Monday, 02 July 2012 08:35

How many exercises should you do

Ask the average trainee a list of exercises they do (or for those starting out, a list of exercises they plan on getting after), and you'll likely get a long list - most likely put together with input from the "experts" that swear by doing thousands of reps and a ton of different exercises on a daily basis.

One such routine I read on a forum was (this was a bodyweight routine) went thus: - 500 bodyweight squats, 50 pistols (one legged squats), 200 pushups, 100 pull-ups, 10 sets of 1 minute handstands, 25 burpees, and - to "finish" things off, 10 minutes of jumping rope.

This routine was apparently meant to be followed daily, and one is expected to increase the number of reps on all exercises except the bodyweight squats, which was already the mind boggling number of 500 per day. YIKES!

Now, this may sound good in theory (apparently it does to a lot of folks), but for the average person, it means one thing and one alone - OVERTRAINING, and therefore a complete lack of progress; in many cases, a reversal of any progress made, which is even worse. It may work for professional athletes whose JOB is to exercise 8 hours day - but these folks have little else to do other than exercise, and practice their chosen sport - which is NOT the case for the average person.

I mean any ONE of the movements described is enough for an entire workout, if done correctly. 500 squats?? Do those right, and you'll likely have very little left in you after that. 100 pull-ups? Impossible for most folks to do. 100 pushups? Pretty tough workout by itself, without adding a ton of stuff in. You get the picture - these type of training "programs" (and I use that word with caution) are found plastered all over the Internet, but are to avoided at all costs.

And whats even sadder is that this particular routine was being recommended by some folks to others - ignorance is bliss, it would seem.

My own routine consists of a variety of movements, but I definitely do NOT go over the top on any of them. And truth be told, you'll make FAR greater gains working on a few movements, and working those movements HARD. For instance, my upper body routine this morning consisted of a 100 pushups, 25 handstand pushups and 25 pull-ups, followed by a bridge, but I was hammered at the end of it. The key is to focus on each rep - get the MOST out of every rep - and you'll see you don't need super-high reps to make progress. Neither do you need to do every exercise under the sun in a workout - concentrate on a few hard movements, and work those like you mean it.

Emblazon this into your mind - LESS is MORE, provided you do things correctly. Quality over quantity wins out every time - this cannot be emphasized enough.

And last, but not least, please don't think I'm against anyone working up to super high reps in a movement. On the contrary, I think those are great goals to shoot for - but add in a bit of common sense as well. Doing a 100 pullups is fantastic, but a hundred of them daily along with other things might just be over loading your system a wee bit too much. Do 100 one day, 25 the next, 70 the next, and so forth. You'll also find that you'll progress, and roar past "sticking points" much faster this way.

OK, my friend, thats the wisdom for the day. If your looking for training programs that allow you to blast every part of your body without overtraining, you can find them right here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book.

All for now!

Rahul

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 08:23

My thoughts on calluses

Today's post is going to address callus formation - something which every serious trainee experiences at some point in their training career - be it bodyweight training, weight training, bodybuilding, racket sports, or any other similar endavor which requires repetitive gripping or pulling movements.

Bodyweight exercise enthusiasts, pull-up maniacs and most sportsmen are NO stranger to calluses - in fact, the only competitive sport that I can think of that doesn't involve calluses is swimming. Some folks try to avoid getting calluses while others wear them proudly as a "badge of honor" - the thought basically being, the more committed one is to their activity or sport of choice, the more callused the hands get.

As for me, I sport plenty of calluses on my hands. As a matter of fact, one of them split right open while I was performing my pull-ups today - OUCH! Now thats something that's painful - I had to adjust my grip to be even able to complete my workout. My own fault for tugging away at it though, so the split wasn't entirely unexpected.

So, what do I think of calluses? Do I try and avoid them? Do I wear gloves to minimize wear and tear on my hands? How do I deal with the pain while doing my exercises?

Well, first off, I believe that calluses are an inevitable, if sometimes unwanted by-product of serious strength training. It's virtually impossible to do thick bar pull-ups, finger pull-ups, and any other pulling movement without developing calluses. And I do NOT believe in using gloves or other "aids" while pulling - I believe they take away from the overall exercise. Second, although they can be REALLY painful, I don't try to avoid getting them - pretty much because it's impossible to do so while training hard.

