Monday, December 31, 2012

The 2013 Physical Cliff

While the politicians in Washington D.C. bicker about the Fiscal Cliff, I'm going to be pushing myself over the Physical Cliff. I realize that physical exercise is really the only worthwhile thing going in my life, and I need to step it up and maximize my intensity.

My plan for next year is to work two muscle groups per day in the gym, five days a week, then hit my heavy bag every day for at least thirty minutes. The proposed regimen will allow me to hit each muscle group twice per week. This isn't really great training for boxing, but it will be good for my body. Hopefully, I'll be able to get into at least one boxing match in this upcoming year as well, even if I am dominated. I'll have to look into it more. Medical clearance will be tough, but there may be ways around that.

I am happy to report that I have accomplished my physical goals for the year 2012. Aside from the goals that I have stated above, I also hope to put on at least five more pounds of muscle by the end of 2013, assuming that I live through it.

I hope that you all have a safe and happy new year. Don't give up on your fitness resolutions. Make small ones if you have to; once you see the results, it will become an addiction!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sick Day Leg Day

Usually I don't hit the gym on Saturdays with my current split, but I had planned to work legs with my friend. Unfortunately, I woke up dreadfully sick in a puddle of my own drool this morning (I ended up sleeping with my mouth open since my nose was too clogged to breathe).

I was still determined, however, since I didn't want to break my promise and I have a personal goal of hitting the gym at least five times (four times remaining) before the end of the year. After breakfast, I went a couple of rounds on the heavy bag to try to clear my congestion. Although I was unable to give it my all, my plan worked, and I was able to clear myself up somewhat and loosen up my stiff joints. i gave my friend a call, but he was busy. That's understandable, and there is no love loss between him and I.

I came into this world alone, and I go to the gym alone most of the time, so I still worked the legs. My illness took some of my breath away, so I had to take longer rest periods, but I am still satisfied with today's workout. I even threw in a few pullups for good measure. I actually feel much better after my workout, but I know that I'm going to need plenty of bed rest and fluid.

Speaking of fluid, I've decided to start taking whey supplements again. Instead of using them to replace a post-workout meal, however, I'm going to be using them to increase my caloric intake. I'll take them post-workout, then an hour later, I'll have my post-workout meal. Depending on how my body (digestive tract, most importantly) reacts to them, I might stagger my intake of whey protein.

One day down, four to go. Making gainz into 2013 and beyond!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Time For Some Heavy Lifting

I've decided to make another small modification to my plans for the end of the year. For the remainder of this month (and probably a week or so into January), I'm going to be lifting heavy. Instead of doing my usual 8-12 reps and pyramid sets, I'm going to be aiming for 6 - 8 with heavier weights in order to maximize strength gains. My new motto for this period will be "If I can do more than eight, I need more weight".

I also intend to rest less between sets in order to stay active. This would be easier if I worked multiple muscles in one day, as I'd be able to alternate between muscle groups. However, I've seen better results when dedicating days to single muscle groups, so I will stick with that plan for now. Perhaps I will change up and work multiple groups later in 2013.

Tomorrow, I put my new plan to the test with a leg day, which should not be a problem at all. I'll probably have to find a spotter once pectoral day comes along though.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So They're Closing Fresh & Easy

According to a news article that I read the other day, Fresh & Easy stores are not doing so well in the United States and may be closing down. This is a surprise as the local Fresh & Easy market that I frequent is almost always packed, and the chain seems to have a sizable "fanbase" on Twitter and Facebook.

Despite these facts, the store seems to be tanking. From a consumer point of view (or at least my point of view), Fresh & Easy is grocery heaven. there are always weekly deals, the coupons are quite generous, and the rewards system is probably the most efficient and well, rewarding, that I've ever used. From a business point of view, however, I can see how these policies may put the firm in the red.

Well, it's been swell. Fresh & Easy has helped me to make some gainz over this past year without draining my wallet. It's going to be tough going back to lower-quality products with higher prices at other supermarkets. If anybody knows of a petition to help keep Fresh & Easy in business, please let me know.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I'll Probably Work Legs Thrice This Week

My plan this week is just as the title of this thread suggest.

My workout week began today with leg day. I did a super pyramid of ten sets of squats and standing calve raises, much like the workout that I did on November 26th (you can read about that in the second paragraph of this post). Instead of starting at twelve reps per set, however, I started at fifteen reps per set and ended at ten. I did not increase the weight, but I increased the volume of each set. I'm going to be going for high volume this week.

I am satisfied with this workout, but I feel that by doing squats alone, I am omitting exercises that would concentrate the workload on individual muscles. To make up for this, I will probably do deadlifts instead of hyperextensions on core day (Wednesday) to hit the lower back as well as the hamstrings. I'll probably do some quadriceps extensions on the machines on my arm day.

