Anita’s Fitness Training Tips

WIDE-GRIP Pulldowns TO THE FRONT

A great tool in creating a stand out thick back is wide-grip Pulldowns to the front. The Pulldown to the front is a basic movement that is essential to creating thick lats. Remember that ALL Basic exercise movements should never be left out of your exercise routine when creating sculpted bodies.  Ok, back to Pulldowns to the Front. Hold on to a straight bar with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder width apart. Hang your arms straight down from the bar, then squeeze the shoulder blades together and pull down, pulling the bar close to yourself trying to get the bar to your chin or the top of your clavicle. Some individuals like taking the pull as far as the chest.  It is not proper form but if you want to do this, knock yourself out. Now, as you pull the bar closer to yourself you should keep your lower back arched. At the bottom pull, pause for a split second and then bring the bar back into the starting position under control. No fast, jerky movements.  I always tell people think that you are pulling your chest to the bar instead of trying to pull the bar to your chest.  This will help you keep form.

If you are not able to pull the bar down by yourself then you can use a spotter. Now, if you need a spotter, then have them lightly grasp the bar and guide you through the movement. For advanced lifters you can increase the load on the stack by adding extra weight too. I’ve always done my pulldowns to the front for three to five sets and my reps range from six, eight or ten.  You can also do pulldowns with an underhand grip or you can use a V-bar.  Remember; bring your chest to the handle as you pull the bar down.  Then there is also wide grip pullups if you want to get full back development.  Get this, I saw a video for a University Strength program and they showed student-athletes doing a pull up and then handclap at the top and then re-griping the bar before they went back down. Now that’s athletic!

Train hard and stay tuned for another fitness tip soon.

Are you ready to Compete?

Are you going to take that leap this year to get on stage?  What’s going to make this year better than all the other years past? You should have outlined some outstanding achievements that you will be determined to accomplish before the year is over.

Maybe you did not achieve all you set out to do last year?  If, so, ask yourself this, did you go all out? Did you go all out with your training and diet? What about your posing routine?  Did you practice your mandatories every day – weeks out from the show or did you do everything last minute? Well, if you didn’t do well, then it’s time to make this year, the year you put it all together.

We all have choices in life. You can admit defeat and never compete again or pick yourself up, dust yourself off, swallow your pride, do it again with a little attitude and change. This year you’ll pack-on more thick dense muscle, bring-up those lagging body parts and introduce shape into those flat arms. Change your training.  Try another style of training. Add an extra protein shake per day. Let me help you with something. Once, I had a chance to watch football players up close hitting on the practice field and now I understand why those guys view playing football like the game of life. You get knocked down, you get up and do it again, but you try harder and do it better. Get it? So, to achieve and believe, whether your goals are orientated towards bodybuilding, fitness, figure or other sports competition or maybe your personal workouts then nothing-quite works like persistence, determination, self-belief, and motivation.

PERSISTENCE

Persistence is what separates the winner from the quitter.  Being persistent will make you stronger then any iron pumping exercise could.  Stronger willed that is, or in my words ‘stubborn.’  If first you don’t succeed Try, try again!  That’s what being persistent is all about.  If it takes you three or ten tries to win the Nationals then that’s what it takes.  Have a little tenacity in your day-to-day actions.

DETERMINATION

Determination is the defining factor of being persistent.  Resolve! What do I mean by that?  Well, having determination in your bodybuilding goals only confirms a firm intention, or a firmness of purpose.  You should have resolve in your purpose to become a champion!  If you break down the word determination you come up with ‘determined’ which means having ones mind made up.  So, have a firm purpose of mind, and get into the gym with determination to over come the heavy iron pumping that you must endure.

SELF-BELIEF

No I don’t mean being self-centered or cocky.  But, belief in ones self, that you can obtain and accomplish certain things.  A belief in ones self to accomplish goals, too accomplish the things you set out to do in life.  Remember that there is always someone bigger or better, but that doesn’t mean you cannot believe in the person you are and your abilities.

