Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back Development Advice

I have been lifting for over 30 years now and this has to be some of the best advice I have seen in a mainstream muscle mag.

"I am trying to bring up my back on width and thickness. What type of exercises should I be doing?"

Answer by Hany Rambod:

For back width, nothing beats pull ups. Lat pulldowns are a good exercise, but they simply don't compare to pull ups, which are far more difficult and thus more productive. For back thickness, it's all about various free weight rows. (snipped). Deadlifts can also be a valuable tool for building a thicker back, but only when done with proper form. I've seen many bodybuilders injure their lower backs because they simply didn't know how to do the exercise correctly, and made common mistakes such as rounding the back.

Everyone who wants to add deadlifts to their back program should seek out an experienced trainer who can teach them proper technique. With that done a comprehensive back routine would include pull-ups, some type of barbell or dumbbell row, lat pulldowns, perhaps cable or machine rows, and deadlifts.

My one tweak is the free weight aspect of rows should be replaced by the many excellent back supported rowing machines out there. Protect that lower back!

What he states on deadlifts is spot on. Deadlifts done improperly can wreck you big time. Rounding the back and "parachuting" the deadlift will wreck you long term as well. Well, the majority of people that is.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How To Transform Your Physique #89

Winter is here. Ugggh. I have come to really hate winter.  I grew up in northern Michigan and snow. I went to college in the snow belt of Michigan Tech in the Western UP of Michigan. And, now, I am still in snow and ice and cold today.  Winter is a time for my cardio workaround as well.  Pushing or pulling the sled just doesn't work in the snow and ice.  I've tried. So, my workaround is jogging.  Today there is a below zero temperature with winds up to 40 mph.  No matter. I went out and did a mile.  I don't jog all out per say. That is go to the max and try and be Mr. Distance. I am just trying to keep some cardio during the winter months and burn a few calories.  Again, for health reasons.  It wasn't bad at all and traction was good due to some Yak Trax Pro's.  Plain and simple, these things work.  I have recommended them in previous years and it still sticks.  You can get a pair online and can see the product here.  You still need to be careful for ice spots and slick areas when jogging even with these on your feet.

The Holidays are again right around the corner.  My recommendation for eating still holds.  One or two days of eating anything you like won't kill your physique or put a load of body fat on you.  As long as you don't continue the "cheating" you'll be right back on track in about the same number of days you cheated. You'll likely gain a bunch of water so don't even worry about weight gain.  You should not be relying on the scale anyway for any assessment of your current condition.  It is just another data point.

I've continued doing mostly body weight exercises mainly due to convenience and I don't want to have any spine bearing exercises anymore.  Once I go back to a gym I'll be using machines.  I really continue to like the Hammer Strength plate loaders.

For you younger lifters, I can't emphasize enough that you need to get in control of your eating when you are young.  Because as you start to age, the number of calories you can take in without gaining fat will decrease.  You can see it all the time. You see it in actors. You can see it in co-workers. In family.  People have the tendency to get fat over time and with age.  They don't change their eating habits or really don't have them in order as they age.  You can not eat like a 20 year old when you are 45!

What's also interesting right now for me is that I am holding more muscle than I would think I would hang onto. I weigh about 190lbs and most people when I ask them would think I weighed 170.  I suppose that's good because of having a lower body fat.  I am not really eating that much for the majority of the week calories wise. The bummer thing about it is that I haven't really been able to lose much more body fat. I think I'd have to go completely bonkers with my training and mock entering a bodybuilding competition to go lower in body fat.  Hardly worth the effort given if I would have to work so hard to do it, it's not likely I could easily maintain it!

I've found a quick meal oatmeal that is really good. It's by Better Oats. I like it for a bunch of reasons.  First, it has no sugar.  Second, it's low in calories.  Third, you get fiber.  Fourth, it's portioned controlled.  Fifth, it's fast at only 90 seconds.  I do only the no sugar kind. You can take a look at it here.

Well, that is about all for now.  Just remember what I believe is one of the most important parts of a good program and it is not about the exercises, number of days, etc.  Whatever YOU CONSISTENT.  String together weeks and months of never missing a workout or straying too far from your diet.