Tag Archives: happy New Year

Resolutions for 2017

I’ve learned over the years not to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to making resolutions for the New Year.  I make a couple small promises to myself but I see to it that they are attainable and that I’m really motivated to follow through. 

The first of my two resolutions for 2017 is simply a continuation of one I started decades ago and that’s to keep myself in shape.  Now, that covers a lot of territory.  It means I commit to doing what it takes to stay strong and physically capable.  I have to combine resistance training, cardio and good nutrition to see that I end each year in acceptable condition. 

This January I’m excited to try adding some time on my Total Gym.  I bought the thing on deep discount after watching the infomercial (for the umpteenth time).  Susceptibility to the lure of infomercials would also explain why there’s a Vitamix in my kitchen (I use it all the time), a body blade in my family room (I’m not even going to try and explain that one) and Wen hair care products in my bathroom  (they work great, by the way).

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This is my new fitness friend. I’m looking forward to using it at home.

My second resolution is to make sure I read more widely.  Despite the fact that I was a Literature major in my undergraduate days, I have many books I should have read, that I somehow missed.  I’m going to add two additional books per month to augment my regular reading material.  A couple of days ago I was looking over the Kindle options for some new titles.  I happened upon a free WhisperSync version of Call of the Wild by Jack London.  WhisperSync books include an audio component so that you can read it yourself in the traditional way or you can listen to someone else, a narrator, read it to you.  Call of the Wild is one of those books, I thought I should know, that I just never got around to reading so I figured I could listen to it while on the rowing machine.  Great idea…awful choice of books….I’m not going to be able to add it to my “books-I-have-read category.” 

The first couple of chapters concentrate on terribly cruel treatment of dogs by miserable, mean people.  The last thing that happened, right before I turned the narration off for good was a Husky pack attack on a single, female dog.   Blood, ripped flesh, entrails and death…needless to say, it was not relaxing and I certainly didn’t find it entertaining. 

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THESE are the type of Huskies I want to think about…sweet and adorable…

Just like I learned over the years not to eat things I don’t like the taste of in the quest for a fit, lean body and I also learned not to waste time reading books or watching movies that don’t fulfill the purpose I assigned them before starting them.  I’ve read plenty of unpleasant things in my lifetime but I don’t do it for entertainment.  Yeah, yeah, I know it probably gets better as you go along and culminates in the triumph of human and/or dog spirit but, no thanks.

Next time, I’ll try To Kiss a Rouge or Secrets of a Scandalous Bride.

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I should read this…it definitely looks entertaining and judging from the cover might even include some workout or fitness tips. This muscled up warrior obviously keeps himself in great shape. Hair looks good too…He just might be a Wen customer.

Wishing you a safe and happy New Year’s Eve.  We’ve got a brand new year on tap with wonderful possibilities ahead.  Let us lift a glass to each other and jump into 2017 with anticipation of great things to come!

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The Starting Line (Ready, Set, Chin Ups)

new-year-greetings

I’m not that big on making sweeping New Year’s resolutions.  Year after year they pretty much stay the same.  I reaffirm my commitment to fitness and to personal improvement in a variety of areas.  Rather than make a far-reaching resolution or two starting January 1st, I make lots of little resolutions throughout the year.  Biting off small projects with shorter term goals helps ensure my interest and therefore success.

To that end I’ve dedicated the next 12 weeks to adding muscle and stripping fat simultaneously.  By the end of March I want to be lean and muscle-y enough to be happy walking on the beach in a pretty bikini over Spring Break.  I’m always trying to get my biceps to pop so I’ve taken up a little challenge that I saw on another wordpress blog.  The hows and whys of this particular program make sense to me so I’m optimistic about the outcome. Besides, I happen to know that chin ups are great for more than just biceps. They challenge your entire upper body so whether I get the giant biceps I’m after or not, I can’t lose.  Currently, I’m on my second week of this program and all is going well.

Biceps! Here I am at my starting point.  Let's see what happens over the next 8 weeks!

Biceps! Here I am at my starting point. Let’s see what happens over the next 8 weeks!

I should note that I modified this program a little to fit my capabilities better (this article was written for a man)  I’m actually doing sets of 5 chin ups at a time instead of 10 and there are times when I do more than one set an hour although I do try to space them a reasonable length apart (at least 20 minutes…sometimes it’s not convenient to do a set of chin ups and sometimes you have extra time on your hands with which to do many).

Chicken scratch…my first week's efforts.  Did a total of 195 chin ups during the week then an extra 39 in the 5 minute challenge for  a final tally of 234. Let's see what I can do this week!

Chicken scratch…my first week’s efforts. Did a total of 195 chin ups during the week then an extra 39 in the 5 minute challenge for a final tally of 234. Let’s see what I can do this week!