I won't be doing high volume for my legs until the next leg day, but I will feel like my leg regimen is more complete by adding these supplemental leg exercises to my regimen this week.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unintentional Intermittent Fasting

If you follow the Hodge Twins, then you know that they do intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is an eating plan where a period of the day is set aside with no caloric intake or low caloric intake. The same number of calories as usual is eaten, but they are eaten in a more condensed period of time. Typically, the period of fasting is in the morning, and the fast is broken at lunchtime or in the early afternoon.

Personally, I prefer to have at least a small breakfast and maybe a pre-workout before hitting the gym, since I find hunger pains distracting. Today was a bit different for me, however. I woke up with a terribly stomachache and found myself unable to eat. I still wanted to get my shoulder and arms workout in, however, so I hit the gym despite not eating much.

My workout went surprisingly well, and I was able to increase my weight and reps just as I had planned. About fifteen minutes into my workout, my hunger pains subsided, and I was in my zone with an even greater amount of energy. How could this be?

Some say that digesting food takes energy, so it is actually better to work out on an empty stomach than it is to work out when full. I don't really know about this theory, but it could have some truth to it. My personal theory is that I was just determined to go and that my body is used to working out in the early afternoon, so it wasn't a big deal that I was a bit hungry. At any rate, I am satisfied with today's routine.

In conclusion, I probably won't be switching to intermittent fasting anytime soon. I may start eating lighter breakfasts, however, and eating more for my post-workout meal or dinner.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gainz Report and Back Day: 12/3/2012

Last week went as planned. I've decided to use a similar plan for this week, but with back day and pectoral day interchanged.

Today was back day. Actually, I should probably just call it "lat day" since I focused my workout on my latissimi dorsi; I'll work on my spinal erectors on core day (Wednesday), and my shoulders on arm day (Thursday or Friday). My workout for today went as follows:

4 sets, 8 - 12 reps wide grip pullups - body weight
3 sets, 8 - 12 reps narrow grip pullups - body weight
2 sets, 15 reps T-bar rows 45 pound plate plus bar
3 sets, 10 reps T-bar rows 70 pounds plus bar
2 sets, 6 reps T-bar rows 90 pounds plus bar
3 sets, 12 reps cable row machine - 125 pounds
2 sets, 10 reps cable row machine - 145 pounds
2 sets, 10 reps underhand lat bar pull downs - 100 pounds

I am especially proud that I was finally able to lift two 45 pound plates doing T-bar rows. I tried doing it about a month or so ago after seeing someone else do it, and I was told by a workout buddy that I may never be able to do it. Well, no offense to him, but I proved him wrong and proved myself capable. Hopefully I'll be able to do a solid ten reps two months from now.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Change in Plans for the Week of 11/26/2012

I've been off of supplements for about a month and a half now. I'm eating lots more and working out harder, which is working better for me than using whey, at least for now. Most of my gains have been muscular, but eating lots of food will undoubtedly cause me to gain some fat too. This can be expected when going through a bulking phase, but I'd still like to keep some of the fat off. It follows that I will have to add cardio back into my weekly routine, which will cause me to change my weekly schedule for the time being.

I hit legs on Sunday. Rather than doing a full regimen as I typically do, I did a "super pyramid" of ten sets, with each set consisting of a set of squats followed immediately by a set of standing calf raises. This super pyramid consisted of 3 sets of 15 with 45 pounds on each side, 3 sets of 12 with 50 pounds on each side, 3 sets of 10 with 55 on each side, and one set of 8 with 60 pounds on each side for good measure. This workout was just as effective as my typical leg day routine if not more so (my legs seemed to bulge out more after yesterday's workout than they typically do).

Today (Monday), I hit my pecs. I focused more on doing decline bench presses than I usually do. I did 3 sets of 10 with 35 pounds on each side, then from there, I did a pyramid consisting of one set of 10 with 35 pounds on each side, one set of 8 with 40 on each side, and one set of 6 with 45 on each side. I realized that my left shoulder was still a bit sore from hitting the heavy bag on Saturday, but I pushed myself to do 2 sets of flat bench presses with 45 pounds on each side, 3 sets of incline bench presses with 25 pounds on each side, 4 sets of body weight dips, and 3 sets of 8 on the iso-lateral machine with 60 pounds on each side. I ended my workout by doing a super set of 30 leg raises in the "captain's chair" for my lower abs.

As for the remainder of the week, I intend to hit my lats and do cardio tomorrow (Tuesday), hit my core on Wednesday or Thursday, then hit my shoulders and arms on Friday. I'll end the week by taking a jog and hitting my heavy bag on Saturday for cardio. I will take either Wednesday or Thursday off to rest and run errands; I'm running low on food supplies and I'll need my fuel after all.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Report

I hope that everyone is having a great Thanksgiving, whether you're celebrating alone, with friends, or with family. If you are one of the heathens that does not celebrate the holiday, then I hope that you're enjoying your day nonetheless (just kidding about the "heathen" remark too).

