We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Sunday, March 24. 2019
Yesterday morning I did a free-wheeling workout day. I just felt like it. (And this morning, just an hour of "cardio" - stair machine, HIIT on treadmill, and elliptical because I do heavy tomorrow morning.)
Yesterday morning I had no time constraints for my free-wheeling: 10 min ellip warm-up (needed warm-up), then a 3X rotation of 20-pushups, 10 (assisted) pullups, 30 kettlebell lunges, rower 60-sec sprints; then a 4X rotation of 100 mixed jump rope, heavy ball squat- and- wall throws, and kettlebell swings; then a 4X rotation of kettlebell Farmer Walks, Roman Chair leg raises, overhand curls, and 60-second planks.
Once in a while it feels good to throw away your game plan and just have random fun with all the toys in the gym. You know - masochistic fun. It feels good at the end.
If you are fatter than you want to be for appearance, functionality, energy, joint health, or fitness, you can fix it. However, it can be as challenging as quitting smoking or quitting excess booze. Deprivation of greedy impulses takes character strength, the building of which is good and a wholesome exercise in itself.
Exercise is great for vigor, strength, and general fitness for life, but it is no good for fat loss unless you are hiking the Appalachian trail 7 hrs/day for a month or two.
If serious about it, you should aim to lose 2 lbs/week. More than that is unrealistic and too painful. Here's the easy way: Eat less food and drink water instead of other stuff. Set a limit to beer and cocktails. Less food? Cut your normal food portions in half. Quit almost all carbs. If you exercise hard especially with weights, try 4 small meals/day with 20 gm of protein in each and vegetable carbs. Remember, excess protein, like excess carbs, go to fat. Volume control!
Remember: If even 5# overweight, your hunger is mainly false hunger. You have plenty of fuel on board to keep you going for days or weeks. Some people, months.
When you arrive at your target, you should be able to figure out a good maintenance plan. It's not rocket science.
Thursday, March 21. 2019
Your shoes always matter.
"Walking Shoes" and Trail Walking Shoes are neither running shoes nor hiking shoes, generally speaking. Like many European cities, New York City is a walking town. New Yorkers walk a lot. In fact, in many circumstances in Manhattan you can get to your destination as fast, or faster, than you can with a cab or an Uber.
For urban walking and urban hiking, you want walking shoes. They are more like heavy-duty sneakers.
I suppose you want to use the lightest weight shoe for your purpose. No bouldering boots for exploring Vienna: Trail Walking Shoe vs. Hiking Shoe. We like Merrells and Keens for either long-distance urban or trail walking.
Also, on another topic, sales on serious hiking shoes at Sierra Trading Post
Tuesday, March 19. 2019
The number of pushups a guy or gal can do is a fair proxy for general fitness. 50 pushups in 60 seconds is a fitness benchmark. (I can not do that yet.)
Pushups are a calisthenic exercise but they do build some strength in the core, chest, arms, and shoulders. I do them on my calisthenics days but you can do them every day.
Why use the handles? Because you can dip lower, and because they are kind to your wrists. I don't approve of declined pushups because of the wrist and shoulder stress.
Wednesday, March 13. 2019
The muscles of the forearm are mainly about grip. Since they are about grip, they can be a limiting factor in strength development because if you can't hold onto something, you can't challenge it.
You depend on forearm strength for things like pullups, deadlifts, climbing ropes, and many other things in the gym and in life. We often neglect small muscle groups here (eg calves, forearms, biceps, triceps) because they get so much good use in compound exercises, but if the limiting factor in your deads, for example, is grip strength, you can work on it. After all, the mighty mighty deadlift is the best resistance exercise.
I do grip exercises regularly, but maybe not often enough. My forearms are skinny like Obama's. Good forearm strengtheners:
- Farmers Walks (with kettlebells or dumbbells, as heavy as tolerable). Squeeze that handle as hard as you can and stand up straight. It's a compound exercise, but grip is the limiting factor. To make it harder, wrap a towel around the handle and carry them by the towel.
- Those hand gripper things. Rogue Fitness sells them at all levels of challenge. People keep them on their desks for stress-relief. (Best way to use them is to squeeze and hold for 5-10 seconds.)
