Saturday, April 30, 2011

Measuring Progress

The most important thing about measuring progress - any kind of progress - is to track it in writing. Whether it is weight you are lifting going up, or weight on your body going down, write it down! You can't meet goals if you have no idea what your real progress is. If you prefer to track online, check out Bodyspace, DailyBurn, or Physics Diet for us nerds out there.

Watching your weight
Your body weight isn't everything - composition is more important - but it is certainly good to know. What follows are tips for tracking your weight. A common pitfall in tracking weight is to weigh yourself at different times of the day. You body weight can easily swing 5 pounds based on how hydrated you are, when the last time you ate or had a bowel movement was, and so on. For most consistent results, weigh yourself first thing in the morning, preferably fully evacuated. Incidentally, this is also a lower weight than any other time of the day. Don't weigh yourself every day, you'll see too much random variation to know if anything is going on, and the overall change you are looking for is only going to be a few pounds a week. So weigh yourself once a week.

Progress beyond poundage
The thing about your weight is that it doesn't tell you what you're made of, just how much of you there is. The name of the game is losing fat, not muscle, so what happens if fat goes down and weight stays the same or goes up? You made up the difference in lean mass, of course. You shrink in areas that were full of fat, because muscle is more dense than fat. People on good programs often see larger changes in clothing sizes that their weight change would suggest. This is a good thing, because your real progress in terms of appearance is better than the scale is telling you. The best way to track your overall progress appearance-wise is by measuring yourself with a tape measure in areas you want to get bigger or smaller, and by taking pictures of yourself at regular intervals. This way you can see how your body composition is changing for the better. Here is a short guide on how to take body measurements. As I noted earlier, for lifting weights you should always track your progress in writing. Really, you can't effectively implement a good weight program - even a simple one - without doing this. by sean10mm and liamrosen

Saturday, April 23, 2011

General Fitness Q/A

Q: I drastically changed my diet for the better, and nothing happened after a week. Or, I suddenly stopped losing weight for a week after weeks of weight loss. What happened?
A1: Maybe nothing. Sometimes weight loss has minor hiccups for no apparent reason. Maybe you had an extra glass of water the night before, or just retained some extra water for some random reason. If you are sticking a good diet, give it another week or two before you worry about changing things.
A2: All else being equal, to stay at 280 pounds takes more calories than it does to stay 180 pounds, even if the difference is all fat. So if you lost a lot of weight, this may be a contributing factor.

Q: I'm really sore from working out. What do I do?
A: Soreness doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it can be unpleasant. For a little soreness, just suck it up. If it is severe, you may want to take an extra day off, or do a reduced version of your regular workout until it improves. Ibuprofen is the over-the-counter painkiller of choice for muscular pain. I'm not going to tell you to ignore the instructions on the label, but prescriptions of 800 milligrams for minor pain are commonplace (the over-the-counter dose is 2 tablets of 200mg each). You can also remove soreness with a foam roller or any other types of deep tissue massage.

Note: Don't confuse soreness with pain; outright pain is often a sign of an actual injury. If you injure yourself, stop working out the injured area until it is 100% recovered. If you experience severe pain and/or loss of range of motion, see a doctor.

Q: I experience a sharp pain in my side when I'm doing cardio. What's going on?
A: Probably nothing more than a "side stitch", a fairly common complaint of runners, especially new runners just getting into shape. Curiously, there is no good scientific explanation for this pain, but it will go away on its own. As your fitness improves, you will generally stop experiencing them.

Q: I experience sharp pain in my shins from running. What's happening?
A: Probably "shin splints." This is just caused by straining or overworking the muscles to the side of the shins. Taking a break from running until the pain goes away is generally all that is necessary. Normally the muscles adapt over time and you quit getting shin splints. If not, the problem could be caused by flat feet (fallen arches), which can be treated with insoles that help overpronation. A physiotherapist can aid with this part.

