Weightlifting

September 1st, 2015 I made the move from Brampton to North Bay, Ontario. I came in light of new experiences and the opportunity to learn how to Olympic style weight lift from one of the best coaches, Larry Sheppard.

My desire to get in shape started when I was 16 years old, and now at 28; I have learned so much through education, personal successes, and failures. However, just when I thought I had a good grasp on everything; my style of training has been completely flipped in pursuit of becoming an athlete.

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For as long as I can remember I worked out to look good. Vanity and lack of self esteem pushed me towards the commercial facilities where mirrors line every wall, and platforms are non existent. I’ve worked out in gyms that don’t allow chalk, and have had employees tell me I can’t drop the weights as I was performing heavy deadlifts.

I dipped my toes in the physique competitions – but in all honestly they were super amateur. It’s something I am proud of in the sense it took hard work and courage; but at the same time I roll my eyes because it just wasn’t me.

I wish I had known someone in the powerlifting or weightlifting community 10 years ago; but would-a-should-a-could-a; this is where I am at now and thats what matters. I began learning the snatch and clean & jerk in early September 2015.

What is the Snatch?

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The Snatch is the first of the two Olympic lifts to be contested, followed by the clean & jerk. The aim is the lift a loaded bar from the floor to overhead, in one smooth, continuous motion.

The athlete begins by setting themselves up so that the bar is directly over their metatarsals with their feet hip width apart; toes turned out slightly. A wide “hook grip” is used on the bar (fingers on top of thumbs), and the arms straight with the shoulders directly over the bar, or slightly in front of it. The thighs should be almost parallel to the floor (depending on femur length), and the back remains straight and tight with extension in the thoracic vertebrae. The chest should be open and head titled back.

“Lift off” begins the moment the bar is separated from the floor as the athlete then moves into the “first pull.” During this phase the lifter begins to extend their knees and moves their hips upward while keeping a constant back angle relative to the floor. Centre of gravity shifts towards the heels as the lifter pulls the bar close to their body. The bar begins to accelerate at the end of this phase as they “transition” to position themselves appropriately for the second pull. During this transition is where you’ll often see the “double-knee” bend.

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$50,000 Eleiko platform from the Pan Am games

The “second pull” is an explosive movement that is executed through the extension of the hips, knees, and ankles (triple extension); followed by a strong elevation of the shoulders (shrug). This is where the bar will “brush” the hips and feet leave the ground to quickly move into the squat position. The “turnover” phase occurs as the lifter begins to pull themselves under the bar, and the “catch phase” occurs the moment the lifters feet have landed on the platform, catching the bar overhead with arms locked out. It is finished only when the lifter shows control of the bar by standing up and bringing the feet together.

What is the clean & jerk?

The clean & jerk is the second lift to be contested and is comprised of two stages which also has the athlete lift the bar from the floor to an overhead position.

They begin by setting their feet under their hips and by grabbing the bar just outside their legs using a “hook grip.” The bar is lifted to the top of the knees where the athlete then performs the “triple extension” through explosive extension of the hips, knees, and ankles; followed by a big shrug. The aim here is to get the bar as high as possible before dropping into the squat and receiving the bar in the “racked” position (bar sits in front of the neck resting on the anterior deltoids). The lifter then stands back up and readjusts their grip width in preparation for the jerk.

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The jerk begins where the clean finishes; with the bar across the shoulders and the back vertical. The lifter dips just a few inches by flexing the knees; then through explosive extension of the knees the barbell is propelled upwards off the shoulders. The athlete pushes the bar with their arms and quickly drops under by splitting their feet in a lunge type fashion (one forward and one back). The bar is received overhead with the arms straight, and once stable; the lifter recovers from the split position by bringing their feet back together.

Ofcouse these explanations may be missing some aspects, but you get a good idea of what I have been up to over the past 8 months. I have competed in 3 competitions thus far and took 3rd place in my weight class in my last competiton on April 9, 2015. I still have a long ways to go before I am even close to competing on a more serious level (these girls are strong!!!), but I am just happy to have found something new and exciting. It feels great to be more concerned over how I perform rather than how I look.

Most importantly, I have been working hard to learn how to coach these lifts. I have engulfed myself in everything weightlifting and succeeded passing my level one weightlifting certification with the NCCP. I will have a second diploma in strength and sports condidtioning in a couple weeks time and I hope to find work in the health promotion and coaching fields.