Why, you may ask? Well, it's hard to explain - but "feeling" the bar in your hands is of paramount importance if your aim is to succeed at pulling yourself up on that bar. You need to feel each square inch of your palms fiercely gripping the bar - until your fingers literally peel off -  and you need to "feel" your strength transfer over from your back muscles to your hand muscles to complete the pull. All this, in my opinion, cannot be done with gloves. I realize there are people that wear gloves and seem to do well enough - but in my opinion, gloves are NOT the ideal pulling companion.

As for the pain, well, I try and not grip directly over the callus if I've got one that really hurts me. For instance, I completed my pull-up session today by gripping more with the fingers than the entire hand (on the left hand - and note that I'm NOT talking about "thumbless" pull-ups). You can also apply antiseptic cream or other potions to the calls after your session. But at the end of the day, it's going to hurt a little no matter what - my advice would be to work through it the best you can. And though that sounds masochistic to a degree, it really ain't once you really start to "get into" your routine - you'll automatically work through the pain without even realizing it if your committed enough.

Also, remember that it's always harder training with equipment outdoors than it is doing your exercises indoors. By that I mean that I'd be less likely to develop painful calluses by doing pull-ups on a chinning bar as opposed to a thick, rugged iron beam out in the park (with numerous contusions and abrasions on the surface). But then, you also develop a much stronger grip, "lasting" power (no sniggers, please!) and a higher level of mind-muscle connection by doing the exercise in a tougher manner.  No pain, no gain - as they say - but it's entirely up to you. You CAN still train indoors and make great gains - you just have to go about it the right way.

And last, but not least, remember that this advice is just as applicable to your ladies out there as it is men - at least looking at it from the point of success in your training it is!

Keep pulling like you mean it,

Rahul

PS: Training indoors is a fantastic option for most of us, but you have to know how to do it the right way to get proper results. Fast and Furious Fitness shows you that way: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book

 

Today I'm going to talk about a time tested exercise combination for the upper body that works wonders if you know how to combine it into your routine effectively.

The routine I'm going to talk about is extremely simple, but amazingly enough ignored by many people. It consists of only TWO exercises. That's right - just TWO. You could work more in if you think you need to, but you likely won't find it necessary to do so.

It requires no other equipment other than a chinning bar - and even that isn't required if you have some other place to hang from (eg. a ledge, a tree branch, monkey bars, and so forth). It makes for a real tough workout to be honest - but it does so without eating up your entire day. And you could do this combination, and do no other exercise for the upper body - and you'd still make good gains as far as the upper body is concerned.

Now, at this point you've probably figured out what one of the exercises is - and you are right, my friend - it's the good old PULL-UP. But it's a pull-up done in proper form until your chin crosses the bar, done slowly, and for repetitions (and done WITHOUT "kipping").

The other exercise is another toughie - and one which is even more ignored than the pull-up - and that is the handstand pushup. Do these two exercises in sync for a while, my friend, and you'll soon be buying new shirts for yourself.

I did 40 pull-ups and 40 handstand pushups as part of my routine today - and believe me, there wasn't much else I could fit in except for some lower body movements, and core work. These two movements work the entire upper body into the ground - if you know how to do them correctly. See Fast and Furious Fitness for detailed instructions on how to get going with these two exercises.

Why do these two exercises work so well?

Well, first because they are compound exercises that work the entire upper body - as opposed to exercises which claim to isolate a certain muscle. I'm not EVEN going to get started on that one here.   .   .but rest assured that both exercises work the entire upper body as an unit. Yes, we've all heard that pull-ups work the back, and pushups the chest, but what is not often mentioned is how pull-ups use the chest muscles as well and pushups work the back. For more on this, see Fast and Furious Fitness.

Second, and more importantly because they train the same muscles HARD in OPPOSITE directions - and this last bit is important - they train the same muscle, in opposite directions, giving you muscles and tendons that are flexible and strong in ALL directions as opposed to one.

Think of it this way - what use would a rubber band be if you could just pull one end of it out? The same thing applies to your body. The pull-up motion requires ALL your upper body muscles to pull your upper body weight and the handstand pushup requires them to push the same weight. When you pull, you arch your back and draw your shoulder blades "back", and you do exactly the opposite when you do handstand pushups - and THIS is what leads to balanced muscular development, as opposed to, say, a "gorilla like" look where you work the chest muscles to the point that you stay hunched over, but neglect to do any back work (and this is more common than you'd think).

