This past week I posted my first vlog on my YouTube channel. You can check it out at Amazon Protein Sample Pack Video. Please watch and subscribe to my YouTube channel!
This week I started a new workout plan that I selected on my BodySpace app. I chose “Jim Stoppani’s 12-Week Shortcut to Size” program because it said it would transform my body into the style I want i to be. So far I have done 3 of the workouts included and I can feel it. I call shenanigans on these workouts taking 45 minutes a day, I have been as the gym for over an hour and a half each day so far when they quote 45 minutes. Understanding that recovery takes more or less time per person but it is still a lot to do in a workout to call it 45 minutes.
According to the workout plan I should also be consuming 3500 calories on workout days and 3100 on non-workout days. That is a ton of calories especially when I usually only consume 1500-1700. Asking my to double that and it probably won’t happen. I have been able to increase my intake though. This week I have been between 2100-2600 and I think that is as far as I can get before I start to feel sick from the feeling of eating too much.
My calories are up as well as my protein intake and along with the workout, I am feeling good. I enjoy being at the gym for long periods of time so I don’t have an issue with that but if you are expecting a short time at the gym than you are wrong.
I will be posting pictures of my changes as time goes by. I have been taking pictures every morning and I am hoping to see some positive changes to match the positive feelings that I am having about this workout plan!
Currently I belong to 3 gyms, yeah I know that is a lot but one of my memberships expires this month and won’t be renewed (the University gym which is my favorite gym). Usually my go-to after the university is Retro Fitness which is your standard 20 dollar a month gym which has all the free-weights and machines that one would expect to find in a gym.
Since my wife is going to be working at a new university which is too far away for me to use their gym, we decided that we would join a cheap gym in the area on the side (it is also a second gym membership for her) so we joined Planet Fitness for 10 dollars a month, comes out to $10.70 with tax. Not bad for a 24-7 gym.
My first impression after getting the tour at Planet Fitness was wow, this place sure is purple and clean. Once I got past how clean things looked and how much cardio equipment they carry I realized that the gym tour didn’t show any free weights. They have an awesome section for a 30 minute workout as well as a 12 minute ab station which I love but where are the free weights?
I finally found them in the corner. Shocked that they hid these in the tour because it takes up a nice size portion of the gym, they have 8 or 9 adjustable/flat benches as well as a curl bar rack, 2 double row racks of dumbbells and 4 smith machines with adjustable benches. That is a lot of equipment but the problem is that if you don’t like doing your exercise on the smith machine than you are stuck. There are no free barbells. Bench presses, squats, deadlifts, they can only be done on the smith machine and it gives the machine a strange feeling. Needless to say I won’t be doing these exercises at this gym.
Outside of exercises needing a free barbell, this gym has everything I want for a low price. The best part of the gym I would say (other than 24-7) is that everyone there is nice and people put their weights back where they belong. When I go to Retro Fitness I notice a lot of people just leave their dumbbells on the floor or put them anywhere on the rack instead of where they belong. At Planet Fitness, everything was there it was supposed to be.
So the skinny of the post is that I am enjoying the gym as long as I don’t have to do anything with a barbell that day.
Finding an exercise that can be done just as well in the gym as it can be done at home is not easy. Whether it is due to the equipment not being the same quality, the space being to small or just the not vibe in the room, working out at home can be difficult. I happened to come across a great article from BodyBuilding.com (link will be posted at the bottom) about push ups. Was shocked to see an article about something so basic that I was forced to do in gym class back in elementary school but figured it worth the read.
The article titled “How (And Why!) To Do Push Ups” shows the benefits of doing the body weight exercise and explains how it helps to benefit the muscles that are not being used during the bench press. To me the part that hit home was when they talked about scapula movement and the benefits in mobility and strength to the area around it. After having two shoulder operations in the past, my shoulders feel fine and are strong but I get a pain behind the shoulder blade which I can seem to sooth. Push ups may not sooth the pain but they at least stimulate the muscle in the shoulder where the pain and discomfort is more tolerable.
