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Archive for November, 2008

How To Motivate Yourself, Part 2

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

A while back, I wrote an article titled “How To Motivate Yourself“. I came across a few more suggestions for people out there who are lazy or don’t feel like working out on their scheduled day. This is something I experience quite often, but easily control with the following tips.

Before I give you my suggestions on how to deal with laziness and tiredness, I’ll tell you my personal experience first. Since I’m a computer programmer, I sit on my ass all day writing code. This is mentally exhaustive to begin with and coupled with the caffeine crash, it really drains you down. When I get home, all I want to do is veg out and not socialize with anyone. Thanks to all this, I really don’t feel like training at all.

So here’s what I do: I think back to my previous training experiences, especially at the end of every workout session. Anyone who remembers their training days will recall the period of relaxation after a good workout. In case you’re wondering, it’s when your hormones (dopamine and serotonin, among others) get released. Don’t you feel happy after pumping some weights? This is what I focus on. This alone gets me motivated to hit the weights again and give it all I got. Once you prepare your mind for it, the rest will flow naturally. Just doing the first exercise alone (e.g. squats) really gets my blood pumping. I am then happy that I did not ditch the scheduled workout for the day.

Now, what if you’re physically tired? This is up to the trainee to figure out and organize their schedule accordingly. If you’re constantly doing physical activities (job-related, sports, etc) it’s best to train on your off days or times where your body isn’t under constant stress. At this point, athletes should talk to their personal trainer/coach for scheduling, and people working physical jobs need to find some time to let their bodies relax before pounding it with some weights.

A forgotten tip, one that I always have to remind myself to do, is taking a quick nap (1.5-3hrs) before your workout to let your mind & body rest a bit. Coming home after a hard day’s work and sleeping for a bit is quite possibly the best thing you can do for yourself. You’ll feel so much more refreshed upon waking up, and a lot more motivated to train.

One last thing I recommend is a cup of coffee or tea before your workout. This is only useful for people who don’t already load their bodies with caffeine throughout the whole day. I find that a cup of tea or a can of Red Bull can really do wonders before exercising, almost magical-like. :) There are other supplements out there in the wild that are really potent in terms of energy, but I will withhold myself from listing them as getting used to them is a waste of cash and sometimes can be harmful if abused. You’re better off with my above suggestions for now. Happy training!

The Starting Strength Wiki is Growing

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Looks like the Starting Strength Wiki has grown quite a bit from the last time I checked it out. I suggest everyone to take a look, as it has loads of articles to read. Also, in true wiki fashion, you can contribute and help the site expand.

Hyper-Extensions Are Always Necessary

Friday, November 7th, 2008

I learned this the hard way, and my experience and short tale is for you to learn and avoid future mistakes. Never avoid doing this key lower-back exercise, or you will highly regret it.

So, let’s rewind back a year ago and beyond that. I was training at a local gym for 7 years straight, till I finally decided to plunk down the cash and buy a squat rack for the home. After saving up non-stop, my wish finally came true and I was the proud owner of a Powertec squat rack system. Long story short, I bought the rack, Olympic bar, weights and a tree-stand to organize the weights. Notice in this equation that a hyper-extension bench is not present. See, I didn’t have enough saved up for it, so I thought to myself, “whatever, I’ll pick it up in the future when I have the funds.”

I should have bought the hyper-extension bench and dealt with the weights thrown all over the floor instead.

Within a month or two my lower back weakened tremendously, and one day it just decided to crap out on me while squatting. Luckily for me, I managed to put the bar back safely onto the rack, but my lower back never felt the same after that incident. Doing squats, deadlifts or anything heavy just wasn’t pleasant for my back. I had to take some time off as much as I was against it. Fortunately for me, over the course of the summer, I had other ways of staying active and fit, so taking some time off weight training wasn’t that bad.

Fast forward two months ago from today. After letting my lower back heal and watching everything I do with it (picking up things from the floor, moving stuff, sleeping, etc) I felt ready to lift weights again. I started off slow and always made sure to keep my back “straight” (that is, arced). Today, I am back up to 90% of my strength, but I have a lot of trouble doing rows.

The moral of this story? Don’t skimp out on the hyper-extensions. They may not be fun to do, but they’re damn-sure necessary. Your lower back can’t always be indirectly trained on its own and needs some direct work, especially when you deal with higher weights.

I decided to go ahead and purchase the hyper-extension machine as the funds were available. It should be coming in this week. Lesson learned.