Is Time in the Gym Important?

I’VE BEEN HERE FOREVER!

Does Time Really Matter?
True story, I’m a drama queen.

Okay, I’m a drama queen (self-admitted). I was in the gym for around 40 minutes and had really been feeling the burn (burn baby burn!). After 40 minutes of pushing myself, I really thought I was getting a great workout!

In fact leaving the gym, the soreness alone was killing me. However, I felt accomplished and as if I had really done something great in the gym that day.

Walking into my home, I spoke to my roommate about my workout (yes, back in those days I had roommates). And do you know what he said?

“Dude, there’s no way you had a good workout! You were only there for 40 minutes!”

Hold Up

Wait a minute! 40 minutes may, or may not, seem like a decent amount of time for some people. If you’re in a amusement park and eating loads of candy, 40 minutes isn’t a long amount of time. If you’re crunching numbers for the tax breaks for a business, 40 minutes is an eternity.

To make a small story short, I thought 40 minutes was killer for a workout!

Who was this Heffalump (look up Winnie-the-Pooh) to tell me that 40 minutes wasn’t nearly enough for my workout?

I Really Pushed Myself

No really, I seriously pushed myself. When this story took place, I was still in college and had a two-hour timeframe to get my workout completed at the school gym, complete my homework, and get to class on time. That means, I had just about 45 minutes to an hour to get a great workout in before I had to get to class and cram before the professor walked in.

Does Time Really Matter?
Totally not me, but I did push myself!

What was so wrong in completing a workout within a short time frame? I had always thought if your muscles were sore afterwards, and if it was hard to write calculus notes during class (I was trying to be an engineer for a while) that your workout was great.

Instead, I’m being told that my workout wasn’t possibly going to work because I wasn’t working out LONG (time frame wise) enough.

Help?

DON’T CONCENTRATE ON TIME

Look here, Biscuit (I’m running out of nicknames, okay?) Time isn’t everything when it comes to a workout and it’s efficiency. Don’t get me wrong, if you walk into a gym and jump on a stair master for 5 minutes then walk out and eat a doughnut, then you may be doing something wrong.

However, walking into a gym and determining your success of failure based upon your time spent there is horrible! Here’s how.

Time Isn’t Everything

Here’s the deal, Buttercup (see how I didn’t call you Biscuit?) Time definitely is not everything when it comes to working out. In fact, plenty of bodybuilder advisors and bodybuilders themselves advise in quality of quantity. This in fact means that you should focus more on getting a beneficial workout over a long workout.

Plenty of people can walk into the gym, spend two hours working out/taking breaks/using the bathing/conversing with friends/blah blah blah, and think that they got a great workout. They’re wrong.

You’re workout success completely depends upon how you push yourself while you’re in the gym.

In All Honesty

The best way to get a great workout in the gym is to truly push yourself while in the gym. In full disclosure, I don’t spend less than 45 minutes in the gym. I have a short time frame to get the best I can out of my workout before I have to head to another engagement. I spend 30 minutes on some serious, concentrated weightlifting, and then 15 minutes on cardio.

That works great for me. I focus while I’m in the gym and get the absolute best amount of training I can within that time frame (depending on if I go back in to the gym later on in the day or not).

If you don’t think I’m telling the truth, I advise you to look at the Kris Gethin workout, DTP. This workout is tough, really tough. It’s so tough that it is my favorite workout to complete when I’m entering lean-out season. The purpose of the workout is to build lean-mean muscle while pushing yourself. The time frame for each workout: 45 minutes.

Does Time Really Matter?
Time and muscle are important, but don’t get them confused!

Is that a coincidence? I think not.

IN CONCLUSION

I’ve heard of people getting an insane workout within 20 minutes. I’ve also heard of people who say they can’t get a good workout unless they’re in the gym 2 hours. The benefit of your workout is most definitely not dependent upon how long you are in the gym. The benefit of your workout is definitely based upon how well you concentrate and push yourself while in that workout timeframe. The best way to get a great workout is to not spend a ton of time in the gym, but what you do with your time while you’re in the gym.

And how do we make sure we’re spending that time wisely?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

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Is That Muscle, or Am I Just Fat?

I’M GETTING SO STRONG! RIGHT?

That’s an honest question, okay!  A lot of people who have been training for a decent amount of time run across the same question: I’m getting strong, right? These questions come up for one of two reasons:

  • The amount of weights that I’m lifting haven’t increased.
  • I haven’t lost weight for some time.

So, why was this question coming up for me? Well I’ll tell you one thing:

My Lifts Are Stronger!

Not only stronger, but more intense! Man, I could lift those 20’s (Totally joking, I was up to 40’s). The point is my workouts were definitely working out well enough for me be proud of myself and acknowledge that I was doing something right. Everything was improving and it didn’t seem to be slowing down soon.

