A few days ago, I wrote a 25 minute Upper Body workout. Let’s take care of the other half of the body as well. The lower body consists of 3 main muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Within this workout, we want to get as much work for each muscle group as possible. Here’s an efficient workout if you’re crunched for time. (Superset- completing x reps of exercise #1, then without rest, complete x reps of exercise 2.)
Hamstring Curl- 4×10 Superset Walking Lunges with Dumbbells 4×20 (10 each leg)
Leg Press 4×15 Superset Leg Press Calf Raises 4×15
Goblet Squats 4×12 Superset Dumbbell Calf Raises 4×12
I like to see clients train each body part twice per week. I mentioned this in my very first blog post, ‘Frequency To Faster Results’. For the majority of the population, doing an upper body/lower body rotation will greatly benefit them. This leads to training the upper body and lower body equally, (yeah, I’m calling out the guys that curl a whole lot more than they train legs.) Here’s how I would set up this routine.
Day 1- Upper Body. Day 2-Lower Body. Day 3-Rest. Day 4-Upper Body. Day 5-Rest. Day 6-Lower Body. Day 7-Rest.
OR if you want to have the weekend off. Mon-Upper. Tues-Lower. Wed-Rest. Thurs-Upper. Friday-Lower. Sat and Sun- Rest.
It’s a very fine line between being tough and making poor decisions. In my years as an athlete, and less so now, I thought toughness was the only variable needed to build muscle and improve performance. I still believe being able to fight through adversity is one of the pillars of fit people, but to a certain degree. Some will say you should take the day off from exercise if you sneeze, and others will say if you aren’t in a casket, you should be training hard. Here’s what I think. (Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. This advice comes from personal experience. Don’t sue me.)
I believe if you have a fever, are vomiting all over the place, or have some sort of chest/lung illness such as bronchitis, I would recommend taking the day off. If you have a slight headache, head cold, minor allergies, or a sore throat, I’d say go ahead and workout. A good rule of thumb is “From the neck up, workout. Everything below that, rest.” Also, if you’re feeling like you might be starting to catch something, either solve the problem before it becomes a problem by resting, or train, but less intensely as normal. Do 50-75 percent of the work you would do if you felt normal. You have to determine whether working out will make you feel better or set you back even farther. Be honest with yourself. Does your body need rest or are you being soft? My ability to self-regulate illness and injuries has led to a good chunk of my results in the last 3 years.
As a personal trainer, I want to serve as many people as possible. I understand most of the population won’t have the time or want to be in the gym 2 hours every day. I’m a big fan of practicality. I give people options that are sustainable and realistic. With that said, if you have 25 minutes to get an Upper Body session in, here’s an example. (superset=completing x reps of one exercise then going to a second exercise without resting)
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row superset Pushups- 3×12 each
Lat Pull Down superset Dumbbell Shoulder Press- 3×15 each
Dumbbell Lateral Raise superset Dumbbell Rear Delt Raise- 3×20 each
Dumbbell Skullcrusher superset Dumbbell Hammer Curls- 3×15 each
Our body wants to maintain a sense of equilibrium. Alright, I’ve already used too many big words in this post, let me go back to the jock that I am. 😉 So, we tend to throw our body out of balance in a variety of ways, but I want to focus on some muscle groups being more developed/ stronger than others.
There are many causes for some muscles being stronger than others. First, this could happen by training one muscle group more than another muscle group. For example, if you train you biceps a whole lot more than your triceps, what muscle group do you think will look and perform better? What’s the solution. For every opposing muscle group (biceps/triceps, back, chest, front delt/rear delt, hamstrings/quads) perform exercises and sets at a 1:1 ratio. Essentially, do a similar amount of work for each muscle group. Second, some muscle groups are larger than others. Because some muscles are larger, (and our body wants to have equilibrium/find the path of least resistance) they will compensate and take over during certain movements. Here’s an example. The quadriceps are the muscles on the front of your thigh, they are huge muscles in relation to the back of your legs, the hamstrings. Most people are quad dominant. Wanna know why most people can’t squat/leg press/kettle bell swing without their heels coming off the ground? Their quads are taking over and their hamstrings are not strong enough to complete the movement ‘through the heels’. Why are their hamstrings not strong enough? Their quads are taking over or they don’t train their hamstrings enough in proportion to quads. Do you see the cycle and the relationship here?
People tend to do what they are good at or want to do. (There’s the pattern of finding the path of least resistance.) These imbalances renew their contract every time we don’t do enough of the movements we probably aren’t good at, don’t know how to do, or are simply too lazy to do. In the long term, it will greatly benefit you to train each muscle group and movement at a similar frequency.
