From Exercise Machines To Free Weights

machine free weights

I read a Nerd Fitness article  and there is good stuff.

Very often in gym’s advertisements, we watch a lot of high-tech machines to do exercises and the free weight zone is a small hidden room.

What I see in my gym, it’s people start their training with a little bit cardio and they use machines. They do this because it’s easier and this look more secure. Unfortunately, this is not the reality. The Matrix trap us with these machines.

Attention : If you have a medical prescription or you need to use machines for a special reason, continue to follow your training program prescribed by your doctor or physiotherapist.

Why

why

The truth is that machines force muscles and joints to make movements that aren’t natural.

Machines force your body to move weights in a single pattern (up – down or left – right). Our bodies naturally don’t move like it, this is the problem. Movements or our bodies aren’t straight lines, it’s rather « S ». The result is that machines develop our muscles in a way that isn’t balanced and they endanger our joints and spine.

Like you can see, machines don’t put your body in safety and in addition, they don’t work your stabilizing muscles. Don’t work stabilizing muscles is very bad for everyday activities.

When you bent forward to take something on the floor, you body use a dozen and a dozen muscles at the same time. But since you no longer work your stabilizing muscles because of machines, your muscles don’t know how to work together so your body uses a muscle.

Study case

« Smith Machine » is famous to do squat in safety so it protects your back. Lie ! This machine is perfect to destroy your back and compressed your spine because this machine force your body to move only up and down. The real squat allow to do the fundamental movement and when you do it, you notice that your body doesn’t do a straight line from up to down. With the real squat you do a natural movement.

Do exercise with weight or with bodyweight is more efficient to burn calories than machines.

Full body

full body

All exercises classified in 2 categories : pull and push

I remember, I did a full body training program for 1 year before lift weight. This is what my Taekwondo’s teacher advised me and he was right (wow, Korean wisdom). A full body training program, 3 times per week is more efficient than a machines training program, 5-6 times per week for beginners. If you want to train more, you can do Tai-Chi or walking during rest days.

Full body is important

With full body, you learn to each body’s muscle to work together, you synchronize you body. This is allow you to be healthy, avoid using too much a muscle and avoid injury due to a weak stabilizing muscle. To maximize your body, eat healthy and you’ll burn more fat, build muscle and build a body of which you’re proud.

What is great with a full body training program, it’s when you skip a training day, it doesn’t matter. You’ll not have certain muscle more developed than any others because each training session work all body’s muscles

Bodyweight (full body)

bodyweight training

Mastering basics movements with bodyweight is perfect to prepare you for a training with weights.

It’s primitive movements therefore natural that allow you to become stronger without material.

The best example are gymnasts. Look gymnasts body, it’s amazing, impressive and the majority of their training are with bodyweight exercises.

Basic exercises

  • Push = push up, dips, handstands

  • Pull = pull up, body rows

  • Legs = bodyweight squat, pistols squats, lunges, box jumps

For each exercise, you do 2-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

No it’s too simple  ! => Do this training program and if it’s too easy, increase the difficulty. You can do push up with one hand or pull up with one hand (like my friend Inti). You can also add more set ou repetition.

No it’s too difficult => Do this training program and if it’s too difficult, decrease the difficulty. You can do sets of 3 repetitions. The principle is you progress to do 4 sets of 10 repetitions. Take your time but be regular.

No I want abs => When you do squat, push up and pull up, you keep your core tight and by this way you work your abs. But if you want to do an exercise specially for abs, you can to plank and side plank.

Strength training (full body)

strength training

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman, dumbbells and barbells are your friends.

Basic exercise

  • Push = Bench press, Overhead Press

  • Pull = Deadlift, Bent Over Row

  • Legs = Squat, Deadlift

For each exercise, you do 2-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

No I don’t like squat => Do you think squat is an useless exercise ? I advise you to read the book of Mark Rippetoe. If you seriously want to train, this book is for you !

No I afraid of weights => Don’t panic. Most people in free weights section are too busy to look at themselves in the mirror, they will not look at you. You can use a barbell or dumbbells for each exercise to improve your pure strength. I advise you dumbbells.

No I’m afraid of being ridiculous => Everybody don’t care if you life a dumbbell of 4kg (8.8lbs) or you squat 181kg (400lbs) because everybody struggle to do their training program. Forget people, stay focus and do you training program until the end.

But if I do bad => At the beginning use light weight to do movements with the good form, the good technique. When you’ll stronger, you’ll can add weight slowly each week to reach your limit. You can hire a personal trainer for 1-2 sessions to learn and improve basic exercises techniques or form.

