Switch Up Your Gym Routine!

Are you bored with going to the gym and doing the same old thing? If so, it’s time to switch things up! Simply by changing the repetition range, lifting technique or body part split, you can infuse your workouts with something new and exciting. If you really want to ramp up your routine, add plyometrics or calisthenics, or perform supersets or giant sets.

If you don’t exactly know how to make the changes I am suggesting, I have broken down different exercise elements so that you can easily make changes to your workout routine which will keep you interested.

CHANGE REPETITION RANGE – If you have a habit of doing four sets of 15 repetitions regardless of which exercise you are doing, how about switching it up? Perhaps you can do a warmup set at the same weight which you usually eke out 15 reps, but push yourself to do 20 really good reps. Then increase the weight and do 3 sets of 8-10 reps, and perform them with intensity.

STACK REP RANGES IN PYRAMIDS – Another thing you can try is pyramids, which basically consist of gradually increasing or decreasing the rep range, while decreasing or increasing the weight lifted accordingly. You can perform ascending, descending, or ascending-descending pyramids.

Ascending Pyramids = You will gradually increase the weight used, and decrease the number of repetitions accordingly, with each set. For example, your first set may be 20 repetitions, the second 15 reps, the third 10 reps, and the fourth set 7 reps. Ascending pyramids are effective for increasing strength since you gradually increase the load on the muscle worked.

Descending Pyramids = You perform your first set at a heavy weight, eking out about 6 to 8 solid reps. Subsequent sets will consist of gradually decreasing the weight used, and increasing the number of repetitions accordingly. For example, the second set may consist of 10 reps, the third 15 reps, and the fourth set 20 reps or to complete failure. Descending pyramids are effective for increasing muscle girth since the gradual drop in weight enables you to perform sets to failure.

Ascending-Descending Pyramids = With this pyramid approach, you gradually increase the weight used, and decrease the number of repetitions accordingly, with the first few sets, then DECREASE the weight used and increase the number of reps to finish out the routine. Because of this, I recommend performing odd numbers of sets. For example, your first set may be 20 repetitions, the second 15 reps, the third 8 reps, the fourth set 15 reps, and a fifth and final set can consist of 20-25 reps.

CHANGE THE NUMBER OF SETS PERFORMED – If you are in a rut because you always perform four sets of every exercise, challenge yourself and do 5 or 6 sets. A great way to shake out the cobwebs in your routine is to go for volume, perhaps performing 8 to 10 sets of each exercise to really work your muscles to exhaustion.

CHANGE YOUR LIFTING TECHNIQUE – Many people tend to perform exercises rather rapidly every time they train, so they don’t really focus on what they are doing. There are a couple of ways in which you can challenge yourself and break through plateaus if you have this tendency. One method is to perform negatives, which basically means that after you lift the weight in the concentric phase (in a bicep curl, this would be the phase in which you curl the weight toward your shoulder), you slowly return the dumbbell to the starting position for a count of 5 or 6 seconds. Another great method is rest-pause, in which you perform a repetition at a normal rate, pause briefly, then go to your next repetition forcefully. When using rest-pause technique, slightly increase the weight used to really challenge yourself.

CHANGE YOUR BODY PART SPLIT – If you always train legs on Tuesdays and chest on Fridays, perhaps you might want to switch things up. If you aren’t seeing enough desirable changes in your lower half, add another leg day and focus on the areas which you would like to improve. If you always train your entire body every time you hit the gym, start splitting up body parts so that you devote more time to getting maximum recruitment in the muscles you train.

ADD PLYOMETRICS OR CALISTHENICS – Adding ballistic movements like plyometrics or calisthenics can serve as the catalyst for rapid body transformation. Just be careful if you have hip, knee, or ankle issues. Try adding moves like jumping jacks, jump squats, mountain climbers, burpees, and X-jumps.

PERFORM SUPERSETS OR GIANT SETS – Try stacking two or more exercises together without resting in between exercises to increase muscle fiber recruitment. You can either stack weighted exercises, or perform a combination of weighted moves and plyometrics.
Examples are:
Leg press machine/jump squats
Incline bench chest presses/pushups/dumbbell pullovers

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Of Orifices and Zero Freedom

As a physician, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of studying every part of the human body, to the most minute detail. I have hovered over cadavers which were fileted and displayed for they eyes of inquisitive medical students, and scrubbed in on colon resections, open heart surgery, neurosurgery, cataract removal, etc. During my first month of internship as a newly minted physician, I massaged a dying heart with my gloved hands (no, the patient didn’t survive). I have also delivered over 40 infants via vaginal and Cesarean methods, and have pronounced the demise of patients in the wards. In fact, there are many stories I have collected over the years, some incredibly sad, some disgusting, some frightening, and some infuriating, but all true, and all part of my experience as a doctor.

