Shaking the dust off…

It has been a couple years since my last post, which I thought would be my last. But now I’m back because I feel like I contribute more to other athletes, trainers, maybe even coaches will take a few tips, who knows. All I know is, is that I am back and hitting the ground running…

 

A week ago today was my day one. I don’t have a gym membership, I just graduated from college and as an alumnist I nolonger have access to the school facilities. All I have is a 35 lbs. lifting bar. A set of 5, 10, and recently 25 lbs. plates. I also have a quick action jump-rope, 2 x 10 lbs. ankle weights, MMA gloves, and an 80 lbs. punching bag. To most people that are used to a full functioning gym with the works, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but for fresh college graduate that’s still alot and honestly more than enough. The bar once I put all the plates on will be 115 lbs. If I strap the ankle weights to the bar it’ll be 135 lbs. Which is the same as an Olympic bar with a set of 45 lbs. plates.

Now why does it matter? I have spent a semester literally sitting in a chair either reading, taking notes, and typing. My activity was limited to only what I did at work and it showed. I lost a lot muscle, which also meant losing weight. I lost muscle tone so I looked more like a twig as my body suggests. Around my middle I started to get baggy. Nothing severe thankfully, but still not happy about it. My legs were fine, but then again they do the majority of the work out of the entire body anyway.

 

Basic-Weight

Anyway, normally when I’ve been out of the gym for some time. Being 5’10 and around 150 lbs. I try to be a strongman and start my “basic weight”. Your basic weight is more or less your default, starting weight no-matter what your end goal is, building strength, bulking up, toning, endurance, whatever. Every person has a “basic-weight”. In my mind it is 135 lbs. it has always been my magic number and it has never let me down. But since I haven’t been in the gym for about 6 months, that number is not my friend as past experience painfully reminds me. If I tried to jump into my old routine with that weight. my entire body would have been screaming and then I would have been struggling to move for the entire week

 

Friendly-Weight

It has taken a few years to figure it out and find it, but I’ve finally found my Friendly-Weight. I think the name is suited. It’s that perfect balance like most of your friends when they know you did something stupid, what they say hurts at first, but it doesn’t take long for you to recover. Now unless they reem you about it then that’s another issue altogether. But that’s the best way I know to describe Friendly-Weight. It’s less than your Basic-Weight, but not so light that your body doesn’t notice it. You’ll still hurt, but it won’t be for as long a period of time. My Friendly-Weight is 115 lbs.

 

Since I’ve started back into it, I’m easing my way. My goal is to get back into my original routine. Where in 30 minutes I’ll do five workouts. 4 x7min blocks and I do five sets of at least 7 reps. The last two minutes will be an endurance challenge. Now I like this routine for a variety of reasons. The first being it is a challenge. And I am all about challenges and testing my limits. For the moment I only have physical limits. I’ll cover more about routines in my next post. This particular routine is called power-training and it’s exactly what the name suggests.

But in the meantime I am working my way up to that and my workouts are randomized for now. I do this intentionally so I break-open, or wake-up all the muscle groups. That way they can start adjusting to the physical activity as long as I keep it consistent. For example I only did 3 days of lifting last week and each day was about 30 minutes. I kept my rep count, but my sets were off, but that’s okay it’s a start.

 

This week I plan on doing the same thing only I’m going to focus on my technique, my form, and work on my set consistency… A lot of people say that getting started is the hard part. I respectfully disagree, for me it’s keeping with it that’s hard and that’s because you never know what life will throw at you.