- Dumbbell or barbell overhand ("reverse") curls. Overhand curls are weaker than underhand curls. The curl at the top of ordinary underhand curls is all forearm stress too.
The muscles of the forearm are complex. These are just the posterior muscles - anterior muscles of forearm are below the fold:
Continue reading "Accessory exercises: Forearm strength"
Friday, March 8. 2019
Why do it? 7 Benefits of Jumping Rope. That article shows several of the fun variations of jumping, but the photos show a girl with a rope that is almost twice the proper length for her.
One popular way to jump is to fit jumps into a calisthenic workout circuit including light weights and other things. For example, weighted lunges, kettlebell swings, jump rope, pushups. I see guys in the gym do 20 minutes of jump variations non-stop for their cardio. They are fit for sure.
My jump intervals are 1-2 minutes. Jumping is gentle on the joints because there is minimal impact, about the same impact as walking.
Besides the fun variations, double-unders are the coolest format. Triple unders are ridiculous.
Some basic technique here, including doubles:
Wednesday, March 6. 2019
You can be age 15, age 37, age 58, or age 72. And any gender you what to be. One day, you wake up and confess that you are a lazy-ass, or even a lard-ass, unfit person, and hate yourself for it. Or maybe something triggers the reaction, like feeling tired from activity. Dragging. Pudgy. Invisible muscles. Etc.
So you decide to be the best you can, and you want the energy, mental and physical vigor you might have once had.
How to start? First, you need to agree that most of a fitness program is mental, not physical. Besides going to the dentist, a serious workout program is a rare thing where it can cost money to subject yourself to pain. What are the first steps?
1. Confess that you are in lousy condition. Then commit to the long-term (life-long) project.
2. If fat, construct a nutrition plan to lose 2 lbs/week. Now is the time to do that. That will help. If scrawny or underweight, don't worry about it yet.
3. Begin a gradually-advancing program of not-intense cardio and calisthenics for 4 weeks, total 4-6 days/week. 2-3 days of light calisthenics, 2 of light cardio. This will tell your body and mind that you might be beginning to make some demands on it. However, it is best to begin conditioning gently to avoid injury.
By light cardio, I mean working up to 45-50 minutes of fast walking, inclined walking, elliptical, rowing, stair machine, etc. Maybe swimming laps. Mix it up to avoid boredom.
By light calisthenics, I mean beginner calisthenics like this 2-3X weekly (just put up with her annoying enthusiasm because it's a very good way to get moving and not as effortless as it looks. Good stretching at the end):
Step 2 for beginners in another post once you have 16-20 sessions under your belt.
Thursday, February 21. 2019
Reader sent this link: You’re Not Eating Nearly Enough Protein.
That article is close to what I wrote yesterday. Mind you, this is for daily intense exercisers and weight training. It's not for ordinary exercisers, or for those needing to gain of lose weight.
Wednesday, February 20. 2019
No. At least not in one sitting.
I'm talking about lifters who are working on strength and muscle-building for 3+ hours/week. For muscle repair and renovation, such people need from 70-90 gms of protein daily depending on their size and body type.
Serious strength-builders also need more carbs and fats/oils than non-lifters. It's near-impossible for men to gain significant strength without gaining some weight (muscle weight, not fat weight). Women are different because they can not normally build muscle bulk.
Sedentary or cardio-exercisers need around 40 gms of protein daily. That does not include people in marathon training. And don't forget that there is some protein in everything we eat, so vegetarians can build strength as well as carnivores as long as they consume enough volume.
HOWEVER, nobody's body can use or metabolize more than 20-25 gms of protein in 3 hours. Anything more than that goes to waste or into body fat (yes, excess dietary protein can go to body fat). That's why lifters eat multiple small meals daily rather than the conventional three - to keep a stream of usable protein flowing.
A nice steak contains 70+ gms of protein, so most of that steak goes to nutritional waste. However delicious, it's recreational eating - something Americans specialize in. I love a t-bone occasionally but am under no illusion that I need it. It's for enjoyment.
(Other examples: a chicken breast has around 70 gms protein, an egg about 8 gms, a McDonald's burger about 20 gms, a cup of green beans about 2 gms, a cup of yoghurt or milk 8 gms, a cup of oatmeal 6 gms. )
Monday, February 18. 2019
My entire daily program is designed and updated (and monitored - "Whatcha do yesterday?") by my genius trainer. I do what I am told by him. As Mrs. BD says, he is the only person I obey besides God.
