Friday, November 4, 2011

Workout for November 2/3, 2011

November 3
Upper body

A1. "T" push-up @ 211
    1. 8
    2. 6
A2. Inverted Row @ 211
    1. 11
    2. 6
B1. Door pull-ups @ 222
    1. 7
    2. 3
    3. 3
    4. 3
B2. Dips @ 211
    1. 8
    2. 5
C1. Decline push-ups @ 111
    1. 12
    2. 12
C2. Pike push-ups @ 222
    1. 4
    2. 4
    3. 3
C3. Bicycle crunches @ 111
    1. 15
    2. 15

November 2, 2011
Lower body

A1. Bulgarian split-squat @ 333
    1. 14
    2. 12
A2. Hip-thigh extension @ 333
    1. 4
    2. 4
B1. Partial co-contraction lunge @ 333
    1. 6
    2. 5
B2. Step-up @ 201
    1. 17
    2. 17
C1. Partial squat @ 333
    1. 8
    2. 5
C2. Single leg RDL @ 333
    1. 7
    2. 6
D. Single leg calf raise @ 111
    1. 12
    2. 10

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Workout for October 26/27, 2011

October 26
Lower body

A1. Bulgarian split-squat @ 333
    1. 13
    2. 11
A2. Hip-thigh extension @ 333
    1. 3
    2. 3
B1. Partial co-contraction lunge @ 333
    1. 5
    2. 5
B2. Step-up @ 201
    1. 17
    2. 16
C1. Partial squat @ 333
    1. 7
    2. 5
C2. Single leg RDL @ 333
    1. 7
    2. 5
C3. Calf raises @ 111
    1. 12
    2. 12

October 27
Upper body

A1. T-push up @ 211
    1. 8
    2. 5
A2. Inverted row @ 211
    1. 10
    2. 6
B1. Door pull ups @ 222
    1. 6
    2. 3
    3. 2
    4. 3
B2. Dips @ 211
    1. 7
    2. 4
C1. Decline push up @ 111
    1. 12
    2. 11
C2. Pike push up @ 222
    1. 3
    2. 3
    3. 3
D. Bicycle crunch
    1. 15
    2. 15

Monday, October 17, 2011

Workout for October 17, 2011

Lower Body

A1. Bulgarian split-squat @ 333
    1. 11
    2. 10
A2. Hip-thigh extension @ 333
    1. 5
    2. 4
B1. Partial co-contraction lunge @ 333
    1. 6
    2. 5
B2. Step-up @ 201
    1. 16
    2. 16
C1. Single leg partial squat @ 333
    1. 8
    2. 6
C2. Single leg RDL @ 333
    1. 8
    2. 6
D1. "Pistol" squat @ 303
    1. 4
    2. 3
D2. Single leg calf raises @ 333
    1. 8
    2. 6

Friday, October 14, 2011

How-To: Pull-ups without equipment

Pull-ups (and chin-ups) are probably the most well-known and practiced exercises for the back muscles, and for good reason.  Few people can even perform 10 pull-ups with good form and without additional weight, and only an elite few perform pull-ups with a 25 to 45 pound plate around their waist.  Pull-ups work out pretty much every muscle in the upper back, and they work it out hard.

However, many people don't have access to a gym where pull-up bars are everywhere.  Furthermore, some people feel it is a rip-off to purchase what is essentially a $25 rounded piece of steel to do pull-ups in a door frame.  Playgrounds often have a variety of bars to do pull-ups on, but not everyone lives close to a playground, and not everyone wants to do their tough workout with a bunch of little rascals running around.

Today, I'm going to show you a method of doing pull-ups without any extra equipment that you can do right inside your house, for free.

First, find a sturdy door in your house.  It doesn't have to be made of solid steel or anything.... just a door that will support your weight without collapsing or falling off the hinges.

Here's the door I use for pull-ups
Once you've found a suitable door, grab a towel and place it over the door as shown in the picture below.

