o-rah and Semper Fidelis to all of the readers at Semper Fitness. Just to recap from last issue, we started our "Three the hard way" workout for those who just want to tone up and not murder themselves in the gym. Last issue we started with chest, triceps and abdominals. This issue we'll be working back, biceps and hamstrings. Let's not waste anymore time talking and get started.
When you look at someone's stature, there's nothing more pleasing to the eye than that beautiful V-shaped torso with toned and shapely arms to match. Well, it's time to work the muscles that give you that sexy V-shape. Enter the Latissimus (Lat) muscles, or their more common name; the back muscles. I like to do a quick set of pull-ups to help stretch and warm my back up. I do 10-15 nice slow pull-ups, however, I recommend doing 5-10 nice and slow depending on how many you can do. Remember, this set of pull-ups is not a part of the workout so the number that you do is not important. After stretching, the first exercise we'll be conducting is wide-grip lat pulldowns (cable pulldowns).
First, you're going to sit down on the lat pulldown machine. To find out what your comfortable grip will be, extend your arms out to your sides as if you are making a cross or the letter "T" with your body. Next, bend your arms at the elbows so that your fingers point directly towards the sky. This should be your comfortable grip. You'll be doing three sets (one warm-up, two heavier sets). To ensure proper form while doing your pulldowns, arch your back by sticking your chest out and up. To do the pulldown, grip the bar and pull it down towards your chest. Make sure that you keep your back arched and your chest out. Try to feel the back muscles squeezing together and flexing. Extend your arms back out nice and slow. Don't let the bar jerk back up. Do your first set of pulldowns with light weight, between 10-15 repetitions (reps). Your two heavy sets will be done with heavier weight. You will do 8-10 reps almost to total failure.
Next, we'll move on to close grip lat pulldowns (close grip cable pulldowns). These will be done with the same set/rep scheme as wide grip pulldowns (one warm-up, two heavy sets almost to total failure). The only difference will be the type of bar you use. With close grip, you're going to use the horseshoe bar. Your palms will be facing each other. Remember to arch your back and keep your chest pushed out while conducting this exercise.
Finally, we'll do one-arm dumbbell rows. We will only be doing two (2) heavy sets with this exercise. To do these, find a weight bench. With your feet close together, lean forward so that you support the weight of your upper body with your arms. Stand so that your back is almost parallel to the floor. Again, as with most back exercises, arch your back and push your chest out to help with your form. Reach down and grab the dumbbell. Lift the weight up and try to pull the weight up as close to your waist as possible. As you pull the dumbbell up, squeeze your back muscles to get the full feel of the contraction. Then lower the weight to the floor. You will be doing 8-10 reps almost to total failure. Time to move on to the bicep muscles.
For biceps, we're going to do two (2) exercises. The two exercises that we'll be conducting will be Standing barbell curls and Preacher curls. The set/rep scheme will be one warm-up, two heavy sets. With biceps, form is extremely important. There are a few dos and don'ts when it comes to biceps workouts:
Do lift the weight using your biceps and not your shoulders. Keep your elbows almost pent to your sides when doing standing curl exercises.
Don't swing the weight up using momentum to lift. If you have to do that, you're using to much weight.
Don't lean your body back to help you with the weight. Use your biceps to lift it. Once you can't lift the weight correctly, stop, the set is over.
Starting with Standing barbell curls, we first have to find our comfortable grip for biceps. Standing with your arms down to your sides, reach out and grab a bar without moving your elbows. This is your comfortable and most importantly, your correct position. You can use a straight bar or an EZ-curl bar, whatever is comfortable for you. You will grab the barbell and do one warm-up set of 10-15 reps with light weight. After your warm-up set you will do two heavy sets of 8-10 reps. Also, don't let your elbows dig into your sides for leverage.
The last bicep exercise we'll do is Preacher curls. Of course, you'll need a preacher curl bench. We will be doing two (2) heavy sets of preacher curls. Sit down on the bench. Adjust the seat so that most of your tricep muscle is on the pad. Try not to be hunched over the pad. Keeping your abs tight, grab the bar and get a good shoulder width grip on it. Try to move the weight in an arc towards your shoulders. This exercise will be harder at the beginning than at the end. Try not to rest at the top of the exercise. Do two (2) sets of 8-10 reps almost to failure. Remember, do not swing the weight. Use your biceps to lift it. The final bodypart we'll work will be Hamstrings.
I like to work hamstrings on a different day than on quadriceps (quads). The reason for that is quads hurt and take a lot of effort. It's hard enough to concentrate on quads without exhausted hams to think about. That's why we're working quads on back and biceps day. The exercises we'll be conducting for hams are Stiff-legged dead lifts and Lying leg curls.
For stiff-legged deadlifts you'll be doing three sets (all three sets will be done with medium weight) with 8-15 reps per set. Make sure you're using your lifting belt when doing this exercise. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend over and grab the bar with palms facing down (some people use and alternate grip one; palm up, one down, your choice). When you do this exercise, make sure that you keep your back straight. do not roll your shoulders forward so that you look like a camel. Try to push your chest forward with this exercise. A good way to help you keep form is to imagine that you have a stick taped to your back that runs from the back of your head to the middle of your rear end. If you roll your shoulders forward and arc your back, you'll break the stick. Keep your legs in a semi-locked position. Lift the weight until your body is vertical. Try to flex the hamstrings at the top of the exercise. If you are a beginner or starting to lift after a very long layoff, I suggest that you use very light weight your first couple of times conducting this exercise.
The final exercise of the day will be lying leg curls. You'll need a leg curl machine. You will be doing two (2) heavy sets for this exercise. When you lay down on the leg curl machine, line your knee joints up with the cam of the machine. As you start to contract the hamstrings, tighten your abdominals and keep them tight throughout the remainder of the set. Once your hamstrings are flexed to the point where your hips start to rise off the bench, slowly lower the weight back to the start position. Do two (2) sets of 8-10 reps almost to total failure.
This concludes Part II of our 3 the hard way workout. Get out there and tone that body up. Make sure that you join us next issue when we discuss the wheels of the body; those tight exquisitely shaped legs and calves. That's the scoop from the motivator and Semper Fitness. Until next issue, stay pumped, stay motivated and OO-RAH!