Saturday, 30 August 2008

Lifting Weight and Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is something we all need to watch as many people can suffer for years with hypertension (high blood pressure) without knowing about it until the damage to their kidneys and other organs has already occured.

What many people do not know is that there is evidence to show that weight lifting has an impact on blood pressure.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force exerted by the circulation of the blood being pumped around the body. Blood pressure is actually reviewed through two pressure guages, these are Systolic (the highest pressure reached during the transit of blood and Diastolic which is the lowest pressure experienced during blood transit.

A healthy adult would expect to see their blood pressure at the typical resting value of 120/80 that is a reading of Systolic 120 mmHg and Diastolic 80 mmHg.

Lifting weight and blood pressure

When lifting weights in the gym a persons blood pressure can rise quite dramatically, the heavier the weight lifted the higher the blood pressure becomes. If you are lifting your one rep max in any exercise you can expect your blood pressure to rise to its highest level.

As you finish your weight lifting set your blood pressure will reduce back to normal extremely quickly.

Those who lift weights regularly will not only find their physical appearance change over time, they will also find their blood pressure becomes lower as the regular exercise helps maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Weight Training Strength Comparisons

This may seem like comparing the strength of different weight training athletes but this is actually about comparing the weight training strength comparisons of different weight training sports.


Bodybuilding is a sport where the idea is to sculpt the body to make it as muscular and symmetrical as possible while keeping the body fat levels as low as possible.

Bodybuilding encompasses many isolation movements and does not exploit the true strength of an individual thus means that pound for pound a bodybuilder is generally not as strong as a powerlifter or Olympic lifter.

Olympic Lifter

Olympic lifters are very strong and use specific lifting movements/exercises called the "snatch" and "clean and jerk" both of these are compound exercises and involve lifting a weight in a specific movement from the floor to above the head. Once the weight is lifted the Olympic lifter will let the weight drop to the floor moving out of the way to ensure they are not hit by the falling weight.

Olympic lifters are clearly very strong, much stronger than their bodybuilding counterparts but are arguably not as strong as powerlifters.

Strong Man

Strong man encompasses many different rounds of competitive lifting from carrying a 170kg (374lb) shield as far as possible to lifting concrete balls up to 160 kg in weight and putting them on podiums at about shoulder height.

Strongman is a competition where brute strength is important, but more important it is a strength athletes sport where it is not just about lifting a heavy weight but also the amount of time involved with keeping the weight off the ground.


Powerlifters are arguably the strongest of all weight lifters, especially powerlifters that lift weights raw (without support). What sets powerlifters apart from Olympic lifts is that they don't just lift in one direction. What sets powerlifters apart from strongman competitors is the shear explosive power used in lifting a weight in a specific move.

Powerlifters lift in three different compound exercises, the bench press, deadlift and squat.

Powerlifters are generally seen as stronger than any of their other weight lifting counterparts for one reason only, this reason is that powerlifters not only have to lift the weight to a specific position the same as an Olympic lifter, they also have to use eccentric contraction to return the weight to its initial starting point adding extra stress and required strength to do so.


It may be an argument that many will contest but out of all weight lifting sports if we use weight training strength comparisons then powerlifters are the strongest of all the sports.

Strongmen are clearly the most athletic but there is no other weight lifting sport where a person can deadlift over 1000 lbs off the floor with a barbell (the strongman version lifting 1100 lbs does not count as its lifted over a shorter distance).

What are your thoughts, do you agree with my claims?

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Micronutrients and training

Micronutrients are just as important as macronutrients when it comes to training. Everyone knows about the macronutrients they need (fats, protein, carbohydrates etc) but how many know about what micronutrients their body needs on a daily basis?

Micronutrients are products that are needed to sustain life, unlike macronutrients which are needed in large quantities micronutrients are needed in very small quantities , so small in fact that most are only required in doses of 100mg or less every day.

Micronutrient deficiency

There is a belief that one third of the worlds population suffer with a lack of micronutrients in their diet, this is not just reserved for the third world this includes many in western society.

The most common deficiencies include Zinc, magnesium, vitamins A and E, iron and iodine.

The micronutrients, otherwise known as microminerals, that the body requires are

  • Iron
  • Cobalt
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Molybdenum
  • Zinc
Micronutrients and training

Those who train professionally will not only watch their macronutrient intake (protein, fats and carbohydrates) they will also watch their micronutrient intake as they understand that these small quantities of minerals have a huge impact to their training.

If you take in enough (not too much) macro and micronutrients then you really do have a great diet that will see your gains increase dramatically due to the body having everything it needs to repair and build your muscle mass.