Is that muscle or fat?
Look how well I can open pickles!

My weights were increasing and my intensity was improving, but there’s just one thing:

 But I’m Not Losing Weight?

Hold up, wait a minute, let me put a “what-what?” in it (I’m horrible at chants, don’t judge me). Though I’ve done nothing but improve in all areas of my training, HOW AM I NOT LOSING WEIGHT?

It’s ridiculous, an outrage, who do I complain to!? I mean seriously, it’s like I can’t do anything right. Should I be changing up my diet again or adjust my training?

Again, I had to look deeper before I could find the real answer. And the real answer may shock you.

MUSCLE IS A FACTOR

Here’s the situation Jimbo: muscle is a big factor when it comes to weight loss. When you want to start a training program, most people choose to lift weights, which is great! Lifting weights in the long run can lead to significant health benefits and make it easier to keep a lean/healthy body in the future.

However, in the midst of training so hard you can actually putting on weight (shocking I’m sure). What the weight is is completely dependent on  your training and diet.

When lifting you can put on: muscle, fat, water weight, etc. See, plenty of factors, isn’t lifting great?

Is it Muscle or is it Fat?

Is that muscle or fat?
But really though.

That’s the big debate, isn’t it?

Am I losing weight? Is my training progressing the way it should? Is my diet on point? Don’t worry, everybody asks these questions at some point in their training.

The best way to judge if you’re putting on the right kind of weight is by keeping a consistent track of your body fat percentage, weight, and measurements. Chances are if you’re body fat percentage consistently decreases but your weight levels out, you’re losing body fat. However if you stop losing weight and your body fat percentage levels out as well, then there might be a problem.

However, there are bigger things to keep in mind:

Focus on Pushing Yourself

Yes, you should always keep track of your weight and size.

Yes, you should always keep improving your training.

However, you should be focusing more on how your training is improving rather than if you’re gaining weight. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re wanting to lean out then obviously putting on weight is a big “no-no” from what you want to accomplish. However, putting on muscle can sometimes skew the scales.

Provide a good amount of emphasis on challenging yourself every day, and sticking to a beneficial training diet, and you can’t go wrong!

Is that muscle or fat?
Focus!

IN CONCLUSION

So, what do we focus on?

  • How your progressing rather than if your weight stalls for one period of time.
  • How your body fat percentage goes up or down during your training.
  • How your measurements change throughout your training progress.

Focusing on these three aspects of your training will keep you at a sound peace of mind AND allow you to work harder in your training. Weighing yourself every day or constantly stressing yourself out on the fact of leveling out is going to do more harm than good.

What do I always say?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Six-Pack Gone?

YEP, IT’S STILL THERE

Have you ever had that feeling that no matter how hard you’re working, you just can’t seem to achieve a goal? Well, little old me experienced that same feeling a year into my workout program.

What was this feeling of hopelessness, you ask? Did it have to do with my lifts? My time running the quarter mile? Or were my shorty-shorts going out of style (newsflash, they haven’t).

It was tragic: I still didn’t have a six-pack.

Why Don't I Have Abs?
My situation wasn’t this bad, but I was still upset!

Really? That Much Drama?

Of course! Call me a drama queen all you want but I had worked hard to get abs! Of course I didn’t necessarily equate the work that needed to go into my abs, like a proper diet or training, but I was doing a lot of crunches!

And can you truly blame me? It has been ingrained within our culture that to look the best and be the best you have to have ripped abs. I mean for real, it’s on almost every guy’s list as a top priority. When all the ladies are looking for a guy with a six-pack, why wouldn’t I throw a little fit?

A guy can’t walk on the beach during spring break without a six-pack, I had to fix this!

What Am I Doing Wrong?

Let’s review my training regimen:

  • I’ve been running consistently.
  • Crunches are always competed before I walk out of the gym.
  • I’m eating plenty of food to give my muscles the fuel they need to grow.
  • Pushing myself to the limit every day was of the highest priority.
Why Don't I Have Abs?
Pushing myself was my number one priority!

All of these aspects should be sculpting ab muscles that you could seriously gawk at. Even changing up my ab routine on a bi-weekly basis wasn’t cutting it. So what was I doing wrong? Could there be fat burning pills or some secret formula that I’m missing out on (also, never take fat burning pills).

HERE’S THE TRUTH ABOUT ABS

I’m going to tell you something about abs that nobody wants to hear, but it’s the absolute truth. Are you ready?

You can have phenomenal abs without having a visible six-pack. Having a six-pack is more of a body-fat issue, not a strength issue.

