Walk this Way

One of my go to exercises for cardio is to walk on a treadmill with a very steep incline. One of the main reasons I like this is because it builds more muscles in your calves and booty. I’m lacking in both those departments. In fact my wife recently found www.facl.org and suggested I visit it.

This method of cardio is also much easier on joints. If you have had joint pain from running I recommend trying out incline walking. Don’t worry it burns an insane amount of calories. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds and walk at a 4 mph pace with no incline for 30 minutes, you will burn 145 calories. Now bump that incline up to 10 percent and you’ll burn 345 calories in the same amount of time!

Maybe your goal with working out is to burn fat, think running is the only way? Think again! Just walking at a 3 mph pace at a 16 percent incline burns 70 percent more fat than running on a flat surface.

Down here in the south it has been unbearably hot. Which has kept many runners in the house. Luckily treadmills are found in every gym. Inside those gyms it’s always a good temperature and never raining.

If you’re looking for a low impact exercise that builds muscle, burns calories and fat give incline walking a shot. I crank the incline all the way up and walk at a 3 mph pace for 30 minutes and it’s a great workout! Keep at it y’all!

All the Cheesburgers

I am going to enjoy this weekend. Monday marks the end of my bulking phase and the start of my cutting phase. I’m having all the pizzas and all the cheeseburgers!

Back in February I had a big wake up call. I hadn’t been taking care of myself and it showed. I stepped on the scale on February 3rd and weighed 169 pounds. I’m 6 foot 4 so 169 is tiny! I made a commitment then and there to get back in shape after taking six months off. I worked hard in the gym and ate a lot! In fact I ate so much that I got tired of eating. Eating because you have to and not because you want to is no fun. I did have the occasional pizza and burgers however, for the most part I stuck to chicken, turkey, eggs, fruits, and veggies. The only supplement I had during this time was the occasional protein shake.

Fast forward to today and I weigh in at 220! I’ve added over an inch to my arms, two inches to my chest, shoulders have gotten broader, and my wife tells me I have a butt! I’ve done all this while still wearing my 32 inch pants! Granted a bunch of my dress shirts don’t fit anymore but oh well.

Monday starts my cutting phase. My goal is to get down to 205, add definition, but not lose much size. My plan is to eat five smaller meals a day, lift weights five days a week, and do cardio 4 days a week. Stay tuned in for updates and results!

I don’t wanna go

Ever have one of those days where you just really don’t want to do anything? That was today for me. Normally I workout in the mornings five days a week. We’ve had a few things happen in our family recently,, including welcoming our beautiful little girl to world. Sleep and rest has been at a premium and last night was a little rough. Couple that with a busy morning and my A.M. workout didn’t happen.

However I made a commitment to myself and my family to be the best version of myself. Boy oh boy am I glad I went. I have an anxiety disorder and I could tell from all the elevated stress that my anxiety was getting up there. I got to take one hour out my day to just work on me. After about ten minutes at the gym all my stress and anxiety melted away and I zoned in on my workout.

Once I got home I was back at it. My mood had definitely been lightened and I didn’t feel weighed down by anything like I had before. See when you workout your body releases natural endorphins which just make you feel better and elevate your mood.

Remember taking care of yourself and living a healthy lifestyle has to be a priority, even when you don’t wanna go just do it!

Caprese Chicken

Would you fill up a race car with regular pump gas? I sure hope not! Fueling your body with correct nutrition is extremely important to achieving your health and fitness goals. When I started to really get into fitness I quickly realized that my eating habits had to change. I simply didn’t have the right kind of fuel for my workouts. Imagine that! Sodas and BigMac’s aren’t really that great of a source of calories to power you through a training regimen. When I changed my outlook on food from eating whatever I wanted, to fueling my body with the nutrients I need, my training and results took off!

Luckily for me (and my wife) I really enjoy cooking and coming up with new, delicious, and healthy meals for us to eat at home. I tried out a great one this week that is packed full of protein and very low on carbohydrates!

First I prepared the caprese salad in a medium sized bowl. I did a small dice of tomatoes fresh from my father in law’s garden. Then I did an even smaller dice of one shallot. Going as small as I did isn’t necessary but, the wife really doesn’t like onions so I was hiding them. Next I minced two cloves of garlic and chopped half a tablespoon of garlic. Then I combined all these ingredients with a drizzle of good olive oil and season with salt and pepper. The last step for the caprese salad was to add some fresh mozzarella.

To season the chicken breast I combined one part lemon pepper seasoning, one part Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning and salt to taste. I sprinkled this mixture liberally on both sides of the chicken breast then put the chicken on a 400 degree grill for ten minutes. After ten minutes I flipped and continued cooking for another eight minutes.