No I want only lose weight => It’s simple, you do basic exercises and you eat less. The training is the same for lose weight or gain muscle. It’s diet that make the difference ! It’s a science :

  • Eat more calories than you burn = gain weight

  • Eat less calories than you burn = lose weight

Your physical condition, it’s 80 % diet and 20 % training. If you want bulk, you need to have a specific diet to do this.

Track and adjust slowly your training program and your diet to see your progress.

No matter what you do, don’t be afraid of the free weight zone. Remember than 90 % of people inside are focus to do their exercises by looking in the mirror therefore don’t worry. Do your exercices, become better and become stronger.

What do you feel when you train with free weights ?

-Steph

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Reach A Plateau

training workout plateau

I read a Nerd Fitness article and this is what I learn. 

We all had a moment like that. Whether to lose fat, gain muscle or even develop a new skill, we reach a point in our progress where all seems to stagnate :

« I lost 0.9kg (2lbs) per week for months and now since 2 weeks, nothing changes ».

« I added 2.2kg (5lbs) per week for the deadlift for 6 months but this week I lift less than before ».

« I was ran faster, I did km (miles) faster for 1 year but I can’t exceed the mark of 7 minutes ».

A plateau

A plateau occurs when your progress has stagnated despite that you continue to do all the right things, which included a good diet, do exercises correctly and a proper lifestyle.

Our body can lose weight constantly and block at a number. Or you can gain muscle and get stronger and for 1 or 2 weeks, you can’t lift heavier.

This is what we call in our training « The Plateau » and we don’t like when that happens. Human being is happy when he makes progress. When we work hard for something and we don’t see progress, we aren’t happy.

Really

really

Often people talk to me about their frustration at having a plateau but often it isn’t a plateau. It’s just that they’re happy with their bodies and they stopped to stay focused :

  • What was last meals ? When people see that their body is better, they allow themselves to eat more junk food. Then day by day, they eat more junk food and it becomes a bad habit. Track your meals.

  • How do you train ? We follow a workout program but when people see that their body is better, they don’t do the last rep, they do less sets, they want to finish the training earlier. If you are not completely tired at the end of your training, you will not progress. Track your workout.

  • Do you sleep enough ? It’s one of the things most people neglect howerver everyone know the importance of sleep. A lack of sleep increases the stress level, less time for your body to rebuild your muscles, etc.

Can you assure me that last days your quality of sleep, nutrition and exercise was excellent ? In most cases, once these things are fixed, the body progresses again.

Daily victory

victory

If your exercises, your nutrition and your sleep are excellent quality, we need to find a way to win every day. « Little by little, you become less little ».

More we’re train, more we have an advanced level in our training program. So that we often reach a plateau and it’s necessary to have small victories to get through.

  • Track accurately your reps and sets – Find a way to have a better performance than yesterday. If you block at 4 sets of 6 repetitions of 68kg (150lbs) and you can’t do a set of 70kg (155lbs), try 4 sets of 8 reps of 68kg (150lbs). Or you can reduce your rest time. To do that, I use Jefit  with my smartphone.

  • Collect the small victories – It is with these small victories that you exceed your limits and that you can achieve your goal. Find a way to have small victories each day that shows you that you have become better, faster and stronger.

Other metrics

Scale can lie. Your weight on the scale can decrease very slowly even if you progress to a healthier body simply because you have less weight to lose.

Track these things :

  • Take a photo every 2 weeks – Who is care that the scale doesn’t move when you have a better physique ? You feel better about yourself ? That’s progress, do you buy new clothes that fit you better ?

  • Take measurements – Measure the important parts of your body. Perhaps the scale doesn’t move but you gain or lose a few centimeters (inch) of waist or arm.

  • Track your body fat – Buy a caliper to get an estimation of your body fat. There are cases where the weight increases and the body fat percentage decreases and that’s a good sign.

The goal is to constantly prove to ourselves that we’re approaching our goal.

bruce lee

« If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them ».

-Bruce Lee

How did you do to overcome a plateau ?

-Steph

P.S: Do you want a free training program? Click here 

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FAQ On Strenght Training

faq

I find that strength training is excellent because my body and my muscles are in a routine that exceeds my comfort zone, breaking my muscle fibers, forcing them to rebuild. My body and my muscles adapt to rebuild stronger to be prepared the next time.

The body is constantly rebuilt to rebuild muscle by burning extra calories all the time, so strength training is cool.

I need to enroll in a gym ?

