REST EASY: SLEEPING WELL

Sleeping is overrated, am I right?!

We live in a world where to get ahead you must sleep less and work more. People view sleep as a waste of time. There’s not enough hours in the day so the first thing to go is our sleep.

Well, reality check: SLEEP IS NECESSARY! Sleep is a pillar of health, right along with nutrition and exercise.

On average, as an adult, 7.5 hours to 9 hours of sleep is what your body and mind needs. Inadequate sleep directly leads to fatigue, but it also important to note that too much sleep also leads to fatigue. 

Sleeping is so important. It is vital for your rejuvenation and for your overall health and well-being. I get it…a lot of you work long hours, you are raising families, getting a degree, or the million other things you have to get done in a day. You are busy, so sleep is always the first thing to go. I simply encourage you to try and get a little more sleep over the next week, and to pay attention to any differences you see.

Adequate sleep will improve all aspects of your life from your diet, to your performance, to your relationships with others. You need to sleep for so many reasons, and here is a list of reasons why you should focus on getting adequate sleep!

 

10 Reasons Adequate Sleep is Necessary:

  1. Adequate sleep sharpens your attention. When you get enough sleep, you are more attentive to detail and have a better over-all awareness. You will also be more productive. 

  2. Healthy weight. Those who sleep more tend to have a healthier weight than those who do not. Research has even linked adequate sleep to a healthier weight. If you are struggling to lose weight, try sleeping more. Lack of sleep even makes you hungrier. 

  3. Reduces stress. Sleep more, stress less. It is as simple as that.

  4. Protects you from heart disease and diabetes. If you continually wake up groggy from a lack of sleep, over the years this can really pay a toll on your health. 

  5. Improve your immune system. When you are sleep deprived, your body’s emergency stress system kicks in. Sleeping better helps you to keep illness away. Don’t fall behind on sleep, especially during flu season! 

  6. Reduces inflammation. You have to give your body the time (sleep) it needs to fight inflammation and recover. 

  7. YOU WILL LOOK BETTER! Baggy eyes? Groggy? Yeah…you probably don’t want to look in the mirror when you are not sleeping enough. Sleep not only makes you feel better, but also look better. 

  8. MOOD. Sleep improves your mood. We have all been irritable and we know how toxic this can be to not only our own life, but also everyone in our lives.  

  9. Athletic performance. Adequate sleep will not only increase your motivation to go to the gym, but a good night’s rest will also enhance your performance at the gym. 

  10. Improve your memory. Getting more sleep and quality of sleep will help you to remember and process things better.

 

10 Tips to Improve Sleep:

 

  1. Stop taking naps. Not napping will help you to sleep better at night. Nix the nap and swap it out for a tall glass of ice water or a short walk to revive you. 

  2. Sleep and sex. Only use your bed to sleep and for sex. Don’t do work in your bed, don’t talk on the phone or watch TV in your bed, and don’t even read a book while in bed. Sleep and sex. Make your bedroom a relaxing environment. 

  3. Go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time. Create consistency. You will even find your body getting into a routine and waking up around the same time on its own. 

  4. No caffeine after noon. I get it, I love coffee too…but nixing it after the noon hour will not only help you to fall asleep faster, but also it will improve the quality of your sleep.

  5. Turn off your electronics. Power down at night. If you can, turn off all electronics one hour before you go to bed…this will tremendously improve the quality of your sleep and help you to fall asleep way faster. 

  6. Beware of alcohol. Yeah, yeah…I know. “It makes me tired.” That is great, but be cautious because it also causes you to wake up more frequently during the night (hint, hint- you are not reaching your deep sleep!).

  7. Block out the noise. Use earplugs or turn on a fan or some type of white noise to avoid interruptions of sleep from loud noises.

  8. DIM THE LIGHTS. Lower the lights in your home a few hours before bedtime. This signals your brain to start producing melatonin, the sleep hormone. 

  9. Sleeping pills may not be the answer. Sleeping pills should only be used as a short time solution. Pay attention to any side effects.

