4 Traits of a Great Workout

Photo By Jason Jaskot

Photo By Jason Jaskot


I have been weightlifting for about 4 years now, but I have been active my entire life. I have been to numerous types of exercise classes, I’ve tried different workout regimes, and I’ve even made up my own. Through trial and error and seeing which plans make me feel the best and also show results, I have put together the 4 attributes that I think every workout should have. I like to call these traits the 4 S’s.

The 4 S’s are Stretch, Stamina, Stability, and Strength.
1. Stretch – It is important to start and end with a good stretch during your workout. Yes, stretching can sometimes feel tedious and annoying, but there are so many benefits to stretching that should not be over looked. Stretching not only improves your flexibility and mobility, but it can greatly reduce your risk of injury, and also even support faster and stronger muscle growth. When stretching you are getting more oxygen and blood flow to your muscles, therefore providing your muscles with more nutrients to repair and grow.
2. Stamina – It’s time to get your heart rate up. Cardio has endless amount of benefits no matter what your fitness level may be. Cardio burns calories for weight loss, strengthens your heart, helps reduce the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, it helps you reduce stress, promotes sleep better, etc….
3. Stability – This is the one that I think many people forget to add into their workouts. Unless you are taking a Yoga or Pilates class, many workouts don’t incorporate stability into the regimen. Practicing your balance and stability will lead to fewer injuries, better posture, and improvement in your coordination and athletic skills.
4. Strength – This one is pretty self explanatory, but still can be forgotten, especially by people who are mostly just focusing on weight loss. It is very common to see people on the treadmill for an hour and then just leave the gym. Although they may be loosing weight, its usually is not in the areas they want to loose it in. I frequently get approached by people asking me how they get rid of their “belly fat” or “arm flab.” What I tell people who want to loose weight is that cardio and diet is obviously important, but strength training is your way of focusing on the exact body parts you want to improve on.

Examples of exercises for each aspect of the 4 S’s
Stretch – Arm Circles, Elbow Circles, Touch Your Toes, Lunges, Straddle, Splits
Stamina – Walking on an Incline, Running, Swimming, Stair Master, HIIT Workout
Stability – Planks, Holds, Handstands, Balance Drills, Yoga, Pilates
Strength – Weightlifting such as Bicep Curls, Tricep Extensions, Chest Press, Deadlifts, and Squats.

Try adding these aspects to your workout routines and let me know what you think. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

Back And Core Workout – April 2015

This is a workout I did the other day. I was pleased with how well it worked and how efficient it was. It did not take too much time, but I definitely felt a great pump and was sore all over the next day. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia KTGnyc.com

Model: Alec Varcas
Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia
KTGnyc.com

Warmup:
30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio.

Working Sets:

  • 1. Superset 1: 4 rounds
    • 3 Drop sets of seated rows. 10 reps each. (10 reps at heavy, medium, then light weight)
    • 10 raised shoulder push-ups
    • 45 second hollow hold
    • 1 minute rest
  • 2. 50 reps of Lsit pull-ups
    (10 sets of 5 with a 30 second rest)
    • 3. Superset 2: 3 rounds
      • 15 reps of rear delt flyes
      • 1 minute side plank on each side
    • 4. 5 sets of farmer carries
      • 5. 10 handstands until failure
        • 6. Stretch
          • TIPS:
            1. For my moderate intensity cardio, I decided to walk at 4.0 speed on a 7.5% incline on the treadmill for 30 minutes. This burned a little over 300 calories.
            2. When I say “3 Drop sets of seated rows. 10 reps each,” start with a heavier weight and do 10 reps of seated rows. Immediately after, lower the weight and do another 10 reps, and then lower it one more time and do another 10 reps. You will do 30 reps total during this drop set, and eventually end up doing 120 total after you do the 4 rounds of that super set. I ended with doing 120lbs, then 80 lbs, then 40 lbs.
            3. During the “50 reps of Lsit pull-ups,” you can break them up however you want. I did 10 sets of 5 reps with a 30 second rest in between each set. Also, during this exercise, you can use a wide grip, or a close grip.
            4. When I did the “10 handstands until failure,” I did mine off the wall and just tried to hold my position. If you are not comfortable with handstands, try holding the handstand against the wall for as long as you can.

