Sunday, August 31, 2008

More Weight Training Techniques to Revive Your Workouts and Break the Plateau

You should know that it takes discipline and dedication to follow workout routines to produce results. After a while, even the "best" workout routines are getting old and boring. You stop lifting heavier weights and more reps. Your strength staganates. Your muscles stop growing. Like I say all the time:

"Everything works. But nothing works forever.
You got to change it up!"

In an earlier post, I have provided 7 weight training variations to a classical straight-set workout routine. They are very effective and useful alternative workout routines to help you change up your weight training program.

Let's re-visit the training variables you can manipulate for weight training (resistance training):

  • Selection of exercises
  • Order of exercises
  • Weights (resistance)
  • Sets
  • Reps
  • Tempo (rep speed)
  • Rest interval
  • Loading pattern
  • Periodization program
What else can you do about these variables beyond the straight-set routine and the other 7 variations??

Let's use the same classical straight set routine as an example.

Classical Straight Set for Hypertrophy (Muscle Building)
Chest Bench Press: 10 reps x 3 sets, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest

Here are 7 more variations you can do to change up your weight training program.

1 1/4 Reps
Clean the weight up to top fully extended position. Slowly lower the weight to the chest. Press up a quarter of the way, then lower the weight down to the chest. Now press the weight up to full extension to the top position. That's one repetition, which is actually one-and-quarter rep. Repeat for 6 to 8 reps. Rest a minute before repeating for another one to two sets.

This is one of the old-time bodybuilders' favorites. A typical weightlifting movement has three phases. The concentric phase (or positive, push or pulling phase) is when you contract (flex or squeeze) your muscles. The eccentric phase (or negative, returning or lowering phase) is when you stretch the muscles you just contracted. There is a neutral mid-point between concentric and eccentric phase where your muscles are not contracted nor stretched. Sometimes it's called the "sticky point."

With 21s, you'll do 21 repetitions in one set. You need to cut the weight you can normally do 7 reps by about 40 to 60%. So do bench press from the lowest stretched position up to the chest for 7 repetitions. Then do another 7 reps from the chest up to full extension at the top position. Finish the set with 7 regular bench presses. Rest for 2 minutes before repeating for another one or two sets. You should feel the "burning" sensation on your pec muscles.

Super Slow Reps
It's another old-time favorite. This is not for the beginners or less conditoned lifters as the super slow reps may produce extra sore feeling on the muscles.

Super slow reps are another variation to the tempo and tension manipulation. Tempo is also called rep speed as to how quickly you lift the weight (concentric or "positive" phase) and lower the weight (eccentric or "negative" phase).

The 3-point tempo prescription of 2-0-1 means that you take 2 seconds to lower the weight, zero second pause at the bottom (stretch), and take one second to lift the weight. A more complicated 4-point tempo prescription adds the 4th digit for the time to hold (contracted) at the top of lifting.

Super slow reps produce a prolonged period of muscle tension. Isokinetic studies show that more muscle force is generated at slower movement speeds to develop maximum strength. The greater muscle force produced at slow speeds is due to greater recruitment of muscle fiber.

Use 30 to 40% less weight than normal. The tempo for super slow reps is like 5-0-10. So take 5 counts to lower the weight to the chest. Then slowly press the weight up over a period of 10 seconds. Repeat for 4 to 8 reps.

Partial Reps
By all means, you'll do just "partial" repetitions not the standard full range-of-motion repetitions. Partial reps allow you to lift heavier weight only through your strongest range of moitoin, which is typically the last few inches before completing the lift for a full-range movement.

It's safer to perform partial reps on a Power Rack, Smith Machine or with the help of an experienced trainer or spotter. You can typically lift extra 10 to 20% more weight than normal. Start with the top fully extended position. Lower the weight only for 2 to 3 inches before pressing the weight back up.

Forced Reps
This is another "forced" scheme that requires due dilegence from both the weightlifter and the spotter for safety reason. The purpose is to fatigue the muscle fibers that you wouldn't otherwise perform the "forced" reptition by yourself.

You'll perform the standard full range-of-motion repetitions. This is done when you want to push that extra last half rep or a few inches to complete another full reptition. The spotter would only help you for the part where you can't complete by yourself.

Drop Sets
This scheme can be done with barbell, dumbbell or machine. It's helpful to have someone help you with the weight plates or dumbbells.