This is a super simple post. We all know what I’m about to say matters, and it’s so simple it will sound insulting to your intelligence. The reason why you feel tired, are a bit irritable, or are worn out by 3 PM is lack of…sleep. I know right? It sounds silly. We’ve known this since elementary school. Sleep is good. Rest is important. But seriously, sleep is good and sleep is important. I’ve paid close attention to trends in others’ lives and in my own. Do you know when I’m not as easy going or fun as usual? Finals week, the days after hanging out with my friends until 3 AM, or when I am working on projects for Josh Vago Fitness. The common denominator? I don’t sleep enough during those times. I get it, you’re busy and you party like a celebrity, that’s fine. You need to find out how your body operates, and how much sleep you need to be productive during the day. For me, that’s about 8 and a half hours. This takes commitment, time management, and sometimes not watching an entire Netflix series at once. Get at least 7 hours of sleep and your workouts, job productivity, and your mood with thank you.
We all know the saying “jack of all trades, master of none”. This is a huge concept I believe in when it comes to fitness. You have to determine what you care about. You must figure out what you want your return on investment to be. Once you figure out what your goal is, what you have to do on a daily basis becomes a lot more clear. For example, if someone wants to be incredibly muscular and have their arms busting out of sleeves that are as wide as their head, (I wonder who would want to be like that…sounds familiar…hmmm..) they probably shouldn’t be playing tennis 5 times per week and eating only carrots. That person should be eating a lot of lean meat, grains, fruits, and veggies. Lifting weights should be the large majority of their physical activity. If you want to be a great runner, run. If you want to be a little healthier, lift a few times a week, go for a walk a few times a week, and eat food that comes from animals or grew from the ground. If you do want to try a variety of things at the same time and that would make you happy, go for it. Just understand you’re going to be half pregnant at 5 things instead of being full pregnant at 1.
Figure out what you want, in any area of life, and work backwards to figure out the habits you need to build to reach your goals. Whatever you want, make sure you have the work ethic and attitude to match your ambition.
Honestly, I’m not sure whether the color gray is spelled gray or grey. Good news, I’m your personal trainer, not your English teacher. Nevertheless, fitness can quickly become an obsessive hobby. (When New Year’s rolls around, I should copy and paste this on January 1, 2018.) I prefer most things in life to be objective. Even though I hate math, I appreciate the objectivity involved. There’s no “it depends”, “kinda”, “sometimes”, if the answer is 6, the answer is 6. End of discussion. No debating. Done. Next. Unfortunately, many people have the attitude that health is totally ‘all in’ or ‘zero’. I’m specifically talking about the folks that are new to fitness. To paint the picture a bit more, some comments made by New Year’s Resolutioners include, “I’m going to workout every single day this year. 3 hours every day. I’m never eating gluten again. No candy at all this year. Carbs? Nonsense. I’ll have celery with a side dish of celery.” Even though I appreciate people caring about their health, you and I know they will give up by the second week of February. The 3 hour a day, every day workout plan isn’t sustainable.
If you are new to fitness, or trying to set goals in any area of your life, please get practical. Please be honest with yourself. Do you want sustainable, enjoyable progress or a 2 month quick fix where you are miserable, eventually quit, and end up right where you started? If you aren’t going to the gym at all, try going once per week. Then twice. Then three times. Then try carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Then eat 3 pieces of candy instead of 6. Go to sleep 15 minutes earlier. Then 30 minutes earlier. If you get practical, you will get results that you can sustain, so you won’t have to make a New Year’s Resolution next year.
I like to solve problems or figure out why things happen the way they do. That’s way I enjoy coaching sports and being a personal trainer. I’m not all that different than a firefighter or a pharmacist. The advice I give is predicated on what that specific person wants to achieve based on their lifestyle and goals. You don’t give Advil to a guy with Erectile Dysfunction. Anyways, for those of you that don’t know, I am a personal trainer at a gym along with my online training business. One day, during my shift, the music was turned off. The gym was silent with the exception of sweaty dudes grunting and making animal noises. It got weird real fast. When the music came back on, the energy in the room raised to where it was before the music turned off. This made me think of the workouts where I forgot my headphones at home. It’s much harder to get to that next level of intensity without music for me. Listening to music is a great way to pick up your energy and distract yourself from the fact you are lifting hundreds of pounds or your heart is about to explode from running sprints on the treadmill. Here are some artists that I like listening to while I workout. I like a variety of music ranging from rap to R&B to country.
Let this post serve as a reminder for how great life is. First, you became a human being. According to Gary Vaynerchuck, someone I’ve learned a lot from, the chances of you becoming a human are 400 trillion to 1. You could have been a piece of grass or a lamp, but here you are. That’s a huge win in itself. Second, you aren’t here forever. You get one opportunity that is on average about 80 years to do what you want to do. That’s a long time, that goldfish you won at the county fair won’t live 8 days. Life is good. If you live in America, you live in a country that believes in capitalism and democracy. I don’t care whether you do or do not like to the current politics, you could live in a country that believes in communism, limits the amount of kids you have, and has no sense of individualism whatsoever. You get one life. If you spend it complaining, worrying, and having a negative attitude, you will regret it. Be proactive, enthusiastic, and act through an attitude of gratitude, there’s no reason not to.