No, you can have a good strength training at home. You can buy weights or make bodyweight movements.

What’s a good workout program ?

A good training program in full body has two exercises from each components :

Leg exercises : bodyweight squat , lunges, barbell squat, deadlift

Push exercises : push up, dips, overhead dumbell press, barbell overhead presse, bench press

Pull exercises : Pull ups, bodyweight rows, dumbbell rows, barbell rows

Core (abs) : plank, side plank, raise knees

Ok, I saw the list of exercises but I do how many sets and reps ?

exercice sets reps

There are 2 things :

Generally, a strength training program, it’s 3-5 sets of 5-10 repetitions for an exercise. 60 seconds to rest between sets and to change exercise.

You can do a set of exercise and quickly move up with another, and so on. You make this circuit until you’ve done the same number of sets for each exercise, it’s the super-set.

Typical example :

  • Set 1 : 8 repetitions
  • Rest : 60 seconds
  • Set 2 : 8 repetitions
  • Rest : 60 seconds
  • Set 3 : 8 repetitions
  • Rest : 60 seconds
  • Set 4 : 8 repetitions
  • Rest : 60 seconds
  • Example super-sets :

Exercise 1 : 10 bodyweight squat

  • No rest, continues with the next exercise
  • Exercise 2 : 10 push ups
  • No rest, continues with the next exercise
  • Exercise 3 : 10 dumbbell rows
  • No rest, continues with the next exercise
  • Exercise 1 : 10 bodyweight squat
  • Repeat the circuit !
  • How many times I have to train ?

I advice you to train 2-4 days per week depending on your goal and your schedule. Avoid working the same muscle group two days in a row.

At the gym, I don’t know how to do the exercises in the list. I can only use the machines ?

I don’t like machines because they force your body to make a unnatural move. Bodyweight exercises and free weights are safer, healthier and better in the long term. I promise you.

But if you’re not sure of movement exercises, you can start with the machines and then make the transition to the free charges.

How to know what exercise program to follow ?

Yes there are many exercise programs that will give you good results. Remember 2 things :

  • The diet is 80% of the battle. If you follow a strength training program and you eat healthily, your body will change.

  • Select a program and keep it. The best plan is to follow the program by being patient and consistent.

I don’t see progress, I do something wrong ?

jefit progress screenshot

When we do strength training, we try to lift more weight or do more repetitions every 2 months. If you don’t add weights or repetitions, you will not make progress.

IMPORTANT : Note that you do in training. The strength training only works if you gradually increase the difficulty. You need to know what you did last month for what to improve.

How to find an advanced version of the exercise I do ?

The goal of strength training is « progressive overload ». You want to constantly lift weights heavier or challenge yourself with movement more difficult. Our body adapts quickly, and if we lift the same weight or do the same number of repetitions, our body adapts and we will have fewer gains from the same amount of work.

We need to make difficult things, HARDCORE !

If you train with barbell or dumbbells, simply added more weight and more repetitions to be stronger.

If you train with bodyweights movements, you need to increase the difficulty of movement once it became easier.

How to increase the difficulty of bodyweight movements  ?

  • Adding weight for dips or pushups

  • By elevating your feet when you make push ups

  • Make the pistol squat instead of the bodyweight squat

DON’T BECOME A GNOME !

gnome

-Steph

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Lazy To Train ? Test Temptation Pack

lazy fitness

In life, there are things we should do, things we need to do and things we want to do.

You and me, we know, it’s always the things that we want to do they have priority over things we should or need to do.

So that we have situations where we do the important things at the last minute and often with enormous stress.

But what’s the temptation pack

treadmill laptop

Katy Milkman of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study on this concept . Here the study’s subject :

Participants were randomly assigned to two groups. The first group (full) has access to a gym with the option of listening audiobooks. The second group (intermediate) has access to a gym with a limited time for listening audiobooks.

51% of participants in the first group (full) and 29% of participants of the second group (intermediate) went to the gym more frequently.

It’s cool as an idea to be more consistent in his training program. Now we can adapt this concept for other things :

  • Do you like a TV show or a youtuber ? Take your laptop or your smartphone and watch it during your cardio (treadmill / elliptical)

  • Do you like your video game on your smartphone ? Play during your rest time between sets.

  • Do you like listening audiobooks or podcasts ? Listen to it while you clean your house, doing the laundry or ironing. This can be a task not very motivating as cook healthy meals.

Do you understand the pack temptation’s concept, it’s cool. Do things we should and we need to do by combining an element that we find cool. Tasks we find boring become less boring !

-Steph

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