Muscle Building Exercises

Building muscle is not easy, but with the right approach it is possible. In order to build muscle tissue, certain exercises have to be done using specific repetition ranges for a total amount of sets. The amount of repetitions and sets completed is called volume. How heavy a weight is compared to your 1RM (one rep max) is your intensity. So if someone can bench press 300 pounds just one time, that is their 1RM. If this person bench presses 30 pounds for 10 repetitions, that is not intense because 30 is just 10% of 300. Also, to build muscle your muscles have to be pushed to exhaustion during multiple sets in order to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible. Some exercises and machines are a waste of time if you are trying to build muscle like: the inner thigh gadget.

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This inner thigh gadget is not intense enough to build muscle and I know, you know, it won’t burn fat from your inner thigh either. If you want to target the inner thighs, you’re probably better off doing sumo squats.

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Let’s talk building leg muscles. It’s simple. You must lift intense and do some of the following exercises once or twice per week.

Back squats (called so because the bar is on your back).

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Front squats (the bar is in front). The front squat forces your body to stay more upright during the movement, and this causes you to recruit muscles of the thoracic spine to keep you upright. Great for posture!!!

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Lunges

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Step ups

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And my favorite, the dead-lift. The dead-lift is really a full body exercise, but it is an excellent leg muscle builder too.

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These are the muscles used during the dead-lift.

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Don’t worry ladies you won’t get buff doing dead-lifts, but you might get strong.

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And men, you will gain muscle with dead-lifts because of a hormone running through your body called testosterone.

To build the upper body, push-ups and pull ups are your friends.

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If you can’t do push ups or pull-ups, this is where machines come in. Lat pull downs are a good back and arm builder.

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And the bench-press will definitely build your chest, anterior shoulder muscles, and triceps. You can start light.

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The overhead press is also an excellent exercise to strengthen the shoulders, triceps, and core muscles.

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Anyone who trains with me, or has talked to me about strength training programs, knows that I am a big believer in free weights, and some cable machine exercises in order to get the most bang for your buck. If you don’t know how to do the above lifts correctly, you should hire someone to teach you, or you can go on YouTube and look at multiple instructional videos on how to do a given lift with proper form.

Please keep in mind that lifting weights is just the stimulus for building new muscle tissue. To honor and complete the stimulus you must eat correctly and get your rest. We don’t run on batteries you know, or caffeine.

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Weight Loss Advice, Again

The following are facts, ideas, and philosophies that I preach to my clients who are trying to lose weight or just get fit. If you are not trying to lose weight or get fit, the following does not apply to you.

1. If you are a 5’2′ tall woman who eats like a 6ft tall man, you will probably weigh what that man weighs. Ladies, don’t eat like a man.

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2. In my opinion, diet doesn’t necessarily mean you should start eating salads. It means you should start eating less.

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3. If you drink alcohol more than 3 times a week, which is creeping up on 50% of the year, you will have one heck of a time trying to lose weight.

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4. If you drink regular soda, or some other sugar juice that your body does not need, almost everyday, you will have one heck of a time losing weight.

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5. If you eat fast food more than you make/cook your own food, you will have a hard time losing weight.

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6. If you think that working out twice during the week, and eating relatively clean for 4 days (you had a salad here and there and drank some water) has earned you the right to go out on the weekend, and drink and eat like a Marine on liberty after a long deployment, you will struggle to lose weight.

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7. If you give your pet the best dog food/fuel you can afford, and put the best fuel in your car and never miss a tune-up, do the same for yourself. Hint: for humans, food is fuel and exercise is like a tune-up.

8. If you weigh 200 pounds and eat like someone who weighs 150 pounds, you will probably lose weight.

9. If diabetes runs in your family you better do two things, eat right and start running!!!

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10. If you go out to eat, more than you eat at home, weight loss may be a challenge. (Ordering pizza to your casa doesn’t count for eating at home). By the way, every time you eat 3 slices of pizza, that’s 750 to 1,000 calories. Damn!!!!

