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1. TRAINING - Contributed by Greg Whalin
1.1 Q. What is a good beginner routine?
A. Do the following routine Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For the first two weeks, use light weight and concentrate on learning proper form. After that, increase to your working weight. You will be doing three sets of 10 for each exercise, and your working weight will be one that makes the last couple of reps difficult, if not impossible. Do the exercises in the following order:
If you cannot do chin-ups, do one negative chin-up (grabbing the bar with your chin already over it and lowering yourself as slowly as possible) followed by a set of lat pulldowns. If you can do chin-ups, you have graduated to the point where the lat pulldown is a foo-foo exercise.
Nutrition and rest are just as important as a training routine. As far as rest goes, make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep per night. More is better, to the point where several pro bodybuilders sleep 12 hours a day or more. This is impractical for people with real jobs, but there is no excuse for getting less than 7 hours a night. Remember, you build muscle when you rest, not when you train. Training tears your muscles down and provides them with a stimulus for rebuilding and growth.
In order to gain muscle, you have to eat. You will want to take in a gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and have 15% body fat, you will want to get at least 170 grams of protein a day. You also need carbohydrates and fat. Ignore the popular trend toward "fat-free" products and strive to take in roughly 30% of your calories from fat. Try to get 30% from protein (never dropping below 1 gram per pound of lean body mass) and 40% from carbohydrates. To help in your calculations, a gram of carbs has 4 calories, a gram of protein has 4 calories, and a gram of fat has 9 calories.
I also have a few words to say about supplements. If you're on this routine, the only supplement you should even consider is whey protein. Creatine and andro have their places in the routines of more advanced lifters, but it is pointless to take them until you have been lifting for at least a year and have hit an unbreakable plateau. In fact, there is no point in taking andro if you are under 25.
Finally, I would suggest avoiding both alcohol and overtraining. Alcohol will impede your progress, dehydrating you, making you feel bloated, and sapping your motivation to lift (as anyone who has ever worked out with a hangover can attest). A drink with dinner is fine, but any more is to be avoided like the plague. Overtraining is the other thing that can kill an otherwise solid effort at lifting. If you follow this routine, you should see some excellent gains. Do not allow this to give you a more-is-better mentality. When it comes to training, less is definitely more. Once again, remember that you grow when you rest, not when you train. Even at an advanced level, you should be going to the gym for no more than an hour and a half (an hour is better), no more than four times a week (three is arguably better). Lifting for longer saps your testosterone production, and lifting more often tires out your nervous system, making you far more susceptible to illness. > Clint McClinch
1.2 Q. What is a good intermediate routine focused on general strength and size gains?
A. After a couple of months on the beginner routine, you should be ready for a 3 day intermediate split based around the big three (squat/bench/deadlift). Try something like the following:
Chins (vary the grip)
Barbell or dumbbell rows
Standing EZ curl bar curls
Flat barbell bench press
Incline dumbbell press
Shoulder press or military press
Lat DB raises
External Rotator work or rear delt work
Squats (deep and heavy)
SLDL (or Romanian deadlifts)
Calves (standing and seated)
You need to up the intensity on these. Take your sets to failure. Try to keep around 3 sets per exercise and pick a weight that allows you to get your desired rep range (which should vary from time to time). > Gregory Whalin
1.3 Q. What are the "big three" and why do people recommend that they be a part of all routines?
A. Squat/Bench/Deadlift. The big three are recommended as a part of all routines due to the fact that they are the best three exercises as far as compound exercises go. A compound exercise is one that requires significant involvement from multiple muscle groups in order to complete the movement. Obviously, this is going to be the best sort of a movement. Consider the fact that a deadlift will directly work the following - glutes/hamstrings/quads/spinal erectors/obliques/traps/lats/forearms/grip. To hit the same amount of muscles using isolation work would take considerably longer. A lifter generally should try to build his/her routine around a core of compound exercises, and add isolation exercises as necessary to complement the workout. The "big three" are by far the most effective three compound exercises (using a compound of the three, once can directly stimulate most all muscles in the body very effectively). Thus the reason you will see the "big three" mentioned so much.
1.4 Q. How do I do a conventional style deadlift?
A. Set up in the deadlift position, looking up, back straight [for me, about 45 degrees straight with respect to my thighs], in a quasi-squat position with thighs slightly above parallel, my arms outside my thighs [not too far outside -- just so that they would 'brush' the outer part of my thighs], feet shoulder width apart. I think that the optimum place to put the bar is where your arms are extended downwards, in a straight, vertical line [as straight as you can]. Whenever I have my arms bent too far forward or back [from having them straight], I don't get as enough of an explosive pull as with having them perfectly straight [which I think helps your forearms, triceps, and shoulders work optimally together in the pull]. By having your arms in a straight line, I mean having your arms parallel with the wall [straight up and down], by the way.
All of this translates into having the bar about 2.5-3 inches away from the front of my shins. I like to have the bar as close as I need it to be so that when I pull it, it just goes in a straight line up until I'm standing erect. It has been suggested that I need to have the bar at my toes and then roll it close towards me [and then pull!], but this really, really takes away from the explosiveness of my lift [which I like to think as a one-step and not two-step deal!].
I arch my back when I'm trying to reach the bar with my hands for set up -- and my back is only extended as far down as I need to in order to grab the bar with my arms straight, calves straight; with my legs bent. I keep my back straight, in a horizontal position, not upright of course. I then take a good breath in and while I'm trying to lift the bar up, I'm forcefully exhaling throughout the explosive movement. Do the movement from the setup position to the standing erect position in one explosive, very quick, movement. I push with my legs [quads and hams] until my knees are just slightly bent, then I straighten myself [my back and my knees] out by thrusting my hips forward so that I'm perfectly straight -- butt, knees, and back -- completing the movement. When you're lifting the bar up, have the bar close to your legs, etc., but not totally riding up your legs -- maybe have the bar a half inch away from your body. You'll be able to be more explosive this way than brushing it against your body. > Lee Kim
1.5 Q. How do I do a sumo style deadlift?
A. The primary difference between a sumo and a conventional style deadlift is foot placement. Whereas conventional style deadlifts have the feet relatively close together with the hands gripping the bar outside of the legs, the sumo style has the feet wider out, with the hands gripping the bar between the legs. It is somewhat difficult to describe how to properly do a sumo deadlift, as there are several different variations as far as foot placement. For a good description, you should check out http://www.stumptuous.com/baddl.html
1.6 Q. How do I do a deadlift?
A. This is a tricky question to answer. It depends on your goals as well as upon the style you choose. Deadlifts can be done in two styles: conventional and sumo style. Each style targets different muscle groups. A description for each style can be found in this FAQ.
1.7 Q. What is the correct form for a squat?
A. First off, the proper form implies the following.
- No rounding of the lower back!
- Abdominal muscles tight throughout entire duration of lift
- Foot stance is up to the individual.
To activate more quad involvement, squat with a somewhat narrow stance
To activate more glute/ham/hip involvement, squat with a wider stance
It would be a good idea to switch stances from time to time
Toes should stay pointed in the same direction as the tracking of the knee to prevent rotation about the knee
Try to keep shins as close to perpendicular with the ground as is possible
Weight should be resting on the heels and not on the balls of the feet or on the toes
Knees should never jut out past the plane made by the toes
The knees should not bow in or out during the movement (very destructive to the ligaments and tendons)
The movement should be started by breaking at the hips and the squatter should visualize sitting back onto a box
The chest should be out, the head looking slightly up
The movement initiated from the bottom should start with the head
The squat depth should be at least to parallel. For better muscle recruitment, squat below parallel.
Now, keeping the above in mind, the lifter should always make use of a spotter and/or a power cage with the safety pins set to catch the weight if the lifter fails. Then, the lifter needs to set up under the bar, tighten the abdominal muscles, situate the bar on the shoulders and step back into the proper stance (again, it depends on what muscles you are wishing to stimulate … normally, shoulder width is good). Then, with the chest out, the head slightly up (it helps to focus on a point on the wall that is slightly above eye level), take a breath and hold it (remember to keep the abdominal muscles tight and the lower back slightly arched). Begin the movement by breaking at the hips and sticking the butt back (much like if you were going to sit down into a chair). Using a controlled descent, you will squat down to the desired depth (at least to parallel), then reverse the movement and stand up (make sure not to bounce at the bottom). > Roger Broeg, Gregory Whalin, Tommy O'Brien
1.8 Q. What is the correct form for bench press?
A. First, make sure that you have a spotter to watch you at all times. Simply grab the bar at slightly wider than shoulder width with the thumb completely around the bar. Lift the bar off the safety pins and hold it at full extension. Then, keeping you elbows slightly in (to protect the shoulder socket), lower the bar in a controlled fashion to the chest in a straight line. Most lower the bar to the nipples. Do not bounce the bar off of the chest and do not raise the butt up off the bench. You will then press the bar back up to the beginning of the movement in a straight line to finish off the movement. You should try to squeeze the shoulder blades together for the duration of the movement in order to protect the shoulders.
1.9 Q. How do I improve my grip strength?
A. Here is a repost of my old Vice Grip post, plus some additional information, which I will explain at the end.
Power holds: Take a bar and just hold it, like at the top of a deadlift. The key is to load it up with heavy poundage so that you cannot hold it for more than 20-30 seconds at a time (you can experiment with the duration). To make the exercise more effective, get some super thick foam rubber, like the kind used to insulate pipes (Home Depot has ton of this stuff, matter of fact, Home Depot is awesome for making workout equipment). Grab the bar with the heavy insulation, and hang on with all you got.
Farmer's Walk: Take two heavy dumbbells, grab them and hold them at your sides. Now, walk as far as you can. You can use the fat grips here too, but the plain grip is tough as well. This exercise, when used with heavier weights, is just brutal for the whole body (great finishing move).
Gripper Work: Get a good set of athletic grippers. Ironmind makes some heavy grippers, and there is an adjustable one called the Super Gripper or something. However, most grippers are too weak, so if you can't find the above grippers you can improvise with a power rack. If you have a power rack, try this next exercise.
Power Rack Grabs: Take the pin of your power rack, and set it to just below your hip. Now, get a heavy duty bucket, and make the handle nice and thick, but make sure it still rotates. Place the heel of your palm on the pin, and dangle the bucket from your fingers with some plates in it. You will be able to develop some demented hand strength with this exercise.
Hangs: Grab a chin up bar....and hang. :)
Pinch grips: Take two plates, put them together so the smooth side is out, now grab it so your thumb is on one side, and your four fingers are on the other. When you get up to two 25's, you're getting strong. When you get up to two 45's (long way off for most of us), you'll have vices instead of hands.
Miscellaneous: Find things like cinder blocks, big rocks, and hold and carry them in difficult ways. Take an iron rake, and walk it up and down with your fingers (hands together, moving the rake vertically).
Use one of these exercises after a workout, 2-3 workouts a week for a couple sets. Use good form and go heavy. Hand strength will benefit ALL of your upper body exercises, and a lot of lower body exercises. Hand strength is very functional in everyday life and is one of the most basic indications of a man or woman's strength. After about two months of doing these exercises, shake someone's hand and see if they don't wince in pain. ;) > Ryan X Shaner
1.9a Q. What is the Westside routine?
A. The Westside routine is a powerlifting routine devised by Louie Simmons at the Westside Gym in Columbus, OH. It is a routine that makes use of several advanced training methodologies such as the contrast method, the conjugate method, and speed work. The routine is very complex, and thus would be nearly impossible to explain it well enough o do it justice here in this FAQ. If you are interested in researching this routine, you should read pretty much everything existing on http://deepsquatter.com/strength/archives/louie. > Roger Broeg, Tommy O'Brien, Gregory Whalin, Chris Zell, Karl Allen
For a few sample routines, you can check out … http://homepages.oz-online.net/~allenkt/wsb.html -- Karl Allen
http://www.whalin.com/ -- Greg Whalin
http://www.zell.freeservers.com/westside.html -- Chris Zell
1.10 Q. How do I increase the peak of my biceps?
A. You can't. You can only hope to increase the overall size of the muscle. The shape of individual muscles is basically determined by genetics. Meaning, you can increase the size of the muscle, decrease the size of the muscle, or maintain the size of the muscle, and that is all. Obviously, other factors like your bodyfat percentage will play an important part in your appearance, and dropping your body fat levels can make your muscles appear to change shape. However, aside from losing fat, and increasing muscle size, it is physically impossible to change the shape of a muscle.