9 Fit Tips I Wish 16 Year Old Haley Knew


1. VISUALIZE

visualize

As humans we have an extraordinary ability to “see” something that isn’t there.  When a vision is so strong coupled with the desire to achieve that picture, it will happen. I used to look in the mirror and only see what I didn’t like, I’d put myself down and then walk away feeling like a pile of shit – useless right? Now I do my best to love what I see, and then take it a step further and see what isn’t there – yet. My butts bigger, delts rounder, and quads are popping. I truly believe that this technique will have you seeing the real thing sooner than without it.

2. THE ALL OR NON RESPONSE SHOULD BE FOR MUSCLE RECRUITMENT ONLY

When a motor neuron sends a signal to a motor unit, it will contract all the muscle fibres it innervates; or none at all. Adversely, you planned an intense hour long workout but life just got in the way. Now you have 20 minutes – skip it? NO! Pick the biggest lift for that day and go hammer it as many times as you can in the time you have. The short workouts add up, as do ones that are missed, which do you prefer? Same should be applied to your nutrition, if you ate a piece of cake for Betty’s birthday today don’t use this as a reason to keep eating junk.


3. EAT FOR YOUR GOALS/DAILY NEEDS

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This one I need to do in point form because here are the facts:

  • If you want to get big, you have to eat big.
  • IIFYM is a load of shit, eat good food.
  • If you want to lean out, you have to burn more than you consume.
  • Not eating at all, or not eating all day, or going too long between meals will not help you AT ALL when it comes to achieving weight loss.
  • Lean proteins are your muscles best friend.
  • Rice, oats, veggies, fruits, quinoa, couscous are the best carb options
  • Healthy fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, coconut oils, avocado, and fish oils are absolutely vital.
  • Pick up a nutrition book, this isn’t your car we are talking about – you can always get a new car.

4. STOP WORKING OUT – START TRAINING

I WISH someone had offered me this tip when I first started to exercise. Like most, vanity and the fact I was uncomfortable in my own skin propelled me to start moving more. However when I stopped working out and started TRAINING is when everything really came together. Find specific exercises / lifts, a sport, something physical to get really good at; then plan your workouts around those moves, and others that help improve it (i.e. Deadlift: deficit sumo deadlift, deadlift from pins, barbell bent rows with torso angled at 90 degrees…).

5. TRAINING WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND SUCKS

Middle finger

I didn’t have time to make, never mind drink my green tea. Yet I had to wait 20 minutes for him to go through his 50 mobility corrective bullshit exercises. By then my warm up was done and that mental peak had come and gone. I had weight loaded on me before I was ready and he was totally annoyed with the fact my bar height/weights were so different from his. He’d then go on to be a loud jackass and treat me like one of his juiced up buddies. Worst of all, God forbid we’d stick around to do anything extra because it wasn’t in “the plan.” Needless to say we don’t speak anymore, and the fact we hated each other in the weight room definitely contributed to that. Your gym partner should compliment your style of training, not completely piss you off and make you feel small. #itsmyblogicansaywhatiwant #yeaheisadouchebag  #totallybiased

6. IF IT’S FOR ANYONE BUT YOU, IT WILL TURN INTO “WORK”

If entering a fitness competition motivates you to train harder – great! If your boyfriend likes big glutes – awesome! If you have to be strong for your job – fantastic! However, the more you train for reasons other than those that hold true to yourself, it’s only a matter of time before that spark fizzles.

7. YOU’RE NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE

Letting the size of your ego inflate along with your biceps is so very, very unattractive. It’s great if your new physique makes you feel like Hercules, but there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Please don’t turn into to one of those people that scare newbies away. It’s about overall health for most people; they don’t give a shit how much you can bench.

8. HAVE A BEER AND A SLICE OF PIZZA

Don’t misconstrue this point; I would never try to sabotage your goals. I myself am a very healthy eater. I eat to Train and I am lucky because I find true enjoyment in doing so. However, there are days when I’ve eaten all my lean protein and leafy greens but still have this gut feeling I need something more. Only something greasy will satisfy this, and without going overboard, I feel like that cold beer and slice of pizza is the punch in the face my metabolism needs once in a while. However if you post your “cheat meal” on social media, I’ll then want to punch you in the face.

9. FOOD SCALE IS A GOOD IDEA SHORT TERM

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The food scale is an excellent tool to get a good grasp on portion sizes. You may be surprised that 15g of peanut butter isn’t the size of your fist (unfortunately). Through weighing my food I have learned what serving sizes look like and it was the reality check my eating habits needed. Unfortunately it got to the point where I felt like I had to weight everything, all the time. This is unrealistic unless you plan on busting out the scale at restaurants, and it’s a habit that can eventually turn unhealthy. Learn how to “eyeball” it and only use the scale if it’s really needed.