            Hope you enjoy this workout as much as I did. Let me know what you think or if you ended up modifying any of the exercises. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics, contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

            Narrow Squats

            Narrow Squat 1

            This is a move I just started adding to my leg day routine, and it kills my legs! You will feel your quads, glutes, and hamstrings burn and swell. This move may feel weird at first, but once you start understanding the mechanics and form, it is a great exercise to add to your leg routine.

            To do a Narrow Squat:
            1. With a bar set on the squat rack, load the bar with the appropriate amount of weight.
            2. With the bar resting on your traps (lower neck/upper back), lift the bar off the squat rack
            3. Set your feet slightly closer than shoulder width apart, but not completely together.
            4. Keeping your back straight, squat down. (As seen in the second picture)
            5. When you are as low as you can get, push through your heels to return back to the standing position.
            6. Repeat steps 4-5 for the allotted amount of reps.

            Narrow Squat 2

            TIPS:
            1. Be careful of your knees during this exercise. During the entire movement of the squat your knees should stay in line. Make sure they do not start moving in toward each other. If they do, this will easily cause injury. When pushing up, I try to focus on pushing me knees slightly out to avoid them from caving in toward each other.
            2. This is another exercise that is all about control and less about weight. Although the resistance of the weight is important, if you can control the movement of the exercise and perform this squat with slow, but strong movements, you will definitely feel and see a change in your legs.
            3. When squatting, try to get your legs to at least make a 90 degree angle, but lower even more toward the floor if you can. A wider range of motion will cause your legs to work harder which will then lead to more strength gains. If you cannot lower to create a 90 degree angle, you may be lacking flexibility in your hips. Stretching regularly will help alleviate this issue.
            4. Push through your heels to activate your hamstrings and give your movement more support and power.
            5. I recommend starting this exercise with a very small amount of weight to get the movement down first. Once you have gotten used to the motion, slowly add on weight to see what weight is challenging, but still comfortable for you. You will probably not do the same weight you use for your normal squat. Right now, for my narrow squat I do about 5 sets of 10 reps 185lbs, while for my standard squat I can do 10 reps of 185-225lbs, and my max squat is 330lbs.
            6. As you can see from my picture, my feet are turned out. Growing up as a dancer and also being bow Legged, my legs are more comfortable in the position. When I put my feet straight forward and parallel to each other, I feel a lot of pressure on my knees. Try to have your feet straight on, but also know your body and its limits. If you need to turn out your feet as well, do so.

            Have you ever tried a narrow squat? If you add narrow squats to your leg routine, let me know what you think. Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics!

            Sumo Deadlift

            Similar to a standard deadlift, the Sumo Deadlift helps build and strengthen your legs and back muscles. Most of the strength should come from your hamstrings, glutes, and adductors, but muscles in your core, back, and forearms are also needed for stabilization and grip strength.
            Sumo Deadlift
            To perform the Sumo Deadlift:
            1. Place a bar on the ground and load it with the appropriate amount of weight.
            2. With the bar below you, set your feet in a wide stance. The bar should be touching your shins.
            3. Bend at the hips and grab the bar. Your hands should not be wider than shoulder width apart. Contrary to a standard deadlift, your hands should be between your feet, not on the outside of your feet.
            4. Lower your hips slightly and keep you chest up. Have a tight grip on the bar and activate your lats. You are now in the correct position for the sumo deadlift.
            5. By pushing through your heels and activating your hamstrings and glutes, pull the bar up off of the floor. The motion should be coming mostly from your hips.
            6. Once the bar is past your knees, drive you hips forward and lean slightly back. At the peak of the lift, you should be squeezing your glutes with your legs straight, and your lats should be activated with shoulder blades together.
            7. To lower the bar back to the ground, hinge at the hips. Keep your back activated and control the motion down as much as you can.
            8. Repeat steps 5-7 for the allotted amount of the reps.

            Sumo Deadlift 2
            TIPS:
            1. The amount of weight all depends on your progress with weighlifting. For beginners, start off with just the bar to work on your form, and then add weights slowly.
            2. Lower your hips slightly and keep you chest up. You do not want to be hunched over.
            3. Any variation of a deadlift can be dangerous is not done correctly which is why form is so important. Really push through your heels and keep as much strain out of your lower back as possible.
            4. At the peak of the lift, hold the position for a second and really feel the nice squeeze in your glutes and hamstrings.

            Have you ever tried Sumo Deadlifts? Let me know what you think! Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for other topics.