1.11 Q. What are some good training related web sites?
A. Several come to mind …
http://www.aswonline.com/links.html -- Official ASW web site links page
http://members.tripod.com/Dramo13/index.html -- Davin's web site
http://www.drsquat.com/ -- Dr. Fred Hatfield's web site
http://www.deepsquatter.com/strength/ -- Deepsquatter's web site
http://www.stumptuous.com/weights.html -- Krista's web site
http://www.olympus.net/personal/cablebar -- The Cable / Bar Guy
Additional links can be found at Keith's site …
1.12 Q. What is the external rotator cuff and how should I train it?
A. The external rotator cuff is a term used to describe the group of
muscles responsible for rotating the shoulder externally (duh?!).
Basically, if you hold your upper arm to the side of your body, and bend
your elbow so that your forearm makes a 90 degree angle with your upper
arm, then rotate your upper arm so that your hand moves from pointing
directly to pointing to the side. The muscles in the shoulder responsible
for this rotation are called the external rotator cuff muscles. These
muscles tend to be the culprit in most shoulder injuries. This is due to
several things. One is the fact that most weight trainers do not directly
attempt to strengthen the external rotators. The internal rotators
(primarily the pectorals) are worked extensively by most (bench press).
The combination of very strong internal (and very often, very inflexible)
rotators and very weak external rotators causes a major muscle imbalance
that leads to injury. To fix this, one needs to increase the flexibility
of the internal rotators by doing specific stretches as well as strengthen
the external rotators via special exercises. This topic is covered in
detail in the book entitled 7 Minute Rotator Cuff Solution by G. Robinson,
Horrigan (can be bought from http://www.amazon.com/ ).
A good web site which describes this in detail is http://www.webgate.net/~welchiro/ex-rot.html. > Keith Carlson, Wayne Hill, Gregory Whalin
1.13 Q. What is over-training syndrome and how do I avoid it?
A. OTS or Over-Training Syndrome is a condition that occurs when a lifter works too hard too often. Some general symptoms of OTS are:
-Increased resting pulse rate (you need a long term base to use this
-Lack of motivation
-Loss of strength
-Depressed immune system (increased chance of getting sick)
-Endocrine depression (drop in endogenous testosterone output)
OTS generally occurs when the lifter is working too hard for too long with not enough rest, sleep, and food. A sure fire sign of OTS is when your gains stop and start regressing. If you experience this along with any of the above mentioned symptoms, and your routine is very taxing with not enough rest days, then more than likely, you are over-training. If you do not stop, then you will continue to lose ground in the gym, and most likely end up sick. To avoid it is simple. Eat enough, sleep enough, and choose a routine that gives you adequate time to rest. It is generally recommended that one not spend more than one hour in the gym at any one time. It is also a good idea to design your routine so that you do not workout for more than two days in a row. > Tommy O'Brien, Roger Broeg, Matt Staples, Bill Andrews
1.14 Q. When should I do cardio?
A. Generally, one should do cardio on non-gym days, or if that is not possible, after the workout. This allows you to have a productive workout with the weights without your energy being drained via a cardio workout beforehand. > Roger Broeg
1.15 Q. I can't do a chin-up. What should I do?
A. There are several courses of action for you to take. You should continue doing lat pull-downs to strengthen your lats. This is the most obvious choice. You can also do negatives on the chin-up bar (basically, you will use a spotter or a bench to assist you in getting to the top. Then, you will lower your bodyweight as slow as possible. Then repeat). Another option would be to use one of the machines that assist in a chin-up by using counterweight under your feet. You should probably use a combination of the above to strengthen your back. Keep this up until you can do one chin-up with no help. From there, you can use the above combination to get stronger and stronger. Eventually, you will be doing chins with additional weight hanging from a belt between your legs! > Davin Ramoutar, Rick Shannon, Scott Bryant
1.16 Q. What sort of abdominal routine should I do to burn the fat off of my stomach? How do I get a 6-pack?
A. You can't spot reduce fat. Meaning, you can do all the sit-ups in the world and still never remove an ounce of fat from your stomach. It is technically impossible. Body fat tends to accumulate and melt away in a genetically pre-determined manner. For men, body fat tends to show up first (and disappear last) from the midsection, whereas in women, it tends to do so in the thighs and butt region. In order to lose your stomach, you need to lose fat over your whole body. As your body fat percentage drops, eventually, the fat in the stomach region will disappear. The best method of losing body fat is via diet. Please refer to the NUTRITION and RIPPED OR BODYFAT sections of the FAQ to read up on the best methods of losing body fat. (Also see GETTING RIPPED)
1.17 Q. OK, so how should I train my abdominal muscles?
A. Good question. Although opinions vary quite a bit as to how often the abdominal muscles should be trained, it is pretty widely agreed upon that the abdominal muscles should be trained much like any other muscle … with weight. Try to use weighted abdominal exercises that will allow you to achieve 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. Some examples include weighted sit-ups, weighted crunches, dumbbell side bends, Russian twists, standing cable crunches, and hanging leg raises. As far as frequency, some believe that the abdominal muscles should only be trained a few times per week, whereas some believe that the abdominal muscles can be trained heavy everyday. It is up to the individual to find what works for him or her. > Keith Carlsen, Rick Shannon, Davin Ramoutar
1.18 Q. How does a HIT program differ from others?
A. The problem with HIT is that it oversimplifies strength training (as I already said in a previous post). The simple fact of the matter is that strength and hypertrophy do not always go hand in hand as hardcore HIT proponents want to think. Simply working the muscle and gaining size will not always be the best method for gaining strength. A primary reason behind this is that many classify strength as being comprised of many varying categories (i.e. speed strength, endurance strength, limit strength, etc.). Training only one way (training to failure in a certain rep range for one set at all times) is only going to allow you to focus on one (or maybe two) areas of strength. For example, Olympic lifters and Powerlifters have learned that the best way to lift maximal weight is to utilize maximal acceleration in order to increase momentum (which in turn helps to move the bar through potential sticking points). In order to generate maximal acceleration, one needs to generate an "explosion" of sorts at the bottom of the movement and attempt to accelerate the bar at all points during the concentric phase of the movement. This is accomplished by training the body to activate more muscle fibers simultaneously. And this is accomplished not necessarily by strengthening or hypertrophying the muscle itself, but by training the CNS. The best possible means of training the CNS tends to be sports specific movements with approximately 60% of 1RM using an almost ballistic movement for few reps. If you notice in the Westside routine, they incorporate a speed day which uses 55% of the 1RM on bench and they do 10 sets of 3 reps very fast. They almost pull the bar to their chest, then catch it and reverse directions. This level of speed tends to cause the brain to fire a maximal number of muscle fibers simultaneously to generate the speed. Meaning, this speed day is primarily to train speed strength. HIT lifters would never dream of doing 10 sets or ever doing ballistic movements (as most HIT lifters also tend to follow the super slow school of thought as well). Another fact. It is generally accepted that the best way to increase limit strength is to lift near maximal loads for very few reps (very high intensity). Olympic lifters tend to do many sets of 1-3 reps above 90% of 1RM. This is yet another area of strength that HIT trainers will miss out on. Training one set to failure generally implies that the weight will need to be somewhere in the range of 70-80% of 1RM. Meaning, too heavy to effectively train speed strength and too light to effectively train limit strength. The fact of the matter is, HIT training is probably beneficial at times during ones training (I would think it would be effective at training strength endurance), however, to adopt it as a lifestyle approach to weight training is only cheating ones self out of a wide variety of good methods of training. To paraphrase Dave Tate, HIT training is not a type of weight training, but only a component of a proper routine. The HIT school of thought is very limited IMO. They seem to have latched onto one small aspect of weight training, and made it their only way to train. This will limit future strength gains, IMO.
Periodization on the other hand is a very generic term that simply means that the routine will change in some way over time. Periodization, as it is traditionally thought of, involves generally 3 or 4 cycles where one basically starts with lighter weight for more reps and more volume. As the training cycle (generally 8-10 weeks) progresses, the weight and intensity increase as the volume decreases. Many also feel that this traditional approach to Periodization is also a bit substandard (although it is certainly light years ahead of a typical all HIT routine due to the variety of weight used).
Probably the best way I have seen to train for many types of strength is the Westside routine. They have a speed day to train speed work, a maximal effort day to train limit strength, and a variety of assistance work that trains for hypertrophy as well as strength endurance. Throw in the sled dragging and you have excellent GPP (General Physical Preparedness). Now, from what I have seen, many of the die hard HIT proponents will say that speed strength training is dangerous and not needed. I have also seen them say that strength is strength, and all one really needs to do is to train one way and the muscles will strengthen. However, this is naive as it totally ignores much of the existing research that has been done in biomechanics and sports specific training. A book I would highly recommend reading is "SuperTraining" by Dr Mel Siff and Dr.Verkhoshansky. It covers all aspects of strength and sports specific strength training. It is by far the best book I have ever seen on the subject. Our very own Gymrat (Roger) is using a routine that has given him great strength gains recently. Many of the aspects of his routine came from his reading of this book. >Greg Whalin
2. THE BIG THREE LIFTS REVISITED - Contributed by Brent Wilson
2.1 Q. What are the big three lifts?
A. The big three lifts are generally considered to be the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift.
2.2 Q. How are these lifts performed?
A. There are a few good books with pictures such as Stuart McRobert's book The Insider's Tell-All Handbook on Weightraining that show proper technique.
2.3 Q. How should one construct a program including the three lifts?
A. Books such as The Poliquin Principles and Priming the Anabolic Environment that include sample programs with the squat, bench, and deadlift. Typically the bench press is done on chest/triceps day, the squat is done on leg day, and the deadlift is done on back/biceps day.
2.4 Q. What are the primary muscles worked?
A. In the bench press the major muscles worked include the chest, triceps, and anterior deltoids. Squats primarily work the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips/glutes. Deadlifts work the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips/glutes, low back, and latisimus dorsi.
2.5 Q. Why is it important to include squats, bench presses, and deadlifts in my program?
A. As shown by the previous question, these three lifts work almost the entire body. So to maximize the most amount of muscle worked in the shortest amount of time these exercises should be the focus of your program.
2.6 Q. What if my goal is to lose fat, and not get bigger?
A. Then you still need to involve these lifts into your program. By working the most amount of muscle these lifts also burn the most calories. Calorie deficit is the most important factor for losing fat.
2.7 Q. What are the variations of these lifts?
A. Variations of the squat include the front squat, overhead (snatch) squat, Smith-machine Squat, and Zercher squat. Variations of the deadlift include the Sumo deadlift, trap bar deadlift, straight-legged deadlift, Romanian deadlift and Zercher deadlift.
Variations of the bench press include the incline bench press, close-grip bench press, and the dumbbell versions.
2.8 Q. How are those lifts performed?
A. Front squats are done exactly like back squats, but with the bar placed across the anterior deltoids.
Overhead squats are done with the hands in position for the snatch with the bar overhead throughout the entire motion.
Smith-machine squats are done like a back squat but with the bar is on rails. This type is not generally recommended due to increased shearing force on the knees and the fact that the machine locks the user into a plane of motion that might be unnatural.
Zercher squats are done by placing the barbell in the elbow joint. Go down until the elbows touch the top of the thighs.
Sumo deadlifts are done by placing the hands inside of the legs about nipple width. The legs are slightly wider than shoulder width. This deadlift is easier to perform for those without the required flexibility for conventional deadlifts.
Trap bar deadlifts are done using a trap bar instead of a standard Olympic barbell.