I knew full well that by signing up for an education in medicine, I would be subjected to disgusting, morbid, frightening things, and that I would face mortality on a regular basis. However, after several years of working in family practice, I began to notice that I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that I examined orifices of every kind on a very regular basis. Whether it was a nostril, a mouth, an ear canal, an anus, a urethral meatus (layman’s term pee-hole), or vagina I had to examine, I was never thrilled about it, and the orifices below the belt were certainly much more bothersome to address. My intense dislike of such examinations, combined with the tedium of primary care and the low insurance reimbursement for services and procedures provided, caused me to retreat from primary care and focus more on the areas I had more interest in, namely, physical medicine, cosmetic dermatology, and anti-aging medicine, all of which are much cleaner and which do not require me to conduct examinations on private parts.

Another feature of primary care which made me cringe was the intense demand on a practitioner’s time. The only time it ever seemed reasonable for me to literally lose sleep night after night as a physician was when I was in training. At this point, there is no way you could convince me that such a thing is healthy, and I refuse to sign up for that. I won’t give up weekends to take on three stacked 12-hour work shifts, and I will not give up the few holidays I celebrate (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day) in order to work. As it is, I give up other major holidays to work, but since the work I perform on those holidays is in bodybuilding and fitness, I don’t mind it at all.

I love being a physician, and I find it incredibly rewarding to make a positive impact on my patients. However, I will not sacrifice balance in my life, or the freedom to pursue my other interests, in order to prove to society what a good physician I am. I don’t believe for a second that running oneself into the ground working as a physician ever sends a positive message to others. I don’t ever want to be the kind of doctor who is saddled with so many chart notes to write that an entire weekend is devoted to completing them. Not for me.

Lasty, I think it’s so strange that society still assumes that doctors are supposed to give their time and knowledge at a moment’s notice, on demand, yet I don’t see those same demands placed on people in other industries. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a brief conversation with a complete stranger, who dares to ask me a medical question as soon as my profession is revealed. I swear, one of these days I am going to get a t-shirt made that says, “THE DOCTOR IS OFF-DUTY RIGHT NOW…NO MEDICAL QUESTIONS PLEASE”!

How To Be As Prepared As You Can Be for Your Big Run

I am posting this a second time with links embedded in the article. What a great contribution by Jason Lewis!

– Written by Jason Lewis

Mike Tyson once said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” For those about to compete in a major race, the logic still applies. Everyone has a plan for their run until they come face to face with some of the harsh realities of the race running. It can be hard, and you may face what feels like insurmountable obstacles. But if you prepare yourself properly, you can make sure you have the best chance possible to beat whatever punch – metaphorically speaking of course – comes your way. Here are some tips.

Know how to properly hydrate

If there’s one thing that any runner must know, it’s proper hydration. Dehydration lowers your blood volume and when you have lower blood volume your heart has to work extra hard to get blood (oxygen) to your muscles. Long story short, you can’t run your best when dehydrated. So, drink as much water as you can before, during, and after your runs?

Not exactly. Overconsumption can be an issue. For the most part, you should drink when you’re thirsty – no more, no less. Don’t overcomplicate things. Here’s a good resource on how to properly hydrate for certain types of runs.  

One big question is whether water is good enough, or should you hydrate with sports drinks. Both are true, actually. Water is fine, but there are some benefits to Gatorade. Sports drinks contain carbs (in the form of sugars) and electrolytes (which you lose when you sweat) – two things your body needs when participating in demanding physical activity.

Find a routine and stick to it

You should develop a routine surrounding your runs and keep it the same through training and through race day. Eat the same thing before, during, and after runs. Wear the same shoes and clothing. Get the same amount of sleep the night before. Listen to the same music. This routine, if you keep to it, will help your body and mind stay strong through the tough stretches.

Know how to treat common running injuries

Running puts a good amount of stress on your body – whether it’s trail running, city running, or even practicing in a gym or on a treadmill. If you run a lot, you’re going to get hurt at some point. There’s no getting around it. It’s vital that you know how to deal with sprains, scrapes, blisters, and more. The shorthand guide is to always ice a sprain, stretch a cramp, pressure a wound, and leave a blister intact. For more on this, check here.

Know why you’re running

Sure, you’re running for the exercise and the feelings of personal accomplishment. The runner’s high isn’t an unwelcome byproduct. But in the end, running is about a mentality – even a spirituality for some. Focus on how running gives you a mental boost and makes you a stronger person: push your self to achieve goals you never thought possible; give yourself a chance to find a stronger you through self-discovery; heal from a broken past; overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. As Jim Friedrich says in the article The Spirituality of Running, “What we do with our bodies manifests and expresses inner states, the sacred ground of our being. But bodily practices can also induce inner states.”

