Today I'm going to address a pretty common question that folks have with regard to grip training. And that is, how often to train the grip, and WHEN to do it.
Before I provide my thoughts on this, allow me to go on record by saying that grip training is one of the most enjoyable parts of my workout. I train my grip as hard as I do any other body part, and I train it using exercises that work the body as a WHOLE, which is pretty much what I do for all exercises/body parts. I talk more about this in Fast and Furious Fitness.
Grip training provides numerous benefits. Train the grip hard, and you'll do better on virtually all your exercises, especially the "pulling" exercises. Your forearms will increase tremendously in size and strength, and you'll never have to worry about suffering from the much dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome (which is the bane of many people in this day and age).
And the good part about it is that training the grip is not rocket science. In fact, you can do a lot of the exercises I advocate, and build a super strong grip without even training the forearms or fingers "directly". It's also enjoyable - and lends itself to progress that you can actually "feel" in each workout (those of you that do train the grip hard know what I'm referring to). And herein lies the catch - because it's uncomplicated and enjoyable to do, you run the risk of actually overdoing it, and overtraining.
I recommend direct grip work only AFTER your regular workouts, and not during them. The reason for this is that if you pre-exhaust your grip before your other exercises (that also require a strong grip), your performance will naturally go down on those exercises. I've done this before myself - I've done grip work before my pull-ups, and noticed how my numbers go down (drastically, for some variations) if I've pre-exhausted the grip. So, train your grip AFTER your workout for best results.
Second, make sure NOT to overdo it - do NOT think you can train your grip super hard each workout, and still hope to keep improving. It can't be done, and I know this from personal experience. In fact, much like with any other body part, your performance/gains will actually start to go DOWN if you train the grip excessively, so beware of this. A good thumb rule would be to train the grip hard three times a week and no more.This is by no means written in stone - but it's a general rule that those who train regularly would do good to abide by.
Third, and most importantly - it is VERY EASY to overtrain the grip - so easy that you might not even realize it. Make sure not to do 10 sets of timed hangs after that pull -up session daily, or if you do so, only do so twice a week. The forearms are used a lot in daily life as well, so it makes sense to let them rest, recover and grow - just like the rest of your body.
Keep those three guidelines in mind while training the grip, and you'll be on the right track. I cover this topic in far more detail in Fast and Furious Fitness - be sure to grab a copy!
Alright, enough for this email. Gotta get back to work on a new "Fast and Furious" project I'm working upon. . .
Be well, and if you train today - make it a GREAT one!
PS: Our online ordering system is back up and running, so there's really no more excuses not to reserve your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness. Go HERE to do so.
One easy way for me to answer this would be to tell you to simply do the exercise, so you can find out on your own. As in, DO the thing, and you'll find out what is better - or, more importantly, what works better for you. And that would be a perfectly legitimate answer - actually DOING the exercises yourself, and figuring out what works best will actually give you far more insightful answers that I (or anyone else) ever could.
I talk more about doing what works best for you in Fast and Furious Fitness, but for today, I'll delve into the topic myself and share MY feelings with you. And if I were asked this question, my answer would be a combination of "to each his own" and "both have their place".
Now, why do I feel this way?
First, training correctly rarely falls into the "black and white category", where everything is either RIGHT, or WRONG. No, that's not it - much like life, training questions, complications and everything associated with it is a "grey area", in that one usually has to find a middle path (while keeping certain basics in mind) - there is no absolute RIGHT or WRONG.
Second, both exercises are great for upper body development. Both develop a deep, powerful chest, a strong upper back - and also develop the shoulder muscles in their entirety. Both require very little equipment (pushups require NONE), and both can be used to craft together workouts that will have you huffing and puffing in no time flat.
