Not bad, pretty well-rounded. I'm going to throw out some concepts before getting into specifics. Some of the concepts you may be doing already and I just couldn't tell from the post.
I don't know how long you have been doing this routine, but it would give you a solid overall foundation of general cardio and strength-endurance fitness. After a few months on a program, you need to change it up and keep challenging yourself. It is an art; switch too soon and you didn't give yourself time to get really good at those exercises and experience the real gains. Do it too long and you adapt and hit a plateau, plus there are muscles not being worked that great now that a new routine would fix.
I don't know if you are swimming before the weights...but don't! Other than a warm-up, you don't want to do any cardio before lifting/strength training because it fatigues you, including your nervous system. You want to be fresh for strength training both for safety and so you can lift more! So, swimming/cardio after is fine, or on different days. I don't know what schedule you prefer 5 shorter workouts/week or these 3 longer ones.
Final concept: time to ditch the machines. Free-weights and body wight calisthenics is where it is at for functional fitness. Also, focus on multi-joint movements (like a chin up) as opposed to isolation movements (seated bicep curl). Machines support your body which is bad. You want to have to support and stabilize yourself to build up all the stabilizing muscles as well as train your body to move as a coordinated whole and it burns more calories.
As to tweaking your specific workout: Swimming- I'd take the "sprints" out and separate them. 1 week maybe do 2 of the longer steady state swimming workouts and 1 day of the 10 minute sprint one. Next week switch it, 2 days swim sprints, 1 day long. This way you'll be getting great anaerobic benefits from the sprints as well as saving time by not doing it all, every time.
Next, ditch the stair machine and rower, you are already doing plenty cardio swimming. That will save more time! (or if you like the rower, do it after weights one day, swim the other 2).
For the weight circuit (with free weights now), I'd pick a couple upper body pushes (chest/triceps/shoulders), a couple upper body pulls (biceps/back/lats/shoulders), a lower body quad exercise (squats, lunges etc.) and lower body hamstring focus (bridges, stiff leg deadlift, deadlift-if you do a deadlift variation you can get rid of one of the upper body pulls). Some core stability, hanging knee raises, planks etc.
The simplest full-body raw strength routine I've done was just 2 sets of 5 reps deadlift and 2 sets of 5 reps standing one arm barbell overhead press. From the book Power To The People. I got crazy strong without adding mass just like it said. Worked up to a 450lb 2.5x body weight (raw-no belt or straps even) deadlift.
Some weight concepts: if you want to build raw strength without adding any real mass, keep the reps to 5 or less in a set, keep the volume low like say 2 sets of 5 for a given exercise (but heavy loads). To build strength and mass, same as before low reps 5 or less with heavy loads, but tack on a lot more sets. 5x5, 10x5 etc. (and eat and sleep a bunch, 8-9 hrs/night)
Pure mass would be the classic bodybuilding pattern of 3-5 sets per exercise with reps in the 8-12 range. (and eat and sleep a bunch)
To get "toned" you just need to lower your body fat percentage, the muscle is under there already. Focus on whole foods, cut out all breads, potatoes, pasta, sugar (and alcohol or severely limit it). Replace those empty carb cals with meat and veggies.
Thank you so much for the response. I'm hoping our dialogue will be helpful to others.
As for changing up, what I posted is where I am now: when I started (Sept, after not doing anything for nine months), I barely got twenty laps in, stopping at either end; struggled to get to four minutes on the rowing machine . . . you get the picture.
I have limited time -- I'm there at open (5:45 am) and have to get back to get the boys on the bus. My wife encourages three times a week, but every day, not so much. And I do swim first.
I'm leery of free weights because I'm wary of wrong technique and really screwing my body up thereby (done that) -- and I'm not so sure about the "trainers" on hand, being college kids.
If not the stairs machine, what do you suggest to keep up leg strength and endurance -- for hiking, mainly. I walk the dog alternative mornings, with multiple mile walks on the weekends, but it's nothing like my old runs.
Oh yeah, my wife's into organic/whole foods, and I've already limited bread, but have to do something about the Pepperidge Farm pecan cookies and my twice weekly beer night .
Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto
That's the idea, I'm trying to give something back to anyone interested! Again, I'm no expert, but I figure I might as well help anyone who wants it with all I've learned.
OK, a streamlined strength routine and alternating long swim/sprint swim days will shave some minutes off your total WO time.
Ironically, using machines may be setting you up for injury even more. Not on the machine, but out in the real world. You think you are strong because you lift, so you help a friend move a couch or heavy fridge and pull a muscle....probably one of the stabilizers you aren't used to recruiting.
