New Year, New You Workout

After indulging in all those yummy foods that make Christmas and the holiday season so memorable, it’s easy to understand why we keep banging on about eating healthy.

New Year, New You WorkoutYou can feel it, can’t you? The difference between eating healthy and not eating healthy by your energy levels – zapped! So, now is the time to get back on track and take the bull by the horns.

If you’re a regular gym-goer, you dread the beginning of the New Year and how crowded your gym gets by all those new hopefuls. This year, why not try being more supportive and encourage those new faces in their fitness endeavors? Who knows – maybe you’ll even meet a new workout partner.

Despite the crowds, you still need to work out and having a plan is the best strategy to have.

This full body workout uses higher reps with moderate weight, which will help burn fat while promoting the growth of lean muscle mass. Each rep count will be set somewhere between 10 to 15 repetitions, depending on the exercise. A key point to remember is that just because the weight is lower than your max, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t struggle at the end of each set. It is imperative that you choose a load weight that pushes you. If you’re not struggling to get those last few reps, then increase the weight. However, make sure you’re sticking to form and not compromising your workout by lifting too heavy. If you’re consistently not making it to the appropriate rep count, you need to decrease the weight.

New Year, New You Workout

Monday – Chest & Triceps

Stability Ball Push-ups – 3 Sets/ 12-15 Reps
Perform by placing your hands about a foot apart on a stability ball and then execute a standard push-up. Make sure to concentrate on your motion and balance during each repetition.

Reverse Cable Crosses – 3 Sets/ 12-15 Reps
Start by positioning the handles so they are at the highest point in which you can reach. Then grasp each cable opposite to the side your hand is on. Simultaneously pull each cable until your arms are fully extended and pointing towards the floor. The cables should cross during the execution of the exercise. Slowly bring the cables back down towards the starting position and repeat.

One-Arm Dumbbell Presses – 3 Sets/ 12-15 Reps
Start by lying flat on your back, while grasping one dumbbell. Take your other hand and place it on your hip for stability. Position the dumbbell so it is perpendicular with your chest and push upwards. Once you have reached a full extension, bring your arm down and repeat. Switch hands on every other set.

Standing Triceps Presses – 3 Sets/ 12-15 Reps
Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip with your hands 8 to 10 inches apart. Stand upright and hold the bar over your head. Lower the weight down while keeping your elbows stationary. Take the weight down as low as possible and then press the weight back up to the starting position and repeat.

Tuesday – Quads and Hamstrings

Dumbbell Squat Press – 4 Sets/ 10-12 Reps
Start by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly bend your knees until you are in a full squatting position. Then jump as high as possible, upon landing continue to the next rep.

Overhead Squat – 4 Sets/ 10-12 Reps
Position one end of the barbell against the wall and stack desired weight on the other end. Grasp the weighted end of the bar with one hand and place your other hand behind your back. Then squat until your hamstrings are parallel with the floor. Rotate your hands with each set.

Jump-Squats – 4 Sets/ 10-15 Reps
Start by standing in a standard squatting position. (Note: You can also position a barbell across your shoulders and upper back, holding it on each end to add more resistance during the exercise.) Then jump from the squatting position, landing with your feet spread at about your shoulder-width apart.

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Back and Biceps

Upright Raises – 3 Sets/ 10-12 Reps
Start in a standing position while grasping a barbell with an overhand grip. Your hands should be 8 to 10 inches apart. Let the barbell hang in front of you, with your arms fully extended. This is the starting position. Lift the bar straight up until it reaches your chin, and then slowly bring the bar back down. Make sure not to swing your back or cheat during the reps. Your motion should be stabile and controlled.

Two Hand Cable Curls – 3 Sets/ 10-12 Reps
Stand upright with your body facing the cable and pulley. Grasp the curl bar while keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. While keeping your elbows close to your body, curl the weight as high as you can and then slowly bring the bar back to the starting position.

Bent-Arm Pullovers with Barbell – 3 Sets 10-12 Reps
Start by lying on your back along a flat bench. Place a barbell on the floor behind your head. Reach back and grab the bar. Raise the bar while keeping your arms bent. Bring the bar over your head and to your chest. Then lower the bar back down towards the starting position. You should feel a nice stretch in your lats. Make sure to keep the bar from touching the floor.

Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curls – 3 Sets/ 12-15 Reps
While standing upright with a dumbbell in each hand, hanging at the side of your body, curl one dumbbell up towards your chest. Alternate as the first dumbbell reaches the starting position and repeat.

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Shoulders and Abs

Seated Twists – 3 Sets/ 75-100 Reps
Perform by sitting on the edge of a bench. Place a light-bar or broom handle across the back of your shoulders. Hold each end of the bar. While keeping your head still, rotate your torso as far as you can in either direction. When reaching the end of your extension, hold for 5-10 seconds. Make sure you don’t swing your body during the exercise.