Other variations of push up which are not mentioned but also help to make push ups more of an all around upper body exercise is to add an incline or a decline. This works out different muscles in the chest as well as the arms and shoulders and allows for different types of mobility.
In order to do either the incline or decline push up, a weight bench or another solid object that is 3 feet wide and 1 to 1.5 feet high is required.
For the incline push up place your hands at the comfortable place on top of the bench with your feet on the ground and allow yourself to slowly lower your chest to the bench and than squeeze your chest when your press to raise yourself from the bench.
The decline is similar yet the opposite. The main difference is now your feet are on the bench and your hands are on the floor and you want to bring your chest as low to the floor as possible before squeezing your chest together and pushing back up.
I did 3 sets of 15 reps of each type of push up which comes out to 135 total. The fun thing about this is I can always add more reps or more sets as needed but that I can do this exercise at home and still feel as if I had a complete chest workout.
I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to working out. I know a few things and I try to learn a few other things, so when the trainer at my gym comes up to me and asks if he can help me out I appreciate it very much because it is only going o help me.
So here I am at the gym, just finished my dead lifting (posted on my Instagram @avgsteve) and my barbell shrugs when I decided to move to the bench. As I am setting up at the bench I notice my wife is on the other side of the gym working with the dumbbells and talking to one of the trainers. I can see that he is pointing out things to her that she should be doing and things that she is doing wrong (probably taught to her from me). After a few minutes she calls me over to talk to the trainer with her and we get into a conversation about bench pressing.
Time for some history on the relationship that I have with this gym and their trainers. I have not met with this guy as a trainer, for the sake of the blog let us call him John, but I have met with another trainer who workers there who we will call Mark. I had originally signed up for 90 minutes of training time which I wanted to break up into two 45 minute sessions. I told them that I wanted to learn power lifting exercises and other stuff using the barbell. That I wanted to make sure that I was using i safely.
Now this isn’t the first time that I have had a trainer, I used to have a very good trainer a few years back but I am no longer at that gym. Immediately I did not feel comfortable with Mark. Something about him told me that he did not know what he was doing or preaching, so I decided to test him. I may not know much about how to dead lift, but I know plenty about how not to dead lift. I did the first two as correctly as I could but then for the last 2 I purposely did them wrong. the first one I hiked the bar (popped it up) to myself and shot my hips up and he said “good good” and last one I curled the bar in (low weight obviously) and lifted from my toes and he said that I did all 4 perfectly. I just remember looking and thinking, really?
This was a pattern that continued throughout the rest of the session at the end of which I told myself that I would not be using the remaining time that I had. He tried to contact me several times about setting up an appointment and I either had plans and couldn’t make it or I just said I wasn’t available. Luckily our times weren’t the most compatible. I just did not feel comfortable working with a guy who could be so blind to the wrong way of doing heavy and unsafe exercising when done wrong. In the weeks to follow I saw him exercising a few times on his own and he just looked clueless taking care of himself so I did not want him to work with me.
Back to the current day where I am talking to Greg and he is pointing stuff out to me that is actually helpful. He is showing me what I am doing wrong and even when I try to throw something in to test him, he is catching it. This is what I want in a trainer. Someone who actually knows and makes you feel comfortable with their knowledge. He helped me with my shoulder placement when bench pressing as well as was helping my wife with her shoulder placement when she is dumbbell benching. He spent a good 25-30 minutes with us and I was happy to the point where I want to use that remaining 45 minutes that I paid for but only if he could be the trainer assigned to me.
Nobody likes to be told that they are doing something wrong, especially when they have been doing it that way for a while, but when the right person comes around and points out to you what you are doing wrong and how to fix and is taking the time out of their day to do so, I can only appreciate them for it. I may have to lower my weight to start doing things the right way but if it means that I will be safer when lifting more weight and get the actual gains that I am looking for than it is worth it. Just like how I went back to benching 135 when I was up to 220 so that I can put more time and effort into learning proper form to make sure that I am being as safe as possible.