  10. See a doctor. If you absolutely cannot sleep at night, it might be time to go see a doctor. Sometimes sleep issues can be linked to health problems. Always be aware and cautious. 

 

Lastly, a nighttime formula can be a very beneficial supplement for getting a better night of sleep. Nighttime formulas are made using all natural ingredients to relax your body and help achieve a more restful night full of R.E.M. sleep where your body really recovers. They will promote a deep sleep leading to you waking up more refreshed and not to mention, suppress cortisol levels! (Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes fat to be stubborn – no bueno.) Unwinding and getting a relaxing night of sleep will promote optimal metabolism throughout the night and the rest of the day.

Thank you for reading!

Sleep tight. 

YOUR BODY’S POWERHOUSE: THE CORE

“Abs, Abs, Abs!” 

“Swimsuit Season is HERE”

“Foods to Eat for a Flatter Belly”

“Do More Crunches”

We see titles and sayings like this EVERYWHERE! Does seeing these titles and posts actually motivate you? Yeah, maybe looking good in a bikini or shirtless does motivate you…but having a strong core goes far beyond looking good at the pool. Having a strong core is crucial, and here is why! 

 

THE POWERHOUSE:

Your core is the powerhouse for your entire body. Your core facilitates all movements for your body. Not only that, but it is also the home for all of your internal organs and your central nervous system. All movements begin with your core, so essentially your core helps you to do EVERYTHING! Strengthening your core helps to strengthen your back (your back muscles are a part of your core) which helps to reduce back pains. 

Being strong does not necessarily mean you have a strong core. It is important to start from the inside out and BUILD A STRONG CORE! It is all about the foundation.

 

Core Strengthening Exercises: 

Not sure where to start? Below are some simple core exercises plus a chart of core workouts. Check out Pinterest for more core workout ideas, there’s plenty out there! 

 

Side Plank Hip Dips:

  1. Start in a side plank, resting on your right forearm, body forming a straight line, left foot stacked on top of right.

  2. Lower your hips a few inches, lift hips to return to starting position. 

  3. Do 15-20 reps on each side.

 

Oblique Pulse Crunch:

  1. Start lying on your back, knees bent. Crunch to bring shoulders off the ground, with your left arm reaching toward your left foot and right hand supporting your head.

  2. Do 20 pulses, bringing your left-hand closer to your left foot with each pulse.

  3. Repeat in the other side. 

 

Upper Abs Pulse Crunch:

  1. Start lying on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.

  2. Engaging your abs, lift your chest forward into a crunch, bringing shoulders off the ground.

  3. Reach your arms forward in between legs. Pulse, reaching forward and lifting higher off the ground with each rep.

  4. Do 20 reps. 

 

CORE STABILITY:

 

What is Core Stability? 

Stability is defined as remaining unchanged even in the presence of forces that would normally change the state or condition…just apply this definition to the core region and there you have it, core stability. It is important to constantly be challenged and switching it up when it comes to anything, but especially your core. Simply, the more balanced and coordinated your muscles are, the less likely you will be injury-prone because of a certain pressure or force.

An awesome tool you can use at the gym to help build your core stability is a workout ball. When using a workout ball for core strengthening, it is pretty self-explanatory. You can pretty much do any plank or crunch exercise on the ball. I seriously suggest giving it a try, it can be really challenging if you never have before! 

Another great tool is called a bosu. A bosu is a half-shaped ball, attached to a flat surface or frame (Pictured at the beginning of the Core Stability section). A bosu is great for core strengthening because it can be extremely challenging to balance on the bosu. Simply start by standing on one leg on the bosu for 20 seconds. Be sure to work both legs and build up to more extended periods of time. 

Other great ways to strengthen your core are by doing yoga or Pilates. They are both awesome practices that require you to engage your core. Give it a try! 

 

COMMIT TO IT!

Having a strong core is not something that is going to come easy. It is going to take time and it is going to take A LOT of discipline. This does not mean you have to do a thirty-minute ab workout six days of the week. No, not at all. Simply start small. 