Straight-legged deadlifts are done by holding the barbell at shoulder width and bending at the waist. The legs are kept straight so depending on flexibility the back has a tendency to round. If this is a problem one should do Romanian deadlifts.
Romanian deadlifts are done similarly to SLDL but the knees are slightly bent and the barbell is lowered only to a point where the back begins to round. However the back isn't allowed to round.
Zercher deadlifts are performed with the barbell held in the elbow joint forcing the exercise to begin from a lower position.
Incline bench presses are performed exactly like conventional bench presses, just with an inclined bench.
Close-gripped bench presses are done on a flat bench with the hands spaced slightly closer than shoulder width, this exercise involves the triceps more than flat bench presses.
2.9 Q. I am a powerlifter and would like to get technique advice, can you help me?
A. It is very difficult to view someone's form over Usenet. Best that you seek out a qualified coach.
3. NUTRITION - Contributed by Tom Morley
3.1 Q. What are the three main macro-nutrients?
A. The three main macro nutrients are:
A. The standard asw answer is 1 gram per pound of body weight. The actual research is slightly less (.7 per pound), but more is better, right? Certainly those that do extensive cardiovascular training -- in addition to strength training -- should be very careful to maintain high levels of protein in their diet.
3.3 Q. How much should I eat?
A. Depends on what you want to do. To maintain your present weight, eat about 15 times your present weight in pounds. So if you weight 180 pounds you should eat approximately 180x15, or 2700 calories per day. Your results may vary. Depending on your genetics, current metabolic rate, level of activity, and four or five hundred other things, the number of calories that you need to maintain (neither lose nor gain) weight could be significantly higher or lower.
3.4 Q. How do I find out what it in foods?
A. At least in the US, most foods have a label which tells how much of each macro-nutrient is in one serving of that food. There is also the USDA nutrient database.
3.5 Q. How often should I eat?
A. Many weightlifters eat six to seven small meals a day, and seem to do better this way than the usual three large meals. When asked why, people usually mumble something about insulin.
3.6 Q. What are meal replacement powders? Should I use them? When?
A. Meal replacement powders are simply artificial meals. They are used by many for connivance. Food is better.
3.6 Q. What is Glycemic Index?
A. Glycemic index is a measure of the insulin response to food. The gives (for many foods) a way to measure how fast various foods are absorbed by the body. That being said, the insulin response to groups of foods eaten together (such as a ham sandwich, with mayo), can and is significantly different from the glycemic index of the foods --= bread, ham, mayonnaise, eaten separately. Thus the usual lists of glycemic index -- which lists various foods, are useless when you eat a whole meal.
3.7 Q. What are good fats? What are bad fats? What do they do?
A. The bad fats are the saturated fats, and the trans-fatty acids. Avoid eating a lot of these. The good fats are the monounsaturated fats - such as olive oil, and the polyunsaturated fats, such as safflower oil, the various fish oils, and flax oil. The "omega 3" and "omega 6" polyunsaturated oils. (Fish, flax, safflower, many others.) are essential in that the body cannot synthesize them. The "omega 6" oils are essential in the brain and several other body functions. See http://www.udoerasmus.com/ for more information about oils.
3.8 Q. Should I eat eggs?
A. There is nothing wrong with eggs in moderation. In many counties (such as the U.S.), you should avoid raw eggs, because of the danger of salmonella. 3.9 Q. What about cholesterol?
A. Levels of blood cholesterol are not directly correlated with cholesterol intake. Saturated fats tend to increase levels of cholesterol, while unsaturated fats, tend to decrease levels of cholesterol.
3.10 Q. What about eating a lot of fruits? Fruits contain natural sugar. Are these simple carbs? (Not so good.) What's your opinion?
A. Fruits often contain good micro nutrients -- various antioxidants, minerals, etc. They are also high in sugars, often fructose. There is noting wrong with fructose in moderation.
3.11 Q. For those guys/girls who are already following a diet for a long time: What was your best diet?
A. The best diets are: eat slightly less -- say 500 calories under maintenance, and exercise (cardio) slightly more. Keep this up and be patient. Note that the body adjusts to almost anything, and thus any diet will eventually stop working. Although there is nothing magical about low crab diets, many people do well on them. There are many web resources for the low carb dieter.
3.12 Q. What nutrition after workout?
A. It is good to get some carbs in after a workout to replenish your glycogen stores. I used to only have a protein shake, but I have recently been mixing in a package of Carnation Instant Breakfast. It has about 30g of carbs in it (1/2 simple, 1/2 complex). I'm not sure if it is the best thing to do, but I have a shake like that and then about 2 hours later, I'll have my dinner, which mostly consists of protein and some carbs. Try to incorporate some fat into your diet too. I used to be strictly protein, but after a few posts here, a bunch of guys told me to up my fat intake to increase testosterone levels. Sounded good, so I did it. Just throw in a couple handfuls of nuts or something during the day or a salad with regular dressing (not fat-free). Hope this helps and if anyone has anything to add or correct me on, please feel free to. I know that I am not the most knowledgeable about this kind of stuff, but I am relaying things that I have been told in this newsgroup. > Steve Thompson
3.13 Q. What should I eat?
A. A lot of people shoot for 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% fat. This is CALORIC breakdown, not mass. 1g fat = 9 kCal. 1g protein = 1g carb = 4 kCal. Also, when consuming calories avoid processed carbs and starches. These are basically as bad for you as soda pop. EXCEPT after you work out. Try whole-wheat or whole grain stuff. Eat a lot of beans. > Riaz F. Abdulla email@example.com
3.14 Q. Trying to improve my diet and I want to know how much carbs/protein/fat I should take in. When I read labels on cans and stuff how much should I take in per meal or per day?
A. Try to get 40% of your daily calories from protein, 40% from carbs and 20% from fats. Adjust this depending on your results, which will be determined by your metabolism. Remember this:
3.15 Q. I see everyone saying that you need a good diet that doesn't include pizza or fast food, etc. So I was wondering what types of food do you eat? I know what you would want to eat, but if I'm trying to get proteins in my body and all that, how will I know what has a lot? I could look at the back of a Nutrition Chart and it will say 17g Protein, 19g fat, 4g carbs. Everything I've seen that has a lot of protein has a lot of fat. So what kind of meals do you guys eat a day?
A. Now I would not advocate a diet high in refined sugar or white flour but not because they are "bad" carbs. I would look at the nutritional makeup of the carbs. Whole grain products, fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, fiber and nutrients and essential to good health. > Matt Staples
4. SUPPLEMENTS - Contributed by Matt Staples
The following is a "straight to the point" discussion of a variety of supplements. Unlike long posts on ASW or articles, the descriptions here will not cite references when results of scientific studies are discussed. However, they may or may not refer to such material. This serves as a general guide for someone wondering about what these supplements are that everyone is talking about, and more specific questions should be directed to the ASW newsgroup.
Creatine - Creatine is probably the most-discussed supplement in any of the fitness-oriented media right now. It works because when you perform a set, your ATP in the myocytes (muscle cells) is broken down rapidly to ADP and inorganic phosphate. Phosphocreatine, the form in which the body stores creatine, regenerates ATP by donating its phosphate group to ADP. Thus, having larger phosphocreatine stores in the muscles increases your anaerobic endurance. This essentially means that it enables you to do more reps during a set. Creatine also causes water retention in muscle cells, which is responsible for the majority of the weight gain in the short term (usually 5-10 pounds with saturated phosphocreatine stores). It is available in the monohydrate and phosphate forms, with monohydrate being more cost-effective and much more widely used. There is no evidence whatsoever that creatine phosphate works better than monohydrate. It was first made available in powder form, then in formulations including simple sugars, and subsequently in effervescent formulas. For most people, it is suggested that they first try a powdered form of creatine, since it is the most cost-effective. There are two schools of thought on how to dose - some suggest "loading," in which you consume 20-30g for 5 days and then use a maintenance dosage of 5g. Others simply only use a maintenance dose the entire time, as research has borne out that it is similarly effective after approximately 1 month of use. The usual best times to take creatine are in times of high insulin sensitivity, such as in the morning on non-training days and postworkout on training days. Others take creatine before lifting, because it has been demonstrated that exercise increases creatine uptake. Note however that taking creatine immediately before you work out will not give you an energy boost in that workout. Simple sugars are included in many creatine formulations because it has been shown that spiking insulin (the body's major anabolic hormone) increases creatine uptake. If you have plain powdered creatine, you can use your own source of carbohydrate. The research has been somewhat mixed on the amount of carbs to generate a sufficient insulin spike. A good guideline to follow is to base your decision on how much carbohydrate to use on your goals. If you are seeking to lose fat, I suggest only using 15-25g CHO per dose. Those seeking to gain size can use more, up to 75-100g. Some research has shown that approximately 100g is necessary to increase creatine uptake, so it is a good way to go for the aforementioned group. Good sources of carbs include, but are not limited to, dextrose and maltodextrin. Dextrose is the most commonly used sugar in pre-made formulations. Maltodextrin, while an oligosaccharide, actually causes a greater insulin spike than simple carbs.
HMB - Thanks to a former editor of a fitness magazine, this supplement is routinely bashed by Usenet participants. This is due to his outrageous claims about the product when it was first introduced to the supplement market, in which he had claimed to gain a great deal of lean body mass while losing a lot of bodyfat. Studies performed at a midwestern university showed similar results for study participants. As a result, people couldn't wait to get this fabulous new supplement at the time. Nearly no one got those kind of results, so word got around that it was worthless and essentially a joke. While it is true that it does not have the dramatic results that one could see from some other supplements, it does have certain uses. HMB is a metabolite of leucine, which interestingly enough is used in the cattle industry to increase marbling in the muscle tissue (that is, it increases intramuscular fat). Most accounts state that this effect is negligible in humans, and it primarily is used as an anticatabolic aid while dieting or training intensely. More recent research has shown that as little as 3g per day can have significant anticatabolic effects and increase muscle recovery, but it only has these effects if the athlete is training intensely with a great deal of overload. This, combined with its prohibitively high cost, relegates HMB to a spot in which its legitimate market is limited to those with expendable income who would appreciate that slight edge.
Triax - This is a brand name for an American dietary supplement containing triacana, which is a French thyroid hormone drug. More specifically, triacana is a degradation product of triiodothyronine (T3), which is the body's active form of thyroid hormone. Its intended use is as a thyroid replacement when T3 levels are low from extended periods of low-calorie dieting, and by all accounts it not only works for this purpose but actually has a fat-burning effect much greater than expected based on the available literature. Triacana is part of a negative feedback loop, meaning that having appreciable levels in your blood very rapidly decreases the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) secreted. Thus, if you take too little, you may find your metabolism lower, or simply replacing the lost T3 that you would have had anyway if you weren't taking the drug. The typical dose for fat loss is 4mg per day. Your thyroid hormone negative feedback loop is very delicate, so keep in mind that any time you mess with it, you are taking a risk. Possible consequences include lifelong dependence on thyroid replacement, or more likely, a vast reduction in your TSH production for several months. Realistically, using it for a period of time less than a month and taking at least approximately double that amount of time off of it, most users will recover relatively quickly.
Meal Replacement Powders - Commonly referred to as MRP's, these are essentially variations on a formula consisting of approximately 40g protein and about 15-25g carbohydrates, usually in the form of maltodextrin. They essentially all have the equivalents of approximately ½ of a multivitamin, and some have other micronutrients such as l-glutamine, taurine, branched-chain amino acids, and so forth. They are useful for people on the run and those unable or unwilling to prepare food. The general consensus is that they should not be used as replacements for whole foods too often, because whole food contains an array of nutrients which cannot be garnered from MRP's.
HPDx - HPDx contains a mitochondrial uncoupler extracted from lichens, and it elevates your metabolic rate much more significantly than a simple ECA stack (it does contain 18mg ephedrine alkaloids per tablet, however). Unlike the uncoupler most are familiar with, 2,4-dinitrophenol, this supplement is designed for long-term use, so yes, it should work for longer than a few weeks. There have been several concerns raised about its safety, although my understanding is that the evidence for such concerns comes from studies involving microorganisms and some work done in a test tube. I have heard from a reputable source that the makers of HPDx will most certainly address all of the concerns raised to this point in the near future. If you want to learn more check out http://www.ppproducts.com.