I started out my day by hitting the gym. I hit my shoulders and triceps today, along with twenty minutes of cardio on the treadmill. I wasn't able to get as much done today as I'd have liked since the gym closed early, but at least I was able to do something, prove to myself that I have made strength gains in my shoulders, and help to alleviate the guilt of pigging out this evening.

Thanksgiving dinner starts in an hour for me. I "betrayed the law" so to speak by having a preliminary slice of apple pie.


I'm also cooking up some macaroni and cheese (well, it's actually penne with Omega 3, but I'm using it as macaroni).

Yup, I'm going to be making all kinds of gains this evening, all kinds.

Happy Thanksgiving again to you and yours, and please don't get trampled during the Black Friday madness tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving in Advance

I'm making this post a bit early because I'm probably going to be too busy stuffing my gullet tomorrow. I'd like to wish everyone a happy, safe, and fun Thanksgiving. You have the Grand Admiral's permission to pig out for the holiday; you have to treat yourself once in a while, after all.

For me, tomorrow is going to be an "alpha strike" of food. There's going to be ham, greens, corn, other veggies, macaroni, and various breads of all types. I might even make some nachos, just because I can. I'm also going to be looking forward to some peach cobbler at the end of the feast. I'm still going to be avoiding soda though; I'd rather wash it all down with water. I'm going to be making all kinds of gainz, all kinds.

Hopefully I'll be able to hit the gym before Thanksgiving dinner to alleviate some of the guilt (and more importantly make some gainz) since they'll be open for a half day.

Cheers everyone, and have yourself a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why Buy Expensive, Sugary Smoothies; Make Your Own!

Back when I was a university student, I'd often drink sugary smoothies marketed towards the "healthy lifestyle crowd". This is nothing more than marketing; having one of these smoothies everyday is not healthy for your body or for your finances either. Each 20 oz. drink at the smoothie shop on campus (I won't name names since I'm not trying to get sued here) cost about $5, had a whopping 500 calories, and contained loads of sugar!

Instead of taking in all of the sugar and draining my wallet, I decided to buy a blender and start making my own smoothies. At first, this may seem more expensive due to the costs of buying a blender and ingredients, but in the long run, you will save money and cut back on the calories and sugar. How much you save depends on what you like to put in your smoothies, but personally, I save at least $100 monthly, intake less than half of the calories with each homemade smoothie and under one fourth of the sugar!

If you love smoothies as much as I do, look into making them for yourself; you won't regret it! In the future, I may post some smoothie recipes that you might want to try for yourself.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Importance of Fitness in Prepping

I really hate politics. I really hate how politics has become a dog and pony show in the United States of America, and how politicians have become akin to reality TV "stars" in today's era. Unfortunately, me not liking something does not mean that it will stop. Yes, I have been exercising at least five days a week, trying to raise my power level, but I have not acquired any of the Dragon Balls, thus, I cannot wish these things away. What I can do, and what I suggest others to do, is to prepare.

There are a lot of people that are angry with the results of last night's election; there are also some what may be overexcited. Rather than focusing that excess energy on something productive, they might decide to take it out on "soft targets". I do not advocate violence, but history shows that violence is a part of the human experience, especially in times of duress. Violence cannot be wished away, but we can take steps to protect ourselves.

I advise law-abiding citizens to arm themselves. If something has to go down, at least you know that you can do something to protect yourselves and your loved ones. Aside from firearms, know that your body can be a weapon. Get into shape. If you can afford them, martial arts or combat sport classes may be good investments. If you are in the gym, remember that endurance and cardio are just as important as, or possibly more important than, size and strength in a SHTF/WROL scenario.

If you are in the school of thought that firearms alone is enough for your defense, then you're entitled to your opinion. That still doesn't mean that you shouldn't workout. Being in a firefight is different from putting holes in a stationary paper target (Disclaimer: I've never been in a firefight, but I'm speaking from what I've read and seen) and good cardio may help you to save your life and endure the heightened heart rate that may come under such a situation. Strengthening the forearms and shoulders can also help with stability of aim, especially with long guns (though I do advise working out all muscle groups since they can all help with stability).

Aside from the wrath of man, we also face potential danger from the wrath of nature. Another storm is approaching the Eastern Seaboard, and here on the West Coast we have earthquakes to worry about. It is important to stock up on healthy foods just in case there is a grocery shortage due to natural disaster or other occurrences. If you live a fitness lifestyle, you already know that it is important to eat healthy; if an emergency does happen, it will be even more important!