My current program is 2 days of heavy weights with trainer, one day of accessory weights mostly by myself, one or two conditioning classes at the gym (tough and fun in a sick way) or replace one of those with an hour of my own calisthenics, one day of endurance cardio and one day of misc HIIT cardio. Everything is progressing nicely but slowly of course. I'm not 18 anymore.
Speaking of which, have you noticed so many people checking their iphones at the gym? They aren't looking at texts. They have their exercise plans du jour on their phones, and are checking what their next circuit should be. Luddite that I am, I write them on paper.
But to my issue of 5 vs 3 sets of resistance work.
My approach with the powerlifts is one light warm-up set of 5-8 reps, then 5 working sets of 5-8 reps of increasingly heavy weights. 5 is my favorite number, but some days my boss pisses me off by making me do 8s. When we go near my max, say, with deads or barbell squats, only 3 reps. My modest one-rep goal is 300 for deads. I am not a big strong dude.
With accessory resistance work which I do on my own once weekly, I generally do one warm-up and 3 working sets. It's partly a matter of time (because 60-90 seconds rests between sets), and to fit in everything on my list with 60-75 minutes. It's rare than I can fit in everything on my plan.
What sorts of things do I do on my accessory weights days? It's below the fold -
Continue reading "Weights: 3 sets or 5 sets?"
Wednesday, February 13. 2019
Image: Roman women exercising with dumbells and medicine ball
Galen (129-c.216 AD) was the father (or one of them) of Western medicine and physiology.
His exercise recommendations included the same basics as the Maggie's Fitness for Life program: Strength, Cardio, and Power.
Translated from De Sanitate Tuenda: "On the Preservation of Health"
Thursday, February 7. 2019
I think I can pass the Army test. NOT the SEAL test. Can't bang out 100 pushups right now.
Wednesday, February 6. 2019
A Compound Set refers to two resistance exercises using overlapping muscle groups. For example, bench press sets alternating with dumbell flies - that is mostly two chest exercises. Another: dumbell bench alternating with tricep push-downs. The overlap there is two tricep stresses. People do Compound Sets once in a while to kick the heck out of a certain muscle or two - and for variety to keep the body off balance a bit.
A Superset, on the other hand, refers to alternating two resistance exercises involving opposing muscle groups. That is something we commonly do in weight training. Push-pull. For example, dumbell bench alternating with pullups or pull downs. Another: Curls alternating with tricep push-downs. There is a balanced logic to this.
(Compound Exercises are resistance exercises which apply the largest number of muscle grouds possible for strength-building. The Big Lifts. These are the classic multi-muscle group exercises: Bench Press, Rows, Pull ups, Dips, Deads, Overhead Press, and Squats).
Wednesday, January 30. 2019
It's a topic which is rarely discussed, but one which can make a big difference. After all, almost no exercise is improved by holding one's breath during its execution.
-Aerobic exertions (ie, not sprints which are anaerobic, but swims, runs, biking, elliptical, etc) call for a good breathing rhythm. A typical aerobic breathing rhythm is 2:2, that is, breathing in for 2 steps and exhaling during 2 steps. Swimmers know all about breathing rhythm, typically one breath every two strokes or maybe every three strokes, and exhaling with face down in the water. I like to swim with breaths every 4 strokes, but it's just endurance swims, not speed.
- Breathing during sprints (as in HIIT): Sprints are of short duration. Many sprinters inhale once every 10-20 yards. Slow deep breaths, slow exhales. Panting is counterproductive. However you breathe in sprints of any sort, you will not keep up with oxygen needs. You can pant and gasp after you finish.
- Breathing during planks: Planks are typically 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Lots of trainers' advice is slow "in thru nose, out thru mouth," while others suggest in and out both thru nose. The latter is better.
- Breathing with resistance work: As the weights get heavier, breathing patterns become more important. Typically, inhaling during the eccentric motion and exhaling during the concentric motion. (Eccentric and Concentric movements). An exception might be an exertion which demands special core stability, like weighted squats. In such cases, a deep breath can be taken before the eccentric movement begins, and the breath held until exhaled on the concentric stand-up.