Do you watch TV? During commercials drop down to the floor and do some crunches or a plank set. Get your significant other or your whole family in on it too! It does not have to be extensive, just commit to it. If you only have five minutes that is great. JUST DO IT! Tack it on to the end of your workout at the gym or do it after you go for a run or walk. You just have to start somewhere! 

Taking care of your core is important for the entirety of your health. Stop neglecting those abs! 

We all need to have a strong foundation. It is time to crunch it out! 

Thank you for reading! 

TAKE YOUR WORKOUT OUTSIDE: TRACK WORKOUTS

FINALLY! The weather is only getting nicer, and you have possibly been hitting the gym all winter…it is time to GET OUTSIDE! Go and get a change of scenery. Get some fresh air, switch it up, and get creative. 

A great place to go for a good outdoor workout is a track. Here is a list of awesome workouts you can do at a track to switch up your routine!

 

10 Great Workouts to do at a Track:

  1. SPRINTS- 50 meters, 100 meters, 200 meters, or even 400 meters! However short or far you want to go, mix some sprints into your workout routine.

  2. HILLS- Most high school tracks (at least most around St. Joseph, MO) have a nice, steep hill around them. Hill sprints are a great way to get your heart rate up and going! Do some hill repeats and your glutes will thank you later.

  3. STADIUM STAIRS- Do you like to use a stair stepper machine at your gym? Does it ever get old, but you keep doing it because you know it is a great workout?  Why not try it outside?! Walking or running some stairs at your local track is a great workout and such a refreshing break from the stair stepper machine. 

  4. STRAIGHTS AND CURVES- Dreading running? Try running the straights and walking the curves! It is a great way to learn to better control your heart rate and a nice gradual build up to learn to better enjoy running. Too easy for you to run the straights and walk the curves? Try sprinting the straights and jogging the curves! 

  5. LUNGES- Common sense, right?! You have plenty of room, you do not have to do lunges in place. LUNGE IT OUT! Side lunges, front lunges, back lunges…DO THEM ALL! 

  6. AGILITIES- agilities are a great way to prevent injury, improve your balance, and give you a better mind-body connection. Agilities is a broad category, but it is all so good for you. Do some shuttle runs, high knees, butt kicks, tuck jumps…do it all!

  7. CORE WORK – A track is not the worst surface to drop down on and do some abs, and it is hard to beat a little core work out in the sun! Crunch it out! 

  8. WALK- Simply walk around the track! It is an easy way to keep track of how far you have walked if you do not have a watch or device. Start in lane eight and each lap switch lanes working down to lane one. It makes for a mindless way to keep track of how far you have gone!

  9. THE CLASSIC MILE– Throw it back to high school or middle school! Run a mile! Time yourself and try to beat your personal best each time. Running is such a great source of cardio. Come on…it is just one mile! You can do it! Work up towards it if you have to! Just do it!

  10. BAREFOOT WALK- Saving the best for last! Barefoot walking is so good for you. Take off your shoes and socks and walk around the inside, grassy part of the track. It is so good to allow your feet to breath and walk in their most natural way, barefoot! (Try to do it on fresh, green grass. Dead grass can be uncomfortable.)

ENJOY YOUR TRACK WORKOUT! As always, I advise you to find a friend to enjoy your workouts with. Accountability is GOLD! 

Thank you for reading! Comment with any other track workout ideas. 

Go and get the day!

STRESS, STRESS, STRESS

Are you ever just overwhelmed by the demands of life? Stress has such a negative connotation, but it actually can be a good thing…if in small doses. Stress, or being under pressure, can help you to perform better…so stress truly is not always a bad thing! Recognizing good and bad stress in our lives is crucial. It is important to pay attention to our levels of stress, to pause and look at what in our lives is causing us this stress. 

In the last year, I heard someone say the following quote about stress and it has really helped me to manage the stress in my life in a new light… “Our bodies can’t tell the difference in where stress is coming from. The body sends the same stress signals to the brain whether if we are stressed from work, school or relationships, stressed physically from a workout, or stressed because we are running from a bear.”  When we are stressing, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, known as the stress response. Too much of stress can be extremely harmful on our minds and bodies. Are you over stressing?

