Archives for March 2008

Poll Results

Wow! The Rush poll really came down to the wire. According to the results, Rush is offically the Greatest Band in the World! That’s quite an honor, although the other choices of their being either phenomenal, brilliant or tremendous weren’t far behind. Thanks for participating! Don’t forget to take the currrent National League East poll.

Mitchell Rothbardt
(coming soon)


Just a quick one today. No matter how many different plans and workouts and no matter what your goals in the gym are, there is one thing that everyone agrees on: Overload. What that means is that to improve in any one area you must push body harder than it is used to being pushed. If you want to get bigger, you must lift more. If you want to lose fat, you must keep your heart rate higher for longer, etc. How this can apply to you can vary.
Something that I have been concentrating on lately is rest periods. I have always been conscious of my time between sets, but lately I have been much stricter about it. If I am in a strength progression, I allow myself either 90 seconds or two minutes, depending on the exercise. If I am in a hypertrophy (muscle growth) progression, I give my self one minute. I have a little timer ( that I start as soon as I am done one set, and when it goes off my set starts. That means I ready myself to start the set at about 10 seconds or so to go.

A great workout tool for only $20

Anyway, keep this in mind when doing your next workout. Push!

Mitchell Rothbardt
(coming soon)

Range of Motion

Just a quick one today. Not part of the popular “Basics” series. I just wanted to write about something that my friend Tim mentioned to me the other day: Range of Motion. When you go to the gym and look around, you see people doing some exercises with tons of weight and barely moving the weight. The squat, bench press and leg press are the primary offending exercises here. When you do an exercise, you must do it with a full range of motion. What that means is getting full natural extension and contraction. The key word here is natural. Do not over-extend or exaggerate the movement in an attempt to expand your range of motion. This can put you in an unsupported and bad position physically, and can lead to injury.

If you aren’t using the proper range of motion you, quite simply, aren’t getting the most you can out of an exercise. Very often you are either getting pretty much nothing, or you are working only a very small part of the muscle. Doing that leads to muscle imbalances that can eventually cause injury.

Think objectively about your form. Are you feeling the exercise where you are supposed to feel it? Do a quick set with little or no weight. Is your form the same?

The keys on the three exercises I mentioned are:

Squats: the midline of the thighs should be parallel to the ground or, preferably, lower.

Bench Press: the bar should touch your chest. Not bounce off your chest, just touch it. If you can’t touch the bar to your chest with no weight on the bar, you need to work on your shoulder flexibility.

Leg Press: your kness should go past your chest. Keep in mind that you HAVE GOT TO KEEP YOUR LOWER BACK ON THE PAD!!!!!!!!! This exercise is a prime example of one that you could really hurt yourself on if you overexaggerate your range of motion. If you cannot bring your knees that far back with only a little weight on the machine while KEEPING YOUR LOWER BACK ON THE PAD (that’s a mouthful), then go only as far back as you can while KEEPING YOUR LOWER BACK ON THE PAD. Better yet, just forget this exercise and do squats instead.

Again, the best way to make sure that you are using the proper range of motion is to do the exercise with little or no weight, and see and feel where you are in your movements. Really be conscious of how you feel and your placement. Also, ask a training partner how your form looks. It can be hard to feel your form at times as the weight and adrenaline goes up and up and up.

(coming soon)

P.S. Due to the overwhelming response, I have decided to continue the very important Rush poll for another week. Don’t forget to vote!

Basics Pt. 2

Paralysis by analysis. That is what happens when you are so bombarded by information that you have trouble choosing what information you need or even what to pay attention to. This is what happens when you are looking into cell phone plans or new computers and, boy, does this ever happen when trying to research an exercise program. You read and see so many different methods and each promise the best results whether it’s gaining the most muscle, losing the most fat, looking like the guy in the Bowflex ad in 10 minutes a week. It’s all very confusing, especially if you’re just trying to get started and aren’t really sure of the best way to go about it. Here’s the thing, though: It’s really not that hard.
Today’s topic: Do Something!!

(With apologies to Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove for giving me the title of today’s topic from their excellent book “The New Rules of Lifting”). To be sure, certain programs are better than others. Some programs have more thought and research behind them than others, but doing a crappy program is always better than doing no program. Doing something and giving a good honest effort at it will always get results at first. Don’t worry about six months from now (yet). Just worry about working exercise into your daily life. That is the most important thing. Remember, you are changing the habits of your life and you need to get started! Once you have gotten into the habit of exercising you can then go from doing something to doing something better. (By the way, there’s ALWAYS something better, whether you’ve been working out for 2 days or 25 years).
I’ve seen a video where Herschel Walker talks about how when he was young he didn’t know what to do for exercise so he would just do push-ups and crunches on every commercial break while watching TV. If you don’t think this laid a foundation for him you’ve never seen Herschel Walker. Even as a pro football player he would do 100 crunches every hour on the hour. Dude was, and is, a phenomenal specimen.

