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2012/02/03

Work-Out Primer

I don’t get a lot of letters or notes here at Wonderland Burlesque, but when I do, if they are not too hate-filled or vile, I like to pass them along and respond to them.  Here is a letter from a dude I happen to actually know, asking for working-out and diet advice.  So this is my stab at an exercise primer. 

Yes, it’s that time of the year, when everyone resolves to make positive changes in their lives.  Some of these resolutions are made without any real commitment.  But for those who are really ready to make a change – I wish you the very best.  Whatever you put into it – you will get out of it.

Here’s James letter (yeah, I changed his name).

Hello!!!!

It is James, aka *********, from Manhunt.  I am looking to lose 30 pounds of fat to get down to 140 lbs. and then put on 10-15 lbs. of rock hard muscle in order to reach my goal of 150-155 lbs.  My main goals are a tight, toned body and six pack abs.  What work out/nutrition advice do you have to help me reach this goal?  

I am hoping to either join a gym to help myself or work out at home, but am unsure which will work best for me.  Also what types of foods and how much should I eat? 

Any help you can give me will be much appreciated.  Looking for any help you can give me.  Looking forward to your reply

Also: Know of a good gym that is cheap you could recommend?

James

Dear James,

There is so much advice out there on the internet, I really urge you to do your own research.  You will find what works for you.  That said, I can share what works for me.

Doctor, Doctor
First... you have to visit your physician and make sure you are up for this.  Knowing your cholesterol, glucose levels, liver function, current blood pressure, pulse, etc. will establish an excellent base line from which to work and serve as a guide for whether or not you're making any progress.

Your optimum weight is determined by your height and to some extent your body type.  A physician can tell you the ballpark of where your body will be most comfortable and healthy.

Fat and Muscle
You will develop the muscle as you lose the fat.  And it takes time.  I am thinking you are probably at an age where your metabolism has changed drastically (or soon will), so it is a good thing you are starting now - because if you don't head it off at the pass - it gets a lot worse. 

Diet
Your diet is a major contributor to excess weight.  So here are my hard and fast rules:

·         No soda.  Not regular or diet.  That stuff is awful for you.  Stop drinking soda and you will be amazed by the difference in your body. 
·         Drink water.  Lots and lots of water.  It is your best friend and will always make you feel better.  Think of it as a body cleanse. 
·         Alcohol - limit to two drinks per month.  Seriously.  And never beer.  Beer bloats.  Eat your veggies and your fruits.  I go buy fruit - berries when they are on sale and freeze them. Put them in a blender with a banana and some 100% juiced and make a 100% fruit smoothies.  They rock and remind me of milk shakes. 
·         NO FAST FOOD.  It’s as bad as soda.  Just say no. 
·         Eat whole foods when possible, start eating more at home.  Stop buying prepared foods or box meals - that stuff has lots of crap in them. 
·         Limit desserts.  I'm not a dessert person, so sweets are not an issue for me.  If they are for you, be responsible about the amount you eat.  
·         Moderation in everything.  Portion control is everything.  Restaurant meals are way oversized.  Never eat anything bigger than your fist.
·         Don't eat until you're full, eat until you are feeling fed. 
·         Drink water with meals.  Drink water during work.  Drink water while you work out.  
·         NO POTATO CHIPS.  Want a snack?  Eat plain baked corn chips with fresh salsa. 
·         Don’t skip meals.  Breakfast is the most important.  Plain oatmeal with a banana mashed into it for flavor?  Rocks.  I eat it 5 times a week. 
·         Limit: Sugar, Caffeine, Saturated Fats, Oils, Diet Foods (Lite), Sugar Substitutes, Alcohol.  When it goes in your mouth ask yourself, does my body know what to do with this?
·         Lots of info on diet on line.  So read up on foods to avoid.  And this is my final point about food - diets don't work.  Eating is a lifestyle choice.  It is a game changer.  So change your game.

 Gym or Work Out at Home?
Join a gym.  You will buy all that equipment for home use and find that you are not motivated at home.  Working out takes a lot of discipline and if you haven’t been working out, then I really recommend that you join a gym and take advantage of all that it has to offer.

Go to a gym.  Get around other dudes who are working out and are successful.  Watching them in the shower room will be a big motivator for you.  Also... watch them on the work out floor.  Pick up tips by watching, but be careful.  There are a lot of stupid people at the gym doing exercises improperly.  They will hurt themselves or damage the equipment eventually. Don’t be that guy.  