AM I STRESSED?

THE SYMPTOMS

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

WHY IS STRESS HARMFUL?

THE EFFECTS OF STRESS ON YOUR BODY

  • Stress can lead to or intensify headaches. If you regularly get headaches this could be a result of stress in your life. 

  • Chronic, or ongoing stress can be emotionally draining and lead to an increase in depression. 

  • Stress even affects your digestive system and can lead to nausea and stomach problems.

  • INSOMNIA. Do you ever have trouble falling asleep at night? Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep or even to stay asleep. 

  • Stress causes your body to release extra glucose (sugar) leading to high blood sugar.

  • Long term stress leaves you more vulnerable to infections and weakens your immune system.

  • Stress increases your heart rate and in time this could increase your chance of heart attacks.

  • Rapid breathing. Stress can leave you with a shortened breath.

  • Stress and the fatigue it comes with can lower your sex drive.

  • Muscle tension. Stress even causes your muscles to tense up which leads to aches and pains.

TIPS TO MANAGE STRESS

  • BREATHE. First and foremost, breath. Take a big, deep breathe. 

  • Identify. Identify what it is in your life that is causing this stress. Maybe it is unavoidable, and this might be the case…but it could also be something you can rid from your life. Ask yourself the tough questions.

  • Cut (or minimize) the caffeine. I know…no one ever wants to hear this one, but caffeine is not helping your stress levels. 

  • TALK ABOUT IT. Don’t bottle it up. Share your stresses with a friend, loved one, or even a doctor. More likely than not they will be able to offer you some advice or support that you are looking for. 

  • Learn how to say “no.” It is okay to be human and not be able to do everything. Remember this, saying yes to one thing is saying no to something else. What are you giving your time to, and where else could you be giving your time? Asking questions like this can help to prioritize what in our lives we are saying yes to.

  • Look at the big picture. You can’t control the uncontrollable. Stay positive. Focus on yourself and the way you react. 

  • Be grateful. When stress is weighing you down, think of all of the people and things in your life you are thankful for. Focus on what brings you joy.  

Health is so much more than working out and eating right. Taking care of our minds is arguably more important (or equally… it is all SO IMPORTANT!) than our physical health.

Don’t stress the small stuff!

Thanks for reading and please share with friends and family! 

Much of this post came from the links below. For additional information, see below:

https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body#1

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145855.php

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-signs-and-causes.htm

SAY “NO” MORE!

More likely than not, you probably categorize yourself as a busy person. You probably ALWAYS have a list of “XYZ” things to do by tomorrow, and you always have a place you have to be. Your free time is minimal. It is safe to guess your calendar is always full. Honestly, it probably feels like your life is even dictated by your calendar or schedule. If this relates to you, then it is safe to say you are probably one of those people who say yes to everything. 

Well, it is time to start saying NO.

WHY SAY NO?

Saying no to something good gives you the space and time you need to say yes to something great. All too often we say yes to things because we feel obligated to do them or even almost guilty. When you have so many events, meetings, hobbies, activities – whatever it may be – going on in your life it is difficult to be great at the things you are doing. 

Ask Yourself: Am I good at many things, or am I great at a few things? 

Stop trying to do everything, and do a few things very well. 

Simply use your gift and talents to grow as people, doing what you are passionate about. 

BE GREAT, not good. 

Too often, we are spreading ourselves too thin. We are conditioning ourselves to be average at a lot of things rather than being the best we can be at a few things. 

We are limiting our own capabilities by being average. 

Variety is a good thing for sure. No one really wants to do the same exact thing over and over and over again…but if we have too much on our plate, we are holding ourselves back from doing what we want and what we love to do, and holding ourselves back from doing it well.

We were not made to be average. 

PRIORITIZE!

What do you love? What are you passionate about? What are your goals for life?

Do you desire to be a great parent?

Do you want to write a book?

Do you want to own your own business?

Do you want to compete? Run a marathon? Lift competitively? 

You must say NO to the things that are holding you back from doing what you love to do. We all need to “check ourselves” every now and then. We need to look at where we are giving our time, money, and talents. Are we giving of ourselves in line with what matters the most to us?