The Complete Power Look Program – My progress

I just wrapped up the first phase of “The Complete Power Look Program” that I picked up off of one of my favourite training sites – TNation. The first phase was 4 weeks in length and I am now transitioning into the second, with 3 phases all together.

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 WHY I CHOSE THIS PROGRAM:

  •  4 years ago I transitioned from endurance training into heavy strength training in the pursuit of lots of lean muscle mass and continual increases in strength. I build my programs around the 4 main lifts – Squat; bench press; deadlift; and overhead press (push-press/military press). This program is built around these king exercises for 10 weeks, with changes to the reps/sets and the accessory exercises every 3 or 4 weeks.
  • This program uses the front squat instead of the back squat, and the push-press instead of the military press; which I absolutely love because my spine could use a break from heavy back squats, and I will benefit from the push-press since the military press is one my weakest exercises; the push-press will allow me to move more weight and use the eccentric phase to help build strength.
  • I chose this program to learn more about proper strength training programming. The use of % RM is something fairly new to me, as well as the manipulation of the set/rep schemes each week.
  • I have yet to incorporate exercises to correct weak areas in my main lifts such as the deficit deadlift, floor press, and top-half press from pins.  Therefor, I can’t wait to see my new 1RMs at the end of the program.

 MY CURRENT 1RMs

MY CURRENT 1RMS

EXERCISE WEIGHT(LBS)
Front Squat 120
Bench Press 90
Deadlift 200
Push-press 90

WEEKS 1-4: My thoughts and progress

  • Figuring out my weights for the accessory exercises, along with mastering the correct movement pattern for new exercises, always contributes to the challenge during my first week on a new program.
  • The deadlift from a 2 inch deficit challenged me the most; the increased forward lean made it harder to sit back on my heels. With that said, I feel like my low back and quads were more taxed than usual, but the whole posterior chain benefited from an increased range of motion.

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  • Getting a solid push-press technique down took me a few tries. Learning how much momentum to use, along with keeping a solid stance took time, but I improved immensely as the weeks progressed.
  • The bent-over barbell row with torso angled at 90 degrees attacked my mid/low traps and biceps.
  • The paused front squat was a fantastic incorporation of time under tension and my quads benefited.
  • On squat day, arms remain in the front squat grip position for almost the entire workout – very hard on the wrists if you aren’t used to it.
  • The Bulgarian split squat with a front squat grip was new to me, and it just made me love the split squat even more.
  • I have already seen an increase in the size of my triceps thanks to the floor presses, and significant anterior chain development thanks to the front squat and push-press.
  • I no longer work-out; I TRAIN.

WEEKS 5-7: My thoughts and progress

  • I thought the deadlift from a 2 inch deficit was hard; and then came the sumo deadlift from a 2 inch deficit – holy shit, hands down the most challenging exercise for me this phase.
  • The wide-grip bench press initially made me nervous (not-so-good left shoulder), but I was surprisingly stronger than I thought I would be. It’s too bad my right side is noticeably weaker despite it being the more stable of the two (I’m a southpaw).
  • Deadlift from pins (pins just below knees), blasted my mid/low traps and lats.
  • Week 5 – day after push-press, my triceps were extremely sore due to the half push-press; I loved that one, along with the 1/2 bench press.
  • Week 6 – the night after the 3×5 front squats my quads and anterior delts were screaming! I continue to see immense anterior chain development and I love it.
  • EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: USE OF GUARDS OR PINS. I’ll admit, I was an idiot and actually performed a couple moves incorrectly and felt it right away. Read the whole program and make sure you understand each exercise before walking into the weight room (unlike me).
  • Week 7 – Front squats; my legs were feeling strong and my confidence was going up as quick as the weight that day. Also, I knew I had made gains because resting the bar on my anterior delts was less uncomfortable = shoulder development, woot woot!!
  • Sumo deadlift is still blowing me away (I made a lot of notes about this one, so I’m not kidding).
  • Noticeable development of my “top shelf” a.k.a. Upper Traps.
  • On average, these workouts have been taking me 30-45 minutes to complete. I stick around afterwards to bang out conditioning work such as BARBELL COMPLEXES or I practice aspects of the Olympic lifts, which I hope to soon conquer.

