My Deadlift Warm up

The deadlift is one of the most taxing exercises. With tons of variations that can be down, it can make it easy to be injured if you don’t warm up properly. I have seen a lot of injuries due to not warming up, so lets break down the warm up for your deadlift in todays article.

Why warm up?

The warm up and cool down are crucial for your workout. Without an efficient warm up, you are opening up your chances to injury. Without cooling down, you are increasing your chances to what is called venous pooling of blood in the lower extremities. This can cause you to be light headed and also cause dizziness especially in higher intensity workouts.

What should your warm up look like?

When I discuss warm ups with someone, I take into account what kind of workout they are getting ready to perform. I also look at a few other factors such as the clients health, previous injuries, age, equipment around the gym and more. That is how important the warm up is and it should be thought of as so.

It would take a long time to go over how your warm up should look if I listed every possibility so that is why I will be talking about warming up for the deadlift.

Every good warm up should have you breaking a very light sweat or right on the edge to start sweating. Starting off on a cardio movement such as a bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc. would be good to start with. Again depending on the workout listed, would vary the warm up time but 3-10 minutes should do in most strength workouts for the cardio. I would like to also list that it should be down at a low intensity such as a 50-75% speed in most machines.

Next I look at performing a self myofascial release method such as foam rolling. 5-10 minutes could be spent here if needed. I like this because this followed up with some dynamics will allow an increase in blood flow in the areas worked. This will help increase mobility for the time being, warm up that muscle and allow a decrease in chances of injury.

Dynamics are next on the list. A dynamic movement is typically described as a movement allowing a full range of motion, in turn giving a light but efficient stretch to the muscle.

I do not typically perform static stretches because this tends to relax the muscle as where the dynamic stretches can ready the muscle to fire for our strength movements.

After dynamics, I work my weakness areas to wake the muscles up to fire properly. This is where the warm up can sometimes be very specific and specialized to the individuals needs. Lets say you have low back pain, or your back is a little tight on a day we are scheduled to deadlift. I would incorporate a couple exercises like the reverse hyper, walking lunges, and back extensions or band good mornings. This would allow more blood flow into the back and assisting muscles to increase the stability for the low back. This portion can be different for everyone most of the time.

Last we have what I call “pre activation work” which is very similar to the strength movement we will do. This may also look like the weak areas we hit depending on the individual. Since we are on the subject of the deadlift, I like to incorporate stiff leg deadlifts, goblet squats, and sometimes a couple sets of pile squats to wake up the adductors (inner thigh muscles) if we have a sumo deadlift day.

I also want to mention that when doing any strength movement, especially the deadlift, START LIGHT and do a couple warm up sets to check technique and get the right muscles firing.

My deadlift warm up routine

Bike

Foam roll

Leg swings

Hip circle walks – front, back, sides

Stiff leg deadlift w/ dumbbells

Iso Glute raise with band pullovers

Start with lighter weight to check technique

That sums up the majority of the things needed to be covered today but if you have any questions on warming up, please reach out to me and ask some questions! I hope you all have a great day and enjoy this article and video!

-Alex Costa-

5 Of My Favorite Arm Exercises (Workout Included!)

Summer is around the corner which means the t-shirts and tank tops will be making an appearance. Let’s start working on those arms to make sure you’re looking good by the pool!

I’m a meathead at heart so of course I always have some workouts ready for an extra arm day here and there. There are a couple main things I have learned about training my arms that have made a huge difference.

  1. Using a progressive overload method will almost always win in the long run.
  2. It’s not always about the pump, but the pump is nice to see and motivates you.
  3. There is a time to heave the weight up and arm training is about 90% the opposite. Make sure you work form strictly.
  4. Don’t be afraid to hit arms heavy here and there.
  5. Increase frequency to increase size and strength.
  6. Don’t forget the triceps!! The triceps take up about 2/3 of the arm.

I will write an article on arm training and include these but for now lets get to what you want… the exercises and workout!

Exercise #1 The cheat curl

This is a classic exercise used back in the golden era bodybuilding days to really create some mass. I have learned a couple twist and tweaks to make it even better!

Start with a straight barbell and load it to a desired weight. Take an underhand grip right outside shoulder width and unrack it. Curl it up, as the bar gets a little heavy, you can use your body to get a little momentum helping the bar go up. (Don’t over extend your lower back, that is how you can hurt yourself.) Once you get the rep to the top, squeeze your bicep and when you go to let the bar down, we are going to take it down nice and slow, preferably about 4 seconds on the way down. The muscle damage happens during the eccentric portion of the lift or in this case, when you lower the weight.