Although I haven't been very happy with prohormones thus far in the few times I have used them, I am considering using them again and wanted to see if anyone else has used the same dosing scheme that I am considering, which is taking 800mg of 4-AD first thing in the morning daily. I base this on the following arguments:
1. Pat Arnold says that if you take a large enough oral dose, you can decrease first-pass liver degradation. This means that more gets into your general circulation.
2. He also claims that this should not overly stress the liver and won't raise enzyme levels.
3. Bill Roberts has made statements to the effect that elevating androgen levels early in the day is much less likely to disrupt the hypothalamus-pituitary axis (HPTA). Thus, assuming that androgen levels return to baseline before the evening hours (and yes, this keeps in mind that the greater the single dose, the longer the "spike" will last, rendering the studies done with 100mg less meaningful), then this should not be a problem.
5. GETTING RIPPED - Contributed by Ed Sturm
Many people often ask the question "How do I get ripped?" Well, I hope you are ready for a long answer because the art of getting ripped is much more complex than most people realize. First off, there is no clear-cut method, as different people will react differently to different things. There is quite a variation of diets and meal plans, most of which are somewhat effective but there is much more to getting ripped than a simple meal plan.
First, some basic answers to some basic questions:
5.1 Q) What is the definition of ripped?
A) Typically, any male whose body fat is under 9% would be considered ripped. For a woman, fewer than 18% is considered to be ripped. In both cases, abdominals are clearly visible.
5.2 Q) How disciplined must I be?
A) The single most important factor in the struggle to get ripped is structure. Without structure, it is nearly impossible to maintain the proper level of discipline that is required to achieve your goals. Getting ripped requires a tremendous amount of discipline, desire and determination. There are no shortcuts and one must be willing to make sacrifices.
5.3 Q) Must I do cardio?
A) My opinion is absolutely, yes! Cardio is an essential component in the struggle to become ripped. Some people even perform cardiovascular activity twice a day.
5.4 Q) Can I drink alcohol and be ripped?
A) I don't think so as alcohol provides too many empty calories and leads to poor eating choices. Anyone who really is serious about getting ripped will not have anything more than an occasional beer or glass of wine.
5.5 Q) Must I do the no carb diet?
A) No, plenty of people have gotten ripped without totally eliminating carbohydrates but rest assured that in order to get ripped, some sort of carbohydrate restriction will have to be adhered to.
5.6 Q) I saw an ad for some pills that promise weight loss. Can these get me ripped?
A) No, there are no pills on the market that will single handedly help you achieve your goals. Beware the miracle pill advertisement. Most of the products being marketed as miracle fat loss pills will simply cause you to lose some excess water. If you want to get ripped you must exercise and eat properly, period!
5.7 Q) Are there any supplements that will help?
A) Help, yes. Do it alone, no. Products generally regarded as ECA stacks (ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin) are known for their fat burning abilities and can be very helpful but only when used in conjunction with a proper nutritional and exercise plan.
Now that I've answered the basic questions, I'll move more into an article structure and discuss specific dieting methods and exactly what it will take to get ripped.
Any type of caloric restriction will cause initial weight loss. It's moderating that restriction and not allowing your body's metabolic rate to shut down that is the key to prolonged fat loss. One must consume at least five small meals per day in order to keep the metabolic furnace burning strong. Your calorie deficit should remain at approximately 500 calories daily. This means that if you typically burn 2500 calories per day, you need to keep your daily caloric intake at 2000. This will enable you to continue to lose fat on an ongoing basis without shutting down your metabolism to a crawl. Just remember to keep the protein grams high.
5.8 Keep a log:
Most people have no clue how many calories they typically consume in any given day. Take a quick glance at what you ate yesterday and see if you can determine the total amount of calories, protein grams, carbohydrate grams and fat grams. If you can't come up with the figures right off the bat than you need to keep a log. Every single day, write down exactly what you ate and list the protein grams, carb grams and fat grams. This makes it awful easy to see where the problems lie as it is all there in black and white.
Although mentioned above, I cannot put enough emphasis upon the fact that getting ripped requires a tremendous amount of determination, dedication and commitment. If you want to have a six pack on the beach you have to make daily sacrifices and one of those sacrifices is the six pack that you drink in the clubs. For a man with average genetics to lower his bodyfat to a ripped 8%, it must become one of the main focuses of his life for the time being. Everything that you eat must be accounted for and there is not much of a margin for error. Having your body fat this low is not easy and it is not for everyone. For many, it simply is not worth the commitment and many lack the self-discipline to achieve this goal. For those of you that do possess the discipline and the proper frame of mind, well, you will be the ones being stared at on the beach! The rewards are fantastic.
5.9 Q) So, enough with the lectures; how do I get ripped?
A) Ok, for starters, we will use a 170 pound male with average genetics as an example. There are many variations of diet programs. Myself, I use the ketogenic (no carb) version but this is somewhat extreme, especially for a beginner so we will review a basic, high protein, moderately low carb, and moderate fat diet. (For those ready to take the plunge directly into ketogenics, please see the articles on ketogenic dieting on our website or refer to Lyle McDonald's book "The Ketogenic Diet").
5.10 Q) How many calories do I need to consume to lose bodyfat?
A) Again, the 170-pound male is the example. Take your body weight (in this case 170) and multiply it by 10-12. This adds up to between 1700 and 2040. That would be the number of total calories required to lose bodyfat. I prefer the lower end for myself. Suppose that you are a 140-pound female? Take that 140 pound figure and multiply that by 10-12, coming up with 1400-1680 total calories.
So, back to the male, take 1700 calories and divide it by 5 meals and you now have an average of 340 calories per meal. Assume that we will consume 30-40 grams of protein in each meal. Since each gram of protein is equivalent to 4 calories, this means that out of those 340 calories, 120-160 will come from a protein source. This leaves 180-220 calories left. Keeping the carbs a bit less than the protein, we will consume approximately 30 grams of carbs in the same meal. Each gram of carbs has the same four calories as each gram of protein. Now we have another 120 calories, leaving us with a total of between 240-280. With 60-100 calories to spare, this leaves us with fat, which contains nine calories per gram. We now consume between 6-11 grams of fat.
I know this seems a bit confusing so let's summarize. We need 340 calories in each meal and would like to break it down to roughly 40 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbs and 10 grams of fat. A 5-6 ounce 90% lean beef burger on a whole-wheat roll would accomplish this. Another choice would be a 5-6-ounce piece of grilled chicken, a baked potato and a tablespoon of sour cream. How bout a 5-6 ounce piece of grilled salmon, a half cup of rice and half cup of steamed broccoli? Not so difficult, right? Want something easier? A MET-Rx shake and a tablespoon of flaxseed oil will do the trick.
There are also other considerations as well. The types of carbohydrates that are consumed as well as the timing of their consumption are also important. While dieting, we want to consume as little sugar as possible (this includes fruit) and keep most of your carbohydrates in the form of vegetables. (Referred to as fibrous carbs) Breads and pastas (starchy carbs) are to be limited and again, simple sugars nearly avoided. The only exception to the sugar rule is as a post workout meal, where simple sugars may be consumed, as they will go towards the replenishment of muscle glycogen. No carbohydrates other than vegetables are to be consumed after 6PM.
I'd like to add a bit more on the topic of sugar so that everyone can understand the need to almost totally eliminate sugar from his or her diet. Without getting into the technical reasons, sugar spikes insulin and while dieting it is imperative to keep insulin levels steady throughout the day as insulin promotes fat storage.
The only time that it would be beneficial to consume any type of sugar while dieting is during a post workout meal (immediately following weight training) as these sugars will be absorbed into the muscles to replenish the glycogen that was used during the session. Glycogen stores in both the muscles and the liver and I the absence of muscle glycogen, carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars will be used to refill these glycogen stores. Glycogen also stores in the liver where it is converted to fat calls, which we want to avoid, therefore sugars should be consumed only after a weight training session.
5.12 MEAL PLANNING:
The basic; Protein:
Protein is the main staple of one's diet and much of the protein will come from lean meats. Generally speaking, meats and fish contain seven grams of protein per ounce. Below is a list of acceptable meats and fish to choose from. A four-six ounce serving of each will contain roughly 30-40 grams of protein, roughly 2-12 grams of fat and between 140-275 calories. All are acceptable whole food protein sources for dieters.
Grilled chicken breast
Lean beef, 87% or above
London broil Turbo
Flank Steak Flounder
Grilled turkey Shrimp
Ok, here is where it gets a little tougher. There are different types of carbohydrates. When attempting to get ripped, we want to limit our carb choices to those that are from "natural" sources. That means no refined sugars for one. Vegetables are "natural" provided they are in their original state. (fresh) Rather than go into boring details about how many carbs each particular vegetable consists of, let's generalize and group all vegetables in the same category. The only exceptions are potatoes and beans, which we will get to separately.
All of these can be eaten in a near limitless amount with the exception of corn and carrots, which are a bit higher in carbohydrates than the others.
Baked potatoes have roughly 30 grams of carbohydrate per one medium sized potato making them a perfect choice as a carbohydrate source on this diet. A cut of one a meat mentioned above, a medium baked potato (without butter or margarine) and a serving of one of the vegetables above make a perfect meal. A baked potato mixed with a can of tuna and some low fat mayo is another great choice. Other good natural carbohydrates include whole oats and grains such as old fashioned oatmeal and shredded wheat.
Many of you may be more inclined to get some of your meals in the form of supplements. They are much easier and much more convenient and limit the amount of meal planning and preparation that must be done. Although I am a fan of using certain supplements, keep in mind that one does need real, whole foods and supplements should be used as secondary food sources only. We need five meals per day and if using a supplement for one or two per day makes life easier, this is fine. Just be sure to not use supplement meals as your only food source.
Many companies offer ready-made Meal Replacement Powders. Although none of these are absolutely necessary, they are very convenient and can be used to replace an entire meal. Just add the powdered packet to water and mix in a shaker or blender. (I prefer a blender with ice) Not much thought is required here. In my opinion, MET-Rx makes the best quality Meal Replacement Powder on the market but one should experiment with tastes. Other good ones to try are Lean Body and Myoplex.
There is a wide assortment of very convenient Protein Bars on the market that makes meal planning even easier. These also can be used to replace a meal and some of them are actually very, very tasty. Just make sure that they are proving you with enough calories. MET-Rx also makes some very good Protein Bars as does Worldwide Nutrition, Labrada and Premier. Find what appeals best to your taste buds.
5.15 CALORIE CHART
This is a calorie chart showing the amount of calories an average person of each particular weight should consume in order to lose body fat. It is very simple to figure out; take your weight and multiply it by 10. Keep in mind that these figures are low, as some people will require 12 times their bodyweight. I prefer to keep them a bit lower then necessary in order to provide a bit of a margin for error. Also make a note that if your calories are too restricted, your weight loss will eventually slow to a complete stop as your metabolism will slow down, causing even more future weight problems.
5.16 DAILY MEAL PLAN
This is a sample of a meal plan that I would follow personally while on a normal, body fat reduction phase. There are more extreme diets, such as a totally carbohydrate free version, but this is basic and easy for a beginner to follow. The total calorie values are based upon a 170-pound male.
