Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Best Ever Workout Advice

In keeping with my December theme of sharing my list of "Best Evers" with you, I'd like to share some 'Best Evers' that have really helped me with my workouts.

The first is a technique, the second is advice.

The technique I want to share with you is the hook grip.

If you are a big-time dead lifter then you most likely use an overhand/underhand grip when the weights start to get heavy.

I was the exact same way.

Any time I attempted a dead lift above 400 pounds, I moved to an over-under grip. I did my best to make sure I evened this out each set (left hand over, right hand under, followed by right hand over, left hand under).

After years of dead lifting using this grip I had developed chronic lower back pain, and a NOTICEABLY more developed right erector muscle and right trapezius muscle.

(Noticeable to the point that every time I took my shirt off, someone would feel the need to point it out that the right side of my back was bigger than the left side of my back...).

Long story short - My back is now fine (and symmetrical), but it took some rehab work and about 5 years off from dead lifting.

So my best ever for you is this - If you love dead lifting, then try the hook Grip.

It is an awkward but effective way to handle big weights without having to resort to the dreaded over-under grip.

Basically, you grip the bar with a standard overhand grip, but with a hook grip your thumb goes UNDER your first two fingers....imagine making a fist with your thumb tucked in.

Essentially, your first two fingers "hook" your thumb into place so the bar doesn't role out of your grip.

It's a really tricky technique, but if you love dead lifting and are pulling big weights then the hook grip may be useful to you.

I found great benefits from this grip, (including finally being able to dead lift again), so hopefully you may also find some benefit.

OK...on to my best ever workout advice...

My best ever workout advice is to understand WHY you are working out. You need to define your purpose.

My workouts improved IMMENSELY when I finally figured out why I workout.

I lift weights to try to build muscle.

I do NOT go to the gym to burn fat.

This realization has saved me from hours of wasted time in the gym. My workouts build muscle and the WAY I EAT burns fat. (or, more correctly the way I DON'T eat burns body fat)

By keeping this focus, I am able to constantly remind myself WHY I am in the gym, and WHY I eat the way I do.

I've admitted to myself the awful truth that you can't correct a bad diet with an hour of 'cardio' a couple times a week.

(Treadmills are a great way to stay in your comfort zone, but a BAD way to lose body fat)

I'm not sure why I ever thought an extra 20 minutes of walking on a treadmill after my workout would be anything other than a complete waste of 20 minutes, but by admitting this and keeping my focus in the gym, it saved me a lot of time and frustration.

Plus, it kept me honest with my diet...once you admit that cardio can't fix a bad diet, you will get hit with a HUGE incentive to watch how you eat and make sure you are doing the things you need to do to lose weight and keep it off.

No more using exercise as a weight loss crutch.

(This is EXACTLY why Eat Stop Eat is a combination of flexible intermittent fasting AND resistance training)

So my best advice workout is to not get side tracked, and do your best not to fall for the "comfort zone" mentality and believing that all is standing between you and your ideal body is an hour
on the elliptical a couple times a week.

Remember your purpose - workout for muscle, eat for weight loss.


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billy said...

Tonight is actually Deadlift night so I'll try this, thanks! I hate the over/under.

Jordan said...

"No more using exercise as a weight loss crutch."

That hits home for me, too. Before I severed a tendon in my foot, I was doing about half an hour of cardio four times a week, probably moderate intensity, and didn't substantially reduce my calorie intake. I did that for a three or four months. Needless to say, I didn't lose weight. Yep, you can't outrun a doughnut. :-) I think it was a bit of a distraction from my diet. When I'm ready to exercise again, I think I'll start with some basic moves, like push ups, body rows, squats, lunges, planks, etc. I'll probably do some cardio, just to stay active on off days, but I'm starting to see the logic in focusing on strength training and diet.

Alyson said...

Why do I work out? To maintain my lean mass while I [hopefully] lose weight. To lose only fat.

And it was this realization that finally made me give up the extended cardio and focus on strength training. It's something I got from your materials when I found Eat Stop Eat—thanks for the perspective.

Wazzup said...

Hook grip hurts. Why not use straps ?

Brad Pilon said...

Hey Wazzup,

I really don't like the idea that when the weight gets really heavy, I am simply 'hanging' it off the ligaments of my wrists.

I'd prefer to avoid straps if at all possible.


dustin said...

The hook grip is great once you get used to it. I think it took me a couple weeks before it didn't hurt my thumb, it's all I do for deads, and I often use it for rows too.

Filipa said...

Hi Brad,

I started IF 2 weeks ago. Today is my 3rd day of fasting (I'm fasting once a week) but I'm not experiencing what other people do.

My mother didn't liked the idea so she brought a machine home to measure my GI and when measured it was really low and I had to eat. Is this normal? And I don't see any differences in my concentration level.

I'm really enjoying the fact that I look thiner and can eat what I want, but I'm afraid to past out some day, or get sick.

Thank You,


Brad Pilon said...

Hi Filipa,

2 quick questions:

1- When you say your mother brought home a machine to measure your you mean measure your blood glucose? And if so what was the number?

2- Just a quick concern (as you mentioned your mother) - remember that the advice in my book is meant for adults. I'm not sure how old you are, bought I just wanted to make sure that this point is clear.


Brad Pilon said...

Billy -

How'd the hook grip workout for ya?


Filipa said...

Hi Brad,

I'm 23 years old.

Yes, the machine measures my blood glucose (I didn't know how to say it in english). Wen measured my blood glucose was 63.


Brad Pilon said...


Flipia if your blood sugar really hit 63 mg/Dl then that is much to low.


Ozlat said...

I'd have to say the best workout advice I have ever received was to use kettlebells daily... short spells and simple exercises that work the whole body (especially core muscles)... great for toning up and losing an unwanted fat !!