Picking up the cardio pace

Check out my activity on Strava: https://strava.app.link/vqFsfyjkeY

I do cardio first thing in the morning so it is time limited, as the 5k walks were getting easier I had to find a way to increase my output, so went faster! But initially for less time and distance, however this will pick up and I will pass my previous calorie expenditure in no time, proving that sometimes to move forward you have to take a little step back.

Build the Ultimate Chest with 2 exercises

Recently on Quora I had a question about which exercise was better for building a big chest, Bench Press or Dips, and I had to stop for a moment and think, you see the big thick chests of the late 70’s Bodybuilders were built with both, as this was the way of things, in fact it was common practice to warm up with Bodyweight exercises like dips and pull-ups before heading onto the weights, additionally Dumbells were seen as finishing exercises or “concentration” and were normally left to the end, the question was interesting though as I have always thought of the Barbell Bench Press as quite an inefficient exercise as it tends to recruit a lot of help from the Triceps and Shoulders to complete the movement, but it cannot be denied that it is the exercise of choice and if anybody is going to lift weights you can be fairly sure that it will figure in their routine.

To decide what is best, we first need to understand in where the muscle is anchored as this will give us some idea of what movement it is bio-mechanically suited to performing, the whole idea behind all these new and strange looking machines that came out of late are all trying to move the resistance through the best possible motion to load the target muscle directly, there is a trade off with this though, when we do this we isolate the muscle completely and build it in size and strength, but if we concentrate solely on that type of isolated movement we do not bring the other supporting muscles up with it, and you can at best start to look a little odd as you have large major muscle groups with nothing behind or at worse you could liken it to hanging a chandelier from a thick heavy chain from a plasterboard ceiling with no extra support, sooner or later it will pull loose from the ceiling and the roof will come in, this what gives powerlifters and strength competitors that solid thick look it is all the muscle groups growing together regardless of aesthetics to create the strongest individual possible.

So the pectoral muscle has two parts the Pectoralis major and minor, the muscle we are all referring to when we think of this is the major as this is the most visible, this is anchored under the anterior Deltoid and attached like an open fan to the sternum it’s major function is to draw the arm across the chest and is used to push things away from us, the minor is also anchored under the anterior Deltoid but this is attached to the Ribcage and is activated by drawing the arms back over the head this would tend to be activated along with the Latissimus Dorsi and Serratus muscles.

Pectoralis Major

  • Bench Press
  • Flies
  • Dips
  • Cable Cross Overs
  • Dumbell Press
  • Cross Bench Dips
  • Press-ups

These all have an Incline / Decline variant and as discussed previously Bench Press can be done with Dumbells as well as a Barbell and in fact when training on your own it is probably advisable to do it that way to avoid dropping the weight on yourself!

The best way to determine which exercise is best is to try them, and variations of them, but I would say that as an integral part of a chest routine they should both exist, in fact I would go out on a limb and say that a routine consisting of just these two exercises would be sufficient to build a good think chest, I will explain.

Bench Press

Laying flat with your feet flat on the floor grip the Barbell evenly at just beyond shoulder width and by that I mean that the inside of your thumb should be just outside the line of the shoulder this will help to reduce the activation of the Triceps, there are several schools of thought on the arched back situation you often see but I will offer my opinion, a small arch that you could just about slide a flat hand into is fine any more than that and it is too much, lower the weight slowly and under control, do not bounce the weight at the bottom as this could cause damage, push straight up and do not lock out, it is bad for your elbows and besides it just rests the weight on your Triceps as they fight to keep your arm straight against the weight.

Dips

Traditional Dips at a dip bar are very difficult to get wrong as the body is suspended and pretty much just follows it’s own pattern, the trick here is concentration, mind – muscle connection plays a big part in this movement as you are concentrating on moving up by squeezing the pectorals together rather than simply straightening your arms, you will know when you have got it right because your chest will pump up instead of you triceps just feeling like balloons!

