kinetic: (gg → yeah life is hard then you die)
[personal profile] kinetic
Workout Guide


At popular request aka after being asked by over nine thousand people on separate occasions for advice, here is a guide with some helpful tips on how to get the most of your workouts! I know a lot of people have the drive to take the steps to get in shape but simply don't know how, so this is my hope to ... help. This is not friends locked because if you feel the need to share it you can go ahead and do so. Remember, I'm by no means a personal trainer, this is just stuff I've collected from a.) my extensive years of experience in ROTC and my own working out, b.) my personal trainer.

001. - DIET.
I know, this is a workout guide, Tiffany, why are you including dietary information? Well, because I recently heard that someone thinks it's a good idea to drink a protein shake every morning instead of breakfast when she doesn't work out. Spoiler: she is overweight because of it. UNLESS YOU ARE ALREADY IN THE "EXCELLENT" RANGE OF BODY FAT PERCENTAGE, DO NOT USE PROTEIN SHAKES/WORKOUT ENHANCING ITEMS. This include creatine, protein bars and muscle milk. Seriously, it's packed full of calories that are supposed to provide your body extra fuel so you can continue to workout for eternity without running out of stamina and fuel.

If you're not in this tiny group of people for whom these products are marketed, your pre-workout diet should consist of lots of water -- this is not a joke. Do not take this lightly. If you don't preempt your workout with at least 500mL of water, you will wind up dehydrated. You should also be sipping water during your workout, and then drink lots again afterward. Other than more water than God, you should eat simple carbs and high protein foods. Translation? Toast and bacon. All kinds of bread and pasta are what we call "simple carbs." Anything with meat in it is high protein. Eggs are also good. Fruit is also really good because it has simple carbs and natural sugars that your body needs. Things to avoid: sweets (these are complex carbs and harder for your body to digest, which means it won't digest it fast enough to be used as fuel during your workout and you'll tire out easier), junk food such as chips (also complex carbs).

You should also make sure to eat at 15-20 minutes before your workout. This is when your body has begun to break it down and you'll have that fuel ready for use as energy. If you wait too long, your blood sugar will start to drop again and you'll start feeling sluggish and tired. Any earlier than 10 minutes and you're not going to have those energy stores ready yet.

002. - CARDIO.
A lot of people don't understand the concept of cardio, its uses, and what constitutes as cardio. Cardio is used specifically for fat-burning. This is the only way to burn fat. If you think crunches will take some of the fat away from your belly, you are wrong. Crunches are a calisthenic exercise that builds muscle (however, they're a horrible way to build on your core muscles because it's a bad exercise -- I'll get into that later, though), they do not burn fat away. At all. If you want to drop fat stores, you need to get your heart rate up. The best ways to do this are, as far as machines go, the bike, the row machine, the elliptical, the stairmaster, the cross-trainer, step aerobics and, of course, the dreaded treadmill.

The ideal heartrate is going to be 70% of your max if you want to burn the most fat. If you're around 20, which I assume most people on my f-list are, you should keep your heart rate around 170. If you don't know how to check your heart rate if you're using a machine (or not using a machine at all) that doesn't have a heart rate monitor, here's how: you place two fingers, generally your pointer and middle finger, against your throat in the dip nearest your jaw. I will take pictures and circle spots if you need me to, but it's right between where a guy's Adam's apple would be and that tight tendon that runs on either side of your neck. Press deeply until you can feel your pulse. Using an accurate timer, for 6 seconds count and see how many times you feel your pulse beat. Multiply by ten, and you've got your heart rate. If it's below 170, you need to start working harder. Some good ways to do this are to find ways to raise your arms above your head and incorporate them into your work out if you're doing aerobics of some kind, or increasing speed.

003. - STRENGTH TRAINING.
Like I mentioned above, strength training is how you build muscle. Muscle is not going to do anything to get rid of fat stores, but that doesn't mean it's not important. The more muscle you have, the more you'll weigh, yes, but it's healthy weight. The advantage of having muscle is that the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is. This means that your body burns fat and calories and metabolizes food more quickly not only when you're at rest, but exponentially more when you're doing cardio when compared to someone with less muscle mass.

Some good examples of strength training are, of course, the machines provided at gyms. If you have a gym, even if it's just the one at your school, there will be an attendant whose job it is to show you how to use them if you don't know how. DO NOT TRY TO FIGURE IT OUT FOR YOURSELF. Chances are, you'll wind up using it wrong and potentially tear your muscle fibers, which will leave you useless for weeks. As far as machines I recommend go, there's one that I call the butterfly which you hold your arms out with your upper arm parallel to the ground and your forearms raised, arms shaped like L's out at your sides and slowly bring them together, along with weight obviously, together in front of your chest. Also there's the assisted squat machine, which looks like a torture device but it uses pads on your shoulders to put weight down on you while you brace your feet against an elevated black surface. You slowly lower yourself to a squat position where your thighs are parallel to this surface and then lift yourself back up. Weight is put on preemptively in whatever amount you like.

If you don't go to a gym or if you just don't want to ask how to use these machines, you have the option of calisthenics. Calisthenics are things like sit-ups, squats, push-ups, dips, pull-ups, lunges, etc. Things that you don't need a machine for, where you just use your body to work out. Generally, they're the kind of things that you need to build up the stamina to do in large quantities, but even doing them in an assisted, easier position will do you a lot more good than most people realize. If you can't do push-ups, do them on your knees until failure. Eventually, your biceps will become strong enough that you should feel comfortable doing them without the assistance of your knees.