Chocolate Peanut Butter
|1 serving oatmeal in skim milk||185||5||30||5|
|1 can solid white tuna
with one tablespoon low fat mayo
|2 Shredded wheat biscuits||175||3||32||4|
|5 ounces flank steak||21535||0||8|
|One cup mixed vegetables||130||2||30||0|
|6 ounces grilled chicken breast||195||40||0||4|
|Medium baked potato||130||2||30||0|
|Tablespoon sour cream||90||10|
|MET-Rx Protein Plus Bar||300||32||15||8|
|Cheese Omelet with 3 egg whites,
1 yolk and 2 slices lowfat American Cheese
|1 serving oatmeal in skim milk||185||5||30||5|
|4 ounce burger with 90% lean ground beef||185||28||0||8|
|1 slice low-fat American Cheese on
whole wheat roll with lettuce and tomato
|MET-Rx Protein Plus Bar||300||32||15||8|
|1 can solid white tuna (in water)
with 1 tablespoon low-fat mayo
|2 slices light wheat bread, lettuce, tomato||105||2||20||2|
|5 ounce grilled chicken||175||35||0||4|
|1 cup steamed broccoli||30||1||6||0|
|1 serving brown rice||115||2||25||2|
Keep in mind that these are numbers for a 170 pound male. For someone who weighs more, adjust calories higher as eating less will only slow your metabolism down rather than speed it up.
Now, let's take a look at a good eating plan for a 130 pound female. Notice how the carbohydrates are quite low in the evening. This is because I have found that women have a much more difficult time burning fat when consuming carbohydrates in the evening.
|MET-Rx shake, Chocolate||240||37||19||2|
|1 tablespoon flaxseed oil||125||14|
|1 can solid white tuna
with 1 tablespoon low-fat mayo
|2 slices light wheat bread, lettuce, tomato||105||2||20||2|
|4 ounces grilled chicken||140||28||0||3|
|1 cup mixed vegetables||130||2||30||0|
|Pure Protein cookie||190||20||11||5|
|4 ounces London broil||165||28||0||6|
|1 cup steamed broccoli||30||1||6||0|
There is quite a variation of diets and meal plans, most of which are somewhat effective but as you can see there is much more to getting ripped than a simple meal plan.
6. FEMALE WEIGHLIFTERS - Contributed by Mistress Krista
6.1 Q. Will I get too big?
A. The short answer is no. The long answer is that because women produce far less testosterone than men do, they do not possess the same capacity as men for hypertrophy (increased muscle size/bulk). Since, however, hypertrophy is not explicitly correlated with strength, women can become quite strong without becoming large. Women who become bodybuilders (and in many cases fitness models) have a combination of exceptional genetics, intensive training, strict diets, and often a supplement regimen that includes anabolic steroids. Furthermore, it takes years of training, even for men, before substantial size gains can be achieved. Should you be that one-in-a-million woman who easily gains a great deal of muscle size through weight training (assuming you do not want this size, though that is not necessarily the case for all women), you can easily adjust your training regimen to ensure that you get the desired result.
6.2 Q. So why is my arm/leg/waist bulky?
A. To answer this question, you must look to your percentage of bodyfat. Much of what female trainers take to be "muscle bulk" is actually fat. Natural (i.e. non-anabolically assisted) female bodybuilders tend to be quite lean despite well-developed muscularity.
6.3 Q. What is bodyfat percentage?
A. Bodyfat percentage is an expression of how much of your body is fat, and how much is lean body mass (LBM). Bodyfat is both subcutaneous (under the skin) and visceral (around the internal organs). As you age, more fat is deposited around viscerally, so that a 20-year-old woman may have much less total bodyfat than a 60-year-old woman, even if they appear to have the same subcutaneous fat measurements.
6.4 Q. How is bodyfat measured?
A. Bodyfat can be measured in a variety of ways, with a range of accuracy. Many people have experienced the problem of having an inexperienced personal trainer or gym coach measure bodyfat with wildly incorrect results. When having bodyfat assessed, it is very helpful to have an experienced person do the assessment. That being said, a pair of calipers at home for individual use is a good tool for longterm progress measurement which does not necessitate booking an appointment with an "expert". The usual methods for bodyfat testing, in order from least to most accurate (some methods are of roughly equal accuracy depending on how they're done and who they're done on/by), are:
a) formulae based on a single waist measurement combined with a bodyweight measurement. This is probably the least accurate way to determine bodyfat.
b) formulae based on a few circumference measurements (waist, hip, forearm, etc.) combined with a bodyweight measurement (still pretty inaccurate, but not as bad as the first).
c) formulae based on a single skinfold measurement taken with calipers.
d) formulae based on 3 skinfold measurements taken with calipers.
e) formulae based on a 7-site measurement taken with calipers. It should be noted that all kinds of caliper measurements can vary based on the quality of calipers (Slimguide calipers are one of the best quality brands) and the experience level of the person doing the measuring.
g) gizmos, such as bodyfat scales or a hand-held bodyfat monitor, which send an electric pulse through the body to assess bodyfat. These are not bad for the average person, but can be quite inaccurate for an athletic person with relatively lower bodyfat.
h) underwater hydrostatic weighing. A hard method to find in most gyms.
i) autopsy. The most accurate, but a little unpleasant if you're still alive.
It should also be noted that many forms of bodyfat testing can be inaccurate for certain groups of people. Athletes of African or Asian descent, for example, have received highly inaccurate results (a negative bodyfat percentage result is not uncommon) in some forms of testing such as hydrostatic testing.
Some experienced coaches swear that they are able to assess bodyfat with a fair degree of accuracy simply by looking at their trainees. With practice, even the average trainee can learn to observe changes in their own bodyfat levels. Regular photographs and/or visual inspections at monthly intervals can be a useful tool for this kind of intuitive assessment.
6.5 Q. What is the range of bodyfat for women?
A. The average North American woman has a bodyfat percentage of ~25-29%, which is relatively high due to the often poor diet and exercise habits of the North American population. An optimal range of bodyfat for normal women is between 21-25%. Athletic women often have bodyfat percentages between 15-20%. Fitness models in competition shape tend to be around 12-15%, while female bodybuilders have been known to get as low as 8-9% (largely through artificial means). As a point of comparison, an optimal range of bodyfat for men is about 10-15%, with competitive male bodybuilders getting as low as 4%.
Q. Should I try to keep my bodyfat low?
A. Most women cannot maintain very low bodyfat percentages naturally, nor should they attempt to do so. Menstruation ceases below a certain level of bodyfat (about 12-14%), and this has repercussions for long-term health, particularly for bone density. The relationship between menstruation and overall health is not yet understood, but cessation of menstruation (amenorrhea), while not dangerous in and of itself, is often a symptom of larger problems. Short-term disruption of the menstrual cycle may pose minimal health risks, but there is no doubt that bone density is compromised with long term amenorrhea. Female bodybuilders and fitness models do not maintain the very low levels of bodyfat that you see at competitions and in photos. They plan their year or season to spend a few weeks or days in competition shape for contests, photo shoots, and the like. During the offseason, they allow themselves to maintain a much higher level of bodyfat. This being said, many women are quite healthy with a relatively lower percentage of bodyfat in the high teens (15-19%). For strength athletes such as powerlifters and Olympic lifters, a higher bodyfat percentage is usually necessary. There appears to be an inverse relationship between capacity for strength gain and bodyfat, such that women who do not attempt to maintain a lower bodyfat are more able to gain strength. The optimal range of bodyfat for both strength gain and general health in women is about 20-25%. Beyond this point, extra bodyfat does not seem to lend much extra assistance, though some women may still find a higher bodyfat helpful. Thus, when attempting to decide what level of bodyfat is optimal for the female trainer, a variety of factors such as training goals, overall health, age, and so forth must be taken into account.
6.6 Q. What is the relationship between LBM, bodyfat, and weight?
A. Many women, because of the cult of slenderness in many societies, fall prey to worrying about numbers on the scale. However, weight alone does not account for how fit and fat one may be. LBM is denser than bodyfat, so a more muscular woman with lower bodyfat may weigh the same as a woman with less muscle and more bodyfat, yet the first woman will look and be leaner. Some women will even increase their weight when they engage in a training program because they are gaining muscle, but they often lose inches while doing so. Most charts of "ideal weight", whether medical or from a fashion magazine, do not take into account relative amounts of bodyfat and LBM. Great numbers of very fit and lean people would be considered overweight by these charts. Thus, while numbers on the scale can be a means by which to gauge progress, it is more accurate to track changes in LBM and bodyfat. It is more useful to think in terms of "overfat" rather than "overweight". Additionally, slenderness alone is not a good measure of bodyfat levels. Many people are what is known as "skinny-fat", which means that while they appear slim, they actually have a relatively higher percentage of bodyfat in comparison to their LBM.
6.7 Q. How much muscle can a natural female trainer expect to gain in terms of muscle mass?
A. In the first year of training, a natural female trainer with average genetics but an ideal diet and training regimen can theoretically gain 10-12 lbs of muscle. More likely, her gains will be in the neighborhood of 5-7 lbs. After that, she can look forward to putting on approximately 1-3 lbs. of muscle per year of training.
6.8 Q. What is "toning"?
A. "Toning", or its evil cousins "firming", "sculpting", and "shaping", is largely a myth. There is no such thing as "toning". There is muscle gain and fat loss, and this goes for both men and women. "Toning" is used as a euphemism for training so that it is not threatening. "Toning" is likely a bastardization of the concept of muscle tonus, which is a partial contraction of the muscle characteristic of normal muscle (tonus is lost when muscles experience insufficient stimulation for prolonged periods of time, such as lying down for an extended period).
6.9 Q. How should I, as a woman, train?
A. This is a very complicated question. It depends on your goals, your overall state of fitness, your age, your physical limitations and so forth. However, in general, training advice that applies to men applies equally to women. Women do not need to train in a special way, nor do they need to worry about "getting too big", "getting hurt", "looking like men", and so forth. However, female trainers should keep in mind that there are some differences between men and women that should indicate a sensible training program. This is expanded on below.
6.10 Q. What physiological limitations can I, as a woman, expect?
A. One problem with training as a woman is that one must often overcome years of disuse of various muscles. Women and girls do not tend to engage in the same kind of informal or formal athletic activities that men do. Social norms generally assume that they are weaker, and the majority of women do not feel compelled to be physically strong in the same way that men do. As a result, women who begin training must both unlearn many "common sense" assumptions, as well as learn to use muscles that have not been extensively challenged. On the other hand, much of the work that women do (such as carrying around children, nursing, household work) requires a certain degree of strength, so there is often a disparity between what women are expected to be able to do, and what they can actually do. A healthy adult woman is capable, through training, of gaining a substantial amount of strength.
That being said, women tend to begin training with a few disadvantages compared to men.
a) lack of upper body strength. While many women can develop lower body strength which is comparable to men's, they tend to fall way behind on upper body strength. A male beginner may be able to execute a chinup, while a female beginner may require a year or more of training before she can accomplish the same feat.
b) greater propensity to knee problems such as patellofemoral syndrome. Because of women's wider hips, the angle of their thighbone (femur) is more acute, which can result in improper tracking of the kneecap (patella). This can be alleviated with careful attention to activity choice (i.e. ceasing to run if pain is experienced) and active prevention (strengthening of inner quadriceps muscle next to the knee [vastus medialis] and hamstrings).
c) smaller bodies. Women, on average, tend to be smaller than men. This means that many machines are not designed for them to use. This is not entirely problematic; it simply means that women should choose to use free weights wherever possible, to get the best range of motion and most natural movement for their individual bodies. This is also an advantage in some ways, because it means that women don't have to move as much bodyweight in exercises, like dips, where bodyweight matters.
6.11 Q. What physiological advantages can I, as a woman, expect?
A. Usually training advice for women is cast in terms of the male standard, i.e. what is "wrong" with women. However, women have many positive advantages in training.
a) greater flexibility. Women tend to be more naturally flexible than men.
b) greater endurance. I guess Mother Nature figured we had to make it through childbirth or something. While not proven, it's been speculated that women can handle higher volume within a workout better than men.
c) greater reliance on technique. This isn't really physiological, but since women are not enculturated to rely on brute strength, they often turn to finesse and technique to accomplish their physical goals. Though this can result in women not taking good risks (like going all-out for a new 1RM), it does mean that they are more likely to avoid trying to "muscle the weight up".