In conclusion, I urge you all to try to get into shape, not just to impress the girls or guys, but for your own good. In the event of catastrophe, those with fit bodies (and minds) will have a greater chance of surviving and helping others that are in need. If we avert disaster, well, then yeah, you'll have some extra food and supplies as well as a healthy physique.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Is There an Ideal Time for Working Out?

I was watching the news the other day, and they had a segment talking about the ideal time for exercising. According to their research, the best time to exercise is between 4 P.M. and 6 P.M. since our bodies have maximum lung capacity during these two hours of the day.

I'm no biologist, but personally, I call B.S.. As with most things dealing with fitness, the best time to exercise probably depends on the individual. For me, my energy peaks twice daily; once in the morning at about 10 AM, and once in the afternoon around 1 PM.. I generally hit the gym in the early afternoon to take advantage of my second energy peak and due to the sparse crowds at the gym. The time that works for you will depend on your own body, schedule, and other factors.

If there is any truth at all to what the news report said though, I wonder if this increased lung capacity is hard-wired into our biological clock or if it goes by local time. For example, if I were to move back to Japan, would my peak lung capacity be between the hours of 8 A.M. and 10 A.M.? When we "fall back" an hour for daylight saving's time tomorrow, will our lung capacity fall back an hour with us? Just a curiosity.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Workout Diary: Push and Biceps Day 10/26/2012

I haven't been able to blog lately due to my schedule. Hopefully I'll pick things back up again next week.

Yesterday was my pectoral and triceps day. I only got 15 sets done yesterday due to under-eating. This was totally unacceptable, so I decided to incorporate a few extra  push exercises to work my upper pecs, shoulders, and triceps. I also worked biceps today as planned. Today's workout went as follows:

4 sets, 12 reps wide grip dips - body weight
3 sets, 12 reps barbell curls - 50 pounds
3 sets, 10 reps barbell shoulder presses - 60 pounds
3 sets, 10 reps dumbbell shoulder presses - 35 pounds each in hand
2 sets, 10 reps preacher curl machine - 70 pounds
3 sets, 10 reps incline dumbbell presses - 35 pounds each hand
3 sets, 10 reps dumbbell shrugs - 65 pounds in each hand
4 sets, 10 reps hammer curls - 25 pounds in each hand

That's much better. I want to keep up this level of intensity if possible. this will require me to eat more in order to keep my body energized, and to provide building material for my muscles. Remember that when you lift at the gym, you're actually tearing your muscles. If you do not provide building material (protein and carbohydrates) to repair and build your muscles, you will actually lose muscle and your hard work will be in vain!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Workout Diary: Leg Day ft. Abs 10/22/2012

Typically, I start each week with a pectoral workout, but I decided to work the legs today since I missed working them on Friday. I made it a point to show myself no mercy. If I couldn't make it through this workout, then I was a wussy and a shame to all of my friends and family. This may sound childish, but it got me through the day, because I was still feeling down when I first started my workout. My leg workout went as follows:

3 sets, 12 reps incline leg press - 270 pounds for warmup
1 set, 12 reps incline leg press - 320 pounds
6 sets, 10 reps squats - 50 pounds on each side
5 sets, 20 reps standing calf raises - 50 pounds on each side
4 sets, 15 reps sitting calf raises - 90 pounds

After that leg workout, I still had a lot of energy to expend. My anger, disappointment, and rage gave me power. I felt as if I could beat a character from Dragon Ball Z, well, at least a low-tier one like Yamcha.

I decided to do some ab exercises to end my workout:

4 sets, 8 - 12 reps decline bench situps w/ medicine ball for obliques
2 sets, 10 reps ab machine - 70 pounds

I'm satisfied with this workout. I've made improvements and got a lot of of my mind. Time to get back on track.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Unfortunately, Just One of Those Weeks

I had planned to have a busy week, but I did not plan to have such an unfortunate week that would keep me from the gym. I was only able to make it to the gym three times this week, but I was able to make up for it by doing a bit of calisthenics and hitting my heavy bag.

Friday was supposed to be leg day, but I couldn't bring myself to go to the gym. I thought that I would be able to bring myself to go today, but didn't. I decided to take the weekend off, try to clear my head, then get back to work on Monday.

I lost a friend and neighbor this Friday. Although I ultimately made the decision to start going to the gym on my own, her healthy lifestyle partially inspired me to start working out myself. We only went running once together, but I learned from her, and the experience was an inspiration to try to push just a little extra when running (cardio has never been my strong point). Aside from being encouraging and inspiring in my fitness life, she was one of few people whom I considered genuinely decent and "sunny" to be around.

I am still in disbelief that she is gone. If there is an afterlife or final resting place, I hope that she is resting in happiness.

