The Simple Workout Part II
About seven months into my Pure and Simple approach to eating and exercise, I started working on my strength. I had to work around the following: I didn’t have a lot of time, I am not a trained physical trainer, and I have to be sensitive to my lower back. No massive weights and no marathon sessions for me!
Everything I have learned is from people who know far more than I. I encourage you to get with a trainer to develop your own routine around your specific goals and physical needs. Remember – almost every exercise you do can be done wrong and that can lead to disaster.
I am going to describe only one set of exercises because teaching you the technique of the movement is not my strength (no pun intended)! Then I will give you some keys to think about on every type of exercise you do.
Upper Body Strength
There are few things simpler than an old-fashioned push-up. You don’t need any equipment, you can do them anywhere, it takes only a few minutes, and there are dozens of varieties from easy to hard, which means almost anyone can find a place to start.
Just like my cardio approach, I follow the same basic formula:
Start slowly. How many perfect push-ups could I do? For me, the first time was eight. Just remember, it doesn’t matter where you start, just START! If you can do only four and you are doing the push-up from your knees instead of your toes, no problem.
Build up. I like to do exercises in sets of three and years ago I read about a great way to build up strength doing push-ups. The way you do this is your second set is half of your first set, and your third set is half of your second. Then, every time you work out, you add two to your first set. Since I started with doing only push-ups, I was doing push-ups three or four times a week. Here is how it went.
First set Second set Third set
Day 1 8 4 2
Day 2 10 5 3
Day 3 12 6 3
ETC … … …
It took some time, but I eventually got my first set to 60. Some days I couldn’t do as many on the first set as I had done the time before, but that’s okay. I would just make my second set half of whatever I did on the first.
Variety. Once I got to over 100 total push-ups I decided that was plenty! I started changing the difficulty of the push-ups by changing my hand position and foot position. Hands closer together, feet on a ball or a bench so I am at an angle. It’s amazing how many muscles you can work by changing it up just a tad!
Intensity. By doing a little more or a little differently every time, you really up the intensity, so intensity comes as a by-product of build-up and variety.
A few more things I learned along the way:
Balance. I was keeping my good friend Scott up to date as I progressed and he suggested I incorporate balance into my strength exercises. For example, any time you use a muscle group to “push” a weight, use the same muscle group to “pull” a weight. This creates balance and avoids over-building of muscles in a specific area relative to the other muscles. This is key to good back health! Now when I do push-ups I will do one set and then I will flip over onto my back and from the same position grab a pull-up bar and do a set of pull-ups. I am not strong enough yet to do a normal pull-up, but with the pull-up bar just a couple feet off the ground I can reach up and do about 15 or so on the first set with only my heels on the floor.
Slow and steady. Focus on perfect form and isolating the muscle you are trying to build. This works with any exercise you do. Control your movement all the way through. Remember, it’s not how many you do, it’s how Pure and Simple they are that gets the results!
Be warm and stretched. I love to start my workout by spending about five minutes in the sauna doing some stretching and then move over to the cardio machines for a few minutes at a slow pace. This Pure and Simple approach is designed to last a lifetime. It’s not a sprint!
Remember, you can apply the above to almost any strength exercise you want to do.
Slow and steady
Warm and stretched