I’m always happy and excited to have something new to work on.  Anybody care  to join me?  Even if this  type of program doesn’t appeal to you why not make up a 12 week challenge of  your own?  Short, sweet challenges help make fitness much more fun.

This chin up program is courtesy of my hardcore friend Fred  (http://lifehardcore.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/great-program-to-improve-your-chin-ups/)

Great program to improve your chin ups
by Fred
The Chin-Up Project
This is a bad ass program and truly fit to be called hardcore!
 
 
Here’s what you need to know…
• If you’ve never used linear progression on basic chin-ups, you’ve left a “gap” in your development that’s just waiting to be filled.
• By performing frequent, non-failure, chin-up work and a once-per-week 5-minute challenge, you’ll gain at least half an inch on the upper arms alone.
• Following this volume cycle with a strength cycle can add another half inch to your upper arms along with developing a stronger, harder, more athletic upper body.
The most underrated exercise is the chin-up. Chin-ups are something I wish I would’ve done all the time. – Dave Tate
Chin-Ups For Pure Muscle Growth
There are two problems with most chin-up programs:
1. They’re usually designed to help you increase the number of chins you can do, not increase muscle mass. While doing a lot of chin-ups looks cool, we’d rather stretch out our T-shirts than turn into that skinny guy at the gym who can do a lot of chins and not much else.
2. These programs often require that you change your regular training program and cut back on your training volume or loads. With the right strategy, this is unnecessary.
The program presented here has none of those problems. First, it’s designed for hypertrophy: unadulterated muscle growth. Second, you can add this program to what you’re already doing in the gym.
In short, it’s an anabolic add-on.
Old School Training, New School Muscle
Old-school coaches and bodybuilders had it right: first get strong doing chin-ups, then focus on direct arm exercises.
Today people have it backwards. They start with advanced bodybuilding exercises to focus on a certain part of the biceps. They isolate their upper body musculature and forget to build systematic strength in the entire upper body.
The result? They’re trying to build a big house without first building a sturdy foundation. The body just doesn’t grow that way.
The truth is, if you can’t do at least 12 strict chins with bodyweight, your time is best spent there before you ever even try a reverse preacher cable curl with a thick grip and isometric stops. (Also, you could just be too fat, but that’s another program.)
The good news is that if you’ve made this mistake, your “newbie gains” are still on the table. That’s pounds of muscle just waiting to be picked up and slapped onto your body, giving you a powerful, athletic look and, yes, a bigger set of arms. Chin-ups are an effective exercise for the abs as well, especially when you add load. And you will add load.
The chin-up, performed with a neutral or supinated grip, is the foundational mass-building exercise for biceps, lats, and all the supportive upper back musculature.
The neutral grip: palms facing each other, as used when you do chins with a V-bar attachment or parallel chinning bars – will place more emphasis on the brachialis. This underlying muscle “pushes up” the biceps and makes your overall upper arm bigger. If your brachialis has been neglected, and it probably has, bringing it into play will result in rapid size increases, sometimes even up to an inch in upper arm size.
The supinated grip: palms facing you – overloads the elbow flexors and brings more muscles into action compared to the wide-grip pull-up, plus it maximizes cross sectional area of the muscle.
As a bonus, grip strength is correlated with arm size, and this program will give you a death grip if yours is lacking.
Put it all together and you have an inch of new upper-arm muscle mass just waiting to be built. And the plan is simple.
The Program
 
