Proper water intake for weight lifting - you getting enough?

The more research I do, the more I find that most people already know how to build the body they want. It's common knowledge. True, there are a few "hidden" tips and tricks of the trade, but not many.

On thing that's common knowledge is that you should drink plenty of water everyday. Now before you tune out on this one, hear me out.

Your muscles are 80% water. When you workout, you sweat, use a lot of energy, etc. So you lose some of that water. That inflation you see in your muscles is from blood rushing to the region. But once that goes away, your poor muscles are in a dire state. They need nutrition and water! Part of the size of in your muscles has to do with how much water they contain. You need proper water intake while weight lifting as you are losing a lot of minerals and stored energy.

Your whole body is mostly water, about 60%. Water is the main ingredient for the lubricant in your joints, and the lubricant in your muscle fibers that allow them to slide back and forth across each other. People cramp up and pull muscles when they don't get enough water. And without the right amount of water in your muscles, they won't work as efficiently as possible. And weight lifting is all about efficiency of motion.

So now you know why you should drink water, how much should you drink? The average non-lifter loses about 2 liters of water a day through urine, breathing, etc. so they should consume about 64 oz. or about 2 liters of water a day, just to keep going right.

But us lifters need a bit more than that. I generally try to shoot for 80 - 100 oz. or about 2.5-3 liters on workout days. Sometimes a little or less. If I'm doing cardio, I may shoot it up to 100-120 oz to compensate for heavy sweating.

A good indicator to see if you're getting enough water is the color of your urine. It should be clear to pale yellow, if you're healthy and getting enough water.

There are all kinds of ways to get this much fluid. Food contains water. Sports drinks contain water, etc. I like to use those small bought water bottles like Dasani and Aquafini, which are about .5 liters, so it's easy to measure. Just refill it at a water fountain and throw it away at the end of the day. Or you can a Nalgene bottle from your local Sports Authority which is about 120 mL, but just make sure you wash it out at the end of the day.

Well now you see the importance of water. Proper water intake is common knowledge, but no one does it, so it's one of those "hidden" secrets that the "pros" use, or anyone serious about building the right body. Until next time, Happy Lifting!


Foolproof Formula for weight training - c.i.s.s.

In the gym I hear all kinds of chatter about the "new" workouts or "this revolutionary, breakthrough workouts and techniques" that's supposed to "get you ripped faster than anything", and I just laugh under my breath. Most of them have no idea how their muscles work or what they're doing. Especially when it comes to abs, but I won't go there in this blog.

I laugh because I've tried most of them and have found them to be frivolous wastes of time. Sure they might burn, but everything that burns isn't good for you. I could put a torch to you. That burns, but is it good for you?

Another problem with most of these " workout routines" is they sound good at first, and I must admit, they can be tempting, but they have not consistency to them, or no long term plan. Weight training is a journey. You have to have your destination on the dashboard and a good road map, and/or a good co-pilot (this blog) to help you along that journey. Most of these routines are nothing more than attractive side destinations that lead to detours to veer you off course. Stay focused!

I laugh at these guys because they don't have focus. I know they'll do the workout a time or two and quit it. Then they'll try something else, and so on and so on. I was like that once, until I came up with a little acronym guideline to keep me on my path to the body I want.

The acronym is C.I.S.S Nutrition. The "N" wouldn't make a nice word, so I left it hanging. You may be familiar with K.I.S.S. which is Keep It Simple Stupid, which is actually a philosophy of mine and where my acronym stems from. But C.I.S.S. Nutrition stands for Consistency, Intensity, Simplicity, Safety, and Nutrition. Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm big on quotes and formulas. This acronym stands for a formula.

Results = Consistency + Intensity + Simplicity + Safety + Nutrition

If you're not getting the results you want, odds are, you are missing something from this equation.

Consistency seems to appear in all of the life formulas I have because it's the outer shell of anything successful. It keeps everything together, like your skin. Without it, everything just falls apart. I spoke earlier about consistency. I went to the gym 5 days a week (wouldn't recommend it right now) one summer and by the end, some of the gym regulars had noticed a huge difference in me. They asked my secret and I simply said "consistency", which they totally couldn't believe, but ok.

Intensity comes next on the life. These first two apply to most things in life when trying to achieve a goal. You have to have an intense determination about it, or it won't come to pass. Your body directly responds to intensity, which is why your muscles grow. Low intensity workouts are good for beginners to get your muscles used to weight training, but not for muscle growth.

Simplicity. This comes from K.I.S.S. and I thought it was appropriate because I keep a very simple approach to weight training. I don't go on the hype workout tangents or take loads of supplements. I do basic workouts coupled with this formula to get results. I know my goal and the image I'm looking to obtain. I'm not trying to be next Arnold, and I'm sure you aren't either, so I don't need all of that or complicated workouts.