What I cannot say…

Now there is a lot of information I have given that anyone can benefit from. But there are things I cannot tell you what to do or how to do because everyone is different in this case. For instance dieting. I don’t believe in it and don’t need it either. My body has a naturally high-metabolism, which my activity level only increases. I can literally eat anything and my body won’t care, almost. If I try to run after eating a huge meal, yeah I will be in tremendous pain, but if I go lift, the most I’ll have to deal with is being gassy. Now I am very well-rounded when it comes to eating, I mean I eat healthy and unhealthy. But it depends on the day. For example on days where I do cardio, I focus on sugars, which means candy, sweets, but mostly bread, I love sweet-rolls. But on days I lift I try to focus between that and protein, peanut-butter, meat in general. Now I am not saying that I don’t eat anything else, all I said is that, that’s where I focus on any given day. On days that are my recovery, I am very well rounded, calcium, vitamins, fruit, veggie’s, diary, protein, sugar. You’d think I was stocking up, which I am…I am stocking up energy to burn for later use. Those of you reading might think I am a big-guy, far from it. I have been skinny most of my life, it’s only when I was introduced to Weight-lifting that I started getting muscle and some weight. I am very much average size, but my body-type is very athletic. During the Winter and Summer months I will gain a little extra weight, but nothing extreme. During the Winter I have no shame that it’s fat, but during the Summer I build extra muscle. Thus far I have yet to meet someone else who can eat like this and it not hurt their abilities.
Doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, just haven’t come across one.
Now another thing I cannot tell you to do is amount of sleep. Sleep is very important, not only for your mind to reset, but for your body to heal. Most people believe 8 hours is best, for me I have always been between 6-7 hours for best results. For some reason that brings out my best performance, anything longer, unless I really need it, makes me very lackadaisical. Yet if I only get fours hours of sleep I can go through my entire day no issue. I don’t drink coffee, I only do soda during parties, as well as alcohol socially only, and tea I only drink during the summer.
These are just two examples, there are others, but you understand the point. Everyone is different therefore like so many others, I am just supplying a basis. We’re winding down here and there’s not much left to cover actually. Hope to hear from you guys, maybe get a few questions.

Goals

The title says it all, but I’m going to lay it down for ya.
I don’t care the sport, I don’t care the training, you have to have an idea of where you want to be compared to where you started. How much faster do you want to be, how much stronger do you want to be, how much more flexible do you want to be, the list goes on.
You need to have something to works towards, to push you, to always remind of why you are doing what you are doing, to inspire you, to motivate you. Everyone is different. To me there are two types of goals; Number, and Spirit. Numbers are the easy ones, you set a number and you shoot for it, whether it’s 13 free-throws in a row, or benching 225lbs. for your next max. However there are some things you just cannot achieve, you’re not gonna bench 115lbs. and go to 225 next time you max, that’s beyond unreasonable. You’re not gonna run a 30 second 200m one race then run it in 20 seconds at the next race, again beyond unreasonable. You do want to set your goals high, but don’t set them so high that you don’t even have a chance to reach. But don’t set them so low that they’re too easily achieved. Now I understand that some people work better that way, but I also know some of those people have a big mouth that needs to be sat-on.
Now there’s another aspect as well. Injury happens, it’s unavoidable, things happen, you threw your leg to far back and now have a tight hamstring. You torqued your body during a lift and now you have muscle screaming at you. Things will happen that will set you back. However you determine how fast you can bounce back. For me being active so long if I can back at it the following day I can work that muscle out and get back to work the day after that. For tight hamstrings, use RICE method that was discussed in an earlier post, don’t let it go and don’t be stupid enough to try to use it you’re bound to make it worse if you do. Give yourself time to recover and recuperate and then get back at it. Sever injury, unfortunately there’s no immediate cure and it will set you back, but you can bounce back once you’ve recovered, no it doesn’t make you feel better, but it does teach you to be smarter and more aware next time. It’s too easy to get use to a routine and forget the basics that save you from such injury.
As the old saying goes, “You can do anything you put your mind to.”

Starting out…

If you’re looking to get started, whether you just wanna see what it’s about, whether you were told to do it, or if you are really serious about it, here’s my suggestion. Firstly find a place you can go to frequently, whether you have equipment at home, know a guy who goes to a local gym, whatever. Go there ask somebody to show you around, “show you the ropes”, get a demonstration. Watching it on a screen is one thing and honestly doesn’t do it justice, but being apart of it is something else entirely. If you don’t like putting effort into such things, then this really isn’t for you, it’s just a waste of time, yours, your trainers if you have one, and the people there who are there to work out. Try some of the things they show you or you see, “get your feet wet” in a sense. See how it feels, plus, your guide, can show you how to do it correctly, and to prevent you from harming yourself or those around you.

