Working out with the Trainer: Glutes and Hamstrings

Hey guys

Here goes my new Glutes and Hamstring program. This routine focus on the posterior chain. In order to increase the challenge I chose to set up exercises in trisets and supersets. I also used a body weight exercise going to muscle failure as a finisher.

Triset (no rest between exercises, repeat 3 times):

  • Slow squats on smith machine – the goal here is to focus on the eccentric part of the movement. So work the descend in four to five counts, then come up in one count, thrusting the hip forward at the end of the movement to engage the glutes. Also chose a weight that is heavy enough to enable you to perform a maximum of 5 repetitions. (working on strength)
  • Deadlift with the Hex bar – this is a regular deadlift using full range (from the floor). 10 reps max (working on muscle growth)
  • Jumping lunges – body weight, 20 reps. Enjoy the burn (working on endurance).

Superset (no rest between exercises, repeat 4 times):

  • Leg extension – I know this is a quad exercise and you must be thinking why this exercise is here. Well, the goal her is to exhaust the quadriceps prior to targeting hamstrings in order to improve hammy muscle recruitment. Perform 12 reps.
  • Lying leg curl – Perform 12 to 16 reps (try going to temporary failure)

Finisher (single set to failure)

  • Sliding leg curl with

Working out with the trainer: Legs – Posterior Chain

I know you might be thinking this is just another leg workout but it is not. Yes, this is a leg routine. However, the main goal of this training session is to target the muscles of the back part of the leg. Hence the posterior chain. You see, most leg workout over work the quads (front part of the leg) and overlook the glutes and hamstrings. The problem is that most people are already quad dominant meaning that they probably don’t need more quadriceps exercises. When glutes and hamstrings are neglected, they become weaker than the quads and hip flexors which creates a muscle imbalance. This imbalance pulls the pelvic bone out of alignment and may lead to back pain.

So what’s is the difference between this workout and a regular one? Well, most of the exercises selected here are hip dominant which recruits mainly the gluteous muscles and the hamstring group. In those exercises the movement comes from the hip extension rather than the knee extension (such as squats and leg presses). The only knee dominant exercise selected was the seated leg curl which is isolates the hamstrings (knee flexion) and therefore does not recruit the quads.

Here is the workout:

  • Single leg deadlift (step down) – 8 reps x 5 sets
  • Stiff deadlift – 10 reps x 4 sets
  • Hip thrusts – 12 reps x 3 sets
  • Seated leg curls – 16 reps x 2 sets; tempo 1:4 (focus on eccentric)

WARNING: Notice the strong squeeze of the glutes during the hip dominant exercises. You should aim to feel the muscle contraction in each one of the repetitions, otherwise you will be loading your lower back instead!!!

Working out with the trainer: Chest and Triceps

Usually, chest day is a guy’s favourite workout but it is also important for the ladies. A good chest development not only creates a balanced look (you cannot train legs only!) but also will enable you to perform perfect push ups at BodyPump class! Besides, you will have killer arms if you train triceps regularly. Most compound chest exercises also recruit triceps, so you don’t need many exercises to target just the triceps. This program starts with low reps/heavy load to develop strength and moves on to higher reps/moderate load to work on muscle development and endurance.

Well, I enjoy training chest and triceps, and I like a challenge, thus this week’s workout;)

  • Chest press on Smith machine – 4 reps x 5 sets, tempo 4:1 (focus on the eccentric)
  • Dumbbell incline chest press – 8 reps x 4 sets, tempo 2:2
  • Dumbbell chest flies on flat bench – 12 reps x 3 sets, tempo 2:2
  • Skull crushers – 16 reps x 2 sets, tempo 2:2

Workout with the Trainer: Back and Biceps

Developing the back muscles is as important for ladies as it is for guys. Strong back muscles protect your body from injuries, promote good posture, creates a ‘V” shape which makes your waist look smaller, among others. However most people don’t train back to its full potential. The truth is that many people under-exercise important back muscles such as latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and lower/middle trapezius while over taxing others such as upper traps. The result is muscle imbalances and a recurrent sore neck. In order to target the right areas, you must focus on good form and learn to activate the correct muscle groups.

Today, I’m sharing my new back/bicep program. It mixes strength, growth and definition, and endurance, by changing the rep range and number of sets. Here it goes:

  1. Wide grip pull ups – 4 reps x 5 sets; tempo 1:4 (slowing on the eccentric part)
  2. Torsonator bent over rows – 8 reps x 4 sets; tempo 2:2
  3. Medium grip seated cable rows – 12 reps x 3 sets; tempo 2:2
  4. Incline seated bicep curls with dumbbells – 16 reps x 2 sets; tempo 2:2

Working out with the Trainer: Legs

Today I’m posting my new leg routine. I usually update my training program every four weeks in order to avoid plateaus. I don’t mean just changing the exercises, but also using different the training styles. This can be done by adjusting the number of repetitions, sets, tempo, and load of each exercise. The goal is to create a challenge that will elicit the adaptations you are looking for.

For this month’s program I am doing:

  1. Barbell front squats – 8 reps x 5 sets; tempo 2:2
  2. Wide stance leg press – 10 reps x 4 sets; tempo 4:1 (emphasis on the eccentric phase) CAUTION: this type of training can cause extreme soreness!
  3. Suspended lunge – 12 reps x 3 sets; tempo 2:2
  4. Bench single leg stand up – 16 reps x 2 sets; tempo 2:1

Rest about 30 to 60 seconds between sets and up to 3 minutes between exercises.