There it is, and it’s the truth! Some kids are born with a fast metabolism or great muscle genes and have phenomenal abs without even trying. They could have the strength of a butterfly but have the six-pack of a lifeguard from Baywatch (I hear the Rock is going to be in the remake). It’s just the sad truth, some people are born lucky.

On the other hand, strongmen have arguably some of the strongest cores in the lifting game. The same goes for Olympic weightlifters and the lineman for the Denver Broncos (Go Broncos!). Everyone can have great abdominal strength without having the six-pack. And honestly, a lot of people couldn’t care less about whether you could see their six-pack or not.

But My Stomach Feels Solid?

Good, that means that you’ve improved your core quality and strength. If you’re at this point in your training program, the best thing to do is keep up the good work.

Keep striving to build up on your core strength by doing weighted sit-ups, crunches, and other abdominal exercises (seriously, there are tons of them out there). This will increase your chances of growing your abs and thus increase your chances of revealing them someday.

Stopping at this point to jump ship and give up is a bad idea, keep up the good work!

Then How Do I Get Ripped Abs?

Well, Sonny Jim, as stated above getting “ripped abs” is more of a body fat issue rather than a strength issue. The best thing to do when wanting to get a ripped six-pack is to increase your cardio, volume of crunches, adjust your diet, the list goes on and on.

If you’re doing 20 crunches and you’re not getting the results you want, increase them to 50.

If you’re walking 20 minutes and you’re not getting the results you want, then run 20 minutes.

You don’t have to follow this advice to the letter, but the point comes across all the same. To increase the potential of having ripped abs you have to get rid of the fat covering them. Increasing the intensity of your workout and improving upon your diet will give you the best opportunity for success.

IN CONCLUSION

Please, valued reader, don’t get caught up in the hype of a six-pack. Just because you don’t have a shredded core, that doesn’t mean that your core strength isn’t phenomenal. The stomach area can be covered by a large area of fat, hence why having a six-pack is a body-fat issue, not a strength issue. People who have been working out for years can struggle to get shredded abs. If this is a goal that you’re seeking, adjust your diet accordingly and push yourself in your training to reach your goals! From there, you can’t fail.

And what’s the best way to reach your goals?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Why Don't I Have Abs?
Keep pushing yourself!

How am I Not Losing Weight While Working Out?

LET’S GET SHREDDED!

Working out has been great!

The first few weeks that I had been working out have been going almost perfectly. After working through the injuries and setbacks, I was losing weight and getting toned more than I had my whole life. I thought nothing could stand in my way of reaching my goals!

Absolutely Unbelievable

Are you kidding me? I’ve been working out consistently for weeks on end and have completely plateau’d. No more weight is being shed from this body, and the scale is no longer my friend (but honestly, is it anybodies friend?).

What happened to my Terminator mindset? I’ve been pushing myself to my limits and yet it seems like I’ve completely ended my weight loss.

How I'm Lifting but Not Losing Weight
Isn’t it a shame?

But I’m Getting Stronger

So I’m not losing weight, but I’m getting stronger…

What the heck?!

My strength had increased on just about every lift. I was benching more, leg pressing more, and could curl more than my puny arms had ever been able to muster (which is a shocker, I know). In fact, not only was my strength getting better, but my muscle size was increasing. Everything was going at record pace and appeared to not be slowing down.

How does that nonsense work? I can get stronger while not losing weight? None of this makes sense!

HERE’S THE ISSUE

Unbeknownst to me, weight is not necessarily the best unit of measurement when it comes to progress. The measurement you choose to go by is completely dependent upon your goals.

For instance, if you are looking to trim fat and tone up, you would be looking at losing weight. If you are wanting to put on muscle mass, then obviously you would be looking to gain weight. At the same time, if you’re putting on muscle while trying to lose weight, it could make the numbers look quite confusing (isn’t lifting great?).

My issue was that my goal was to tone up and get healthier, but I didn’t equate that to whether or not I was going to lose weight. So how could I work out without losing weight? Truth is, there are several different reasons why losing weight can be an issue, a few of them may not be even on your radar.

Eating Less Can Be Your Downfall

You read that right. Eating less could actually cause you to cease losing weight. Even though everyone wants their body to be a temple, it’s more like a fine-tuned machine. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you need to eat a minuscule amount to lose weight. Even though that’s true to a point, if you eat too little and workout more, your metabolism can slow down or essentially cease to exist. It’s actually smarter to keep up a consistent diet while working out to keep the metabolism running smoothly.

How I'm Lifting but Not Losing Weight
Small portions aren’t necessarily the best options.

Your Cardio Game is Weak

Listen here boy scout, cardio is great but only if you increase your intensity. If you’re still running the same intervals and intensity that you were when you first started your training, you’re body is likely not responding the way you want it to be. The body adapts to your workout just like it adapts to its environment; if you don’t change your routine then you’ll slow down your progress. The best way to keep burning calories with cardio is to increase your intensity, always keep challenging yourself!