How do you know who to watch?  My suggestion: The dudes who are NOT over-worked out, but have a tight, slim, healthy build are your best bet.  Big muscles usually mean stupid form. 

Finding the Right Gym
You know... I think that you should go try out a couple of places.  You can get at least a day pass.  Tell them you're shopping around and that they will not be the only gym you're checking out.  Take the tours.  Use the facilities.  And invest the money.  I really recommend that you go to a gym with a swimming pool.  Also check out the vibe.  Is it gay friendly?  You don't want to be surrounded by a bunch of homophobes.  But do invest that money - this is important.  This is a life choice.  Choose to take care of your body.  Invest in yourself.

Don't be pressured into anything.  Read the small print and the contract thoroughly.  Ask a LOT of questions. 

If, for some reason, you get a bad vibe from the place, or the customer service is not friendly, welcoming and interested in you - then walk out and tell them that their customer service is not up to standard.  Gyms are an expense.  Invest wisely.

Average cost: $43 per month / $511 annually

Check to see if you can get a pay month to month deal – getting locked into long term contracts suck.

My only recommendation: YMCA or YWCA – they rock and are generally cheaper than Lifetime, etc.

Form
Go slow.  Less weight, slow movement, great form – will yield the best results.  Form refers to the movement - how precise you are with each rep.  Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps to start.  If you are struggling too much, so much that it is affecting your form, then you are using too much weight. 

Form is everything.  Every time you pick up a weight you have to know the proper way to use it.  Work briefly with an instructor/trainer for pointers on form or get a book. I suggest Gold's Gym book: it tells you exactly what good form is for every exercise.  And don't fall into the whole "more weights means better work out".  That is macho bullshit.  You don't need to use heavy weights to get a great work out, but you do need to use good form.  Form is everything.  It prevents injury which means you get to keep working out.  It also maximizes the amount of time and energy expelled, yielding the best results. 

How Often?
Work out a 4-5 x's a week for 45-60 minutes each session.  Cardio twice a week, weights/strength training 3 times a week.  Have a plan – a work out regime designed ahead of time.  Change that work out regime completely every 3 months!  Shock that body.  Keep challenging it – but in good, healthy ways.

What To Do:
Stretch:  How often do you reach over your head?  When was the last time you jumped up and down?  Think of all the stuff you used to do as a little kid - and how long it has been since you did any of that - playing tag, climbing, etc.  Start every work out with a nice stretch.  Incorporate yoga and think about form and function as you stretch.  Watch others who look like they know what they are doing.  This should be a minimum of 10 minutes of every work out.

Push-ups: great for chest, abs, and lats.  Do them.  Work your way up to 60 in one stretch.  It takes time, but everyone can do it.  Starting out - keep them shallow if you must, but do them.  Make sure your abs are engaged when you do them.  Form is important.  I love push ups.  Makes my pecs pop every day.   These are key if you an those hot mounds supporting your nips.

Swim: if you can.  It is the best exercise ever - especially for weight loss.  Swim laps until you are exhausted.  It will yield great results.  Swimming counts as cardio as long as you push it. Push it real good.

Cardio: join classes.  Start by standing in the back and watching, doing your best to keep up.  I recommend Zumba and step.  Turbo kick is good, too, but you need to be in better shape and more flexible for that.  Boot Camp?  It may discourage you, so don't do it until you are already in shape.   Core workouts rule.  This will help you with endurance.   This will help you with your blood pressure and pulse. Cardio is very important.  2x's a week minimum. 

Crunches:  Not everyone is meant to have abs.  Not all body types allow for this.  Abs are a combination of workout, diet and genetics.  I do 200-300 a day.  And you need to vary your routine - changing it up every 4 weeks.  If you're not feeling it the next day, you're coasting.  The body adapts very quickly to exercises repeated, so shock your system.  I do them on a mat, I do them with the half-ball, and I do them with a full ball.  Form is everything when doing crunches, so study up on it, again - the web is your best source.

Weights:  3 x's a week.  Dumb bells rule.  Start slow.  Start light. Think about form constantly.  Those dudes working out with massive weights and grunting a lot?  Yeah, ignore them.  They are either steroid cases or idiots. Be smart.  There are no short cuts.  And not everyone is meant to look like Arnold or Stallone (who is a giant steroid case). 

Machines:.  Pay attention to the little diagram on the machines.  It will tell you how to use them properly.  Machines are dangerous and will cause muscle tears if used improperly.  Don't watch others.  Many people have no idea what they are doing on the machines.   AVOID those arm machines.  They cause more damage to your elbows than they are worth.   