As for me, life has to go on. I have lost close family members and friends over the years, and I have somehow survived. If I am to survive, I have to go and do it. Monday, it's back to work making gainz. No excuses, and no mercy; I cannot expect mercy from the world, and for me to be able to stand up and conquer my adversaries, or at least attempt to ensure that any victories that they claim over me are Pyrrhic, I must show myself no mercy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gainz Report: 10/16/2012

This week is going to be very busy for me, but I still plan on getting my four days at the gym in; two days have been completed so far.

All of my hard work has paid off, even if it is to a very small extent. I have gained a pound over the past two weeks. I am a very hard gainer, especially since I don't like to eat much. It's going to take hard work to reach my goals (and beyond), but my time spent in the gym certainly is not in vain.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just One of Those Days

I had planned to got to the gym and hit the pectorals today, but I was interrupted by visitors. It was good to see old friends, but it still pains me that I wasn't able to workout as I had planned. I can still go to the gym tomorrow after I've finished my work though. I might have to go five days back to back rather than taking Wednesday off as I had planned in this week's split. Things will work out, and I will be making my gainz this week, despite a delay in my schedule.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Healthy Digestive Tract is Important for Overall Health

In my last post, I talked a bit about how proper nutrition was important to fuel and to repair the body. Well, all the fuel in the world won't help if your body cannot properly digest it. This is part of why it is paramount to keep your digestive tract in working order.

The common American diet is very unhealthy on the digestive tract. Excess junk food, processed meats, and other unhealthy items coupled with a lack of insoluble fiber can lead to constipation, chronic bloating, and even more serious conditions such as colon cancer. People that want to live a healthy lifestyle should try to minimize these unhealthy foods and introduce more insoluble fiber in their diets.

Insoluble fiber absorbs water, creating bulk and making it easier to pass stool. If you are taking in lots of protein (especially whey protein supplements), I advise you to take in some fiber and water to help prevent cramping and make it easier to exit your system. You may have to gradually increase your fiber intake rather than taking it in all at once so that your body can comfortably adjust to your new diet.

It is really easy to increase your fiber intake without sacrificing (healthy) foods that you love. For example, you can add some flax seeds to your oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, or salads. Granola or nuts in Greek yogurt is another way to get fiber along with protein. Fruits and veggies are great sources of fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. Eating a slice of wheat bread with meals may also help, but if you are allergic to gluten or trying to cut carbs, this may not be the best choice.

Aside from an increased fiber intake, physical activity can help the digestive system. Going for a run or for a jog can get things moving. Exercises targeting the abdominal region, such as situps, may also be helpful. If you work at a job that requires you to be seated all day, try to get up and stretch or pace around the office if you can. Sitting up straight in your chair and retaining good posture, as small as these things may seem, will also help your digestive tract to work more efficiently.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Rest and Nutrition are Key

It is said that gains are not made in the gym, but rather at home. This means that you stimulate your muscles at the gym (or wherever you may choose to exercise), but your muscles actually grow when you are resting.

Lifting weights causes microtears in your muscles (part of what makes you sore after a strenuous workout). When your body repairs these tears, your muscles grow back stornger. This requires the right nutrition, plenty of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, as well as proper sleep. Failure to eat right or sleep right can actually result in a loss of muscle, despite how much weight you lift. If you want to see more gains, then be sure to get enough calories and rest, that is, unless you just like picking up heavy stuff, putting it down, and repeating without seeing any changes in your physique.

Proper nutrition is also important to provide fuel through your workout. A good breakfast with complex, slow-burning carbs and protein can help you to sustain your energy throughout your regimen. You'll have to keep it up on days that you don't workout too. Soreness that lasts days after your workout can be an indicator that your body is still healing, and thus, still needs proper fuel and rest. Sometimes this soreness can be alleviated by taking in the right kinds and amounts of nutrients.

This piece of advice is primarily for those that are trying to gain muscle. For those of you who are trying to lose fat, nutrition and rest are still important, but you will want to try to have a caloric deficit (in other words, take in less calories than you burn with your basal metabolic rate plus physical activity).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Workout Diary: Leg and Bicep Day 10/4/2012

I originally planned to work abs and biceps today and run/walk to the gym for cardio, but the heat made me change my mind. Since I wasn't hoofing it to the gym, I decided on working the legs today. I still elected to workout my biceps today instead of tomorrow, since I want to hit the heavy bag on Saturday, and I can get more out of my workout if my biceps aren't too sore. This is what I did today:

6 sets, 10 reps squats - 45 pounds on each side
4 sets, 15 - 20 reps standing calf raises - 45 pounds on each side
4 sets, 12 reps sitting calf raises - 90 pounds
3 sets, 8 reps deadlifts - 110 pounds