Also, with the powerlifts, there is no federal law against taking an extra breath after 5 or 6 reps of an eight rep set, at the end of a concentric motion. Why not? It's not meant to be a sprint. The purpose of weights is just to stress the heck out of muscle to the point of some micro-tears, not to be anaerobic cardio even if it tends to be.
Thursday, January 24. 2019
Currently my Sat. morning weights day (my 3rd weights day/week until April 1, but without trainer) includes the following (each with 1 light warm-up and just 3 working sets, because of time). I will not do barbell bench or barbell squat without a spotter or trainer. We tend not to do much isolated muscle-group exercises, but some of it is ok and it can help with the large complex movements:
Leg press - max wt for 12-15 reps
Each with a 50-100 set of mixed jump rope fun between each set as a semi-recovery thing, plus to fit in a bit of HIIT into the roughly 75 minutes.
Are dips worth doing at all? I think maybe so as accessory exercises, if you do Tricep Dips and not Chest Dips. Between bench press and inclined bench, chest gets plenty of stress. Triceps dip is holding your body vertical while dipping. The Triceps are the most important arm muscle, but it gets plenty of stress from other more basic things like Bench Press. But why not? Big biceps are for the beach, but strong Tris are for life. Some men and women are too weak to do any dips. They are a strong movement, but not as strong as pullups. Pullups are tough for most of us.
This piece is excellent on programming and timing strength exercises.
Friday, January 18. 2019
Is walking a part of your fitness routine? If so, be aware that ordinary walking is not valuable "cardio" except for the elderly and the infirm. However, walking and hiking can be perfect for a day of active recovery from a week of exercise.
Assuming a person in decent health, an ordinary street walking speed for men and women is around 3 mph (3.2-3.4 for New Yorkers, which is why you get jostled). Below that is a stroll. This applies to more or less level ground. 3 mph walking is not "cardio" because the heart rate is not sufficiently elevated to challenge or strengthen the heart - or to build lower body endurance.
Deliberate hikers like to move at around 4-5 mph on level ground. I can hike at 4 mph (15-min/mile), especially when it's beginning to get dark and I want to get back somewhere. It's a difficult pace for me, though, because my legs want to break into a slow jog at over 4 mph instead of maintaining a vigorous walk. Some fit and experienced hikers hike at 5 mph with a backpack but at 5 I am definitely jogging, not walking, and I break into a run between 6-7.
Fitness level and body architecture play into this. If curious about this, your phone can give you your average speed of progress during walks and hikes unless you like to pause to look at birds and wildflowers and snakes and toads. After all, exercise is so you can enjoy life so not every hike needs to be a death march. Maybe most of them, but not all.
Best ways to improve your walking and hill-hiking efficiency? Stair machine, elliptical at the higher resistances, and fast-walking or even jogging on a good incline on a treadmill (say incline of 5-8, 10 if fast-walking). An hour of that is a good "active recovery" from other exercises, or good for beginners.
* In the US, normal military march is 3.4 mph (17 mins/mile), but for Army Rangers it's 4 mph.
Wednesday, January 16. 2019
Your internist might give you a Cardiac Stress Test every few years to check your cardiopulmonary function, but other than that never a physical fitness evaluation beyond, maybe, a body fat composition. A very thorough physical exam might include an SF-36. This is not used often enough. (It is used in $5-10,000 "Executive Physicals," but that is often because companies take insurance on the functioning of their essential execs.)
The reason doctors don't do it is because your physical fitness at any age is your problem, not his or hers. OK, they will advise "exercise," but they know you won't do much of it, or "watch your diet" but they know you will do no more watching than looking at what is on your plate.
Serious fitness evaluations are done by the military, police, fire departments, etc. For us civilians, the only people who will give us a serious fitness evaluation are skilled fitness trainers. Trainers tell me that 3/4 of their new clients are in terrible shape. That's why they are there. About 1/4 are in decent condition, but want to get to a higher level of fitness.
Fitness evaluations include basic measures of cardio function, endurance, strength, agility, and balance. The Mayo Clinic offers this do-it-at-home fitness evaluation.
Regardless of age or level of condition when you decide to get serious about conditioning, The Maggie's program of HIIT cardio, endurance cardio, calisthenics, and weights (plus proper nutrition for a svelte physique) addresses all of the areas of fitness.