There are other reasons, and I could spend all day discussing this, but those two should be more than plenty for you to get started and find out the amazing benefits of this combination for yourself. Get started, do what you can, and you'll soon be the one telling me about how YOU'VE benefited from this combo!

Now, one last thing - remember that this sort of routine is NOT for the uninitiated. If your just starting out, this is not for you. If you haven't done pushups and pullups for a while, start off with regular pushups, and get good at them before working up to the other two. That is crucial - don't bite off more than you can chew - or you'll end up going backwards, not forwards. And of course, as always, remember to ALWAYS maintain good form.

Follow this sort of a routine religiously, and you'll soon have upper body development to rival the local "gorillas" at the park (or gym, hehe) - and what's more - you'll have solid, FUNCTIONAL strength to go with it as well!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: To learn more such amazingly simple, yet brutally effective exercise combinations, grab your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness NOW.

Thursday, 21 June 2012 07:30

More simple exercises to chomp upon

As I said yesterday, some of the very best exercises that you can for your overall health, strength, and fitness are also the simplest ones. Case in point - the burpee - which I spoke about yesterday - so in case you missed yesterday's note, check the blog, and it'll be up there.

And some of these exercises are SO simple (in theory) that the gym-crazy populace would scoff at the mere thought of doing them. The burpee is one such "simple" exercise that has the potential to bring even the most 'roid-crazed gym monster to his knees within a matter of minutes, but it is by no means the only one.

This morning, I added in two such, simple, but extrememly demanding movements into my routine. These are the bear crawl, and the reverse bear crawl (also known as the "crab walk" in some circles). I cover the bear crawl in Fast and Furious Fitness, but there are many who have overlooked this wonderful exercise for the upper body. Big mistake - this seemingly simple movement adds in GREAT value to your routine - and whats more, it does so in less than a minute for most folks.

Don't believe me? Well, get on your hands and feet, and crawl around like a bear for a while. I'll bet you twenty smackers that the average person thats never done this before will be breathing heavily after about 20-25 seconds or so, and it'll take time for him to work up to a minute. Then do the same thing, only walking backwards. WHOA!

And thats just the start. When you think you've gotten good at it - try doing the same thing uphill. That one is enough to whoop even the fittest of us - I cover this routine in Fast and Furious Fitness as well.

And we haven't even gotten to the reverse bear crawl, which is a movement I do NOT recommend for those that are not good at the regular bear crawl. This one will have you panting within a matter of seconds - just holding the position is more than what most folks can do.

Now, as I said, I mixed these up into my regular routine, but believe me, if your just starting out (or if you haven't done these before), these two movements alone may well make up the majority of your workout, and you'd still be whooped pretty well when done. I've done these movements before - but I was still fried at the end of my workout. Combine this type of thing with burpees - and other exercises, as I did today, stick at it for a month or so, and you'll soon find yourself dropping waist sizes faster than you can say voila. 

And that's just the part about dropping weight - you'll FEEL great as well. ANY exercise which causes you to huff and puff like a runaway locomotive will do that for you, and these are a few exercises that fit the bill perfectly. I should know - I'm feeling the positive energy pulsate through my veins right now, and this is an hour or so after my routine!

OK, enough for now, my friend. Have you ordered your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness yet?

Best regards,

Rahul

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 07:45

This exercise is downright EVIL

Those that scoff at bodyweight exercises as being "too easy", or not "tough enough to build real strength", and so forth don't have a clue.

This morning, I did a "finisher" that I haven't done in a long, long time. A "finisher" in my book being an exercise that finishes my workout off - both literally and figuratively speaking - as one should have nothing left in the tank after a finisher". Now like I said, I hadn't done this particular movement in a very long time - it was one of those "forgotten" exercises (for me), you might say.

So I start. I pump out one rep, and think "ah, I can still do it. No problem". On to rep #2, which somehow didn't seem as easy. And so forth. The sweat started to roll off me like raindrops off a slanted roof after just a few reps. Each rep became progressively harder, until I stopped at rep #15 or so.My lungs were burning, and I felt like my legs were going to buckle under me at any moment.