Q: I've been lifting weights for a while, and have suddenly stopped making progress even though I'm trying hard. What happened?
A1: You may have simply over-trained and need a rest. Take a few days off, and then go back at it again.
A2: Your body may have adapted to the workout you are doing. You can't keep doing exactly the same workout all the time and continue to get results quickly; at some point your body gets used to it and you start to have diminishing returns. To change things up, you can:

* Change the number of reps per set, while keeping the total number of reps about the same (for instance, going from 5x5 to 3x8)
* Change from dumbbells to barbells or vice-versa
* Change to a variant on the same exercise, or a different exercise that works the same muscle groups

A3: At some point you will need to eat more food to continue making rapid strength gains. Of course, if you don't want to get bigger anymore, at some point you will have to accept some limit on your strength gains.
by sean10mm and liamrosen, regurgitated and tweaked by moi ;Q


Found this comic in the forums!
I know that feeling, whenever I forget breakfast and I'm on the run I'll stop by McDonalds or Burger King for some goodness. Aaand then for the next few days, too. :[
Postan' tonight =D

! One of my posts didn't go up at the scheduled time. Better late than never, I suppose

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Macronutrients are just things like carbohydrates, fats and proteins. All are necessary, and none are evil per se. To summarize:

Carbohydrates ("carbs"). Despite what you may have heard, these are not evil. They are a necessary source of energy for your body. The problem is that people over-consume certain sources of carbohydrates, most notably simple sugars from soda and candy, and starches from white bread. If you have to cut down on one macronutrient, cut down on carbohydrates. People in Western cultures consume far too many carbohydrates on average.

Proteins. These are necessary for your body to maintain its muscles, repair damage to them, and generally hold itself together. Most people get enough protein, though an intense exercise program may call for eating more for optimal results. If you cannot manage to take enough protein into your diet, protein powder may be the key. TrueProtein sells among the cheapest and also highest quality protein powders (you can also use the code LMR104 when checking out for an extra 5-10% off). Optimum Nutrition is another well-recommended powder.

Fats. Fats are not evil, either. Eating dietary fat does not mean that body fat will instantly appear on your gut or ass; your body doesn't work that way. Fats perform a variety of necessary functions. The problem is that people over-consume saturated fats and trans fats, which raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol, and under-consume healthy fats like monounsaturated fats (found in high concentrations in olive oil and canola oil) and Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, flax seed oil and other sources). Fats also have more calories ounce-for-ounce than carbohydrates and proteins, making very high fat foods astoundingly calorie-dense.

There is some disagreement over what the ideal ratio of carbohydrate to fats to protein in a person's diet should be. In fact, one recent study is now showing that this ratio matters much less than previously thought. For most people, something in the neighborhood of 40% carbohydrate calories/30% protein calories/30% fat calories would be about the right ballpark, with approximately 1/3 of your fat calories coming from each type of fat (saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated). The general population skews towards lower protein, and more carbohydrates and fat, and more importantly tend to get their carbs and proteins from unhealthy sources.

Alcohol. Technically a macronutrient, though most people don't think of it that way. Alcohol itself has calories, and some alcoholic drinks are very calorie-dense due to their sugar content. If there's anything like a useless source of calories, alcohol is it. Alcohol consumption has been consistently shown to result in sustained, significant decreases in testosterone and growth hormone levels. In addition, it also directly inhibits how the body processes proteins. If you're trying to build muscle, it is best to cut down on alcohol consumption.

Cholesterol: I'm including this here as a subset of fats, though technically it isn't a macronutrient. Cholesterol in food does not directly translate in into high blood cholesterol for most people. For those with high cholesterol, specifically high LDL ("bad") cholesterol, focus on cutting saturated and trans fats, which contribute to cholesterol production in the liver.

Dietary fiber: This is a subset of carbohydrates, though people don't usually think of fiber that way. Dietary fiber has many health benefits, and almost everyone should eat more of it.