Workout with the trainer – Legs

Today I’m sharing my current leg workout. I have two routines for legs every week: one quads dominant and another glute/hammy dominant. This is the quad dominant routine. In this program I’m using four exercises: front barbell squats, dumbbell deadlifts, stationary lunges with dumbbells, and leg extensions. I’m performing five sets of eight repetitions for each exercise. The goal is increase muscle size and definition, thus the high volume with moderate load.

Workout with the Trainer – Shoulders

Well-developed shoulders make any girl look great. However, the benefits of training shoulders go beyond aesthetics. A balanced program should increase strength, enhance mobility, promote stability, and improve posture. Today I am sharing my personal shoulder routine.

I start with Smith shoulder presses which is a great warm-up exercise because it doesn’t require a lot of stability from the shoulder girdle. Besides because the bar is fixed, you may choose to use a heavier load without compromising your form.

Next, I go for seated dumbbell presses which recruit more muscle fibers (especially the muscles in charge of stabilizing the shoulder blades) and has a wider range of motion. These first two exercises are compound movements which recruit all heads of the deltoid muscle (the main shoulder muscle) as well as smaller auxiliary muscles.

The third exercise is an isolation move targeting the mid deltoids – lateral raises with dumbbells. This exercise will further recruit the already exhausted muscle fibers which is fundamental for muscle growth.

Then, I move to the back of the shoulders to target the rear deltoids. Here I used a cable reverse fly and finished with a cable external rotation to improve strength of the tiny but important rotator cuff muscles (they work on stabilizing the shoulder joint).

Perform 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise for 2 to 4 sets. I usually do four sets of the first two compound exercises and two or three sets of the three isolation ones. Remember to choose a load challenging enough to keep the repetitions within the prescribed range. Choose something too light and you will be under-exercising which won’t bring you the expected results. However, if you load is too heavy, you won’t be able to complete the set.

Trainer’s Meal of the Day

You give your best at training but if you don’t have a proper diet chances are you won’t see the results you deserve. However, when I say “diet” I don’t mean counting calories and under eating. I’m referring to choosing whole foods that are naturally rich in nutrients.

20160111_123022Today I’m having grilled garlic prawns with a kale, cabbage, carrot, beet, and broccoli slaw, yogurt dressing sprinkled with sesame and pumpkin seeds. This meal is low in calories, fitting in anyone’s weigh-loss budget (under 300 calories, 1260 kJ). Besides, the colorful vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients (all the good stuff your body needs to function well) and fiber-packed (which helps with keeping you satisfied for longer). The prawns provide the much needed protein to avoid muscle wasting and help muscle recovery, especially after a hard core training session. And the best of all is that it took me less than 15 minutes to prepare it! So there are no excuses here.

Back Training Routine

It’s the first week of the year and you may need some motivation to get you back on track after the holiday splurge. Today I’m sharing with you my current back workout routine. The one I’m using to prep for my bikini competition in May.

This is part of a 4-week program focusing on regaining strength after a couple of weeks off training. I will start with a high-rep moderate-load to prepare the muscles and avoid injuries,  and gradually move to lower rep ranges systematically increasing the load to improve strength. The following table illustrate the rep x set x load progression.

back training routine

How to Plan a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is a very important part of a healthy diet, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Since it is the first meal of the day, it can make or break your efforts to stay on track. Keep in mind that what you eat is as important as when you eat it. Starting the day with high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods will not only put your fat-loss efforts in jeopardy, but will also make you feel sluggish throughout the day. Therefore, pay close attention to how you are fueling your body.

Here are a few tips to plan a balanced breakfast:

  1. Choose your protein – Eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, low fat milk are a few options. But feel free to have animal meats such as chicken breast, if you can stomach it in the morning. You may choose to use a good quality protein powder  to make a smoothie.
  2. Pile up the produce –  Make a fruit salad, add berries to your oatmeal, or sneak a handful of spinach in your omelette. Be creative, but always include fruits and/or veggies in your morning meal.
  3. Stick to whole grains – Rolled oats is a no-brainer, but you should steer clear of ready-to-eat cereals. They are usually highly processed, sugar-rich and low in fiber – not exactly a healthy option. Grainy breads are ok, but white breads, cakes, muffins, and pastries are definitely a no-no.
  4. Don’t forget the healthy fats – Avocado and olive oil can be used to substitute butter, cream cheese, or margarine. Nut butters (peanut and almond butter, not nutella) are also cleared, just watch your portions. Keep in mind that anything in this group is very high in calories so one tablespoon is more than enough.
  5. Hydrate! – After eight hours of snooze, your body will be mildly dehydrated, so it is important to refill your stores. Water is your best option, but green tea is also a great alternative. Coffee is allowed as long as you don’t put a ton of sugar and cream in it. However, avoid having fruit juices because they contain a great deal of calories which go against your weight-loss efforts.
  6. Supplements – If you take supplements, this is usually the best time to have them. If you make a habit of having them with breakfast, chances are you will never forget to take them. I usually take multivitamins and fish oil.

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