This is Why I lift

( Short Read). This post is about my reasons for lifting weights and why it’s important for you to have a why when it comes to fitness.

As someone who’s very active, I do different types of activities. Weight lifting, yoga, and sprints are some of the forms of exercise I’m familiar with. Out of all of them I’d say weight lifting is my favorite. I enjoy the feeling of moving heavy weights and having my muscles work hard.

Why do you lift? Some people lift for health purposes. Some people lift because they think it’ll help them get girls. I lift for several reasons that go beyond getting stronger. Some of those reasons include:

  • I lift because it gives me a way to channel my aggression
  • I lift because it gives me more confidence in my physical abilities
  • I lift because it brings me peace even when life is chaotic
  • I lift because I enjoy feeling healthy and full of energy
  • I lift because it keeps me young
  • I lift because I like being happy with what I see in the mirror
  • I lift because it makes my joints feel stronger
  • I lift because it makes me better in other physical activities

The main reason I lift is because I love lifting. It’s that simple. When you love doing something, you always find a way to do it. I’ve lifted when I’ve been under the weather. I’ve lifted after hectic days. I’ve lifted after getting little sleep. I obviously modified my workouts based on conditions so I can keep my body healthy.

The idea of this post is the importance of having a why. Having a why adds passion to what you’re doing. If you can’t think of a reason to work out, do it simply because you love your body . As you continue making exercise a habit, you’ll find additional whys. You’ll find the exercises that ignite your passion. Passion is so important. The people who achieve the best results are the ones who not only have talent and knowledge but also have passion for what they’re doing. Having passion for something you’re doing is like pouring gasoline on a lit match. Amazing things happen when you put passion into what you’re doing.

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Strong People Should Do Yoga

This post is about how yoga will help you in the weight room and in other areas of fitness

When it comes to building strength, yoga doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Yoga might not have the same effect that weightlifting has for strength building but it’ll indirectly make you stronger.Personally, I wouldn’t have made as much progress with my training if it wasn’t for yoga. From the outside yoga may look like glorified stretching but once you try it, you’ll experience a challenging workout.

Yoga Benefits

Flexibility: Yoga will help boost your overall flexibility. This is useful when trying to lift a weight with a full range of motion. As someone that does yoga, I never have an issue squatting to depth.

Stability: Yoga builds muscle and joint stability. In order to do those standing lunges and single leg poses, your stabilizer muscles will need to be used. The stronger your stabilizers are, the more power you get generate in your movements. Why don’t those people who squat on bosu balls lifting heavy weights? It’s because you can’t generate as much power on an unstable surface.

Core Strength: Several yoga poses will force you to engage your core muscles. A strong core will help you generate more power in any movement you perform. A strong core will also reduce your risk of injuries. Core strength is very important

Muscle recovery: Yoga helps with muscle recovery because it promotes blood flow. It’s probably because of those long poses and the deep breathing done in yoga workouts. I know my sore muscles always feel better after a yoga session.

Balance: Yoga provides the perfect balance to weight lifting. Some lifts like the squat compress your spine while yoga decompresses it. Proper weight lifting requires varying levels of intensity. Yoga can be challenging but it relaxes you. Yoga will also increase your energy so you have more in the tank when you hit the gym.

My Favorite Yoga Poses

Downward Facing Dog: The Downward Facing Dog is good for us lifters that really hit squats and deadlifts. This pose will give you a stretch throughout your backside from your lower back all the way to your calves. Runners and sprinters would benefit from this pose as well. The image on the thumbnail is a good demonstration of the Downward Facing Dog.

High Lunge: The high lunge is one of my favorite poses. The name says it all. In this pose your front leg will be in a lunge position and your back leg will be straight. You’ll also raise your arms to the sky. This pose gives you a groin and hip stretch but my favorite thing about is the increase in single leg stability. This pose will also build muscle endurance so you can perform any physical activity longer. Increased muscle endurance helps with injury prevention.

yoga-crescent-lunge_925x

 

Upward Facing Dog: This move is great for stretching your hip flexors. Tight hip flexors limit glute activation which will hold back your ability to perform big lifts and athletic movements.

upward-facing-dog-yoga_925x

Pigeon Pose: This is a great pose to loosen tight hips. I especially love doing this the day after a hard squat or deadlift workout. I don’t want to butcher the explanation for this pose so I’m putting a link below to help you get a good idea of how the pose is done.

https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-one-legged-king-pigeon-pose-in-yoga

My Yoga Reccomendations:

As someone who likes to do high intensity training like lifting heavy weights and sprinting, I like to do Vinyasa Yoga. I like this type of yoga because it’s not as intense as other forms of yoga. I mainly use yoga as a recovery method on my non-lifting days. I also recommend easing into poses in order to avoid injuries. Yoga should help you feel better, not worse. I’m currently using an app called Down Dog that provides a wide variety of yoga workouts.