For example, say you want to perfrom drop sets with barbell bench press. Load up weight plates on both sides. Replace the last 25-lb or 45-plate plate with a few 10-lb and 5-lb plates. You'll perform a set of 10 reps of bench press. Immediately have the helper take off some weight (e.g., 10 lbs) and do another set of 10 reps at a lower weight. Again, take some some more weight (e.g., another 10 lbs) and do the third set of 10 reps at 20-lb lower weight. If you can handle it, drop another 10 lbs and do the fourth set of 10 reps at 30-lb lower weight. That's literally a 40-rep set and would produce tremendous damage and soreness on your pec muscle fibers.

Rest and Pause
This is a scheme that helps you crank up another 2 or 3 reps at the end of a normal set of workout. You feel sore because your muscles are under sufficient load (stress) for a period of time (tension). You can't complete the 11th rep beyond the 10 reps because your muscle fibers can't "fire up" fast enough to generate the strength to lift the weight. In biochemical term, the ATP can't break down fast enough to generate ADP and the "energy" to activate the muscle fibers. Or the ATPs are depleted momentarily. If you rest for a few seconds, the ATP reserve in your body is called out again to provide the necessary energy to activate or "fire up" the muscle fibers.

By taking advantage of these few seconds of window of opportunity, you're able to lift for another 2 or 3 reps. At the end of 10th repetiton in your bench press, hold the weight (in extended or locked-out position) and pause for a few seconds. Then you're able do a few more reps until fatigue. It's wise to use a spotter when you first try out this scheme.

Try to mix up with any of these 7 new variations when you need a boost in your workout routines. Do them spargingly. Don't try them all together. Don't go overboard in these special training methods to avoid injury or overtraining.

Changing up your weight training routines is necessary to keep you from being bored, stop from making progress in strength or muscle growth. That's how to revive your workout routines and break the plateau.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Benefits of Drinking Green Tea to Slow Breast Cancer Growth

There have been many studies and reports on the benefits of green tea to health and weight management.

A new study presented at the Experimental Biology 2008 conference showed that the green tea antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) significantly slowed breast cancer growth in female mice.

The researchers found that green tea's anticancer effects may be largely due to its high content of EGCG. This antioxidant ingredient helps the body's cells from becoming damaged and aging prematurely.

According to the researcher Jian-Wei Gu at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, the green tea antioxidant may work against breast cancer by suppressing blood vessel growth in breast tumors as well as slowing the proliferation and migration of breast cancer cells.

Follow-up studies on human tissues are required. In the meantime, green tea is a healthy beverage providing caffeine-alternative and many antioxidant benefits.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Michael Phelps Record Olympic Gold Medalist 12,000 Calorie Diet

There were a lot of exciting record-breaking swimming events in 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Michael Phelps went a perfect 8-for-8 in Beijing, breaking Mark Spitz's single-Games record for gold medals. He swam 17 times over nine days and broke the world record in four of his five individual swims. His three relay teams also set world marks.

Michael Phelps is now acclaimed as the best and most decorated modern Olympic medalist. He is a really swimming sensation.

His secret to success? "Eat, sleep and swim. That's all I can do. Get some calories into my system and try to recover the best I can." according to Michael in an interview with NBC.

His "some calories" is not the average man's 2000 calorie a day. According to New York Post, Michael eats about 12,000 calories a day in staggering 3 big meals.

Here is the breakdown of Michael's diet:

Breakfast (4,000 calories)
Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise.
Two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.

Lunch (4,000 calories)
One pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayo on white bread plus 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

Dinner (4,000 calories)
One pound of pasta and an entire pizza plus another 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

He burns all these 12,000 calories and still maintains his lean, cut, Olympian swimmer physique. He needs all the calories to fuel his body and supply the energy for his five-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week swimming regimen.

His 12,000 calorie-a-day diet is not something for the ordinary deskjocky who is sitting all day without much moving.

What can we learn from 12,000 calories-a-day diet?

Plan your nutrition and calorie intake around your daily activities and workouts. The calories are to fuel your body and support your training. If you burn more than taking in, you'll lose weight. Likewise, if you eat more than your body can burn off, you'll gain weight. Calorie and energy balance is just that simple. Too many people (including fitness industry) are making weight-loss so complicated.

