Friday, June 1, 2012

The V-Neck Workout


The V-Neck Workout
By: Mike Manzi

Let’s get one thing straight:  I definitely do NOT consider myself to be a slave to fashion trends.  The few trends I’ve attempted to get on board with have only ended…well let’s just say badly (Hammer pants anyone?).  

Ninety percent of my week is spent wearing gym shorts and Nike’s, so I’m not the type to go out and invest exorbitant sums of money in trendy clothing to wear in my limited free time spent either at the grocery store or sitting in the movies.  Never mind the fact that most of these trends don’t apply to guys like me anyway.  I eat…a lot, I lift heavy weights…a lot, so skinny jeans?  Extra-large oxford shirts that are so tight they feel like they’ve been shrink-wrapped to my torso?  Probably not going to pull those off any time soon.  

When I look for casual (non-gym) clothing, I tend to err more toward comfort and functionality, with style taking a close second.  With summer starting to peek it’s tanned head around the corner, I need something that I can be comfortable- yet look good in- whether I’m hitting a rooftop on Saturday night, or out to get the paper on Sunday morning.  

Thankfully, for guys out there, the V-neck t-shirt easily fits that description.  Comfortable enough to allow you to navigate your way through any number of the day’s tasks with ease, yet colorful and stylish enough to get you noticed by the fairer sex, and fitted just right to show off those bigger, thicker muscles you spent all winter developing.  

Wait, what do you mean you didn’t spend all winter developing bigger, thicker muscles?  What do you mean you’re swimming in that shirt like someone threw you in the deep end?  

Well, by all means, allow me to assist.  

I have just the program for you, my unprepared friend.  Take a look through it while I ready myself to kick sand in your face a la those Charles Atlas comics from the 1950’s.  

Just kidding.  All joking aside, this IS a program geared toward making you look good in short sleeves this summer.  It IS NOT, however, for the faint of heart.  There are a lot of repetitions, a lot of sets, and if you’re the type of person that likes to be in, out, and gone from the gym in 30 minutes, this program probably isn’t for you.  

If you’re still reading, you’re intrigued enough to give this a shot.  

Most mass-building programs you find out there will tend to eschew compound (multi-joint) movements for an increased emphasis on isolation (single-joint) movements, utilizing high set loads, heavy weights, and low repetitions.  Think about every “GET HUGE!” program you’ve ever read:    Start with one or two big movements, then spend the majority of your time working through smaller, more time-consuming movements.  

What I’ve done with this program, taking in to consideration this IS a short-term program, is turn that traditional knowledge on it’s head.  What you’ll find is an increased emphasis on compound movements, utilizing a strategy known as a pre-exhaust (working a smaller muscle prior to working a large one) to aid in motor unit recruitment, resulting in increased blood flow to the area and muscle fiber size.  

Another change I’m going to make is to the standard training split.  You know the one.  Monday is chest.  Tuesday is back.  Wednesday is legs.  Thursday is shoulders.  Friday is arms.  Raise your hand if I just named your EXACT weekly training split.  Boooring.  

What we’re going to do is hit every major muscle group twice every seven days, giving you less recovery time between workouts, and forcing your muscles to work that much harder to keep up with the blistering pace we’re setting.  

And while the majority of this program focuses on the musculature of the torso to make you look good in short sleeves, I also included a leg workout, because hey, you’ve got to have some pillars to support all this newly found strength and muscle, am I right?  

One thing I didn’t include with this program is a cardiorespiratory component.  While cardio IS indeed important, during this six-week phase, try and keep it to a minimum.  No more than 60 minutes a week, divided up however you wish.  And let’s watch the intensity as well, huh fellas?  Low to moderate intensity cardio is all you need, as we definitely don’t need you going catabolic and burning off all this hard-earned muscle because you suddenly felt like running five miles one day.  

Of course, by following this program, it DOES mean you will have to work out on the weekends, but remember, we’re thinking short-term here.  Six weeks of beating your muscles in to submission, and then you’ll be in maintenance mode for the rest of the summer.  Believe me, you (and the ladies) will thank me when it’s all over.  

Your New Training Split

Monday, Friday:  Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Tuesday, Saturday:  Back, Biceps, Abdominals

Wednesday, Sunday:  Legs

Thursday:  Off

The Workouts

Chest



Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
(A) High-to-Low Cable Crossover
3
20
(B) Low-to-High Cable Crossover
20
Incline Dumbbell Press
4
8
Dumbbell Flye
4
10-12
Medicine Ball Pushups*
3
Failure


(A) and (B) should be performed as a superset
*Each hand on a medicine ball


Shoulders



Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
(A) Rear Delt Flye
3
20
(B) Dumbbell Front Raise
15
Standing Overhead Barbell Press
4
8
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
4
12, 10, 8, 6



(A) and (B) should be performed as a superset


Triceps


Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
Dips*
3
15
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension
3
20
Barbell Close-Grip Bench Press
4
8-10


*Utilize assisted dips as needed to get through the prescribed number of repetitions


Back


Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
(A) Cable Face Pull*
3
20
(B) Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown
15
Close-Grip Lat Pulldown
4
8
Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows
4
10-12 (each side)
Dumbbell Shrugs
4
25



(A) and (B) should be performed as a superset
*Set cable pulley in the high position and attach a triceps rope.  Grasp the base of the handles with an overhand grip (thumbs toward the face), lean back slightly, pinch the shoulder blades together, and pull the center point of the rope toward the bridge of the nose.