Bodybuilders have a lot more injuries than powerlifters. It isn't about the weight, but the volume. Heavier loads done for lower reps when fresh are safer than medium loads done to exhaustion.
The college kids should be able to show you good form on the basic exercises. You should start light and practice your form anyway, look up videos on youtube.
Or...we can just punt on weights all-together. I have been doing nothing but body weight calisthenics for the last 5 months. All you need is some space and a pull up bar, maybe a box or chair.
Do 3 sets of 5-20 reps (depending on where you are at with a given exercise) of some variation of push up, pull up, bridges, squats, lunges. There are versions of all those exercises from so easy an old lady could do them (Push ups on a wall for example) to world-class strength (one arm handstand push up).
I don't think you need anything else in addition to the swimming, walks and hikes and whatever leg strength training you do. You don't have to workout for the activity that you already do. I'm 43 and cranked out a 32 mile hike Black Friday, my wife as well. Neither of us trained up for it, we each are following the body weight program. Sore for a few days after, sure.
Yeah, gotta ditch those cookies. I like a few squares of 70% or more dark chocolate, or a handful of macadamia nuts (or both). Twice weekly as in 1-2 beers twice per week? That would be fine IMO.
Where would a stretching routine fit into the overall workout routine? Before, After or both?
Traditional "static" stretching, definitely after. The reason is that when you stretch a muscle into a new range of motion (ROM), it is weaker in that extended ROM, so you wouldn't want to stretch and weaken it, then lift. Exception would be if you have an overly tight muscle, a little pre-workout stretch on that problem muscle may be OK.
Pre-workout your warm up is to get the muscles warm and get you ready to work. I think joint mobility exercises are best. Unlike static stretching, joint mobility is just taking your muscles through their normal ROM. It also gets the synovial fluid flowing to lubricate the joints.
Things like arm circles, hip and knee circles etc. Or, just doing some body weight exercises like easy versions of push ups, squats etc. A classic warm up would involve doing some very light warm up sets of whatever exercise you are doing in the workout.
Yoga is a great cool down and active rest day stretching routine. This a weak point of mine, I have very good leg mobility, but recently discovered my shoulder mobility is atrocious! So, I'm working in Yoga poses for that post-workout and on off days. I've been pretty lazy about cool-downs almost always not bothering, so I need to correct that.
Muscles are like taffy. Cold taffy breaks, warm taffy is pliable and resilient.
Why muscle gets bigger:
I'm not an expert on muscle growth since I don't really care about mass just for the sake of it (it's heavy and I don't wanna carry it). That said, here are some general principles and I apologize if I mess up some terminology.
Muscle gets bigger as a combination of 3 reasons. Muscle fiber is added "myofibrillar hypertrophy"
(this will make you stronger). Muscle fiber swells due to increased waste products being carried away "sarcoplasmic hypertrophy". Finally, increase in blood vessels and size (the "pump").
If you are building muscle, you will always get some mix of the 3, but only the first makes you stronger. So, it is a matter of emphasis. Bodybuilders only care about size and shape, they only need to be strong so they can lift heavier loads that will recruit more fiber and contraction. They'll take all the puff from fluid and vessels they can get (I assume).
Powerlifters need their muscles to be as dense with as many neural-motor units as possible so they can lift as much as possible. They don't care about size/shape, the heavy ones have their muscle covered with a fat layer anyway (there is a ripped bodybuilder physique underneath).
Low rep sets with very heavy weights for low volume will build strength and emphasize adding some fiber for dense strong muscles and as volume is low, waste products will be kept to a minimum. Could be as simple as 2 sets of 5 reps at a 90% of 1RM load. This is how someone can be way stronger than they look. How a lean 150lb-er can out deadlift the 200# amateur bodybuilder in the gym.
Keep the heavy loads and 5 or under reps but add more volume (more sets) and eat like a horse and sleep a lot (8-9hrs), you'll get a blend of strength and mass to deal with the waste products and volume of lifting.
Go bodybuilder with medium heavy loads (reps of 8-12 ~70%+ of 1 RM) and high volume, raw strength is less emphasized and you get more waste products to deal with and even more need for blood flow to the muscles.
Some other muscle myths-sculpting or shaping-hitting the muscle from all angles.
Bodybuilders leave no stone un-turned and will do a wide variety of exercises to ensure max recruitment of fiber. For functional fitness this is not only a waste of time, but can be counter-productive.
Physiologically, you can't shape the "outer bicep" for example. It is 1 muscle, you are either recruiting all the fiber with a heavy load or not. Muscle shape is determined by its fixed insertion and attachment point (max length stays the same) and how big it is. Make it bigger, it is like blowing up a balloon, but keeping the length the same.