Towel folded over the top of the door
The towel will help you maintain a good grip on the pointy edges of the door.  If you feel more uncomfortable with the towel than without it, by all means take it off.  Depending on where the door is located and how it moves, you may also want to put a heavy object at the base of the door as well.  This will prevent the door from moving from the momentum of the exercise itself.  I just use a large rock... anything reasonably heavy will work fine, though.

Now, to start the pull-up, position yourself hanging from the top of the door, with ankles crossed and knees bent to 90 degrees.


Pull-up starting position


From here, use your lats (the muscles under and behind your armpits) to propel yourself upwards.  Once you hit the top point, pause for a second or two, then slowly let yourself back down to the starting position.  Here's what you should look like at the top position:

Pull-up top position
When you've finished the entire movement, that's one repetition.

The door pull-up is a little harder than conventional pull-ups.  Because the physical barrier of the door is in the way of your legs, it is impossible to "cheat" by developing momentum with your legs to help swing you up to the top position.  Thus, you may find that you can do 10 regular pull-ups, but you are only able to do five or six reps using the door.

Also, semi-long clothing is essential with this exercise.  Since your body is in contact with the door at all times, your skin may rub on the door and become irritated, as well as making the exercise more difficult.  Wearing shorts and a shirt will help to relieve this problem, as clothing tends to slide against the door, instead of "sticking" on it like your skin would.

Finally, for beginners, I would first try to accomplish one rep.  If you can't do a single rep, use your back muscles to bring you as far up as possible, hold for 2-3 seconds, and come back down.  If you keep at it, your strength in this exercise will improve quickly.  Also, try starting from the top position by using a chair to hoist yourself up, then drop down into the starting position as slowly as possible.  This will help develop some of the muscles that are used in the top position without actually doing the full rep.

People with a bit more experience should aim for 3 to 5 sets of 5-7 reps.  Elite athletes and highly-trained individuals may need a backpack full of something heavy (like rocks or sand) to progress.  Just make sure your door is capable of holding the extra weight!

Well, that's it for now.  Stay tuned for more free exercises that you can do around your own house!










Workout for October 14, 2011

Upper body

A1. "T" push-up @ 211
    1. 8
    2. 6
A2. Inverted row @ 211
    1. 9
    2. 8
B1. Door pull-up @ 222
    1. 5
    2. 4
    3. 2
    4. 2
B2. Dips @ 211
    1. 6
    2. 4
B3. Decline push-up @ 232
    1. 5
    2. 4
C1. Pike push-up @ 222
    1. 3
    2. 3
C2. Bicycle crunch @ 111
    1. 15
    2. 15

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My return to workouts; Workout for October 13, 2011

I admit it.  I fell off the wagon for a while.

Now I've got to "catch up" to my workout performance for nearly a month ago.  I am planning to dedicate four days per week to workout schedule.

I also admit I made a slight modification to the program once more.  Instead of single-leg deadlifts for the last exercise of the lower body workouts (refer here to see the original program), I have replace it with single leg calf raises.  My rationale behind this is that single leg RDL's (also in the program) work my posterior chain much better, and there is no direct calf work in the program.  I also started using a very sturdy chair for single leg partial squats because I can gain a greater ROM (range of motion) than using the step stair in my back yard.... my rep numbers in that exercise reflect that change.

Without further ado, here is the workout for today:


Lower body

A1: Bulgarian split-squat @ 333
    1. 14
    2. 11
A2. Hip-thigh extension @ 333
    1. 5
    2. 4
B1. Partial co-contraction lunge @ 333
    1. 5
    2. 5
B2. Step-up @ 201
    1. 15
    2. 15
C1. Single leg partial squat @ 333
    1. 7
    2. 6
C2. Single leg RDL @ 333
    1. 8
    2. 7
D1. Single leg squat ("pistol squat") @ 303
    1. 4
    2. 4
D2. Calf raises @ 333
    1. 6
    2. 6

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Feel better and move better (for free)

Today, I thought I would post links to some articles I have particularly useful for the mobility/flexibility aspect of my training.  These articles took a bit of searching to find, but were well worth the trouble since each article has a good explanation of all the exercises/stretches and what they do, without a lot of vague information and anecdotal commentary.  Here they are:

Looking for a Catch-All Mobility Drill? Look no further - This is my favorite of all the articles thus far.  Short, sweet, to-the-point, and written by well respected sports rehabilitation specialist Eric Cressey.  This mobility drill is easy to learn and perform, and requires no equipment.  It's great before doing a lower-body workout, but I think it feels so good in general that I would recommend it to people who don't even exercise.