Biceps


Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
Seated Dumbbell Incline Curl (alternating)
3
15
Standing EZ-Bar Curl
3
20
Dumbbell Hammer Curl (alternating)
4
10




Abdominals


Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
Bicycle Crunch*
2-3
20 (each side)
Russian Twist w/ Medicine Ball
-
20 (each side)
Hanging Leg or Knee Raise
-
12-15
Elbow Plank
-
30-60 seconds




*Perform all exercises as a circuit (repeat one after another with little to no rest until all are completed).  Repeat as needed.




Legs

Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
(A) Seated Knee Extension
3
20
(B) Seated Leg Curl
25
Barbell Squat to Calf Raise
4
12-15
Barbell Alternating Lunge
4
10-12 (each side)
Standing Calf Raise
4
20



(A) and (B) should be performed as a superset


Mike Manzi is a Certified Personal Trainer and resident smart-ass at LoHi Athletic Club in Denver, Colorado




50 Shades of Hot


50 Shades of Hot
By: Mike Manzi


Ladies, please don’t share this with anyone, as it will shoot my reputation all to hell and back, but I read...a lot.  

And I’ll tell you this as well:  I don’t care for the Twilight novels much at all.  Yes, I have read all of them (shudders), and yes, I do realize they’re geared toward (shudders again) teenage girls, but I can’t be enthused about a series of books whose underlying message boils down to this (spoiler alert):

“Hi, my name is Bella, and my perfect boyfriend turned me into a vampire so we can be seventeen forever and have magical powers and everyone is happy!  Oh, and I also crave human flesh from time to time, but I couldn’t care less, because me and my perfect boyfriend will be together forever!  Yay!”

Okay, so I have this nasty habit of stumbling upon reading that isn’t intended for me, a guy that likes a good conspiracy thriller any day of the week, has read Hunt for Red October approximately ten times, and can quote Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (a favorite of Gordon Gekko-esque wannabes...”Lunch is for wimps!”) from memory.  

That being said, my bad habit once again got the best of me, as I stumbled upon a novel entitled Fifty Shades of Grey.  If you haven’t read it, Grey comes across as a sort of softcore, boudoir erotic fiction, sprinkled with a healthy dose of BDSM fantasy.  I really don’t want to know how thorough E.L. James’ research was for this novel.  Just know that the subject of “fisting” came up more than once, and that was more than enough for my delicate sensibilities.  

But whatever, this isn’t book club.  I’m not going to expound on the virtues of the push-pull relationship of dominance and submission, nor will I talk about releasing the inner goddess, or even nipple clamps.  

No, I’ll do you one better:  I’ll take all the information I gleaned from this novel (that I probably shouldn’t have read) and put it into a workout program (minus the nipple clamps, of course, that’s just...eww).  

This program is all about building muscular endurance and stamina, and of push-pull relationships, not between doms and subs however, but of the musculature of the human body.  By the time you’re finished with this six-week program, you’ll be more than ready to release your inner goddess on the unsuspecting Christian Greys of the world.  

First and foremost, let me break it down for you.  This is a five-day-a-week program: three days of heavy (that’s right, I said heavy, ladies, please don’t put me up on THAT soapbox again) resistance training, alternated with two days of intensive cardiovascular training.  Abdominals come at the end of each resistance training session.  

Secondly, this is a structured program, utilizing split training.  So no hitting the treadmill for 45 minutes at the same pace, then doing 5 minutes of bicep curls with 3 pound weights followed by  half-assing your way through some crunches before bolting for the door like you’re double-parked.  That’s right, I saw that.  

Third, I hate to tell you, you probably won’t be able to peruse the latest issue of Glamour while performing your cardiorespiratory training.  30 minutes of intense interval training utilizing the old-school “Kill/Chill” philosophy, bookended by ten minutes of warmup and cooldown time is what awaits you.  If you can still manage to read while going through that, well, let’s just say you’re better than me, and we’ll leave it at that.  

Sure, to the uninitiated, this all sounds pretty intimidating.  But that’s how I want you to feel.  If you’re not a little scared of your workout, it’s probably too easy.  And an easy workout is like a rocking chair:  It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.  