I found myself barely able to walk after these sets (which is my goal on every leg day), so I went and did some exercises for my biceps. Since the exercises that I did on back day also incorporate the biceps, I decided to keep the volume light:

3 sets preacher curl weight-plate-loaded machine - 65 pounds
3 sets hammer curls - 25 pound dumbbells in each hand

I skipped the leg press machine since a group of people were hogging it to themselves; I made up for it by doubling the sets of squats. In relation to this, I noticed that on the leg press machine, I can lift almost double the amount of weight that I can squat. This may be the machine taking away some of the resistance, but more likely, it is the additional pressure that squatting places on the back and shoulders. Squatting probably isn't something that I want to do too close behind back day or shoulder day (which was yesterday; just didn't write about it). I might have to reschedule my split one week and see if there is any improvement in my squats.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Workout Diary: Back Day 10/2/2012

I made it to the gym a bit earlier today, so I was able to use all of the equipment that I wanted to. I decided against adding shoulders to today's workout; I'll work on them tomorrow. Today's workout was as follows:

4 sets, 8 - 12 reps wide grip pullups - body weight
2 sets, 8 - 12 reps underhand grip pullups - body weight
3 sets, 10 reps hyperextensions - holding 35 pound plate
2 sets, 10 reps hyperextensions - body weight
3 sets, 10 reps barbell rows 80 pounds
3 sets, 10 reps cable row machine - 125 pounds
2 sets, 6 reps cable row machine - 160 pounds
2 sets, 10 reps lat bar pull downs, behind the neck - 85 pounds

Typically, I like to do machine exercises before using free weights on back day (which is the opposite of how I try to work arms), but this routine worked well for me due to the crowd at the gym. I also felt that I was able to get more done with good form. I might continue using this regimen, or a modified version of it in the future.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Give It Just a Litttle Bit More

Unless you have some insane genetics, you probably won't get all of the progress that you want after a single workout session. In fact, it could take years of dedicated exercise to reach your desired goals.

Of course you need to increase the intensity of your workout, but you should do so gradually. Instead of trying to lift the entire gym your second week of working out, add to your regimen gradually. For example, you can try to lift an extra five pounds, increase your workout volume by one additional set, or do an additional rep as part of each set. If you are a runner, try to run an additional thirty seconds, or even a mere hundredth of a mile. it may not seem like much, but every little bit helps and gets you one step closes to your fitness goals.

I try to practice what I preach. I worked my pectorals and tricepss today, following the same workout template that I did last week. In order to up the intensity, I added ten pounds (five on each side) to the iso-lateral weight-plate-loaded machine, and did an additional set of wide-grip dips. I wasn't really able to add to the bench presses just yet, but I hope to do so next week. Ideally, I will be able to perform sets of ten by the end of October.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fitness Advice: Take Notes

You should take notes to record your fitness progress. These notes can help you to set benchmarks, repeat a successful workout, or fix any mistakes that you may have made. Bring a pen and paper if it helps, or if you are a technophile, you may be able to use one of those fancy smartphones or tablets; I'm sure that they have apps for it.

Aside from which exercises, how many sets and reps you performed, how much weight you lifted, and so on, you may also want to take note of seemingly minor details. For example, you may want to note the height that you set the pulleys at when performing pectoral cable flies, or the incline that you set the bench at when performing dumbbell incline bench presses. This way, you won't have to waste time trying to figure out the perfect settings for the equipment that you use (speaking from experience here).

Just wanted to share that tidbit of advice. Here's hoping that you have a safe, healthy, and enjoyable weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gym Ramblings: Music

As Marvin Gaye said, "Music is the soul of a man". Music can help you to focus in the gym and to increase the intensity of your workout. Most gyms have some kind of music on in the background, but it is better to bring your own music player and earbuds so that you can customize your playlist with songs that help you to increase your focus and intensity.

On the other hand, music devices may get in the way for some. I always had trouble with my earbuds getting caught on equipment (especially the Roman chair when doing hyperextensions for my lower back). I've sometimes found myself playing with my music player trying to get the right song too, cutting into time that I should have been lifting. Due to these two issues, I've stopped bringing my MP3 player to the gym. I can keep my focus without music, but it did help me to get in the zone when I first started hitting the gym regularly.

Whether you bring a music player to the gym or not, remember that your focus is on hitting the weights, making gains, losing fat, or whatever your personal fitness goals are; not just to listen to tunes! Music should be a tool that adds to your workout, not the primary focus.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Workout Diary: Back and Shoulders Day 9/26/2012

Hit my back and shoulders today. Things didn't go as planned since it was crowded this evening and I really couldn't use every piece of equipment that I wanted to, but I did make up for it by doing more sets of other exercises.