6.12 Q. How do I find a weight that's right for me?
6.13 Q. Will training shrink/increase the size of my breasts?
A. Breasts are composed of both fat and glandular breast tissue, and the relative amounts vary from woman to woman. For example, some women will have larger breasts even if they have lower bodyfat, and other women will have relatively smaller breasts at any level of bodyfat. So, while losing bodyfat is a pretty reliable way to shrink your breasts, genetics will determine just how much you lose. In general, it is quite rare to have large breasts at a low level of bodyfat, which is why most swimsuit and fitness models have implants. Building the pectoral muscles underneath the breasts will not make them perky if they are already sagging, but every little bit helps, and the visible division of the pectoral muscles at the top of the ribcage helps to create the illusion of cleavage if you're lacking it. However, the breast tissue is independent of the muscle beneath it, so you can't make your breasts bigger (or smaller, depending on which rumors you listen to) by doing chest work. Building muscle mass on the chest will do little to affect the shape or size of the actual breasts. Do not be dissuaded from doing chest work because someone says your breasts are already big enough. You're not going to develop massive pectoral muscles, and you need to work your entire body. If you neglect your chest work, a strength imbalance will develop between your back and chest, which could lead to injury.
There is disagreement at present over whether or not a bra helps or hinders breast sagging. Likely breast sagging has more to do with individual genetics and childbearing than bra wearing. Choose a sports bra that fits well and allows you to move while still supporting you. Title IX has some good quality bras ( www.titleixsports.com ).
6.14 Q. How should I modify my training during pregnancy?
A. One of the important truisms about activity during pregnancy is that pregnancy is not the time to begin a strenuous exercise program. Don't start German Volume Training or any kind of masochistic weight program. In fact, pregnancy is not the time to make any drastic physical changes. However, women who are already accustomed to regular activity and exercise generally find pregnancy no disruption to their normal routine. The female body has had plenty of evolutionary time to adapt to the stress of pregnancy and compensates for the extra demand in a variety of ways. For example, oxygen consumption/aerobic capacity can increase up to 30% during pregnancy in nonexercisers and even more in women who exercise. In addition, strenuous exercise can be exceedingly uncomfortable in the last part of pregnancy, which is perhaps the body's way of telling mom to lay off for a while till things get back to normal. However, anecdotal and clinical evidence shows that fitter women tend to have easier pregnancies and shorter deliveries with fewer complications. Many women also find that exercise during pregnancy helps alleviate fatigue and keep energy levels up. In addition, exercise has been shown to reduce the gain of subcutaneous (under the skin) fat associated with extra caloric intake during pregnancy. Thus, regular and moderate exercise during pregnancy can have many positive effects.
One of the most typical problems encountered by pregnant women is back pain. Their center of gravity shifts and extra weight is added over nine months. Women tend to slouch the shoulders and arch the lower back to compensate for these changes, which of course leads to discomfort. A strong abdominal column as well as a strong back gained through weight training before pregnancy can alleviate much of this problem.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy contribute to a softening and loosening of the connective tissues. This is done by the body so that it will be able to accommodate the stress of delivery. Women find that during their pregnancies it is easier to "pull" or "twist" things due to the joints putting up less resistance. Once again, weight training before pregnancy can help ensure that injury does not occur.
As I mentioned in the section on beginning to work out, rehydration is essential, at this time more than ever. Pregnant women are especially prone to overheating during exercise, so monitoring temperature, avoiding exercise in hot, humid environments, ensuring that there are mechanisms for body cooling (sweating, loosening of clothing, etc.), and drinking lots of water are key.
With regard to fetal effects, no detrimental effects have been shown in the babies of women who exercised during pregnancy. Birth weights were similar, rates of cesarean section the same, and general health of newborns was in normal range.
If you choose to exercise during pregnancy, here are a few guidelines
1. Monitor your nutritional needs. You will need extra calories and attention to a balanced diet.
2. Get adequate rest. This is true for any weight training program and more so during this period.
3. Make exercise regular. Infrequent and/or irregular exercise can result in injury or fatigue.
4. Be prepared to make modifications in your program as you need to. This is not the time to push the limits of your endurance or strength.
5. As part of your regular medical checkups, have your doctor advise you on possible changes to your body (e.g. cervical dilation) that may require you to modify your program. Ensure that you keep your doctor up to date on what kinds of activities you're engaging in.
6. Be careful about joint and connective tissue injury. Make sure you have an adequate warm-up and cool-down as part of your workout.
7. Don't take any supplements during pregnancy or breastfeeding other than a good-quality whey protein and a multivitamin (your doctor may recommend additional vitamin supplementation). Obviously, use of anabolic substances is a huge no-no at this time.
There is a bit of folk wisdom that suggests that women should not engage in exercise after having had a baby. There are dire predictions about souring the milk and so forth, having your uterus fall out, or heaven knows what. This is, for lack of a clinical term, crap. Studies have shown no increase in acidity of breast milk after mom's exercise. Regular postnatal exercise reduces or eliminates most of the unpleasant postpartum symptoms of physical and mental stress, depression, and so forth, as well as promoting a faster recovery. Furthermore, children of moms who exercised before, during, and after pregnancy were shown to be relatively leaner themselves five years later.
6.15 Q. I'm concerned about knee injuries. Should I squat?
A. Knee injuries such as patellofemoral syndrome and chondromalacia patella are much more common among women than men. Because of women's wider hips, the angle of their thighbone (femur) is more acute, which can result in improper tracking of the kneecap (patella). This can be alleviated with careful attention to activity choice (i.e. ceasing to run if pain is experienced) and active prevention (strengthening of inner quadriceps muscle next to the knee [vastus medialis] and hamstrings). Squatting is an essential part of most rehab programs at present. There is a myth, based on flawed research, that squatting deep hurts knees. In fact the reverse is true. Regular full squatting builds healthy knees and can be part of repairing damaged knees. Olympic lifters, who regularly squat to the bottom, have fewer incidences of chronic knee damage than other athletes as well as the general population. That being said, it is important to do what you can within your pain-free range. Some folks find that front squatting is easier on the knees, and makes achieving full depth easier. Others find relief when they change their stance from wide to narrow or vice versa. Still others find that they must work towards developing a full range of motion. The point is that squatting can be an essential part of preventive medicine as well as rehab.
7. YOUNG WEIGHTLIFTERS - Contributed by Eric Midkiff
7.1 Q: How old must a child be to begin weight training?
A: There is no set age. When a child is old enough to demonstrate an interest and follow the simple instructions required to engage in progressive resistance training, the child may begin lifting. According to Kraemer and Fleck, a child may be introduced to basic exercises with little or no weight, at seven years of age, assuming both resistance and volume are low.
7.2 Q: I have heard that weightlifting will stunt the growth of children, is this true?
A: No. People often refer to the premature closure of the epiphyseal plates, which is generally seen only in children who suffer an injury at the epiphyseal plate before they finish the growth process. However, these injuries are extremely rare, and occur even more rarely in weight training children. And while exercise has no effect on the lengthening of bones, it can increase bone density, which increases the strength of the bones and reduces the risk of injury.
7.3 Q: Will weight training actually benefit my child?
A: Yes. Even prepubescent children can make significant strength gains by following a progressive resistance program.
7.4 Q: I do not want my child to get too big and muscular. How do I avoid this?
A: A child does not produce enough of the hormones necessary for muscle growth to "get big." While a child engaging progressive resistance exercise will certainly get stronger, most of the strength increases are due to neurological factors.
7.5 Q: I have a daughter who wants to begin lifting weights, but will she wind up looking like a man?
A: No. Most women do not have the capability to build anywhere near the amount of muscle a man can, and this is even more the case in young women. The masculinization that can occur in some female athletes is secondary to the use of AAS, which any child should avoid, regardless of sex.
7.6 Q: Will my child get hurt lifting?
A: Not likely, but the risk of injury is present in any physical activity.
7.7 Q: What sort of guidelines should I follow when designing a progressive resistance program for my child?
A: In 1985, a workshop consisting of eight different professional organizations (the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers Association, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the Society of Pediatric Orthopaedics, and the U. S. Olympic Committee established specific guidelines regarding weight training for the young athlete:
1. Strength training equipment should be of appropriate design to accommodate the size and degree of maturity of the prepubescent.
2. It should be cost effective.
3. It should be safe, free of defects, and inspected frequently.
4. It should be located in an uncrowded area free of obstructions with adequate lighting and ventilation.
7.9 Program Consideration
1. A preparticipation physical exam is mandatory.
2. The child must have the emotional maturity to accept coaching and instruction.
3. There must be adequate supervision by coaches who are knowledgeable about strength training and the special problems of prepubescents.
4. Strength training should be part of an overall comprehensive program designed to increase motor skills and level of fitness.
5. Strength training should be preceded by a warm-up period and followed by a cool-down.
6. Emphasis should be placed on dynamic concentric contractions.
7. All exercises should be carried through a full range of motion.
8. Competition is prohibited.
9. No maximum lift should ever be attempted.
7.10 Prescribed Program
1. Training is recommended two or three times a week for 20- to 30-minute periods.
2. No resistance should be applied until proper form is demonstrated. Six to fifteen repetitions equal one set; one to three sets per exercises should be done.
3. Weight resistance is increased in 1- to 3-lb. increments after the prepubescent does 15 repetitions in good form.
1 Kraemer, W. J., & Fleck, S. J. (1993). Strength Training for Young Athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
2 Larson, R. L., & McMahan, R. O. (1966). The Epiphyses and the Childhood Athlete. Journal of the American Medical Association, 196, 607-612.
3 Weltman, A., Janney, C., Rians, C. B., Strand, K., Berg, B., Tippitt, S., Wise, J., Cahill, B. R., & Katch, F. I. (1986). The effects of hydraulic resistance strength training in pre-pubertal males. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 18, 629-638.
4 Strength training in children and adolescents. Webb, D. R.,Pediatr Clin North Am, 37(5):1187-210 1990 Oct.
5 Pfeiffer, R. D., & Francis, R. S.. (1986). Effects of strength training of prepubescent, pubescent, and post pubescent males. Physician and Sports Medicine, 14(9), 134-143.
6 Neuromuscular adaptations following prepubescent strength training. Ozmun, J. C., Mikesky, A. E., Surburg, P. R., Med Sci Sports Exerc, 26(4):510-4 1994 Apr.
7 Clapp, A. J., Murray, T. D., Walker, J. L., Rainey, D. L., Squires, W. G., & Jackson, A. S. (1995). The effect of six weeks of resistance training on isometric and isotonic strength in adolescents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 27(5), Supplement abstract 118.
8 Weight-training injuries in adolescents. Risser, W. L., Risser, J. M., Preston, D. Am J Dis Child, 144(9):1015-7 1990 Sep.
8. SENIOR WEIGHTLIFTERS - Contributed by Denver Fox
This section was written by someone who is sixty years of age and who does resistive and other types of exercises regularly. Like most folks, he simply enjoys working out and the benefits derived. In addition to resistive exercises, he walks daily, bikes frequently and swims occasionally. You may contact him at DnvrFox@aol.com
8.1 Q. Can an "older person" lift weights?
A. Yes. There are many advantages for an older person to engage in resistive exercises such as lifting weights, along with other types of exercise. It decreases and can reverse muscle loss, increases lean body mass, increase overall strength, increase bone density (thereby decreasing osteoporosis), and increase your metabolic rate. Depression is decreased, and there is a better outlook on life.
8.2 Q. What about the approval of my physician?
A. The approval and review of your program by your physician is important. Your physician may want to know if you have any history of heart trouble or heart attack, pain or pressure in your left or midchest area, left neck, shoulder or arm during or right after physical activity, feelings of faintness, spells of severe dizziness or extreme breathlessness after mild physical exertion. Additionally, high blood pressure and how it is controlled, arthritis and medications you are taking will have a bearing on your exercise program.
8.3 Q. Can someone be too old to start weightlifting?
A. No. Folks can start and participate in weight lifting into their 90's or longer. Just be sure to check with your medical doctor to be sure you don't have any physical conditions that may not be appropriate for weight lifting. Then start out gradually.
8.4 Q. What are some of the benefits for older persons of resistive exercises such as weightlifting?
A. Folks can do more work with less effort, are less likely to sustain fractures due to osteoporotic conditions and burn more calories at rest, making it easier to sustain a desirable body weight. Depression can be reduced and your general feeling of well being can be improved.