Variation Dumbbell Raises – 3 Sets/ 12-15 Reps
Start with your arms at your sides with a dumbbell in each hand. Then raise your arms to your sides until your elbows are shoulder height. Lower your arms to the starting position. Lift one   arm in front of your body, until your arm is parallel to the floor. Make sure you don’t swing your body during the lifting motion. Bring your arm back down and then rotate arms. This will complete one rep.

Medicine Ball Leg Lifts – 3 Sets/ 15-20 Reps
Start by lying flat on your back with your knees up and your feet flat on the floor. Position a medicine ball between your knees and squeeze to stabilize. Bring your legs up towards your chest. Slowly bring your legs back down towards the starting position, but do not let your feet touch the ground.

Military Presses – 3 Sets/ 12-15 Reps
Sit at the edge of a bench and then grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Hoist each dumbbell to shoulder height and then press simultaneously until the dumbbells touch each other above your head. Bring the weight down until your arms form a 90-degree angle and then repeat.

Sunday – Rest

Basketball Ballistic Training for Explosive Power

Most athletes will do some kind of weight training to help enhance their performance on the field, court or ice. Basketball players are no different.

Inbound_PassOne form of conditioning called power training is an excellent way to hone in on sport-specific training that can accelerate your game to the next level. While building strength in the gym is important for overall performance and endurance, when your goal is to increase speed, you’ll find that simply bulking up is not enough to make you faster in the game. Power training conditions your muscles to rapidly respond with the maximum amount of energy within the shortest amount of time.

When you’re in a static, controlled position like when you’re lifting weights, your maximal force is much higher than when you’re dribbling a ball or preparing to explode into a slam dunk. In fact, the higher your speed, the lower your maximal force. In terms of maximal lifting strength, this explosive kind of power peaks at the 30% 1RM mark, which is considerably low.1,2,3 When lifting a weight, the most power output occurs right at the initial phase of the contraction and then diminishes as you complete the movement. While this effect will help you become more powerful, for the seasoned basketball player, this will only take you so far before you plateau.

So how to you develop this kind of explosive power?

The first thing to bear in mind is that power training is for people who have been training for a couple of years already and have developed a solid fitness and strength level. If you are a beginner and engage in explosive exercises like ballistic training, your rate of injury far outweighs the benefits you will incur from this type of training.

Power training for basketball players means training with a medicine ball and performing such exercises like ballistic jump squats, which have shown to increase vertical leap by 18%.4

Basketball Ballistic Training

You’re going to be working at 30% 1RM, so choose the right medicine ball (5 – 13 lb) to achieve this load requirement. Choose 2 to 3 exercises from the list below and these will form your ballistic training circuit. You will perform 10 to 20 repetitions of each for 1 to 3 sets, resting for 2 to 3 minutes in between each. These should be incorporated into your training program 2 to 3 times per week. To truly reap the benefits from this type of exercise, make sure your movements are explosive and powerful.

Plyometric Push-Ups
I think we’re all familiar with this one. Perform a regular push-up, only catch some air on the way up, making sure you’re in the proper position for your landing.

Slam Dunks
Start by holding the ball behind your head and your feet hip-width apart, then slam the ball down as hard as you can, catching it off the bounce to repeat so you can keep the momentum going.

Squat and Toss
Holding the ball into your chest, squat down then push yourself off the ground, tossing the ball above your head as fast and hard as you can. Your feet should leave the ground on this one.

In the starter’s position, holding the ball on the ground, propel yourself forward bringing the ball up to your chest to toss and chase after it without stopping. Switch up your starting leg to work both sides.

Overhead Back Toss
Start by holding the ball above your head and your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, bringing the ball down between your legs, lower down into a squat, then propel yourself up to toss the ball over your head behind you as hard as you can. This exercise works best with a partner.

Overhead Slam Toss
Facing a wall with knees braced and one foot slightly forward, raise the medicine ball above your head and then slam it down against the wall, catching it off the bounce to repeat so you can keep the momentum going.

One Arm Overhead Toss
In a squatting position with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, pick the ball up off the ground with one arm and toss up above your head as fast as you can.

Lateral Toss
With your side to the wall, bring the foot closest to the wall slightly in front of the other. Throw the ball from your opposite hip for an underhand toss against the wall, catching it off the bounce to repeat so you can keep the momentum going.


1) Knuttgen HG and Kraemer WJ: Terminology and Measurement in Exercise Performance.
J Appl Sport Sci Res. 1987, 1:1-10

2) Newton RU, Murphy AJ, Humphries BJ, Wilson GJ, Kraemer WJ, Hakkinen K: Influence of Load and Stretch Shortening Cycle on the Kinematics, Kinetics and Muscle Activation that Occurs During Explosive Upper-Body Movements.
Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1997, 75 (4):333-42

3) Garhammer J: A Review of Power Output Studies of Olympic and Powerlifting: Methodology, Performance Prediction and Evaluation Tests.
J Strength Cond Res. 1993, 7 (2):76-89

4) Wilson GJ, Newton RU, Murphy AJ, Humphries BJ: The Optimal Training Load for the Development of Dynamic Athletic Performance.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993, Nov; 25 (11):1279-86

Originally published @ FITLODE.COM

Supersets for Superhuman Strength

If you’re looking to bulk up in record time, try supersets.