Water: Drink more water. Water regulates virtually every bodily process in some way. Drinking more water is a simple, virtually cost-free thing you can do to improve your overall health. Also, if you drink water, you aren't drinking calories, and will feel fuller. Finally, drinking plenty of water is essential to getting the most out of your workouts in a safe manner. The recommended amount differs from person to person (If you've heard anything about 8 glasses a day, it's bunk), but there's no danger in drinking more.
by: sean10mm & liamrosen

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Common Beginner and Novice Errors

I came across this post on the forums
This post is from an IA admin of 6 or 7 years, good stuff

I like watching people, especially when I go to the gym. At my local 24 Hour Fitness, I see all sorts of things. A lot of what goes on, training wise, is what people think they should be doing versus knowing what they should be doing. There seems to be a lasting effect from Arnold’s era where you must train six days a week, and do a lot of sets per bodypart. Rarely do you see anyone moving any legitimate weight, instead most of the training appears to be about the “pump”. And these folks are easy to spot, usually their shirts, regardless of arm size, have no sleeves…yet they all seem to wear pants instead of shorts…hmmm….

1st Error) Doing too many sets, too often. Two young kids probably did a 40 set arm workout, all single joint movements. Three days later, they were working arms again. Dumbbell Curls, Low Pulley Single Arm Cable Curls, Curl Machine, Tricep Pushdowns with two or three different bars, and a Tricep Machine. They were doing arms when I arrived, and were still doing arms when I left. Average arm size, maybe 12 inches. If you want to grow, don’t do what they do.

2nd Error) Doing too many single joint movements. Multijoint movements are harder to do and not as “cool”. Curling v. Squatting…the latter rack sits empty (unless someone is curling in it) while everyone searches for the other 25lb. dumbbell that a guy has doing single armed preacher curls. Easy is probably better than not at all, but for your time, multijoint movements are money.

3rd Error) Using too much weight on machines that limits proper form. The major contributor here is the leg press. Six, eight, ten plates a side…only to be moved 3 inches. Then you hear them tell their buddies that arrived, “Yeah, we worked up to 1000lbs. today….” Full range, controlled movements should be your bread and butter if you’re serious about getting bigger and stronger.

4th Error) Listening to the big guy in the gym. Okay, sometimes this can be good. But if the guy is doing any of 1-3, you probably should realize he got big in spite of his training and knowledge. There are a lot of guys who have good builds, seem to grow as if they look at a weight, and freely dispense knowledge about “the” way. However, see how they look next year and if they ever get stronger. If not, it is clear, they moved to a particular point because of genetics and maybe hormonal enhancement. Instead, listen to the guy, if you must, that you see positive change in. He may not be the biggest or the strongest, but positive change indicates he’s doing something right, all other things being equal.

5th Error) Thinking in-house personal trainers have all of the answers. Be wary of personal trainers. If you really want to know what I do when I do cardio, I watch the personal trainers train their clients. I see all sorts of bad stuff: a 45-50 year old overweight lady doing jumps up on to a 10 inch box—first session (watched the consultation); doing upper body stability work the first training session (pushups on an exercise ball—hands on the stability ball); thinking lunges are the only way to work the lower body (a favorite among female trainers), and others. I often see a confusion with clients who choose a trainer based on how the trainer looks, and that such a trainer has the right knowledge. Case in point, a female trainer at the gym looks like a softball player, a little bit thick, but shapely. She is one of the better trainers in the gym, and she, herself, trains hard. However, the “attractive” girl, who’s got a killer body is always on the floor working. But she trains people in a way that makes little sense, I think her motto is “…keep them moving for 45 minutes”. I’ve seen her train with another trainer during their off times, and her form is questionable on a number of exercises, as is the other trainer’s. The thick girl sits, while the other works. So, what should you do? Talk to people in the gym and find out who’s good and who’s not. Usually a trainer that has been there a while is a better choice but not always.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Run Runnin

I found most of this advice in a forum and am going to regurgitate it here!

