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.

I've often spoken about fingertip pushups as being one of the very best exercises that you can do. In addition to being a great finger, wrist and forearm builder, the fingertip pushup also develops the much ignored (and yet, equally, if not more important than the actual muscles) ligaments and tendons of the fingers. The exercise was a favorite for many an old timer, and you'll still find it being used extensively by boxers, wrestlers, and the like. 

But, while it goes without saying that the fingertip pushup is something you need to work upon, here is something I haven't discussed before - and that is to concentrate deeply on your fingers while doing the actual pushup - perhaps even more so than while doing regular (or other) pushups.

Now, concentration is important in ANY form of exercise - you need to focus on each rep and perform it as if it was the last rep of that exercise you'd ever get to do. Again, this goes true for any exercise, be it sprints, pull-ups, lifting weights, yoga, whatever.  So why am I telling you to focus more while doing the fingertip pushups?

Well, I started my workout off yesterday by doing a light set of fingertip pushups. Eased into my regular pushup workout that way, and all was going well. I was feeling strong on the day, so attempted a set of 20 fingertip pushups after doing 110 other styles. And they went fine - until rep #17 - when I felt my right thumb suddenly "slide" forward in front of my palm, and take my entire bodyweight on it as it did so.

OUCH! Now, THAT is something that hurts - those of you that have experienced thumb injuries of this type before know what I'm talking about. I couldn't even move the limb for a few minutes after that. Sensation gradually returned, and I somehow finished off the rest of my routine, but not without experiencing some serious discomfort in my right thumb.

Now, it's not as if I never do fingertip pushups. It's not as if they are something new to me - they're not. But yet, I managed to injure myself doing something I do most of the time. And the reason behind that was that I perhaps lost focus just a little bit while doing the pushups. 

ALWAYS remember that while fingertip pushups strengthen your entire forearm from finger to elbow without belief, they also place tremendous stress on the fingers and supporting joints. And unlike with regular pushups where your large chest muscles start "talking" to you when the reps get tougher and tougher, your fingers generally won't give you any such advance warning - so you have to pay extra attention to them. You DO need to push your limits, as with any other exercise, but you need to do so with extra caution.

Second, it is important to note that fingertip pushups are meant to be done with ALL fingers - at least until you get really good at them. You'll see most people unknowingly shifting focus to both the thumbs as they tire - and this is something you do NOT want. This greatly increases the risk of thumb injury; and thumb injuries can get real serious, and take a long time to heal, so you want to be extra careful on this one.

Again, note that you can attempt to perform the fingertip pushup with three - or maybe even two - fingers once you get real good at the movement (in fact that should be one of your goals), but start out with extreme caution. Finger (and especially thumb) injuries are nasty, and take a long, long time to heal sometimes - so avoid them.

Anyway, I soaked the thumb in warm water and salt yesterday, applied a lot of "magic" spray, and the finger's much better today. The fact that I perform finger exercises probably aided in recovery, but even so, I took an unscheduled break from all upper body exercises today. Want to make sure this heals up for the most part before I place more stress on it, and going by the evidence on offer, I seem to be on track for a great workout tomorrow!

And thats that for the day. If you workout today, make it a great one!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: For more powerful wrist and forearm builders, take a gander at some of the other exercises I mention in Fast and Furious Fitness.

Tuesday, 01 May 2012 08:42

More on sit-ups

I know, I've been remiss. Haven't posted in quite a while, and for those of you that are used to getting these tips in your mailbox, I apologize - I've just been extremely busy over the last few days. Happens sometimes - I'm sure you know the feeling!

Anyway, getting back to training - I wrote a bit about sit-ups and how I consider them to be superior to crunches in my last post. And today, we'll talk a bit more about sit-ups and how there are literally dozens of ways you can make even this simple little exercise much tougher.

For those of you that haven't already got the book, the sit-up that I teach in Fast and Furious Fitness is the "traditional" sit-up - i.e. palms interlocked behind neck, bent knees, and "pulling" yourself up from that position using your abdominal muscles. This one is a great, great exercise - a favorite with  many of the old timers, and thats the only version of the movement I show you in the book. And truth be told, if you get good at doing the traditional sit-up, and do them regularly, you really won't need many more pure abdominal exercises.

But, there are ways you can make this exercise more effective - and tougher as well.