Be honest with yourself. Start now and reprioritize your life around what really matters. 

PRACTICE!

Start by saying no to the things holding you back from being a better version of yourself. Stop people pleasing. I know it is hard, but you have to make decisions for you and the most important people in your life sometimes. 

Like anything, saying no is going to take practice. Practice saying no to the small things so you will be prepared to say no to the bigger things that don’t align with your passions or values.

If you are indecisive, ask yourself, “What is the next right thing to do?”

Practicing saying no to things in your life holding you back from doing what you love will not only positively affect you, but also the people in your life. 

Saying no will free you up to give the people you love the most the time and energy they deserve from you.

Say yes less and no more. 

Thanks for reading!

ARE YOU MAKING GOALS OR ARE YOU MAKING WISHES?

We all have hopes, dreams and wishes. Hopes, dreams and wishes are all great to have, but if we want them to become a reality it requires action. It can be easy to live life with our head in the clouds. Honestly. Don’t get me wrong, dreaming is good, but I would go as far as to say dreaming BIG is good, but day dreaming…not so much. Dreaming big is a productive way of thinking and motivating ourselves while on the latter, day dreaming can be a waste of the precious 24 hours we have been given in a day. Our hopes, dreams, and wishes require action to become a reality.

TAKING ACTION

How do you make your dreams come true? It is simple, really. MAKE GOALS…but don’t just make goals, WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN. If your goals are written down and visible so you can see them every day, the likelihood of you achieving them is so much higher. It is said that those who write down their goals are 80 percent more likely to reach them…Write them on a napkin, a sticky note…get your goals framed, tape them to your bathroom mirror…whatever works, just WRITE THEM DOWN! If you wake up every day, look into the mirror and glance at your goals, you are going to make them happen. You are going to be cognitive of what you are after and you are going to have a new sense of focus or even purpose. Read your goals, out loud. Recite your goals daily. ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY. Writing your goals down helps you to remain focused on what you are striving to accomplish. It helps you to keep your eye on the prize. Be a visionary!

The word is: STRIVING

I am a realist and we are not perfect nor will we ever be perfect. We are human and the quicker we grasp this reality the better off we will be. The quicker we learn we are going to fail the better people we will become. When we realize we can learn something from our failures we are going to be so much better off. Buzz word: STRIVING. When you make goals, you have to realize you are striving to achieve them. You have to understand you are going to fail in some shape or form, but when you are striving, you wake up the next day ready to get after it, ready to strive for your goals again. 

EMBRACE YOUR FAILURES

In an inspiring book called, Perfectly Yourself, Matthew Kelly shares three truths to remember when we come across failures or shortcomings: 

  1. Other people before you have successfully overcome the obstacle you face; seek them out and draw strength from their stories and example.

  2. All of your past failures leave you better equipped than ever before to succeed in your next attempt.

  3. It will never be easier to break that pattern of defeat than it right now.

There is never going to be a perfect time to start something. 

The time is now. 

Take action and make your dreams a reality. 

Write down your goals. 

STRIVE AND EMBRACE YOUR FAILURES. 

Thanks for reading! Share with family and friends who need to hear this too! 

FORGET FOOD COMAS, WALK IT OUT

What is your favorite thing to do after eating a big (or even small) meal?

NAP?

… or maybe sit down to watch some TV, a movie, or read a book.

RELAXATION IS GOOD AND NECESSARY! It is good to give our body the rest it needs and deserves. You should always listen to your body and when it is telling you to rest, by all means…REST! 

It is a New Year, and it is time to start a new post dinner tradition. I am here to offer you an alternative…a small change to your habits that can have a great effect on your overall health in the long run. It really is the frequent, small changes you make to your lifestyle that will lead to big changes in the long run.

SUGGESTION: After you eat, go for a short walk.

Now, I am not telling you to walk five miles, a fifteen-minute walk will do just fine! 

WHY?

