Gym Pet Peeves (6/1/12)

1 06 2012

I sure hope you all get a good weekend of rest, because there’s a major national holiday on Monday that all of the GymGeek Nation should know about:  National Bench Press Day!

Ok, clearly I’m kidding.  I’ve just always found it interesting that there’s an unwritten rule that Monday’s are for bench presses.  I still shudder at the thought of waiting in line for the bench press stations at the UCF Rec & Wellness Center back in school (and we’re talking about a school with the second highest undergraduate enrollment in the United States).

There really is no explanation for this phenomenon, other than most meatheads like working their show-off muscles while girls are mildly interested in working out at the beginning of the week.

I bring up the bench press not because of the high traffic on a certain day.  That’s not so much a pet peeve as it is a necessary evil at every gym.  I’ve adjusted by doing my leg workouts on Mondays, just to knock out a tough day early.  Besides, no one’s fighting me to do squats!

So without further ado…

The Mayor of The One-Rep Max

This Pet Peeve Has a History…

I’ll be the first to admit it; finding out your one-rep max is a very important measuring stick when tracking your progress, in terms of muscular strength.  In fact, I do it once every two months just to see how far I’ve come.

But what about the guy that only does one rep…for ten sets?  It’s a head-scratcher to me.  All it does is get you tired, defeating the purpose of building both strength and endurance.  The idea of weightlifting is making your body efficient.

Doing your bench press in this fashion is a lot like driving a luxury car as fast as you can for ten seconds, hitting the brakes, resting at the red light, then doing it again at every…single…light.  All it’s going to do is beat the crap out of the car (or in this case, your body).

If your goal is to get stronger and bigger, you’re far better off doing three or four sets of four to six reps.  It’ll be much more taxing than doing ten sets of one while also giving your body a reason to recover.  Again, it’s about muscle efficiency.

So to this guy/gal, I leave you with this; use it as a measuring stick, not as part of your routine.  Besides, on National Bench Press Day, you’re also going to piss off A LOT of people waiting to get work done!  Also, you don’t want to end up like THIS guy, right?

Nerdy Find of The Week: Under Armour E39

18 05 2012

Since I promise nerdy stuff from time to time (I think I have to since it’s part of the domain name…),  I thought I’d share my thoughts on something that I learned about a year or two ago:

Cards on the table: I am a sports junkie.  I eat/breathe/sleep sports, both collegiate (Go UCF Knights!) and professional (yes, I am terrified of the Heat losing to the Pacers).  More importantly, my addiction goes as deep as to watch the NFL Scouting Combine every year.  This is the beauty pageant of the sports world, where grown muscular men are measured, weighed and evaluated by other grown men who determine if they will fit their team’s needs.

Cam Newton: Property of Stark Industries

In the 2011 Combine, Under Armour rolled out a new piece of technology that they tested out on a few prospects, including eventual #1 overall pick, Cam Newton.  The compression shirt he wore had a sensor on it that resembled Tony Stark’s arc reactor in the “Iron Man” comic books.  From what I was told at the time, it was to measure what was once immeasurable in real time.  We’re talking about things like heart rate broken down by yardage when running a 40-yard dash and breathing patterns during cone drills.  All the data was then saved onto a 2 GB hard drive for further study.

The E39, as it became named, was yet another way for scouts to find out more invasive athletic information without actually BEING invasive.  Personally,  I don”t need to know if a player’s heart rate increases a X amount of beats per minute within five yards of the line of scrimmage.  However, I can see this being important for an Offensive Coordinator, who is looking at a wide receiver prospect and wants to make sure they have an initial burst at the line, as opposed to needing those yards to ramp things up (a-la Ted Ginn, Jr. and his family…I’m still bitter, Cam Cameron!).  Here’s a video explaining the E39 a little bit better:

The cost of this bad boy makes it obvious that it’s meant for professional athletes, as Under Armour has put the E39 in the $700 range.  I guess when you’re the sure-thing first round pick that Cam Newton was, your agent can foot the bill until he signs that contract.  I’m curious to see if these find their way onto college campuses.  I can see the E39 being useful in offseason conditioning or even spring drills.

However, it could open up pandora’s box, since college athletics programs usually have apparel sponsors (Nike, adidas, Russell Athletics).  The last thing the college football world needs (you know…aside from the BCS…) is a technology advantage for Under Armour-sponsored schools (Maryland, Auburn and the loathed University of South Florida).

So what do you think?  Is this useful data or just another shiny toy for soon-to-be millionaires to bring home as “swag?”

