Explosive Athletic Leg and Back Routine

Here’s a workout I do every other week instead of a cardio day. The routine focuses on explosive athletic strength in the legs and back, two very important muscle groups for athletes. It’ll also kill your shoulders, too. So here it is:

Start with a dynamic warm-up with sprints, dynamic stretching, and some body weight squats.

The Workout

1. Deep Explosive Squats: 2 sets of 4 reps (medium weight with medium rest intervals) right into 4 sets of 2 reps (as heavy as you can go with long rest intervals focusing on a deep squat with good form)

2. Hang Cleans: 5 x 5 (medium high weight with medium rest intervals)

3. Box Jumps: (Medium High) 8 jumps back to back for 5 sets (medium to long rest intervals)

4. Single Dumbbell Clean: 4 x 6 (high weight with long rest intervals)

5. Rope Slam Medley: 30 slams each – alternating wave, crossover waves, double rope power slam (short to medium rest intervals)

6. Dumbbell Farmers Carry: 3 – 30 yard walks (heavy weight with medium rest intervals)

The importance of getting angry at the gym

I see this all the time at any gym I am in: people going through the motions and looking like they are bored and not challenging themselves during their workout. If this sounds like you, I ask that you read this post with an open mind and just hear me out. If you tend to work out pretty routinely, but don’t like it, are always tired, or for any other reason and you don’t feel like you are getting results, a simple fix may be to just get angry. This can work for those who are sluggish in the gym, or who just want to see better results. The easy question one may ask is, well, “why?” And, “what do you mean by angry?” Let me tell you: Getting angry at the gym means before your set, before you step on the treadmill, just get mad. Think about something that fires you up. This may be your boss earlier in the day, or anything that you are currently dealing with. Even get angry at the fact that you aren’t lifting as much as you want to or running as fast as you want to. Tap into that anger and/or stress, and take it out in your workout. Anger in the gym is a great motivator and energy booster. It will intensify your workouts and it will also make your workouts more therapeutic. (See my post Why Everyone, I Mean Everyone Should Go To The Gym to learn more about the benefits and reasons to go to the gym and lift). If you spend a lot of time at the gym with a calm mind, more often than not you will just end up going through the motions in your workout and not make the best of your time at the gym. Getting angry and mad makes you want to work. Put your headphones in, blast some music, and get down to business. There’s a reason why you are taking time out of your day to go to the gym and you should not let that go to waste. This anger should not last during your entire workout, however. In between rests or sets you should calm yourself as much as possible, breathe deep, then channel your energy and get mad again when it’s time to work. This may seem weird, and may cause you to grunt and make all kinds of weird faces at the gym, but embrace it. Plenty of people in the gym do it. You may think it’s annoying or embarrassing, but pay attention to who those people are next time you are there. More often than not they are in pretty good shape. The gym is an open environment to get down and dirty. It’s a primitive environment, you are lifting heavy things or running as fast as you can. It’s where everyone goes to improve themselves. So turn the treadmill up a couple notches, add a little more weight, turn up your music, and work hard no matter how it makes you look, sound, or act. Getting angry isn’t always the solution. But it may be the one you need to increase the effectiveness of your workouts and to start or end your day with a nice little therapy session.

Going to War

Great post about Going to War. Not literally. But preparing yourself for the unknown that can become known at any instant. Very powerful and an important lesson for all.

stochasticism

I am almost always at war. This can mean several different things, and while I have never been in an actual war the metaphor is a good one. I know many people write about this so stick with it and hopefully some of this might help you flourish a little more.

The war can take the form of anything. It can be a conversation with someone important, a small battle that could turn the tide of the greater war going on. It can be a test at work or school that you need to pass. It can be an evasive maneuver to avoid something in the road. It can be an illness that comes and goes. Any challenge you come upon is a battle, often with only one winner and one or more losers. It is your job to be the former.

The time to prepare is now. Don’t just run…

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Why everyone, I mean everyone, should lift weights

It’s quite obvious that a big part of this blog is dedicated to lifting weights, so here’s a post for those out there who think they don’t need to lift weights or who don’t want to lift weights. I ask you to please read this and hopefully I can change your opinion on weight lifting for the better.

Here are some of the benefits of lifting weights for both men and women who are skinny, overweight, in shape, out of shape, of all sizes.