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In all seriousness, life is about balance. I am not saying you can never eat pizza, go out for dinner, have adult beverages, or just lounge around, when on a weight loss plan. We all deserve to treat ourselves. But treating ourselves should be what the term says, “treat” and not a regularity. If it is something we do often, how is pizza or ice cream a treat? And yes, I do practice what I preach. When it comes to food and exercise, I try to lead by example. I learned my “eat good food” and “eat at home” habits from my mother. I am 42 years old. My mother was so ahead of the curve on healthy food that I was eating whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and clean grilled fish with rice in the 1980’s. Much of the time, dessert was fruit. Wha…what? Yes, you read that correctly. She would also make me protein shakes, way before I even knew what protein powder was. She would put ice, milk, a banana, and 2 to 3 raw eggs in a blender, and serve me a shake. I am not kidding! She never served me a soda. Yes never, like never. And all that cooking and effort to feed me right, in addition to her work. She worked cleaning homes for some wealthy folks. I think my mother learned about healthy food by watching her employers eat and how they fed their kids. That’s just a guess. I also believe that my mother’s motherly instinct told her that sugary processed foods were not the healthiest thing for the body, especially a growing child.

My mother passed away from cancer some years ago, so I never got a chance to ask her why she fed me the way she did for all those years, or where she learned to cook clean and healthy. Whatever the reason, I was and am blessed because I know that with effort, it is possible to eat healthy, even if you are poor or financially struggling. I also know that it is possible for children to be a healthy weight, with the help and discipline of their parents. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Diabetes Anyone?

The more I learn about the human body, not through school but just reading, the more it impresses me with its adaptability. Walk outside when it’s 100 degrees, and you will sweat to keep cool. Walk outside when it’s zero degrees¬† in shorts and a tank-top, and your body will eventually shake violently to keep you warm. Try to go more than 48 hours without sleep, and your brain will take over and you will start dozing off to encourage you to sleep. The body is constantly adapting to its external and internal environment.

I used to say that the body has not adapted to the excess food we consume, but I was wrong. It has adapted. The body, when given too much food, stores the excess as fat, and that is its adaptation. But give it excess food, over and over and over again, and it’s machinery of storing fat and releasing insulin to deal with the high glucose levels might start to malfunction and BAM!! type 2 diabetes might rear its ugly cara. So I downloaded “Sugar Nation” by Jeff O’Connell to learn more about type 2 diabetes, it’s manifestations, and if any solutions, other than medicine, are on the horizon. Here are some excerpts.

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“Beyond all science being presented at the ADA (American Diabetes Association) conference, type 2 diabetes really boils down to the sum total of a very long trail of personal choices, made over a lifetime. Whether you worked the treadmill for twenty minutes or turned on the television. Whether you stuck with your diet or ordered that fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream, promising yourself that you would repent later. The truth is, by the time you have or even flirt with type 2 diabetes, there’s probably a lot more out of whack with your life than just your blood sugar. That certainly was the case with me.” The author of this book developed pre-diabetic symptoms, and he was not overweight, so he was shocked when this happened. But looking back on his life, he realized that for many years he ate high carb, high fat (mostly bad fats), and highly processed foods. The irony of it is that he was a writer for several men’s health and fitness magazines. Because of his career, he had access to many respected nutritionists and doctors and he took it upon himself to learn as much as he could about type 2 diabetes.

“Diabetes, along with obesity, is looming as the biggest epidemic in human history” says Paul Zimmet, M.D., Ph.D., director of international research at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute of Australia.

“Those diabetics who are obese, but who are at least moderately fit, have a much lower death rate than diabetic patients who are normal weight but unfit”

If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic “If you can afford it, see a personal trainer once a week, or a nutritionist once a month”. The doctors the author talked to, and all the nutritionists he talked to ALL agree on the importance of learning to eat right and exercising to combat type 2 diabetes, and even prevent it.

“Insulin helps the body metabolize the sugar in the blood, which is called glucose. This blood sugar can come from diet, but the liver and kidneys can also produce it. What isn’t needed for energy can be stored in the muscle tissue and liver. This stored form is called glycogen. But because storage space is limited, at a certain point, the liver begins turning excess glucose into triglycerides, which often become fat. The human body has evolved such that it possesses a very low capacity to store carbs but a very high-capacity to store fat. This phenomenon is evident in buffet lines across the heartland”… “Thats in a relatively healthy person” says Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D., associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. “Even before glycogen levels fill up, people with insulin resistance dispose of carbohydrates by converting the majority of them to fat.”