MOTIVATION

You can still get everything done, and still not accomplish your goals.  But, what did you learn?  You just received a tremendous amount of knowledge for the next competition.  Defeat brings knowledge more so than victory.   So, outline your goals for the upcoming season, especially if you haven’t done that yet.  Write them down on a piece of paper in ink.  There are short-term goals and long-term goals.  Short-term goals can be as little as a week, and up to 3 months, unless you’re like some people who look at short-term goals as one year at a time.  Long-term goals are usually 6 month and up to a year.   Now, write down your goals right now before it’s too late.

We all control our own destiny. So, seize the moment and don’t forget to add persistence, determination, self-belief, and motivation to your bodybuilding mentality.

Women, Weights and Bodybuilding Oh My!

In the average gym you will find almost everyone that will give you bad information and down right lies in regards to women’s weight training. People are full of bad ideas and advice about women and weights. So, who is out there giving this misinformation? Well, there are the many infomercials and then there is the media this is a huge one. I’ve compiled a list of myths that even now in the 21st century are still floating around regarding women, weights, and muscle.  My hope is this gets through to a few.

Myth: Weight training will make you masculine.

This is not a myth. This is a lie. The worst lie ever. People look at women bodybuilders and say, “Oh My God, they look masculine! If I lift anything heavy I’ll look like that!” Nope.  Can’t. If it where true I’d be HUGE! Since I can do dumbbell-rows with over 140 pounds on a regular basis and biceps curl more then most men. It’s a rare woman that can become a competitive bodybuilder, and she has to combine genetics, extensive long-term training, strict diet, and supplementation (legal or otherwise). Women and men have exactly the same skeletal muscle composition. It would not be possible to tell biological sex from muscle tissue alone. And besides, muscle doesn’t make a man.  I see many men that are smaller then me and I only weight 160 pounds. So, if a man is 160 pounds or less does that make him a woman? I see HUGE over weight women that make rude comments about my look yet are bigger than my 300-pound husband who is a powerlifter and ex-football player. You’re not going to wake up after a heavy weight workout and be huge. In all actuality you will tone up and get tighter quicker then doing that 25 pounds on the leg press for 10 reps and curling those 5 pound weights that weight less then your purse or your youngest you carry around all over the place.

Myth: Men train, women tone.

To be serious about strength training, understand that lifting a tiny weight for a hundred reps is a waste of time and energy, plus it doesn’t stress your muscles enough to shape them or make them stronger. You know how they say, “More isn’t better?”  Well, more is better, when it comes to weight training, shaping, toning what ever you want to call it, it’s all the same. There is muscle mass, strength gain, and fat loss, and that’s it. What you assume to be “toned” actually means having muscles, which are not hidden by a layer of body fat. In other words, there is no reason why you should waste your time on the stupid little weights when you could be getting a hard body.

Myth: Toning and firming are different.

Did you not read what I said? There is no such thing. There is only building muscle mass and losing body fat, nothing else. Please STOP asking how you can tone or firm or whatever. Do what NIKE say’s “Just Do It!”

Myth: Women should stick to machines and stay away from free weights.

Why? If some self-proclaimed expert or wannabe wants to explain the thoughts to this thinking process I’m, all ears.

Myth: After you stop lifting your muscle turns to fat.

Sorry to burst your bubble girls, but that is physiologically impossible. What really happens is, well, let me ask, have you ever broke a bone and had to get a cast? When you took the cast off, the area looked like it shrank? It atrophied.

Myth: Men are Masculine and Women are Feminine.

Who posted these labels on us? So, if my arm is bigger then the lazy armchair quarterback I’m “masculine?”  The average arm size for a man is 14 inches and the average arm size for a woman is 12 inches.  That of course is the average.  We just did a contest where arm measurements were involved for both men and women and guess what the average size of the arm for guys who were weighing anywhere from 165 to 230 was 12 to 13.5 inches.  The average size for the women weighing anywhere from 110 to 145 was 11 to 13.5.  None of these women were fat and none were bodybuilders, however according to these numbers and the myths out there these women would be considered masculine since if you take weight and height into consideration these girls had more muscular arms than the guys.  Again, muscle does not equate to masculine or feminine.

It is quite unfortunate that there are so many miss-educated people out there, but I do hope some of you got something out of this and learned that muscle does equal toned and firm.  I hope you also learned that muscularity does not define masculinity or femininity.  So, don’t be afraid of lifting some heavier weights, putting on a bit of muscle and having that nice hard body you have always wanted.