One of the ways that I like to do sit-ups is to lie down on my back on the floor with my legs stretched out, and then sit up to a sitting position using my abdominal muscles - but I do so while keeping my legs STRAIGHT. And unlike the traditional situp, my arms are straight as well beside me. The best way to explain the position is to picture a man lying in a coffin, completely still with arms and legs stretched out straight in front of/beside him. That, in a nutshell, is the starting position of this particular movement.

(OK, that description was sort of macabre - but I think it illustrates the position perfectly!)

From this position, you then "situp" to a sitting position using your abdominal muscles WITHOUT moving your legs. You do NOT lock your fingers behind your neck; instead, you allow your arms to come up with you naturally into a sitting position. And again, you use your ABDOMINALS to accomplish this movement - with no assistance from the arms or legs. Lie back down, and repeat for reps. And that, my friend, is one of my favorite alternate ways of performing a sit-up.

Why do I like this method? Well, for one,  it eliminates the slight momentum that a lot of people use while performing the traditional sit-up. And while some don't have the form down pat, it's also a fact that the traditional sit-up makes it much harder to eliminate momentum as your muscles tire simply due to the nature of the movement. THIS particular movement though ensures you focus on your abs - and your abs alone - to lift yourself up to a sitting position.

I generally do 50 or so of these during my regular workout - and believe me, my abs are on FIRE after 40-50 consecutive repetitions. In fact, done correctly, this movement will prove to be hard to do for 10 reps if your a beginner - so work into it accordingly.

And while thats one way of making the movement more effective, there are so many more as well. Slight changes in leg postion, speed of the movement, number of reps - all this can make the exercise tougher. Too many to list in this note, but they'd definitely occupy space in any core training book worth the value.

Hmm - that's a thought for the day - maybe I should write a book purely about core training! Maybe I'll do so - but for now, focus on getting better at sit-ups; and you'll be on the way to a much stronger midsection than you currently have in short order.

All for now!

Best regards, 

Rahul

PS: - I speak about Fast and Furious Fitness in this email - that book can be found right HERE.

PS#2: - If you'd like me to do a book focusing purely on core training, shoot me an email and let me know - I'll do it if there's enough interest! 



 

Today I'll cover a fairly common question - are sit-ups better than crunches, or vice versa - and why. This one may ruffle a few feathers, especially if you've been fed on the "crunches isolate the abs the best" philosophy by the "experts". So be it.  .  .

Long time readers of this blog (and those that have read my book) will know that I've always spoken out against crunches. The crunch, if you didn't know it already, is an exercise that requires you to lie down on the floor, "focus" on your upper abs (the six pack muscles) and lift your upper back ever so slightly off the floor - your mid/lower back does NOT move while performing the exercise. That's one crunch. The "experts" advocate doing this for high repetitions, 50-100 being a bare minimum.

A sit-up on the other hand is an exercise where you lie down on your back, and then use your core muscles to pull yourself up to a sitting position. You then repeat for as many reps as you can handle.

Now, which one sounds simpler? You got it - the sit-up - but does that make it less effective than the crunch? Not a chance in purgatory, my friend, and I'll tell you why.

First, the crunch is an abnormal movement which focuses on isolating certain small muscles to the exclusion of the other core muscles (in other words, to the exclusion of the "larger picture"). And I've always spoken out AGAINST isolationist movements. Your body works as a WHOLE, not as seperate muscles; so training it that way is always more effective. Additionally, isolate smaller muscles too much, and you've got an injury waiting to happen. It's really quite simple - ALWAYS choose exercises that work your body as a whole, rather than in bits and pieces.

Second, remember that you need to work exercises that are HARD and make you actually WORK to complete the movement as opposed to easy exercises that barely make you break a sweat. I hate to say it, but the simple sit-up is a FAR tougher movement than the so-called "modern" crunch. The situp works your ENTIRE midsection and makes you WORK to have to sit up as opposed to a crunch where you simply lift yourself two inches or so off the floor using your upper abs, and then do that for reps. If you don't believe me, do traditional sit-ups in proper form for reps, and tell me how they compare to crunches when it comes to making you puff and pant.

Third and this ties into #2: You use way more muscles in a situp than you do in a crunch. Sit-ups strengthen everything in the core - the lower back, front and lower abdominals, hip flexors, and even the obliques. Crunches on the other hand work a bit of the upper abs - and that's it. Now, think about this - what good does it do you to have two strong muscles in the core region, while your lower back and hips are weak? That sort of training is like inviting injury to your doorstep - so avoid it. Train your core as a whole - not seperate bits and pieces.

