Return to the Iron Dungeon
by Adrian Arrellano
This is your stop for all kinds of tips to increase the productivity of your workouts. From tips on technique to "how to make..." tips, you'll find it here.
Get a Training Journal
If you don't have a training journal, GET ONE! That means right now....well, you can finish reading this first, but after that, go out and get a notepad and write down your latest training poundages, etc. I know what you're thinkin' "I don't need a training journal, I just lifted yesterday and I know what I did." Well, you won't remember next week when you repeat your workout. Now that I have started using a training journal, I have no idea how I made progress before. I used to train 3 days a week and did about 10 sets each workout. It was IMPOSSIBLE for me to remember all the weights and reps I did without using a training journal. With a training journal, I can now look back and see how much weight I was using on dips a month ago and how much progress I've made. How many of you are gonna remember how much they were dipping 2 weeks ago? With a training journal, you can constantly focus on making more and more progress. There are a few things a training journal should contain:
- Date & Time
- Ammount of sleep you got the night before
- A list of exercises you will perform
- Weight and reps used for each movement
- If you wish, you can include cadence and TUL
- Rest intervals (so that you can see if increases in poundages from week to week were because of extra rest between sets or real strength increases).
- Comments (i.e. the weight felt heavy, I was in a bad mood, etc.)
- At the beginning of the journal, you should list your current personal records in a few specific lifts, your body weight, measurements, and you may even wanna take a few pictures.
At the end of the journal....say about 12 weeks, perform the above procedures again to see how much you improved.
If you improved at the end of your journal, you have been doing something right. If you haven't improved, go back and look at your workouts to see what you did wrong.
All you need to do now is get yourself a notebook full of paper, a pen, and some motivation. Please go through with this, it is the best thing you can do for your training.
Better results from Chins and Pull-downs
If like doing chins or pull-downs as part of your back workout, you probably feel that your biceps do too much of the work and that your lats don't really get "fried". Well, today's tip is about making your chins and pull-downs more productive by working on your technique.
First, grab onto the chinning bar or pull-down bar just like you would normally. I prefer a supinated close grip, but a pronated grip is ok, too. Now, focus on initiating the movement by trying to squeeze your shoulder blades down. This doesn't mean to squeeze your shoulder blades together like you're flexing your traps. Pull them down to flex your lats. Now focus on bringing your shoulders (the deltoid areas) down. Do this at the start of each rep and hold the bar in the contracted position at your chest for about a second after each rep.
Another thing that helps me is pulling with my elbows instead of my hands. You should imagine that your hands are hooks and forearms are chains just allowing you to hold onto the bar and that it's actually your elbows doing the work. What also helps me is picturing just my elbows attached to the bar...like if I had no hands or forearms. Just pull with the elbows, and you won't really fatigue your biceps too much.