Restoration

with Anita Ramsey CSCS, CFT, CSN, SPARQ

http://www.anitaramsey.com

1990 NPC Western Cup Heavyweight & Overall Champion

1998 NPC Southern States Heavyweight & Overall Champion

2003 IPA 165 Class Sub-Masters World Record Bench

2008 & 2009 4th place NPC Masters Nationals Light Heavies

2009 ranked top 10 in the world bench only 148 lb class & 165 lb class

Repetitions and Endurance

Intensity is the key to gaining muscle.  Furthermore, intensity comes in various forms and levels.  But we all know that.  And just like there are many different levels of intensity there are also many methods of training; all used to increase strength and size.  Even though there are various different training methods still many people make the mistake thinking their way is the only way of training.  Tunnel vision is fine for the week minded.  I utilize several training methods.  I train using the dynamic method, which builds explosiveness and speed strength, the maximal effort method, which builds absolute strength, and strength speed, and I also use the repetition method or what some call Lactic Acid Tolerance Training.

The repetition training style promotes a high degree of growth hormone production.  But, why do some individuals still assume high rep training will get you ripped?  Who knows, other than they are still stuck in the ice ages.  And, I’m sorry to say, if high rep training did get you ripped well then my husband would be on stage at the Nationals and trust me he is FAR from that.  But, alas, this seriously old school thought.  Again, these are my opinions and knowledge based on years of experience.

During my workout cycles I combine all the above methods of training to maximize my strength and size.  After years of using the periodization methods I found that after 3 weeks of training with maximal weights in the 90% range caused a negative training effect for not only myself but for several others.  So, to help you in your battle to overcome the negative factors of training at near max percentages week after week try the repetition method to failure for a good pick me up.

Did you know that in the 1970s when Vasili Alexeyev was tops in Olympic lifting he did some really odd things in his training?  Try these out; doing power cleans non-stop for 2-3 minutes or how about throwing a 220 pound bar over your head 100 times, and lets not forget about doing snatches for a couple hours and then sit in a pool for an hour worth of leg lifting 100 times.  That’s what Alexeyev did.  I’d need a lifeguard to help me out of the pool, and an EMT to revive me after all that. Does this sound new to you?  Doing high reps isn’t new but I’m talking high reps with exercises that are not common in the gym, does that sound new?  Of course it is because everyone does cable crossovers but you don’t just see anyone doing Split Jerks or Push Presses anymore.

I’ve outlined some routines below.  Here are a few examples of the repetition method that I incorporate into my training regiment and so should you.

  • Do light deadlifts for 1 minute at a slow tempo; again do not so much count the reps as you do them by time. If you have a partner then your partner can count for you. Follow the deadlifts by doing AB work for 1 minute.
  • This is one of my favorites. If you can handle this, do light good mornings for a minute. If you have bands they can be used instead of a bar. Do this exercise for 3 minutes.  Follow this with “spread-leg” stiff leg dead lifts with a 25, 35, 45 or 100 pound plate for 1 minute.  Grueling!
  • Pick up a 2-kg. Or 5 kg. Medicine Ball and throw it over your head behind you.  After throwing if just walk over to where it landed and do it again. Do this for 100 reps! This is only to be done if you have a large aerobic room and medicine balls are available to you. This is a great whole body workout.
  • Do Clean-hang high pulls or Snatch-hang high pulls with lightweight for 1 minute. Whew!  Your Traps will hate you the next day.
  • Try this. Grab a pair of light dumbbells or use about 30% of your max bench on an Olympic bar and lie on a Swiss (Stability) ball do presses for 1 minute or longer.  I’ve done 30s for 2 minutes. You think you’re strong? Or think you’re in shape? We’ll see.
  • A great one for the legs is do seated leg curls for 100 reps then immediately do leg extensions for 100 reps. Killer!  Or 100 reps on the leg press and immediately do 100 reps on a seated leg curl.  I do this sometimes at the beginning of a leg day workout.

High reps with very light weight are stated as being beneficial in the rep range of 100 to 200. That’s what Thomas Kurz said in the “Science of Sports Training.” Though performing 100 reps is not easy to do and I couldn’t even think about doing 200 reps on something.  The great benefit of incorporating the repetition method into your training is an increase in endurance strength, which is always beneficial to any training method. The use of endurance or repetition type training will not only increase strength but also aid in muscle restoration.  It is a simple and effective way of training for an increased level of fitness and for adding volume to your workload.  So, give me 100. That’s 98, 99, common on, FIVE more!