Last, and by no means least, the situp has been a preferred choice for training the midsection for ages. All strength athletes (boxers, wrestlers, sprinters etc) do plenty of sit-ups as a part of their regular routine. Mike Tyson did 500 pushups and 1000 situps as part of his daily routine, but we never heard of him doing crunches, do we? The great Herschel Walker did around 3500 situps as part of HIS routine - but nowhere do I read about him doing crunches. And the list goes on and on.

So, those are but a few reasons why I avoid the crunch like the plague - and it's why I suggest YOU do the same as well. Leave the crunches for the "toners" and "gym bunnies" - if your seriously considering strengthening your core, the sit-up is what you need to be doing - as opposed to "pumping" out high rep crunches.

And yes, sit-ups are by no means the only - or the best- way to train your core. There are many exercises that do an even better job at core training, but some of these may be too advanced for the beginner. Heck, sit-ups can prove to be a great workout even for the experienced athlete - and I've given you two examples of the same.

The simplest and most uncomplicated things usually work the best - and the humble sit-up is no exception to the rule!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: Along with sit-ups, there are other very useful exercises that you need to be doing to train your core to the fullest. Grab a copy of Fast and Furious Fitness ASAP to learn what these are!


Tuesday, 24 April 2012 08:41

Too much volume?

My last note on doing 500 pushups a day seems to have attracted quite a few readers. This seems to be a favorite topic for many folks - and not without good reason. 

Anyway, one reader that stumbled upon the blog recently wrote in to tell me that while my goal of doing 500 pushups daily was a great one, I was simply "doing too much" daily and that would hinder, rather than aid, my progress. He also stated that the exercises I do after (or sometimes before) my pushup workout can be a workout unto themselves, and asked me why I needed to do that many things in one workout.

His final question was whether that many pushups a day really built one's strength up "beyond a certain point".

Hmm, interesting points/questions - and those are questions a lot of people have (especially the last one), so I'll address them here as well.

First, note that "too much" is a personal thing. Doing 50 pushups a day may be way too much someone that's never done a pushup in their lives, and doing 500 or more a day is routine for professional strength athletes (boxers, wrestlers, strongmen etc). And remember that whatever your goal is, you need to WORK UP TO IT. In my case, 500  is what my current goal is - and so I'm working up to it by doing 300 odd daily.

Second, the reader is RIGHT in saying some of the exercises I do before/after the pushups can be a regular workout unto themselves. But here's the thing - I don't do a "high volume" of everything. As an example, I may do 300 pushups in a workout - but I'll do only 10 handstand pushups, 25 pull-ups, and three sets of 10 reps of ab exercises to finish things off. This may still sound like a lot of "volume" for someone that hasn't been working out hard, but it really isn't for an experienced trainee. So no, I don't do TWO workouts one after the other - and neither should you - but it doesn't hurt to "keep in touch" with supplementary exercises while focusing on your main goal.

And as for the last question - well - the answer is obvious enough to me, but a lot of people don't readily believe me when I tell them that YES, doing 500 pushups in perfect form daily WILL build a ton of strength. This goes double for those that lift weights, and believe the ONLY way to get stronger is to lift heavier weights. Well, I'm not going to attempt to outargue my weight lifting friends, but here's something that might make you believe - pick a number of pushups that are hard for you to do - and then do them daily in good form until that number becomes easy to do. At that point, go into the gym and test yourself on your favorite "lift", be that bench presses, rows, or even the golden pull-up.

I think your going to be amazed at what you find out - and what you find out will likely be that ALL your upper body lifts have improved.

Still need more evidence? Well, you've heard me talk about handstand pushups and the amazing levels of power they build when done correctly. Handstand pushups are impossible to do for most people - especially for reps, and when I first started, I was no exception to this rule. So what I did was work my regular pushups harder and harder - until one fine day, I felt good enough test myself on handstand pushups again.

And get this - I was not simply aiming to do one or two in good form. No, my test was doing two sets of TEN in good form - something I could never do before.

And do you know what? After doing pushups on a daily basis (at that point I was doing about 170 or so), doing handstand pushups was a BREEZE. I popped off 12 in good form when I tried - and banged out an even 10 the next time. So much for the "high volume" not building strength - it sure did in my case.

So what all this boils down to is that training, at the end of the day, is very much a PERSONAL thing. YOUR goals, YOUR current physical condition, YOUR desire to improve and other things are what determine your success -  or failure when it comes to training. And remember that there's no one "best" way for everyone - sure, there are guidelines, but you've got to find out what works best for you - and then DO it - it's just that simple.