But, both have their unique benefits. Pushups can give you far more of a cardiovascular workout than dips do, and involve the legs and lower back as well - as opposed to dips, which mostly use the upper body musculature. Dips, on the other hand are much harder to do correctly for most people, and can be used to get an excellent strength workout, while also getting cardiovascular benefits. Pushups have far more variations than dips do (that I know of), but modify the regular bodyweight dip a little, and you have a whole new exercise that will tax you far more than most pushup variations will.
And both have their place as well - those with shoulder issues may want to avoid dips and start off with pushups. Those who are already at a certain level of strength and fitness may want to start off with an advanced variation of the dip, and concentrate more on that. As I said - DO the exercise, and you'll find out.
So in closing - both are excellent exercises that have their own place, and their own benefits. Do the exercise, find out what works best for you, and thats pretty much all that you need to do (and that little bit applies to ALL of your training as well).
Long answer to a pretty short question, but that's MY take on it. Write in, and let me know YOUR take on it!
PS: You can read more on pushups and dips HERE.
PS#2: For even greater detail, Fast and Furious Fitness is what you need to be reading.
Most people aren't entirely clear on what exactly isometric exercises entail. And that's understandable, as they are rarely discussed or talked about in the "muscle media" these days. Let's take leg training as an example: - I mean, how often have you seen a personal trainer advocating exercises where you stay in a certain position and don't move, as opposed to doing an "accepted" exercise such as the "leg extension" (which is actually an awful exercise in my opinion)?
Briefly then, isometric exercises are those in which you hold your body in a certain disadvantaged position, and hold for time. They also encompass exercises wherein you push or pull against an immovable object, thereby building a type of strength in the muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons that you wouldn't while doing other exercises.
Isometrics can be a great way to develop one's strength and endurance in certain positions. Done correctly, isometric exercises can also help strengthen muscles that are weak to "get them up to speed" for other exercises.An oldie, but goodie, is holdiing the "chair" position against a wall. This one is simple - simply find a wall, line your back up against it, and then "sit" down such that you are forming a "chair" with the wall - and hold for time. Sounds simple enough to do? Not advanced enough? Well, I have this to say - TRY it before you knock it! Most folks canot do more than 10 seconds of this exercise - and remember there are far more advanced variations as well.
So, should you include isometric exercises in your program? Most definitely. However, I don't believe they should be the cornerstone of your program - nor should they be the "base" upon which you build.
There are many reasons behind this, but the #1 reason is that isometrics do not lend themselves well to "cardiovascular" training. Most of the exercises I advocate (and DO) ensure that you get a kick-butt strength-cum-cardio workout in very little time - but isometrics, due to the nature of the exercises don't quite fit the bill. Do them, and you'll see why I'm saying this.
As for me, I personally do not a LOT of isometric holds in my own training, but I'll include them sometimes just for a change. I'll do them sometimes at the end of my workout, or mix it up a bit and include some isometric holds in the middle of my workout (for a "rest"). And it works great for me.
So, bottom line - include isometric exercises into your routine, but don't rely solely upon them. Mix them into your routine wisely, and you'llstrengthen your muscles in a whole different manner altogether.
PS #1: You really should check out Fast and Furious Fitness if isometric training is something that interests you.
PS #2: We're going to have an online payment facility up on the site VERY SOON wherein you can order your product online and pay via credit card - stay tuned for this!
If your like most people, you probably think this one is not doable.
Most people have been conditioned to believe that any effective routine has to be somewhat long; for most people, this usually equates to an hour or more (and I'm not even talking about time spent driving to the gym, changing into workout clothes, et al). I have a hard enough time convincing folks that you CAN get a super workout in 15 minutes, 20 minutes at most.
And now, I'm talking about 5 minutes. That's right, everyone has five minutes to spare - and the margin for excuses just got way slimmer (no pun intended). Think about it - how hard is it to simply devote five minutes of your day to an activity that will more than justify the time spent on it?
FIVE minutes out of your daily routine is what you need to spare - and YES, you WILL improve your fitness in that period!
