Is it necessary?

Having little money/ being broke ever since I left home has forced me to put things into perspective in terms of what is necessary when it comes to my personal fitness.

Things were simple when I first started exercising about 12 years ago. I worked out at home and scaled back my calorie consumption. I wasn’t paying for a gym membership and I was consuming little calories that came from food my mom bought. I dropped -too much- weight and found myself having to re-evaluate the angle I was taking.

I later joined a gym located around the corner from my house. It was one of the half dozen weight rooms ran by the city of Brampton in their recreational department. In addition, I eventually smartened up when it came to nutrition — or so I thought.

Fast forward a little futher and I am paying for a gym membership and have begun picking up my own groceries; because eating copious amounts of lean chicken and turkey with rice and broccoli is the only way to get fit (rolls eyes so hard they almost fall out). A couple of decent chicken breasts are easily 10 bucks; which adds up mighty quick when that is the bulk of your diet.

My time spent on fitness websites were at an all time high, gawking over all the amazing physiques telling myself I will look like that one day. Heck! I may even compete. Before I could even think about that however, I needed supplements, lots of glorious supplements!!!

Of course whey protein was the first to be added, then branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), followed by L-Arginine, Beta Alanine, creatine, and caffiene. I even wrote a post about it all. My once zero dollars spent on supplements easily became 100-130$ every 4-5 weeks.

Wake up call

At the end of fast tracking a second diploma in early 2016 I found myself with a lot of debt, and jobs that paid me little or offered few hours. I couldn’t spend money unnecessarily without it coming back to bite me in the ass. There were days where I had to decide to put gas in my car or groceries in my fridge. I remember pulling to the side of the road one afternoon and cried as I fought anxiety and tried to figure out how the hell I am going to keep it together.

At this point my purchasing of supplements days were long gone. After 3-4 years of taking supplements I had no choice but to put it to rest until I was in a more stable financial situation. My days of eating chicken and turkey breasts were also behind me. Meat had always grossed me out, I just got it in my head that it was the best way to be lean and fit. Now, without a bunch of money to waste on dead carcasses; I began eating more beans, lentils, rice, pastas, and even bread.

Funny thing is, my strength did not deteriorate; if anything it increased. Is it possible the supplements weren’t doing much and I simply wasn’t giving my body what it needed from food? Yes, yes it is. Is it also possible that eating a plethora amount of animal products isn’t the optimal diet for a weightlifter? Yes ma’am, thats what I have come to believe.

Now I know this post comes with no hard core facts, just personal opinion. Take from it what you may. Im simpy suggesting you don’t waste your money on a bunch of supplements. If anything supplement your deficiencies, while considering the time of year. For example, I take Vitamin D3 drops in the fall/ winter because of the lack of sunlight.

As for the meat — I honestly believe it’s not good for us humans. Maybe 1-2 times a week; but not every meal, every day. Without getting into the science and health facts, to me eating more plant based foods just makes sense. From my experience I feel better, my skin looks better, and I carry the most muscle mass I ever have, all while spending less on groceries.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

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LOG YOUR TRAINING

When you walk into the gym do you have a plan? Do you know your weights from the last session or do you just go on whim? Having a plan and logging your training will help you progress closer to your goals than without – no doubt.

If you exercise for “general” health and fitness, feel free to leave this page and head to Zumba class. However, if you’re looking to get bigger, faster, and/or stronger; grab a glass of water and stay a while.

WHAT TO RECORD

  • Date
  • Exercises
  • Weight lifted
  • Sets / reps
  • Tempo (optional)
  • Rate of perceived exertion (optional)
  • Additional notes (optional)

IN THE NAME OF GAINZ

Date it. You’ll need to know the last time you performed that workout so you can ensure you won’t go too long without a repeat. I’ve never put the time of day in my log but thats something you may want to consider, as you may notice that you perform better at certain times over others.

For anything to work you’ll need a plan. Make sure to have your programs ready to go so all you’ll have to do is fill in the weight and repetitions. Having a set plan is advantageous for obvious reasons. One not so obvious reason is the fact you can mentally prepare and visualize the upcoming session.

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OTHER POINTS TO CONSIDER

Tempo:

Tempo refers to the rate at which you move the weight. It is comprised of four stages – the eccentric phase (muscles lengthen); pause at bottom; concentric phase (muscles shorten); pause at top. It is shown like so – 2:1:1:1 (biceps curls example: 2 seconds to lower, 1 second pause at the bottom, quick 1 second lift with a 1 second squeeze at the top). This will be important in programs that use time under tension or slow eccentrics. Whether or not you choose to record it is up to you – but tempo is something you should be thinking of either way. SLOW DOWN POWER UP.

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Rate of perceived exertion (RPE):

The RPE scale is strange in the sense it goes from 6-20. 6 being no exertion and 20 being maximal exertion. To keep it simple I just ask my clients how they feel on a scale from 1-10. It’s another way to indicate both progress and weakness within your abilities. Personally, I take notes on how I feel that day and specific weaknesses and/or strengths I notice after certain exercises. This will help me when creating future programs and allow me to train smarter.

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Additional notes:

When listing your exercises its also necessary to take into account such things as stance, body positioning, and grip style. These will all affect the number of reps and/or weight used and will differ from their relative variations. For example, I know I can do 6 strict chin-ups (underhand/close-grip), but I can barely complete 1 strict pull-up (overhand/wide-grip).

You may also want to take into account how you feel that day; the number of hours you slept the previous night; and current mood or mindset. Remember; reaching your goals isn’t a linear path. Your success graph will have ascends and descends but the BIG picture will depict a slow but steady climb to the top; if, and only if, you stay consistent and positive. Oh – and work your ass off.

How to set it up:

There are hundreds of free programs available online, selecting one that coincides with both your goals and current level of fitness will be optimal. Some websites have plans and templates ready to print to make things even easier for you. Feel free to e-mail me though if you ever need any help.

Finally, whether or not you print it out or write it out; keep it in a (water proof) journal or binder and have it in order! Organization keeps me sane anyways and I have kept all of my training logs since I began taking this stuff seriously 10 years ago. Its awesome to look back and see my progression as well as my past training styles/programs.

Look at your plan in the gym, not your cell phone.

Keep moving.

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

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

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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.