Anyhow, this post has turned out a bit longer than expected, so I'll end it here - but a long post was required to do justice to the topic. Thanks again to those that send in questions and are regular readers - I appreciate the interest all of you have shown!

Up and ahead,

Rahul

PS: The very idea of doing 100, or 500 pushups in one workout can sound pretty intimdating to the average person - but it doesn't have to be that way. Remember that you can achieve any goal you set your mind to, provided you have the right general guidance - and Fast and Furious Fitness provides you with just that. Click on HERE to grab your copy ASAP!


Monday, 23 April 2012 08:42

More on doing 500 pushups a day

One of my goals for this year is to do 500 pushups a day as part of my daily routine. More specifically, my goal is to BUILD myself up to the point where I can do that many a day, and still do other things without feeling completely winded. Sort of like my 1500 jumps a day goal, which was significantly easier to achieve (for me) - and no, I don't do that many on a daily basis now - but is sure is a nice feeling to know I CAN do that many if I want or need to.

Now, I CAN do 500 pushups if I want to even now - I wrote a bit about that here: - http://rahulmookerjee.com/index.php/blog/item/47-500-pushups-a-day. But I'm bushed after that and barring a few core exercises (a FEW), I'm not going to be doing much more - and truth be told, I wouldn't NEED to do much more after doing that many pushups in one workout. But, goals are goals, and it's always fun to set TOUGH goals - as accomplishing a real toughie makes the effort required to accomplish that goal more than worthwhile.

For those of you that are wondering, I made the pushup goal a month or so ago - it was NOT a "New Year resolution". Don't believe much in those anyway, those type of resolutions seem to be the first to fall by the wayside as soon as the festive season ends.

Anyway, I'm working on getting there, and things seem to be going good so far. I'm pumping out an average of 300 pushups daily at this point (in one workout) - give or take a few. So I could do 297 today (my numbers for today) and hit 320 tomorrow, and an even 300 the next day and so forth. After this I'll usually work on some bridging, rope jumping, core exercises, handstand pushups and pull-ups - but thats AFTER my pushups.

Some of the things that I've noticed after incorporating these many pushups in my regimen are: -

- My breathing has improved vastly - sinuses, blocked noses and the like are very much a thing of the PAST. And this is due to the deep breathing that accompanies a pushup workout.

- Vastly improved core strength and digestion - I'm not doing as many core exercises as I did before, but am still getting a better core workout.

- Improvement in pull-up numbers (sounds strange, huh?)

- Improved wrist and forearm strength, without doing a single direct grip exercise

And those are just a few - it proves a point that I make repeatedly - that pushups are an OVERALL body exercises that build strength and conditioning throughout the ENTIRE body.

Now, am I saying pushups are all you need to do? Not at all - you still need to include core movements and pulling movements into your workout (and don't forget about working the legs!) - but if your just starting out, you might find it quite hard to do anything else after a 100 or so pushups.

And last, but not least, I feel way more alive throughout the entire day after doing a lot of pushups. Not sure why - I believe the deep breathing purifies the lungs while also working the muscles of the diaphragm, chest and rib cage at the same time - which leads to automatically breathing deeper through the entire day, and a feeling of increased clarity and awareness. I'm not sure how else to explain it - the best way to experience it would be to do the pushups yourself, and then see how you feel! 

Anyhow, thats a goal I thought I'd share with you. Will keep you posted on my progress!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will you do 500 pushups in a day without working up to it. But, work up to it you CAN - and Fast and Furious Fitness will show you just how.


Friday, 20 April 2012 08:18

Do what works for YOU!

Was going hammer and tongs at my workout today in the park. I was doing pull-ups along with ab and grip work - one of my most enjoyable routines.  The sun was out, the birds were singing and there was a cool (sort of) breeze blowing in my face.  Long story short: - I was training hard and all was well with the world.

(OK, maybe all wasn't well with the world - but you know what I'm saying - when your engrossed in a tough workout - and if your applying yourself as you SHOULD be - nothing else seems to matter at the time!)

Anyway, I noticed this one seriously overweight dude with headphones on "checking me out" as I went through my routines. Wasn't annoying - and to his credit, he was being (or trying to be) discreet about it, but what made it completely obvious is that he discarded his own routine and literally started to ape what I was doing (when he thought I wasn't looking).

Now, being that his own routine was mostly lying down horizontally on the dipping bars and doing some sort of "stretch" in that position (I kid you not), that would appear to be a good thing. I was doing exercises that work - good, HARD exercises that produce results - so on the surface of it, it should be a good thing that this type of training was what he was apeing - right?