Walking after you eat not only is a great way to burn some calories, but it also helps you to better digest the food you just consumed. Walking after you eat lowers your blood sugar. It helps to clear the glucose (sugar) from your blood stream because more of it is taken up by your muscles. Walking and being active of course improves your mood as well, and it is always a good opportunity to get your creative juices flowing! You really can’t go wrong with choosing to take a walk after dinner. Make it a habit, make it a tradition! 

This does not have to a new habit for just you. Get the whole family bundled up and out the door, take the dog out for a walk, go for a walk with your significant other, or call up a friend and set up an evening walk tradition! People need other people.  Be intentional and form good habits with others to live a better life!

 

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

Important food for thought: Taking care of yourself is also taking care of others in your life. When you are good to yourself, you will find yourself more easily being good to others. 

Take up a new tradition and try out a post dinner walk! 

Thanks for reading and please share with family and friends! 

REPLENISHING WELL: ELECTROLYTES

Knowledge is wealth. The more you know about your body and how it works the better off in life you will be. So I have to ask, how much do you know about electrolytes? 

You probably know a great way to get electrolytes is to drink Gatorade. This has been engraved in our minds for years. Electrolytes are a little more complex than simply drinking Gatorade, so here is a post about everything you need to know about electrolytes! 

 

WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES? 

We need electrolytes in order to live! Electrolytes provide your body with a more or less charge, or an electric current, in order for your body to function. Electrolytes are chemicals that conduct electricity when mixed with water.  They have many roles in helping the body to function such as hydrating the body, regulating nerve and muscle function, rebuilding damaged tissues, and balancing blood acidity and pressure. 

Electrolytes include potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate, and bicarbonate. The body needs a mixture of the electrolytes previously listed in order to perform various functions. For example, our muscles need calcium, sodium, and potassium in order to contract. When it comes to hydration, electrolytes are responsible for directing nutrients and water to the areas of your body it is needed the most, all while maintaining fluid balance inside our cells. 

 

HOW DO I GET ELECTROLYTES?

If you are following a proper diet, you should have no problem getting all of the electrolytes you need naturally. Fruits and vegetables are LOADED with nutrients. It is best to avoid relying on sports/energy drinks if possible, mostly due to their high sugar content. One of the best ways to get electrolytes is to drink coconut water. Coconut water is loaded with potassium, sodium, and magnesium. 

Other great sources of naturally getting electrolytes are almonds, kale, chia seeds, broccoli, and oranges. these foods are specifically great sources of the electrolyte calcium.

TIP 1: EAT MORE BANANAS AND DRINK MORE COCONUT WATER! It is common to be deficient in potassium and magnesium. 

TIP 2: Throw a teaspoon of chia seeds in with coconut water and your muscles will be good to go and ready to contract and relax. It is a great remedy in order to avoid muscle cramps and stay hydrated! 

TIP 3: Most Americans get PLENTY of sodium from their diets, so this is not a common electrolyte deficiency in the US. 

TIP 4: Counter to Pro Tip 3, if you sweat A LOT it is very important to make sure you are getting adequate sodium. It doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a little extra salt on your food after a tough, sweaty workout! 

TIP 5: Water, water, water. We all tend to overestimate the amount of water we take in on a given day. Drink more water! 

 

WHAT IF I AM NOT GETTING ENOUGH?

It is so important to listen to your body. Your body gives you signs and will let you know when something is off, you just have to pay attention! Symptoms depend on which electrolyte is out of balance and whether the level of the electrolyte is too high or too low. 

Common symptoms of imbalances include: 

  • Twitching

  • Blood pressure changes

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea 

  • Thirst 

  • Extreme muscle weakness 

Now, PLEASE do not go and self-diagnose yourself for all of the above. I am simply encouraging you to pay attention to your body, especially after a strenuous workout. 

 

One last very good source of electrolytes worth mentioning are a good Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) supplement. These will help your body remain in an anabolic state, helping with muscle recovery! They come in many flavors, taste great and help keep you from getting bored with water, all while including electrolytes and NO sugar or unnecessary calories.

Replenish your body well! 

THE MORE YOU KNOW. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

Thank you for reading! 

