Annoying Gym Goers

I can give credit where credit is due. It’s great to see people at the gym instead of sitting around being lazy all day. However, there’s actually a few people I wish would just stay at home. Here is my list of people that drive me crazy at the gym.

8. Terrible Trainersbad-trainer-WH

As a trainer I can spot a terrible trainer from across the gym floor. There used to be a trainer at the gym I work out at who was a prime example. He would stand – too close – to his clients as they performed every move incorrectly, nod his head, and tell them to keep going as he constantly checked his cell phone. Not to mention he would hit on any young cute girl that walked past him. I wanted to punch him in the face, but luckily he got fired before I could.

This isn’t to say that all trainers are bad. There are plenty of amazing trainers who truly want to help others succeed. If you ever decide to hire a Personal Trainer, shop around first, and make sure you don’t end up with some idiot who’s over charging you to do ineffective and/or incorrect exercises.

7. Talkersplease shut up

It blows my mind how many people converse more than they lift. The coffee shop is for chatting people, not the weight room floor.

The talkers don’t seem to understand or respect gym etiquette. They will interrupt your set to talk about nothing at all or totally mess up your rest period because they just don’t shut up. I understand you can make friends at the gym, but when I’m going for my PR deadlift or catching my breath between sets, I really do not want to talk to you.

On the same note, please don’t strike up a conversation in the change room while you’re completely naked. I admire how comfortable you are in your own skin, but jeezzusss, wait until after.

6. Flexing in the Mirrors More Than Lifting-ers

justin-bieber-flexing-instagram

It seems to be the younger guys that do this most; they’ll pace the floor and flex in the mirror more times than I can count. Having to walk around you to get my equipment as you aimlessly wonder around isn’t really my favourite thing. It’s also a little distracting catching you constantly flexing in the mirror behind me as I complete my set. Did you come here to train, or practice your posing? I’m pretty sure the latter can be done at home.

5. Rack BlockersBlocker

1-arm rows are one of my favourite exercises and I think everyone should do them, just NOT in front of the dumbbell rack. Blocking any equipment as you do an exercise is just plain rude, and if I so happen to accidentally drop a dumbbell on your foot one day, it’s going to be your fault.

4. Unnecessary Gruntersgrunter

Overall, this one hasn’t been much of an issue for me. I myself curse under my breath every now and again or let out some unattractive noises as I complete a heavy set. The people I’m attacking here are those that do it excessively or unnecessarily. A man where I train grunts loudly after every, single, rep. It doesn’t matter is he’s curling 15’s or pressing 80’s, he is loud, excessive, and sooo f****** annoying. If you’re doing it for attention, you got it, but not in a good way.

3. Nipple Shirt Wearers

nipple shirt

These guys are usually jacked and decide to show it off by wearing spaghetti strapped tank tops that expose everything but their lower abdominal’s. They seem to think they are a gym god and just beg to be looked at. Everything from the way they walk to the way they stand just reeks of arrogance. Hey, you might be in amazing shape, good looking, and possibly have a great personality to boot; but I’ll never know for sure because I have already labelled you as a douche bag.

2. The Cable Cross-overers

cross over

There is one big pulley system at the gym where I train. It sits in the middle of the floor and you either have to go through it, or around it to get to the other side of the gym. During peak hours, few things tick my clock more than that guy hogging 2 out of the 3 pulley systems to perform cable cross-overs. First off, I have to duck under the cables if other routes are blocked, second, you’re taking up too much damn space, and third, someone else is probably waiting to use ONE of those pulleys. Save this exercise for when traffic is low and opt for other variations when its busy. Thanks.

1. Non-unrackers

messy-gym-with-weights-everywhere1

Do you have any idea how many times I get all pumped up to do some squats just to spend the first 10 minutes of my training session unracking 4 plates a side on the squat rack? LIKE REALLY?! Mr. Macho can apparently (half) squat 400 pounds but can’t seem to put the plates away afterwards. This makes me so angry because these people consciously make the decision to not put their equipment away and leave their mess for the next person to clean up. I’m wasting energy moving your plates, and the first thing we learn in kindergarten is to put your toys away before taking another. If you’re contributing to the mess you are a straight up jerk.