But it wasn't.

So there I was, doing slow pullups in sets of 5. Slow, hard pullups to really nail good form (there's a tip in itself) - and I was doing those in sets of 5.

Our guy waits till I'm done, and then leaps on to the monkey bars and tries to do much the same thing with a lot of "aah's", and "ouches" - and the mandatory "kipping", as in, he's literally using momentum to pull himself half way up and then dropping back down like a sack of potatoes. After doing a rep or two of this, he pauses, and continues staring at me working my way through my own set of pullups.

After that, I did some hanging leg raises, and hanging knees-to-chest exercises - two of the very best things you can do for all round core development. So our guy decides this is something else he likes, and attempts it. He gets his knees up about a quarter of an inch or so via pure "swinging" (NOT the right way to do them), and then larrups down from the monkey bars with more vocalizations.  Gee, no wonder it hurts, it's wonder the dude hasn't torn his lower back apart completely if this is what he does on a regular basis.

And it was more of the same as I proceeded on to other exercises. At the end of it all, he simply shook his head and walked out of the park - likely never to return again - and likely to harbor a grudge against the "tough exercises" he was apeing.

Now, I tell you this not to poke fun at the dude, but simply because there are WAY too many people out there who copy other people's routines to the letter, and then wonder why it doesn't work as well for them as it has for someone else. And this is a huge mistake.

Remember - your body is UNIQUE - and what works for you might not work well for others (and vice versa). Said dude wasn't even in any sort of shape to do pull-ups and had obviously never done them before; he'd be far better off working exercises that would pull his ponderous belly in - but he saw me doing it, so he had to attempt it as well. Bob Doe down the road reads that "so and so champion of XYZ bodybuilding contest" does "10 sets of 50 reps in the bench press", and attempts the same thing himself - and the next thing we know is that he's sitting at home nursing a sore shoulder or worse.

It might sound funny, but that's how it is for the majority of people. And they'd be FAR, FAR better off figuring out what works best for THEM as opposed to what the big guy on steriods does, or what someone with far more experience than them does. That is what I'd advise for YOU as well - figure out - and DO what works best for YOU!

And last, but not least, this is NOT to say that you shouldn't learn from others. Quite the contrary - you should - but there is a difference between "studying" someone's methods and blindly copying them. Study, learn, and then adapt said methods to your OWN advantage, and your on the right track. Other hand, if all you do is blindly copy - well, you're likely not going to get very far, if at all. 

And that, my friend, is that for the day.

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: One of the very best sources of knowledge that you can study is right HERE.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 05:59

Fit, or overweight?

Headed out to the park this morning after pumping out 180 good pushups. The blood was roaring in my ears - I'd normally do some more things before gallivanting on to the park, but being it's cool outside (for a change), I couldn't wait to get outside to feel the fresh breeze on my face.

So, romped on to the park, onto my exercise spot - only to find the dipping bars being occupied by a short, portly gentleman who was, for lack of a better description, "swinging" himself on the dipping bars. So much for starting off with a nice, slow, low set of dips.

Side note: It's amazing how people ignore a fantastic piece of workout equipment right IN FRONT of their eyes. Sure, the old, thick dipping bars ain't no shiny machine in a new gym - but use them correctly, and they'll build more strength than any new fangled machine ever will (or can). This particular gentleman was a step ahead of those who see dipping bars as a place to hang their sweaters and not much else - but still, if your out exercising, and if all you can think of doing on the dipping bars is swinging back and forth while imagining that "loosens" your legs up, well.  .  .

Anyway, started off with pull-ups. Warmed up with some "mini" pull-ups, and then on to the first, full range pull-up. Upon which the guy behind me said "Wow, for a big guy like you, you sure can pull yourself up well. Cool!".

Well, being that I'd only done ONE full range pull-up at that time, I was a bit surprised to hear that - but thanked him anyway, and moved on to doing sets of pull-ups. He continued goggling at me for quite a while before he finally left. Wonder what he'd have said if he saw some of the grip exercises I was doing.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up today is to point out one major fallacy in modern day thinking (when it comes to fitness) - and that is, one's weight. Folks automatically assume a stocky, strong fellow is "musclebound" and "not fit" - and when they see a rail-thin skinny waif or dude, they pat them on the back saying "well done, I wish I was fit as you are".