Pull-ups:  Assisted w/ the machine or with just a bar.  Excellent means of creating lats.  Which is what you want if you want that big shoulder thing happening.  They are difficult.  They suck.  They will wear you out.  Do them.  I mix three different kinds of pull ups into my routines every other month.

Legs: very, very important.  Those machines are nice, but not enough.  And be careful not to use too much weight on those machines to start.  Your calves need time to stretch.  Use dumb bells and do a lot of squats (butt) and lunges (butt).  Again, form is king.  You're wasting your time if you are not engaging muscles properly.  And you know what?  You need your abs (core) for everything.  So they always need to be engaged - stay on top of it.
  
Concentrating on trouble spots?  It doesn't work.  Your back fat and love handles are part of a complete picture.  So work the big picture, manage your diet and you will see results.  It takes time.  You will see results almost immediately, but those problem spots will take years to conquer.  Exercise is not something you do until you get what you want.  It is a lifestyle and a really important choice if you want to live a long time and remain attractive.

Running:  I say no.  Walking will actually help you lose more weight.  Running is fun, and great for endurance, but will result in muscle and joint issues in the long run.  I still run, but only in summer (so I can get my tan on).  Walking - strenuous walking - actually is much better for you.  Hiking?  Great, because the uphill and uneven terrain causes the body to constantly readjust and challenge itself. 

Running machines / Elliptical / Stationary Bikes:  Eh.  They leave me cold.  If I want to run – I go outside.  The terrain is more interesting, it is a great way to develop balance, and the scenery is entertaining.  Also – on a hot summer day there is nothing like free-balling it in a pair of skimpy running shorts. Of course, make sure you’re feeling good about your bod before running around without a shirt on. 

Balance: Work on your balance.  Stand on one leg, etc.  Yoga is great for this.

Protect your joints.  Joint injuries are difficult to recover from and can be long term in nature.  They will also inhibit your ability to excise and affect other areas of your life (like typing on a keyboard).  Major cause of joint injury?  Too much weight and bad form.  Also, if you don't know what your rotator cups are, you need to research them before exercising.  It is the number one injury that people experience when starting out.  Your elbows and your knees are close seconds.  Protect them by using good form.

Asides:
·         Wear work out gloves.  They help.  They protect.
·         I love working out to music.  It motivates and keeps me focused and moving.
·         Remember to breathe.  Inhale on the rest portion, exhale when exerting force.
·         Working out makes you horny (it raises your testosterone level – something that diminishes one percent per year after the age of 40).  Enjoy that horniness!  It will keep you working out.
·         Look at your bod in the mirror.  Before a work out, if I am alone in the locker room, I will look at my body and make myself get a hard on before working out.  I don’t bate, or cum, but I do want that hard on – it is a motivator for me.  Then after the work out, I look for differences in my bod.  You will like what you see.  Take pictures! (And send them to me!)

Gym Etiquette:
Good gym etiquette is important:

·         Wipe down the equipment with spray before and after use.
·         Put weights back where they belong.
·         Don't grunt a lot.  Idiots do that.
·         Be conscientious in the locker room.  Keep your shit together.  Close locker doors.  Put your towel in the hamper.  Don't stare. 
·         Be conscientious in the shower room.  Don't stare. 
·         Wear appropriate attire.  (Jock straps are always hot.)
·         Be really, really careful if you fool around in the sauna, the locker room, the showers.  Other people don’t necessarily want to see that sort of thing at their gym.  Pity, huh?


Most important thing: JUST DO IT.  Even when you don’t feel like it.  It will make you feel so much better.  Find the time.  Make the time.  Some days I dread it, but as soon as I do it, I love it.

Conclusion:
So, this should serve as a start.  I really urge you to go on the web and do your own research.  There is tons of information available, most of it is quite reliable, and there are certainly a lot of people out there who know a lot more than I do.  What I have shared is what I have experienced.  If you are serious about working out – educate yourself.   

If you have questions – ask a staff member at the gym you attend. If it is a good gym, they will be more than happy to help you.

This was fun.  Next time I write about working out it will be my annual work out summary.  I have had a good year.  Yeah, I know – some internet troll pointed out that my body is not all that great – calling it a do-a-little-bit-at-the-gym-everyday.  Well, you know what?  I do what I can with what I have.  And I do quite a bit during the time I am at the gym.  I’m feeling really good about what I have accomplished.  No – I’m no Arnold (would never want to be), but I am very pleased with what I have, especially considering my age.

Okay.  Enough.  Time to hit the gym.

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