This is a topic that I come back to a lot because there are so many different ways for me to look at it. Am I adding new exercises because I want to learn new ones? Are certain exercises causing unwanted pain and being replaced with others that are more comfortable? Is there a medical reason? These are just a few of the reasons to add new exercises to a workout.
My obsession with the gym has only started in mid October (7 months) and during that time I have learned a lot. I started off with just a handful of random exercises to having a 15 exercise workout everyday, which is too much for me, or at least was at that point. Thanks to a few friends and the BodySpace app by BodyBuilding.com (not a plug but still showing support) I was able to learn more exercises to work out various muscle groups in my body. While learning more exercises I was able to teach myself various other exercises to work out the same muscles which I could use to either extend my workout or to offer variety to the exercises that way they didn’t become boring.
Several months after starting my gym obsession I came down with a nice case of either tennis or golfer’s elbow and had to back off on some of my workouts. My legs loved/hated me during the time period. I lowered the weight on exercises that didn’t cause me as much pain and I avoided the ones that hurt. It sucked because the ones that hurt the most were the ones I loved the most. I should mention that it was my fault I got the elbow injury because I was doing the same 15 upper body exercises everyday, 5-7 days a week (with 1 day for legs mixed in).
This injury was a blessing and curse. It forced me to separate my workout and to learn more exercises. Some of these new exercises have replaced ones that I was doing prior to my injury and some of them I ditched once I was feeling better. The curse from this is that I haven’t been able to kick the full extend of the injury and it keeps coming back. Currently I am avoiding doing any exercises where my arms are tended and supporting all of the weight at the hinge of my elbow, curls are a prime example. This is allowing me to find new exercises using machines or different ways to lift where my elbows are getting more support from the rest of my body. Knowledge is power!
Now some exercises are just uncomfortable to do. Seated leg curls are a good example for me as I could never find a comfortable position on the machine and it caused a pain what I did not need to have knowing that I probably wasn’t in the best position to use the machine. I was able to replace this with squats and other leg exercises which allow me to take this machine out of my workout entirely.
I have also recently replaced concentration curls with preacher curls and a few other bicep machines which have helped. Concentration curls were fine but for some reason when I put the weight down at the end it caused a sharp pain to my right shoulder. Since I dropped the concentration curls I have not felt this pain.
There are more reasons than what I have listed to change an exercise in your workout but these are the few reasons that I have run into and so far I have yet to look back.
If you have any more reasons to add, feel free to comment them below!
Finally go the internet at my house and it has been great to have, but sadly all of my time outside of work and the gym and has been dedicated to putting the house together, more moving and unpacking.
This past weekend was entirely spent packing up stuff from our parents houses on Saturday just to spend the entire day on Sunday loading it all into a uhaul truck and bringing it to the house. Was exhausted by the time we were done and my back was killing me. With the number of boxes of COLLEGE TEXT BOOKS that my wife had packed, there was no need to go to the gym. Found boxes of homework that she kept from high school, HIGH SCHOOL!!!!
Between the workout that I got from packing and moving and unpacking, and the soreness in my back from moving beds and totes along with other fun stuff, I really wasn’t in the condition to go to the gym on Monday…BBBUUUTTT I did.
I ended up going to the gym on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and I planned on taking a rest day on Thursday as my body was shot from everything I have been doing all week and my back was sore since I didn’t rest it from moving but I decided to go to the gym anyways and thought to myself, this feels like a great day to do deadlifts. Yeah, I roll like that.
My big reason for wanting to deadlift on Thursday was that the gym I like to go to is going to be closed Friday and Saturday and they close early on Sunday and I have been trying to get a deadlift day in weekly so I can keep working on my form. The form is getting better BTW.
Stepping the weight back from 200 to 135 and working on my form is definatly helping. Maybe I forced myself to lift more weight too fast? I know I was able to handle over 200 but I guess my form got messy as I added more weight. Going to increase the weight slower this time and I have my friend Opi helping me via video messages. It is going well and I am feeling more comfortable as I slowly increase the weight this time so I don’t hurt myself. I have added videos to my Instagram, I will be making a collage of them for YouTube but add me oin Instagram and check it out!