My workout today was as follows:

4 sets, 8 - 12 reps wide grip pullups - body weight
2 sets, 8 - 12 reps underhand grip pullups - body weight
3 sets, 10 reps hyperextensions - holding 35 pound plate
3 sets, 10 reps cable row machine - 125 pounds
2 sets, 8 reps cable row machine - 140 pounds
3 sets, 10 reps dumbbell shoulder presses 35 pounds each arm
3 sets, 10 reps shoulder shrugs 60 pounds each arm
3 sets, 10 reps upright shoulder rows 40 pounds

I usually like to get some lat bar pull downs in as well as additional hyperextensions using body weight. I overexerted my lower back last week though, so I cut out the body weight sets and upped the weight that I held by ten pounds. I made up for not doing barbell rows by doing additional cable rows, and I made up for not doing any pull downs by doing extra pullups. I am satisfied with today's workout, but I hope to increase the weight next week if I can.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Workout Diary: Pec and Tri Day 9/24/2012

I went to the gym and hit my pectoral muscles and triceps today. Typically, I warm up by doing two sets on the pectoral fly machine, but I omitted this and just did a superset of bench presses, raising the bar only.

My workout today was as follows:

4 sets, 8 reps flat bench press - 45 plates on each side
4 sets, 8 reps decline bench press - 30 pounds on each side
3 sets, 8 - 12 reps iso-lateral weight-plate-loaded machine - 50 pounds on each side
2 sets, 10 reps incline bench press - 25 pounds on each side
4 sets, 12 reps wide-grip dips - body weight
2 sets, 10 reps tricep rope pulldowns 30 pounds

This is a lower number of sets than I have been doing previously, but I try to bring the bar all the way down to my chest when performing bench presses now. In the past, I only brought the bar down  far enough for my arms to be parallel to the bench. The larger range of motion is more effective, but it reduces the number of sets that I can complete. Hopefully, I'll be able to increase my volume and/or weight by this time next month.

Five Reasons Not to Drink Soda

Soda is probably the biggest reason why many Americans find it difficult to shed off that excess weight. Speaking from personal experience, I was able to lose fat and become noticeably slimmer by cutting soda out of my diet; even though I didn't cut out fast food and other unhealthy items from my diet!

Here are five reasons why you shouldn't touch the bubbly poison:

  1. High Fructose Corn Syrup

    High fructose corn syrup is the prime agent in soda that increases body fat and raises cholesterol. HFCS can also leave you feeling hungrier, which can lead to overeating.
  2. Phosphoric Acid

    Phosphoric acid can weaken your bones and damage your teeth. Coupled with the high sugar content of soda, you're looking at a high dental bill!
  3. Artificial Sweeteners

    So you drink diet soda thinking that they are better for your health? Think again. Sure, you might not ingest as much sugar, but artificial sweeteners can be just as dangerous. For instance, aspartame breaks down into formaldehyde, a carcinogen, when it is digested.
  4. Artificial Coloring

    The artificial coloring chemicals in soda do not add to the flavor, but they do add to the health risks. These coloring agents may contain carcinogens, and can also impair brain function. Darker sodas, such as root beers and colas, are more dangerous than lighter colored ones.
  5. Finances

    That's right, it's cheaper to drink water! Drink water with your meals instead of soda, and your body and wallet will thank you! You'll be able to save some cash while shaving off the fat! You'll probably spend less long-term on medical bills too! 

I can't say that my current diet would be the pride of health gurus, but after cutting soda, I've improved my health tremendously. I won't suggest you to quit soda cold turkey, but try to limit your intake to the weekends. I guarantee that your health will improve if you reduce or remove soda from your diet!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Working Out For a Healthy Mind

Exercising can help you to improve your physical health, but did you know that it can also help your mental health? Sticking to a workout regimen can help you to occupy your mind with positivity rather than negativity. Regular exercise can give you something fun to look forward to in order to get a break from your hectic life.

If you are having a bad day, you can let it out at the gym and hit the weights instead of keeping that aggression bottled up inside. Not only will physical activity allow you to let out aggression in a productive manner, but it has been scientifically proven that exercising releases chemicals, such as endorphins, which help to improve one's mood. If your schedule is very busy, then you are in luck since it only takes about thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise to ease tension, anger, depression, and other negative feelings on average.

Finally, for those shy people out there, exercising at a gym may help you to overcome any apprehension that you may have to being around others. Personally, I haven't formed close relationships with anyone at my local gym, but talking to the staff and other people that frequent the gym has helped me to improve my social confidence.

Regular exercise has certainly helped to improve my state of mind, and it can do the same for you! Start an exercise regimen of your own, and you will see improvements in your physical and mental health!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Is it OK to Compare Yourself to Others?

Many bodybuilders and fitness gurus will tell you that you shouldn't compare yourself to others. I'm not an authority in the field, but I must say that I disagree (to an extent, at least).