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My Pre-workout Supplements

A good pre-workout supplement can take your training to a whole-notha-leehhvall! The right sup can boost your strength, endurance, focus, and give those muscles a nice pump; who doesn’t want that?

Before I get into sharing my pre-workout stack I feel it necessary to share a short story regarding my past experience with some name brand pre’s.

A few years ago I started using pre-workouts for the reasons I stated in the first paragraph. I Dumbbellfound a reputable name brand and began taking it as directed. I felt like superwomen in the gym! I was moving faster, pushing harder, and training longer than I ever have. This high lasted a while; until it all came down to bite me in the ass.

I eventually became dependent on these pre-workouts and couldn’t imagine training without them. Sadly it got to a point where my sleep suffered – probably from the high level of stimulants most name brands possess. It wouldn’t matter if I took it at 5am or 5pm; I could no longer get a solid full nights rest. This snow balled in the sense I was still taking it to combat my fatigue from not sleeping; resulting in over-training, under-recovering, and no gain in muscle mass what’s so ever.

So please be cautious when supplementing with pre-workouts. To be honest, anything with a picture of a skeleton, or the word “explode” makes me nervous, as do some of the price tags.

Personally, my favourite pre-workout stack is one I can put together on my own. I purchase the ingredients in bulk and then toss them together about 20 minutes before I lift. If I had tons of money, I’d likely add to my stack, but here are -in my opinion- the necessities:

  1. BCAAS

“Branched chain amino acids or BCAA are the smallest sub particle of protein and are a chemical chain of the amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.. They are often referred to as the building blocks of protein. This particular blend of BCAA supplement is a 2:1:1 ratio of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, valine. Amino Acids are essential in the body and are produced naturally. When the body undergoes physical stress, BCAAs can be used as an alternate fuel beta-alanine-1lbsource to fuel protein synthesis and delay fatigue. They play a special role by being metabolized quickly and directly in the muscle where you need it most, not in the liver. By allowing the body to stay in a positive nitrogen balance and continue protein synthesis, BCAAs are best known for keeping the body in an anabolic state (muscle building). When taken around times of training, BCAA powder can be essential to keeping protein synthesis going and the body in a fuelled state.”

  1. Beta-Alanine

“Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid used to promote muscular endurance and improve exercise performance by being able to train longer and harder. By promoting high levels of intramuscular carnosine, it can delay the build-up of lactate burning in the muscles. It has also been known to increase maximal power output when training.”

  1. AAKG

“AAKG is a salt derivative of the amino acid arginine and alpha ketoglutaric acid. It is used as an exercise supplement to cause an increase in nitric oxide production in the body. This increased nitric oxide production causes the body to vasodilate blood vessels (increasing their internal diameter to increase blood flow) giving users the muscle pump effect and causing more oxygen and more nutrients to the target muscle. AAKG is an advanced form of arginine and is approximately 2 times the potency. Therefore if one was to take 6g of arginine, it would only require approximately 3g of AAKG to achieve the same effect. AAKG has been shown in new and ongoing research to increase anabolic activity and increase levels of growth hormone, IGF-1, and insulin, glutamine and other amino acid metabolites.”

  1. Creatine Monohydrate

“Creatine Monohydrate or Creapure Creatine Monohydrate is a natural substance found mainly in the skeletal muscle cells of the human body. Made up of three amino acids l-methionine, l-arginine, and l-glycine it is produced in the liver and to a small degree in the kidneys. It is used in the body to provide energy to all the cells in the body especially the muscle cells by increasing the amount of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) available. This ATP that is created is used to fuel flexingall muscle contractions in the body via the Phosphocreatine Synthesis cycle. Although creatine monohydrate is not an essential nutrient, it is very necessary to intense training and physical strength. Creatine is used widely by athletes and resistance trainers to increase strength, power, endurance and explosive strength. Creatine is naturally occurring in foods such as beef but supplementing with exogenous creatine monohydrate is a much easier and more efficient way to increase creatine stores to induce more muscle growth and much more intense training. Creatine is among the most popular and effective supplements available and is very important to anyone looking to improve physical performance.”

