like those people for a short period of the year. That would be the period where they have stopped eating to build muscle and are at the end of eating to burn fat. One of the reasons I do my #SelfieSaturday pictures and blog is so that those that are new and don't quite get the fact that working out forms cycles, can see the yo yo that is my physique. Remember that it is ok to float up and down 20 lbs or so, as long as you remember to work on the floating down as aggressively as you do the floating up, and vice versa. If you don't you will never attain your goals.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 117
Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hype syndrome. You have the people that go charging into the gym all enthusiastic to finally deal with all of their health issues, and you have the people that drag their ass into the gym because the doctor told them they are probably going to die because they are too fat and lethargic. Both tend to lose interest within a few weeks and give up. The problem as I have seen it is that too many people never stick around long enough for that switch to happen where you go from "having to go to the gym" to "wanting to go to the gym" or vice versa. I say it quite a bit, but the trick to this is to find the reason to go to the gym and look forward to it, whether it is to look at girls, get away from the kids or to get faster internet, Find a reason to be there, until being there is the reason you are there.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 118
I may have covered this before, but if I did I don't remember so I get a free pass. Sometimes what looks like the stupidest exercise in the world is the most effective and our own egos are blocking the path to progress. I was reading an article on "The Ultimate Abdominal Routines" and it was all about "Planking" and other things I basically thought were college stunts made for YouTube. Now of course my own need to create things for YouTube made me try them (and there will be more on this in the #SelfieSaturday project later today) if only for the sake of making more content. My abs aren't exactly killing me but my obliques and my lower back sure are. As your parents always said, "How do you know you don't like it if you won't try it?"

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 119
What have you done to track your progress? My #SelfieSaturday Project finally went a year (check out the one from yesterday HERE to see what I am talking about) and for the instant gratification crowd, I was able to take two images, place them side by side and say "This is a year of progress" which felt really great. Whether it is a training journal (I do that), a weekly selfie (I do that) or even hanging out with old friends that you haven't seen in a while (I don't do that, people suck) you should at least try to keep evidence on a week to week month to month basis, because you never really do see the miracle that is you on a day to day basis as well as you do long term.

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: Vol. 120
Bodybuilding is based on the feel of an exercise, not the look of it. My greatest results started coming when I stopped staring at what I was doing in the mirror, closed my eyes and started feeling the motions, and registering the actions in my mind. Aside from the obvious working towards the strains that you are trying to accomplish there is a natural strength boost to not using your eyes while you are using your muscles. Try it, you may find you like it.