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jueves, 23 de julio de 2009

Reduced volume training for ectomorphs and cutting

Training for a cutting phase shares some recommendations with the ideal way a beginner ectomorph should train. Here are some:

Limit caloric expenditure:

The ectomorph trainee's metabolism burns calories fast without even pretending it. This calls for a training routine that consumes the least calories possible while still being effective.

In quite the same way, if we are on a definition phase, we would use a low calorie diet. This will make our lift suffer due to our muscles lacking some fuel. It is therefore wiser to use a training model that has a lower than usual caloric expenditure to avoid excesive fatigue and burn out.

Nota: It is a wide spread belief that on a cutting or definition phase you should execute more sets and reps with a lighter weight to burn fat. Note this isn´t good advice, as in a low calorie diet we are restricting fuel to the muscles, while at the same time we make them go through a higher workload (poundage x repetitions) . This adds to the fact of using a lighter weight, so the body will not perceive the necessity to maintain the caloric expensive muscle and will tend to canibalize it.

Keep/raise your strength at all costs:

One of the first goals of an ectomorph should be to raise his/her strength, as that would help a lot in packing muscle mass. This should be accomplished lifting heavy weights with a moderate rep range (4-6) and a reduced training volume. While doing this, the ectomorph should strive to eat plenty, trying to gain weight as much as trying to raise the poundages lifted.

Once a decent strength is gained (1 x bodyweight bench press for 4 or 5 reps or so) , the ectomorph may derive to a more volume based routine (something like 4x(8-10) with 2 exercises per muscle group). However he will be good advised to keep and try to raise his strength as a precious treasure.

On the other hand, if you are triying to lean out, keeping strength is also important. Using heavy weights will send your body a clear advice to keep muscle, otherwise it would tend to get free from muscle as it costs so many calories.

The strength you keep will help on growing faster when you switch to a more volume based routine.

The need for more recovery:

The ability to recover from workouts in an ectomorph is low. For this reason it is a intelligent approach to train no more than 3 times a week. This way the body has one full day to recover between each workout, and two full recovery days at the end of the week.

In quite the same way, while we are dieting, the body will need more recovery from weightlifting. On a 3/weekly training routine will be easier to include cardio days to burn fat without getting in the middle of weight training.

The Routine

The suggested routine follows an A/B schedule. You have two workouts (A and B) which will be alternating in the following fashion:

Monday: Workout A
Wednesday: Workout B
Friday: Workout A

and the next week:

Monday: Workout B
Wednesday: Workout A
Friday: Workout B

And so on. The workouts are:

Workout A:

Bench Press 4x(5-6)
Romanian Deadlift 4x(5-6)
Pull ups 4x(5-6)

Workout B:

Squats or Leg Press 4x(8-10)
Incline Dumbell Press 4x(5-6)
One Arm Dumbell Row 4x(5-6)

Start with a weight you can comfortably lift for 10 repetitions. For the squats or leg press, use a weight you could lift 12 times. Try your best to add 5 pounds to the lifts every week (2 pounds on the 1 Arm dumbell row). On pull ups, trye to add 2 or 3 repetitions weekly (to the grand total, not in every set).

Once you can´t raise the weight anymore on a certain workout session (say, you can get to do at least 5 repetitions on one of the sets), keep that weight for the next week and try again. If you can´t do it once again, remove 10 pounds (4 pounds on the dumbell row) next week and start over the progression.

Here is an example for the bench press:

Week 1: 4x6 with 120 lb
Week 2: 4x6 with 125 lb
Week 3: 4x6 with 130 lb
Week 4: 4x6 with 135 lb
Week 5: 6,5,5,4 with 140 lb (You could not do 4x6, try on next week same weight)
Week 6: 6,6,5,4 with 140 lb (Couldn´t do it, back off 10 lb next week and continue)
Week 7: 4x6 with 130 lb
Week 8: 4x6 with 135 lb
Week 9: 4x6 with 140 lb (You achieved it!! great)
Week 10: 6,6,6,4 with 145 lb.....

If your goal is to lean out, probably the weight progression is not a priority. However remember: That which keeps strength is the same that raises it; it is recommended you try to add more weight at least once every other week (5 pounds bi-weekly).

And what about my arms?

If you truly are an ectomorph, and have truly a hard time gaining weight and muscle, you better stick to the described workouts. Arms will be worked indirectly on rows and presses. Shoulders receive stimulus on the incline press.

However if you feel you can handle it (or you are on a cutting phase and want some direct work on your armas and shoulders), you may add some sets of curls, french presses and lateral raises.