Flies

Done with Dumbell in a flat position keep your arms just shy of straight and put a small arc into the movement so instead of simply going straight up and down move your arms from the open position as if you were going to cross them over your chest but obviously stop as they meet at the top of the movement the best way to imagine this is to think about pulling from under your shoulder and toward your sternum as that is the path the muscle will want to naturally take.

Cable Crossovers

These are done on a cable crossover machine (surprise) and are easy to get wrong, it seems that some people are trying to replicate a pressing movement by literally closing and opening the arm at the elbow, this really makes it a Tricep exercise and at best the Pecs just had a stabilising support, You need to imagine the same movement and intent as the Fly but stood up, this exercise also targets the Pectoralis Minor due to you bringing the arms down and across from overhead, once performed right you will know because the resultant pump from both the Major and Minor muscle groups is huge and you will notice it.

Press ups

Photo by Sabel Blanco from Pexels

I would (and do) use this exercise as a warm up, it is a brilliant one to warm up the shoulder joints and the elbows as well as the chest and when performed correct you even get a lot of AB activation as well as some Hip Flexor assistance, the right way to do this is with a flat straight line from your ankles to your shoulders and hands in the same shoulder width position as with Bench Pressing, slowly lower yourself to the ground so that the whole body touches at once not the face or tummy first, and then in one movement the whole body lifts back to the starting position, this is a little rough on the wrists though so make sure to roll them out after each set.

Conclusion

As you can see the two exercises that stand out as having the most activation on the Pectoralis Major are the Bench Press and the Dip as they naturally sit across the muscle girdle and move in the same direction as the muscle can pull, Cable Crossovers are a very close third as they also target the Minor and this will lift your chest up and make it appear bigger over time, I do not subscribe to the Incline / Decline theory because it is so easy to over do, benches just aren’t adjustable enough unless you are lucky, and tend to be too high on incline, moving the stress to the Shoulders and too low on Decline because you have to put one end on a step to achieve it and you end up pushing with you triceps, if it is possible to do so and you are determined to do it, then an incline or decline of no more than 2 inches would suffice more if you have shorter arms to allow for the lever effect, so in the end after being forced to think it through I realised that done correctly Bench Press is a very good exercise and has a good amount of activation across the chest, the trick is to get the hand spacing right and think about the movement rather than the ego boosting weight, because if you go heavy to soon you just recruit every other muscle and leave the Pecs just supporting.

Ultimate Pre-workout Drink

The supplement industry is full of pre-workouts, mostly containing caffeine to wake you up, beetroot to attempt a little vascular dilation to give you a better pump and usually a shed load of ephedra as they can’t use ephedrine any more the result is a buzz that makes you think you are full of energy but actually you are just over stimulated and one of the huge downsides to that is what goes up must come down and you will crash once the effect has worn off, sure some of them put more thought into the products but the cost of these rises exponentially and even the most expensive still lack what I believe to be a very important element, energy, fuel to burn when working out.

What do you need for a good workout?

When you are working out you need to be focused, alert, unrelenting and awake, and crucially you don’t want your muscles searching for energy when they need it most, to my mind it is futile to go into a resistance workout in a dieted state, then only thing to do when Carb or calorie depleted is cardio, that is when you want the body to draw on it’s fat stores while grinding out those long walks or Stairclimbs, but resistance training no, you want the muscle to be full and strong so you can break it down and when it recovers it repays you by lifting your BMR and helping you burn more calories at rest.

Bullet proof coffee ?

Well, no, to my understanding Bulletproof Coffee is traditionally made with Butter, putting aside my reservations about drinking Coffee with Butter in, it doesn’t contain the instant bio-available energy that we need for the workout and that comes in the form of good old Coconut Oil.

Recipe

Really simple, if you usually have a teaspoon of coffee when you drink it then use two, if you use a tablespoon (like me) then use two tablespoons, then stir in a tablespoon of Coconut Oil, or maybe two, I tried this around 30 minutes before arriving at the gym, now the texture takes a little getting used to but it doesn’t taste really bad due to the slight Coconut undertone, and of course only use cold pressed coconut oil, do not add milk as diary products such as milk can have a calming relaxing effect and that is the last thing we are trying to achieve.