I personally take zinc and copper supplements to support my diet, this ensures I am getting my micronutrient intake to support my training.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Workout Changes

I have been asked a few times why people carry out so many different exercises to train individual muscle groups, the reason for this is to stop themselves hitting a plateau.

When training it is important to change the exercises in a workout every six to twelve weeks. By changing the exercises used for workouts it will stop the body from becoming too used to specific movements. Imagine using the same exercises month in and month out, over time your body and mind will become accustomed to the movements and muscle gain from the exercise will become harder to attain.

What is noticed is that many people in the gym only complete the exercises that they are strongest on, this is proof alone that they need to concentrate on the exercises they find more difficult as this is where they will make the best gains.

I always keep a core set of exercises such as flat bench for chest, deadlift for legs and dumbbell or barbell row for back but regularly change the rest of the exercises in my workout to increase my potential muscle and strength gains.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Bulgarian squat Exercise

The Bulgarian squat, also known as the Bulgarian split squat, is a variation to the standard squat and as the name says, it was created by the Bulgarians. Many people have never heard or seen the Bulgarian squat being carried out but it is a great way to work the legs individually to ensure one leg does not carry the weight more than another.

The Bulgarian squat works the Quadriceps, Hamstrings and Glutes and is a great way to help improve the strength in your legs.

Bulgarian Squat

Equipment - Barbell with desired weight and a flat bench

Preparation - Hold the barbell with an overhand grip resting behind your head on your upper back (make sure it does not rest on your neck). Stand just short of your leg length in front of the bench and place the top of one foot on the bench.

Movement - Keeping your body upright lower your body by bending at the knee of the leg that is not on the bench until it is at a ninety degree angle then using your leg muscles lift your body to return to your starting position then repeat.

After completing the desired reps with one leg swap the leg placed on the bench for your other leg and repeat.

Reps/Sets 8 to 12 reps for 4 sets

Bulgarian Squat

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Metabolism and Lifting Weights

Many people use the word metabolism without fully understanding what the true meaning of a metabolism is and how it is affected by lifting weights.

What is metabolism?

First of all metabolism is not the speed of your digestion system as many believe, it is actually the combination of two processes called anabolism and catabolism.

Anabolism is all about protoplasm being created by the body cells for the growth and repair of the body cells.

Catabolism does the opposite of Anabolism, it breaks down different substances to a simpler form so the body can use them as energy.

Every person has a basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the rate in which the body uses energy (calories burned) to perform its daily processes within the body if a person was not to move throughout a day.

There are two factors affecting a persons metabolism, these are any additional activity carried out during a day from walking to training hard and eating.

Lifting weights and metabolism

As you lift weights you will not only use more energy by burning fat you will also build more muscle mass and the more muscle your body carries the higher your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is. This is due to your body having to carry out more daily processes within the body due to the extra muscle tissue which means more energy is used.

Eating and metabolism

When you are sleeping your metabolism is at its slowest rate, this makes breakfast very important as it will give your metabolism a great kick start to the day. Also as many bodybuilders know eating frequently will keep your metabolism at a constant high rate throughout the day meaning more energy is used (more calories burned).

The best way to do this is to eat little and often. There is a saying eat little and often built like a race horse (low fat and lean muscle mass) eat alot and less often built like a bear (very muscular but also carrying alot of fat).

Metabolism summary

Training hard in the gym and eating healthy food regularly throughout the day should see your muscle mass increase and your fat stores reduce to produce a lean, mean physique.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Dumbbell Front Raise

The dumbbell front raise exercise works the anterior deltoid muscle of the shoulder, this is the muscle at the front of the shoulder.

The dumbbell front raise only works the anterior deltoid muscle which is arguably the strongest of all the deltoid muscles, this means that a lifter can normally lift more weight with this exercise than any other isolated deltoid exercise. When lifting it is important to keep strict form so you are putting the emphasis on the anterior deltoid muscle otherwise there is no real benefit to the exercise.

To really get larger shoulders this is a great exercise to add to your workout.

Dumbbell Front Raise

Equipment - Dumbbells of desired weight

Preparation - Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and an overhand grip on the dumbbells while holding them by your side.

Movement - Bring each dumbbell up in front of your body individually to eye level height, anything higher than eye level means you are utilising the traps not just the anterior deltoids. Make sure you have a slight bend at the elbow so there is no stress on the elbow joints.

Making sure that the dumbbells are lifted no higher than eye level height return back to your starting position before repeating. When carrying out the movement the rest of your body should stay still so it is only the anterior deltoids lifting the weight.