The Stretching Roundtable, part II - Although there isn't much in this article as far as exercises go (and my hatred for Chris Shugart ), I think most of the information that is discussed is quite valid and is important for athletes to know--and, to a lesser extent, the general population--to prevent injuries before and after workouts.  Warning: There is some adult humor on this website.  If you are offended by such jokes, you should probably stay away.

Lower Body Warm-Up -10 Minutes to Better Performance - This article has a wealth of good information about pre-workout mobility/flexibility drills and how to perform them.  Mr. Tumminello's muscle/CNS activation routines are also pretty useful and a lot of people in the fitness industry recommend similar pre-workout strategies (although that doesn't necessarily make it effective, from a scientific point of view).  I personally employ some of the exercises mentioned in the article in some of my own workouts.  However, my one gripe is I wish the videos would just show a simple demonstration of how the exercise is done instead of Mr. Tumminello blabbing on for five minutes over an exercise that takes 10 seconds to perform.

The Great Eight Static Stretches  - These are some of the simplest, yet most effective static stretches for pretty much everyone.  My favorite is the "Kneeling Wide-Stance Rock-Back Stretch".... it feels so good!  Great for after long days at work or a few hours after a workout.  Written by Eric Cressey, Bill Hartman and Mike Robertson to boot.

Well, that's it for now.  I hope you folks out there in internet land can make this information useful to you as well.  I will be keeping my eyes open for similar articles and post an updated list in the future.

Workout for September 24, 2011

Lower Body

A1. Bulgarian split-squat @ 333
    1. 11
    2. 9
A2. Hip-thigh extension @ 333
    1. 6
    2. 4
B1. Partial co-contraction lunge @ 333
    1. 6
    2. 5
B2. Step-up @ 201
    1. 16
    2. 16
C1. Partial squat @ 333
    1. 12
    2. 10
C2. Single-leg RDL @ 333
    1. 6
    2. 7
D1. Single-leg squat @ 303
    1. 4
    2. 3
D2. Single-leg deadlift @ 303
    1. 6
    2. 6

Comments: Good workout, nothing out of the ordinary today.  I tried to focus on keeping the chest up and shoulders retracted for these exercises.  Other than that, not much to report.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Workout for September 22, 2011

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am working on a basic body weight program that will prepare me for the next phase of my training, which will be weight lifting.  The exact program I am using is called "Your Body is a Barbell" by Alwyn Cosgrove.  I follow most of the outlined program, with a few exceptions:

1. Prone jackknife - I don't see any other way to do this exercise without a bosu ball, so I have instead replaced it with decline push ups.

2. Reverse crunch - Personally, I don't care for this exercise and so I have replaced it with bicycle crunches (a.k.a. elbow-to-knee crunches).

3. Chin ups - I would love to do chin ups, but unfortunately there is nothing sturdy enough to hold my weight around my house.  I substituted door pull ups for this one, as it works virtually the same muscles (except for the substantial  decrease in bicep activation).


The "T" Push Up

Other than that, this program is solid.  The goal is to hit 15 reps or more with good form on each exercise.  The leg portion of the workout will especially fry the glutes and hamstrings.  Following the timing is critical because doing these exercises fast will use the elasticity of the muscles being worked to remove upward and downward force put on the body during the exercise (which is NOT what we want).  Also, I think many people will be unfamiliar with these exercises so it helps to "google it" and get a few examples before starting.