This is an exercise I usually try to work a little heavier in weight with. This will really help build some mass for your biceps.

Exercise #2 Close grip bench

This in my opinion is almost the same effect for your triceps as the cheat curl is for the biceps. This is another exercise I tend to work a little heavier in to overload the triceps.

Set up on a bench just like a standard bench press, except instead of taking your normal grip width, bring the grip into about shoulder width. (Picture of my setup shown below) Take the bar and wrap your hand around it, unrack weight and bring it down just like a bench press. The main difference is that your grip will be closer and your elbows will come down by your sides closer than a normal bench. You can do touch and go reps or pause reps if desired.

My close grip bench setup

This is a great exercise to add some size to your triceps and add strength to get a stronger bench press.

Exercise #3 Bench dips

This makes my list because I love loading up with weight to increase the difficulty. Standard dips can be a little stressful on my shoulders at times so this is another variation that you can use to hit your triceps.

Start by going to a flat bench and sit on the side. Bring your hands in to your sides so that your thumb is right underneath the butt when you are sitting down. That is the width I use to really target the triceps. From there, walk out your legs or put your legs on another bench a few feet away from you. This will leave you in a starting position with your body being held up by your arms. Your arms will start to bend and you will descend into a dip. Don’t go to far forward during your dip as this can stress the shoulders. Think about keeping your back sliding along the side of the bench as you go into your dip. When you get your arms to about 90 degrees (depending on your mobility) you will use your triceps to push yourself back up to complete the rep.

I have always noticed that when I include this exercise, my arms look more defined and my bench is stronger than usual.

Exercise #4 Overhead tricep extension

The tricep anatomy. Picture is from http://www.physio-pedia.com

The overhead tricep extension is a great exercise that has a solid purpose. Your tricep is composed of three muscles, hence “tri”. One of the muscles called the tricep brachii or the long head of the tricep connects to the scapula. (Shown here with a circle) That is important to remember when we use the tricep to function. We can really hit the long head when we lift the arms overhead for an exercise like this when we use an extension of the elbow.

I love using this exercise to hit the tricep and add some nice looking definition to my arm.

Exercise #5 The preacher curl

I couldn’t do this list and not add this exercise. This is one of the main exercises a lot of people do in the gym just because the machine is there and easy to use. I love this exercise because it can really help you isolate the bicep without cheating the rep. This adds a lot of stress to the biceps, in a positive way.

This exercise hits what is called the brachialis and the biceps brachii. This exercise can put immense tension on the biceps so be sure to warm up with lighter weight for 1-2 sets before adding anything heavier.

You can add this in for a finisher at your gym if it is a machine and switch weight a lot faster!

The Workout

Time for the workout… We learned what each exercise does and how to do it if you watched the videos. Now let me go over a few important side notes to ensure you have a solid arm workout.

Cheat curls and close grip bench should be a little heavier but still make sure you have good form. For the overhead extensions, I want you to do 1-2 warm up sets to get the joints ready for the movement. After that I want you to start with a heavy weight that you can control for about 10-15 reps. Do your reps TILL FAILURE then rack that weight. Immediately pick up 5-10 pounds less and go till failure again. Now do that same thing 2 more times so you end up with a total of 4 sets right back to back with each other. This is a great arm finisher just make sure you either have a spotter or have a spot to drop the weight safely if you are able to do so.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have enjoyed creating it! Please give me feedback and let me know how you liked this article and if you want to see more post like this!

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Have a great day!!
-Alex Costa-

Are Eggs Healthy?

Are they friend or foe? There has been talk for a long time saying that consuming too many eggs can lead to high cholesterol levels. Is this true, should we slow down on eggs? Let us dig into some research and see what science has to say about this..

Humans have been eating eggs for a very long time, one article says approximately 6 million years and counting. Eggs back in the good ol hunting days were one of the easiest things for us to hunt and gather because unlike the mammoths and wild animals, the fragile egg never wanted to fight back. Hmm to hunt a saber tooth tiger or eggs… decisions, decisions.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is described in this article as a waxy fat substance in the body, particularly in the cells of your body. Cholesterol can also be found in foods we eat such as eggs, fatty meats and cheese. It isn’t always a bad thing however. Cholesterol helps the body by helping the body with producing new cells and hormones as well as helping the body with dissolving vitamins. Most of the production happens in the liver, but researchers say that it isn’t necessarily the amount of cholesterol we consume but how much saturated fat is consumed with ones diet. (MedicalNewsToday.com was a huge resource where I got some of this information above)

The article I read on Medlineplus.gov discusses how too much cholesterol can be a bad thing:

“If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque. Plaque sticks to the walls of your arteries. This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis. It can lead to coronary artery disease, where your coronary arteries become narrow or even blocked.”