So let’s get all you burgeoning Anastasia Steele’s somewhere good.  

Your New Training Split

Day 1, Day 5*: Chest, Back, Shoulders, Abdominals

Day 3*: Biceps, Triceps, Legs, Abdominals

Day 2, Day 4: Cardio

Day 6, Day 7: Off

*Rotate days one and five with day three every week.  So if you’re working chest, back, and shoulders on days one and five this week, next week work those same muscles only on day three.  This way, each muscle group gets an equal amount of attention throughout the duration of the program.

The Workouts

Workout 1:  Chest, Back, Shoulders


Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
(A) Dumbbell Chest Press
3
12
(B) Seated Row
12
(A) Seated Lat Pulldown
3
12
(B) Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
12
(A) Cable Crossover
3
12
(B) Dumbbell Lateral Raise*
12
Pushups (Burnout)**
1
50


Each (A) and (B) exercise should be performed as a superset.
*After finishing the last set, rest for approximately one minute, then perform all six exercises in a circuit fashion, dropping the weight so you can complete 15-20 repetitions for each exercise.
**The burnout should be the last exercise you perform, so complete this AFTER finishing your circuit.  For pushups, you can go to your knees, but try to complete as many as you can with good form from a standard pushup position before doing so.  You’re not finished until you get 50!

Workout 2: Biceps, Triceps, Legs

Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
(A) Barbell Squat
3
15
(B) Seated Hamstring Curl
20
(A) Dumbbell Hammer Curls (alternating)
2
15
(B) Assisted Dips
15
(A) Romanian Deadlift
3
15
(B) Seated Leg Extension
20
(A) Preacher Curls
2
15
(B) Seated Dumbbell Overhead Extension
15
(A) Leg Press
3
20
(B) Sumo Squat (holding kettlebell)*
25
Squat Jumps (Burnout)
1
50


Each (A) and (B) exercise should be performed as a superset
*After completion of the final set, rest approximately one minute, then circuit ONLY the lower body exercises, aiming to complete the number of repetitions shown, before proceeding to the burnout.  

Workout 3: Abdominals

Exercise
Sets
Repetitions
Bicycles*
2-3
20 (each side)
Reverse Crunch
-
20
Plank Walk-Up**
-
10
Flutter Kicks
-
15***


*Perform all exercises as a circuit, completing each exercise with little to no rest in between.  Rest, then repeat as needed.
**Start from a standard elbow plank position, walk up to your hands, then back down.  That’s one rep.
***Count it like 1, 2, 3, (1); 1, 2, 3, (2); 1, 2, 3, (3)...and so on until completion.

Workout 4: Cardiovascular Training

Phase 1
Duration
Warmup
10 minutes



Phase 2
Duration (10 Minutes Total)
Kill It!*
1 minute
Chill It**
2 minutes
Kill It!
1 minute
Chill It
2 minutes
Kill It!
1 minute
Chill It
2 minutes
Kill It More!
1 minute


*Killing it implies max- or near-max-effort for the allotted period of time.  If you’re on the treadmill, this means sprinting.  The stairmaster, going as fast as you can handle for the allotted period of time without falling off the back.  The bike, the highest resistance you can handle while keeping your speed up.  In each phase, give approximately 80-90% effort.  For the final Kill It! portion, give your absolute maximum effort.
**Chilling it means returning to an easy jog or walk, etc.


Phase 3
Duration (10 Minutes Total)
Chill It
1 minute
Kill It!
1 minute*


*Repeat four more times.

Phase 4
Duration (10 Minutes Total)
Chill It
1 minute
Kill It!
2 minutes
Chill It
1 minute
Kill It!
2 minutes
Chill It
1 minute
Kill It!
2 minutes
Kill It More!*
1 minute


*This is the high point, after this last minute, nothing stands between you and a well-deserved cooldown.  So push the pedal to the floor and use up all the gas you’ve got left in the tank.

Phase 5
Duration
Cooldown
10 minutes



In regards to the cardio program, yes, it is a TON of cardio.  Don’t feel like you have to complete all 50 minutes in one fell swoop.  If you need to take a breather between phases, fill up your water bottle, switch apparatus, etc, by all means go for it!  After all, although it might not seem like it, I’m not trying to kill you, I’m trying to make you better!  

This is probably one of the toughest all-encompassing programs I’ve ever written.  But as I mentioned before, it’s meant to be intimidating.  But every time you finish that last burnout set, or bust through that last balls-to-the-wall interval, you’re going to feel like you can accomplish just about anything you want.  And that’s what being a goddess is all about, isn’t it?

Mike Manzi is a Certified Personal Trainer and resident smart-ass at LoHi Athletic Club in Denver, Colorado.  He is also now terrified of the word “fetish.”