"This is ONE evil exercise, buddy", my inner voice told me.

"It is for sure. Get on with it", I responded.

And get on with it I then did. I completed my first set, then did another two sets of these, before I was ready to shout "Uncle" (for the more imaginative of you out there, insert expletive of choice).

And this exercise, my friend, is something SO simple that you wouldn't believe it could provide such a hell of a workout. It's the much under-rated and oft-forgotten BURPEE - and it's a movement that can bring the fittest of us to our knees in less than two minutes flat.

What does the movement include? Well, simply put, you crouch down on the floor so that your hands are by your feet, and from that position, you move your feet back to a pushup position while keeping your hands at the same position. You do a pushup, immediately move your feet back to where they were, and then you jump up with arms extended as high as you can. That's one rep. You repeat for as many reps as possible.

Yes, it's simple enough - a pushup, jump and squat - I said the exercise was simple to start with - but does simple make it EASY? Not a chance, my friend, and for those of you that doubt, get down on the floor right now and pump out a set of 20, or whatever number you think might be challenging enough for you, and THEN let's talk. The exercise is aptly titled as well.   .   .those of you with excess flatulence or distended stomachs might even experience "relief" in a way, if you know what I'm talking about, hehe.

Now there are those that might say "15 reps? Pah! I could do more of those in my sleep". And while you might or might not be able to do burpees "in your sleep", remember that I'm doing this as a finisher. And for today, that meant doing it after 250 pushups (30 of which were handstand pushups) - which makes it a total of almost 300 pushups. NOT for the fainthearted, and certainly not for those looking for an "easy" workout.

And for those that are wondering, you can do this exercise both as a finisher, as well as part of your regular routine - your imagination is the only thing that limits you.

I don't cover this exercise in Fast and Furious Fitness, pretty much because I regard it as an advanced exercise of sorts, requiring a solid base to work upon, but I may well incorporate it into edition #2, which should have an "advanced" exercises section. Again, this movement is NOT for beginners - make sure you get good at doing regular pushups, jumping rope, and other things before attempting this one.

Well, my friend, there you have it - a simple movement that's enough to give you a solid overall workout. I'll cover more such movements in the future as well. For now though - have a great day - and remember that the SIMPLE things in life are often also the BEST!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: Building a solid base is easy enough if you have the right tools at your disposal - and Fast and Furious Fitness sure qualifies as the "right tool" to get the job done: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/articles/83-fast-and-furious-fitness-the-book

PS #2: For those of you that try building a workout around burpess, be sure and write to let me know how it goes!

 

Monday, 18 June 2012 07:17

A complete workout

Ever thought of getting in a complete workout from head to toe without a single piece of equipment (that includes even basic stuff like a jump rope, chinning bar etc)?

Have you ever wished that there was an exercise you could do day in and day out to give you a fabulous workout, 365 days a year, regardless of the weather outside?

Looking for an "all in one" exercise that hits the core and upper body like a Mack truck?

If your the average person, I'll bet you've answered "Yes" to at least one of these questions.

Now, the question stands - WHAT is this one single exercise that will get me in great shape regardless of external conditions? WHAT is this one "magic" exercise that I'm talking about that can be done virtually anywhere?

It's not sprints, although those will get your butt in great, great shape. It isn't jumping rope, and it isn't doing pull-ups - although both these exercises SHOULD be a part of your routine. And it sure as heck ain't "long distance running" either.

So, what is it, you ask.

Well, the answer is simple - it's nothing but the good old pushups. Yes, you heard that right - pushups can be, and ARE a complete workout unto themselves. This is a tough one for most people to accept, and yet, strange as it might sound to most folks, pushups tax every part of your body from head to toe, and ensure you get a fantastic workout in for the day.

Don't believe me? Well, I did 200 pushups as my mainstay today. And while I'm not going to bore you with the gory details, let's take a look at the exercises I did on the last 50: -

30 handstand pushups (in sets)

20 "arms extended" pushups (in sets of 10)

By themselves, these two exercises can give you a COMPLETE upper body and core workout - if you know how to do them correctly. Form is paramount - for good form on these, see Fast and Furious Fitness - and YES, it will take you time to get good at the exercises, but the fact remains that you could do these two exercises on a daily basis, and not have to do much else for the upper body and core.

