Serial Trainer

{January 3, 2011}   For Women Only!

So my most popular post is “Happy National Chest Day” and I thought I’d expand on this one because there are so many people interested in it, but I don’t think there’s enough information out there for women that want to tone up and have no real guidance. The common scenario I get is: “I’ve just been doing my boyfriend/husband/brother’s routine” and I ask, “How’s that going for you?” and they say, “I don’t know, I don’t like it too much” to which I respond, “So are your goals to look like your husband/boyfriend/brother?”

I get the oddest looks to that question. But it makes sense, doesn’t it? Anyone that doesn’t ask what your goals are before designing or suggesting a workout regimen for you needs to NOT be designing your workout regimen.

Most women want a lean, sexy look so that they can fit into their tops and feel confident. They don’t want “big guns” and a “chiseled chest” in most cases. So why on earth are they doing chest presses at max weight for 5-10 reps? It doesn’t even take the stand six weeks to see that you’re looking more bulky and your scale numbers are going up.

One thing I like to recommend to my female clients is Pilates. Integrating Pilates moves into your workouts helps strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture. I also suggest some Yoga moves or classes. Stretching the muscles and improving your balance is also very important. If you mix up your routine to include a little of those two types of exercises, you’ll find that your body will take on some very nice results.

Now, let’s hone in on key problem areas for women and address them!

“The Bra Stuff” — The floppy skin that hangs over your bra. Oh c’mon let’s keep it real! How many times have you gone to put on your bra and a form fitting shirt only to see what didn’t fit, muffin out a little?

How to fix it: Cardio. 30-45 mins and lat pull. A good way to find your right weight is to do a few reps. The last five should be the hardest ones and give you just a little struggle. It’s best to have a trainer (if you belong to a gym) do an orientation with you so we can watch your posture and form. In most cases this is a free service offered by your health club. The purpose of the orientation is to tell us if you’re using the right muscle groups, if you’re compensating with another and most importantly, it helps us protect you from pulling muscles or injuring yourself.

If you don’t have a trainer it’s best to invest in a mirror. Watch your form and be sure that you do your research into exactly how that exercise should be done.

“Soft Fluffy Shoulders” — If your neck slopes down in an hourglass form into your shoulders, this is you.
Some people naturally carry their weight differently than others. That’s just the way it is. Nothing to be ashamed of. How your shaped is your own special look and you cannot change your body shape, only how it looks. If you’re curvaceous, that’s ok! If you’ve got narrow hips, that’s OK too! You can accent different areas of your body to draw attention to where you want it. In this case the “Fluffy Shoulders” is frustrating to females that feel like their built like a football player…gear and all.

How to fix it: Cardio. (some of you are starting to get the hint that there’s a pattern to this by now) In order to accentuate the beautiful line of the neck and sexy shoulders. There are a few exercises that can enhance the look but the key is to be careful that you do them correctly or else you’ll end up with an even bulkier look.

Shoulder Raises: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. You should have two light dumbbells in your hands with palms facing down. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly as you raise your arms in front of you to chest level, inhale again as you bring them down and then repeat but bring your arms out to either side (again, to shoulder level). A good hint is to do this exercise slowly..count 1-1000, 2-2000, 3-3000 etc..up to 5-5000. Do a set of 12-15, rest and repeat 2 more times. Be careful not to use your neck!

“Gravity” — Does this need further explanation? In order to give you a lifted look, doing chest presses in a slightly angled position works the chest to give you your own “wonder bra” effect. You can do this on a bench or on a fitness ball. If you this is your first time, start on a bench because the fitness ball will throw off your balance. You can use your dumbbells, bands or barbell. I usually prefer to train female (and male) clients with bands because there is equal resistance throughout the motion and it’s harder to cheat.

Start with your hands at chest level, take a deep breath and exhale as you push upward. Your arms should make a large arc, hugging motion as you bring them upward, then meet in the middle above your chest. Give an extra squeeze and then release to repeat. If you’re trying to tone the muscles and not bulk up, do the same repetitions/sets as the previous exercise.

“Got Cleavage?”Who doesn’t want a nice cleavage when wearing V-Neck shirts or the cute babydoll tops that are all the fashion?

How to fix it: Push-ups!..and Cardio. (did you think you were getting away with it??)

Push ups can be done several ways. Arms wide for more chest isolation and arms closer to work them triceps! Try changing it up and do three sets, working up to 20. Once you get more advanced, try doing them at an incline by raising your feet on a chair or bench, you can also do them with your hands on a dynadisk or fitness ball (be careful!). I also throw in a change here and there by having clients keep one hand on an elevated surface (like a book or small ball) then alternate each rep from side to side. Get creative and challenge yourself. Push-ups work more than your chest and triceps, so you’ll start seeing the difference in your posture as well.