SIDE NOTES: 

If you have a look at THE COMPLETE POWER LOOK PROGRAM you’ll see that Christian Thibaudeau offered exercises for optional bonus work. I am always game for more, but I decided I would choose the exercises (it’s hard for me to follow a plan designed by someone else and not have a say at all). Moreover, you’ll notice there isn’t any direct ab training included in this program. I add 1 or 2 weighted ab exercises after training, but make sure not to overdue it – this program is incredibly heavy on the core!

This is me back in January of this year finally hitting one of my long term goals – 200lb deadlift. I hope this program takes that number up a notch, or two.

Could testing grip strength predict heart disease risk?

Check out this article:

Could testing grip strength predict heart disease risk?

Article overview:

– The study authors used a longitudinal population study to see whether muscle grip strength can predict the chances of getting a range of diseases.

– 142,861 people across 17 high, medium, and low income countries were Hand gripincluded in this study.

– The grip test could be useful in low income countries.

– Researches said their findings showed that muscle strength is a strong predictor of having a heart attack or stroke.

– The study suggests that people with low muscle strength may be at an increased risk of dying prematurely.

Side notes: Weight training will increase your grip strength and chances of living a longer, healthy life. It’s not about looking good at the beach, or flexing a ridiculously bronzed body on stage – it’s about keeping your cholesterol, blood and glucose levels in check; having energy to get through your day; independence; confidence; and ultimately freedom.

Some Things I’ve Learned About Core Training

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  1. Core = everything but your limbs

Your abs are your abs, your core consists of all but your limbs. This means the glutes; hips; back; chest and abs are all part of the core. If your core isn’t strong, don’t expect your arms and legs to be.

  1. Heavy carries are the best for adding thickness and increasing overall strength

Waiters, suitcase, and farmers walks are some of the best exercises you can perform to increase size and strength of all the core muscles. Just grab a heavy weight in one hand, or both, and take x amount of steps. Make sure to keep your chest proud, back up straight, and shoulder blades together.

  1. Train your abdominals like any other muscle group

Planking for days or performing hundreds of crunches is boring and no good long-term; it also isn’t a true determinate of core strength. 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps of weighted exercises such as cable crunches, reverse cable crunches; barbell pull-over leg lifts and landmine 180s are your best bet.

  1. Heavy deadlifts and squats aren’t enough

I took a break from direct ab training taking on the notion that performing heavy squats and deadlifts every week were enough. Wrong!! I noticed the definition in my mid-section slowly diminishing and soon realized that isolating the rectus abdominus through weighted crunching exercises, and activation of the deep transverse abdominus with the use of such exercises as the weighted plank are absolutely vital to a good, strong core.

  1. Both anti-rotation exercises AND crunches should have a place in your program

A lot of trainers seem to be on the “anti” high when it comes to ab training, and for some clients using anti-flexion and anti-extension exercises may be the best thing for their abilities or current condition. However, in order to work a muscle effectively it should be worked in all the planes of motion it is capable of; therefor crunching is necessary!

  1. 6 packs aren’t impressive – thick, bulging 6 packs are impressive

I was younger and naïve once, I used to be so impressed with 6 pack abs. Now I’ve realised that crack heads have 6 packs; which means your body fat just has be low enough to see them, not that you’re in great shape. Now what impresses me most is a nice, thick, bulging 6 pack that can be seen even with a higher percentage of body fat. What gets me even more than this however is back muscles that are so well developed and defined I could label them.

I hope these tips save you some time and frustration if you’re on the quest towards solid and impressive core muscles. Keep Moving!!!

Jacked Up Calves

Calf Muscles

Lately I have been totally neglecting an important muscle group that I used to hit all the time – calves.

By the time I am done my leg workout, the last thing I feel like doing is working on my calves. There’s just something about working the not-so-big muscles at the end of a heavy workout that bores the crap out of me, and I often head into it half assed, or not at all (shaking my head in shame right now). With that said, I have to change my approach and once again get excited about making those calves grow.

One of the rules of training is to exercise any lagging body parts first in your workout. Instead of waiting until I am exhausted after my workout; I am going to start training my calves first thing while I’m fresh. I can foresee this being hard for me because I’m that girl who will race you to the squat if it’s free, so putting that second will be challenging.

Also, I know that calves respond nicely to high volume. I normally won’t do anything less than 20 reps at a time when training calves and perform anywhere between 4-6 sets. That’s not to say I am going super light with the weight, I still want to make it as heavy as possibly while still being able to effectively go through the full range of motion and emphasize a squeeze at the top of each rep; if I can’t do this, I have gone too heavy (I’m talking to those people who load up 5 plates a side on the standing calf press, like wtf?).