Supersets for superhuman strengthIn weightlifting, when you combine two exercises back-to-back without any rest in between, it is called a superset. Each combination must include an exercise that works the opposite muscle or group of muscles. For example, if your first set is a biceps exercise, then the second set will work the triceps, and so on.

Why use supersets?

Supersets are ideal when that dreaded plateau sets in and nothing else is working. You’re putting all you’ve got into your workout, but your muscles are bored and not responding. Supersets are very demanding and just what you need to wake up those despondent muscles. These muscle-blasters should never replace your regular workout routine, and should be used periodically to avoid burnout and injury. When it’s a slow day at the gym and you have all the weights to yourself, blast your way through a few supersets and your muscles will be barking all the way home.

The Rush

Our muscles work in groups – when one muscle is working, another muscle is providing support and stability. In other words, when you’re working those quads, your hamstrings also come into play, so your muscles never really get a proper rest in between sets. What this means is when you move onto the second set of your superset, the stabilizing muscle group is already warmed up and ready to perform. With this comes a super rush of blood to the muscles and a spike in testosterone: you’ll be walking with a wider gait when you leave the gym, all puffed up like a rooster! What a rush!

Lengthen and Strengthen

Performing supersets will enhance your overall workout performance. Working opposite muscle groups lengthens one muscle group while strengthening the opposing muscle group. It’s a give-and-take kind of thing. And your muscles will pay you back in spades. Supersets also increase your flexibility by incorporating full range-of-motion exercises and will train the muscles to recover quicker without excessive muscle tightening.

To get you started, try these supersets:

Upper Arms:  Superset 1

  • Cable hammer curls – 4 sets/8-10 reps
  • Triceps pull down – 4 sets/8-10 reps
  • Rest for 1 full minute

Chest and Back:  Superset 2

  • Overhand grip chin-up – 4 sets/failure
  • Bench press – 4 sets/8-10 reps
  • Rest for 1 full minute

Core Strength:  Superset 3

  • Kneeling cable crunch – 4 sets/failure
  • Hyperextensions with weight plate – 4 sets/12 reps
  • Rest for 1 full minute

(Sets of 4 include one warm-up set and 3 working sets.)

If you yearn for the burn, then set yourself the goal of reducing the rest time between supersets as much as you can.


How to Increase Endurance for Runners

If you’re a runner, you’ll want to add weight training to your exercise program to increase endurance.

How to increase endurance for runnersThere are a number of things that a runner strives for and one of them is endurance. During a long run, muscles become fatigued. This is particularly true in the feet, where after a long session of running, the arches actually relax a little and you become more flat-footed as a result.

When the muscles fatigue, this slows down your pace. Your feet lose their spring and remain in contact with the ground for longer periods of time. One way to alleviate the fatigue in your feet is to strengthen your legs in the gym.

Recent research out of Northumbria University shows that when legs are strengthened with weight training in the gym, the feet are slower to fatigue and this increases speed and endurance in the runner.

The researchers tested a group of 10 expert male runners to see which muscles fatigued the fastest and it was the hamstrings. Once these powerful muscles begin to tire, they send signals to the lower legs to slow down.

By performing a few exercises twice a week, you could greatly improve your endurance and running performance.

Weight Training for Runners

Deadlifts – Stand in front of a barbell and squat down to pick up the weight. Straighten your legs and your back as you come up to a standing position. Return the barbell to the ground and repeat. 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Squats – Holding a barbell behind your neck, lower yourself down into a squat. Power up through your heels and repeat. 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Lunges – Holding two dumbbells at your sides, step forward with the right leg, dipping down until you reach a 90-degree angle. Return to center and repeat on the opposite leg. 3 sets of 10-12 reps each leg.

Weight Training 101

Other than the 1RM test that most people use to gauge how much weight they should be lifting, there are a few other things you should know.

Weight Training 101You don’t need me to tell you that muscles vary in size and so it stands to reason that different muscles can take on varying amounts of weight. The type of exercise you do will also affect your lifting power. For instance, you’ll find you can lift more with standing exercises than lying down on a bench and working against gravity.

When it comes to arm work, generally the ideal lifting weight will be 10 to 12% of your body weight. For the bigger thigh muscles like the quadriceps, the ideal lifting weight will be one third of your body weight. But for the back of the thigh and the hamstrings, the ideal weight is one fifth of your body weight.

Here’s a breakdown for someone who weighs 150 lb:

  • Biceps/Bicep Curls – 15 to 20 lb
  • Quadriceps/Leg Press – 50 lb
  • Hamstrings/Hamstring Curls – 30 lb
  • Chest/Bench Press – 40 lb

For basic training, the recommended number of repetitions is between 8 and 12 with sets ranging from 3 to 6 and a 90-second rest in between each. After performing about 5 to 7 reps, you should be working extra hard to reach 8 reps and beyond. When it becomes too easy and you’re still lifting into rep number 11 without any noticeable struggle, then this is a clear indication that you need to increase you weight.

Originally published @ FITLODE.COM