Ok, so what about the lower body? Well, the "arms extended" pushups DO tax the lower body - but if your not satisfied, try on some "table" pushups for size, and then tell me how your thighs and hamstrings feel. Looking to blast the forearms some more? How about fingertip pushups? The list goes on and on - there is not a single body part except maybe the neck that pushups (done correctly) don't hit.

Now, am I saying that you shouldn't do anything else other than pushups? NOT at all - on the contrary, I highly recommend you mix things up once in a while, and work on pull-ups and other exercises along with your pushups. For instance, I myself did 500 rope jumps and a back bridge along with my pushup routine today. The point I'm trying to make is that pushups are an exercise that leave you with NO excuse not to get a good workout in - irrespective of other factors. And in today's world, where most procrastinate on end when it comes to exercise, this can only be a good thing.

So, my friend, have you done your pushups for the day? if not - it would be a great idea to get them in NOW - NO excuses allowed!

All for now - back soon with more! 

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: For those of you that have a copy of Fast and Furious Fitness, I've been preaching to the choir on this one. For those of you that don't, push on over HERE to grab your copy pronto.

 

Tuesday, 05 June 2012 07:33

Working out in less than ideal weather?

Getting a sensible workout routine together - and sticking to it like billy-o is one of the BEST decisions you'll ever make in your life. Elementary, I know, but my dear Watson, you'd be amazed at the number of people that put off or otherwise never make this one simple decision that can change their lives for the better.

There are a ton of excuses that folks like to make to convince themselves that "that type of workout is just not for them". You hear people complaining about lack of time, lack of exercise equipment, lack of a decent gym or other area to workout nearby - and so forth. And truth be told, these are all excuses when it comes right down to it - where there is a will, there is ALWAYS a way, and this is especially so with exercise.

Now, something you'll hear people talk about a lot of times is the weather. For instance, someone living in hot and humid subtropical Asia (or elsewhere) may complain about his daily run due to the heat, and end up skipping it altogether a lot of days. On the other end of the spectrum, those living in Scandanavian countries deal with snowy conditions (and zero daylight) a lot of the year - but does that  mean they should stop exercising outdoors for themajority of the year?

Let's think about it - what good would it do to get on an exercise program "when the weather is good" and then do nothing "when it's bad"?

It's summer where I live currently - and that means temperatures of over 45 degrees Celsius (over 113 F) IN THE SHADE. Does that mean I've cut back on my workouts, or have stopped trying to achieve my best during each and every workout? Absolutely not - even if it means dripping with sweat for the majority of my workout. Trust me, there are times where I feel like I'm breathing in molten lava instead of air - thats how hot it is - but I keep going.

And just so you know, I do NOT workout in air-conditoned gyms and do NOT have ceiling fans or A/C's running if I workout at home. I aim to create a spartan environment in which to workout - so if it's my living room, it'll be me, the carpet and the wall - and nothing else. Yes, I'll sweat up a storm - and YES, it'll make the workout that much tougher to accomplish - but believe me, I feel like a billion bucks at the end of it - and so will you if you do something similar.

Those of you that are familiar with  my writings know that I spent a few enjoyable years in China a while back. Part of my workout there was to climb a long, steep hill near my house on a daily basis - in sapping hot and humid conditions (sometimes I'd climb during the middle of the day if that is when I had time). I climbed this hill when it was HOT - I climbed during pouring rain (when almost no-one would be at the hill) - in short, I climbed darn near EVERY DAY without missing a day unless I really had to. And the results of this showed as well - those of you that have read Fast and Furious Fitness will know what I'm talking about.

Now, I'm not necessarily asking you to go to giddy limits here. You don't have to climb in the rain, and you don't necessarily need to workout during the middle of the day - but what I'm saying is to FIND A WAY to get your workout accomplished, irrespective of the weather conditions. This may mean modifying your workout a bit, or it may mean changing the time of your workout. Whatever it is, make sure you "get her done" - and do so like you mean it.

Finally, the other side of the coin is that you do need to respect weather conditions to a degree. For instance, I usually finish off around 2 bottles of water during my workout these days - I don't think I could maintain the intensity of the workout without replacing some of the fluid I lose. And if you run in cold weather, make sure your wearing protective clothing while you do so. And so forth.