Workout A: 3x(7-8) French press (skull crusher)
Workout B: 3x(7-8) Barbell Curl

The lateral raises, can be arranged after whichever workout you like, A or B

The Ectomorph and nutrition.

I insist. As an ectomorph you have to strive to gain weight as much as you train hard in the gym. If you are training right and you think you are eating a lot, but gains don't come your way, you need to eat even more. There's not a turn around it.

Eat 5 times a day minimum. If you just haven´t the apetite, take it as another training session and eat beyond satiety. Drink whole milk instead of water, add healthy fats without worry (olive oil, avocados, almonds). Have a snack between meals and above all eat a lot of healthy carbs: Rice, potatoes, whole grain bread and pasta.

Don´t worry if you don´t see your abs or have a little fat around your belly. If you are 5.57 feet tall and weight only 128 lbs you are underweight.

Wrap up

On a restricted calorie scenario (cutting) o when your metabolism is faster than usual (Ectomorph) it is better to economize training, savecalories and keep muscle at all costs by means of an intense but brief training routine.

The key to body definition is on Diet, add more aerobics for a greater effect, but don´t even try to transform your weightlifting workout on an aerobic session to burn more fat.

If you are on the ectomorph type, it is key to raise your DIET. Don´t even think on cutting if you are underweight even if you have a little stubborn fat around your belly. Focus on gaining muscle mass and that muscle will aid you on burning fat later on.


Training routines/systems

Reduced volume training for ectomorphs and cutting

miércoles, 22 de julio de 2009

Training in your own home gym

There is many people around who will tell you that you can´t get too far training on a home gym. ' It may work to some extent for an absolute beginner, but you need a well equiped gym on the long ride' they say. However, I can tell you on my own experience that training at home, though it has some limitations, is highly effective.

Training gear

For the purpose of training at our own home you will need some free space first of all. If you can have a whole room for our "gym", even if it is a small one, it would be much better. If this is not an option, you will need at least some space to place your iron.

At first, you need some weight plates (around 100 lb would be just right to get started), a pair of dumbells and a straight bar. To work your chest, push ups will be fine at first but a bench will be of need later on. A chinup bar comes handy too, as it will do wonders for your back development. There are adjustable chinup bars which fit at an open door or between two close walls.

barra de dominadas

It is recommended to have some foam or another type of floor padding to allow you lying on it for the required exercises.

The exercises

With the above equipment, you will be able to accomplish a great variety of exercises. Here is a sample list of all you can do:

* Bench Press (works your chest, triceps and shoulders)
* Deadlift (works your whole body, especially your back and pulling muscles)
* Squats (For your cuadriceps)
* Pull ups (Get ready for a wide back using this)
* Barbell Row (Back density)
* Military Press (Shoulders)
* Barbell Biceps Curl (Biceps, obvious :))
* Dumbell Biceps Curl (ditto)
* Close Grip Bench Press (Triceps)
* Skull Crushers (Triceps also)
* Upright Row (Deltoids, trapezius)
* Lateral Raises (Deltoids)
* Calf Raises (Calves)


Advantages of training at home

* Saving time: You don't need to go all the way to the gym and back. You don't need to wait your turn for a spot or machine, and you will not waste your tame chatting with other gym goers.

* Privacy: In the intimacy of your home you will use the weight you exactly need, being it a little one or tons of it. No one will give you strange looks or annoying advice for using too much, or will look you above his/her shoulder for using a light weight. This is also related to the ever present human ego that makes us put on the bar more weight than we can securely handle when there is someone looking at us.

* Availability: Your faithful home gym is there whenever you need it on a 24/7 basis. You may hit the weights on 3:00 a.m on Sunday if you like, or do some fast maintenance sets when you feel the need without the burden of having to dress up and going to an external gym.

* It is cheaper: Training gear may be expensive at first, but it saves you money later as you don´t have to pay for your monthly gym membership. Saved money may be invested on buying more weight plates or other equipment.

I hope this article helps you on building your own home gym and getting a strong body. Now go!!


Fitness & Bodybuilding Articles

Falling in love with the weights...again

Training in your own home gym

The Fitness Advice Corner

Have some questions? In need of some training advice? You can't get your muscles to grow? Are you lost in the midst of muscle gain or bodybuilding concepts?. Perhaps you would only like to write about your opinion or your gym experiences, whatever the case...this is your place. Post your comment here and we will try to find the answers altogether.

