Archive for the Weight Training Category

Ways to increase grip strength

Posted in Weight Training with tags , , , on April 8, 2008 by Dr. CJ

As this is a recurring issue for me in performing deadlifts to my maximum potential, I offer several techniques to strengthen one’s grip.

Hand grippers – with progressive increases in resistance. My gripper sits in my vehicle – great exercise for the long highway stretches.


Hanging from pull-up bar as long as possible – this exercise taught me that I will never be the stunt double in a cliffhanger movie scene

Farmer’s walk – Walking while holding heavy dumbbells in each hand

Plate gripping – holding a heavy weight plate as long as possible

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of grip-strengthening exercises. There are several other techniques to target forearm and grip strength. I particularly like these exercises, as they are more practical, real-life techniques, instead of artificial gym-based maneuvers. Any other ideas?

An alternative to fretting about grip strength is to use wrist straps, thereby taking the grip strength of the hands out of the picture. I’m really more focused on overall strength, so I haven’t been interested in this option. I’m not willing to use a “cheat” to get by a basic weakness of mine – I’m going to correct that weakness.


Still, my deadlift is limited by grip strength

Posted in My training updates, Weight Training with tags , , , , on April 7, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I’ve been working on my grip strength in a few different ways, because it drives me nuts to give up early on a lift when a “supporting” muscle group gives away before the intended muscle group does.

I’ve been using these Heavy Grips to increase grip strength and have certainly noticed improvement, but again my back can handle increasing loads at a much faster rate than my grip can.

I’m considering some chalk for my hands – I may have to order some so that I can keep progressing with my deadlift – it is my favorite lift, after all.

My pre- and post-workout shake

Posted in Diet, Weight Training with tags , , , , on March 27, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Since I am new to the whole weight training, strength training world, I am always reading about tips and trends to maximize results. Of course a lot of that is driven by piddly data (if any at all) and, most of all, marketing. So, I never get too excited about the ridiculous array of fat-burning, muscle-building, energy-enhancing, woman-attracting, macho-man-making products on the market. Those who stand by a product have probably just been directed there by a friend or lifting partner who offered their uneducated, biased advice – another victim of good marketing.

The one consistent “supplement” you will see among bodybuilders, weightlifters, and the like, is protein powder. It’s easy to make protein shakes with milk or mix protein powder in certain foods like oats (I’ll stick with the shakes). It serves as a boost to one’s daily protein intake and also may contribute to more effective muscle-building when used before and after workouts.

I picked up a popular brand name of whey protein powder and have been using it with my weightlifting workouts for the past couple months. Prior to that, I was actually using a different kind of protein supplement, but it contained an inordinate amount of fat (and tasted phenomenal!). I encounter enough fat in a day – it didn’t make sense to keep doing that. This newer protein supplement however, just didn’t taste as good and was a bit hard for me to chug down. So, I started buying frozen blueberries in bulk and have been blending it all together for one amazing protein shake with a healthy slurry of antioxidants.

See detailed nutritional info about blueberries at World’s Healthiest Foods.

1. Welcome to my kitchen. Here are my ingredients (10-12 oz. skim milk, two scoops of protein powder, and 1 cup frozen blueberries).


2. Put them all in a blender and blend away.

[What setting? You mean you haven’t figured out that all 20 functions are the same?!?!?

I have a sensible blender: Off-Low-High]


3. Half before my workout. Half after my workout. Incredible stuff! Using frozen fruit makes it seem like a malt rather than just a liquid mix.

I almost forgot: here’s the nutrition info on the shake, compliments of FitDay. I know it seems like a lot of calories, but it’s not a big deal when you’re working out like an animal. For one, it’s a double serving of the protein powder recipe – I’m a pig. Plus, if you’re trying to pack on muscle, excess calories are a good thing.


Weight training tidbits

Posted in Weight Training with tags , on February 21, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I love this list of weightlifting/fitness tidbits that was compiled on  It was created as a “Top” list of tips for building muscle and improving fitness, observations about the fitness world, and a few random useless thoughts about the rest of the world that were apparently just thrown into the mix to get to a “Top 50” list. 

Weight training can reduce pain

Posted in Weight Training with tags , , on February 3, 2008 by Dr. CJ

There is a lot of resistance to the use of weights as part of an exercise regimen, particularly by older individuals. I, too, had no interest in weight training until the past year when I realized how important weight training is to weight loss and overall fitness.