Effect

Coffee (or more accurately caffeine) works by triggering a few responses but mainly it blocks adenosine receptors, this is what makes you feel drowsy, caffeine binds to the receptor in place of adenosine and stops this process, it increases brain activity and causes the pituitary gland to release adrenaline, as a result the body goes into flight or fight mode and is primed for maximum effort, then as the MCT’s in the Coconut Oil are shuttled into the blood stream suspended in warm liquid the liver does it’s thing and pushes sugar and ketones into the bloodstream giving the muscles immediate and long lasting fuel. and all for a fraction of the price of any half decent pre-workout drink.

What about the calories ?

It is a valid question after all Coconut Oil is saturated fat, at 117 calories per tablespoon it is my opinion that even if you use two tablespoons the only way you won’t use those extra calories is if you go to the gym and just have a bit of a sit down, Coconut Oil or more accurately MCT itself is directly linked to an increase in HGH (Human Growth Hormone) but this requires greater quantities to be consumed, this is something that I want to look at more and I suspect that managing your calorific intake around the extra calories would be required.

I can say that my experience of this is, greater energy, better pump, more focus and strength without the crash afterwards.

Give it a go and let me know in the comments how it went.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Water Increases Metabolism!

I have not heard this before so when I stumbled over an article online I thought I would share as we could all do with understanding metabolism and how to manipulate it.

Abstract

Drinking lots of water is commonly espoused in weight loss regimens and is regarded as healthy; however, few systematic studies address this notion. In 14 healthy, normal-weight subjects (seven men and seven women), we assessed the effect of drinking 500 ml of water on energy expenditure and substrate oxidation rates by using whole-room indirect calorimetry. The effect of water drinking on adipose tissue metabolism was assessed with the microdialysis technique. Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30–40 min. The total thermogenic response was about 100 kJ. About 40% of the thermogenic effect originated from warming the water from 22 to 37 C. In men, lipids mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate. In contrast, in women carbohydrates were mainly used as the energy source. The increase in energy expenditure with water was diminished with systemic β-adrenoreceptor blockade. Thus, drinking 2 liters of water per day would augment energy expenditure by approximately 400 kJ. Therefore, the thermogenic effect of water should be considered when estimating energy expenditure, particularly during weight loss programs.

Michael Boschmann, Jochen Steiniger, Uta Hille, Jens Tank, Frauke Adams, Arya M. Sharma, Susanne Klaus, Friedrich C. Luft, Jens Jordan, Water-Induced Thermogenesis, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019, 
https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030780

The whole article can be found at Endocrine Society website it is an old study but pertains to something so fundamental to us as humans that it is worth reading, and another very good reason to drink more water, even if we have have to warm it first!

Could well add to any intermittent fasting routines.

Practice the Preaching ep14

So in the spirit of trying new things, I have introduced Coconut oil to my routine, initially as a way to “break my fast” but I then started researching and it turns out this stuff is awesome, it is good for the hair (mine and the dogs) and can keep me regular with bright teeth, but more important is how it programs the body to burn fat for fuel.

I am going to make my arguments in a dedicated post once I have got my science down but suffice to say that according to Strava my pace on the morning walk went from 10 mins/km to just under 9! And to be fair I felt pretty good.

It would appear as well that the Mrs was right and the response to the “Conversation with Mrs” post was good, but I discovered Coconut Oil on my own so I am counting that as one all.

Practice the Preaching ep9

It is probably obvious by now that, I am attempting a virtual 180 on my life so far, and a big part of this is physical, I got to the stage that I couldn’t do much really, even laying down in bed hurt my lower legs and I couldn’t keep up with my children when out and about, so I threw myself into going back to the gym, and now 7 and a half stone lighter and 11 months down the line I feel like I am more fine tuning my diet and exercise routine than trying to crack a rock with a toffee hammer like I was for the first 9 months or so,

As a result and as a demonstration of a way of making time rather than trying to find the time, I thought I would share what my workout program is starting to look like, I will start to expand on this shortly and go much further into the knowledge I have gained but for now, this is pretty much how it is starting to look.

