90 Day Body Reboot Challenge: Step 2

Updated: Mar 5, 2020

OK well done. You completed step 1 of your 90 Day Body Reboot Challenge. You are off the sofa and done 4 to 6 weeks of basic exercise at home (if you're not sure what I'm talking about please check out Step 1 of our 90 Day Body Reboot Challenge).

You're ready for something new! You're ready to step up your game! It's time to get back to the gym. Before you go back to the gym, have a quick chat with your doctor. We are 50plus and I know you're feeling stronger because you've completed step 1 of our Body Reboot Challenge, but prevention is better than cure, so a conversation with your doctor about stepping up exercise is sensible.

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Finding a gym.

Wherever you live or work there is usually a gym somewhere nearby. With prices ranging from as little as £16.99 all the way up to £100plus there is a gym membership to suit almost every pocket. I know some of you will have had bad experiences with gym membership in the past and others may be reluctant to make any kind of financial commitment but remember this is about you. It's about investing in yourself. It's about living your best life, so if you can afford it, I encourage you to take the plunge and join a gym. Don't join the first gym you come across. Have a look around. See what you're local gyms are offering and find the one that suits you best. Have a chat to your friends see what they say. All gyms will give you a guided tour of their facilities and some give free taster sections. Don't rush. You're going to be spending some time here so choose one that you like.

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The first session!

When you walk into a gym after being away for a while, it can be an intimidating place. You're stepping outside your comfort zone. Even if you used to train when you were younger, gyms have changed a lot over the last 5-10 years. It is a space dominated by the under 35s. I know it can feel uncomfortable but as with many things in life sometimes you just have to go through the discomfort to get to your goal.

If you go Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening between 5.30 - 7.30 pm or Saturday morning between 10 am -1 pm then be prepared to wait for the machines you want to use. In most gyms, these are peak times and the gym is at its most crowded. If you can get to the gym outside of these hours then you'll find a much quieter, more relaxing space.

I train clients at 6 am, 7 am, 8 am and 9 am Mon - Fri. It seems to set them up for the day, clearing their heads, engaging minds and preparing their bodies for the challenges of the day to come. A few gyms are open 24 hours so it's more than possible to train even earlier or much later later. (Note from JG. Mark the guy who wrote this column is a personal trainer - I'm not, I'm just a guy over 50 who likes to stay in shape. I train in the evening after 7 pm and on a Saturday afternoon. One of the perks of being over 50 is I'm not worried about the kids anymore, so I train when it suits me. So chose a time to train that works for you.)

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How many time should I go?

Plan on going to the gym 3-4 times a week. 2 or 3 times for weights and then once for cardio. You could spit it 2 times weights and 2 for cardio, or if you wanted to do a class instead of the cardio, it's up to you.

Try to train every body part at least twice a week with weights. Using resistance machines is a great way to familiarise the body to moving weights around. If you haven't used one for a while or perhaps haven't used one before make sure you ask one of the gym instructors who can be found wandering around most gym floors for some advice. Don't be shy it's their job.

Make sure that each machine is correctly adjusted for your height and weight. Again if you're not sure ask. Asking questions before you start will help you avoid injuries.

Don't start to heavy.

Avoid injuries by starting low and building up the weights as your strength increases. It's not a race, this is about you achieving the gains you want. I’m starting with a straight forward 2/3 sets of 12 reps program. To keep you motivated and to keep you improving, later on in this article I’ll discuss a few easy ways to alter the sets

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Chest Press.

Body Parts Involved: Chest - Triceps. Front of Shoulders. Core.

Start Guide: Sit on an adjustable seat with handles mid-chest. Engage core. Lock shoulders down and push handles out at a medium speed. Slowly bring handles back to starting position without letting the plates touch completely. Repeat for 12 reps. Wait 60 seconds. Complete a further 1 or 2 more sets.

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Lat Pull Down.

Body Parts Involved: Lats (Back) - Biceps - Core.

Start Guide: Sit facing the machine. Stand to grab the bar (just after the bend in each side), lean slightly back and engage the core to protect the lower back. Using just the arms, pull the bar towards the top of the chest while looking up to maintain a neutral back. The shoulder blades should be pinched together at the end of each rep. Repeat for 12 reps. Wait 60 seconds. Complete a further 1 or 2 more sets.

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Shoulder Press.

