Mail Call: Questions To Dave Answered!

This week I've decided to pick a few email questions that represent the perplexities of a wide range of us insistent airborne. I'll condense the note to save time and assure privacy, yet give you a feel for the person and his or her dilemma.
This week I've decided to pick a few email questions that represent the perplexities of a wide range of us insistent airborne. I'll condense the note to save time and assure privacy, yet give you a feel for the person and his or her dilemma. You may notice me rambling from time to time to include a reasonably associated point that I think might be interesting, or you might find me missing the point entirely. Do not confuse this with senility.

Here we go:

Question:
You've mentioned a few times about the three to four times per month heavy training while your more frequent sessions are lighter. Have you found that you can maintain and even progress in the closer-to-limit-strength with this frequency? Does one build to the maximum, PR heavies over the course of the month(s) or really inside of each heavy workout?

Answer:
My workouts last about two hours and they are always maximum output sessions, pushing for last rep or near last rep sets. Pain of injured or overstressed areas holds me back. I train to build and not break or degenerate my structure.

Every three weeks (give or take a few days, when I get the urge) I see how I'm doing by settling into a workout to approach my maximum single in the squat or deadlift -- usually two different days several days apart. I warm up and go for it through whatever series of sets and reps I choose that day according to feel, whim or intelligence.

Mental notes are kept and I am careful not to force myself into a destructive corner... you know, get the rep or jump off a cliff. Sometimes I match my max or exceed it, sometimes I come close and there are times I just give it a rest and retool my training for the future attempts. The max rep days are risky but keep my power alive and well, and assure systemic growth advantages, muscle density and size.

This is the scheme I have followed since the dawn to effectively coincide power building with muscle building. They assume equal priority in my motivation and goals. The cooperative scheme has, therefore, worked well for me. If I were seeking power only I would no doubt choose a different approach.

So the answers to your questions are: number one, yes, and number two, as a hard-working muscle builder, the ability to progress in my strength and maximum PR depend upon the combination of the frequent volume workouts and the less frequent low-rep workouts, the former for muscle building and conditioning, and for the intelligent preparation of the latter, the quest for power.

Question:
I am a 50-year-old woman, 5' 9," weighing 127 pounds and in really good shape. I exercised most of my life and recently started weight lifting. I have a terrible problem, though, with cellulite on the upper thighs and backside. My trainer says this is fat and that if I diet correctly and weight train it could go away. What do you think?

Answer:
If you have not seriously weight trained in the past, it is a strong possibility that you will build muscle density and size, shape and tone without building over-large thigh or gluteus muscles. Cellulite might very well diminish with training and/or take on a more agreeable appearance. Cellulite is not fully understood and is known to be resistant.

Weight training with care is important as we get older (I'm 60); yet training with intensity is imperative. As you become conditioned, train with passion and a grateful attitude. A healthy, thoughtful degree of aggression is needed to build muscle and break through cellulite barriers. One may say that passion or enthusiasm are not in our control, we either have them or don't. I say as we keep our eye hopefully and energetically on our purpose and goals, and with our hands held out against doubt and lethargy, passion and enthusiasm will fill us. From them training intensity grows and objectives are reached.

Don't be afraid to blast it and don't be afraid of squats. Excessive criticism, on the other hand, can rob you. I suggest you look into HIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for your cardio training once you are comfortable and moving along in your workouts.

127 at 5' 9" is quite slim. Keep the protein high, sugar low, meals frequent, feed your muscles and fuel your training sessions. Don't starve yourself to lose the fat or you will sacrifice vital, attractive, fat-burning muscle. Persist. We desperately need more fit and conscientious people on this dear planet.

Question:
I'm a middle-age guy. Whenever I do leg curls, the next day my lower back aches for about 24 hours. I have a full, top-quality home gym setup, with a full reclining bench and leg attachments. I've tried declining the bench so my butt's in the air, and I've tried a straight horizontal bench too... same discomfort. What should I do?

Answer:
Those leg curls can be troublesome and you don't want them interfering with the health of your back.

Chances are the origin of the problem is the mechanics of the apparatus as it is of a non-commercial variety. The best home setups often fail in the leg-curl movement, as do many sophisticated professional units. Try stuffing a pillow between your midsection and the bench to raise you backside in an attempt to eliminate the stress directed to the lower back during exertion.

Or, settle for a lighter weight and comfortable reps with hope that sufficient direct leg biceps stimulation will be achieved as you seek overall thigh development from other exercises (prepares the delicate region for future heavier weight as you build and strengthen). Squats and true deadlifts are winners for full thigh construction, the latter a blast on hamstrings when counting out loaded reps.

Some people love lunges for the front and the back of the thighs. Weighted walking lunges (bar across the back or hanging, hand-held dumbbells) and bench step-ups have become popular lately, the accent on the hamstrings and butt the main attraction.

Another approach: Strengthen the lower back with hyperextensions and deadlifts for reps and occasional power. They are essential exercises, which will add armor to your lower back, overall power to the body and resistance to many injuries. The increased strength and health might enable you to perform the curl without critical stress or pain.

Meanwhile, keep the body, mind and spirit strong and alive. We are here to keep the skies clear, blue and trouble-free.

Question:
I am a female, 5' 6," weighing 125 lbs and have been at this weight for years. I take in 2000 calories per day, broken down into six meals -- each meal consists of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. I train four days a week and I do two 30-minute sessions of cardio per week since I have a fast metabolism.

Once in a while I will eat a nice bowl of ice cream or a few slices of pizza. I then do extra cardio, but the problem is I can't seem to shed the extra calories that I consumed. My body stores the extra calories as fat. If I increase my cardio my body puts on fat. Am I supposed to cut carbs for a while and then increase them again after I cheat with my diet?

Answer:
The occasional ice cream and pizza shouldn't present such a problem. On those infrequent days that you indulge, plan a tough weight workout later that day or on the following day to take advantage of the carbohydrate load... pump, strength and endurance will be up and ready for action.

This mildly resembles, in fact, a popular training technique put forth by highly regarded training experts: Carb up and blast the weights, according to a methodical scheme.

You're living a good life and following a good training (diet and exercise) scheme. I'd raise the protein intake (up to 40 %) and lower the carbs and wouldn't mind losing some less valuable fat ingestion as well. You are at a fine edge according to your specs... 5' 6" and 125 are right in there.

Practice shorter, more intense and frequent cardio sessions (HIT: High Intensity Interval Training) to suit your training needs. Three or four 12 to 15-minute HIT workouts will outdo the thirty-minute slugs for athleticism, fat burning and muscle sparing. Tough at first, but invigorating and pleasing once you adapt.

The following thoughts might sound extreme or something might just ring a bell: Have you considered sprints at a track to fight stubborn fat? They can be a welcome diversion, healthy and fun, as they target tough spots, including waistline, hips, glutes and hamstrings. You might find stepping up your calorie consumption (go, protein) and putting the increase to use with an aggressive approach to your training. Are you stuck in a mold and need to break out or are you content with your level of input? Risk sometimes matches our hidden personality... a month of spirited change is always a step forward.

Look at your weight workouts for clues to your fat control and fat-burning, muscle development. Do you weight train, muscle build hard enough? Is it time to amp two of your four workouts, superset, add weight or sets or effort per set? Robust training can be liberating, not enslaving, as it at first appears.

Next time the clouds fill the skies in your world, Bombers, throttle-up, lean back and rise above them. The sun always shines.

God bless you,