BEGINNERS CONTEST PREP

with Anita Ramsey CSCS, CFT, CSN, SPARQ

http://www.anitaramsey.com

1990 NPC Western Cup Heavyweight & Overall Champion

1998 NPC Southern States Heavyweight & Overall Champion

2003 IPA 165 Class Sub-Masters World Record Bench

2008 & 2009 4th place NPC Masters Nationals Light Heavies

2009 ranked top 10 in the world bench only 148 lb class & 165 lb class

Day of Competition:

  • Get to the venue early and that doesn’t mean an hour or two before check in, unless you live around the corner – But that doesn’t always work either.  There could be a car accident or construction like my friend Ron Harris found out the day of the NPC New England in his own back yard – he ran into a detour and he was already running late.  So, get in a day early and check-in.  After all the work you put into this competition, go out there and have fun-you’ve earned it!
  • Find out the schedule of events and be ready
  • Again, remember the idea is to eliminate stress not create it!

That’s Bodybuilding!

Competition diet, weight training, and cardio are the most important pieces of your competition preparation.  Your workouts should be tailored for growth, size and shape development.  Since dieting will help refine your physique, make sure you prioritize your weak points during workouts.  Yes, you have weak points, everyone has one or two and you will need to work overtime on them.  Muscle proportion, separation and size should be your main priorities.  To get the best definition possible you will need to concentrate on that diet and cardio too.  Ahhh, you thought I was going to tell you to do lots of super sets, cable crossovers, and maybe 100 rep schemes?  NOT!  Who ever is still talking like that has not learned a thing and you should caution on listening to them.  Point, my husband does reps in the 100 range and has done super sets, trust me he’s far from cut.  Another thing is do not think super sets are the only workout that will get you “cut.”  This is not true.  Or do not think you are going to get weaker the closer you get to your show.  This is another fallacy.  Two weeks out from my last show I cranked-out 6 reps with 140 pounds on dumbbell rows, and was still pressing 80-pound dumbbells on Incline.  If your diet is right and your food intake is maintained all the time the above will occur.  Being FULLER and THICKER is every bodybuilder’s goal to look on stage.  If this is your first contest, you may have a ton of questions and consulting with a coach will help eliminate your fears and help you reach your goals.

So what do I do to start burning off body fat?

You want to base all you do (cardio, diet and lifting) off of how your body changes weekly in the mirror and sometimes off of what the scale says.  Weigh yourself before breakfast because this will give you your true body weight.  As you can imagine, if you weigh yourself later in the day you will be heavier due to the meals and fluids you have consumed.  Many people cut back their calories to attain the look they are striving for, however, often they cut way to many calories and often way to early.  But, this is stupid and will make them look stringy!  What is bodybuilding about?  It’s about building muscle and being ripped.  How on earth can anyone expect to keep muscle if they constantly keep cutting back on their food???  Aerobics: I do between 2-3 sessions per week of 30 minutes on the stepper to start and progress it as the weeks go by.  My body weight is stable with this and my stage is set.  I now have everything in place to work from.

Lets summarize:

Stage 1: Start off your diet with clean foods.  If you are eating a fair bit of junk, work out your calories, etc. and replace with quality foods, so it resembles the diet I mentioned previously.  Do this about 4 weeks before you start your contest run in.  If you do a 12- week diet, start the clean up phase 16 weeks out, come the 12-week stage you will have your stage set perfectly.

Stage 2: Do aerobics 30 – 40 minutes, once everyday to start, especially when most don’t do aerobics in the off-season or very little.  Obviously, you have got to lose body fat.

Stage 3: Next, when things start to slow down, increase your aerobics by 10/15 minutes per session.

Stage 4: The next step you can consider to keep things rolling is to increase aerobics by doing 2 sessions everyday.

Stage 5: When weight loss slows down again, up your cardio and start dropping your carbohydrate intake and if not taking carbohydrates start dropping your fat intake.