I will take this opportunity to mention that if you walk in there like a big-shot, like I’ve seen so many do, you will be embarrassed within fifteen minutes of your arrival, it may be subtle if the personel are nice, but if they aren’t you will be made the fool. Be courteous to those around you and ask questions, the goal is to get stronger without suffering severe injury to yourself and your pride does not count. You must swallow your pride and face the facts, when you walk in, you’re either in the middle or the low end you’re not going to walk in and do a huge amount of weight, it doesn’t happen.

Set-up a routine, you’ll work on one with your trainer/coach. It may take a couple weeks, maybe a month before one is decided upon.
Now from here you can either do it solo, or with a partner, there’s advantages and disadvantages to both.

Partner(s) guarantee safety and vast improvement. They are your spotter/trainer they push you to go harder and longer depending on the workout, for that day. A spotter is very handy especially when you are trying to move a huge weight. The down-side is dependent on their character, either they care or they don’t there is no middle-ground. Either they are helping you or hindering you. For example I had a partner who would spot me, but he would take forever when he would do a set or just wouldn’t do a set, which got me in trouble with the coach. He would push me, but he was making me angry and being a huge a hindrance on the routine no matter what day it was.

Going solo, there’s a smart way to do this, and wrong way to do this. Going solo in weights is very dangerous especially if you are working a lot of weight. Most places I know require spotters, but not all. The safe way to do solo is to first set the safeties, but make sure you can still get a rep in. Next is frowned upon, but it works, you do not “clamp” the weight, meaning it’s free standing. Now if you don’t have good balance and the incline is severe enough the weight will fall off. If your balance is decent or “True”, when you get stuck you can shift the weight allowing you to get away without much injury. Now there is such a thing as being too safe. For instance in weights the goal is too get stronger, so if you do “baby-weight” all the time by yourself you’re not going to improve, and it will actually make you weaker.
Being unsafe is doing a lot of weight and you get stuck and the weight comes crashing down. I don’t care what lift you are doing, but that’s highly severe and dangerous. Two lifts being the most lethal are Push-Press, and Bench. If the bench comes down depending on it’s position, it could land on your throat, your rib cage fracturing a rib and/or puncturing a lung. If push-press comes down, it’ll either be on your head resulting in a concussion, fracture your neck, or damage your back.
So this is what most know as smart-weight. My rule is to first find out how much weight you can handle, basically maxing, what’s the most amount of weight you can rep for that particular excersize. Then make a chart based on percentage and work off of that, start where you want and build-up, this is strictly a guide to help you make sure you can handle the weight. As you progress naturally it’ll get harder, but it’ll also make you stronger and more aware.
You should always maintain a certain level of awareness in the weight-room, always. Free weights I personally prefer over machines, reason being, the concept of a pulley-type mechanism is to lessen the actual load, so while it says you’re curling 90lbs, you might actually be curling 80lbs. That’s just an example. I am not saying machines aren’t useful, quite the contrary. Machines are good for working one specific muscle group, and not everything can be done with free-weights, or be done safely thus these become useful.
Free-weights you’ll realize that while it may seem they focus on one particular muscle, they actually work a multitude of muscle groups. Squat is the best example, it works your quads muscle, primary focus, but it also affects your gluts, your hamstrings, and to a minor extent, your calf muscles.

For the new guys on the block, naturally this is just a warm-up for you guys/gals. For those that know most of this, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some things you have forgotten. But if there’s three rules you should always follow.
1. Be smart.
2. Keep it safe.
3. Push each-other.

R.I.C.E. – Injury

Now I know I’ve made a post in the past about recovery from injury, but I didn’t cover everything. This post won’t necessarily either. Nor would the ones I’ve posted about “Runner’s Knee”. However if I truly wish to focus on training on its entirety, then I must cover resting, overexertion, treatment, recovery. Very little of this will actually be my true knowledge, it’ll be mostly made up of info on the web, which anyone can look up if they’re just willing to take the time, sit-down, and read it. I will provide the links as I go along so that if you want to confirm or just look at it yourself, it’s there for you to use, and while wikipedia or wiki-links is good for just finding info, sadly it can be altered at anytime so what you’re reading there probably isn’t very accurate.