Whether you’re running for fun, a charity 5K or a marathon – the principles of proper running preparation are pretty much the same. If you know how to hydrate, deal with inevitable injuries, and stick to what you know works, you will have a good chance at succeeding in whatever you do. “Success” is whatever you want it to be – only you can decide your own criteria.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Lewis is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell.org to share his tips on senior fitness.

The Days Of Trick Or Treating Are Over

42308248 – children in fancy costume dress going trick or treating

Halloween was always my favorite holiday, because I could dress up as anything I wanted to be. It was always such a blast to think of what I wanted to be for Halloween, and my mother always obliged, albeit begrudgingly at times when she wasn’t thrilled with my choice or had to put together a costume for me. That being said, there were only two years in which she took on the task of putting a costume together for me: in fifth grade, when I went as Cleopatra, and once in seventh grade when I went as Princess Leia.

Year after year, I used the same hard plastic trick or treat pumpkin which my mother bought me when I was five years old, and I always managed to get that Jack O’ Lantern filled to the brim with candy when I went trick or treating. Back then, parents were concerned about apples containing razorblades, so I was instructed to never accept apples, but I could accept all the candy I wanted, as long as the wrappers were intact. I had my favorites, like Snickers Minis and Dubble Bubble Gum, but I was such a polite kid that I was happy to get any candy when I approached front doors and made that request:

“Trick or Treat!”

The Halloween I celebrated in sixth grade was characterized by trick or treating with several friends in Bel Air, an upscale community in Los Angeles. When we knocked on the doors of the beautiful homes there, we didn’t get Dum Dums or candy corn. Instead, we received things like full sized Hershey bars and little boxes of Godiva chocolates. One house we went to handed out $5 bills, which was a sizeable amount to a ten-year old in 1976!

Things have changed dramatically over the years, with parents opting to take their children to the mall or to scheduled events in lieu of knocking on doors at dusk. I completely understand why, since the hazards of walking around after dark and accepting candy from strangers can be just like playing Russian roulette. In the eleven years that I have lived in the same community, I have only had four groups of children trick or treating. It’s a dying trend.

Working For Free – REPOST

bloggers-working-free

Have you ever completed a work project which offered no compensation except for a pat on the back? If so, did it bother you? It should have. By agreeing to slave away (pun definitely intended here) at an assignment with full awareness that you would receive absolutely no monetary compensation, you just devalued yourself.

I am not talking about volunteer work, or favors which you offer to do for a family member or friend. I am also not talking about getting your feet wet by taking on a task in an unfamiliar area so that you can gain valuable experience. I am instead referring to situations in which you are asked to provide your knowledge, expertise and service in an area in which you excel, and are coaxed into it with the promise that it’s a one-time favor, or that there will be compensation sometime in the future, only to discover that the promise was in fact a lie.

As a result of my abiding loyalty to companies, friends, family, and pets, I am the type of person who never leaves. You can count on me, and I honor my word. One of my faults is that I assume that other people are the same way, and even when I can plainly see that I am being taken advantage of, I often still hang on. This type of behavior spilled over into the world of medicine, wellness and fitness for a while, but a couple of years ago, I cut off all of the companies and individuals who got too much of a good thing for too long, essentially my time, services and knowledge for free.

In one situation, one company asked me to provide professional services on a monthly basis, stating that it would be unpaid to start out with, but that compensation would be given after a few months. Next thing I knew, I had provided those services free of charge for eighteen months! When I fired a warning shot, essentially stating that I no longer wanted to work for free, the company responded by inferring that the “exposure” I was receiving from them was payment enough. The funny thing is, I didn’t need the exposure, nor was this company in a position to help me. I merely agreed to the arrangement as a temporary favor to them, sort of a good faith move. All it ended up doing was getting me stuck in a monthly obligation which I got zero benefit from doing. Once I realized this, I severed ties immediately. Though I used very professional and polite language, it felt so good to tell them that I was done being an indentured servant. No longer did I have to put their assignments in my calendar, or resent the fact that each one of those assignments chewed up a good hour or two of my time.

More recently, I agreed to complete an assignment for free simply because I found it intriguing, and I had a small pocket of time in which to complete the assignment. I also felt that it was a good way to introduce my skill set to the company. However, I made it very clear that the assignment was isolated, and that if the company wanted my services in the future, I would only consider paid assignments.

Time is money, and because I hold a medical degree and a bachelor’s degree, am a board certified physician, and have worked in the fitness industry for three decades, I have value which deserves proper compensation. Would you like to work for free, especially if it is in an area in which you have expertise? Let’s face it, we all need to find a way to bring money in. We have skills, we have knowledge, and we deserve to get a financial return for services rendered in our chosen work environment.