1. Relieves Stress

If anything, lifting weights is a great stress reliever. Lifting heavy things off the ground for 45 minutes every other day loosens a lot of the tension that builds up throughout the week. Seriously, there is a reason why this is first on my list. Getting stronger is extremely important, but the mere therapeutic aspect of lifting weights is ultimately one of the best benefits it has to offer. There’s something to be said about throwing iron around and exerting all of your energy you have for that last rep. It allows you to get in touch with the primitive self in a way that nothing else can.

2. Makes You Tough

Running is great and can release endorphins to give you that runner’s high, but pretty much intentionally putting yourself in a painful position really makes you tough. Plus, endorphin releases occur while lifting as well. It’s very important for lifters, and those wanting to get into lifting weights, to understand that what you are doing is going to hurt. And if you’re doing it right, it’s going to hurt a lot. Now I don’t mean like you’re going to get all of these joint aches and pains and it’s going to feel like you are going to physically break all of your bones. The pain comes from tearing apart your muscle fibers and shocking your nervous system into reacting and lifting the weight. If you exercise in any capacity and it isn’t difficult or doesn’t hurt, you really aren’t doing it right. Lifting is no exception. But don’t let this scare you off, because soreness only means that you are growing stronger and doing it WELL. Once you have excepted that fact of imminent pain and soreness, you become tough and it doesn’t scare you, and it actually becomes a motivator. It’ll also increase your pain tolerance to soreness from other activities as well.

 3. Gets You Strong

This is fairly obvious for everyone, but some people tend to shy away from lifting because of a common fallacy I will point out. Lifting weights gets you strong. Your whole body will become stronger through lifting. Having a useful and strong body allows you to enjoy everything life has to offer, and if anything, makes moving furniture and doing manual labor around the house an yard a little less challenging. A lot of people, women, specifically (sorry gals), think that if they lift heavy weights they are going to get bulky looking and that’s not what they’re going for. This is extremely far from the truth. Lifting will get you very toned and sculpt your body and get you strong. Now if you diet and eat tons of protein, fat, and carbs in enormous excess, yes, you will get bulky. But a balanced diet and lots of exercise will naturally make anyone  more toned, defined, and strong. So don’t worry or think you’ll look bulky. You won’t, I promise you. I’ve been lifting for 3 years and don’t look like that so I can guarantee 3 months in the gym won’t for you.

4. Improves Overall Health

Lifting weights can improve your overall health in many ways. In fact, some of the benefits may seem counter-intuitive but they are all true. Lifting weights builds muscle and fights fat. It also has a lot of heart benefits and helps to regulate blood sugar. Something lifting weights also does is reduce depression and sharpens the mind. Lastly, in actually decreases your risk of back injuries and other types of joint and structural injuries that can occur. It can even solve current back and knee problems by using correcting lifting to fight muscular imbalances that can help to create these pains and stiffnesses. Without going into a ton of detail or explaining countless scientific research reports on all of the benefits, just take my word. It’s really good for you.

5. Makes You Look Good

Now this is something I really wanted to keep off my list but I guess deserves a mention. While looking good should really be your last priority when it comes to diet and exercise, it is a side effect of lifting weights that is definitely sought after and enjoyed. Lifting weights will make you look better. However be aware, a good looking body is not necessarily a strong one, however a strong and usefully body is in almost every case, a good looking one. Balancing heavy lifting with athletic training and cardio will give you the body you want while also giving you holistic and healthy strength that will boost your vitality and keep you young.


So if you’re new to lifting and/or have been convinced, where should you start? Well look no further because you can check out my Beginner’s Guide to Lifting, HERE.

I offer some starter routines for those looking to strengthen the whole body and get a great base strength.

Beginner’s Guide to Lifting

So you’re starting to lift. Or thinking about lifting. Well look no further because here’s a great program to get you started. Guy or girl, this program is great for getting total body core strength. I will include YouTube links below that are pretty good, and short, videos explaining each of the moves. If this will be the first time performing these moves, watch the videos carefully before using weight. It’s also best to go with someone who knows how to perform these moves so they can instruct you and spot you correctly.

How it Works:

This program follows an A/B format that is meant to be done twice a week for a total of 4 lifting days a week. Start on Monday with A, Tuesday with B, rest Wednesday, then repeat A and B Thursday and Friday, respectively. This makes for a great weekend of active rest and cardio training to round out your week. When weight training, rest intervals should be about 45 seconds to 1 minute max between each set. Both routines cover the whole body with compound and some isolation exercises, with A focusing more on Legs and Chest, and B focusing more on Back and Shoulders.