            WOD: CINDY

            Cindy

            For any of my Crossfit readers, you know exactly who Cindy is. “Cindy” is a WOD (Workout of the Day) done in Crossfit gyms around the world. Cindy is a full body workout that consists of only body weight exercises. What is great about Cindy is that people of all different fitness levels can do this workout because every exercise can be easily modified.

            CINDY – 20 minute AMRAP(as many reps as possible):
            5 pull-ups
            10 push-ups
            15 air squats

            For 20 minutes, you cycle the three workouts and see how many rounds you can get in. My last time trying CINDY I did 19 rounds plus 5 push-ups. This means I did 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats 19 times in a row, and the time ran out after I did 5 more pull-ups and 5 push-ups.
            Cindy 2
            In total I did 100 pull-ups, 195 push-ups, and 285 air squats in 20 minutes! Talk about a hard workout!

            TIPS:
            1. The pull-ups and push-ups can easily be modified depending on your fitness level. For beginners, a resistance band can be used over the bar to assist in the pull-up, or pull-ups can even be switched out for body weight rows using rings or a TRX. For the push-ups, they can be done on and incline instead of parallel to the floor, or they can be done on your knees.
            2. This workout will really test your endurance and your heart rate will shoot up. If you have any heart or breathing conditions, consult a doctor first and don’t perform this workout unsupervised.
            3. A dead hang pull-up will make this workout much harder Cindy 3
            on your arms and back. Try kipping the pull-up to relieve strain. You will be doing a lot of reps; dead hang pull-ups will cause you to fatigue quickly.
            4. When doing air squats, keep your back straight and get your glutes as low to the ground as possible. Remember “Ass to Grass” when doing squats. Also push through your heels, not your toes.
            4. CINDY is a perfect full body workout to perform when you are short on time. It combines cardio with muscle building and will make you sweat like you have never sweat before.

            Have you ever friend CINDY? Do you have other WODs that you really like? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

            Scissor Jumps (Jumping Lunges)

            Scissor Jumps 2

            Scissor Jumps are one of my least favorite exercises to do on legs day because of how badly they can burn. But as they say, NO PAIN, NO GAIN! Because of the high repetition, Scissor Jumps get your heart rate up and add a bit of intense cardio to your leg workout while also toning and building your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Scissor jumps are a great complex movement that anyone of any fitness level can add to their workout routine.

            CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW THE EXERCISE IS DONE

            To Perform Scissor Jumps:
            1. Start in a lunge position with one foot forward and your knee bent so that it is over the foot, with the other foot behind you and that knee bent and almost touching the ground.
            2. Pushing off the heel of your front foot and the toe of the back foot, jump up.
            3. While you are jumping, switch the position of your legs.
            4. When landing you should land in a lunge position again, however your starting front foot should now be in the back, and the foot that started in the back should now be in the front.
            5. Repeat Steps 2-4 for the allotted amount of reps.

            CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO OF THIS EXERCISE BEING DONE BY RAMIN KARIMLOO

            Scissor Jumps

            TIPS:
            1. For people new to this exercise, you can swing your arms to help with the lift of the jump.
            2. When landing, always land with bent knees. This will help absorb some of the shock from the landing and help avoid any joint injuries.
            3. This exercise is to be done at a quicker pace. Although you would definitely feel a burn with more controlled motions, we also want to get our heart rates up.
            3. I aim to do about 5 sets of 40 reps of this exercise with about a minute rest in between each set.
            4. To make this exercise more difficult, try doing it without swinging your arms at first, and then try doing this exercise while holding a weight. As you can see in the pictures, last time I did this exercise I held a 45lb plate and it killed my legs!
            5. When doing this exercise with a weight, add a slight twist to your body (emphasis on SLIGHT… no need to throw your back out). This will help activate your obliques. The weight will not only make the jump harder on your legs since you will be pushing more than your body weight, but you also will be testing your core stabilization.

            Have you tried adding Scissor Jumps into your workout routine? Do you have any other leg exercises that really burn? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com with questions, comments, or ideas for new topics.

            Feature Friday: Zach Deal

            Zach Deal 1

            First name: Zach
            Last name: Deal
            City: Miami Beach
            State: Florida
            Age: 23
            Height: 6’5″
            Weight: 245
            Profession: International Online Trainer/Private Trainer

            Follow Him:
            Twitter: @zachdeal90
            Instagram: @zachdeal
            Website: http://zachdeal.com
            Facebook: http://facebook.com/zachdealtv
            Youtube: http://youtube.com/zachdealtv

            Are you signed to any agencies? If so what agencies?
            Currently signed with MAD Talent Agency.