The main point I'm trying to make here is to find a way - and strike a BALANCE that allows you to get your workout in regardless of weather conditions - and do so SAFELY.

Find that balance, and you'll be that much further down the road of strength, health, and lifelong fitness.

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: I talk about Fast and Furious Fitness in this note - it can be found right HERE.


 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 08:35

Only as strong as your weakest link

One of my favorite proverbs goes such "A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link."

We've all heard it before. You can have the strongest pieces of metal holding that chain together, but one little weak piece will cause it to snap in two when push comes to shove.

And the same applies to your body as well.  You can have the strongest arms and legs in the world, but weak lower back muscles will always limit the amount you can push and pull. You can have huge biceps, but weak forearms will always limit your gripping/pulling potential. Strong quads coupled with weak hamstrings are an open invitation to injury, especially if your an athlete. And the list goes on and on.

So, what can YOU do to ensure that you strengthen all your weak links?

Well, for one,you can base your workout upon compound exercises that work several groups of muscles together as opposed to exercises that claim to "isolate" certain muscles. This means, that for example, you concentrate on getting better at doing pull-ups in good form rather than sitting on a chair and pumping out curls to "develop the peak of the  biceps muscle". Remember that exercises that work several large muscle groups together are the BEST exercises you can do - not just for overall development, but also to ensure that any weak links in the chain are quickly identified and fixed. Try doing pull-ups with a weak grip - it just won't work unless you strengthen your grip.

Second, you need to make sure you actively strengthen your weak links instead of ignoring them. So in the example above, avoiding the pull-up in favor of the lat pulldown machine is NOT the answer. Work the exercise until you have a solid grip - and work your grip in particular as well - in other words, ensure you strengthen the weak link to the fullest extent possible.

Remember, a weak link means you have a problem. And when you have a problem you don't ignore it and hope it'll go away on its own. You must actively FIX that problem - and the very same thing applies to weak (or underdeveloped) parts of your body as well.

By the way, this little gem of a saying doesn't just apply to fitness - this applies to business, daily life, security, and just about anything else you can think of. Think of a Ferrari with a powerful engine but a suspension that is about to fall apart. You get the point.  .  .insert example of choice, but the fact remains that weak links are there to be fixed - not ignored.

Do so, and you'll notice a vast improvement in your overall strength and fitness levels within a few days.

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: - The best compound exercises can be done with little other than your own bodyweight. That's right - you don't need a single weight to get in a decent workout. Check out Fast and Furious Fitness for some GREAT compound exercises that YOU can include into your routine today!

 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012 06:05

One of the most overlooked body parts

Let's face it, there are some body parts that most of us like to train more than others - and some that a lot of us ignore (but shouldn't be).

For example, 8 our of 10 average trainees would list "chest" and "abs" among their most favorite body parts to train. And chances are that they'll work these parts a LOT more than other, more vital body parts. Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing always - work the chest and abdominal area in an useful, functional manner, and you'll do good - but the key thing to note here is balance. Most folks neglect working the back and legs hard - and that is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a trainee.

And though legs and back are often ignored by a lot of folks, there's another vital part of the body that escapes even the minutest attention for 99% of trainees out there. To put it another way, if 2 out of 10 trainees focues on hard, tough leg and back work - there's a good chance that ZERO focus on the body part I'm about to talk about.

So, what body part is this?

The answer is - the hamstrings - the muscles at the back of your thigh. They are the second largest muscle group after the quadriceps - but sadly, they don't even get 10% of the attention that the quadricep gets.When we talk about working the legs, it's usually quad/calf work that we're referring to. And this is a big, big mistake - the hamstrings perform many vital functions, ranging from allowing you to bend over without pain, assisting in walking, sprinting and climbing, and performing a variety of athletic movements.

Like the back - you might not be able to "see" it in the mirror - but this does NOT mean you forget about the muscle. You may have the strongest quads around, but weak hamstrings will ultimately always limit your performance in whichever athletic endavor you choose. Additionally, you run the risk of injury if you overdevelop the quads, and neglect the hamstrings - and most such injuries take a while to heal. Not good. 