One of the keys to "5 minute fitness" is jumping rope. Jumping rope has been around for ages, but has inexplicably fallen out of favor with most people these days. This is bad news, as jumping rope is one of the most effective overall body workouts you can get. Your legs get a great workout from the constant jumping, and you chisel fat off your body with every jump. You also build solid, useful muscle all over your body - not to mention the deep breathing, which energizes your entire system. In fact, I did a very brief 15 minute routine today - which included rope jumps amongst other things, and I had nothing left by the end of it. And I feel absolutely GREAT now!
I cover rope jumping in Fast and Furious Fitness. Simply jumping rope on a regular basis is enough to transform you into a lean, fat burning machine, so incorporate it into your routine if you have not done so already.
Don't believe me? Try jumping rope for five minutes straight, and then tell me how you feel. I'll bet you feel a whole lot better - and if your a beginner, TWO minutes of continous jumping is likely all that you need before you can't go any further. Either way, you'll benefit tremendously from this one exercise alone.
PS: Jump on over HERE to grab your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I suffered a nasty injury to my calf (and lower back) a week or so ago, mostly due to my own negligence. For those of you that missed it, visit this page and look for the "Listen to your body" post. This is a perfect example of me not doing the smart thing, and basically paying the price for it.
Anyway, took a week off my sprint training (and almost all other leg related training) due to this injury. Figured I'd give it at least a week to heal, so I can come back stronger. So, did that, about a week's passed, and the pain's abated to a great degree, so I thought I'd start to ease back into my sprint routine. Remember, I love training my legs - and sprints are one of my personal favorites, so you can imagine how frustrating it is for me to just have to sit back and not be able to even run, let alone sprint.
So, made it over to the park again this morning, and started to warm up in readiness for the sprint. Did a few "trial" runs, they didn't feel right though. Uh-oh, not good. . .Did my first "medium pace" sprint, and the calf started to complain again. Uh-oh, here we go again. . .Only this time, I'm a wiser person. I'm definitely NOT going to ignore my body's signals while "coming back" - so did a few brisk walks around the park instead (which I can do without any pain) and then did some other upper body exercises before calling it a day.
And that's what you need to do as well, when returning from injury (or if you're just starting out, or haven't exercised in ages). Listen to your body, and understand what it's telling you. It can be frustrating "sitting on the sidelines" not being able to do what you'd like, but as you can see from my experience, the consequences of ignoring your body's signals altogether aren't too pleasant.
You also need to judge your body's signals accurately. Not waking up on a cold morning to go running simply because "you cannot" is laziness despite what your body is telling you, but not running because of a genuine injury is reasonable and sensible, and you need to heed your body's advice on that one. Always remember that though your body's always telling you something, YOU are the ultimate judge here - and it is YOU that decides how to act upon those signals.
Do so wisely, and you'll ensure that you stay on the right track!
PS: Fast and Furious Fitness offers you many routines that will help you stay on track as far as your fitness is concerned.
Woke up around 9AM on a cold Saturday morning. Drank some green tea, and proceeded to get my workout in. 40 minutes later, I was exhausted and soaked in sweat - despite it being a COLD day - and I'm STILL feeling the effects of the workout a few hours later.
My exercise routine was "longer" than it normally is - that is, if you can call a 40 minute workout (with a bit of a break in between) "long". But remember, this was my TOTAL workout time - including warmups, and I had worked my ENTIRE body by the end of it. And today's Saturday, which means a rest day tomorrow (Sunday) and therefore an extra solid workout today.
I did the first 20 minute routine at home, and hammered my chest, arms and back pretty well (the core and the legs were taxed as well). The second one was done at the local park. This was more of a back, core and grip workout - by the end of it I could barely clench my forearms to make a fist, and I'm STILL feeling the effects while typing this a few hours later.
And the fantastic part about all this is that I got a good cardiovascular workout in as well. Not quite as good as if I'd have been sprinting (that one's still out for me as I haven't recovered from my injury fully), but still a decent cardiovascular workout. And this is of paramount importance. Remember, your heart and internal organs are just as important, if not MORE important than your "strength", so work both equally hard and preferably together.