Your muscles also only know how they are contracting, not why. Weights aren't any better or worse than calisthenics. I got the most forceful contraction of my pecs the other day trying to rotate my legs under me into a handstand while just supporting with my arms. So forceful, I thought I had a minor tear (thankfully not!). Certainly more forceful than when I benched over 300 many years ago.
I mentioned "tone" in the OP (I hate that term-cause it's deliberately miss-used to sell crap programs). Muscle tone is residual tension in the muscle, think Panther leisurely walking, muscles dense and coiled ready for action even at rest. This comes from strong muscles. Strong muscles are built by lifting heavy loads for low reps (or power training etc.). So...the exact opposite of everybody lifting 5# Barbie weights for 25 reps to get "toned" .
When most people say "toned" what they really mean is they want to lower their bodyfat percentage to reveal what muscle they already have, they just don't know it. Lifting very light weights for high rep sets (then taking a lot of rest between sets) is a very inefficient way to lose fat.
Wanna get "toned?" Then lift heavy weights doing compound exercises like deadlift and a upper body press for low reps. Then, do a whole bunch of table push-backs (especially cut out all sugars and most carbs) and for extra credit do some anaerobic interval training.
Next post; the 3 reasons why you get "stronger"
As promised: Similar to the post above, here are the 3 different ways we get stronger and you'll be getting a mix of them it is just a matter of degree.
#1 Neurological adaptation. Simply getting stronger at a given exercise because you are better at doing it. More efficient. Your body has learned the movement pattern and will let you tap into your potential and go for it. Think of a pro powerlifter at 200lbs benching vs. a 240lb bodybuilder. Powerlifter will have the most perfect and efficient form allowing him to lift more.
#2 Additional muscle fiber/neural motor units. Duh. I really don't need to say more except that as said above in the previous post, the portion of muscle growth due to fluids and bloods vessels doesn't count.
#3 Tapping into more of your current strength potential. We all know that under an adrenaline dump in a life or death situation, you will have extra strength. Problem is, you may also tear muscle fiber or ligaments. Acceptable trade to save a life, not acceptable in the gym. So, our bodies put on the brakes and don't let us tap into nearly our potential when working out, but the set point is pretty conservative. We can get stronger by doing things to signal our body to let us have more juice. You may note the link now between #1 and this one, being familiar and good with an exercise is one factor giving your body a signal to let you have more strength available.
Additionally; stability, core strength, and strong stabilizer muscles. If the body senses it is very stable, it will let you tap into more power. For this reason, I recommend training barefoot if at home or with hard sole shoes like wrestling shoes, etc. I have a pair of Nike cross-trainers billed as being good for cross-fit etc. they are pretty stable.
A way to demonstrate this point, do a standing 1 arm overhead press with a heavy DB. Next, stand on one leg and do it again. Finally, stand on an unstable surface like a Bosu ball and do it a 3rd time (maybe don't do this, just visualize it). The DB gets harder to lift standing on 1 leg, and yet its weight did not change, nor was there a change to any of your muscles doing the movement.
So, we have 2 out of 3 methods of getting stronger that don't involve bigger muscles.
To develop these attributes, focus on free-weights and lifting standing on your own 2 feet. Stabilizing the movements with your legs and core. Grip the ground with your toes. Squeeze the bar or handle, squeeze your other fist, squeeze your glutes, tense your abs and breathe into your core.
Ever since I learned this stuff, I've always been a lot stronger than I look which is how I like it anyway.
Have to agree with Strambo. I lift 4 days a week, and cover every muscle in my body. I warm up (cardio), then warmup the muscle group, then work my sets to failure using a mixture of dumb bells, bar, and machines, preferably Hammer Strength. Try to get at least 3-4 cardio sessions in a week. My diet is dialed, 6 small meals a day, high on protein (fish/chicken), lots of fruit, salad.
Having said that most in the gym have no clue what they are doing. Half reps, hopping from one machine to the next, no program, nothing orderly, my home gym is a mess. I only say something when it looks like someone is going to injure themselves badly. I used to be a certified trainer, studied on my own for many years, both lifting, and nutrition, and it’s a shit show in there. There are people who know how to lift 100% but don’t eat right, and vice versa.
I can use every single piece of equipment in my gym and do over a calendar year as I switch lifts for muscle groups several times per year. Some do the same old thing, plateau.
Takes a lot of reading, and a lot of practice to dial in form, diet, and frequency. I wouldn’t say nutrition is 90%, but it is the majority. Knowing how to lift and exercise is at least 30% if you want to grow muscle and get stronger. And I don’t mean meathead muscle, lean muscle. And sadly genetics plays a massive part in the whole deal. People have to understand they may not be able to look like X due to their genetics.