Erroneous thinking, my friend. While weight is, and always will be an important measure of one's overall health and fitness, it is by NO MEANS the end and all of fitness. I've seen rail thin folks struggle to do even one pullup, and I've seen big, strong guys climb hills daily without getting fatigued. I've seen skinny men jogging around the park - supposedly building strong lung power - but give them a flight of stairs to sprint up, and they're exhausted before they know it. And these are but a few examples. 

So, that, my friend, is a classic example of judging a book by it's cover - not the insides. And if your going to counter what I'm saying by pointing out that body mass indexes are what one needs to consider - well, then just remember that some of the world's strongest and fittest athletes are considered obese by those standards. That's right - obese - and we're talking highly paid professional athletes here. So while I'm not knocking the BMI thing, it's again by no means an accurate indicator of one's fitness.

And on the flip side, this should NOT be taken to an extreme and is NOT an excuse to justify being fat and slovenly. If your belly hangs out depressingly, if you can barely walk a mile without fatigue, if you can't do a single pushup in good form, all these things are NOT good things - and you DO need to make sure you can do them, and control your weight accordingly. What I'm saying though is that shouldn't be the only thing your focusing on.

Concentrate on your HEALTH - and STRENGTH - and make sure your doing all the right things to keep your weight at a decent level - and the rest will come automatically. The above won't guarantee you a six pack - I don't have one myself, and never have - but it will guarantee you some amazing improvements in your overall health, strength and levels of fitness.

So, that, my friend, is today's tip - time for this "big" guy to go shower!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: I speak about dips in today's note - a fantastic exercise for the entire upper body. To find out how to do them in proper form, I urge you to get your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness NOW. 


Monday, 16 April 2012 08:32

Core torture with pushups

Did you know that the good ole' pushup can offer you a core workout that is almost unparalleled in intensity?

If your like most folks, it's a good bet that you don't generally think of pushups as a "all in one" core workout. Sure, people know that pushups work the upper abdominal region as well - but what most people really believe is that pushups are a good workout for the chest and arms - and not "much else". Tell someone that he can get a fantastic core workout in with pushups, and pushups alone, and he'll likely look at your as if you were nuts.

And given the general knowledge that people have about pushups, proper form while doing them, and what type of pushup to do - tis understandable, but pushups are SO much more than a chest and arm workout that it's not even funny. Sure, you work your arms and chest well during the movement - but to label the pushup (or to think of it as) as a pure "chest builder" would be to do it a gross disservice. Pushups work the entire body as a unit - especially the core - and some types of pushups can rightly be termed as "pure core movements".

Remember that when I'm talking about core training, I'm not just referring to the "abs". I'm NOT referring to the six muscles at the front of your stomach - I'm talking about hips, lower back, entire abdominal region, butt, thighs and hamstrings - all of which make up your core. Do a pushup - a simple, regular pushup in proper form and under control - and you'll quickly see that pushups are so much more than just an arm and chest builder.

And while the regular pushup does a super job of training the core, there are some variations that go way beyond where the regular pushup ends. For one, we have the "table" pushup where you position yourself on your hands and feet as if you were a table - hold - and repeat for reps. This variation is hell on the core, and is enough to pulverize even advanced athletes - but form is of utmost importance. Do this one in right form and for the right number of reps, and you'll quickly discover what I'm talking about when I say some pushups can be termed as "pure core movements".

Another one is the "extended pushup". This baby is a killer exercise - I'm yet to meet someone that can bang off 25 perfect reps in this one. You do these with your arms out in front of you, and while you may think that arm strength is the key to success in this one - it's NOT. You push up and down with core strength; and you build super core strength from this one movement alone. Do it with proper form, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

That's two that I just mentioned; but there are plenty of other such variations as well that I mention in Fast and Furious Fitness. I included these in my daily routine today - and believe you me, my core was shaking like an earthquake hit it after a few good sets. And you may be surprised to hear that each set did not take more than a minute or so to complete - 10-15 minutes of core torture in all, but that was plenty.

If your just starting out, I don't recommend doing them until you get good at the regular pushup as they are far more advanced and thus much tougher to do - but once you get good at doing regular pushups, work into the advanced movements as well.

So, what are you waiting for? Incorporate a few "core pushups" into your daily exercise routine, and watch (and FEEL) your core change before your eyes!

Best regards,

Rahul

PS: Always remember that form is of paramount importance. Do NOT attempt either one of the exercise above until and unless you learn correct form, or you run the risk of getting injured. I detail proper form for these (and other types of pushups) in Fast and Furious Fitness - grab a copy NOW, and you'll be on the road to a strong, healthy, and conditioned core in no time at all!

 

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