8.5 Q. What happens to your muscles as you age?
A. Due to inactivity and decreased production of the building blocks of muscles, the size of individual muscle fibers decreases, starting about age 25. This is particularly true of the "fast twitch" fibers, which are the ones giving force during a contraction. The nerve cells controlling muscle fibers also die. High-tension strength training such as weight lifting activates these fibers and increases the number of fibers. High tension strength training consists of higher weights and smaller numbers of repetitions.
8.6 Q. Can I burn up calories while weight lifting.
A. Yes. Strength training not only burns up calories while you are doing it, but the extra muscle that can be built uses more calories. For example, an extra five pounds of muscle burns 20 calories per day - over a year that could be a loss of over 2 pounds of fat.
8.7 Q. Can strength training make a senior feel better?
A. Yes. As someone's strength and body image improves, the level of self-esteem also increases. Also, many tasks become easier.
8.8 Q. I am uncomfortable in one of those gyms, and I look fat in those tight things. All those young muscular folks intimidate me. How can I lift weights?
A. Many recreation centers and community centers have strength training and weight lifting classes and programs designed for seniors. Besides lifting "free weights," there are machines designed to allow you to lift, starting with very light weights and allowing you to gradually increase them. In my experience at my own recreation center, the "machine room" is used by so many seniors that others have a difficult time getting on the machines!! You may have plenty of company. Also, some folks exercise in the privacy of their own home.
8.9 Q. How can a senior learn to lift weights and do resistive exercises?
A. Always start slowly and very gradually increase to your comfort level. Recreation centers have personal trainers or small classes where you can learn good techniques. If you are undergoing physical therapy, your physical therapist can accompany you to the recreation center and show you the exercises most beneficial to you. Some folks sort of hang around the machine room and watch others and ask questions. There are numerous private trainers and a number of good books and web sites. There are USENET (newsgroups) where you can ask questions and get good responses.
8.10 Q. How often should a senior do resistive exercises?
A. You do not need to do resistive exercises daily. In fact, the body and your muscles need rest between heavy resistive exercises - from 48 to 72 hours (or more) is considered appropriate. This is the time that your body builds new muscle fibers. You do not build new muscle while exercising, only afterwards!! Many folks do resistive exercise two or three times per week.
8.11 Q. What would a resistive exercise program be for a senior?
A. An example might be working out Tuesdays and Friday. A program would consist of 15-30 minutes of warm-up followed by 8 to 10 exercises targeting the major muscle groups of the body, performing at least one set of 8-12 repetitions to fatigue of the muscle.
8.12 Q. How much weight should I lift?
A. Seniors can lift weights from very light weights (five to ten pounds) to very heavy weights (hundreds of pounds). Those lifting heavy weights especially should be in good condition. Everyone lifting weights should know how to use proper form to avoid injuries. Proper form is an absolute must. Start with light weights and build up slowly.
8.13 Q. Should I do other exercises?
A. Yes, most seniors should engage in both anaerobic (resistive exercises) and aerobic (exercises causing you to breathe harder and your heartbeat to go faster). Aerobic exercises are such exercises as running, bicycling, walking fast and swimming.
8.14 Q. What about injuries?
A. The risk of injury from moderate levels of exercise is insignificant, if your health permits, yet the benefits are substantial. Lack of exercise and a sedentary life style do the most damage to your body.
8.15 Q. Can I exercise after a heart attack or other condition?
A. Yes, with the approval of your doctor. Many hospitals and health clinics have cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs especially designed for those who have special physical problems. These are run by trained therapists and should include close monitoring of your physical response as you exercise.
8.16 Q. Are there competitions in weight lifting for seniors?
A. Yes. Most competitions have a "seniors" or "masters" division. In some of those competitions there are few contenders, so one's chances of winning a medal can be quite high!! Hopefully this will change as more seniors do weight lifting.
8.17 Q. What weights can a senior lift?
A. Personally, I am still a beginner. I bench press 215 pounds for four times, do 40 pound dumbbell curls for five reps, do leg presses on the leg press machine of 300 pounds (maximum) for 10-25 reps. I also bike several thousand miles per year and walk about 20 miles per week. BUT, there are others who do far more, some bench pressing up to 350 pounds at age 65!! Truly, given an interest and motivation, the sky is the limit.
9. EQUIPMENT - Contributed by Keith Carlsen
9.1 Q. Which is better, free weights or machines?
A. Free weights allow more range of motion and are more likely to imitate actual workplace and sport movements. For muscle hypertrophy both seem to produce similar results with must people claiming slightly better hypertrophy gains from free weight exercises. However, free weights are much better than machines for someone concerned with strength.
9.2 Q. What is the difference between a cage and a rack and what are good examples of each?
A. Racks are barbell supports what allow you to rest the barbell at different heights and allow you to walk in and out. Cages are similar except you cannot walk out of a cage with a barbell because they are closed off. If you want to buy a cage or rack make sure they can handle heavy weights. At least 1000 lb. is recommended but the more the better. Also, the more adjustable the height is the better a cage or rack is.
9.3 Q. What should I look for in a bench?
A. The best benches are adjustable, both up and down, allow wide grips and are able to support heavy weights.
9.4 Q. Which type of machines compare the most to free weights?
A. Hammer Strength machines @ http://www.hammerstrength.com/ and Tru-Line machines @ http://www.southernxercise.com/.
9.5 Q. Are the abdominal machines as good as crunches?
A. When it comes to strengthening the abdominal muscles nothing is as good as full range of motion free weight crunches. There are many types of crunches and they all offer different benefits. However, all of them are better than any of the abdominal machines. The abdominal machines offer lack of range of motion and/or lack of variable resistance.
9.6 Q. How do Smith Machine squats compare to free weight squats?
A. Smith Machine squats offer limited range of motion, less activity of stabilization muscles, excess stress on the back, and excess stress on the knees.
9.7 Q. What are the best machines for the lower body?
A. Tru-Squat machines @ http://www.southernxercise.com/, Reverse Hyper Extension machines @ http://www.deepsquatter.com/westside/, and Glute-Ham machines, available from various producers and distributors are all very good.
9.8 Q. What are the best machines for the upper body?
A. Machines that allow you to do assisted dips and pull-ups, upper body Hammer Strength machines, and t-row machines.
9.9 Q. What is the best all around machine?
A. Cable Bar Systems @ http://www.olympus.net/personal/cablebar/.
9.10 Q. What is the difference between Olympic weights and standard weights?
A. Olympic weights have two inch holes and use the metric form of measure so they are measured in kilograms while standard weights use pounds. Most Olympic weights also have a lip on them which makes them easier to carry than standard weights.
9.11 Q. What companies make the best Olympic barbells and Olympic weights?
A. Eleiko @ http://www.eleiko.se/ and York Barbell @ http://www.yorkbarbell.com/.
9.12 Q. I an unable to make a five pound jump in the weight I lift, is there anyway I can move up in smaller weight increments?
A. Fractional plates allow you to move up in weight by very small amounts.
9.13 Q. What are some unusual types of barbells?
A. The Safety Squat, Buffalo, EZ Curl, Triceps, Shrug, and Trap bars are all different from the common Olympic bar.
9.14 Q. The bar hurts my back when I do squats, what can I do?
A. You may want to check your bar positioning. If you keep squatting you should get used to it but the Manta Ray is a very useful alternative. You could also try Buffalo bars. They are slightly rounded in the center so they put less stress on any one part of your back. They spread the weight out evenly over your upper back.
9.15 Q. When I try to do front squats my shoulders and wrists hurt, what can I do?
A. The Sting Ray will allow you to comfortably rest the bar on your shoulders while padding them the same way the Manta Ray pads your back. Both the Sting Ray and the Manta Ray are @ http://www.adfit.com/.
A. As with squats if you keep squatting your should get used to the weight on your shoulders. Using proper form and stretching the wrists should correct the problems.
9.16 Q. My grip is weak, what special equipment can I use to strengthen my grip?
A. IronMind @ http://www.ironmind.com/and Health For Life @ http://www.healthforlife.com/ both sell a wide variety of equipment to strengthen your grip.
9.17 Q. I am unable to find all of the equipment you listed, where should I look?
A. You could try the two above listed links or a search engine, such as metacrawler, excite, or yahoo.
10. INJURY PREVENTION AND REHAB - Contributed by Davin
General Muscle and Tendon
Shoulders and Chest
Legs and Knees
This section of the ASW FAQ deals with training related injuries, training through injuries and using weight training to rehabilitate injuries.
Most training related injuries include pulled, strained, sprained muscles, tendinitis, and occasionally, joint and bone problems. The benefits of training, however, far outweigh the small risk of injury. In fact, most injuries occur outside the gym, and the few that do occur from training are generally the result of using bad form and attempting too heavy a weight. Proper training will actually decrease the chance of injury in other pursuits or aid in recovery from those injuries.
For any serious injury or pain that lasts for more than a few days, you should see a doctor and follow his advice. Below is a series of questions and general answers and advice for several different types of injuries. Due to the wide range of injuries possible, and the difficulty of correctly diagnosing an injury without seeing it, all answers are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to replace the advice of a physician.
10.2 General Muscle and Tendon Injuries
In the course of training, there is a chance of muscle strains and tendon/ligament problems. These are generally the result of overtraining, lifting too heavy, or using bad form, and range from relatively minor to quite serious. The basic treatment for an acute injury (one that occurs suddenly and is normally associated with feeling a "pop" or "pull" while lifting) is called "R.I.C.E", short for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
To apply R.I.C.E.,
Rest : Stop the workout immediately after an injury, or if you feel a "pop" in a joint or muscle. In other words, don't try to be macho and finish your set, give it Rest!
Ice: Put Ice on the injured area, 10 minutes on, then off until skin returns to normal temperature, then back on for 10 minutes etc.
Compression: Wrap the injury with a compression bandage around the ice.
Elevate: Elevate the body part above heart level. This may not be possible for some areas such as the hips and lower back, in this case, just lie in a comfortable position.
R.I.C.E can be used on most injuries that occur in and out of the gym and should be continued for 24 to 48 hours after.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This isn't really an injury, it is a normal occurrence that goes hand in hand with weight training, usually when beginning, after a change in training, or after a particular intense session. The result is soreness in the muscles one to 3 (or more) days after the workout. It is said to be caused by microscopic tears in the muscle fibers from training.
10.4.1 Q: I came back from a layoff and had a great workout. It is now 3 days later and I can hardly move I'm so sore. What happened?
A: This is called DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. It can occur from an extra intense workout, from a new exercise or changing the way you train. It is said to occur due to microscopic tears in the muscle fibers.
10.4.2 Q: I just made a change in how I lift (lower weights same rep #). Example, bench press positive motion quickly, negative motion slowly, say 1:3 ratio in time. Wow, I can't believe the results as far as actually feeling a burn. First I have felt in it in most of my muscles. Now for the downside, 3 days later I am still sore. My pattern is to hit a group every 3 days. Should I go tonight or wait for the soreness to go away?
A: It's best to wait until all, or nearly all the soreness has gone away before training it again, however, sometimes a lightweight high-rep session can decrease the soreness.
10.5 Shoulder, Rotator Cuff and Chest Injuries
Shoulders are one of the most injury prone areas of the body with regards to weight training. Care must be taken to use a smooth motion, not jerky when doing shoulder exercises and good form here is extremely important.
10.5.1 Q: I started having soreness in my left shoulder about a week ago. It feels like the pain is coming from "inside" my shoulder, what I think to be my rotator cuff. I cut way down on my weights but the pain is still there. I only really notice the pain when I'm flat benching, incline benching, and stretching. Any one got any advice. I'm taking off until next Monday. Ice? Heat?