Safety is next on the list because I see so many victims of this in the gym. People not putting clamps on the weights, not using a spotter (me sometimes), or just plain doing an exercise wrong in a manner that will get them hurt. This ties in to technique, which is all important with weight training. Without the proper technique, you are just wasting your time.

Lastly, Nutrition. I'll be completely transparent and say that I need to get better nutrition aka more calories to see faster muscle growth. But this is what I was talking about on your 90 days goals. Testing, tracking, and tweaking. Check out my blog on pre-workout and post-workout nutrition to learn more on weight training nutrition. But to summarize, your muscles need the right stuff to get the maximum benefits, just like a car needs the right oil to run properly.

I know this was a bit of a long one, but it's vital you get this down. Write it down, memorize it, take it to the gym with you. This simple formula has allowed me to build and build, and to see where I'm going wrong if I am. Until next time C.I.S.S. and Happy Lifting!


Do you know where you're going? Workout Goals

Now we're starting to get to the nitty gritty about working out here. My goal is to get you off to the right start so your foundation is sound so you have something to build on. That being said, one of the most common mistakes I see beginners make, is they get into gym with no solid plan of action and no workout goals.

What would hockey be without a goal? Or basketball without the goal? Or soccer without the goal? You get the picture. It's a meaningless activity without a goal.

If you don't have a goal in mind, what are you there for? "To get bigger" isn't a goal and it's very ambiguous. That could mean gaining 1 lb, or 5o lbs. Contrary to popular belief, weight training, like all major under takings, requires planning. I always say "Ambiguous goals produce ambiguous results."

First, decide to workout consistently for at least 90 days. I say 90 days because it's good for you to work in quarters, and 90 days is also the ideal time frame for you to see a significant difference. I know it can seem like a long time, but it only takes 21 days to create a habit, and only a 2 or 3 days to create a habit if you are serious about it.

Next, decide what you want to accomplish in that 90 days. What goals do you have in mind for each major muscle group? I like to use S.M.A.R.T. goals as a guideline for all my life's goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. The definitions vary from source to source, but that works for me.

So an example of a SMART goal would be one of my goals. I want to bench 250 lbs. by the end of my 90 days. It's specific because I didn't just say I want to bench "more" weight. It's measurable because it's an actual number. Again, not just "more" weight. It's achievable, because my max right now (1/16/09) is 230 lbs. So it's also realistic for me to increase my bench press by 20 lbs in 90 days. And it's timely because I put a time frame on.

So you get the picture. Do that for each body part. Next, you have to work out a plan of how to get there, and that's where this blog comes in :-) Next week, I'm going to lay out a workout plan for beginners.

Once you get that 90 day goal, break it down to monthly and weekly goals you want to obtain. It's necessary that you keep weekly progress toward your 90 day goal, or you won't know what you're doing. You have to take this thing in steps. I can't just workout blindly for 90 days and then go into the gym on day 90 and expect to bench 250 lbs. I have to keep track of what I'm doing. What's working and what's not, so I can adjust it to stay on target.

So you have a few mins of work cut out for you on this one. But I know only the serious people will do this, because it requires just that little bit of extra effort that separates the men from the boys. Until next time, Happy Lifting!


Machine vs. Barbell - Where do I start?

I get many questions about which to do when you first start out...machines, or barbells. I know your first inclination is to hop on the bench and start pushing it out, but hold your horses there partner!

The mistake I see most weight training beginners doing when they first get in the gym is they'll pick up a Muscle & Fitness magazine, read a few workouts, then hop in the gym and try it out. Just footloose and fancy free. Let me get one thing straight...Those workouts aren't for beginners. Sorry to burst your bubble.

So to end all arguments and fuss, I say begin on the machines. Here's why.

1. The machine instructions are easy to follow (generally).
They get your muscles used to lifting weight. If you're beginning, that's all you want to do at first. Don't try to start building yet, or you may seriously injure yourself. Ask a gym attendant if you're confused, or wath one of my videos :-)

2. The machines have a guided range of motion.
The danger in hopping on the bench from just watching what others do, is that everyone has a different form and I can tell you from experience in the gym, 95% of them do it wrong! Machines guide your range of motion so there's little chance of messing it up or injuring yourself. You don't wanna get a flat tire 1 mile into your trip do you?

3. The machines are easily adjustable.
If you get on there and let your ego get the best of you and you put more weight than you can handle, you may not be able to lift it. It's easy to slide the pin out discreetly, without letting too many people see you do it, lol, and adjust to a lower weight. But this is an added benefit because it saves on time and it's really dummy proof.