Single Leg RDL
Here is my log for today:

Upper body
A1. T push up @ 211 (each arm)
    1. 9
    2. 6
A2. Inverted row @ 211
    1. 9
    2. 9
B1. Door pull up @ 222
    1. 5
    2. 4
B2. Dips @ 211
    1. 7
    2. 6
B3. Decline push up @ 211
    1. 9
    2. 7
C1. Pike push up @ 222
    1. 5
    2. 4
C2. Bicycle crunch @ 111
    1. 15
    2. 15

Finisher: 2 minute round of broad jumps + sprints

A brief introduction...

My name is Nate, and I have been a fitness enthusiast since 2005.  I love the idea of pushing the human body to its limits because of its amazing adaptability.  The human body can perform some awe-inspiring feats when trained to do so, and also recover and repair itself with amazing efficiency.  And, in this age of information, we can use scientific data to "push the envelope" even further.

Ever since I was a young teenager, I have been interested in improving my physique AND my athletic performance (even though I don't really care for competitive sports).  During the beginning of my "training," most of my exercising would consist of long-distance jogging aimed to reduce the fat around my waist.  At the time, the internet was just coming out of its infancy, and article headlines for various fitness magazines which I turned to for information touted steady-state cardio for fat loss, weight lifting for muscle-building, and virtually nothing on nutrition.

So I went on like that for a few years, inconsistently running a few miles during the day with no real objective or purpose other than wanting to lose belly fat.  Never seemed to work, and although I think just exercising in general made me feel better, I definitely didn't look any better than when I started, probably because I compensated the exercise with extra amounts of food.  I can remember eating three to four large bowls of sugary cereal like Lucky Charms before bedtime during that period of my life.  For some reason, I didn't put all the pieces together and notice that my intake of food was proportional to my enlarging stomach.

In 2005, my junior year of high school, I signed up for weight lifting as my elective class... not really for the fitness benefits but more just because the other classes did not interest me.  Little did I know how much I would take a liking to the "iron game."  Although the coach of our class didn't encourage competition among classmates, my goal was to be the strongest person in my weight division.  My initial goals were as follows: 200 lbs. bench press, 135 lbs. incline press, 200 lbs. squat.  Rather paltry numbers, especially for the squat, but I was a kid.... I thought I knew it all at the ripe age of 17.  In any case, my body started looking more like what I wanted it to look like, and my appetite started to change from sugary drinks and snacks to beef, chicken, potatoes and salad.  Something changed my palate when I started weight lifting, and I just couldn't get enough of those four foods.

Anyway, after that year of weight lifting, I started to drift and lose focus... mostly due to an acceptance of how my body looked, work, social habits and fear of ridicule at the gym.  So for about four years, I did almost nothing in the way of fitness.  My job was (and still is) a high physical activity job, which, along with eating like a bird, helped me keep fat from packing on, but I also lost a lot of the muscle I hard earned years before.

I got back into the iron game when my girlfriend purchased a gym membership for me as a birthday present in 2009.  I started hitting the weights hard again, and started eating a TON of food.  At 6' tall, I went from a skinny 155 lbs. frame to a 200 lbs. semi-fat frame in a period of two years.  Once I hit 200 lbs., I was not happy with the goal I had chosen simply because I felt more out of shape than ever, and even though I was way stronger than I had ever been, my body wasn't the way I wanted it to look.

Finally, here I am at present day, a new beginning.  I have since moved away from the gym I worked out at for two years, and have no equipment other than household items and my own body weight.  I plan on starting from the absolute bottom of the workout chain and move my way up.  Coupled with my nutritional and exercise knowledge from people like Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald and other professionals in the field, I hope to finally build that body that I aimed for way back during my teenage years.

Pilot post

Welcome.

This post is the debut of my new blog, ND Fitness and Workouts.  My main objective for this blog is to track my progress towards any fitness-related goals I am working on.  Along the way, I plan to post various bits and pieces of information that I have found useful on my "journey."  Such information will include nutritional practices, exercise demonstrations, fitness dogma debunking and possibly supplement reviews.  Additionally, I will occasionally add my own commentary or articles should I feel the need.

I thank you for reading my blog, and I hope you'll find something interesting or useful during your visit.

-ND