“Particularly if you don’t exercise, those excess carbs will cause blood sugar to spike and then crash, at which point the body bellies up for another round of sugar.”

How about some scare tactics (with pictures provided by me):

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“Cancer as it turns out, has a sweet tooth. Recent research shows that the consumption of high amounts of sugar and refined grains boosts the odds for cancers of the esophagus, kidneys, and pancreas.”

“High blood sugar can sour your mood. In a recent study, researchers found that people who drink two and a half cans of sugary soda daily are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious than those drinking less pop.”

“High blood glucose levels can break your heart. When researchers study large populations, elevated blood sugar levels correlate with a greatly increased risk of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans.”

“Your joints might ache and creak prematurely, too.¬† A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology linked insulin resistance with rheumatoid arthritis.”

“The kidney disease rate is 22 percent higher among diabetic men than among all men, and diabetes is the leading cause of irreversible kidney disease requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation.”

“Diabetes skyrockets the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, as extra triglycerides produced from carbs overrun the organ.”

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“If passing on jelly doughnuts seems difficult, imagine living without eyesight. In fact, nothing causes more new cases of blindness among twenty to seventy-four-year olds than diabetes.”

The scary and alarming stats go on and on. From here on I will just talk in Hector terms. Basically, type 2 diabetes effs up the body really bad. But what get’s me is that its not a disease like cancer, where many times its diagnosis is a surprise and can’t be traced back or linked to anything in particular. Type 2 diabetes follows a well established trail of lifestyle choices (too much food, and not enough movement). “What you talkin-bout Willis?”

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Yes, that was pretty much the conclusion of the book. We just eat too much, especially carbs, and blood sugar skyrockets, day after day. Eventually our pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the sugar levels, and we have to be given MORE insulin, think medicine, so we can function properly, somewhat.

I don’t know if I got the above paragraph correct, but I know I have been super-duper correct in what I preach now, and have been preaching for years: Put down the sodas and the rest of those sugar drinks,

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Pass on the big ass bucket of fries. No one needs a bucket of fries! Really America, a bucket? How does that go down? You are just hungry and decide “I know, I will have a bucket of fries.” Or even worse, “Oh, you’re hungry little Johnny, or little Juan in my case. Here why don’t you have a bucket of fries.” Stop, please. What’s better than a bucket of fries? How about a small serving of fries?

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Cut back on the pizza. Notice I didn’t say eliminate pizza. I just said cut back. Like no more than twice per week.

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Chill on the desserts. Unless your are in super-duper shape, six-pack abs, and you move everyday, you probably don’t need dessert. I just learned today that desserts is stressed spelled backwards.

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And M.Y.A. Yes, Move Your Ass!!!!! That means exercise.

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Do anything, I don’t care, just move. I also learned in the book that the more intense the exercise, the more your body can tolerate and process carbohydrates correctly.

And last but not least, there is one part of the book I didn’t quite agree with. When the author said that type 2 diabetes results from a lifetime of “personal” decisions (no exercise, too much food). True, but not. How about the 10-year-old boy with type 2 diabetes? He just ate and drank what his parents provided, for years. That young boy probably ate fast food day in day out, drank soda, and didn’t move much, and then developed diabetes. The effed up part is that those decisions were made for him, and not by him. Very few children under 10 or even 12 choose what they eat every day, and how much they are going to move. So when I see an overweight child, with regular soda in hand, of any race, I hate to think of their future health because I know chances are type 2 diabetes is on the horizon, with the rest of that very preventable disease’s complications.

And yes, some people are more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes because of genetics. And guess what I know, and didn’t have to read a book to learn? None of us can control our genetics, for better or worse, but many of us, except children, can control what we eat, how much we eat, and how much we move.

If you look like this, that’s Christiano Ronaldo,

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or like this. (Just some guy showing off at the local park doing pull ups)…

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and sprinting,

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You can probably eat a bunch of carbs here and there without any ill effects.