Now I'm at home, preparing to "make a run" to the post office to ship a couple of copies of Fast and Furious Fitness out - yes, I'm handling that part of the business personally for now. Life's good - especially more so when you add in regular hard workouts!
Enough for now. This email contains two, nay, several important tips - see if you can find them.
Many people have asked me if I go to the gym due to my "broad shoulders". A common question folks will ask me is "Do you lift weights?". Or, it might go something like "Hey, I bet you spend quite a bit of time in the gym, and so do I". And so forth.
My answer is always the same - NO, I don't go to the gym. No, I don't have any "fancy" routines I follow. No, I don't sweat what I eat - I just make sure I'm eating right most of the time, and the rest takes care of itself. Somehow I suspect this answer is not what people want me to tell them (at least not those that are obsessed with the gym), but there it is. It's the honest to God truth, and it works for me, so thats what I tell them.
Anyway, on the topic of broad shoulders. There are exercises that will develop the proverbial "shoulders like boulders", shoulders that will look damn strong, and that are every bit as strong as they like. And handstand pushups are one of those exercises.
You can get a great workout by incorporating these into your routine. These will develop your shoulders like never before, and your pushing power will shoot through the roof once you get good at these. And cardio? Done in sets, handstands pushups and their variations will leave you covered in sweat and gasping for breath. Even if you DID want to do some cardio, chances are you'll be too wiped out - and in a good way - to do anything else. That was the case with me as well this moring; as you know, I'm recovering from a nasty leg injury, so doing anything stressful for the legs is definitely out for the moment (which would probably mean no cardio for most folks) - but the pushup workout I did this morning took care of "cardio", and more.
I cover handstands and handstand pushups, along with a host of other exercises in Fast and Furious Fitness. Grab your copy now, and start incorporating the handstand into your routine as soon as you can. If you do so, chances are that pretty soon, you too will have folks coming up to you asking if you go to the gym.
So what are you waiting for? Don't be the curious onlooker that spends hours in the gym doing "lateral raises", and all sorts of other exercises that really don't compare to this one. Grab your copy of Fast and Furious Fitness NOW, and watch how a whole new world of physical gain opens up in front of you.
P.S: Don't forget to sign up for my daily newsletters in case you haven't already!
P.S#2: Here is the link to Fast and Furious Fitness again - follow the routines in the book, and you'll soon have the local "muscleheads" coming up to you asking you much the same thing as they do me.
If you read my last post, you know that I'm currently recovering from an over-eager training session (or to be honest, a brainless training session given what I know about training). My body gave me all the right signals, yet I responded to them WRONGLY - and boy, did I pay for it over the last couple of days.
But,that's life for ya. Things happen - we err, I'm human, after all. So I'm just starting to get back into the swing of things - slowly, and with utmost cautiousness. Didn't do an intense workout today, in fact didn't do anything resembling an intense workout, but did a few stretches, low reps of a few exercises, and that was it. Just getting my body back "into the groove", and doing what I can (or should be doing) for the moment.And I can always build (back up) from there.
And that's one of the keys to success that I refer to repeatedly in Fast and Furious Fitness - doing what you can, and building from there. This applies to everyone, and to most situations, regardless of whether you are starting out, resuming exercise after a "long layoff", or coming back from injury (as I am) - it doesn't matter. Do what you CAN - even if that's just a little bit - and build from there. Do something, and that something will soon become more substantial.
And one last word of caution: If you are returning from injury, be especially cautious getting back into your normal routine. Make sure you are properly healed before resuming exercising, and make sure you start off at a level slightly below what you were when you left off. Don't be fooled into thinking that this will drop you down a level or two - on the contrary, you will regain lost ground very quickly, and it will ensure that your body is ready for further rigors in whatever workout it is that you are doing.
Okay, thats the tip for the day for today. If you are working out today, work out hard - and with common sense - and make it a great one!