We encourage other users to answer, yielding their knowledge or commenting that solution which worked for them in the past. Keep in mind "Give and it shall be given back to you".

lunes, 20 de julio de 2009

Falling in love with the weights...again

As we approach to the gym for the first time, we fall in love. We lift those barbells and dumbells with great motivation, with thoughs of a future muscled body. The weights give back with fast gains that raise up our motivation even higher.

Every week we are able to add some pounds to the bar, or maybe get two more repetitions. All is going fine and we feel that in some months or maybe a year time we will look like Arnold or Dorian Yates. Then, all of a sudden, progress stops and we are not able to surpass the liftings on the last session. We think it is perhaps a coincidence that will be solved next time we hit the weights.

But then the next session comes, we manage to scratch for one more rep, but in the subsequent sessions progress stops again or even goes back. What is happening here?. Our first love gets cold, as it happens in some marriages and we keep on on a boring routine, going to the gym as if it is was our duty, zero motivation and for the shake of not losing our first gains.

It hasn´t to be this way. You can keep that fire in your heart burning breaking the routine!. Here are some ideas.

Go for your weak points first

Get to the mirror and take a look at yourself with a critical eye. Check the poundages you are lifting. Is there any body part that you are lacking development in? Identify your weak points and... go for them!. Strengthening them is key for getting strong.

If you have never based your routine on compound exercises, go try them. If, on the other hand, you are strong and lift a lot on the military press but your shoulders are not as wide as they should be, try some lateral raises though being an isolation exercise it will do his work.

A very important point is gripping strength. A strong grip implies your curls, pull ups, rows etc. will be stronger also. If you feel your hands opening on one of these exercise, wrist straps would be a fast solution, but it is far better to train your grip strength and get it to the next level.

Commit yourself to strengthen those weak points. When you have a muscle group that hasn't received your attention for a while, it will respond easily to training stimulus. Seeing them grow will further motivate yourself and also brings gains to those spots you are already strong at.

Wave the load

If you have been following the same repetition/weight scheme day after day (3 sets of 10, 4 sets of 8 , 5 sets of 5) and you have been stalled for quite a time with the same weight...turn it around !. Make agressive leaps on the weight you are moving for a time, up and down. This has all the potential to break boredom, motivate you, and get back some strength and muscle gains for a change.

For example, let's suppose you have been bench pressing for two months using a 4x8 with 180 pounds schedule. You are stuck there, so you keep your total reps more or less constant (30-35 reps total) and wave the load between 70% and 110% of the actual weight you are moving. Your next sessions may look like this:

Session 1: 4x8 with 130 lb
Session 2: 8x4 with 190 lb
Session 3: 5x7 with 170 lb
Session 4: 3x10 with 140 lb
Session 5: 7x5 with 185 lb
Session 6: 4x8 with 145 lb
Session 7: 8x4 with 97 lb
Session 8: 5x7 with 85 lb
Session 9: .....

After this, go back to lifting for 4x8. Surely you will be able to lift more.

New Techniques

Pavel Tsautsoline, the reknowned strength coach, affirms "Strength is a skill" and as any other skill, it can be improved by frequent and concentrated practice. Many times we get the weights with the only purpose to move them around, but there is much more than that.

Concentrate, tense your whole body, not just the muscle you are working. Strive to contract your muscles harder. Focus on moving the load with all the energy in your body. There are some high tension techniques to try (in case you are not using them already).

Grip the barbell or dumbell hard: There is some study about this demonstrating that gripping the barbell hard strength may boost up to 10%.

Tense your glutes hard: As if you were trying to pinch a coin between them. It helps a lot on curls, rows, deadlifts and presses. Try it.

Push yourself away from the weight: Rather than just pushing the weight away from you, concentrate on pushing yourself away from the weight. On an overhead press, imagine you want to sink your feet on the ground. On a bench press concentrate on pressing your back against the bench. This helps in building more tension, which is the principal ingredient for muscular strength.

Try new exercises

This is one of the obvious options to break routine. Changing the machines or exercises you are using can reactivate your gains. I recommend you try this not so conventional exercises, they are very effective and there aren´t many to use them:

One arm push ups

Swings (with kettlebells or also with a dumbell)

Turkish get ups

* Note: It looks easy, but it isn´t. Begin with a light dumbell if you try it.

Dragon Flags

* Note: This is a challenge in itself. To master it, you can begin using reverse crunches.

Towel pull ups

Wrap up

Nothing kills more a relationship than routine. Break it to reactivate your love with the weights. However, try to keep some consistency. Changing your routine every week will result in your body not knowing what to adapt to.