Gym Pet Peeves: First Edition

10 05 2012

The beauty of beta testing a site like this is that since there are so few readers and followers (…go ahead, send the link to your friends & family) that I can playtest ideas and see what works and what doesn’t.

Yesterday, on Twitter, Status Fitness Magazine (@StatusFitness) was running a re-tweet for the best use of the hash tag #GymPetPeeves.  To be honest, a lot of them were rather impressive!  I found myself thinking, “You know what?  Yeah that drives me crazy too!” quite a bit.  I even put one up of my own, which got some action (and followers, thank you very much), so I thought I’d start this segment of with my Gym Pet Peeve.

“When people use their gym membership as an expensive book club on the stationary bikes.”

In my eight years of working out, I’ve been a member of three different gyms:

  1. The UCF Rec & Wellness Center (thanks to tuition, it was free!)
  2. L.A. Fitness (which ended because they cared more about the check clearing than fixing equipment)
  3. Planet Fitness (home of the “Lunk Alarm,” which I’ve yet to set off because I’m a quiet beast)

While the amenities, hours of attendance, clientele and machines have changed over the years, one thing has stayed constant; lazy-ass people are in abundance!  At UCF, it was more of the sorority girls going in tight Nike/Under Armor apparel and were there to be seen.  At L.A. Fitness and Planet Fitness, it was much more annoying.

You see…I look at the gym the same way I do with anything I purchase or do; as an investment.  When I go shopping, I have to debate whether or not a product I’m potentially purchasing will better my life and if the return on investment is worth the price.  Will this shirt REALLY be helpful when I go downtown tonight?  Do I REALLY need to buy these chicken breasts in bulk (answer to that one is always HELL YES).

With the gym, I go in there with a purpose.  I invest my time and effort so that I get a return on investment (overall health and wellness…and yes the eight-pack I currently possess).  If I ever walk out of the gym with the feeling of knowing I didn’t give 150%, I feel like total crap the rest of my day, thus making it a weak return on investment.  If anything, the stock dropped for that day.

When I see a person on a stationary bike, with a bottle of water in one hand and “Vogue” in the other, it drives me up an effin’ wall!  You’re there to WORK…OUT.  There are countless other places to bring your Kindle that don’t cost you an initiation fee on top of a monthly membership fee.  What you’re basically saying to the rest of the people at the gym is that you care enough to BUY the membership, but not enough to take advantage of it.  In my honest opinion, you might as well stay at home and save your money for another e-book.  Otherwise, get to sweatin’!

Whew that felt good…who else has a gym pet peeve to share?  Maybe yours will be the next one!

How To Re-Energize Your Routine

7 05 2012

I believe somewhere along the line, I was supposed to get the memo that Monday is “National Bench Press Day.”  I learned this in college when I’d walk into the UCF Rec Center and see LINES of people waiting to “work in” at each of the seven standard bench press stations on a Monday night.  Granted, we’re talking about a college with over 50,000 undergrads, but that’s just ridiculous on so many different levels.

Where in the unwritten workout bible does it say a barbell bench press is the only way to build your chest?  There are COUNTLESS other exercises that not only can develop the basic muscle, but also the minor ones associated with the main muscle area, thus creating a more defined look.

Here are just a few switches you can make to your routines that I’ve done before (note: I will NEVER recommend or write about something I haven’t done before myself):

Usual Exercise:  Barbell Bench Press
Switcheroo:  Dumbbells, dummy!

This is a bit of an oldie, but a goodie.  With a barbell, you can only get to your chest and push back up.  With dumb bells, you can a larger range of motion, which means you incorporate more muscle fibers while pushing the weight back up.  This switch can also allow you to toy around with different hand positions instead of the standard shoulder width apart.  For fun, try doing a set with your palms facing one another.  Your chest and triceps will thank you for it.

Usual Exercise
:  Tricep Pushdowns
Switcheroo:  Bring out the rope!

 By now, you’ve probably done the tricep pushdown on your arm days since you first began working out.  In fact, some of you reading this may be able to push down the entire stack of weights on the cable machine!  Of course, your range of motion is quite limited if you’re doing them the old fashioned way with a metal bar attachment.

Using a rope attachment will definitely kick your ass if you try to push down that same amount of weight.  The grip alone will activate new muscle fibers.  Not only that; at the end of the movement, when you pull the two ends of the rope apart (trying to straighten out your arms, shoulder width apart), you have a fuller range of motion, which, as we said with the dumb bell press, means more muscles to tear apart (translation; more muscle to repair, which will lead to more growth).