  1. Caffeine Caps*

“Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant in the body. Caffeine is found mostly in different types of seeds, leaves, and fruits. Caffeine in humans acts as a central nervous system stimulant which may prevent and/or ward off drowsiness and restore and keep you alert. Caffeine accomplishes this by causing the release of dopamine which is a chemical in the brain that keeps us alert, improves problem solving and pleasure.” (Canadianprotein.com)

I took each description off of the site I order these supplements from. It saves me a lot of money in the long run and I can’t help but feel like a scientist as I mix them together prior to my workouts. These supplements are pretty tasteless, but I often add a squirt of a flavoured water inhancer to get it down easier. If you decide to order from here, please use my link:

http://canadianprotein.refr.cc/KRT7T64

* The reason I put an asterisks beside caffeine is because I no longer include this in my stack. I’ve realized the high amounts of caffeine alone, or in other pre-workouts aren’t good for me. I am a very energetic person as it is and sometimes have issues with anxiety. This has decreased dramatically since I have stopped taking them. Also, I drink a lot of green and black tea so I’m sure I get enough caffeine as it is.

1. Canadianprotein.com,. ‘Canadian Protein: Canada’s Supplements Superstore’. N.p., 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

Beyond Blue

depression

In order to be considered healthy, one must be free of disease and ailments; they are physically active, exercise, and practice good nutrition. However one factor that is often overlooked is mental health.

Years ago I remember hearing someone say that depression and mental illness is fake and people just need to deal with they’re sh*t properly and get over it. That person and whoever else holds this opinion are simply ignorant.

If the body can become ill, so can the mind.

All though there are many forms of mental illness, with variable severities of each, I would like to focus on one form of mental illness in particular – depression.

The endocrine system (aka hormonal system) controls EVERYTHING. Hormones are substances produced by the endocrine glands that have a huge effect on bodily processes. The glands in the endocrine system influence growth and development, mood, sexual function, reproduction, and metabolism.

The nervous system also plays a major roll. In particular, the 3 main neurotransmitters of the brain (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) appear to have a strong relationship with depressive symptoms. Specific symptoms are associated with an increase or decrease in specific neurotransmitters.

Just to clarify, depression isn’t that crappy feeling after the Toronto Maple Leafs loose again, and again, and again. It goes much deeper than that.

“Depression is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood—the way a person feels. Mood impacts the way people think about themselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around them. This is more than a ‘bad day’ or ‘feeling blue.’ Without supports like treatment, depression can last for a long time.

Signs of depression include feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, guilty, or anxious a lot of the time. Some feel irritable or angry. People lose interest in things they used to enjoy and may withdraw from others. Depression can make it hard to focus on tasks and remember information. It can be hard to concentrate, learn new things, or make decisions. Depression can change the way people eat and sleep, and many people experience physical health problems.

Age and sex can also impact how people experience depression. Males often experience anger or irritability rather than sadness, which can make depression harder for others to see. Young people and older adults may experience lasting changes in mood that are mistakenly dismissed as a normal part of growing up or of aging.” – Canadian Mental Health Association

I have personally suffered from depression and have a family history of it – yes it can be genetic. It does not make me any less of a person, nor does it make me weak. It isn’t the easiest topic to discuss due to the social stigmas attached to it, but I believe people are becoming more open to the topic and that society as a whole is moving in a positive direction to help those who suffer from mental illness.