FREE WEIGHTS VS MACHINES


Free weights vs Machines:

I’ve been getting this question a lot here lately at the gym and figured it would be a good topic to address here.

“What is better for me to be doing, machines or free weights?”

My answer is always kind of the same because I think it depends a lot on your level of fitness. If you are a beginner, I definitely recommend the machines more from the simple fact that one, the machines are less intimidating and easier to learn starting out; and two, the machines help you learn the motions of many basic lifts and teach you basic principles of lifting weights such as the importance of the stretch & flexing of the muscle groups you’re working. I think that as a person stepping in the gym and starting out for their first time, learning basic motions is a very important thing to do.

After you’ve been lifting on the machines consistently and feel ready to move on, I think that free weights open up a whole new world of working out and definitely have a lot more moves you can do and so I guess to answer the question, I would describe free weights as “better”; but not until you are doing them properly and ready for them.

I hope this answered your question if you were wondering!

Thanks for reading!

BOULDERS SHOULDER WORKOUT


Anyways, without further ado, here you are:

  • STANDING SHOULDER PRESS: 5 DROP-SETS

    • Load a barbell with five 10lb. plates [Use 5lb. plates if needed or heavier if you are crazy strong]. You will strip a plate after each set, doing a total of 5 drop sets until there is only one plate left on each side for the last set. As little rest as possible between sets; strip the weight off and back at it. Go for at least these minimum reps:

      • 5 plates each side, 5 reps

      • 4 plates each side, 10 reps

      • 3 plates each side, 15 reps

      • 2 plates each side, 20 reps

      • 1 plate each side, 25 reps

Pictured is seated variation:

  • LATERAL DUMBBELL RAISES: 3 SETS OF 30 REPS

    • Important: Use a weight that you would normally do a set of 10-12 with. You WILL be able to get 30 and will make yourself. If you get to 20 reps and feel like you need a break then hold them to your side, but don’t you dare set them down until you reach 30 reps. Use the same weight for all three sets also.

  • SEATED DUMBBELL MILITARY PRESS: RUN THE RACK

    • Pick up a pair of heavy dumbbells that you will only get 8-10 reps with. After this set, you will immediately do a set with the dumbbells 10 pounds lighter. Continue to do this until you are using a dumbbell light enough that you are getting over 25 reps with. No rest between sets.

      • For example, today I started with the 85 lb. dumbbells, followed by 75s, 65s, 55s, 45s, 35s, & my last set was with the 25s.

As I said, I added in a lot more, but this was the main stuff I did that killed my shoulders [Be sure not to neglect your rear delts]. If you’re following workout plans exactly and are doing the same number of sets & reps whatever you’re reading says to do, then you probably aren’t pushing yourself to failure. So take what you want from workout plans, mix in what you feel like, and just be sure you’re pushing till failure every time & tearing your muscles down.

Hope you enjoy this workout, thanks for reading!

If you did enjoy it, please share it with a friend!


20 MINUTE WORKOUT?


I’ve heard the question a lot, “Is 20-30 minutes enough time for me to get a good workout in?” And the answer is absolutely. In fact, a 20 minute workout kicks ass; it gets you in and out of the gym quickly and can be extremely effective if you push hard enough.

Anyone who doesn’t agree that a 20 minute workout is enough probably isn’t pushing themselves hard enough. The key is to have no rest between sets and work to absolute failure every set (and even past failure with some negative reps). It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and going all out every single set, mixing in high and low reps. After all, you only have 20 minutes so you need to do WORK.

Today I did a back workout in about 20 minutes. It consisted of pull-ups, seated cable rows, dumbbell rows, lat pulldowns, and another set of pull-ups [which I was only able to get literally two by then], all sets to failure, with no rest between them. After completely burning out with that giant circuit set, I rested for 1 to 2 minutes and repeated it all again. I did this whole circuit a total of 4 times & threw in a couple random exercises here & there. My back was burning all over and I finished up with some hyperextensions. I downed my protein and was done. Twenty minutes, short and sweet (& brutal).