Dips are a good way to work your triceps, which are the back muscles of your arms. Using something as simple as a chair, you brace yourself on an object in a pseudo-sitting position with nothing beneath you and your heels rested on the floor, with your hands behind you supporting you on the object. Alternatively, you can use two chairs on either side of you to make it easier -- this is recommended. You slowly lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel to the ground, and then you lift yourself back up.

Lunges, also a more complicated type of calisthenic, involve taking an enormous step forward with one foot, and then slowly bending the knee of your leg that is further forward until the knee of your back leg comes very close to touching the ground, but doesn't quite touch it. Then you straighten back up, take a step with your further back leg that is equally enormous, and repeat with opposite legs. Try doing this across a basketball court, or even just your living room.

A note about sit-ups: don't do them. Yes, they will build up your abs, and that's great. However, there are better ways to build a strong core that will actually make it useful to you without harming your back like sit-ups do. Sit-ups compress the vertebrae in a way that can wear away at the tissue between them, and even grind the bone. It's pretty messy. Instead, what you should try doing is something called planks.

Planks are where you lay down with your belly on the ground, and then prop yourself up on your forearms almost like the push-up position, but on your forearms instead of your hands. Keeping your back as straight as possible, you tighten your abs and hold this position for a set period of time. A common time interval for beginners is 15 or 30 seconds, depending on your core strength. Eventually, you'll be able to build up to doing 2-minute planks! The reason planks are so good is that they force your core muscles to be used for what you'll actually be using them for during application -- stabilization. Another good way to do this is to use a swiss ball, those large inflatable bouncy balls, and try doing push-ups with either your hands or feet on them. This is hard as hell because balancing is tricky work.

A note about push-ups: make sure you keep your body in a straight line. Do not arch your back so as to raise your butt, or let your hips sag downward. You should always try to move your body as a unit, and you should always lower your body until your upper arms are completely parallel to the ground. Form is very important in calisthenics, because otherwise you run the risk of seriously hurting yourself.

004. - WORKOUT STRUCTURE.
The best way to structure your workout is with intervals. First, do some light cardio (keep your heart rate down around 140) for eight to ten minutes. This can be as simple as walking at an increased incline or light jogging. Anything to get your muscles loosened up. A lot of people disregard this step -- don't. You can cause serious injury to yourself by not being properly warmed up before doing strength training, and it will lead to muscle strain.

Second, strength training. Regardless of what level of it you're at, you really want to try and work yourself to exhaustion of ONE MUSCLE GROUP ONLY PER WORKOUT SESSION. Explanation: in order to build muscle, you have to tear it down. This is what working out does. It tears the muscle fibers and as it heals, it grows larger. This interval training is so that you let your muscle have ample time to rebuild (which takes about 3 days to rebuild completely) and you can go back to working out sooner because you'll be strength training another group entirely that isn't all torn up from the floor up. I.e., do only legs, only back and chest, or only arms. It is okay to work your core (abs) out every time, though. I can't really recommend an amount of time to devote to this, but I do recommend doing all activities to exhaustion. Good examples: squats and lunges are leg exercises; the butterfly, dips and push-ups are arm exercises; the butterfly and pull-ups are back and chest exercises; sit-ups (if you still don't believe me on how bad they are for you and intend to do them anyway) and planks are core/ab exercises.

Thirdly, you want to do thirty minutes or more of cardio. Don't take this to mean you should run for thirty minutes straight -- you shouldn't. That's stupid. If you're not completely comfortable with it yet, you don't need to. Remember, you only need to put forth the level of effort that puts YOUR UNIQUE BODY'S HEART RATE AROUND 170. For some people, this will only mean jogging. If you don't have the cardiovascular (read: breathing) endurance to jog for thirty minutes straight either, then I suggest interval training. This is what marathon runners do, believe it or not. Jog lightly for five minutes, then sprint for thirty seconds, then jog lightly for five minutes. Continue this pattern. Alternatively, if you're using a cardio machine, raise the "resistance" level by 1 in five minute intervals. A good example of this is to go resistance level 4 for five minutes, level 5 for the next five minutes, level 6 for the next five minutes, then back down to level 5 for the next five minutes, back up to level 6, etc. Find your average resistance level and do intervals that work around it well.

Fourthly, you MUST STRETCH. It's important that you don't do static stretching (which is pulling your limbs into a place where they'll stretch and holding -- i.e., the flaming stretch where you lift up your leg and hold your foot in your hand to stretch the front of your thigh) during your work out, because this is a good way to wind up hurting yourself, but it's critical that you take five minutes after your workout to stretch so that your muscles don't remain tight and crampy afterwards. If you don't stretch at the end, you'll hurt yourself by pulling on a muscle that's too tight from your workout instead of just having it a little achey and exhausted. Ideas for stretches are sitting down with your legs and a v and reaching for one leg at a time, then reaching down the middle, or lifting your arm above your head and behind your elbow so your forearm is behind your head and using your free hand to push your arm backwards a little bit. Also, the aforementioned flamingo stretch.
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what about breakfast at tiffany's?

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