Usual Exercise
:  Leg Extension Machine
Switcheroo:  Hack away!

Arguably the most boring exercise to work what is ultimately your largest muscle in the leg is the leg extension.  Even when done properly, when the hell do you actually do a movement of sitting down and lifting heavy weight in an upward fashion?  There is zero functionality to this exercise.

Aside from the barbell squat (something that should be in EVERYONE’S repertoire), the hack squat (or front squat) is a much more functional movement that activates your quads.  It also puts less pressure on your knees and back, when done properly.  With so many different variations on this move (dumb bells, barbell, machine), you can toy around and see what works for you.  With your legs being your main source of power, you’re better off doing a power lift that’s both functional and safe.

These are just a few different things you can incorporate into your routine.  By making a simple switch like the ones I’m talking about will create muscle confusion, a concept that has made Tony Horton and the people at P90X a ton of money.  With changes, it’ll hurt like hell at first, but your body will see gains because it’s not familiar with the new moves!  You’re basically removing the “plateau effect” you’ve read about constantly in magazine and on web sites (why do you think “Men’s Fitness” has two or three workout routines per issue?).

Anyways, thought I’d share this little tidbit with my readers.  I’d love to hear about some of the changes YOU’VE made in your routines.  Maybe I’ll try them out sometime 🙂


Shifting Back To Neutral

6 05 2012

Now that the Miami Heat game is over (the only team that can never win…either it’s “LeBron choked” or “LeBron didn’t get the ball!”),  I’m mentally in a good place to write a quick post for tonight…

I wanted to go into why I love & encourage the rest day.  Personally, it allows me to relax, while also being super productive.  I was able to cook my meals for the week, portion them out and do laundry, all while posting & tweeting!  I do this all on one day because my weeks are hectic.  Between working out, my day job of being an Audio Engineer and this new venture, I have a 80-90 hour a week job now.

Mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-day snack all ready to go!

Like the title of my favorite book from a User-Centered Design class back at UCF, “Don’t Make Me Think” about the stuff that I consider time wasters.  When you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail (example:  if you don’t plan/portion your meals, you’re more likely to indulge in a fast food alternative or frantically make something without a second’s thought of what it is you’re putting in your body).

Not only does it give you a mental rest, the rest day also gives your body a chance to shift back to neutral (yes, we have now come full-circle with the post title).  As I’ve mentioned before, the only time your muscles are able to repair from the damage you do to them in your workout is when you rest.  Sleeping eight hours a night is a great start, but a full 24 hours of active rest (I took my dog, Layla, on a walk at the dog park) allows the body to recover while also not being in a sedentary state.

Truth be told, I love it!  To be able to say I’ve worked out, walked the dog, gotten some writing in ALL before most of my friends & family hit the snooze button is a great feeling.  Aesthetically, the proof is in the pudding (as you can see from previous posts).

Anyways, that’s my soapbox speech for the night.  Get ready for another week of intensity from me, The Nerdy Gym Rat!  This video is all the motivation I need to get revved up for the morning.  How do you guys start YOUR Mondays?

Tuesday Night Update (with some extras…)

1 05 2012

Another day closer to the weekend.  I hope you’re all making the most out of your week!

I just finished up some tilapia & a salad with some sliced apples and feel re-energized.  Eating around the clock to keep up with Jim Stoppani’s 12-Week “Shortcut To Size” is total insanity!  Having been in the mode of weight loss for eight years, I’m used to the ideal of small frequent meals (6-7 meals 3 hours apart), but now I have to basically DOUBLE my intake since my workouts are so intense.  I’m burning way more calories than I’m taking in, so it’s counterproductive to my current goal of putting ON weight.

I’ll do my review of the workout once I’m further along.  It’d be a bit premature to do a review after only 2 1/2 weeks.  You can find the program here, if you want to take a look.  This guy knows his stuff!

Speaking of reviews, I was able to do a review of MusclePharm’s Assault Matrix, which is a pre-workout powder I swear by.  You can find that here OR in the Pre-Workout “Review” page under the “Supplementation” tab.

I would love to hear what you guys think of what I’ve put up here so far!  I’ve been very pleased with the reception so far.  As a little gift (and because it’s my blog and I can do what I want), I’m going to leave you guys with a clip of my boy, UCF Alum (and now Minnesota Vikings cornerback) Josh Robinson (@20JROB on Twitter) at the NFL Scouting Combine.  Wish I could run like that dude!


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