Is Herschel in shape?

If you are still wondering how to get started, here’s a very simple program you can do at home in your living room with only your bodyweight:

1 set of squats for 10 reps

Keep your head up, eyes straight and squat between your heels.

1 set of lunges for 10 reps.
Keep your head up and your eyes forward. Get a good stride.

1 set of pushups for 8 reps.

Keep your back straight. Do these from your knees if you need to.

Hold a plank position for 30 seconds.

Keep your back as flat as possible. (It’s hard for me to do with my big butt.)

Do these sets back-to-back with no rest in between. This is one complex set. As you get better, add complex sets with a 90-120 second rest period in between. As you get better from there add a few reps and do shorter rest periods eventually going down to a 45 second rest period. Do this three times a week.

There you go! You have just gone from doing nothing to doing a program that works your legs, hips, chest, shoulders and arms. One round should only take a couple of minutes. Perfect for those long commercial breaks when you’re anxious to find out who got voted off of “American Idol”.

Hopefully you’ll find that doing this makes you feel and look better and makes you want to do some more advanced stuff. Most of all I hope that this makes you realize that it’s not hard to get started and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t felt better once they did.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions.
Thanks for reading!

Mitch Rothbardt
(coming soon)

P.S. Don’t forget to vote in the very scientific Rush poll. There’s only two days left!

P.P.S. Thanks for to the lovely and talented Mrs. Kristi Rothbardt for the photos!

Basics Pt. 1

Hello. This is my first post. How interesting for all one or two of you that might find this. Anyway, I wanted to just to kind of break down a few things about working out, going to the gym, training or whatever you want to call it for those people out there who want to do it, know they should do it, but don’t know how or are kind of intimidated to do it.

You see, one of the amazing things about the benefits of exercise is that it’s one of the very few things that nearly everyone agrees on. If you can find me someone who honestly believes that it is healthier to sit on the couch and watch “Full House” re-runs than to do some sort of physical activity I would be very surprised. Given this fact it is astounding that so many people don’t exercise. I can only think that it’s because a large percentage of those people don’t know what to do and are intimidated by the fact that they think if they go to the gym, they’ll either be confronted by a bunch of musclebound, sweaty, screaming guys throwing 350 pound dumbells across the room, (while this is certainly how I work out, it doesn’t accurately represent most others), or they’ll be thrown into a sea of strange looking pulleys, bars, machines and iron plates and they won’t know what to do.

Not your average gym member.

In any case in my next few posts I’m going to focus on a few very simple things you can do to make yourself feel better and healthier. These are things that you should be doing before you worry about what crazy new program you’re going to do if you are already exercising, or they are something you could start to do to build a foundation for your new healthy lifestyle if you are not already exercising. Basically, if you are not doing these things, you are putting yourself into a hole and guaranteeing yourself that you won’t get the results you want.

Today’s topic: Eat Breakfast!!

Eat Breakfast! I know. You don’t have time. You’re not hungry in the morning. The dog ate your homework. The checks in the mail. None of that matters.

Here’s the thing: when you eat, you raise your metabolism. Your body says to itself, “I’m getting some fuel, that means I can get rid of some of this stuff I already have that I don’t need anymore.” That means your body burns off fuel. That means your body burns off fat. When you don’t eat, your body says to itself, “Hold on there. I don’t have any fuel coming in, so I really need to hold on to what I’ve got.” That means your body stores fuel. That means your body stores fat.

The longer you don’t eat, the more your body wants to store fat instead of burn it off. When you break up the word breakfast, what do you get? Break. Fast. You are breaking a fast. You haven’t eaten in 8 or 9 hours so your body really needs something to get it’s metabolism going. All you are doing when you skip breakfast is slowing your body’s metabolism down to a crawl and guaranteeing that whatever and whenever you do eat, it will all be stored as fat. And by the way, research shows that when you are overly hungry you are much more likely to eat sugary, fatty junk food, making the situation much worse.

If you are looking at all of the latest workouts and gym equipment and you are not eating breakfast, you are very nearly wasting your time. Like all of the things I will be adding to my “Basics” posts, eating a good breakfast is a foundation that you should build your whole healthy lifestyle on. Start at the beginning and take each step as it should come and you will get healthier, feel better and look better.

By the way, a piece of chocolate cake doesn’t count as a good breakfast.

Mitchell Rothbardt
(coming soon)

P.S. Look for more posts. I will try to update on a regular basis. Please leave me comments if you have any suggestions or loved it or hated it. Thanks for reading!