High Volume Workout: Effort is the Key

There are several methods of training which are effective and will yield results if the correct amount of effort is employed. The truth is the human body simply will not change without true effort. Progressive overload is the key to this improvement. This is a gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise. Basically, you are increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system in order to gain muscle endurance, size, or strength. This may involve manipulating the amount of weight, repetitions, sets, and rest to increase the intensity of the exercise and force your muscles to work harder than they are used to. Continue reading

Circuit Training: HIIT Cardio & Resistance

In this final segment on circuit training I chose to focus on higher intensity cardio intervals. By combining cardio with resistance training, you will increase fat burning capacity during the workout and your metabolic rate after the exercise session. In other words, you will effectively burn more calories during the workout and will continue burning calories after the training has been completed.

In this type of circuit you will replace traditional rest periods with cardio exercises performed for 30 to 60 seconds.  The exercises can be as simple as running in place.  The idea is that you do not rest between sets of strength training but continue to move. The goal is to gradually increase the amount of time and the intensity of the cardio intervals. The increased blood flow between lifts will deliver a bigger muscle pump and potentially boost strength and endurance.

Although the cardio portion of the workout is key, strength training plays an equally important role. Resistance training will allow you to build strength, lean muscle, and burn body fat. You can use either time and resistance (example, chest press for 45 seconds) or a specific number of reps to achieve your goal.

Below is a Cardio-Resistance Circuit you can try. Perform the lifting for 45 seconds and the cardio for 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat each set for a total of 3 times. There is no rest between the sets, so adjust the time and exercises to suit your fitness level.

Set 1: Dumbbell Squats for 45 seconds followed by jogging in place for 45 seconds. Repeat this set a total of 3 times

Set 2: Incline Dumbbell Chest Press & Bench step ups. 45 seconds each for 3 sets


Set 3: Upright Rows & Bench Toe Taps. 45 seconds each. 3 sets

Set 4: Overhead Dumbbell Shoulder Press & Alternating Battling Ropes. 45 seconds each. 3 sets.

Set 5: Barbell Bicep Curls & Double Wave Battling Ropes. 45 seconds each. 3 sets.

Set 6: Tricep Dips & Ball Slams. 45 seconds each. 3 sets. The dips can also be done on a bench with the heels on the floor (see http://www.exrx.net for instructions and video)



Shoulder Workout: Use Various Forms of Resistance Training to Achieve Results

Free weights give you a complete training program, because they activate several of the smaller stabilizer muscles. They also allow for unilateral development of the body (increasing strength on both sides of the body). However, our musculoskeletal system is complex. It consists of levers dictated by genetic factors which contribute to our ability to leverage free weights effectively. In other words, these factors determine how much load our muscles can take during a given exercise. The length of our bones, angle of our joints, location of the muscle insertion, muscle fiber type (quick twitch vs. slow twitch), and length of our muscle bellies all limit the load our muscles can achieve. This is particularly true of free weight exercises that are hindered by the point where you move a weight and lose the resistance. For example, the preacher curl typically begins at 35 to 40 degrees, begins to lose effectiveness at 135 degrees, and completely loses resistance at approximately 180 to 200 degrees. This gives 110 degrees of useful range and 50 degrees of unwanted rest from the resistance. If we are able to avoid the loss of resistance, we can make exercises far more effective.

Machines are one way to overcome the loss of resistance. They work your target muscles through a good range of motion, while supporting your body during the exercise. However, since the body is in a fixed position, the smaller stabilizing muscles are less active. In addition, machines often sacrifice the benefit of precision that dumbbells allow.

Cables are another efficient way to create a range of motion that progressively loads the resistance and avoids the loss of resistance. Essentially cables place your muscles in the worst leverage disadvantage possible which increases the resistance and benefits of the exercise and incorporates stabilizing muscles. You can pull a cable from any direction needed, adjust the position of your body as needed, and create a range of resisted motion for the exercise.

The Kinesis machine is a type of cable exercise equipment that uses full gravity and a rotating pulley system to allow for a 360 degree range of motion activating all the body’s kinetic chains. Unlike traditional cable machines, there is no interference to the forearms or range of motion.

