Monthly Archives: September 2013

Yeah, It’s Monday Alright…

Today I get back at it again after a relaxing weekend of football (Go Dawgs!!), food, and fun.

I tend to take my weekends very seriously nowadays because they’re the only time I truly have my entire family together without the obligations of work/school to pull us in opposite directions. That said, where I used to include a two-hour workout every Saturday, I now bask in the glow of doing absolutely nothing—unless it’s unplanned and group oriented—and that has done wonders for my mental and physical well-being.

But, as the case tends to be on every Monday that follows such bliss, I have a hard time finding the motivation to get back into training mode; it’s not that I’m not itching to lift or jump into new challenges, but more the case of my mind not being where my body is—the former is like, “screw this, it’s Monday”, where the latter is more like “BEAST MODE ON…let’s get after it!!!”

It usually takes one training session to get them both on the same page.

In any event, I do feel somewhat giddy because I copped some new tunes over the weekend to update my playlist. Drake’s new album hit last week and Justin Timberlake releases the part two of “The 20/20 Experience” today; new music is always a great way to inspire movement in my case since dancing is one of my favorite cardiovascular activities.

Yes, it is definitely Monday again, but it’s also another week I can focus on getting stronger, better, and fitter—that’s never a bad thing.

(From my personal playlist, “I’ve Got This Friend” by The Civil Wars)

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Listen to Your Body, Know its Limits, and Make Changes When Necessary

I’ve had my share of bad training days. Those days where I’m in there, feeling less than happy, not the least bit motivated, and completely unfocused on the task at hand. I don’t care who you are, and what stage you’re at in your fitness journey, you will always have a day where you’re not feelin’ it—a day when the bed or the sofa look a whole lot more interesting than the weight bench or the squat rack—and that’s okay.

Our bodies aren’t machines, yet most of us have little trouble running them into the ground with the day to day business of living and they are every bit as likely to fail us if we don’t pay attention to the proper cues. For example, about nine-months ago, I was beginning to feel perpetualIy listless. My workouts weren’t as consistent, my effort seemed to be waning, and I was constantly tired. I mean, like, all the time tired. And though I knew it had to be more than just a phase, I continued to push myself in the hopes that I would eventually “snap out of it”.

While it wouldn’t take a quantum physics major to figure out where that eventually led me, I will say that over the course of time my body began to feel the effects of working out six-days a week, 90-120 minutes per day and existing on what was essentially an 1,100 calorie diet. Of course I knew better, but I was more in love with the results than the truth; in the end the truth began kicking my ass and I needed to start rethinking my approach to training.

Once I re-educated myself on what I needed to do in order to both get the most out of my body as well as maintain my current level of health, I realized that I could get just as much out of 4 to 5 days a week, 60-80 minutes per session, on a 1,600-1,800 calorie diet (with the proper balance of protein, carbs, and fat) than the one I was living under the guidance of in the 14-months prior.

The difference was more energetic workouts, less issues due to overtraining, and a lot more focus on my overall internal health as opposed to just an obsession with my outward appearance.

But, I digress.

My point is to say if you’re feeling a bit less than energetic about your training, there could be more to the story than just a bad day—especially if you find that days like it are happening more often now than they once did.

Take the time to re-evaluate your approach, re-assess your goals, and, if necessary, make changes. Sometimes it’s as simple as you’re doing too much and need to back off a bit, while other times it’s a matter of bringing more balance into what you are doing already; either way, get to know your body well enough to understand the message its sending. If nothing else, that’s the one thing I would say is the most important aspect of getting fit.

 

 

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Squat Challenge: Taking it Ass-to-Grass (ATG)

Okay, who else wears shorts like this on what is clearly meant to be her “leg day” in the photo below?

Anyone?…Anyone?…Bue…haha! Had to go there for a moment.

Let me just say the form is more what I’m concentrating on here: she’s nearly ATG on this squat (that’s gym talk for Ass-to-Grass), heels back, shoulders back, weight evenly distributed across the traps, no arch in the back, knees aligned between the second and third toes at the deepest point of the squat, head up, and eyes forward.

Proper form is the most essential part of any squat. That said, training your body to go ATG takes time–not everyone can do it—and isn’t actually necessary for the leg results you’re looking to produce. If you’re an experienced bodybuilder or athlete, it can be a great power and max strength movement but if you don’t have the hip flexibility, core strength, knee health, or lumbar strength to get the job done, you will do more harm than good.

My advice is to start with the parallel squat, using only your bodyweight, with a chair as your guide. You don’t necessarily have to sit in the chair, but utilizing it will give you a good indication as to how far you can comfortably go without breaking form.

As you gain more confidence with the movements, try to go deeper with them—the deeper you go, the more you activate the muscles in the glutes, hamstrings, and core—but remember to keep your form and stop at any point you feel discomfort or pain.

Here’s an example of a parallel squat using a chair:

For those who are already comfortable with the parallel, there are other ways to upgrade your squat game simply by adding other elements (i.e. dumbbells, barbells, or BOSU ball) or utilizing other techniques (prison squats, hack squats, one-legged squats, squat with reach, etc.).

The important thing is to continue to challenge yourself, and your body, by exploring its capabilities beyond the perceived comfort zone.

 

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