Good and Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol is broken down into 2 categories. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). These are important to remember because this is pretty much how we can tell if we have good cholesterol or not. The goal is to have more HDL and less LDL. This is because HDL helps with transferring cholesterol from around your body back to your liver, which is good because as it is moved to the liver, it processes it and gets rid of the bad cholesterol for you. Now on the other hand, LDL is the bad kind because this is the kind we hear about causing heart attacks and strokes due to it increasing a build up of plaque in the arteries.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a mixture of a handful of things. The main things that tend to increase the chances of having high cholesterol is having too many LDL in your body as learned above. Also not being active, eating a lot of saturated fats from items such as deep-fried and processed foods. Smoking also lowers our HDL which is our good cholesterol as it raises the LDL count which is our bad cholesterol, this part is especially true for women according to this article I read. Also pay attention to your family health history, if your family has had problems with cholesterol then take precautions by getting checked by your doctor on a regular basis of his recommendation.

So What About The Eggs?

Eggs do indeed have a yolk that can include up to 200mg of cholesterol which is one of the richest among other foods however eggs also contain a bunch of health benefits including some benefits that can decrease chances of heart disease.

Some things that we like to see in eggs are:

  • Vitamins A, B, B12, D
  • Iodine
  • Folate
  • protein
  • Healthy fat

It is a plus having the option to get eggs in organic forms and cage free which are a good option. If not the normal eggs are still there and for a very good price which makes it a convenient food to have in the fridge.

This is a part of an article I read from Harvard that I wanted to include for those who may have a health history of high cholesterol, diabetes or anything that would need to be discussed with their doctor:
“In studies including the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, heart disease risk was increased among men and women with diabetes who ate one or more eggs a day.  For people who have diabetes and heart disease, it may be best to limit egg consumption to no more than three yolks per week.”

Here is another part of the same article from above, I believe this was apart of their conclusion:
“While eggs may be a much better choice than sugary, refined grain-based options like sweetened breakfast cereals, pancakes with syrup, muffins, or bagels, they may fall short of other options. A bowl of steel-cut oats with nuts and berries, for example, will be a much better choice for heart health than an egg-centric breakfast. Consumption of whole grains and fruit predict lower risk of heart disease, and when it comes to protein, plant sources like nuts and seeds are related to lower cardiovascular and overall mortality, especially when compared to red meat or eggs.”

That is something I do want to point out for your health because I am not saying to go eat a stack of eggs everyday, I am saying to do your research. Talk to your doctor about your cholesterol and overall health and what diet would be best for you.

Conclusion

In any dieting advice you chose to follow, I always recommend talking to your family physician and a registered dietitian to ensure you are healthy enough to participate in any new diet. I also highly recommend getting your blood work done regularly/annually depending on your health. It is a good thing to go over your numbers with your doctor and ask any questions you have as well as discuss any nutritional guidance you should be following.

I personally eat eggs almost everyday, I try to substitute 1-3 days with a different alternative. After reading all of the articles and studies, I will try throwing other healthy options such as the steel cut oats with berries and nuts. I still believe for me personally, eating a few eggs on a regular basis shouldn’t hurt but I will be discussing topics like this with my doctor to get a professional opinion.

I hope this article helps you, I know cholesterol can be an important topic for many. Especially with an alarming number like 3,000,000 cases each year having high cholesterol. So please share this on social media and with friends and family because this could really help someone with their health and wellness.

Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!
-Alex Costa-

Resources:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323001.php
https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html

My Next Competition

You may have noticed my competition countdown on the homepage of my website, if not let me explain…

I was super excited to see a local gym and buddy of mine throw a powerlifting meet for his gym. I love competing and having a date on the calendar to get ready for. I also enjoy supporting local fitness businesses and other gyms.

I have decided to compete in a push / pull powerlifting meet on June 1st. I have been prepping for about 2 weeks already. A push / pull meet is a powerlifting meet where only the bench press and deadlift will be performed. The best lifter in each weight class will be the winner, most meets have an overall best lifter which is the strongest pound for pound lifter. I am sitting around 151-153lbs so I am going to try making the 148lb weight class for meet day.

I will be breaking down strength content pretty heavily this month. Especially for the deadlift and bench because of the meet.

I am super excited to compete! If you are in the area, check out the meet! You can find more info on Alpha’s gym page.

Hope everyone has a great Monday!
-Alex Costa-