If you are the type of person who has a tendency to take on more than your schedule can handle, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your obligations and see if any of them are a threat to your self-worth. If they are unpaid, uncontracted, require your skills in an area in which you are considered an expert, and are contributing to a decline in your quality of life because they are a time burden, then you should consider dropping those obligations.

Chemical-Free Laundry

NOTE: This is an UNPAID, UNBIASED review of the Magnetic Laundry System.

Back in July, one of my roommates sent me a link to a revolutionary magnetic laundry system which would eliminate the need for harsh detergents.

Magnetic Laundry System

Here is the description of the system which I have copied and pasted below:

About Magnetic Laundry System

These blue balls, patented technology, are proven to be a durable, healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to laundry detergent, completely eliminating your reliance on harsh chemical detergents forever.The truth is water is a powerful element and a universal solvent. Detergent simply enhances water’s already existing powerful cleaning potential. How? By changing the surface tension of the water. This helps water molecules become more spaced out and slippery to pull out the dirt trapped in dirty clothes.

Product Features

With multiple permanent magnets arranged in a unique configuration, the MLS generates a powerful magnetic field to do just that, to change the surface tension of the water, – just like detergent does, only without all the toxic chemicals.

No more wasting money on harsh chemical detergents many of which are made of synthetic, hazardous, petroleum based chemicals – which are linked to health problems: headaches, skin sensitivities, allergies, respiratory irritations, asthma and even cancer.

These chemicals don’t rinse out; they hang around as residue and get absorbed through your skin over time, build up in the body and can wreak havoc on your health.When they do rinse out they go on to polluting our water supply, aquatic life, and environment.Just imagine how much chemicals have ended up in your body, how much money you have spent on detergent, and how much energy you have wasted battling with skin sensitivities and allergies. Make the switch today!

Instructions

Simply put the MLS in your washer. You can leave the magnets in there and never think about them again. It is a reusable, onetime buy, with a 50 years manufacturer’s warranty.

Basically, detergents are designed to change the surface tension of the water which is inside the washing machine. Strong magnets do the exact same thing. Since this was a one-time purchase, and my curiosity got the best of me, I purchased the system. Weeks went by, and the company didn’t respond to my email inquiry regarding the whereabouts of the shipment. But I was excited about trying the system and kept my fingers crossed that I would receive the package, and that the concept would in fact work. It took almost six weeks to receive the order, but I definitely did get it.

I was in such a rush when it was time to do my next load of laundry, that I promptly forgot about the magnets and used detergent, so I resolved to use the magnets the next chance I got. I made sure I had a full load of laundry, consisting of towels and clothing, for the first go-round with the magnets. I filled the washer with water, loaded the clothes, and threw the magnets in. 27 minutes later, I opened the lid, and found that my laundry was completely clean. In an effort to keep my first load of laundry washed with the magnets completely chemical-free, I tossed several wool dryer balls, each enhanced with a drop of peppermint oil, into the dryer with the load. Though the dryer balls slowed the drying process, they were quite effective in reducing static cling and imparting a clean, natural scent to my laundry.

Since that time, I have used the magnet system a couple of times, and I am thrilled with the results. I certainly hope that the magnet system continues to work well, since I prefer to omit, or at least reduce, the use of chemicals while doing laundry. I’m still on the fence about heavily soiled and stinky laundry, but there are people using the magnet system who wash items like soiled diapers, and they say the results are great. I think if I have a very heavily soiled laundry load and there is extra time to experiment, I may use the magnets for one wash to see how well they clean. However, the clean freak in me is leaning towards using bleach and detergent to clean those loads.

Our New Security Blanket

Think about the one thing which is constantly at your side, namely, your phone.

You rely on that small, handheld computer to keep your life in order, so much so that misplacing it sends you into an instant panic. Your LIFE is on that phone, dammit, and if you were to lose it, you would hate to imagine how much its loss would disrupt your life. I am willing to bet that you carry your cell phone everywhere, even into the restroom, which is why cell phones harbor some of the nastiest germs which are found on inanimate objects these days.

Your thumbs assert their special evolutionary spot in the animal kingdom by constantly texting, liking posts, scrolling, and sweeping to the left or right. Unfortunately, that also means gamekeeper’s thumb, an injury to a tendinitis in thumb ligaments is all to common now.

Your relationship with your phone is so tight that you will stare into it even while at dinner with friends, and it will tempt you to fuss with it while driving, despite the dangers associated with driving and texting.

I have a suggestion for you if you are so attached to your phone that it has become a security blanket. Why not leave it at home while you run to the gym? How about leaving it on your desk at work while you use the restroom? Leave it face down on the table when you are having dinner with friends. Avoid looking at it once you have crawled into bed. It won’t be the end of the world if you put your phone down every once in a while.