Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cutting the Carbs . . .

I find that when I want to lean up it is more effective to cut BOTH calories and carbohydrates.

After a period of adding muscle when calories must exceed amount needed, I like to strip off the fat that was added and see what's left.

That's where I am now.

I went from 165 to 173.5 over several months, lifted heavy, and now want to take it back to about 165 or so and see what it looks like.

I don't want to take 1,000 calories a day out of my diet (as I did during the big loss phase last year) because I don't need to and I know that if I take that many calories out my body will go catabolic and some of the muscle gains I've made will be lost, i.e., the body consuming muscle.

So, I am taking 500 calories a day out and moving my carbohydrates down to 120 grams or less per day. In just the last three days, I've moved from 173.5 to 171.6.

Here were my totals from yesterday:

Calories 1742.5
Carbohydrates 107.9
Fat 61.2
Protein 191.8

That left me short about 550 calories (considering the exercise from yesterday) - right on target.

The key will be keeping the energy levels up when the carbs are this low and that means (for me) eating at least 7 times a day -- very small meals that are high in protein. I know I'm doing good when I feel hungry often. I feel better when I know I can satiate that hunger.

Over the next several weeks I'll take you with me on this little journey and provide some commentary as we go along. Hope it helps.

If you'd like to see my diet from yesterday (or any day during this process), e-mail me at jimkarger@mac.com and I'll forward it back by e-mail.

Train hard; diet harder!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Exercise Routine: Does It Matter?

I get a lot of questions in my sessions about workouts -- splits, sets, days, exercises.

Important questions but not in the way they are often intended. Let me explain . . .

Splits, sets, exercises etc. matter only after the most important issues are addressed, and those are:

1. Diet. You can eat more bad things in 30 minutes than you can work off in 8 hours. Unless you have the diet under control, are counting calories, carbs, fat, and protein and getting at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and no more than 1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight, you'll never reach your goal -- if your goal is to look lean and muscled.

2. Intensity. I have the opportunity to work out in a lot of gyms and I'd say less than 25% of the people I see are working out at an intensity level that will take them to the next stage of their physical development. When I say intensity, I'm not talking about yelling, screaming, cursing and grunting. I'm talking about focus and the ability to work through pain, to get an extra rep after you believe there is nothing left. This comes with focus and practice.

3. Regularity. We work weights 5 days a week as follows:

Monday - Chest/Abdominals
Tuesday - Back/Calves
Wednesday - Legs
Thursday - Off
Friday - Arms/Abdominals
Saturday - Shoulders/Traps/Calves
Sunday - Off

What we do and the order we do it in is not important, at least not as important as doing it - every week -- not missing a workout, even when we're on the road.

Only then can we talk about exercises. We train primarily with basic movements -- bench press (barbell and dumbbell) , squats (machine and bar), dead lifts, pull ups, and barbell overhead presses. Everything else follows these. I'm not a 'one-arm reverse wrist curl while standing on an exercise ball" kind of guy.

Bottom line: If you haven't got your diet right, you're wasting your time. You'll never add muscle and you'll never look ripped. And that maybe OK -- no judgment there. But I am perplexed when I get e-mails about how this guy or that girl followed my routine and didn't get results. I always go back and focus on their diet and in every case they were getting too many carbs, too many calories, and not enough protein. And, final thought for today -- if you think of the gym as a social experience, then enjoy it. Just don't expect results, except perhaps some new friends.

Train hard; diet harder!

Have a great week.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Separating Resistance Training From Cardio

Kelly and I have long discussed the problem of following weight training with cardio.

In short, if you're putting everything you have into 20-28 sets of resistance training per workout, there is little, if anything, left for cardio.

We've tried putting cardio before weights and the results there -- even worse -- a noticeable decline in energy levels and the ability to handle heavy weight.

I have read and talked to some bodybuilders about the problem and most of them split cardio away from the weights, e.g., cardio in the morning and weights in the afternoon, or vice versa.

Problem? It means going to the gym twice a day and we're just too busy to get that done on a consistent basis.

Which brings me to the solution -- we purchased two elliptical trainers and are reconfiguring our garage into a mini-gym -- the trainers, a complete set of dumbbells and a couple of benches. This is not to replace the gym in any way, but allows us to work weak areas we have designated for improvement at home and, most importantly, separate cardio from the weight training.

We've been on the program a couple of weeks now and love it.

We get up, go to the gym, put all we've got into it, come home, work, rest, and then late in the afternoon or early evening, get our cardio. And cardio feels very different -- we're rested, relaxed, and ready. We can hit it harder, burn more calories and feel we've given the best we can in both areas -- weights and cardio.

Only caveat -- don't do cardio too close to bedtime -- you rev the metabolism and body doesn't want to sleep. We've found, though, that if you finish your cardio at least 2 hours before bedtime, no problem. You'll sleep like a baby.

That's news from the home front. Hope all is well.

Train hard; diet harder!



Monday, July 12, 2010

Back: The Forgotten Body Part

Look at most people who train and their back will almost always be their weakest body part.

It makes sense. We don't see our backs.

Unfortunately for most, everyone else does.

First and foremost, train your back just as you train every other body part. We are currently training five days a week -- Chest, Back, Legs, Arms, and Shoulders (with abs and calves mixed in two of those days each week.) Notice back is trained just like every other major body part.

Here's some good exercises for you to try -- keep it fresh and you'll keep it going:

Incline dumbbell rows. Lie face-down on an incline bench and row two dumbbells up, rotating your wrists from an overhand grip at the bottom to a palms-facing-your-sides grip at the top.

One-arm pulldowns With one hand. Grab a D-handle attached to a pulldown cable. Pull the handle down to the side of your chest (armpit area). With a longer range of motion, it’s easier to place more emphasis on the contraction than in a standard (two-hand) pulldown.

Seated cable high rows. With an overhand grip, grasp two ends of a rope attached to a low cable. Pull the rope back and up and separate the two parts so that at the top position, your hands are near your face but at opposite sides. This exercise combines a low cable row with an upright row; it works the lats and the lower and upper traps.

High-cable arms-out pulldowns. Stand in the middle of a cable crossover station and hold D-handles attached to two high cables (your arms will be out and up). Pull your elbows down and to your sides at the same time. You should feel a strong stretch in your outer lats at the top and a firm contraction in your inner, lower traps at the bottom position.

Train hard; diet harder!