Got it.....Rough air ahead, we’re in for some chop.
What makes me crazy about the women who lift high reps with light weights is when they are afraid of lifting too heavy and bulking up. As if we even have the testosterone for that to happen.
I've been lifting heavy three times a week for several years and my arms are stronger and more defined as a result but definitely not huge and bulky.
SIGforum's triple minority
"It can't rain all the time." - Eric Draven
I frequently encounter women who don't lift because they're afraid of muscle bulk.
I tell them that the idea of them accidently gaining a bunch of muscle and getting bulky is an insult to Professional body builders. Don't give yourself too much credit--at this point, you couldn't look like that if you wanted to and tried.
No, here in South Florida I've seen several women who are so bulky they put most men to shame and quite honestly it's gross.....
Do you realize for a woman to look that way it takes them dedicating themselves to it like a full time job and likely anabolic steroids?
You can't look like that by accident any more than you or I can accidently look like Chris Hemsworth by lifting a couple times a week. To looked that jacked, gross or not, takes a level of dedication that regular people just don't have. It's not that it's attractive, it's that it's impossible for a woman to look like that unintentionally.
Hell, it's difficult for a woman to look like that even intentionally.
There is a 22-year-old young lady I know who works out like a demon. Her dedication at her gym is legendary. She's very fit and no mistake. She's even got about 4-pack abs going. Then there's the 20-year-old young lady at my gym who's squatting 235 lbs. and was dead-lifting 180 the other day. Neither of them is ripped.
"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system,,,, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe
Nice! My wife keeps flexing her bicep, she's pretty proud to have some definition now. She's working on getting her first chin up.
Muscle is a woman's best friend, they should want all they can get. Forget the scale, if a woman were to lose 10lbs of fat and gain 10lbs of muscle they would look radically different (dropping multiple dress sizes) and amazing, yet the scale didn't budge.
The formula for functional fitness (and a great body as a byproduct...if you dial in the nutrition) is the same male or female.
Challenging strength/resistance training via free-weights and/or body weight calisthenics (things like tire flips, rope climbing, sand bags etc. inclusive) plus anaerobic conditioning.
I was once in a restaurant when a lady bodybuilder came in, wearing a short, tight skirt.
EVERY male in the place was transfixed and staring at her legs. Overheard one whispering "He legs are absolutely gorgeous!" And they didn't look ripped or muscular at all, just VERY shapely and beautiful. You would not have even really known she was a body builder until she squated slightly to sit down and THEN you could see the definition in the quads bulge out.
When relaxed, most beautiful figure I ever saw.
"Crom is strong! If I die, I have to go before him, and he will ask me, 'What is the riddle of steel?' If I don't know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me."
|It's not you,|
Ha, yes, I love how they think they're gonna get huge.
I've been a bodybuilder a fitness freak forever. I always get people asking me how to get in shape.
People rarely if ever follow the necessary advice I've given them, no matter how basic out of laziness or plain lack of discipline.
Lack of discipline sure, but there are a couple other big factors. They have no idea how good they will feel if they get in shape and humans aren't motivated by long-term rewards or avoiding long term punishments like heart disease and type II diabetes in 15 years. So, they can't properly assess the "reward" for the effort. They have a pretty good idea of the right now effort and sacrifice.
Next, I don't think people truly realize how crappy they feel. We get used to whatever our status quo is, it becomes "normal" even if we are miserable. I once gained nearly 5lbs in a week (not all fat, some had to have been extra water retention). The contrast between how I felt the week prior and at the end of the gain week was very noticeable. I didn't feel horrible...but I felt "meh", lower energy, not moving as well etc. I was still in great condition under the extra 5lbs (on top of the extra 15 I had going into that week). I thought how horrible it must feel "objectively" to be obese, yet "subjectively" they have slowly become accustomed to it. To be clear, I'm talking physically feeling horrible not emotionally etc.
Finally, I think hard core "P90X-CROSSFIT-INSANITY!" type workouts don't help, people look at that and know they don't have it in them. That is way more time and effort than is required to be in even excellent shape. Historically, I have always scored 90% or above on the Army PT test (perfect score on the October one) and I'm in better shape at 43 than most 19yo active duty infantry soldiers. I do this with typical workouts of 20-45 mins 3x per week. Sometimes none per week, sometimes 5. But, nowhere near the 5x60 min workouts of say a P90X program or Bodybuilding routine at more like 90 mins 4-5x week.
Intelligent and efficient programming tailored to specific goals can save a lot of time...
I would have to feel awfully damned good AFTERWARDS....to give all that up.
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