General Fitness Health and Conditioning Stretching Weight Training

Quads and Biceps

When I started weight training in the 1980’s we spent a lot of time working Quads and Biceps—lots of squats and curls (split 7’s, etc.). I notice in the gym today the same thing—lots of people do many sets of leg press, etc. and burn out sets of curls. It’s definitely important to work these areas, but I have learned after years of training and rehabilitating injuries that you can’t neglect the opposing and supporting muscles. Doing so creates imbalances in strength and flexibility and this leads to poor performance and injuries.

Today, my leg workout includes Stability Ball Dumbbell Squats (to protect back, knees and to decrease the trunk widening effect of regular squats), Leg Press and Leg Extension but also includes Seated Calf Raise, Calf Press using the Leg Press Machine, Bent Knee Flexion (for Hamstrings), Leg Curls (using prone and standing machines), Adductors and Abductors (using machines and cables) as well as mixing in TRX leg work. For the 4 to 6 sets I do for Quads I do 15 or more sets for the opposing and supporting leg muscles.

My arm workout has evolved over the years so that now I do minimal direct Biceps exercises compared to before. Biceps get so much work during Back exercises that I will usually limit Biceps Curls to 2 or 3 sets. I separate my workout into Push and Pull days so that I don’t work Biceps and Triceps on the same day to allow plenty of rest.

On Push days I do several sets for Triceps. Including the chest and shoulder exercises I do, my ratio is 3 to 2 for Triceps to Biceps exercises overall. Triceps make up a larger portion of the upper arm than Biceps, so it makes sense to spend more time on Triceps.

Whenever possible I do symmetrical work using dumbbells or using one leg at a time. I spend time after each workout stretching. I cover this and more in great detail with illustrations in my new book Martial Arts For Everyone.

Thanks and I will see you in the gym.

General Fitness Health and Conditioning

Abs of Cold Steel

I was thinking about my abs workout and suddenly remembered the unfortunate story of a friend of mine (lets call him, “House”) from basic training. During the four months we were at Fort Knox for basic, we spent a lot of time getting dogged out by Drill Sergeants. This included grass drills, long road marches with all of our gear, and of course push-ups—lots and lots of push-ups. I tried counting how many push-ups I did one day but stopped once I hit 1,000.

During one of these nice, relaxing days, my friend House injured his wrist. He pushed on (no pun intended) through the pain but eventually his wrist gave out. In mid-push-up he rolled over in pain. Luckily the Senior Drill Sgt was there to apply first aid. He grabbed House by his wrist and began shaking it while saying, “There’s nothing wrong with your wrist.” We stood quietly (and that wasn’t easy) as we watched his hand shaking back and forth while he yelled in agony until someone finally realized he actually did need medical attention. My memory is blurry, but I want to say he was diagnosed with a stress fracture.

A day or two later, he returned with a cast on his arm and a physician’s order for light duty with no push-ups. In theory, this should have made his life easier, but this was not the case. Every time I saw him over the next few weeks he was on the floor doing some kind of abs exercise; V-ups, air bike, leg raise, crunches, sit-ups—you name it. He must have had crazy abs after this ordeal. This continued until he was finally sent away to heal enough to repeat basic training (that’s right, he had to repeat basic training—that alone makes me cringe).

So, next time I am struggling through my abs exercises (or any other exercise) I will think of House and let that motivate me to work harder and keep going. Find a similar motivator you can use to push yourself to the next level and don’t forget to work those abs! See you in the gym.