The Program:

A.

1. Barbell Back Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps (5×5)

2. Barbell Bench Press – 5 x 5

3. Single Leg Split Squat – 3 sets of 8-10 reps (each leg)

4. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 8-10 reps

5. Wide Grip Pull Ups – 3 sets of as many reps as possible (AMRAP)

6. Dips – 3 sets of AMRAP

B.

1. Deadlift – 5 x 5

2. Dumbbell Overhead Press – 5 x 5

3. Narrow Grip Pull Ups – 3 sets of AMRAP

4. Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises – 3 sets of 8-10

5. Dumbbell Step-Ups – 3 sets of 8-10 reps (each leg)

6. Dumbbell Flat Bench Press – 3 sets of 8-10

Tips:

  • Pick a weight that will be hard enough so you barely complete the last repetition of each set
  • Really try to focus on activating the muscles you are meant to be using during each exercise
  • BREATHE. Breathe out when exerting positive force and when you are contracting your muscles, and breathe in when completing the negative portion of the move
  • Drink lots of water. Take a good sip every other set to keep yourself hydrated during your workout
  • Enjoy it! It will be difficult, but it’s supposed to be that way. If it is too easy, pick a different weight, too difficult, go lighter. After performing the workouts a few times you’ll get much better at the moves and it will get more fun as time goes on

The Moves:

1. Barbell Back Squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFAscG0XUNY

2. Barbell Bench Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRVjAtPip0Y

3. Single Leg Split Squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiTzgL2wPn8

4. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iPEnn-ltC8

5. Wide Grip Pull Up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqEaeXtGu9M

6. Dips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjUmnZH528Y

7. Deadlift: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyJbvWAh6ec

8. Dumbbell Overhead Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEwKCR5JCog

9. Dumbbell Step Ups: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wcgEGQN5_U

10. Dumbbell Flat Bench Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmB1G1K7v94

11. Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VcKaXpzqRo

Stepping out of the shower: a metaphor for life

Here’s a little concept I came up with about a year ago or so that I have really tried to live by ever since. It’s by no means profound but it does shed light where light is needed and can put things in a very relatable context.

Stepping Out of the Shower

Pretty much all decisions, actions, and situations in life can be boiled down into one very (at least hopefully) routine part of our day – getting out of the shower. Hear me out.

Every morning, or night, we all are in the shower and all have that moment of temptation to stay in the warm water for juuuust a bit longer. Sometimes, some of us give in and we just stand there. We’ve already finished bathing, we literally just stand. Thinking about, really nothing, just enjoying how the water feels on our bodies.

This is dangerous. 

While sometimes our lives call for a bit of relaxation and hesitation before stepping out into the world, getting into a routine of prolonging something that doesn’t have to be stretched out can be harmful to our lives and our relationships. The job has been done, you are clean. What that moment of weakness is really just a selfish and quite wasteful moment that is one less minute which you can be starting your day, getting ready for work earlier, having the time to eat breakfast.

I’m not saying this is ALWAYS a bad thing. It’s really not. But you should plan for this. Get up a little earlier so you can take a slower shower and enjoy it. Do something to allow yourself more time in the shower, because if you don’t, you’re only sacrificing precious time that you could be starting your day and getting to where you need to be, or being with the ones you care about.

So the greater picture here is that this minute or two of doing nothing for the sole purpose of not wanting to go out into the cold bathroom and cold tile represents a lot of our situations and difficulties we face. We often hesitate in the face of doing something we know will be difficult. Hesitate before doing what we know we want and have to do, but won’t necessarily give us immediate satisfaction (like the satisfaction of a minute under beautifully warm water). I urge you to step out of the shower. To recognize that the procrastination in your efforts and the unpleasantness of doing what you need to do right now will soon be over with a warm towel and a few-second cold walk from the bathroom to your bedroom and into your clothes. If you find yourself continually taking that extra minute in the shower, continually hesitating and procrastinating, chances are you don’t like what you’re doing or what you have to go to. You should be excited to start your day, you should be motivated to get out there and get after it. And if you don’t feel this way, change what it is you’re stepping out of the shower to go do

Because the sooner you step out of the shower, the sooner you start your day and begin productivity. The sooner you face your fears and tackle your daily obstacles, the more time you’ll have to bask in the glory of a job well done.