WHAT’S HAPPENED TO THE BASICS?
The basics can be made up of a small number of weight training exercises that cover the main muscle groups in a way that is suitable for individuals who want to build their physique quickly, proportionately, and achieve a good level of strength. In fact all of the above without trying to copy a dubious exercise that an uneducated member has copied by watching another uneducated member.
Take the guy who is attempting to do a tricep extension/pushdown by griping the bare end of a cable (no handle) and jerking it wildly up and down without thought to posture, breathing, core activation, and all the while achieving nothing, but no doubt thinking it looks pretty ‘cool’. ‘Looking Cool’ is using up energy and focus by trying to hang on to a bare cable end. It’s anything but cool and just a waste time.
‘Looking Cool’ needs to get real and use a d-handle, a press down bar, a straight bar, or a single tricep pushdown rope. These are basic cable attachments and are designed to give the optimum muscle contraction and are a helluva lot different from the totally useless end of a cable.
If you want to train for real then you might give some thought to the basics.
The basics are a concentrated group of exercises that will benefit someone who just wants to build up some muscle and have a reasonably good physic. Use a basic exercise program that will maintain that physic without needing to continually switch to a whole lot of exercises that will not only waste energy, but will have only very minimal results for the added effort.
A basic routine could be something like this. Change the order if you feel it would help
Do your usual warm up plus stretches.
1. Start with a deadlift as an added stretch and exercise combined.
2. Barbell bench press.
3. Lying Barbell pullover reaching back as far as possible.
4. Upright row with a barbell.
5. Forward lying rear delt raise with a barbell or dumbbells.
6. Overhead shoulder press with a barbell.
7. Overhead shoulder press behind the head with a barbell.
8. Squats with a barbell.
9. Barbell curl
10. Reverse barbell curl
11. Seated row with a wide grip
12. Tricep pushdown with a straight bar
Finish it with a fast 2 kilometre run and warm down stretches
Along with your cardio and core work this kind of workout is not for those lacking in motivation but, results are pretty much guaranteed if, you can handle the weights three times a week and fit in the cardio and core.
Initially you might have to spread out the sessions a bit to allow for sufficient recovery although, it might pay to start off with 2 sets of each or 1 set and use it as a circuit. If you use the circuit system try 20 seconds on each exercise and 20seconds off. If you use the 2 set method then use a set number of reps and rest period between exercises.
Finally if your session at the gym is half exercise and half social, then it’s NOT going to work well for you. Put in the effort and it’ll work. If you are going to go at it half-arsed then don’t expect good results. Still, in the end, it’s whatever turns your crank.
TRAINING THE CORE
It’s easy enough in that it’s a relatively specific area to concentrate on. Also once you’ve found the area needed to focus on, you can still be training the core even while you are doing other exercises.
The benefits of a strong core is that it stabilises your trunk and so with the correct posture you are able to exercise with better technique and lift more weight with safety including leg exercises. To have the core working effectively your back MUST be straight. The core won’t turn on properly unless your back is straight and your head is in line with your back. Realise this because, when it comes to any kind of weight or resistance training, the core and posture go together.
The point being, you can just go on into the gym and lift weights and your overall performance may get to below average, or you can train your core, have the correct posture, and your performance may get to top notch. Bottom line… put in the effort.
There are quite a lot of exercises used for training the core. Some basics are…
ROLLOUTS. The rollouts can be performed with a rollout wheel or a lightweight bar with small plates. Knell down on a matt with your arms out in front holding the bar with hands about 100mm apart. Your back is straight and your head is in line with your back. Roll the bar forward pivoting on your knees and keeping your arms and back straight through the whole movement until your body is horizontal with the floor. Now roll the bar back to the start position once again keeping your back straight and head in line.
Throughout the whole movement you are using your core to hold your body straight. As a beginner you may not be able to go horizontal but keep practicing. Set a goal of 3 sets of 15 plus.
STRAIGHT PLANK. Face down on a matt up on your elbows and toes. Your whole body is straight with a very slight rise in your lower back. You will be using only your core to hold the position. Set a goal of 3 sets of 3 minutes plus.
QUADROPLEX. Face down on a matt and up on your knees and palms facing forward. Your back is straight and your head is in line with your back. Raise your right arm up horizontally ramrod straight and slightly out to the right. At the same time raise your left leg up perfectly horizontal and slightly out to the left. Hold that for a 2 count and lower. Do the same thing on the other side, that is, left arm up and right leg up. Set a goal of 3 sets of 15 plus
KNELLING ROLLOUTS. Knelling down behind a swiss ball place your palms down on top of the swiss ball and bring your feet off the floor so your knees become the pivot point. Roll the ball away from you until your chest drops. You should feel your core tighten. Continue to roll the ball away without straining your back. Hold for 2 seconds and return to the start. Set a goal of 3 sets of 12 plus
These will get you started. They will, done properly, help you to get the feel of the core working, especially the rollouts. However, there are a lot of other exercises useful to train the core. Performed 3 times a week alone with your other exercises it’s will make a noticeable difference in technique used in other areas of your workouts.