While the chicken was off the grill and resting I made a balsamic glaze reduction. It was super easy and delicious! In a small sauce pan I combined a half cup of balsamic vinegar with one tablespoon of honey. Brought it to a simmer and let it reduce until it covered the back of a spoon.

To serve I placed the chicken breast on a plate, topped it with my caprese salad mixture, drizzled the balsamic reduction and devoured it! I hope you try this and enjoy it as much as we did. Let me know what you think and enjoy!

Weight and rep variations

One question I hear a lot is, “how many reps should I do”? My answer is always the same, what are you trying to accomplish? Your training should be customized to help you achieve your individual goals. There are a few different goals you could be going after. Generally speaking you can lift weights to achieve four different goals.

Endurance

Endurance training is trying to increase your ability to increase the amount of times you can lift a certain weight over and over without getting tired. Think of chopping wood for hours, digging in the garden, or pushing a lawnmower.

Power

Training for power is all about training to use explosive strength quickly. Think football players firing off at the snap, baseball players swinging the bat, or sprinters. Athletes utilize Olympic style lifts since they requiring lifting heavy weights in an explosive yet controlled motion.

Strength

Strength training is all about increasing your 1RM. I like to call it “moving day strength”. Am I strong enough to lift that couch or do I need to pay someone to do it for me. Typically power lifters and strongman competitors focus on strength training. However everyone can benefit from strength training.

Putting it Together

So how should you train? That really depends upon how your body reacts to different training methods. In my experience, the best way to add strength and size for myself is to train like a powerlifter and a bodybuilder, using a hybrid approach that blends both methodologies, termed ‘Powerbuilding.

One rep max

Hey bro how much do ya bench?

Honestly, I never know how to answer this question. Normally I’ll answer by saying,”well I work out with 265.” See I like to workout by myself. Part of the allure to working out for me is being able to put my headphones in and just zone out. I really enjoy just being able to tune the rest of the world out, clear my head, and enjoy my workout. Because of this I hardly ever workout with someone else so I never have a spotter to help me achieve my one rep max.

So what? That’s what I originally thought! Who cares about your 1RM (one rep max) anyways? I certainly didn’t. I’m into working out to feel good about myself, offset all of the taco and beer calories, and to get as big as possible to scare my daughters future boyfriends. I’m not into competitive lifting, setting records, or ego lifting.

So why would I care about my 1RM? Aside from being able to answer the question of how much I bench? I’ve come across quite a few workouts that will say, “deadlift 70% of 1RM for six repetitions.” If I have no idea what my 1RM is I have no idea what weight to lift. Recently I came across an equation to calculate your 1RM. To calculate divide the weight you lift for a certain number of repetitions by the percentage of 1RM. For example let’s say you can bench press 225 for eight repetitions, which would be 225/.81=277.78. Now you have your 1RM of 277.78! Now if you find a workout that says to bench press 75% of your 1RM. You have your starting number now! Plus now you can brag about your lifts bro!

Supersets+Dropsets

I absolutely love working out! Know what I hate though? Cardio….. cardio is the bane of my existence. It’s something I have to do that I never look forward to. The monotony of trudging along on a treadmill is just not something I look forward to. The weather here in Arkansas is so bipolar that it makes it hard to predict when I could run outside. Plus truth be told I just don’t like it.

Being a dad to three kids all under the age of four along with one of them being a newborn means I don’t have hours upon hours to spend at the gym. Anything I can incorporate cardio into my workouts without actually doing cardio is a big plus. The workouts where I can combine my weight training with cardio are a huge time saver! I have always incorporated supersets into my workouts, but recently I added dropsets into my and let me tell you they have been a game changer!

Supersets

Supersets can really supercharge your workouts. They require increased intensity and require you to pick up pace, which helps build more muscle and increase your heart rate in a short amount of time. Supersets are combinations of exercises performed back to back with no rest in between. You can do supersets with same muscle groups or competing muscle groups like biceps and triceps.

Dropsets

Dropsets are essentially a workout where you start an exercise with fairly heavy weight perform a low number of repetitions then immediately reduce or drop the weight and do a few more repetitions. You keep dropping the weight while increasing the amount of repetitions until you reach failure. Integrating dropsets into you workouts to achieve muscle failure in a small amount of time.

Combining the Two

Here’s an example of my absolute favorite superset+dropset. I start with bicep curls, I grab the heaviest weight I can lift with proper form for four repetitions. I immediately drop the weight and do six repetitions, then another drop and eight repetitions. I continue dropping the weight while increasing the amount of repetitions I do until I reach failure. By this point my heart rate is quite elevated and my breathing has become quite labored. Time to rest right? Nope we’re only half way done with the first set. With no break or rest I immediately start to do tricep pushdowns following the same formula. When I’m done with tricep pushdowns that counts as one set! I normally will do three to four sets followed by zero time on the treadmill!