For cardio
Which one to do? Diversity is the obvious choice. The best approach is one that challenges your body, and forces your body to adapt.

You want to mix Medium intensity with High Intensity Training

Most sources recommend 3-5 days for cardio.

If you cant already run, check out a Couch to 5k running routine, like the one below, it'll get you to run 3 miles even if you cant make half of one now.
Once you can do some running you need to decide on some longer distance and some shorter distance days. Determine these days by choosing the days you're most sore to be further from your leg days (weight resistance training), or allow your legs to rest between working them. Up to you how it goes.
With longer and shorter days determined, now you need to decide on the intensity.

Shorter days. On these days you want to incorporate sprints, hills, and hill sprints to your run. These short runs will give you the ability to run at higher speeds for your longer runs, better endurance, develop them hip flexors, and recruit your fast twitch muscle fiber. These days can even help with increasing your leg lift weights.

Longer days. Shoot for a longer, sustained medium intensity level through out the run. Sprint the last half block - block, if you feel up to it.

Eat something before the cardio.

First week: Run for 1 minute, walk for 1.5 minutes. x8 (20min total) 3 days that week
Second week: Run 1.5min, walk 2min. x6 (21min total) 3 days that week
Third week: Run 1.5min, walk 1.5min, run 3min, walk 3min. x2 (18min total) 3 days that week
Fourth Week: Run 3min, walk 1.5min, run 5min, walk 2.5min, run 3min, walk 1.5, run 5min. (21.5min total) 3 days that week.
Fifth week: Run 5min, walk 3min, run 5min, walk 3min, run 5min. (21min total) for the first day. Run 8min, walk 5min, run 8min (21min total) for the second day. Run 21min for the third day.
Sixth week: Run 5min, walk 3min, run 8min, walk 3min, run 5min. (21min total) for the first day. Run 8min, walk 5min, run 8min. (21min total) for the second day. Run 23min for the third day.
Seventh week: Run 25min for the first and second day. Run 28min for the third day.
Eighth week: Run 28min for the first and second day. Run 30min for the third day.
Ninth week: Run for 30min 3 days that week.

The specific run/walk times (1.5 min. 2.5min, etc) are a pain in the butt. but. It works! (btw this is from the book Show Me How)
Don't forget to warm up and cool down! I do 10 minutes of walking for both and some body weight squats.
Rest a few days in between your workouts
If you feel more confident than week 1, start where you like. I jumped in at the start of week 5.
Run for time, not for distance. (Never mind the " 5k" part, that should be " 30 minutes" :P )

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Face Skin, Clearly

Between my girlfriend staying the weekend and catching up on homework, this has been a busy past few days! I saw more than a few acne-ridden faces at school today. Or maybe the same as always. Anyways:
Quit eating junk food. Quit touching your damn face with your damn grubby fingers. Place a (fresh, not the one you dried your ass with that morning) towel on your pillow at night, I love this one, props for putting it in the dryer for a little bit before bed <3. That said, wash your sheets, pillow cases at least twice a month, I have white sheets and it gets kinda weird seeing body hair (kinda fuzzy) all over my bed so I do mine weekly (pull them out of the dryer and make it right before I hop into bed... mmmm..). I've heard taking zinc and vitamin A helps, too. I've never tried them, but as long as they're not in excess and there is a pimple problem, I don't see why not! I do take Fish Oil, though, love this stuff and I feel happier on it. Don't scrub your face raw every time you shower, your face over compensates for the lost oil, or whatever, blah blah. I use a basic face wash (twice daily, as I have oily skin) and a scrub once a week or so. Using a (/n oil free) moisturizer after washing yo' mug is great, as well. See a dermatologist if it's really bad! I'm not a derm, these are all things that have either worked for me or been vouched for by strangers on the internet. Anyone else have good skin tips? Or feel free to poke holes in my useless methods, should there be any.

Video related. A bit strict but she's the pro.