Friday, August 08, 2008

2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Grand Opening

Let the games begin .................

No matter which country, sport or athlete you're rooted for, you can be your champion and Gold medalist.

In the game of life, you're competing with youself. Be the best you can be.

We all can learn from the Olympic spirit of the greatest athletes.

Click here for Olympic Games update.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How to Recession-Proof Your Health and Fitness

I know. That big R word.

I don't want to think about it or talk about it. It's so negative in your thoughts that you'll attract more of it to your life.

The abundant thinking is to manifest what you REALLY want, not what you don't want. The law of attraction plays in your favor.

But you know what. By the time everyone is talking about it and the media is all over about it, we're probably half way through it already.

When the government data confirms it, it's at least six months behind. And we're looking forward to recovery and the next boom market.

When the R hits the economy and job cut announcements are everywhere, people feel the stress and tension. All the non-essential or non-life-threatening expenses are normally cut out first.

Ask youself these questoins.

Is health and fitness essential or non-essential to you?

Is your health life-threatening or not?

Is health and fitness part of your core values?

Do you value the benefits of being healthy and fit?

Do you know the cost of NOT being healthy and fit?

You make the choice.

All I can tell you is that my training business has been prospering in the past months. I have signed up new clients. Current clients renewed their contracts and continue to train. They see and feel improved in their body and mind. I don't see or feel recession in my training business.

All my clients keep their jobs. They're fit in their body and sharp in their mind through regular training and exercise. And they're fit on their jobs as well.

They highly value the benefits of health and fitness. They don't simply cut out training because of the main-street's recession talk. They invest in their health for the long term.

Do you want to be one of them who continues to succeed and prosper in recession?

Let me put it this way. Never let your health and fitness slip into recession.

So my words of advice to you as to how to recession-proof your health and fitness are:

1. Don't short-change your health and fitness because you need it and you're in it for the rest of your life.

2. Adopt a healthy and active lifestyle that's working for you.

3. Keep working out. Continue your training and and even kick up a notch.

4. Regular exercise helps you relieve the stress and put things in perspective.

5. Eat healthy and balanced meals and snacks to fuel and recharge your body.

I have addressed these topics in my training and coaching program. Click here to ask me about your challenges and become my clients.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Flat Belly Diet??!!


Another new weight-loss regime? or scam?
When can the health industry teach the public the right ways?

I guess not. It's all about weight loss buzz, marketing and making money out of the public's desperation.

Here is the list of the top 10 most popular diets:

Weight Watchers
South Beach Diet
Atkins Diet
Lemonade Diet
Low Carb Diet
Cabbage Soup Diet
Mediterranean Diet
3-Day Diet
Detox Diet
Flat Belly Diet

They all seem to work for a while --- 3 days, one week or a month.

But when you get on a diet, you have to get off. That's when you fall off from the dieting wagon and re-gain part of the weight if not all the weight back.

Wanna learn the right ways?

>>> Sign up for FREE monthly e-Newsletter to receive insider training tips, workout routines and check out your FREE bonus e-books to help you build muscles, lose fat and uncover your six pack abs.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Can You Change Your Genes to A Healthier You?

The answer is positive according to a recent study.

But it takes a complete approach including healthy lifestyle changes, regualr exercise, proper diet and stress managment, as I always advocate to the public and educate my clients.

In a small study, the researchers tracked 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer who decided against conventional medical treatment such as surgery and radiation or hormone therapy.

The men underwent three months of major lifestyle changes, including eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products, moderate exercise such as walking for half an hour a day, and an hour of daily stress management methods such as meditation.

As expected, they lost weight, lowered their blood pressure and saw other health improvements. But the researchers found more profound changes when they compared prostate biopsies taken before and after the lifestyle changes.

After the three months, the men had changes in activity in about 500 genes -- including 48 that were turned on and 453 genes that were turned off.

The activity of disease-preventing genes increased while a number of disease-promoting genes, including those involved in prostate cancer and breast cancer, shut down, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is an exciting no-excuse news to many people who blame their genes for overweight or obesity. In just three months, you can change hundreds of your genes to become healthier by changing how you live and what you eat.

>>> Sign up for FREE monthly e-Newsletter to receive insider training tips, workout routines and check out your FREE bonus e-books to help you build muscles, lose fat and uncover your six pack abs.
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