Monday, January 14. 2019
Keto-style nutrition (ketogenic) is only for people whose habits and life-styles tend towards excess fat deposits. There is no reason to fuss with your nutritional habits if you are in good shape and good conditioning. Food is not medicine - but if you lift heavy 2-3 times weekly, keep the protein up for muscle repair.
All "keto" means is that you are burning fat. Burning fat is difficult, because your body wants to hang on to it and exercise does very little for that at ordinary intensities and durations.
Kruiser explains it here: Jillian Michaels Is Mad That Keto People Lose Weight Without Buying Her Products
An interesting side effect of ketosis is that appetite tends to be reduced and energy increased. For people who are serious about it, you can buy Keto-strips to check your urine. That will instantly tell you whether you are burning fat or not.
If overweight, you probably have some degree of insulin insensitivity, sometimes termed "pre-diabetic" at some point. A keto nutritional habit can correct that, but remember that if you have ever been fat, your body will want to restore it back to where you set your highest weight. Fat cells are as greedy as governments and they never forget.
Wednesday, January 9. 2019
Your basic physical architecture is a product of a genetic potential, a genotype. Your genetic potential (design) is effected to some extent by environmental influences: intrauterine nutrition, nutrition during growth, disease, physical activity during growth, and so forth. All the same, your genetic potential can not be exceeded because it is pre-programmed.
What do I mean by basic physical architecture? I mean things like basic body structure: height, bone lengths and widths, and number of muscle cells and their distribution (yes, you are born with all of the muscle cells you will ever have, and these vary a good deal between people).
As an adult over age 17- 21, your life-long basic physical foundation is complete. As with your IQ, personality strengths and weaknesses, athletic talents, what we do with our given physical architecture after that point is up to us. A good trainer, a physical therapist, or a sports physician can see through our appearance and phenotype and get an idea of our basic physical architecture and our potential for development of what we are.
Our naked physical appearance today may or may not tell us much about our basic architecture, because it might be hidden under layers of fat or simply unmanifested by lack of stressors and demands. In underweight people, it can be concealed by underdevelopment of potential.
It's common to talk about endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs, but that is simplistic because everybody is built differently. The length of your femur, for just one important example.
Do these things matter in general fitness efforts? Not too much. Do they matter in physical training? Yes, because the architecture sets limits on, and offers opportunities for, what can be achieved. Do they matter in athletic potential? Certainly, but it depends on the level which is aspired to.
Tuesday, January 8. 2019
Despite my advice not to undertake a conditioning program in January (because few keep their resolutions), I know people who did and that some readers did. Oh well.
A reminder for those people:
1. If you've been away from exertion for a while, it's a good idea to begin with a month of daily or near-daily mixed cardio just to wake up your body, to alert your brain and neuromuscular system that you are going to make demands.
2. For Fitness for Life, after the above you will benefit most from a balanced program:
- Resistance (weights) for building muscle and bone strength. Start light with higher reps and work up gradually to higher weight and fewer reps. If not knowledgeable about weight work, get some instruction.
- Calisthenics for building general athleticism (balance, quickness, endurance, muscle conditioning, with some HIIT cardio)
- Mixed cardio for endurance and heart stress. Since you can hardly build endurance in a one hour session of speed walking, say, your cardio needs to be uncomfortable, a much higher intensity than recreational. We think the Stairmaster machine is the best cardio trainer, but mixing it all up is the right idea. (Stairmaster tips: step on your heel more than balls of feet, stand up straight, and don't lean on the bars. Also, mix it up with double steps or high speeds if you can)
Saturday, January 5. 2019
I did not plan my workout well this morning. Disappointed myself by lack of planning and just winging it.
It was my second time for my new "mostly-weights" Saturday morning (which will now be my third mostly weights day in a week for a while in an effort to reach a new strength plateau to settle into). I had the list in my pocket, but it wasn't planned or timed properly so I didn't complete it in an hour and did not plan the weights correctly - too light. Sheesh, there were a lot of hulks/hunks there this morning, along with the regulars, the elderly, and the fit gals...
Continue reading "Plan your darn daily workouts: My bad, with an end note for guys only"
Thursday, January 3. 2019
The Maggie's Fitness for Life program includes both. Still, we tend to agree that calisthenics classes offer more bang for the buck (or for the time.)