Reps/Sets 8 to 12 reps for 4 sets

Dumbbell Front Raise

Sunday, 3 August 2008

5x5 Weight Training Workout

The 5x5 weight training workout is mostly used by powerlifters to greatly increase their power in all areas of the body. Although many people have heard of the 5x5 workout many do not use it in their training regime or understand the cycles used to get maximum gains.

The 5x5 weight training workout is not a new training program, in fact it has been used for decades and was very popular during the late 1960's to early 1970's.

The idea behind the 5x5 workout is to complete 5 repititions for 5 sets on the heaviest weight you can lift. Once you are able to complete 5 reps for 5 sets on the weight you are lifting you then add 5% to 10% more weight on your next session and start building up to achieving 5 reps for 5 sets again.

Due to its heavy workload the 5x5 weight training workout is used in a 12 week cycle with a one to two week rest at the end of the cycle so the body can recuperate. This means that you train hard using the 5x5 workout for 12 weeks then take a complete rest from the gym for the one to two weeks at the end before starting again.

The reason why you may not see many people using the 5x5 weight training workout is because it is only carried out on compound exercises such as the bench press, squat and deadlift.

Workout example

Day 1

Bench press 5x5
Incline bench press 5x5
Close grip bench press 3x8
Skull crushers 3x8
Cable pushdowns 3x8

Day 2

Seated row 5x5
Dumbbell row 5x5
Lat pulldown 5x5
Hammer curls 3x8
Barbell curls 3x8

Day 3

Deadlift 5x5
Squat 5x5
Leg press 5x5
Calf raises 2x12

It is imperative to ensure you have a great diet plan in place for your body to get the fuel it needs for this gruelling workout. If you don't eat correctly this can impact on your training and could cause injury. It is also important to give each muscle group enough time between sessions to recuperate.

I would only recommend the 5x5 workout to anyone of an intermediate to advanced level as it is a heavy duty workout that adds alot of stress to your body.

For a full 12 month 5x5 workout click here

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Lateral Raise Exercise

The lateral raise exercise works the lateral deltoid muscle of the shoulder, this is the muscle on the side of the shoulder.

The lateral raise does not require heavy weights when performed as the lateral deltoid muscles are not very big. In fact where most people go wrong when training the lateral deltoids is by lifting weight that is too heavy thus causing them to lose form and not complete the exercise properly, this means that the triceps and anterior deltoids are used instead.

To really get larger shoulders this is a great exercise to add to your workout.

Lateral Raise

Equipment - Dumbbells of desired weight

Preparation - Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and an overhand grip on the dumbbells while holding them by your side.

Movement - Bring the dumbbells up away from the side of your body, making sure that the dumbbells are lifted no higher than shoulder height then return back to your starting position before repeating. When carrying out the movement the rest of your body should stay still so it is only the lateral deltoids lifting the weight.

Reps/Sets 8 to 12 reps for 4 sets

Lateral Raise Exercise

Friday, 1 August 2008

Hitting The Training Hard

After the issues with my wrist and the lack of training it has caused my weight has dropped by 9lbs (4 kilograms). This drop in weight is bothering me greatly as I look in the mirror and can clearly see the reduction in muscle size.

Due to the above and the need to gain strength fast I have changed my training regime to to start hitting the training hard....VERY HARD.

The following training workout will give me the increase in strength that I want in a very short time.

Day 1 - Chest ME

Bench press x 10 set 3 to 5 reps
Close grip bench 3 sets x 5 reps
Shoulder press 2 sets x 8 reps
Front raises 3 x 8
Side raises 3 x 8
Cable pushdowns 4 x 8
Situp 3 x 30

Day 2 - Legs ME

Squats x 10 set 3 to 8 reps
Deadlift x 10 set 3 to 5 reps

Day 3 - Back ME

Seated row x 8 sets 3 to 5 reps
Lat pulldown x 4 sets 3 to 5 reps
Dumbell row x 4 sets 3 to 5 reps
Hammer curls 3 x 8
Barbell curls 3 x 8

Day 4 - Assistance

Calf raises x 3 sets to 20 reps
Barbell Shrugs x 4 sets to 10/12 reps
Cable pushdowns 3 x 8
Hammer curls 3 x 10
Barbell curls 3 x 10
Situp 3 x 30

and if I manage a day 5 this will be

Day 5 - Chest (Speed)

Bench x 10 sets 3 reps (50% 1 rep max with 1 minute between sets)
Shoulder press x 3 sets 3 to 5 reps
Dumbbell press x 3 sets 3 to 5 reps
Skull crushers x 1 set 10 to 15 reps

Its time to shake of those injury blues and really build up my strength so I am back on form!