How I'm Lifting but Not Losing Weight
Always challenge yourself on the treadmill!

IN CONCLUSION

If you’ve gotten this far in your training program, congratulations! Everyone hits a plateau at some point in their training program, absolutely everyone. The best thing you can do is take a good look at what you’ve been doing to train and how you can adjust your program to reach your goals.

Don’t get discouraged and keep up the good work! Take this as a learning experience and grow from it!

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Ow, My Back! Injuries and How to Survive Them

NOW WE’VE GOT SOME MOMENTUM

9 months into my lifting season, and things couldn’t be going better! I’ve got a great routine going, lifting 5 days a week while throwing in minor cardio here and there. My body has adjusted smoothly and things honestly couldn’t get any better.

My Terminator body is coming in great! Nothing can slow down my momentum! Now I just need to max out my dead lift and my workout will be done for the day…

Injuries and How to Work Through Them
Getting ready to make that lift!

Well, I’ve Done it Now

…Oh no…

Was that my back, or a bag of chips? Oh God, please tell me someone just has the munchies and I didn’t just snap a vertebrae.

Injuries and How to Survive Them
I must say, the sound was not as tasty as these chips look

Okay, that’s a little overdramatic (a little?) but I really pulled something! It’s some serious pain when you can’t stand up straight and are in an awkward half-squat position in front of the treadmill section. I don’t know what the people running on the treadmills thought I was doing, and I don’t want to.

I’m injured, embarrassed, and in pain; you think I would have taken a break right?

Wrong

A true ding-dong like myself wouldn’t take a break from his hardcore workout routine to let a muscle heal. That’s what sissies do. Real mean rub salt in it, grow a beard, spit, stuff like that. I wasn’t going to be the type of person to sit out of the gym just because of an “owwie”.

So what did I do? I grabbed my trusty shorty-shorts (I feel like there’s a pattern here), my lime-colored workout shirt (I would say what brand it is, but I don’t have the money to be sued for copyright infringement) and went to the gym!

Yeah, that lasted all of five minutes. My back was totally done for, I couldn’t lift a thing or even put pressure on myself. It was pitiful.

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE

The best thing to do would have been to REST and HEAL. Should I repeat that, or are the capital letters eye-catching enough?

If you suffer an injury while working out, or even outside of the gym (like a car accident, wrestling a panda, saving the world) you should always take time out of the gym to heal up. Heading back to the gym to lift before your body is fully healed can cause serious harm. No amount of pushups or jumping jacks or pain pills can fix that.

Why Not Just Push Through The Pain?

You sassy potato, didn’t you just read what I wrote? Lifting before you’re fully ready can cause you some serious harm (oh no, I italicized the word!).

When you’re injured, your body needs to focus energy on healing the injury. Taking away that energy to focus on the strain of muscle growth does nothing but hinder the healing process. Seriously, be reasonable here. Why would you want to cause your body more injury rather than heal the injury you have?

And don’t even get me started about muscle atrophy.

Honestly, if you’re biggest concern is muscle atrophy (the shrinking in muscle due to lack of training) then you shouldn’t. Muscle atrophy takes a decent while to set in. If you’re completing simple tasks then it could take up to 4-6 weeks to atrophy, which is plenty of time to heal for most minor injuries.

How to Nurse Back Old Injuries

Have you ever been in a serious injury before and you’re dying to get back in the gym? So have I. In fact, a few months ago I had surgery on my back and had to sit a month and a half out of the gym (and it was horrible).

The first chance I got, I almost sprinted back to the gym! Here’s the kicker: I almost injured myself again because I pushed myself too hard.

The trick when returning to the gym after significant time out, or after sustaining an injury, is to slowly and steadily nurse yourself back to health. The lifter should always listen to their body and make sure that the movements are within their range of capabilities. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t keep up with your previous pace for a while, your body went through a strenuous event. Stretch, warm up, and perform “cool-off” exercises before and after lifting to keep injuries minimal and maintain your lifting health.

Injuries and How to Survive Them
All of these images are GREAT for healing.

IN CONCLUSION

Injuries suck. Being out of the gym sucks. The flu sucks.

All of these things are bad, but good habits and health practices can prevent them from escalating. If you get injured and have to take time out of the gym, don’t let the negatives out way the positives. Think of the bright side, you get to get your mind back in the right mindset of lifting all while healing your wounds. And if you’ve been in an accident far before you started lifting that is still causing you issues, follow pre-workout protocols of stretching, warm-ups, and listen to your body to ensure that you are at peak lifting quality.

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!