I've spoken a lot about discipline, and sticking to one's workouts in my Fast and Furious Fitness book. However, there are times when you need to listen to your own body, and today was definitely one of them.
If you've read the blog post from yesterday, you know that I went through a hard, hard workout yesterday morning. Felt great afterwards, and was planning on doing something different today. Decided to a get a hard sprint workout in instead of an indoor routine, so off I went. There was this little voice in the back of my head telling me "Rahul, it's not smart to do super tough workouts DAILY", but of course I ignored it and headed straight on to the local park.
Started my sprints, and the first thing I know is that my lower back feels all wonky and strange after the first "all out" sprint. Now just so you know, I may be hurting and sore in other areas from my workouts, but my lower back is usually NEVER sore - I make it a point to follow strict form in my exercises, and also make sure I work my core regularly with some of the exercises found in Fast and Furious Fitness. So this should have been a red light to me; that something was WRONG, and I needed to stop.
And being the blockhead that I can be at times, I ignored it. I massaged the area a bit, and ran the second spring. Felt OK, so I went on to a tougher incline, and started my sprint there. Before I was even starting to hit full velocity, I felt a sharp "ping" in my left calf muscle, accompanied by a stabbing pain.
OUCH - now THAT got my attention. Stopped the sprints right there and then, and started to walk back home - and even that felt like a chore. My lower back was screaming by now, and I could barely straighten my leg. Tried doing some dips and pull-ups, but that didn't work out too well (as you can imagine), so threw in the towel, called it a day, and headed back home. Was admonished soundly by my wife for not listening to my body, despite my advice to others - boy, that one hurt, but I deserved it. I would likely not have been in pain as bad as this if I had stopped after my first sprint (when my body first started to talk to me), but that's no longer an option.
Just goes to show that I'm no different from you guys in that I need a good "kick up the kiester" once in a while, just to make sure I follow my own advice and do the right thing for my body. And this morning served as a stark reminder to this.
Anyway, got the lower back and calf massaged with hot mustard oil (one of those "traditional" recipes for aches and pains), and will use magic spray as well. I think it's safe to say I'll be out of action tomorrow for sure. Was planning on doing some hard pull-up workouts tomorrow, but I'll certainly be asking my body before I do so. . .
So, moral of the story - listen to your body. It's always trying to tell you something, and it's not smart to ignore what its saying.
Back tomorrow again.
PS: If your looking for a REAL tough workout routine such as the one I followed yesterday, you can find it here in Fast and Furious Fitness.
This morning, I followed one of my workout routines that I outline in Fast and Furious Fitness. This was a super tough workout - I was hammered by the end of it, and it took only 40 minutes from start to finish. And this was including warm-ups. The best part about it is that it required virtually no equipment to get done, except for a jump rope. By the time I was done, I had literally nothing left to give - and had hit my entire body hard with the exercise routine.
The workout included jumping rope, pushups, and a few other things - certainly not complicated by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, you can take any ONE of the above exercises (and I've just mentioned two in this post) and weave an entire workout around them, if you know how to do so. And in case your wondering, YES, these "simple" exercises are tough, and will hit your body in ways you've never hit them before with traditional exercise routines. I could barely lift up my shoulders to put on my shirt after I was done, and I've been doing these exercises regularly.
After the workout, I sat down to a nutritious breakfast, and then proceeded with the rest of my day in fine spirits. Thats how it should be - start your day with a good workout, then a healthy post-workout meal, and you're all set for the rest of your day.
Note also that you do not need to complete a 40 minute workout daily in order to get results. In fact, you could take my workout that I did today, and break it down into three (approximately) 15 minute sessions, and do those on seperate days, and you'll still get a great workout in.
That's what I really love about Fast and Furious Fitness. Requires a bare minimum of equipment, if at all, and produces results - QUICKLY! So reserve your copy of the book pronto - you won't regret it.
All for now.
PS: Here is that link again: Fast and Furious Fitness