Monday, July 18, 2011

The Bench Press Trap

There are several exercises that seem to measure the strength of a person and some believe it shows dominance at the gym, like a peacock and its feathers.  The bench press exercise always turns heads when the plates are stacked and the reps are being cranked out; the allure of lifting that much weight can be very enticing.  This “beast” can never get enough and will not stop until it breaks you.  Don’t get me wrong, the bench press is a very effective exercise and depending on your profession or goals, bench pressing heavy weight might work for you.   Just be aware of the pros and cons regarding this effective exercise and joining the “peacock club.”

Back when I first started my fitness journey, I fell into this trap and it took me several years before I realized I was in the lair of the beast.  No matter how much weight I lifted it never seemed to be enough, of course my chest was increasing in size and I was getting stronger, but at what cost.  There comes a point when the tendons and the joints just can’t handle the amount of weight, therefore risking injury and leaving you with a hungry mass of muscle.

The Point:

Because this exercise is so effective you may want to keep a close eye on how much mass it’s putting on you.  If you’re young mass might not be an issue, but remember, as you age preventing that mass from sagging might be a problem.  Always try to look towards the future when it comes to body shaping and try to find your balance between the size, look and strength you want.

Alternative Chest Exercise: 

If bench pressing is still your thing, but you don’t want to too much mass, then try high reps until failure, rest 15-30 seconds and do another set. Try push-ups and dips as well, use different hand positions and angles to provide better muscle targeting.  Try using dumbbells; this will force you to use lighter weight.  Machines are also a good alternative, just be aware they are not as flexible when it comes to targeted muscle shaping.

When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no "I'll start tomorrow."  Tomorrow is disease. 

~Terri Guillemets

How do you use the bench press exercise, heavy or light weight?

Feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Motivation and the "fitness bug" bite

The "fitness bug" bite can provide us with a long term or short term jolt of motivation.  It ignites the fire that burns and keeps us going or gets us started in fitness, but where do these “bugs” live?

There are many flavors of motivation that can impact our lives, the motivation I'm referring to relates more towards fitness and health and not necessarily to the motivation that drives us to succeed in our careers or our relationships, although sometimes they do feed off one another.   Sometimes the source can be right under our nose hiding in plain sight and sometimes it's like a cold slap to the face:)

I hope everyone still remembers their first "fitness bug" bite and still feeds off the fire.  There are several places where these "bugs" are plentiful and are sure to bite you.  The beach is obviously one, but even better than that, how about family reunions or high school reunions, yeah all kinds of "bugs" live at reunions! 

My friend Steve, who never really had an interest in getting fit, finally got bit by the "fitness bug".  It so happens he went to his family reunion in Iowa a few weeks ago and was severely bitten both figuratively and literally.  All of his relatives were thin and somewhat in decent shape due to their way of life.  Getting up at the crack of dawn and working the fields seemed to keep his relatives in good shape, even the young kids are up early, running around and playing outside.  After a few days of this, he began to take a long hard look at himself and his way of life and then the paranoia started.  He started to wonder what his relatives and his friends back home thought of him and with every glance from his relatives the fire grew stronger.  Of course his family was not judging him, but sometimes what we already suspect or know about what we need to do is under our nose, we just need a little slap of motivation to see it. 
Steve returned from his trip, like a cat getting sprayed with water, he was fired up and joined the local gym the next business day and even started working out two times a day.  Although Steve was real motivated and eager to get started, one must be careful not to over do it at the beginning.  The jolt of motivation the “fitness bug” provides may bring you in too hot sometimes so be careful and make it last, and don’t get injured. 

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." 
~Maria Robinson

Read more about Motivation and how to make the “bite” last, review the SFF elements

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fitness after the 90 days

 The amount of fitness information and programs available today are tremendous, and at times overwhelming.  Choosing a program that works and helps you with your fitness goals can be difficult.  Most programs advertise success in 90 days and depending on how you measure success, do succeed in helping many people, but what about after the 90 day period?  Can you see yourself following these programs 10 or 20 years down the road?

One of the many reasons why I starting Stress Free Fitness is to help people eventually break free from relying on fitness programs to achieve long term fitness; to look towards the fitness future, 10, 20 or 30 years down the road; to gain self-confidence and self-awareness; to walk in any fitness facility and know exactly what needs to be done and to adjust and adapt your fitness program in order to meet your lifestyle.  I believe in the "practice what you preach" philosophy and would not be writing this if it did not work, so in case anyone is wondering, that is my photo taken June 2011, could be better but I like to enjoy my calories every now and then:).

Canned Fitness Programs or Videos

These programs play a positive role in motivating people to get fit.  They provide a good foundation on proper form, exercise techniques and help boost confidence.  I’m not here to bash these programs, in fact I support any program that gets people interested in fitness; developing programs that work for a wide range of people is a very difficult thing to do, but it’s my opinion that these programs can only take you so far.  Of course, like any good marketing strategy, the program’s marketing team will continue to push new content in order to keep you dependent.  This dependency can slow you down as quickly as it got you started, I realize it's much easier having someone telling you what to do, but try to break fee eventually and develop your own program.

Custom Routine Development

Everyone's fitness levels are different, so while following a canned fitness program be sure to take good mental notes of any exercises that apply towards your future fitness goals.  Of course some exercises are more efficient and more long term friendly than others, so some adjustment will have to be made as time goes on and as we age. 

The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
~Muhammad Ali
This stress free fitness (SFF) base routine is geared towards normal working folks, that have a busy schedule and not for professional "gym rats".  So, what you want to look for are body weight exercises, that when combined with others, provide a total body base routine you can do every time you workout.  This base routine should include some aerobic activity "cardio."

The SFF base routine should include a set of exercises that hit the whole body or most of it, do these after your "cardio", with little rest between exercises or reps <30 seconds, <15 if feeling froggy.  By not resting between exercises, you're stimulating your anaerobic process.  This base "total body routine" should be done every time you workout, swap out other body weight exercises if you need to.  Why body weight? Because they require no extra equipment and can be done anywhere.  Depending on your body shaping goals, a body part my need extra attention during the base routine activity. This base provides consistency and a fitness foundation, just about everything in life needs some form of consistency.  After your base routine, perform focus area exercises using resistances.  

This method will wind your body up like a rubber band driven propeller on toy airplane, so if you miss a day or two, don't worry you will come back even stronger than before, Stress Free Fitness!  Remember don't rest longer than 30 seconds.  Your strength will fluctuate as will your reps, there is no need to log reps and get disappointed.  By not logging your reps and walking around without a notebook and pen, you will work on your self-awareness connection.  Set your rep goals high, eventually you will achieve them.  

More information can be found at Routine Development

Check out my Nutrition page as well.

Feel free to contact me.