Stage 6: Finally, when things start to slow again reduce your carbohydrates or totally eliminate them and again if not using carbs then drop your fat intake again. Stage 6 and 7 should be the first time you reduce food across the whole of your diet, as you have exploited every other avenue.

If you still need to get that extra off, repeat stage 7.  Your goal should be that you are in contest condition, around 1-2 weeks out from the show.  This will allow you to eat up slightly into your show and at the very least level things off so you can relax knowing that the hard work has been done.

Some of my tricks

Here is a short run down of one of my contest preps, I hope it helps some of you and maybe even gives you some ideas on what to do for your next show.

I like loosing my weight slowly, which is why I start so far out, and doing this helps you from getting that depleted look, loose skin or stringy look.  I start with my calories just under 2,800, which is pretty high for me.  I do not watch my sodium intake as the quantities of water I consume take care of that.  But, I do care about carb and fat intakes.  My carb intake is very low and progresses to 0.  My fat intake is higher and rotates to having fats on some days and not on others.  My protein intake is pretty high and I maintain a high protein intake all the way up to the show, I totally eliminate my carbohydrate intake and adjust fat intake as needed up to the show.  This keeps the muscle on me and helps me to add more muscle the closer I get to the show.  Also, other then an eat day on Sunday’s, my diet and food stays the same all the way through.  But, about 12 weeks out I do stop the eat day.  My contest diet looks something like this:

Meal One: 6 egg whites & 2 whole eggs

Meal Two: 1 protein shake + 1 tbsp peanutbutter

Meal Three: 6 oz Chicken breasts and 1 oz nuts

Meal Four: 6 oz salmon or steak and 1 tbsp olive oil

Meal Five: 1 protein shake + 1 tbsp peanutbutter

As you can see, fat and protein are a major part of my dieting.  I utilize fats instead of carbs for energy and to burn off my body fat.  This is what works best for me and for many other female bodybuilders that are dieting for a show.  I also do 40-50 minuets of cardio on a treadmill in the morning and another 30 minuets after my evening iron pumping session.  I am very lucky to have a very fast metabolism, but year after year your body changes and something that worked a year ago will not necessarily work the next year.

Regarding pumping the iron, I do not lift weights like most other bodybuilders.  I do not do more sets, reps or supersets the closer I get to a show.  But, rather, one body part a day, and I do 4-5 exercise and 3-4 sets per exercise for each body part, and my reps do not drop below six or go over 20.  The closer I get to show time I get stronger, instead of weaker.  My husband made a bet with me that if I got to the 150’s by contest he’d be my maid for a week.  I lost, but I tried very hard to get those 150’s.  I did 140 pound dumbbell Rows for six reps each arm three weeks prior to the NPC Southern States.

Everyone’s body is different and peaking is often hit or miss.  Your water and electrolyte intake is a big thing the day before and the morning of the show and if done improperly or in mix with the wrong foods you may head for a disaster the morning of the show.  I always see other female competitors drinking water and eating carbs prior to getting on stage and the night before, then they wonder why they smoothed out.  Or they ask why their legs were not as cut.  Well, my contest peaking is all due to the exact timing of when I stop drinking water, which is between noon and 6 p.m. Friday afternoon.

I also up my dosage of vitamins to help with any cramping that may occur on stage.  I stop doing all leg work about 10 days before the show this gets rid of all the excess lactic acid, enabling my legs to get the sharpness needed to compete on the National level.  I go through my compulsorily poses every day and hold each pose for about one minute each.  It’s a workout.  Try it.  It will prep you for on stage and you’ll feel like a veteran and not a rookie posing.

The most important part is to realize that nothing matters except how you look.  It doesn’t matter what your body-fat percentage is or how strong you are or even how much you weigh.  You have to have good skin tone, a good hair cut, and for you girls out there make sure the make-up is just right too, do not go out with “Ghost” face, know how to pose like a veteran, and be cut and muscular.  Here is what an IFBB Pro has to say about what it takes to become a competitive bodybuilder.  Lisa Bavington “Competitive bodybuilders must come to realize and accept that they will be judged based not only on how they look when standing alone, but how they look in comparison to the other athletes on stage that day and at that particular time.  The higher up you go, the more this becomes evident.  It doesn’t matter what you looked like in the gym 2 weeks out, whether this is the best condition you’ve ever been in or if all your supporters think that the show was yours to win or lose.  It only matters how you measure up to the rest of the field…Bodybuilding is about creating the illusion of reality and convincing the judges that your physique is far above the other competitors with regards to symmetry, conditioning, muscularity and stage presence.  In other words, those individuals that have the least amount of weaknesses will be the ones, most likely, that come out victorious.”