The logic is that 50 minutes of intense calis (with maybe only 6-10-second breaks between routines) is a good heart stressor while also working on athleticism, balance, flexibility, light-weight endurance muscle work, and body-weight exercises. In addition, most calisthenics classes include specific HIIT routines like rowing sprints. Obviously, each person works at his or her own level.
Some thoughts about it here.
If you take three tough calisthenics classes weekly, do you need to do your own HIIT cardio? Maybe not, because calisthenics classes that keep your heart rate up are stressful cardio. It depends on how intensely you want to condition, and on how ambitious you are. What sorts of circuits do typical calisthenics classes include? Rowing sprints, kettlebell swings, pushups, jumping jacks, jump rope, heavy ropes, body weight squats, heavy ball throws, sandbag slams, floor and core work like planks and crunches, hand weights, stretches, etc etc. Fun stuff, never boring because the routines are only 30-60 seconds each.
We do like the idea of one "long, slow" cardio hour, like swimming, jogging, high-incline walking, stair machine, etc as a recovery day from a week's exertions with heavy weights and calisthenics. There is evidence that "active recovery" like that makes for more effective physical recovery than doing nothing. A 4-5-hour hill hike is a perfect recovery activity from demanding workouts.
With calisthenics, the less spare fat you carry, the better you will do and the more quickly you will move. To shed spare fat, cut the food volume and get rid of those carbs. (Our readers know what carbs are: fruit, juices, grains and grain products, beer, root vegetables, anything with sugar, etc.)
Tuesday, January 1. 2019
How Muscles Age, and How Exercise Can Slow It. Researchers untangle the multifarious nature of muscle aging. So far, the only reliable treatment is exercise.
As we have often pointed out, resistance exercise addresses bone aging too.
Re comment, unfortunately it is orthopedic surgeons who deal with joint problems.
Monday, December 31. 2018
It's a typical time of year for people to change up their fitness program. The daily exercisers I know shift their programs around about every 3-4 months just to keep their bodies off balance. If it isn't stress, it ain't exercise.
For example, I've spent the past 3 months emphasizing my cardio endurance (while doing heavy wts only twice a week). I've seen some improvement in my running and stair machine work, but far from enough to reach my goals. Darn it, I get tired! I'd like my 25 year-old body back...
Anyway, time for a change so I will add a third weights day to replace one of my calisthenics/athleticism classes. I hate to do that because the classes are great fun and damn stressful, but I can switch back in 3 or 4 months.
What do I mean by "weights days"? Barbell or goblet squats, deads, dumbell rows or seated rows, bench. I can't do overhead presses due to a bum shoulder (which needs replacement but I don't want to go through the down time). Also, I do accessory efforts like curls, press-downs, pullups, dips, kettlebell lunges.
Because of time constraints (1 hr/day usually) I tend to do 3 sets of the accessories, and 5 sets of the basics. I usually do 50 jump ropes between sets as part of 90-second recovery. Don't ask me why.
For those who want to spend a few months emphasizing strength and power-building, a 5X5 program is known to be effective.
Anyway, for a few months my program will be 3 days of weights, 1 calis/cardio class, 1 day higher intensity and HIIT cardio, one day with 1/2 hr calis and 1/2 hr HIIT cardio, and one day "endurance" long slower cardio (just jogging as long as I can) as a "recovery" day.
Doing the same things all the time is not the most effective plan. How do our readers keep their fitness programs changing?
Wednesday, December 26. 2018
Is weight training to muscle failure a good idea? It depends.
With smaller muscle groups, we all commonly train to failure, or close to it, but more often just to the point of excess pain. I'm thinking of examples like curls, forearm exercises, pushups, pullups, cable pull downs and push downs, rows. In fact, many gym machines (which I rarely use) isolate smaller muscle groups in ways that lend themselves to high-rep muscle endurance work (ie 15-20 reps).
With the powerlifts, we do not recommend lifting to failure very often. Just occasionally, to beat the heck out of yourself, and with a spotter. Rule of thumb with powerlifts is mostly to do the number of reps you can manage to accomplish 4-8 times in a row. If you can, for example, deadlift a weight 12 times, raise the weight right away to get down to 6-8 reps for each set.
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