Symptoms of depression could include:

  • Sadness throughout the day, nearly every day
  • Loss of interest in or enjoyment of one’s favourite activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of irritability
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Aches and pains (such as headaches, stomach pain, joint pains or other pains)
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down

If you or a loved one are suffering from depression, first educate yourself as much as possible. Getting a thorough understanding will make you realise it’s not your fault and that there is treatment available. Depression has been/is being heavily studied and more talked about then ever. Go to your doctor if symptoms last more than 2 weeks, or if you’ve had a history of depression. Most importantly, be kind to your body and do not use substances to mask the problem(s), this will only prolong the issue and make it worse. Depression can get progressively worse and become extremely serious if left untreated.

Check out http://depressionhurts.ca/en/depression/ for more information.

Moreover, exercise may be the last thing one would want to do while depressed, but it WILL make a world of difference in your recovery. Exercise releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in the body and diminish the perception of pain. Regular exercise can ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and help you sleep. If a full workout sounds impossible to you, go for daily walks, preferably outside. Little steps each day will get you closer to feeling like yourself again.

NEW PHASE

The following is a strength training program I put together using information from TNation.com and other resources, including training phases I have completed in the past. I based my program around the 4 core lifts and I started it this past Monday (Oct.20). I hope to see and increase in my 1RM by the end of this phase, and I will likely repeat this over again for another 6 weeks, changing up the accessory exercises.

NEW TRAINING PHASE: STRENGTH

  • 4 days / week with an optional 5th day
  • Main lifts – Deadlift, Bench, Squat, Military Press
  • Duration – 6 weeks (maybe 7)

Monday- Deadlift
Tueday – Bench Press
Wednesday – OFF
Thursday – Squat
Friday – OFF (or 5th)
Saturday – Military Press
Sunday – OFF (or 5th)

 

                                                               Sets x Reps  
WK Core Accessory Total Reps
1 5 x 8 @ 65% 1RM 3 x 6,6,6* 100
2 5 x 7 @ 70% 1RM 3 x 6,6,8* 103
3 5 x 6 @ 75% 1RM 3 x 6,8,8* 104
4 5 x 5 @ 80% 1RM 3 x 8,8,8* 105
5 5 x 4@ 85% 1RM 3 x 8,8,10* 108
6 5 x 3 @ 90% 1RM 3 x 8,10,10* 109

*Last set is a dropset for the last exercise only; dropping the weight by 30% then performing the same number of reps.

Week 7 – 5 x 1 @ 105 % RM ?

Accessory Exercises – 2 compound (1 bilateral, 1 unilateral), 1 isolation / lift

Deadlift – Chin-ups, 1-Arm DB Rows, BB Stiff Legged Deadlifts, Push-ups**

Bench – Incline DB Press, Crush Press (Flat), Pullover, Hip Thrust**

Squat – Front Squat, Split Squat, Hip Adduction, DB Upright Row**

Military – Arnold Press, Lateral Raise (cable), Bent Rear Delt Rows (BB), Inverted Row**

**Last exercise; 1-2 sets; 8-12 reps; not coming close to failure, goal is to stimulate muscles for frequency value.

Optional 5th day: Arms, weak spots.

ABS: 3 exercises performed circuit style 2-3 times / week.

 

MY RECOVERY WORKOUT

I participated in my second fitness competition this past August. During the 9 weeks leading up to my competition I followed a strict diet and continued to train my ass off. While preparing for that I continued to teach 7 group training classes / week where I work.

After my competition I found myself in need of a little break – a life no so structured and pre-determined, and some time to enjoy the company of friends and family over food and drinks, without stressing about every calorie I consumed.

I am back to it now, and the parties and late nights are very apparent during my weight training sessions. From past experience I knew this would happen; so instead of getting frustrated I will smile at those nights without regret and continue forward to become even better than before.

Here is the program I am following for one week only. I feel like it’s a great way to ease back into the gym and wake those muscles up prior to heading into my next training phase.