            When did you start working out?:
            I began my fitness journey with Martial Arts at age 5. I have a black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu as well as Taekwondo. I’ve competed in both, and competed on an Olympic level with Taekwondo. Around the age of 20 I developed a passion for weight training and more bodybuilding oriented workouts. I lost touch with my Martial Arts training for sometime. It’s a completely different world. Martial arts focuses more on metabolic, fast pace, high intensity workouts, as opposed to bodybuilding focusing on keeping the body anabolic.

            Zach Deal 2

            How many days a week do you work out?:
            5, sometimes 6. All depending on how my split looks for that week.

            How long is your average workout?:
            It depends. It takes me a lot longer to train a primary muscle group. My leg workout could last me 2 – 2 and a half hours, as opposed to my arm workout lasting 45 minutes.

            Favorite muscles to exercise:
            Shoulder day is by far my favorite.

            Least favorite muscles to exercise:
            I wouldn’t say, I have a least favorite, but there are certain days when I REALLY don’t want to train legs or back. Can be a pain in the ass.

            Do you compete in competitions? If so, when did you start competing?:
            I don’t. No desire to compete.

            Zach Deal 3

            Do you have a coach or trainer to help you maintain your physique?:
            I don’t. I have before, and I highly recommend it. I have a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science with special studies in the human muscular structure, so I’ve done my own research, and I’m very familiar with formulating diet regimen’s for all shapes and sizes, and any particular fitness goal. That being said, even with my background in nutrition and myology, it was VERY helpful to have someone there to make sure I was reliable to.

            Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
            I always have new fitness goals. Anyone that looks in the mirror should have new fitness goals. Your body will never be perfect, and there’s always fine tuning you can do to your physique. I also enjoy surpassing my physical boundaries when it comes to weight barriers as well. Being 6’5 requires a lot of extra practice when it comes to movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench. I’m always trying to break my own personal records… (as well as all my friends lol)

            Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
            There are a few that stand out in my mind when thinking of note worthy physiques. Greg Plitt was someone that inspired me during the beginning stages of my weight training. Always super shredded, and motivating in his videos. My good friend Bradley Martyn has an INSANE physique in terms of size, low body fat %, and symmetry, along with being one of the strongest weightlifters I’ve ever trained with. A few others would be: Phil Heath(obviously), Mike O’Hearn, Calum Von Moger, Lou Ferigno in his prime, and Frank McGrath for his ridiculous vascularity.

            Zach Deal 4

            What supplements do you take or recommend?:
            I take your staple supplements like, CLA, L-Carnitine, BCAA’s, protein powder, etc… but all of these supplements are simply going to be useless if your nutrition is not 100%

            Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
            High carb, high fat, high protein. My body reacts very well to high calories at all times. A low carb day for me is typically 500g of carbs. This method does not work for everyone. A lot of my clients react better to a Ketogenic diet (Moderate protein, low carb, high fat) and some clients that that actually lose weight with higher carbs.


            What is your favorite cheat meal?:
            Damn… Hard to choose just one, but I would have to say buffalo wings.

            Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
            I especially like what most people refer to as the ‘big 3’. Squat, bench, deadlift. If performed correctly, these 3 exercises can be some of most effective exercises you can utilize.

            Zach Deal 5

            Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
            CONSISTENCY. You can get involved with all the mumbo-jumbo BS that people spew online about overtraining, or IIFYM/Flexible dieting, and spend all your time trying to determine who to side with; or you can find a suitable program that’s worked for others, get in the kitchen, make your meals, and then get to the gym, and train your ass off. Along the way, ask questions, do your research, and stay consistent.

            How do you go about online personal training?:
            All of my clients go through a detailed evaluation process that involves a thorough assessment of body composition, fitness goals, and dietary restrictions. Once they divulge all of this information to me, I will begin formulating a diet/training program personalized to meet their personal fitness needs.

            How can people contact you if they are interested in Online personal training?:
            Contact via email (zachdeal@ymail.com) or my website zachdeal.com

            Did you like this week’s Feature Friday, Zach Deal? Would you or someone you know liked to be featured? Contact me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com for questions, comments, or ideas for other topics.