There’s a lot more I can put in here but I’ve decided to break it up. Stay tuned for part 2 and give me some feedback or questions!


{August 4, 2008}   Happy National Chest Day!

It’s Monday. And you know what that means! Every red-blooded American (fe)male (I would even say not just Americans) is planning their chest routine. It’s National Chest Day!

Is this really a holiday? No, not really. It’s just been shown that, for some reason, people like to do chest on Monday. It’s really an in-gym joke but oddly enough, it’s got some truth behind it.

So today I decided to go into detail a little about chest muscles and some good workouts for my die-hard Monday Night Chest players.

The Muscles Involved

The Pectoralis Major muscles (also known as the Pecs) are located on the front of the rib cage.

The Pecs attach to the humerus near the shoulder joint and originate on the breastbone in the center of the chest.

The fibers of the Pectoralis muscles run like a fan across the chest. The fan-like structure of the Pecs allows the humerus to move in a variety of planes across the body.

The Pectoralis Minor muscle (not shown in the diagram) is located underneath the pectoralis major muscle, attaching to the coracoid process of the scapula and originating on the middle ribs.The function of the Pectoralis Major is to bring the humerus across the chest. A fly movement is the best example of this action.

The Pectoralis Minor serves to move the shoulder area forward. This can be seen by shrugging your shoulder forward.

Basic Training

Exercises to work the chest are numerous. Everyone knows that bench presses and push-ups are the first thing people think of when they want to work their chest. The problem is, that people don’t realize there are other muscles involved. The way you do your bench presses and push-ups affects what other muscles are involved.

As you know, I’m a huge advocate of changing up your routine. If you have your arms super-wide for a bench press or push-up, try bringing your arms in closer. If your bench is a flat bench, try using the adjustable bench and sit yourself up a little so that you’re at a 45 degree angle. Most importantly, just remember to have a spotter and to not bounce the bar off your chest. A good guide would be to envision a small tennis ball between the bar and your chest. Keep that much distance and you should be good.

Another key tip is to try to keep your back straight while doing the bench press. This can be achieved by bending your knees or incorporating your core and “drawing in” your navel to workout the abs at the same time.

If you’re a die-hard fan of the push up, adding an decline to your body will greatly affect your results as well. In a previous post I mentioned using a small ball or mat to elevate one arm and alternating. Try putting your feet on a higher surface while you do the push ups to give you more of a challenge. If you use a stability ball, you get the added bonus of working your core, burning more calories because you’re on an unstable base, and working your core.

Trainers are great sources in your gym. Most trainers are super-creative and love to show off any new twist on an exercise they can, so don’t be shy in asking them to come show you one or two things. I know for a fact many of them would be all too happy and willing to show you.

For the Ladies

Ladies, don’t venture too far off. Working your chest is a great way to look your best wearing those favorite tank top and short sleeve shirts. Want to fight the Gravity Beast? Today is your day. Irritating “Bra Stuff” got you down? Push those beefy men out of the way and head to your benches, too.

Besides giving you upper body strength, working out your chest will change your upper body’s look. Want a perkier lift without going under the knife? Stay tuned and I’ll be listing some ways you can do it and, hopefully, can achieve the look you want. I can’t make them two sizes bigger but I can definitely give you lift and firmness.

The Routine

Okay, okay, enough blabbing, right? Give us the exercises! You guys know I have to add this obligatory but necessary note in here. Do not attempt any exercise routine without talking to your doctor! As much as you guys are sick of hearing it, I cannot say it enough. Too many injuries and health related problems stem from everyday people attempting things they find on the internet. And while the exercises I give you are sound, doing them wrong can lead to bad things. So, once more. Get your doctor’s OK. Get a spotter (this could be a mirror if you’re solo) and let’s get some work done.

The Familiar Friend Chest Exercise List: these are the exercises you see people do Monday. Most people who are not familiar with the gym or new to exercising, whether you’re re-starting after a long hiatus or never done a push up before in your life. These exercises are usually included in their routine because they never venture outside their comfort zone. For those of you that incorporate these in your routine, no need to change! Here’s some ways to spice up an old love.

Dumbbell Flies
Bench Press
Push Ups
Push Up into Side Plank

The Unfamiliar Guest Appearance Exercises

Cable Cross Overs
Cable Pull Overs
Decline Press
Decline Bench Press
Seated Medicine Ball Throw
Standing Medicine Ball Throw

Got a favorite National Chest Day exercise? Let us know! And have a great workout!

et cetera