Monthly Archives: February 2011

Training with Time Limitations: Body Splits

I am NOT a fan of body split workouts.  Serious body builders needs them; they are not going to gain that size without damaging muscle fiber to the point that it needs to rest several days before being fatigued again.

Most everyone else simply needs full body workouts 3-4 times a week and we are well on our way to fine.  That’s normally what I do.  At the moment, however, there are outside factors effecting my workouts: time constraints where I have only 45 minutes or an hour to get into the gym, warmed up, worked out, showered and out.  That leaves me maybe 30 minutes on the gym floor for weight work. I’ve been able to get the gym almost every day, however, so while the time there is short, the week-long is the same.

While I can do a circuit workout in that 30 minutes if the machines are free and if I WANT a machine workout, I really hate using the machines.  I’m a happy girl with my free weights, my dead lifts, my cable rows.  Don’t fence me in with the circuit machines. For this reason, I’ve been choosing to do body splits now so I can get a good workout of a few muscle groups each time I get into the gym.

Now how do you plan a body split workout if you are working out for either general strength, weight loss or slight hypertrophy (muscle definition-muscular tone)?

Adhere to general rules of program design.  For these goals do:

  1. Sets 4-6 sets of 8-12 reps for the big muscles  Use a weight that will be challenging to complete the second and third set, and hard to unlikely to complete for 5th and 6.  If the 3rd set is completed without a real challenge, increase your weight.
  2. Use Supersets.  In this body split training, train the big muscle first and the supporting muscle second. The 2nd set should be lighter weights.  For example: Chest Press heavy, bicep curl light.
  3. Rest 45-90 seconds between sets.
  4. ONE major exercise per muscle.

Plan to rest these muscles for 2 days before working them in even a stabilizing/assisting manor.  This would imply the general workout would be for example: Day one: Back/bi; Day Two: Legs, Day Three: Chest/tri. Day Four:Rest or Core work.

I like my alternate day work (legs and core) to be heavy on balance and stabilization work NOT strength alone.


Coping with Injury

Yet again – or still- I am coping with injury and the changes that injury brings.  In my case, it’s been going on so long that I’ve moved beyond the desire to push the boundaries and slipped into the ennui that all too often signals giving up.

I have been told that I may not do any exercise or movement that brings my surgically repaired arm over my head.  There is an impingement point in the cartilage that must scar over -and cartilage is very slow to “heal”.  So until at least June I still have somewhat limited movement.

Although, when I think about it, very little is really restricted from me because of this directive.

On top of that, I pulled my groin in December and that injury is very slow to heal.  It may be June before it completely stops aching. Until that happens, I’ve lost about 20 degrees of motion in my left leg.  Unable to bring it fully up toward my chest or fully wide to put on and tie a shoe.

I’m feeling the fatigue of constant injury and I’m not sure how to address this.  I could

  • “soldier on” -doing limited upper body and lower body work as the pain allows.
  • stop completely until I feel completely healed, then begin over again.
  • I could simply quit.

I don’t have the energy at the moment to fight this.  How have you dealt with long-term injury?  How do you get into your head and convince yourself to push through?  What about when you can’t push hard enough to feel or see any reward in trying?

100 Strokes update

Just a quick update on the 100 Strokes project.  In the 10 days I’ve been doing this I’ve:

  1. washed my hair twice with very diluted shampoo. (about once every 5 days).  I find I do not need to use a conditioner in order to comb through my hair afterwards.
  2. seen that my hair appears slightly less damaged.  Not much -but it’s early yet.
  3. found the process of brushing my hair just before I go to bed extremely relaxing.  The whole counting to 100 seems to reset my brain – turning off the constant churning that goes on.  My head hits the pillow and -BOOM- I’m asleep.
  4. My hair spends more time with the stringy-I need to wash it look than it does that fly-away, fried look.  But neither is exactly what I’m working for.

Everything Old is New Again…

It started innocently enough.

After a Kettlebell workshop at BodyTribe, the owner-Chip-was talking with me about ways to gain mobility/stability in my repaired shoulder.  He showed me the gym’s home-made Indian clubs and suggested I try building a light version to get some work in.

Once home, I hit Home Depot for some parts -eager to be working on this odd shoulder: painful in one spot and perfectly fine in a point just an inch away.  This shoulder that STILL causes the bicep to ache when I knit.  This shoulder that some days feels healed and others feels just minutes away from the surgery.

Making the Indian club was fun and simple.  (and a post for another day).  However, figuring out what to do next turned this into an unexpected journey.  There are no blog posts on using Indians clubs (well, at least not yet…), nor any useful articles to be found online except for one book found in one place: Sandow & The Golden Age of Iron Men: The Online Physical Culture Museum. There I found Sim Kehoe’s 1866 book on using an Indian Club.

I also found a lot more.  The history of modern exercise – but in a form that reads purer and less complicated than any system of health and fitness I know today.   They call it Physical Culture- a belief that a strong capable body, a strong moral soul and a strong disciplined mind go together to create the ideal specimen of humans. I’ve become lost in reading about uncommon strength, healthy eating, healthy living perspectives from 100 years ago.

And fascinated all the time.  I mean can you imagine reading anything like the following in a modern text on strength and condition?  I cannot.:

“…my assissants have….developed muscle at the expense of mentality, they have not understood that muscle alone can never constitute personality, neither does it play anything like such an important part in character building as does mental training.”  -Thomas Inch

In Kehoe’s text on using the Indian Club, he characterizes Physical Culture’s role in creating a well-rounded individual:

An examination of the human frame demonstrates that it was intended for motion alternately with repose and not for a state of absolute quiescence. Nor is the mind, which is furnished with so many faculties, and provided with so many organs of sense, which serve to connect it with the external world, less calculated for active exertion.  Any attempt to contravene the laws of nature, which enjoin a reasonable exercise of mind and body, brings a punishment upon the individual.  The mind, which he allows to be inactive, loses the capacity for exertion when required, and the body becomes a prey to disease in some shape or form.  Let it never be forgotten, however, that the physical education of the human race ought not to be alone confined to the humble object of preventing disease.  Its aim should be loftier and more in accordance with the destiny and character of its subject –to raise man to the summit of his nature: and such will be its scope in future and more enlightened times.

Yes.  A text on a piece of exercise equipment becomes a lecture on using the brain and brawn to create a well-rounded individual.  And Kehoe, in 1866, believed that the future would continue to create individuals of greater strength in both functions.  I shudder to think what he would think of today’s society.

How sad and appropriate that perhaps the last of the Physical Culture gurus -Jack LaLanne- died while I was reading about this movement.

So I’ve been distracted and educated at the same time.  I am beginning to learn how to play with my Indian club – and I’m constantly reminding myself of the physics of a lever and fulcrum- my little 2# of steel is HEAVY when my arm is fully extended away from my body.

I’ve been quiet for a reason -but it’s a good one.  I’m getting schooled by individuals who lived a very different life in a very different time.  And part of me wants to try and embrace some of their philosophy and keep it alive with me today.

I wonder, what writing has inspired you to embrace some of the philosophy?  Who has inspired you in the past?  And what was the inspiration?