Personally, I do like to compare myself to others at times since it gives me a benchmark to strive for. In some cases, it also helps me to feel comfortable about myself. Seeing that not every professional wrestler, boxer, or MMA fighter has rock-hard abs makes me feel more comfortable with the fact that I don't have a defined six-pack abs yet.

Do not be ashamed if you make comparisons between yourself and others, as long as you retain focus on your goals. If comparing yourself to others diverts from your progress, then you should avoid doing it. Do not feel guilty if you don't have another person's physique (yet), and don't get too cocky thinking that you are better than the next person. Remember that you are exercising to get your body into the shape that you want it to be in, not to be a carbon copy of someone else. Comparing myself to others gives me an extra drive to pursue my goals at times, but I always make sure to pursue my own goals that I set for myself.

Until next time, keep pushing yourselves.

Decided to Split the Blogs

Hey everybody. I decided to split my blog into two separate sites. This blog will focus on fitness. I'll be jotting down my progress and other fitness information on this blog. If you want to read my ramblings about games, check out my gaming blog at Grand Admiral Gamez.

For Gainz, stay here.
For Gamez, click here!

Cheers all!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Staying Focused

When you commit to an exercise regimen (or just about anything in life), it is best to stay focused on your goals. If you are beginning, you may search the Web far and wide, talk to personal trainers, or seek friends for advice. This is all well and good, but if their suggestions cause you to divert from your own personal fitness goals, you may just find yourself discarding some of their advice.

As you progress, you may also find yourself distracted by some of the "byproducts" of getting into shape. Attention from the opposite sex, compliments, and so on are great, but you should not get sidetracked by them either. Focus on your own goals, keep them in mind at all times when you are working out, and you will be better able to give it your all. Now if your goal was to attract a mate or get compliments, then I guess that you should focus on these things; more power to you!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Workout Diary: Leg Day 9/20/2012

Since this is my first workout diary posting, I'll explain a few things for starters. I will be posting my workouts here occasionally to chronicle my progress. This is mostly for personal reference, but readers may also be able to incorporate some of my exercises and splits into their own routines.

Today was leg day. I did less volume today than I typically do, but I still got a pretty good workout in.

3 sets, 15 reps incline leg press - 270 pounds
2 sets, 12 reps incline leg press - 320 pounds
2 sets, 15 reps sitting calf raises - 70 pounds
2 sets, 12 reps sitting calf raises - 90 pounds
3 sets quad leg extensions - 100 - 120 pounds, pyramid, 20, 15, 12 reps
2 sets hamstring curls 85 pounds
1 set hamstring curls 100 pounds

I left the gym barely able to walk, just the way it should be.

I'll try to up my weights next month. I omitted squats this time since my back was still aching from my back workout earlier this week; squats will probably replace a few of the incline leg presses in the future, as they typically do. I will also go back to standing calf raises with the barbell across my shoulders.

Why and How I Started Working Out

I started working out regularly because I was tired of living a monotonous lifestyle of working, gaming, eating, and sleeping; to be honest, I was also tired of being built like a straw!

I started out by purchasing myself a heavy bag for Christmas, and doing about an hour of punching on alternating days. This helped me to improve my cardio (which is still poor after years of living a sedentary lifestyle and having asthma as a child) and also helped me to broaden my shoulders a bit.

I still needed more though, so I bit the bullet and joined a local gym. With almost no muscle mass on my body, I started lifting very light weight. It was embarrassing, but luckily for me, the clientele at the gym that I frequent tends to focus on their own workouts rather than heckling dweebs, and some of them actually went out of their way to help me get started. After a few months of dedicated work, I've earned dramatic increases in strength and a noticeably firmer body.

I'm still not a hulking dude with a physique like Chris Jones, but over the course of half of a year, I've evolved from a straw to a twig. In a few years, perhaps I will be proud to look at myself in the mirror. Until then, at least I can flex my pecs now, and I'm on my way to that "V" that makes the ladies pay the fee!

A Little Introduction...

Hello to all of you out there in Internet Land. I go by the moniker "Grand Admiral Gainz". For those of you wondering why I chose this name I shall explain.

I was playing an old Star Wars space combat simulation called TIE Fighter earlier tonight (the Collectors CD-Rom version with iMuse music, not the Windows 95/98 release), and Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the characters that appears in the game. The Gainz part of my name comes from a phrase coined by the HodgeTwins, "All kinds of gainz", referring to muscle gains.

If you didn't get the hint, most of my posts will be about games and working out. I'll probably throw in a few other things of interest for variety. Hopefully I'll be able to make at least two posts a week if my schedule allows; we'll see. I'll try to tailor my content to my audience, but I can't promise that you won't get offended by some of the stuff that I post; it's my blog afterall.

Until next time.