You can work any muscle group with this same type of 20 minute workout:

  • Pick 4-6 exercises for that muscle group as a circuit

  • Go until failure every set, with no rest in between

  • Repeat this circuit 3-4 times.

It’s that simple. I think you will realize that if you only have 20 minutes, it is worth getting a workout in. And you may find that you are going so intense in this short amount of time that you aren’t always pushing yourself as hard as you can day-to-day in your longer workouts. Get out of your comfort zone!!

Thanks for reading!

Update 11/23/14: My back was more sore from this workout than it has been in a long time. I am going to start doing more of my workouts like this one.

BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO LIFTING WEIGHTS


If you’re stepping into a gym for the first time and wanting to start lifting weights with no idea where to start, then this post is for you. Welcome to Lifting 101. Class starts now.

START OUT WITH WEIGHT MACHINES

I say this because to do free weights you have to know the different exercises to do and can’t just jump in and start as easy. Another reason for starting with machines is that it will get you used to the different motions & movements that you should be doing; They will teach you the building blocks of lifting: motion, form, etc. [Read more in depth here: Free weights vs. Machines]

DON’T LET THE WEIGHT STACK TOUCH

When you workout, every rep you want to keep tension on the muscle. When you let the stack touch on machines, you are letting the tension off, therefore resting the muscle. You don’t want to rest the muscle until the set is over.

STRETCH & SQUEEZE. FORM.

In every rep you of every exercise you do, remember that there are two key components: The squeeze of the muscle & the stretch of the muscle. So, in a bicep curl, for example, at the top you are squeezing the muscle hard & and at the bottom the whole bicep is being stretched. Form is extremely important. No half-rep BS. No trying to do more weight than you can. Form, form, form!!

WORK DIFFERENT MUSCLE GROUPS

When you go in the gym each day, you can’t do the exact same machines/exercises every day. You are breaking down those muscles and have to give those muscle groups time to recover. So if you go in on a Monday, you may hit the upper body machines and then on Wednesday, maybe the lower body machines. If you plan on coming in 4 or more times a week, then you can split it up even more meaning you do arms on Monday, Legs on Tuesday, Shoulders on Wednesday, etc…

COUNT YOUR REPS!!

You won’t know if you’re getting stronger if you aren’t keeping track of your progress. Write down the weight you get & for how many reps on each machine if you need to, but track yourself.

SETS & REPS

You’re probably wondering once you get on these machines, how many you should do. A typical starting point is 3 sets of 10 reps. You will change this up as you get more advanced but start with it. So choose a weight you can get for 10 challenging reps and go. After you will rest for thirty seconds to a minute and then start your second set.

“HOW MUCH WEIGHT SHOULD I DO?”

No one can answer this question for you. I can’t feel if 50 lbs. on a certain machine is hard or easy for you to do. Trial and error; put the weight pin in the stack at different amounts and try it. Too easy, add weight; too hard, lower weight. Easy as that.

PUSH YOURSELF

I get that you’re just starting out and if you’re even half as sore as I am after workouts, you will hate your life and want to quit. But you are going to be sore. When you lift, you are putting micro tears in your muscle and that is going to hurt a little. But your body will over-compensate when repairing these tears and that’s why you get stronger. So the soreness is worth it. Push yourself to where if you’re doing 10 reps, those ten reps are a challenge, not just 20 seconds of wasting your life because it was simple. No one ever said that this would be easy. To achieve anything in life including the body you want, you will go through struggle and hard times. So push yourself by overloading your muscles and you will improve.

SET SHORT-TERM GOALS

I really recommend reading this article if you’re just starting.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP OF ALL: NEVER STOP LEARNING

You won’t get any better if you just go in and do the same old stuff every day for too long. You need to talk to people, read different things, watch what people are doing, and keep learning. I don’t know it all and can’t teach you everything but I will teach you what I can. You will find that everyone has opposite opinions on workouts, nutrition, etc… Learn everything you can & you will eventually form your own opinions and develop your own style, per se; So always be open to learning something new.

Hopefully this helps everyone that is starting out lifting weights! As you get better, help the next guy/girl that is a beginner to lifting. We’re all in this together!

Thanks for reading!