Closing Thoughts: I’m so grateful for what yoga has done for me in my fitness journey. It’s helped my body recover from the impacts of intense workouts as well as battle life’s stresses. AS you add yoga to your fitness routine, don’t be surprised if other areas of your life improve as well.

 

The images on this post were taken by the same photographer. I put a link of his instagram below.

https://www.instagram.com/matt_henry_photo/

 

For better yoga tutorials :  https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/

Assault on The Squat pt.2

This article is about what I did to boost my squat performance

(Long Read)

In a previous post I mentioned my plan to boost my squat performance.My 1 rep max was 355 pounds before I implemented my plan. It’s time to share how it went.

The two main methods I used to make an improvement were paused squats and CAT squats.

Workouts:

During this training phase, I kept my normal routine but made some adjustments help my goal of getting a stronger squat.One change was squatting twice a week every other week. The week in between I’d do a heavy deadlift day and a light squat day. My light squat days were focused on explosiveness.

Paused Squat Workout:

In my main squat workout, I focused primarily on paused squats. Below is the workout I’d did.

1. Paused Squats- 315 pounds, 6 sets of 2 with 4 second paused. I chose this weight because it’s a weight I’m mentally and physically comfortable moving. Also, it’s heavy enough to make my muscles work harder after a 4 second pause. I’d rest 2 minutes in between sets.

2. Bulgarian Split-Squats: 3 sets of 3 with 90 pound dumbbells.I followed the paused back squats with Bulgarian split squats to target my legs more directly.

3. Cardio: I usually finished the workouts off with 5-7 minutes of jump roping.

CAT Squat Workout:

On my speed focused squat days, I used Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT) squats. I read that CAT squats should be done with 55-65% of your 1 rep max so I chose 215 pounds as my working set. I aimed for 6 sets of 3 so each of my reps were as explosive as possible. Sometimes I’d get carried away and do more sets. Moving explosively is fun. I did this workout the same days I bench-pressed. I did this workout every week.

Core Work: I also did some direct core work. I used to do these but for some reason I stopped doing it for months. I chose alternating leg raises as my core work. The key to making the most of this is bracing your core as if you’re about to get punched really hard in the stomach. This move builds core coordination, allowing all your core muscles to fire as one unit when performing a heavy lift.

Progression:

During the period of using this approach, I was getting more comfortable with my squat. My speed on the cat squats improves drastically so I moved up to 225 pounds. I also got in a groove with my paused squats. I went from being relieved to be done with 6 sets to wanting to stay at the squat rack all day. I knew this was a good time to test my one rep max.

Outcome:

After 5 weeks of using this approach, it was time to test my squatting strength. Below is the workout I used to test my squat. I rested 4 minutes in between each set.

3 reps at 330 pounds

2 reps at 340 pounds

1 rep at 355 pounds

3 reps at 335 pounds

2 reps at 345 pounds

Now it’s time to test my max. I went for 360 pounds. 360 went up smoothly and I felt good enough to go for more. After a 4 minute break, I went for 365. 365 felt so easy. I didn’t strain at all. After another 4 minute break, I was ready for 370. I went for 370 but I got stuck halfway through the lift and my spotter helped me finish.

After 5 weeks, I gained 10 pounds on my squat. I think I could’ve gotten 370 if I didn’t run out of gas.The previous sets felt easy but the nervous system can be tricky. I’m also happy that I at least got past the bottom position on the missed reps. I think the paused squats are a big reason for that.

Learning Points:

Paused squats are great for getting past sticking points.

The key to improving lifting performance is applying more force to a lift. You need to apply more than 400 pounds of force to move a 400 pound weight.

CAT squats will teach you how to apply more force when squatting.

Paused squats help your deadlift performance because it teaches you to unleash great force from a dead stop position. Paused squats also causes major glute activation

What’s Next?

I plan on continuing this approach to boost my squat. I’m a big believer in these two strength building methods. Pausing at the bottom of your squat takes away the momentum factor that plays into regular squats. It also gives you better awareness of your squat depth so you don’t cheat any reps.

CAT squats obviously boosts squatting speed but it’s known as a great way to boost strength as well. The purpose of CAT squats is to apply the type of force you’d do for a heavy weight into a light weight. The more force you put into a weight, the more likely you’ll be able to move it. This training method was created by a man named Fred Hatfield aka Dr. Squat. I’ll take squatting advice from a man named Dr. Squat any day. The journey continues!