Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Dip progression

Dips provide an excellent upper body workout, and you should make them a staple of your training program. They primarily work the muscles in the back of your arms (triceps), but also the front of your shoulders (anterior deltoids), your chest (pectorals) and your back muscles (rhomboid).

The following progression takes youfurther than a standard dip, and on your way towards a muscle up (which is a pull up and a dip combined). Once you want to attempt Russian dips, you will need parallel bars, and a single bar for single bar dips.

With a bit of resourcefulness, the progression can still be followed even without a dip bar: how to do dips without dip bars.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Squat progression

bodyweight pistol squat progression
Squats are a compound exercise which will work your entire lower body. They primarily target the muscles in your butt (gluteus  maximus), the front of your legs (quadriceps) and the back of your legs (hamstrings). But they also engage some stabilizing muscles: your lower back (erector spinae), the outside of your thighs and bum (abductors), your inner thighs (adductors) and your calves (gastrocnemius and soleus).

Squats should normally be performed with your thighs at least parallel with the floor, but going lower through the whole range of motion will constitute 'deep squats'. The heels normally remain in contact with the floor, though in some variations you can raise on your toes (hindu squats).

When performing squats, you should ensure that your back remains in a neutral position, and that you head stays aligned with your body. Your knees should remain in alignment with your toes at all times.

Weight loss made easy

Weight loss does not have to be the work of the devil!
It certainly is one of the main reasons why people embark on a new fitness program, yet there are still huge misconceptions regarding what really works. “What are the best exercises to get a six pack, a firm bum, a flat stomach?” are all questions which a fitness instructor hears time and time again.

A common saying, which remains truer than ever, is that “6 packs are made in the fridge, not in the gym”. You can be ripped, but if your muscles are covered with a layer of fat, all your fitness efforts will not yield the results you expect.
One of the great fitness myths is that some exercises target certain areas: they don’t in terms of fat loss. They will help you build muscles, but endless sets of crunches will not give you a flat stomach unless your diet favours it. When you lose fat, you lose fat all over, and those areas which bother you are usually the last to go! Exercising will help you burn calories and to tone up muscles (improving appearance), but it will not help you lose fat per se, unless your diet is not appropriate...

Losing weight, then, is essentially 70% diet, and 30% training (and the same actually applies to building muscle). But how can sustainable weight loss be achieved?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pull up progression

Whilst some people may think of push ups as ‘the king of bodyweight exercises’, pull ups are a favourite of mine and a particularly devilish compound exercise! They will work the muscles in your upper back (the latissimus dorsi, and the trapezius), in your shoulders (the anterior deltoids), and in your arms (the biceps and brachialis). The closer together the hands are placed, the more the emphasis is on the biceps. And of course, pull ups will also test your grip strength.

Pull ups are normally performed with your hands facing away from you, while chin ups are done with your hands facing towards you (and chin ups also emphasize the biceps more). Chin ups are generally considered to be slightly easier version.

Push up progression

Push ups are sometimes described as the 'king of bodyweight exercises'. They will work the muscles in your chest (pectorals), in the back of your arm (triceps), and in your shoulders (anterior deltoids). Different variations and hand placements will affect to what degree these muscles come into play.

To perform a standard push up with good form, place your weight on your hands and feet, with your spine and head in alignement with your legs, and your hands just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (palm flat on the floor). Lower your upper body to the floor, flexing the elbows, then rise back to the start position. Keep your head still, and keep your eyes looking down. Breathe in on the way down, and out on the way up, and pull the abdominal muscles tight throughout the exercise.

El Diablo Intermediate Workout

weight training routine
The devil's special: this a functional workout routine which focuses primarily on core and upper body strength-endurance. You could add 30+ mins of cardio in the morning, and train in your sport of choice on alternate days. The routine runs over 7 to 9 days depending on your recovery, and each workout takes between 1 hour and 1 hour 15mins.

Start with a 5 mins warm up on cardio equipment, and do a few mobility exercises and dynamic stretches before main workout. Finish with 10 mins static stretching.
The first set should be a warm up set with light weight, then increase weight on the other sets to RM  (repetition maximum). Suggested recoveries are 30s between exercises and 90s between sets.

El Diablo Beginner Workout Routine

weight training
Let the devil guide you through this basic routine which will help you improve your functional strength and acquire good habits in the gym. It is designed for newcomers to strength training who already possess some level of fitness (i.e. it is not for complete fitness beginners).

The routine involves mostly dumbbells, but also the dips station and the cable crossover machine. Stick to it for at least 2 months before moving to an intermediate workout.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The fitness paradox

It’s never been easier to get fit and lose weight, and yet it’s never been harder. There exists countless diets and fitness programmes, new classes and sports appear every day, mobile apps track your progress and encourage you, personal trainers do all the planning for you... yet obesity and bad physical shape are rampant.

Nothing could be simpler than keeping fit though: you apply a small set of common sense principles (burn more than you eat ; overload the muscles then rest and recover ; carry out 30% of your training at or above your lactate threshold pace) and you cannot fail to see improvements. So why is it that so very few people manage to achieve their goals and sustain their efforts for extended periods of time?