GOALS:

-Keep it simple

-Incorporate cardio

-Gradually increase intensity and volume

-Full-body workout

Exercises:

1. Decline Leg Press

1a. Dumbbell Bent-over Rows

2. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2a. Dumbbell Chest Press (Flat bench)

3. Barbell Curls

3a. Triceps Push-downs (rope)

4. Knee-ups

4a. Briefcase walk

Day 1:

–          Start with 20 minutes of cardio.

Any type of cardio; my goal here is to work up a sweat to rid my body of toxins and mentally prepare to kill it this week. I usually go for the elliptical because I can put both my arms and legs into it.

–          Proceed to the weights; 2 sets of 10 reps.

Ya, my numbers are going to suffer – that’s what drinking and staying up late will do. Putting moderate-intense cardio first will also negatively impact my numbers, but for today it’s all good.

Complete the above exercises in superset fashion leaving no more than 1 minute rest between exercises. I choose a weight that will allow me to complete both sets of 10 reps with good form while leaving a couple reps “in the hole” (I could do a couple more, but not today). I’ll start with a warm-up set in most cases, especially if I am not certain of how much to lift.

Day 2:

–          10 minutes of cardio

I opt for incline walking, but any type will do. This is for both warm-up and cardio purposes.

–          Proceed to the weights; 3 sets of 10 reps.

I use the exact same exercises as day 1, again in superset fashion. This time I add a third set and try to increase my weights by 5-10lbs during my 2nd and 3rd sets of each exercise while still leaving 1-2 reps in the hole.

Day 3:

Active recovery; enjoy a long walk with my dog.

Day 4:

Same as day 2

Day 5:

–          5 minute warm-up and dynamic stretches.

Last workout before I head into my next phase.

–          Proceed to weights; 3 sets of 10 reps followed by 1 drop set to failure.

I continue to use the same exercises but add a fourth set to failure. I will perform 10 reps using the same weight as I did in set 3 and then continue to drop the weight and bang out reps until my form gets too sloppy or until I’m absolutely spent. This does not apply to the briefcase walk exercise.

Day 6: OFF

Day 7: START NEW PHASE WITH CONFIDENCE AND INTENSITY!

Side note: Everything in moderation folks! I do not recommened alcohol consumption and late nights on a regular basis; always keep your training goals in sight.

My First Fitness Competition

So I’ve decided to step on stage wearing next to nothing, and flex my stuff.

This March, I will be facing my fears and stepping out of my comfort zone. I made the decision to enter my first fitness competition about 3 months ago. I had played with the idea in the past, but I have always been shy when it comes to “showing off”. However, when I was told about the Fitness Star Model Search 2014 (happening not far from where I live), I filled out, paid, and submitted my registration before I had time to think twice. Luckily my boyfriend is doing it too, so I will not be going at it alone.

I have been lifting weights for the past 9 years. In this time I have accomplished many personal goals, but have also faced my share of struggles. Finding a healthy balance of weights, cardio, and proper nutrition is not easy; heck I’m still working at it! Over the past 6 months I have put on about 7lbs of muscle and I continue to work hard to increase my strength and improve my body composition.

As for the competition, I am either going to love the experience, or absolutely hate it. I don’t think there will be a middle ground here. I started my “competition diet” this past Monday, and will continue to stay dedicated to it for the next 5 weeks. My training hasn’t changed; I have just gotten smarter with my workout plans thanks to the help of my boyfriend. I used to do tons of cardio and my weight training was always focused on endurance, which I loved at the time. However I now periodize my training and lift for strength and hypertrophy. This has resulted in gaining much more lean muscle mass, which I enjoy more than what I was doing before.

I was thinking I would use my blog as a way to track my progress, and bitch about my struggles. So here is my first post. I now have to go walk around my house in clear stripper heels to get used them so I don’t look completely unnatural when I have to perform the “t-walk” in front of a crowd of people. Huurrraayyy!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Anonymous

(That quote kicked my butt into giving this a try)

– Haley