don’t become the ball

You either play hard ball, or you become the ball.

We all want bigger legs. Sure we do. But no one likes working legs. It can be intimidating especially in the gym, and especially if using the squat rack. It can be so tiring, the blood getting sucked from the rest of your body by large leg muscles. It’s exhausting. It hurts.

But there are many benefits to working legs, especially when doing squats.

Benefit

Having strong legs helps us every day. If you have strong legs you more than likely won’t get as tired moving around be it walking, running, climbing stairs, etc. Working the leg muscles also releases hormones that help in increasing muscle mass throughout the body. And working legs, being a large muscle group, will require more time for our body to recover, increasing our resting metabolism rate and helping us to lose fat even when resting. That’s a bonus.

And a great way of building leg strength is by doing squats. I’m going to talk about squats but more specifically squats you can do at home, or outside of the gym.

Basics

Let’s cover off some squats you can do outside of a gym, some weighted some not. Here are things to keep in mind regardless of the squat you are doing:

  • The butt – Lead with the butt. Think of going to sit in a chair. When you do this, your butt is the first thing to hit the chair. That’s leading with your butt.
  • The head – Keep you head up. Look straight ahead, or even up. This helps keep you back at the proper arch preventing your shoulders from turning in, and your head from moving too far forward.
  • The feet – keep your feet a little more than shoulder wide, toes pointed out at about a 20-degree angle. This helps to keep your hips open.
  • The knees – let your knees track over your feet, not letting them turn in.
  • The weight – Keep your weight on your heels instead of the front of your feet. This also helps to keep your butt leading the way and prevents your body from being too far forward.

Options

Let’s look at different squats we can do outside of the gym:

  • Air Squats – No weight when doing this squat. Using the techiniques above, feet at proper position, lower your body, while at the same time raising your hands so when you have lowered yourself, your hands are at shoulder height out in front of you. Lower yourself trying to get your upper legs parallel with the floor. Do these nice and slow, pausing at the bottom of the squat. When straightening up, try not to lock out your legs. This keeps the stress on the muscles, keeping them working. Do this to fatigue for 4 sets.
  • Dumbbell Squats – Similar to air squats except you have dumbbells in your hands. This adds resistance to the squats giving you the opportunity to bring down the number of repetitions to a point that you will be adding more muscle instead of increasing muscle endurance.
  • Prison Squats – The same as air squats, except keep your hands clasped together behind your head. This will make the squats tougher, but that’s what you want, right?

Do it

Don’t neglect your legs. Work them at least twice a week and you’ll be glad you did when you start to realize the benefits.

Think of it as the foundation of your body. Strong legs, strong body.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

I’m tuned in

Milestones

I can’t believe it but this will be my 150th post. I never thought I would make it this far, having so much to write about. I have covered topics to do with types of exercises, healthy eating, training properly, getting the most out of your time, etc. And hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading them. And stay tuned for some posts on the technical details of certain exercises. I’m hoping you’ll find those interesting.

Now I am throwing this out to you. Is there something I haven’t covered that you would like me to? Something you need clarity on, or would like more information on? Let me know. Leave a comment or send me an email. I’ll do my best to write something decent.

After all, this blog is for you.

Yours in health,

Darryl

on the flip side

Getting it back

I’ve written posts on what can be done to gain weight. I think there is too much emphasis on losing weight so I have avoided writing an article on losing weight. I guess I don’t want to be another blog adding to the myth that you have to be thin to be healthy. It’s not true. You have to be healthy to be healthy and that doesn’t always include your body weight. The media and the fitness industry are great at perpetuating this ideal.

What is the proper measurement of healthy? It can be a number of things combined. Cardio strength, muscular strength, a healthy body weight, and eating healthy. If you have all these things and you have a healthy body weight than great! If you feel that your body fat level is too high, and you want to lose some of that fat, I’ll be covering some of the things you can do.

Options

First off do you know where you are coming from? What do I mean by this? Do you keep a journal of your workouts? Do you know what you are consuming daily such as the amount of protein, carbs and fat? If you don’t than it’s going to be tougher to map out where you have to go. To get somewhere, you need to know where you are coming from.

If you have a fitness journal, review it and look for indicators that you are plateauing. Have you made increases in intensity, the amount of weight you use, the distance you are running? When is the last time you changed your workout? It’s typical to plateau after doing the same things for 4 to 6 weeks. Your body adapts and if you don’t change things up, you will become stagnant. Once the body adapts, the gains become less and you may end up adding fat to your body due to this.

Here are things you can do that will help you lose fat and be healthier:

  • Intensity: If you aren’t exercising intensely, you are missing out on many benefits, one of them being an increased metabolism. This means that after you have worked out, while you are resting, your body is using more calories to maintain itself than if your workout was low in its intensity. Basically your body is working away bringing itself back to a normal state. How do you know you are working out intensely? Monitor your heart rate. Depending on the type of workout, you will want your heart rate around 80 to 100 % of it’s max. Another benefit of intense training is you can decrease the length of the workout. A typical Tabata workout can be as short as 4 minutes.
  • Resistance: Resistance training not only increases metabolism but also strengthens bones, can be used to address muscle imbalances preventing injury, increases strength, and increased coordination. Keep in mind you can carry out resistance training without having weights. Using your body weight is a great option for resistance training. Push ups, pull ups, body weight squats, etc.
  • Consumption: What we consume has a high impact on our body composition. A calorie is not a calorie. Let me explain. A calorie of fat and protein affects our body differently than a calorie of sugar. Eating sugar increases the production of insulin. If we eat a lot of sugar, our insulin levels increase so high which will cause the body to deposit fat into the fat cells instead of being used for energy. If our sugar comes in the form of fructose, it can cause the brain to not see all the stored fat in the body and think that it is starving. This causes us to keep eating even though we don’t need to. Lastly, when eating a diet high in sugar, we don’t get that satiated feeling we normally do when eating protein and fat and importantly fiber. Because we don’t get that full feeling, we keep eating and eating.We do need carbs to function. But we should be getting those carbs by eating complex carbs such as grains, whole fruits (avoid fruit juice, it’s loaded with fructose and has no fiber), vegetables. If you aren’t sure what are complex carbs, or good carbs, search the internet and you will find  examples.

Finally

Before starting or altering any fitness program, please consult with your doctor. This is important if you have never worked out intensely.

Give yourself time. A healthy guideline is to lose 1 to 2lbs a week. If you are losing more, you may be doing some things that will not be sustainable. The idea is to make changes that you can maintain instead of making drastic changes that will be too difficult to do day to day, week to week, month to month.

Think of these changes as a lifestyle change instead of a temporary change. The more realistic you make it, the more it will become something that you just do.

And keep a journal. Record what you do daily and use it as a tool to motivate you. It’s a great motivator to be able to look back a week or two and see the progress made.

Stay healthy.

Yours in health,

Darryl