A: Yep, sounds like rotator cuff. For therapy, you might try ice for 10 min, then heat for 10 min, 4 times per day, plus ibuprofen. As far as lifting is concerned, the layoff is a good idea. Once you come back, don't do anything that hurts (Duh!). But I mean it: it's odd things that bother rotators, like maybe barbell bench press but maybe not dumbbell bench press. Shoulder presses have always bothered mine, so much so that I've finally given up on them and do front and lateral raises instead. If you start an exercise and feel pain, stop immediately and consider a longer layoff, find a different exercise that doesn't hurt it, or train an unrelated bodypart. >Wayne S. Hill
10.5.2 Q: I get a sharp pain in my side deltoid when doing front dumbbell raises. Any ideas why I'm getting this? I've tried using lighter weights but no matter how light I go I still get it.
A: Same as next:
10.5.3 Q: Not too long ago, I got a twinge of pain in my shoulder while doing heavy bench press. Since then, every time I bench, my shoulder is sore for about two days. I've taken time off, before trying to bench again and the pain seemed to almost go away. Lately it has reoccurred. Should I lay off just benching or completely lay off lifting all together? Is there anything else I can do for my chest? Also, what do you think I did to myself?
A: This sounds like a rotator cuff strain. Very easy to re-aggravate unless you give it a chance to heal. You may want to look at rotator cuff strengthening in your workout if you don't do it already, and check the relative strength of the rotator cuff between the injured and uninjured sides. If there's an injury you'll have to take it easy to begin with. You might be able to get away with decline presses, but you'll have to experiment. Keep the weights light and don't do exercises that hurt to perform. >Adrian B
10.6 Back Injuries
10.6.1 Q: I was squatting today and fell forward on one rep, and now have a severely sprained lumbar (as diagnosed by a health care professional, but not a Doctor). I have severe pain ever time I move, it feels like someone is trying to stick swords on my lower back and pelvic area. Anyone else have any experience with this injury and what the best care to take is for getting better? Is it something that will definitely mean a doctor's visit or should just staying off my feet for a few days take care of it? Also what kind of pain relievers have you taken? What kind of therapy did you use? Heat? Salves? Rubdowns? Any advice will be appreciated.
A: Within the first 48 hours you need to use an ice pack 15 minutes at a time, several times per day. Aleve works great as a pain reliever. After the first 48 hours you need to use some kind of moist heat on it 15 minutes at a time several times a day. Also after the first 48 hours you need to move it around, work it lightly, but it really would be a good idea to see a doctor. >Gymrat
A: Sorry to hear about this. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is a significant injury that requires at least a couple of weeks of complete rest (might want to make sure diagnosis is correct, BTW). I feel that my lower back sprain set me back at least 6 months of training, strengthwise, though I did pass the time by dieting and doing foofoo stuff (I discovered that maintaining a low body fat was pretty easy, but REALLY boring as a goal!). What worked for me when I sprained my back: heat applied several times daily; ibuprofen as needed for the pain (but do use a lot of moderation with this drug), massage of the trigger points (discovered that there was a trigger point in the hip joint for the lower back). Then, once pain had subsided, light lower back work like stretching and back hyperextensions (VERY light! and very slowly). Also, stretch out related muscles like hip joint, abs, etc. as best you are able. Once you have a correct diagnosis, it's not all that hard to rehab the injury with a little homework, but it often takes time. OTOH, this might not be the case with you. >Krista Scott Dixon
10.6.2 Q: Alternating grip? I damaged my back about two months ago now as a result of heavy deadlifts. Anyway, last Friday I decided that damaged or not, I needed to start again. Only worked up to 355 for a single and it hurt like hell but I used an opposing alternate grip this time, usually left hand over, this time left under. On Saturday my back felt fine and I could touch the floor without bending my legs and feeling incredible pain in my lower back. Anyway my question is that I had presumed it was a muscular pain but it would appear that since I now feel no pain that this is not the case. Could it therefor be a disc that had slipped and by alternating the grip and pulling more with the other side of my back it popped it back in? Or could it be that I had trapped a nerve which is now untrapped? Any suggestions?
A: Back injuries can be difficult for experts to differentially diagnose. It is even harder to diagnose on yourself (even if you are an expert, which I am considered to be by many). I'll try to keep this reply simple and it's by no means meant to be complete.
In my experience disc injuries are more common in lifting injuries than muscle strains......Note: I don't use the word slipped disc. Discs do not slip, they can bulge, protrude, herniate or rupture.
Muscle strains in the back are no different to treat than in any other area of the body. Initially R.I.C.E. then gentle stretching, progressing to light exercise before you go heavy (I know you have to be careful of "light". I treated a friend with a disc herniation that responded very fast to stretching -- within 2 weeks he was ready to go "light" (this was from being laid up, unable to move for 3 days). He defined "light" as 500 x 10 on squat!
I can't say for sure exactly what injury you had. The fact that you can now touch your toes implies that if it were a muscle strain it is probably better and what finally got it feeling normal was beginning to work the muscle again. I would be including exercises that stretch backwards (like a push-up, but keep your hips down (similar to the "cobra" movement in yoga), particularly before and after you lift. Reversing your grip is a good idea, you may also want to consider hook grip, or mixing the grip in your training (occasionally using straps if grip is not a problem). This will reduce the tendency to twist one way. >Adrian Blindt (physical therapist / powerlifter)
10.7 Legs and Knees
10.7.1 Q: Is there something I may be doing wrong that may be inflicting pain on the tendon right about my right knee cap when I'm doing squats? This is hampering me from going to parallel, and I'm not doing outrageous amounts of weights. Any help?
A: If the pain is below the kneecap it is probably patellar tendinitis. This may be caused by overstretch (possibly going too deep), incorrect use of wraps, ballistic movements. The treatment is NSAIDS, rest, stretch and possibly PT.
It is also simply possible that your right quads are too tight and need to be stretched. It is also possible that you have arthritis, or an internal derangement etc. I know nothing of your age, past history, etc. or if you've any idea what caused this injury.
From a practical point of view, you need to identify the problem and treat accordingly. Advice you are unlikely to get from an M.D., D.C. or physical therapist (unless they are familiar with lifting) includes experimenting with your foot position (both distance between feet and way feet are pointing), avoiding knee going beyond end of foot (well not beyond an inch or so maximum), controlling the descent, bar position on your back, footwear.
Squats are not dangerous for the knees if performed correctly. I have lifted heavy for close to 20 years without knee injuries. I have heard all the myths about squats causing knee injuries. I believe these relate more to Olympic lifting's rock bottom squats when the lifter dives under the bar and to the practice of wrapping knee wraps behind the knees in a bunch (in the old days lifters actually wrapped tennis balls back there) to get a bounce out of the bottom that causes huge distraction forces. Research has actually suggested that knee ligaments are more stable in experienced lifters. >Adrian B.
A: I had a similar problem late 98 while doing squats. A pain just to the upper right of my right kneecap would flare up when I went close to parallel. It took about two months to get rid of it.
If it is a very localized pain (e.g. you can find the exact spot where it hurts, and it hurts bad when you put pressure on it), then most likely you have tendinitis, although I'm no doctor of course. Tendinitis can take up to a several months to heal. You don't have to stop exercising to get rid of it, but keep the training light and avoid exercises that make it hurt. NSAIDs (ibuprofen) will help, but do not overdo them as they are hard on the stomach. Don't let them fool you into thinking it's better either. NOTE: After taking NSAIDs for several days it takes several more days for the effect to wear off.
Another thing you might want to check for is something called ilio-tibial band syndrome, particularly if you are active outside the gym and run (sprint or distance) a fair amount. This normally manifests itself in runners right around the knee, and I can personally attest to this being one of the nastiest injuries you can have and that you can get it from lifting. It turns out that my case of tendinitis was actually a result of the onset of ITB syndrome, and about six months after ditching the knee problem I went through full-blown ITB. It took five months to completely get rid of it, mainly because I wasn't treating it properly at the onset. Basically, there's a band that runs between your hip and knee and if you put a lot of stress on it in combination with understretching or weird foot postures, your hole leg will eventually become inflamed. You might not notice it until it reaches one of the joints (hip/knee), and takes on very tendinitis-like symptoms.
To test for this, just put pressure on the side of your leg near the bone, somewhere around the middle between your knee and hip...if you notice that the pain increases considerably as you increase pressure you may have ITB. A PT can help you figure this out as well. Pray to whatever God you worship that you never get ITB, and if you do, do whatever you can to get rid of it as soon as possible, even if it involves no running or squatting for a couple months.
Also keep in mind that injuries like tendinitis and ITB have a high rate of reoccurrence if the cause of the problem (e.g. understretching, foot posture) is not remedied. >Ray Dames
10.8.1 Q: My forearms have been bothering me of late, or more specifically, the "side" of them. This correlated with my preacher curl moving to 120lbs. My biceps can handle the weight,, but obviously my forearms can't. This happened about 3 months ago and I laid off curling for a bit and they haven't bothered me again until now. Is there a wrap or band or something I could wear to alleviate the pain?
A: This is a very good indication of tendinitis. Be careful, once you get it, it's extremely difficult to get rid of. Lay off ANYTHING that hurts. R.I.C.E. works well, and a cut down in training. I finally stopped working biceps twice a week and the tendinitis was gone within 2 months. There are wraps you can purchase that are tightened around the upper forearm just below the elbow but they are a poor substitute for allowing your body to just heal. >Mike Berg
A: If it were me, I would assume that my tendons were injured. Muscles strengthen much faster than tendons, so you must watch for this with new lifts and let tendon strength dictate intensity. I would overhaul the program to eliminate forearm use completely to start. I would massage the forearms a great deal and at the same time try to pin point the tweak area. I would then slowly start allowing my forearms to be used for exercises and let the soreness the next day determine future use. I would use...dare I say it...machines to do stuff in the meantime. Ever have a tendon injured for 18 months because of bull headed reinjury? I have, and I learned my lesson. >Slope
A: I had this problem for months. No doubt about it, you must stop anything that causes it pain. For me, I finally realized I had to give up biceps curls and wrist curls for months. I replaced them with bent rows and worked them indirectly which didn't seem to bother them. I also started taking flax seed oil and glucosamine with chondroitin to help in the treatment/rehab process. Another possibility is to incorporate power training, fewer reps with the heaviest weight, with the hypertrophy or bodybuilding training. This helps to strengthen the connective tissue and helps to minimize tendon injuries. >Steve L
A: If I had the same:
1. Assume that it was a tweaked tendon.
2. Plenty of massage.
3. Emphasis lifts that didn't use my wrist, meaning most likely I would go to machines for many things.
4. Gradually do lifting with the wrist.
5. Do light rehab exercises for the wrist.
I had a very similar thing in college gymnastics that didn't heal. After about 6 months I had a cortisone shot that fixed it. However, if I had done the above I think that I would have avoided the shot. >Slope
A: May be computer related --too much keyboard, CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome).
10.8.2 Q: One of the guys I train with has a major problem with pain in his elbows. The problem only occurs during flat bench and not inclines or declines. Any ideas?
A: Only one I can think of is try a wider grip...and always be sure to tuck the elbows. >Roger Broeg
10.8.3 Q: When I lift heavy weights, usually bench press, my arms shake a lot. I don't feel like I am lifting too much because I can pull 6 reps out, but my arms shake like crazy. Also, at times, my joints in my arms start to hurt (wrists, elbows and shoulders). Anyone know what this is and why?
A: I would lower the weight and work with 10 -12 reps for most sets for a while to build some endurance and control. Maybe the last set or two increase the weight to allow only 6 reps for strength training. Increasing weights should come very gradually. >Steve L
Acute injury: Occurs suddenly, such as a tear, cut, strain,
Chronic Injury: Occurs gradually over time.
DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Muscle soreness that occurs the day after, or several days after training. This is very common, especially after a change in training, and is not serious.
Strain: Stretch or tear in a muscle. Can vary from annoying to very serious. If this occurs, apply R.I.C.E. as soon as possible.
Sprain: Twisting of a joint that results in ligament and connective tissue damage. Same treatment as for strain. If a "pop" was felt you should see a doctor.
R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation -- basic first aid applied after an acute injury.
Ligament: Connects bones together in a joint
Tendon: Connects muscle to bone
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