There’s a treatment method used for light injuries, mainly ones that have the potential of getting worse if ignored or not treated properly. It is used across the board, doesn’t matter the sport, nor the injury. It’s simply called the RICE method.
Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
R – Stop using the affected or lessen it’s use as much as possible. Again this method applies to any injury that’s causing your discomfort or pain, using it while it’s hurting could make the damage worse.
I – Apply ice to reduce the swelling, make sure to have a cloth between your skin and the ice so that frost-bite does not occur, plus make sure the pack conforms to you for maximum affect.
C – Compression, wrap or bandage the ice pack in place until time, but don’t make it so tight that you cut-off or restrict blood-flow. You want it to stay in play not perform a tourniquet.
E – Elevate the affected area so it’s above the heart. As this point in time I have found no article that explains the specific purpose for this. However from an experiment in the past I can guess. This is to simply making the blood work work up to the area and return, you’ll feel this since the area will be tender anyway.

http://www.topendsports.com/medicine/rice.htm

For more about the RICE method visit this site it explains the theories behind this method and vast studies done on it.

http://www.naturalstandard.com/demo/demo-bl-ricetreatment.asp

 

Now for something more severe, you need to talk to your Coach(es) and/or Trainer(s). If you people aren’t sure what’s going on, do not ignore it, if able evaluate it to see if you explain it better before you try to talk to the trainer. Ever just went to a trainer, but couldn’t really describe what happened? Frustrating isn’t it? In may case, the only injury I had that was obvious, was when I wrestled my junior year and my shoulder got separated. Me and a fellow teammate collided wrong and I felt my shoulder pop, as I lay on the mat I felt it out of place and it hurt, I clenched my hand and felt all the muscles and tendons around the area tighten up and the joint “snapped” back into place, I felt it, though it did feel better, it still felt odd. Went to the Coach who told me to go see the trainer. I didn’t know how bad it was till I got to her and she had me look in the mirror. My entire left shoulder was shrugging on it’s own and I couldn’t really stop it, because now the body had taken over by pulling the affected area back into place and was now swelling to keep it there. She gave me an ice pack to ease the swelling and urged me to go see a local Sports Med facility.That visit had two things, one the Doc had me do a full “range-of-motion” test, and then an X-ray. According to the X-ray I have a grade three separation, nearly all the tendons were torn, yet the Doctor couldn’t believe I could still move my arm freely and nearly pain-free except when pivoting it backwards, it’s an injury that usually requires surgery to fix, but I was fortunate in not needing it. They told me that all I needed to do was rest and strengthen it by stretching, if I did anything heavier, it would require surgery.

But this one of those very extreme examples. I’ve never had shin-splints, yes from time to time the area got tender sometimes painful, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t take care of myself. Ice after practice and stretch it gingerly before and after practice. There’s a list of others.

I can take care of myself now with almost any injury I have experienced whether it’s legs, arms, chest, or back.Guys that like to lift heavy, sometimes too heavy, have a tendency of using more muscle groups than what’s required and they feel it. For guys that do heavy bench if done incorrectly it could go through your back, or in severe cases shoot down your body. I was spotting a guy for bench, but he didn’t want me to touch the bar. He started pushing it up, but he had the entire bottom of his body all tensed up and pushing with him. I ended up helping him and he couldn’t get up easily, because his left leg locked-up. Walking on it eventually allowed him to use it freely again.

Anyway point is, you need to be relatively smart about what you do, nobody likes to limit themselves, but sometimes it is necessary to prevent set-backs. I’m sure we know some people who have gone out hard and paid the price for it. There was an accident once in the gym back in high-school. The athlete had two sets of dumb-bell weights and wasn’t paying attention weight he set/”threw” his hand down and chopped one of his fingers off. They got it back on, but since he was currently in season, he was forced to sit-out because he didn’t pay attention.

Keep it smart and always watch yourself, accidents will occur, there’s no stopping that, but you can prevent anything truly serious from happening. Remember that and stay aware of your surroundings.