The issue of whether or not to include weights wouldn’t even be an issue if we were still in the “caveman age”, unable to sit back and allow our technological “advances” to do the work for us – no machine was going to help them move logs, drag animal carcasses, lift stones, or court a female by dragging her by the hair. Of course they didn’t live into their 80’s and 90’s, but then again they probably rubbed soil into their wounds, that is, if they survived the tiger/elephant/whatever attack. Now, we can artificially simulate all those stresses on the body with fancy equipment. backache

I came across a study highlighting another benefit of weight/strength training. Knutzen, et al.¹ explored the effect of a regular high-resistance strength training program on pain in a group of older individuals. Individuals aged 60-83 were randomized to two groups: one control group and one training group that performed a strength training regimen 3 times a week for 8 weeks. Pain scores were measured by various scales before and after the 8-week period and were based on the individuals self-assessment of pain.

Firstly, there was a significant improvement in strength with all exercises, anywhere from 54-119% improvement in strength. Secondly, there was indeed improvement in reported pain in the adults who participated in the strength training regimen, with approximately 50% reduction in severity of overall pain.

Why does strength training reduce pain? Our muscles require continual use to stay healthy – use it or lose it. When our muscles fall weak, there is greater pressure on our joints, but of course as we age our joints are not in tip-top shape due to a lifetime of wear and tear. Strengthening muscles around a joint takes pressure off of the joint – something I continually advocate for my patients with arthritis. This strengthening doesn’t mean just focusing on the locally involved joint, either, but rather focusing on whole body strength. For example, knee pain often occurs because of poor posture as a result of weak abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles. There will be far better benefit in strengthening those weak muscles than focusing on the muscles around the knee.

Unmentioned benefits of strength training in older adults also include increased metabolism, decreased risk of falls, increased energy, improved heart and lung function, and many more. Exercise has been shown over and over to dramatically improve overall quality of life, which often is greatly hampered by pain. No need to live in pain any longer – pick up those weights.

1. Knutzen, K.M., Pendergrast, B.A., Lindsey, B., and Brilla, L.R. The effect of high-resistance weight training on reported pain in older adults. Journal of Sports Science Medicine. 2007: 6, 455-460 <;.

Why to incorporate weight lifting into exercise regimen

Posted in Weight Training with tags , , , on January 24, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Everyone seems to accept the fact that diet and cardio/endurance exercise are important for weight loss and generalized fitness.  Strength training/resistance training/weight training (call it what you want) often falls on the back-burner.  However, it should be an integral part of your overall fitness regimen for many reasons.  Let’s first look at a study published by Dr. Westcott in 1991 – still holds true for today.

Participants in the study were split into two groups: the first group (endurance training) exercised on a stationary bike for 30 minutes, while the second group (endurance and weight training) exercised on the bike for 15 minutes and then did weights for 15 minutes.  Analysis at the end of the study revealed that the endurance only group lost 3 pounds of fat and 1/2 pound of lean body mass for total weight loss of 3.5 pounds.  The endurance and weight training group lost 8 pounds – gaining 2 pounds of lean body mass (muscle) but losing 10 pounds of fat.


Use it or lose it

I wish they had analyzed another group of subjects – an inactivity group which probably would have shown an increase in weight, with an increase in fat mass but decrease in lean body mass.   Without regular use, muscles will atrophy (or shrink). 

This study shows not only a clear benefit of weight training on fat mass, but also a much more favorable impact on body composition (e.g. body fat percentage).  Being skinny with no muscle tone is not impressive and doesn’t turn heads.  Worse yet, lack of muscle makes one prone to injuries. 

Consider integrating weights/strength training into your regimen – you will certainly enjoy the added benefits.

Westcott, W. Fitness Management. November, 1991.

Muscle exhaustion

Posted in Weight Training on January 13, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I finished yesterday with a great chest/triceps workout.  There’s nothing quite like the feel of muscle exhaustion.  Last week I struggled to brush my teeth one night because my biceps were trembling after a good workout.  Last night I tried to do one more dip – no way was that happening, my arms just collapsed.  Applying that continual stress to the muscles, however, is the means by which they hypertrophy (grow).  There’s all kinds of debate about whether or not you have to continue lifting weights to the point of muscle failure for a given exercise.  I’d say there’s no proof one way or the other.  Anecdotally, there’s plenty, but I don’t know that it’s been studied well.