Since there are benefits to each type of exercise (free weights, machines, and cables), you can utilize all three to create a complete program to train the shoulders.

Overhead Kinesis Shoulder Press: 20 reps at a lighter resistance followed by 3 sets of 10 reps at a heavy resistance. Repeat above sequence 3 times with 45 seconds rest between each round.


Reverse Kinesis Flyes (for the rear deltoid): Perform high, mid, and low sequence for 3 sets

Reverse Kinesis Flyes High: 20 reps


Reverse Kinesis Flyes Midline: 20 reps

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Reverse Kinesis Flyes Low: 20 reps


Seated Precor Cable Overhead Press 5 sets X 10 reps with 30 seconds rest:


Seated Machine Overhead Press (Incline) 5 sets X 10 reps with 30 seconds rest:


Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press: 4 sets X 12 reps with 30 seconds rest


Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises 7 sets X 10 reps with 30 seconds rest:



C. Barrett. Free Weights vs. Cable Machines

e.medicinehealth. Strength Training. August 2015.

J. McLelland. Cable Machine Benefits. April 2014

Mercola. The Pros and Cons of Free Weights versus Resistance Machines. Peak Fitness. December 12, 2014

N. Tumminello. 5 Machines that are Better Muscle Builders than Free Weights. Muscle and Performance. May 7, 2012.

Technogym.com. Kinesis

Bodybuilding.com. Are Free Weights or Machines Better for Results?

Solid Strategies for Shoulders

The shoulder girdle can rotate almost 360 degrees and is made up of three small muscle heads: the front, middle, and rear deltoids.  In order to achieve symmetry and proper alignment, it is important to work all three muscles equally.  For example, when you work the chest, you use the anterior or front deltoid.  If you focus primarily on training the chest, it can cause the shoulders to pull forward causing a slouch.

Because the shoulders have three different muscles, they should be worked from different angles. You need to include both multi-joint, compound exercises and single-joint, isolation moves.  Multi-joint shoulder exercises such as presses incorporate both the front and medial deltoids (and some rear deltoid activation as well).  Since different muscle groups are being used, it allows you to push more weight, and is also a good way to warm up.  I like to start with a lighter weight and gradually pyramid the weight up with each set. Isolation exercises allow you to target a specific muscle group.  These are small muscle groups, and you will need to use lighter weight when isolating them.

Bring intensity into your shoulder workouts. You could train often, but if you don’t dial in the intensity the muscles simply will not respond.  How much rest are you allowing between sets?  Are you doing enough reps and sets? How heavy are you lifting? Approach each workout with the intent of bringing intensity, and you will begin to see changes in your body. Although rest between sets is beneficial for recovery, you don’t want too much time to elapse.  For my goals, I typically rest between 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets depending on the exercise and the amount of weight used.  Volume (the number of reps and sets) needs to be enough to increase blood flow and stimulate muscle growth.  If you simply do one set, this will not properly activate development.  Finally, be sure to choose a weight that is challenging but allows you to complete 3 working sets of 8-12 reps after warming up the muscles.

This workout focused on lots of compound overhead presses for strength and size with some isolation moves for the medial and rear deltoids. Sets, reps, and rest are based on my personal goals.  Always modify as needed.

Seated Behind the Head Shoulder Press: 4 sets X 15 reps with 45 seconds rest (pyramid weight up with each set)

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Reverse Seated Behind the Head Shoulder Press (same as exercise above but sitting opposite direction in seat):

4 X 12-15 with 45 seconds rest between sets (pyramid weight with each set)

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Cable Overhead Shoulder Press: 4 X 15 with 45 seconds rest between sets (pyramid weight up with each set)

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Superset: Overhead Dumbbell Shoulder Press and Push-ups (not shown) 3 X 10 reps with 45 seconds rest


Superset: Upright Dumbbell Rows and Seated Lateral Dumbbell Raises 4 X 12 with 45 seconds rest

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Reverse Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 7 X 10 with 30 seconds rest 

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