 
Phase I
Timeframe: Four Weeks
Method: Volume
Every day you’re going to do several sets of chin-ups. You’ll never go to failure on any set and you’ll separate each set by an hour or more.
For example, do some chin-ups after breakfast, a set before you train, a few after you train, a set in the afternoon or evening, etc. Use a dedicated bar, a tree limb, a bathroom stall door, or a beam in your garage. Display adaptability.
You’re going to accumulate hundreds of “extra” chin-ups over a 4-week period, probably over 800 in a month. Some days you’ll get 10 or 20; other days you’ll get 40 or 50. Each week you’ll shoot for more total chins than the previous week.
Challenge Day
Once per week, you’ll have a challenge day. Set a timer for 5 minutes and perform as many chin-ups as you can with good form. Add this number to your weekly total and take the next day off.
Reps
If you can already do 12 to 15 good chin-ups without kipping or looking like you’re having a seizure, choose 10 as your target number per set. If you can’t do at least 12 chin-ups already, get stronger and lose some body fat, then come back to this program.
Never perform more than 10 chin-ups at a time, even if you can. Again, you’ll never fail except on challenge day, once per week.
Grip Position
First Two Weeks: Neutral or semi-supinated grip (palms facing one another)
Last Two Weeks: Supinated (palms toward your face)
Off Day
Once per week, the day after Challenge Day, perform zero chin-ups. Don’t even rescue a kitten from a tree.
Other Training
Perform your regular workout as you always would. If you have an “arm day” and need to cut volume back slightly, that’s fine. But most lifters won’t need to if they’re using a solid workout nutrition protocol and optimizing recovery in their regular workouts.
Sample Lifter
We recommend you get a notepad for your records. You’ll keep this with you at all times to record your daily chin-ups.
Here’s the Phase I training log of one of our test subjects. Yours will look a little different.
Week 1
Monday: 10, 10
Tuesday: 10, 10, 10
Wednesday: 10
Thursday: 10, 10, 10
Friday: 10, 10, 10
Saturday: Challenge Day: 40 in 5 minutes
Sunday: Off
TOTAL: 160 reps
Week 2
Monday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Tuesday: 10, 10
Wednesday: 10, 10, 10
Thursday: 10, 10, 10
Friday: 10, 10, 10
Saturday: Challenge Day: 45 in 5 minutes
Sunday: Off
TOTAL: 195
Week 3
Monday: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Tuesday: 10, 10, 10
Wednesday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Thursday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Friday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Saturday: Challenge Day: 50 in 5 minutes
Sunday: Off
TOTAL: 250
Week 4
Monday: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Tuesday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Wednesday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Thursday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Friday: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Saturday: Challenge Day: 52 in 5 minutes
Sunday: Off
TOTAL: 282
FINAL TOTAL FOR PHASE I: 887 chin-ups in 4 weeks.
Results: Half an inch in upper arm growth (very rapid for an experienced lifter.) Noticeable increase in upper body size and strength. Stronger abs and grip, decreased body fat.
Tips and Reminders for Phase I
•  Do NOT kill yourself in the first week. The plan works because of accumulated volume, no need to do 250 chins in the first week. If you do not improve your total reps weekly, you started out too fast.
•  Do not train to failure except on challenge day.
•  Do not do this on a very low-carb diet or in a large caloric deficit. You don’t build muscle when you’re half-starved and neglecting vital anabolic macronutrients.
 
 
Phase II
Timeframe: Four Weeks
Method: Heavy Reps
After four weeks, switch to a strength-focused chin-up program. For the next month, perform the following:
Step 1: Establish your 6 rep max on the weighted chin-up. In other words, add weight with a dip belt, weighted vest, or by holding a dumbbell or plate between your legs.
Step 2: You’re going to perform 25 total reps per workout, using several sets with that 6 rep max weight. It doesn’t matter how many sets it takes, and it’s fine if you’re down to doing doubles or singles at the end.
Your 25 total reps may look like this:
Set 1: 6 reps
Set 2: 6 reps
Set 3: 5 reps
Set 4: 4 reps
Set 5: 2 reps
Set 6: 2 reps
This is just an example. Everyone will be a little different here. Just get 25 total reps with your 6-rep max, taking as many sets as you need. Rest as needed between sets. This isn’t a race.
When you can easily get more than 6 reps on the first set, add weight.
Step 3: Perform weighted chin-ups in this manner 3 times per week on nonconsecutive days for the next four weeks: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for example. Vary the grip between neutral and supinated. Grip width can also be varied to prevent any overuse issues. If three times per week is too rough on your elbows, perform twice per week for 6 weeks.
Step 4:  Re-measure your upper arms and note how your T-shirts are stretching out even more up top.
8 Weeks, One Inch of Arm Growth
For the experienced lifter, an inch of upper arm growth in a year would be phenomenal, and visibly shocking. Most people who do both phases of this program will see that kind of growth in eight weeks. How much bigger have your arms and upper body gotten in the last two months?
Start now.

New Beginnings

new year

I love new beginnings…I love Mondays, the advent of new months and the turn of years.

To me they feel deliciously fresh and full of promise like a field of newly fallen snow when the sun shines on it….glittery, undisturbed, pristine.  They bring hope and happy anticipation for what’s to come.

snow

I use the new year as a little marker to reflect on the days that have passed, to think about what I’d like for the future and to plot a course so that I have a good chance of filling the days ahead with moments I can be proud of.  After all what more can I ask? At the end of my days I’d like to be able to look back with a sense of satisfaction…at how I pushed against my personal weaknesses, how I made adjustments and improvements and how I conducted myself (especially under pressure).  I don’t reach for perfection….that’s a fool’s pursuit. I simply strive to be better in the future than I was in the past.  This sentiment permeates everything I do and it’s a resolution I set for myself day after day, month after month and year after year.

Today, on the verge of 2013,  I send you wishes for wonderful new adventures, good fortune and full hearts.

May the loads you carry be light…

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