I started on the machines and I'm glad I did so. Although I use mainly barbells now (I've been lifting for over 10 yrs) I recommend machines to anyone I assist that's new. Once you've mastered the techinque (I'll cover that in a later blog) you can move up to barbells. I'll go into further detail on why barbells are for intermediate to advanced lifters later also.

My gym is small and doesn't have many machines, but I'll be showing you how to use the ones it does have. Because believe it or not, you can do machines wrong too! Until next time, Happy Lifting!


I Don't Feel Like going to the gym....

With the New Year upon us, many people are making resolutions geared toward weight training. But we all know the deal. Gym membership shoots up, but 90% of those people are out of the gym by the end of Febuary. Well I'm here to offer you a few tips that have kept me in the gym consistently for years. Consistency is the ONLY way to see results.

1. Find what motivates you.

This can be anything from better health to more sex, lol. If you're like me, a little guy that wanted to gain some weight, my motivation was to get people from calling me skinny. Once I saw how I looked in the mirror, a little vanity took over, and it snowballed. Comments from the ladies didn't hurt either.

2. Write out a goal sheet.

This is essential for any serious workout plan. And let's face it, you are serious about putting on some pounds. If not, you're just wasting your time. How much weight do you want to gain (be realistic) and by when? What are your targets on each machine at the end of 12 weeks? How many inches do you want to add to your arms, legs, chest, etc? Write these out and put them where you can see them everyday to remind yourself.

3. Go to the gym at least 3 times a week.

I go 4 times a week to get myself in a routine. If you're going at least 3 times a week, not only will your body get used to it, but your mind will also. You'll adjust your schedule accordingly subconciously because you know you have to go to the gym. It takes 21 days to create a habit. Get into this habit as soon as you can and you won't back down.

4. Find a running buddy.

For most people this is crucial. I'm a very self-motivated person, so I prefer to work alone, but you must be true to yourself. If you know you'll need someone to push you at first, then get someone. But don't let the fact that you can't find someone to go to the gym with you stop you! You have to be committed to your own success, but it helps if you have someone in your corner.

5. Reward yourself for staying committed.

Do something you enjoy after going to the gym or at the end of the week. This ties into what motivates your closesly because I get satisfaction from comments from my girlfriend or by seeing visible progress of myself. You may like to treat yourself to dinner or to your favorite park. It's up to you.

So I hope these were helpful tips for keeping you in the gym. As a weight training beginner, I understand the hardest part of any journey is the beginning. But once you build some momentum, going to the gym will become a natural part of your life, like it is for me. Until next time...Happy Lifting!


Weight Training Nutrition - What You Put In Is What You Get Out!

Coming back off the Winter Holidays, I gained a few needed pounds. I'm really working to put on some weight as I know most of you are who're reading this, so I welcomed it. However, I didn't workout as much as I woud've liked, so now it's time to get back to work and used that stored energy in my workouts.

It took me years to figure this out, but once I did, I saw an immediate change in my body and my workout ability. It has to do with weight training nutrition. I know some of you immediately think all the supplements and the entire GNC store. I've been there, and I've found that I can eat actual food with a proper diet and build a great body with a fraction of the cost I was paying for those supplements. After all, we're not looking to be freaks of nature, so natural will work.

Now I promised not to get technical on you, but your muscles need certain proteins and carbs to work most efficiently. When you do a hard workout, you are basically creating micro-tears in your muscles and they need to repair themselves.

So that being said, you have two primary responsibilities for your nutrition when it comes to working out.

1. Preparing your muscles for the onslaught they are about to take

2. Giving them what they need to repair themselves the best.

You should eat your pre-workout meal about 2 to 1.5 hrs before your workout to allow for digestion. It should be a well balanced meal but mainly consist of complex carbs such as oatmeal or other whole grains. These will provide you with a steady stream of energy. If you can't get that meal in that early, some fruit will do well as an energy boost before your workout.

After you workout, you want to mainly intake protien and simple carbs. My fave meal after a workout is a chicken breast, pasta, and veggies or fruit (it's about the only thing I'm good at cooking for right now). You used up a lot of energy and protien in your workout, so it's vital you resupply your body with these nutrients no later than 1.5 hrs after your workout. Don't sit on the couch with potato chips!

This is the most important meal in your workout day. If you can't get a decent sized meal in, peanut butter sandwhiches or chicken sandwiches are good alternatives. You can also try the Whey Protien shakes after, but I prefer actual food.

Ideally, there's a 4 hr block between your first meal and your last meal, but I know we aren't always able to accomodate that. Just make sure you get your post-workout meal in properly and you'll see some decent results. Providing your body with the proper nutrition is one thing that sets the amatuers apart from the pros.

A multivitamin of some sort is also important because with the American diet, we rarely get the proper nutrition, no matter what we eat.

I appreciate you reading. As I learn more, you learn more.