Tamaki Sports Academy
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Let's assume you are planning three off-season gym sessions a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with the aim of becoming bigger and stronger.
There are two approaches. Each session can be a whole body workout or each session can target one or more muscle groups. We target muscle groups. One possibility is
The core (abs and lower back) and the forearms should be worked at every session.
If you cut down to two gym sessions during the season then one approach is chest/shoulders/arms on Mondays and Back/legs on Wednesdays (assuming Tuesday and Thursday trainings with a game on Saturday)
Having decided which muscle groups to work on which days, it is important that you enter the gym with a plan. The gym is not a playground. It is not somewhere you wander around unsure of what to try next. Know what you are going to do before you go inside. Get it done. Leave.
Our approach is to work each muscle group to failure (until you can't complete the next repetition). We advocate three sets of 6-8 reps, with the weight increasing for the third (failure) set. If you can complete eight reps at this higher weight, then increase the weight again and try a fourth set.
Muscle failure results in tiny tears (microtears) in the muscle. These are repaired over 48 hours and the healed muscle is slightly bigger.
You must give the muscle adequate time to rest. This means good, predictable sleep patterns. An hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after midnight. This is because the key muscle growth hormones are released in the early hours of the morning IF you have already been asleep for several hours. If you are still awake at 0100 or 0200, then your body won't release any growth hormones that morning.
It is also important that you eat 'muscle building' rather than 'fat store' foods if you want to gain muscle mass. Your body has two weight gain pathways - it either adds muscle mass or it stores energy as fat. If you have a greasy, fatty diet then you will put on weight as fat and may even lose muscle mass.
On the other hand, you need to increase your food intake to put on muscle mass. You need more energy not more salads, and fatty foods contain the most energy gram for gram. It's a question of balance. You can't go wrong with a high protein high carbohydrate diet (as long as you don't have diabetes or some other medical problem which means this kind of nutrition is not for you). Eat less fat, but more food. Sugary drinks are fine during and shortly after a workout. Not great at other times (as the energy must be stored, and if your glycogen stores are full that means stored as fat).
Try to avoid weighing yourself every day. Every week is fine. Remember that if you can complete 8 reps of a third set then it's time to increase the weight. Finally, although the amount you can bench will impress the boys, it's the amount you can squat that determines how well you tackle when tired.