LEARNING from your mistakes

In bodybuilding learning from ones experiences is very helpful. It is a good idea to attend shows.  This is a must.  Talk to the competitors and ask the judges questions.  However, the latter is something I readily tell people not to do, especially after the show they’ve competed in.  If you ask more then one judge at the competition you’ll get two different answers.  I learned quickly to not ask them the day of the show or around others.  I asked the head judge of a National show, years ago, why I got placed where I did?  The answer was: “Your legs where smooth!”  In astonishment I replied by picking up my skirt and flexing my striated cut thighs and then went on to say that they where full of it.  I later wrote this person a letter to the fact again.  Only to receive a call late one evening from this judge explaining to me why what was said.  This individual read my letter of disharmony, and then explained that I received what I got because I was “too big” and though this person said I looked “great” at the time the NPC was “toning it down,” and to “never ask in front of others.”  I said thank you and never again asked a judge why again.

First and foremost, again get a support crew or a competition prep trainer.  This can be a group of individuals or one person.  A support crew should help you achieve your bodybuilding goals.  They serve as advisors telling you what strengths and weaknesses you have.  You can get me www.anitaramsey.com of course, but there are many other great people out there as well. If you would like a recommendation please do not hesitate to ask.  Again, contest prep requires you to devote your day’s making your meals, going to the gym, doing cardio sometimes twice a day, working on your mandatory poses, and your evening routine.  All these elements will determine the outcome of your efforts.

Competition is a part of life, we compete against one another every day, but the most difficult thing to do is to compete with yourself, to push the boundaries of your own physique and your own psyche.  Stepping on stage can be one of the most frightening and difficult experiences that you may ever go through.  But, it is also something that you can walk away from with a great deal of personal satisfaction, knowing that you have accomplished something that few of your peers will ever have the guts to do.  Remember, if it were easy everyone would be doing it.  If bodybuilding competition is something you’ve been thinking about, my advice is, use the directions provided in this article and make your competition goals a reality.  Even though competing for bodybuilding may be tough, if you maintain your focus and put in the hard work everything will pay off and soon you’ll be holding that overall trophy high over your head. Good luck, have fun, and compete!

JUDGING PHYSIQUES

We are not all created equally, physically speaking.  Second, no matter how hard you train, there are no guarantees you will ever become the level of champion you set your sites on.  Every athlete, with a desire to compete, must brace himself or herself for the reality of bodybuilding.  Bodybuilding at any level and in all organizations is a subjective sport that is ruled and based upon opinions of several different people.  Though there are guidelines and rules, and judges are supposed to be impartial, they still bring their opinions and feelings to the panel.  Remember it is how they, the judges, perceive you on that day and how they feel their ideal physique should look.

The madness in this muscle business, to a certain degree, is controlled and regulated by what seems to be a handful of individuals we title as judges.  Judges play an integral part on how we soar as a competitor up the ladder of Bodybuilding supremacy.  These individuals hold your dreams in their hands.  They are the all-important amateur and professional judges in every organization.  These judges also have a certain amount of control over what look takes us into each new-year!  Therefore, no matter how hard you trained and dieted or what you may think of your opposition, the final outcome is totally out of your control.  So, be professional.  You must accept the judge’s decision as final.  I don’t mean “professional” as Pro status, no, what I mean is be professional and understand that you cannot control those decisions, you are in a human Dog Show, the West Minster Human Kennel Club Nationals.

At the end of the day, if you do your best you will reap the rewards of your hard work in other areas of life that may come in different forms.  The real reward comes in the journey to your desired look.  Finish what you started and step up to the plate to see what you’re made of.  Stay the course, understand Bodybuilding is subjective and you’ll at least win in the most important game.  The game of Life!  Always remember to compete to have fun and to win!  Be happy for all your hard work and the accomplishment of making it through 20 weeks of diet, training, posing, and everything else you put into that one day on stage.