Mix them up a bit with your regular exercises. For instance, do a set of seated rows and then do a 3 minute plank. Or a set of bicep curls mixed with a set of rollouts.
It will be a tough but interesting workout and a break from the usual stuff week after week. Give it a shot.
Coming soon Training with your core. / Getting the best from your core
It’s the very core of your body where a bunch of muscles come together. The central point is 3 inches below your belly button and it’s from that central point that you control the ability to fully contract TARGETED muscles to safely lift free weights, and get optimum use of resistance machines. In other words, you lift with your core.
People say they know what and where it is. But the truth is, they wouldn’t know where it is if they fell over it. It’s generally thought, by the uneducated, to be the abs and although the abs are part of the core there are also the muscles as listed below.
TRANSVERSE ABDOMINUS (TVA) The deepest of the abdominal muscles, this core muscle lies under the obliques (muscles of the waist). It acts like a weight belt, wrapping around your spine for protection and stability.
MULTIFIDUS MUSCLE. The Multifidus muscle is a thin, yet stiff, core muscle deep inside the spine. It stabilises each joint, makes each vertebrae work more effectively, and reduces the degeneration of the joint structures.
EXTERNAL OBLIQUES. These core muscles are on the side and front of the abdomen, around your waist, and lie on top of the internal obliques.
INTERNAL OBLIQUES. These core muscles lay under the external obliques, running in the opposite direction.
RECTUS ABDOMINUS. It’s a long muscle that extends along the front of the abdomen. This is the ‘6 pack’ that becomes visible with reduced body fat.
ERECTOR SPINAE. The Erector Spinae is a collection of 3 core muscles along the neck to your lower back.
You might hear some mention of ‘other core muscles’ however it will simply be a reference to a ‘core’ or ‘primary’ muscle used in a particular movement like throwing a ball, or swinging a golf club, or doing a bicep curl where the bicep curl is the ‘core or primary muscle to lift’. But it’s the core muscles around the abdomen that have to be flexed first to give stability to your posture so you can focus on the bicep, as the primary muscle used in the exercise. So, target the Bicep but, target the Core first.
Because you lift with your core, and because it’s a group of muscles like any other, they require specific exercises in order to gain strength. So training your core muscles is absolutely essential if you are going to have workouts that will produce good results.
Remember the core always comes first. It provides stability to your upper and lower body muscles when exercising thereby transferring power to the target muscles.
Hence the term; ‘Lifting with your core’.
Coming soon TRAINING THE CORE
If you are going to enter into a physical health regime then why not set the bar high and go the whole nine yards? It just needs some focus and the right state of mind.
For overall wellbeing across the board there’s general health, cardio fitness, and strength training. The trick is to combine all three into an interacting package. Which in itself sounds easy enough except it’s the input used in each of the components that creates the balance that gives your body the power and endurance you’ve been looking for.
GENERAL HEALTH re Diet and Supplements
Beginning with general health, a good start is to give your body the kind food that is suited to your specific metabolism, or to be clearer, the type of food containing a balance of protein and carbs that you can digest easily allowing for a high absorption rate of vitamins and minerals. Although, keep in mind from the age of 40 there is a gradual decline in rates of absorption so be aware of this when sorting out your diet and supplements.
CARDIO FITNESS TRAINING re High Intensity Heart Rate Workouts.
We each have our preferred disciplines for this. The obvious, either in the gym or outside, being Cycling, Running, Rowing, Walking (fast), and Gym Resistance Circuits with 20sec. on and 6sec.max rest between stations. Combinations of two or more suit most people e.g. Triathlons. If you think you’re up to it the best approach for this would be to initially work out using your favourite for at least 45 minutes and graduating up to the next level by adding another 15 minutes and then including another activities as your fitness increases. Build up to a total of say 2 hours which is probably more than enough for the purpose of the whole exercise routine.
STRENGTH TRAINING re Barbells, Dumbbells, Resistance Machine Workouts
Strength training workouts will most certainly benefit from being physically fit so it pays to always have a decent level of cardio fitness while weight training. The endurance gained from being fit will mean you can decrease your rest periods and increase your rep range, and or, the increase in endurance will mean training with bigger weights and so it will be easier to keep the number of reps up. To get the best from weight training have regular workouts, good nutrition, and a good level of cardio fitness.
So if the three components are combined with the right balance and maximum physical effort done in a way to suit your inherent physical makeup then there is no reason why you can’t expect good results.
Go for it. It’ll be a blast.