I've been guilty of not training my hamstrings hard enough in the past, and also as of late. This point struck home rather rudely when I did a set of split lunges (or, 3 sets of 10 to precise) yesterday - which led to that all familiar "wobbly" feeling in my hamstrings which means I've worked a muscle group that I haven't worked in a while (and in a way I haven't for a while). I can barely walk today - OUCH!

Now, just so you know, split lunges are an ADVANCED exercise - and they are NOT for those that are just starting out. If you are just starting out, the regular lunge is a great way to strengthen the hamstrings. Work on these for a while, and also work on strengthening the other parts of your leg at the same time. When you've been doing that a while, ease into the split lunges - but again, a word of caution - these can make you incredibly sore through the glute/hamstring region, so be sure not to overdo them at the start.

There are many other great ways to stretch and strengthen the hamstrings as well - I cover some of the best ones in Fast and Furious Fitness. Grab a copy ASAP, and start working on some of the exercises within - you'll start discovering "hidden" muscles in your body that you never knew existed.

And that endeth today's tip. More later!

Best regards,

Rahul

 

Monday, 14 May 2012 07:56

Thick bar work

Training on (or with) thick bars is something that I've always enjoyed. This could mean doing pull-ups on thick iron bars, swinging across the monkey bars in the playground, or simply lifting odd objects that have a thick handled grip. I enjoy training this way whenever I have the time, and believe you me, this type of training is one of the toughest you can do,especially when it comes to lifting, pulling and carrying movements.

Note that when I'm referring to thick bars, I'm not referring to your usual chinning bar or dumbell handle - I'm referring to bars which have a diameter of at least 2 inches, preferably more. I personally do my pull-ups and other related pulling movements out in the park - not on a pull-up bar - I use the thick, cast iron bars which make up the swing set, or the sides of the monkey bars.

And whats so special about thick bar work?

Well, for one, you build your grip without even thinking about it. Look, doing sets of 5 good pull-ups on a THICK bar is WAY different from doing them on a regular bar. First, you have to struggle to hold on during the entire set - which builds immense forearm and finger strength and power. Try completing that last pull-up when your fingers are struggling to just hold on to the bar - it's not easy.

Second, you build up the ligaments and tendons of your wrist and fingers to an amazing degree when you work with thick bars. The very act of gripping on to a thick bar (2.5" diameter or more) ensures that you build the gripping muscles - but more importantly, the ligaments and tendons that are the driving force behind the muscles. And it's nigh impossible to do well on thick bar exercises without strengthening everything. You may be able to  curl impressive poundages in the gym, but chances are that you'll be able to curl less than half that if you work with thick bars (and the same weight) - and the reason will likely be weak connecting ligaments and tendons.

Third, working with thick bars ensures that you a) minimize the chances of wrist or finger injury in the future and b) the added blood flow to the fingers, wrist and forearms ensures that you recuperate faster from previous such injuries. I should know - I injured my thumb (and the ligaments in the palm as well) pretty badly a few days ago while doing fingertip pushups, but I could do pushups with minimum pain the next day, and a few days later - the thumb is almost back to normal. And part of the reason I've recovered so quickly is the thick bar work that I do.

Last, and by no means the last, your performance will improve tremendously on all your regular exercises once you begin doing them with thick bars. Stuck at a max of 5 reps for the pull-up? Well, find some THICK bars - and work up to doing sets of 5 reps on those for a couple of weeks, or however long it takes you. Then go back and test your self on pull-ups on the regular bar - I think your going to be amazed. And this doesn't just go for pull-ups; it applies to other exercises as well.

There are more reasons, but these three should give you enough motivation to get started with some thick bar work. I personally did 25 pull-ups along with assorted grip exercises out in the park today AFTER my regular workout - and my forearms are feeling it for sure at this point.

And lest you think that bodyweight exercises are the ONLY thing you can do when it comes to thick bar work, well, think again, my friend. You can incorporate this type of training into your routine even if you prefer lifting weights - or you can combine lifting odd objects with bodyweight work - which by the way is something I highly recommend.

Either way, make sure you DO incorporate some sort of thick bar work into your routine - you won't believe the gains you make!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: Thick bar work is something I talk about in detail in Fast and Furious Fitness. I also show you various exercises you can do on thick bars in the book. Grab your copy ASAP and get started on the road to astounding levels of gripping power.