Body Parts Involved: Shoulders - Triceps.

Start Guide: Adjust the seat so that the handles are just level with the shoulders. Wrists should be vertical, and in alignment with the forearms, or knuckles facing up to protect from any wrist strain. Keep the core engaged and push the bars up above your head. It’s paramount to keep the core engaged at all stages to look after the lower back from any sudden jerky injury. Lower the bar to just slightly above the shoulders so these plates don’t touch. Repeat for 12 reps. Wait 60 seconds. Complete a further 1 or 2 more sets.

Leg Press.

Body Parts Involved: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes) - Core.

Start Guide: A lot depends on where the feet are placed in the plate with regards to which muscles in the legs are utilised more than others. Usually, the best starting point is about shoulder-width apart and that a 90-degree angle is created at both knees for the starting point. Again, keeping the core engaged, (there may be a catch point on the first few inches of the machine), dig the heels in and extend the legs to 90 per cent of the full movement (protect from any hyperextending knee joints). Lower the movement to just above the starting point with the heels firmly digging in. Adjusting the toes on each foot to perhaps 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock could assist with the knees moving slightly above each foot, thus protecting the knee joint even more.

Repeat for 12 reps. Wait 60 seconds. Complete a further 1 or 2 more sets.

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Cable Machine Triceps.

Body Parts Involved: Arms - Triceps

Start Guide: Connect a short flat bar using the carabiner on the cable machine. The level of the bar should require you to pull down (usually an overhanded grip) to lift the plates just off the stack (set weight). Lock your elbows to the side of the body. Lean a touch forward at the hips and engage the core. With a controlled slow movement, pull the bar down to lift the weights. Control the movement back down ensuring the upper arm does not move, the core and lower back do not move and the top of the movement is stopped without any suddenness.

Repeat for 12 reps. Wait 60 seconds. Complete a further 1 or 2 more sets.

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Cable Machine Biceps:

Body Parts Involved: Arms - Biceps

Start Guide: Using the same short flat bar, except this time the bar is set to below the hips so that when in control of the stack at the starting point the arms are fully extended and the lower back is locked down with core engagement. The elbows are usually tucked in just to the side of the body to allow for the total use of the Bicep muscle. Again, the upper arm should NOT be moving. An underhanded grip is usually preferred. Lift the bar towards the chest in a slow and controlled movement. Return the bar by a controlled extension of the arm.

Repeat for 12 reps. Wait 60 seconds. Complete a further 1 or 2 more sets.

At least twice a week if not every time the gym is frequented, aim to mix up a variety of Abdominal exercises that you learned in step 1 of the Challenge. Maybe choose 3 exercises and complete 3 sets of 20 reps of each is a starting point that can always be increased and would take 5 minutes at the end of a good training session. Choose from the following:

Crunches, Sit Ups, Cycle Sits, Leg Raises, Heel Taps, Russian Twists.

Pyramid Sets.

Pyramid Sets are a changing group of sets, of the exact same exercise, usually starting with a lighter weight and higher reps, building up with a heavier weight and fewer reps until the full spectrum of muscular strength and endurance has been completed. A full pyramid training set is an extension of this, reducing the weight after you have reached the peak until you complete the pyramid for example:

Set 1 – light weight: 12-16 reps.

Set 2 – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps.

Set 3 – medium: 8-10 reps.

Set 4 – heavy 4-6 reps.

Set 5 – medium weight: 8-10 reps.

Set 6 – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps.

Set 7 – lightweight: 12-16 reps.

The benefit of this type of training is that the initial first set can be used as a warm-up set and there it total control over the increases of each weight. This type of training can also fatigue the muscle groups so it’s a good idea to get usurp to the gym machines and techniques with the previous 3 sets of 12 Reps routine until it’s established that the confidence and technical abilities are sound.

As with every workout, cool down and stretch periods prevent any further injury. Maybe a walk in the treadmill for 5 minutes or a short 500m on the Rowing Machine would benefit.

In my next blog, The benefits of what is called High-Intensity Interval Training, featuring designing your own circuits to give a full-body workout and pretty much test your physical and psychological endurance will be covered.

As with everything that has been written, please ensure that your own and others safety is put first and stop immediately if there is any movement that feels too stressful. Prevention is better than a cure.

Author: Mark Armstrong.

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