The Gastrocnemius and the Soleus are the two major muscles of the posterior leg. Together they make up that nice bulge and run the entire length of the lower leg, connecting behind the knee and at the heel. The Gastrocnemius crosses both the knee and ankle joint, while the soleus just crosses the ankle joint. This tells me that I need to be training my calves from both a standing and seated position; hence the standing and seated calf press machines.

On another note, I’m big on angles. I know that slightly angling my toes inwards will emphasize outer portion of my calves, and turning them slightly outwards will emphasize the inner portion. I used to make the mistake of performing calf raises on extreme angles, but I have come to learn that this will prevent me from achieving maximal calf activation and likely puts excess strain on my ligaments. With that said, do not over angle your feet, or don’t bother using that technique at all; everything will be hit while keeping the toes straight forward anyways.

In my defense, I may not currently stick around to work my calves at the gym, but I do focus on them often while walking and standing. You really don’t need external weight to make those puppies grow; body weight will work wonders too.

For whatever reason, I have always been one to walk on my tip-toes, specifically while making dinner or concentrating on something while standing. I also love playing with my gate while walking and will push forcefully off the balls on my feet (especially while walking uphill) to really get my calves involved. These techniques have resulted in strong calves without the heavy weight. It also allows me to train them more frequently, which is also a great way to make them grow since your calves are great at handling high volume and frequency.

Try this Calf workout with me and let’s see if we can make some gains:

  1. Bodyweight standing calf raise 1 x 20
  2. Standing Calf Raise Machine 5 x 20-30
  3. Seated Calf 5 x 20-30
  4. Single Leg Body Weight Calf Raise (do not bend knee and use one finger to balance yourself on an external object) 2 x 20-30 each leg

Note: Do not bounce or jerk the weight at the bottom of the movement. Each rep should be done with control; slow descend (negative), full stretch, and full contraction (squeeze) at the top.

Disease Screening

As we get older we take on more responsibility. Work, family, and other commitments consume our time and the days come and go with a blink of the eye.

Many people are responsible for taking care of so many others; some often forget to take care of themselves.heart_disease-1335

With that said, it’s important to take care of yourself and take responsibility for your own health because no one else will do it for you. Getting screened for potential diseases or health disorders is one of the many ways to do so.

The following is a list of some common diseases along with when you should get screened in order to reduce the risk of disease, or detect it early enough to treat it most effectively.

Test

What It Looks For When to get tested

How often

Cholesterol -High lipid levels in the blood = increased risk of heart disease -Age 20-79 -Every 4-6 years

-Depends on risk factors and/or current cholesterol

Pap Test (Pap Smears) -Cellular changes in the cervix indicative of cervical cancer -Sexually active woman under the age of 65 -Every 3 years
Mammography -Breast cancer – Women ages 50+ -Every 1-2 years
Colonoscopy -Colon cancer -Age 50+

-Earlier if there is a family history

-Every 5-10 years
Prostate-specific antigen -Prostate cancer -Men ages 50+ -Talk to your doctor about this test
STI’s -HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea -Sexually active men & woman of any age -Every year

Your family history and the exposure to other risk factors may determine when/how often you should get screened for certain diseases. Some diseases do not have routine screening tests and may require multiple tests in order to detect any indication of disease. Please talk to your doctor to get more information, especially if you see or feel unusual changes in your body externally or internally.

Moreover, you always have to right to a second opinion. As in any profession, people make mistakes and some are better at their jobs than others; doctors included.

You can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself.

SHAKE IT UP BABY – Revamped Shake Recipe

Back in September of last year I posted a shake recipe. Since then I have added to my concoction and wanted to share it here on Shape180. I have to give it up to Costco for providing these ingredients in bulk for a fair price, thank-you!!

Ingredients:

  • 140g Irresistibles Berry Cherry Fusion – Mixed Fruit
  • 122g Kirkland Frozen Mixed Vegetables – Normandy Style
  • 1c Spinach
  • 12 Plain Natural Almonds
  • A few shakes of Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Plain, Dry Quaker OatsShake
  • 1tbl Chia Seeds
  • 1 scoop Muscle Pharm Combat Powder – Cookies and Cream

Nutritional Info:

  • Calories: 563
  • Carbs: 61g
  • Fat: 15g
  • Protein: 40g

You may notice that this is just a jacked up version of my previous recipe. I use this as a meal replacement -breakfast or lunch- and it keeps me full until my next meal. It offers a great source of each macronutrient, and you get the benefit of consuming a couple serving of vegetables without even tasting them. Give it a try 🙂

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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.