This is my first post on the topic of yoga, so for all of you experienced practitioners this might be a bit too elementary for you, but then again who knows. I have in one form or another been doing yoga poses (asanas) for some time now, well actually for years. I’ve often mixed in asanas with Pilates exercises, and other forms of stretching during my morning session. While this is a great way to add some stretching oriented exercises to your morning workout it does not constitute what anyone would consider practicing yoga. So over the past few weeks I have been devoting some of my morning workouts purely to the practice of yoga. Being a bit of self study kind of person, I went back to my library and pulled out a book I had purchased some time ago from Yoga Journal. This book provided detailed instructions on how to perform the asana along with pictures of each position in the correct sequence.
So the question is why would anyone want to do yoga? I mean come on you can find better and faster ways to exercise than yoga can’t you. Sure there are at least a dozen ways to torture yourself physically that are more efficient that yoga, although anyone who has ever taken a yoga class knows it is not as easy as one might think. The physical torture part is just not the point. If you are looking for something that kicks your butt stay with squats or running, but if you are looking for a form of exercise that is really more than exercise maybe yoga deserves a look.
My next post will dig into the origins of yoga and the benefits of regular practice.
If you want to build up those biceps and strengthen your forearms check out the new section on our Exercises page for biceps and forearms. I put three basic yet effective exercises that will help you add strength and mass to those biceps & forearms.
I just completed the Triceps section under the Exercises page of this blog. You know those muscles on the back of your arms, not the flab the muscles (see the picture below). Using the exercises I’ve outlined in the Triceps section you can create some substantial triceps and add to the overall strength and symmetry of your arms. Stay tuned for more exercises and muscle groups we haven’t covered yet.
I just completed the Chest section under the Exercises page of this blog. If you are looking for some ways to build your chest muscles, these 3 exercises will do the trick. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman these fundamental exercises work all areas of your chest and will make you bigger and stronger. All the exercises I write about are described in a summary form, provide step by step instructions, and provide graphic that helps you visualize how to do the exercise. So what are you waiting for check out the Chest section. In the coming weeks I will elaborate on my favorite strength training exercises for triceps, biceps, shoulders, back, legs, and abdominal’s.
You workout every day, doing strength training, cardio, yoga, pilates, you are reading motivational works, you take all the right supplements, spend time meditating, and still you feel like crap. Maybe just maybe your diet needs some analysis. This is exactly what I’ve been asking myself lately and I’m sure most of you are saying Joe come on your diet is at least 50% of the equation and you didn’t know that. Well I think I realized that what I was consuming was not optimal, and in my own warped way I thought if I took the right vitamins and supplements it would fill in all the gaps and I would feel great. Seriously there are days where I don’t consume a single vegetable or fruit, and I’m not sure that slice of tomato or pickle on my hamburger or that bag of fries counts. Maybe that pepperoni pizza with a bit of tomato sauce and mushrooms counts as my daily allowance for vegetables; who am I kidding?
Sure I throw in an occasional salad in every week, but that can’t overcome the other 6 days of the week where vegetables and fruits have been omitted from my diet. Just last week I was at a Mediterranean restaurant and ordered the vegetarian feast, basically a buffet filled with various salads, bean dishes, humus, bread, pastas, etc. and after consuming a large plate of this good stuff I thought I was going to explode. I’m not sure if my body was revolting against the foreign substances, but for the next 6 hours the gas was trying to escape from all orifices. And while I try to limit sugar and simple carbs from my diet as much as possible I am in need of a diet overhaul. So I am on a quest of start this diet overhaul and I mean now. So I plan on putting together some future posts on how I have overhauled my diet, and what it does to my energy levels and overall well being. I am open to any suggestions you may have.
So how many days a week should you do strength training? I think to answer this question you need to consider what type of strength training you are doing and several other factors. I’m defining strength training as resistance training, like lifting weights or some other form of resistance that stresses a muscle or muscle group with some number of repetitions. A typical set could have anywhere from 4 to 30 repetitions. There are different types of strength training routines and depending on the one you are using it will have impact how many days a week you should workout.
Types of strength training programs
Whole Body Routine: if you are using a whole body or total body routine you are attempting to work all the muscle groups of your body in one workout. These routines typically take much longer to execute because you are doing many different exercises to work all the muscle groups.
Split Routine: a split routine is where you divide the muscle groups (body) focusing on a specific group of muscles on any one day. One of the characteristics of a split routine is that they are typically much shorter in duration taking sometimes just 20 minutes compared to a whole body routine that make take an hour or more. An example of this might be a 4 day split like the one I do:
- Day 1 – Chest & Triceps
- Day 2 – Biceps, Forearms, and Shoulders
- Day 3 – Legs
- Day 4 – Back
Another factor to consider is what type of training are you doing. You may be too young to remember this but Mike Mentzer (picture above) who was a professional bodybuilder back in the 70’s. He came up with the philosophy of High Intensity Training or Heavy Duty which advocated training a muscle to failure with very heavy weights and lower repetitions. This form of training exacts a huge toll on your muscles and ability to recover between training sessions, so much that Mr. Mentzer advocated training a muscle group just once a week. That’s fine, but what about the majority of us who don’t lift extremely heavy weights and do sets to failure? Well our intensity would be lower and we would be putting less stress on our bodies. So one can assume that intensity and amount of resistance will affect our ability to recover.
Aside from the type of routine used and the intensity/load factor it is fair to assume that your ability to recover plays a role in how many training days you should engage in each week. Age can be a factor in your ability to recover, when you are younger you will probably recover quicker than as you age, simply due to higher levels of hormones coursing through your body. Another factor may be the supplements you are taking or not taking can have a big effect on recovery ability.
There is certainly a lot of variability in determining the optimal number of days a week to perform strength training, but with that said I think there are some reasonable guidelines that should be taken into consideration.
- Your ability to recover is a big factor. You should give yourself at least a couple of days rest after working a muscle group. If you continue to put a muscle group under stress without allowing time for it to repair you are in effect wasting your time.
- Choose supplements like Glutamine, Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAA), Whey Protein, and Creatine to help your body recover by consuming them right after working out.
- If you are performing very high intensity workouts as mentioned above then give yourself additional time to recover, conversely if you are doing lower intensity workouts you may not need as much time before your next workout.
- If you are performing Whole Body strength training workouts maybe once or twice a week is all you need. In fact you might just want to look at it as performing a Whole Body workout once every 5 to 7 days, instead of how many times per week.
- Make sure even if you are doing a 4 or 5 day split that you build in a rest day upon completion of the final day in the split training program. Remember even in a split routine you will work muscles that have already been worked for instance if you work your back you might also be working your triceps and shoulders.
- If you are still sore even after taking a rest day, consider taking another day to allow your muscles to completely heal and rebuild themselves before putting them under stress again.
As already mentioned I do a 4 day split strength training routine, and with a fairly normal life I find I end up getting all the workouts completed in about a week. I typically take a rest day after “Day 4 – Back” because it stresses my triceps and shoulders, which again get worked on “Day 1 – Chest & Triceps”. My recommendation is you must find the happy medium between working out too frequently and not enough. Your body needs time to rest, but too much time between workouts and you can lose strength. So give yourself enough time for the muscles to recover and grow, but not so much time that you aren’t moving forward and gaining strength.
I would love to hear your comments and your approach to strength training.