Gym – Resistance training

Essentially as I am never sure if I can go on a regular scheduled basis, I decided instead to just break it down to body parts per session and make sure that they all followed each other, so I do the following,

  • Back and Biceps – Staple exercises are Deadlifts, Lat Pulldowns, Straight bar Curls and Preacher Curls, as well as two more exercises on each muscle group depending on how I feel.
  • Chest and Triceps – Staple exercises are Bench Press, Flat Dumbell Flies, Incline Dumbell Press, Tricep Pressdowns and behind the head Dumbell Extensions, again another two more on each muscle group.
  • Legs – Staple exercises are Front Squat, Leg Press, Leg Extension and Curl, Stiff Leg Deadlifts and Calf raises, I will try and incorporate lunges and Sissy Squats as my knees allow.
  • Shoulders – Staples are Dumbell Press Overhead, Side lateral, Rear Laterals, Front raises either with Cables or Dumbells.

On Gym days I will do my cardio first thing in the morning (4:30am when I manage to get up 5:00am when not) and that has become a 5k walk as I was originally spending 70 minutes on a treadmill on incline 7 at the end of my workout but this was taking up too much time from my Kids and bedtimes, so I moved it too the morning when they are sound asleep, it is worth noting that I did start running in the morning but that seemed to halt the downward trend of the scales for some reason so I stopped.

Non Gym Days

On days when I am not going to be at they gym I will do a full Yoga flow in the mornings, I still go out for a swift walk but I like to concentrate on Yoga because the benefits so far have been exponential, my posture, strength, flexibility and I would even go so far as my mental state as well as my ability to cope with stressful sometimes inflammatory situations at work and family life, I really cannot stress enough how much I have come to value Yoga and am always looking to increase my practice of it and advance as much as I can.

Everyday

Additionally on every day I always do a 20 minute flexibility routine, one thing that has always plagued me is flexibility and so when I put all my ill informed misconceptions about Yoga to one side and started to practice it I started to become more flexible and found that this alone made everyday life more comfortable.

And I always do a mini plank workout, a simple standard Plank followed by each side and a back Plank held for one minute and repeated 3 times in each position, I actually credit this for getting rid of the largest part of my back problems due to being sat at a desk all day.

In the future

Moving from here I am going to start incorporating intermittent fasting as well as tying down a more regular Yoga routine of my own design to provide something to really concentrate on practising to find progression, I am also going to put a day of more power lifting / strength training into my gym routine, that will include Farmers Walk, Deadlifts, and Tyre Flipping that type of thing, to try and pull my physique in tighter.

Practice the Preaching ep8

First a Confession

I have let my not being well slow me down over the last week as far as my progress is concerned, Sure I managed to get a post out https://thetraineesuperhuman.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/fragility-of-dreams/ that was really well received (and I thank you all for that) but my training wandered a little and my concentration was not what it should have been, I believe the ailment is referred to (at least locally) as Man-flu I am not sure if this is a global epidemic or not but it did slow my roll so as to speak.

However that is behind me now and I am once again back on the clock, this morning went well at 4:30am and I completed a 5k walk and 20 minutes stretching all before breakfast.

As my illness left me and I started to get back into the other side of this journey (money) I got the ball rolling by signing up for Clickbank and having a look round there as well as doing some research on paid for advertising, additionally I started to have more of detailed look around at what other people are doing with affiliate marketing, and most of what I found actually annoyed me, some of the really big names (you will already be aware of them if you are also chasing this particular beast) appear over and over again selling just one thing, their course on how to be an affiliate! then I noticed during a simple 1 hour surfing session that there are a lot of people that sell one particular persons course on an affiliate basis, no doubt this will make some people some money, probably quite a lot but it all seems a little cynical does it not? I heard a comment once and for the life of me I cannot remember the name of the person that made it or I would credit them here (just know that it is not an original line) “you have to wonder which came first the Millionaire or the Guru ?”.

Anyhow I will get more into this in a later post, but as always keep breaking new ground every day, even an inch further than you were yesterday is an inch and means you start today from a better position.