Mind-Muscle Connection, What does that even mean?!

Sometime after I first got into weight training I started hearing about mind-muscle connection especially when pertaining to the glutes.  To be honest I always thought it was a crock of shit and mentally I was like WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!?
You remember back in like 2007?  When everyone was doing that side ‘grr’ face thing?  (I have no idea what made that popular or who influenced it) But I could never do it.  I just have no control over those nerves in my face and so I related that to my muscles too.  If I can’t feel the muscle how am I supposed to be able to mentally target it and yada yada?!

So fast forward to now and I realize how underestimated the mind-mucsle connection is.
I’ve been doing a lot of things wrong with lifting, believe me I never got into this thinking I KNEW things, or even this blog.  It’s not supposed to be like ‘hey listen to me I know things.’  That’s not me at all.  I just want to share my experiences and what i’ve learned.

Over the past several months, and particularly these past 2-3 months i’ve put a heavy emphasis on training my glutes.  I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can and one truth of it all is everyone is different.  What works for some doesn’t work for everyone, so apply that to your training too.

If you have a hard time in growing your glutes like I do, one thing to take note of is building a good base layer of muscle will help you with that.  This past month my glute muscles have truly grown, replacing some of the fat that’s all up in there.  Causing me to be able to flex and everything unlike i’ve ever been able to before.  Making it easier for me to contract my glutes, and think about how i’m using them with my workouts.
There is no 1 work-out that’s going to give you an amazing ass.  It’s not a one trick pony.  It’s all the tricks, and our genetics play a part in it as well.

Whenever you’re doing squats, deadlifts, or any workout that should utilize your glutes in anyway, you have to mentally think about your glutes.  Say you’re squatting, as you’re coming up think: PULL WITH MY GLUTES.  LIFT WITH MY GLUTES.  LAY OFF THE QUADS, KEEP MY WEIGHT IN MY HEELS, PULL THAT ASS UP.   If you have to drop weight to really train and strengthen your buttox then do it, because it will be worth it and then you’ll be able to hit that ass more as you go up in weight again.

If you’re doing bulgarian squats or lunges, contract your glutes with your movements.  If you’re doing step-ups, put your weight in your heel as you push yourself up.  Like you’re pushing down instead of just lifting yourself up.

Squat Variations:

This is something I have neglected for a long time.  Truth is because like I said we are all different.  We are designed different, our bones, how our bodies are built.  Look at how people walk.  Some people walk with their feet straight.  Some people walk with their feet going outwards like \   /.   I’m someone who has a very straight walk, and our bone structure is the cause of this.  So when I first started I was getting into sumo squats because I really wanted an ass (it’s been two years, you see how clueless i’ve been? LOL)  I ended up stopping those completely because I developed a pain coming from my ankle straight up my leg from doing this workout.  Now the reason because of this was due to watch all of these people on youtube and such doing sumo squats online with a very wide stance and their feet super outwards, more than just \ /.  Obviously none of that works for me.  I’m 5’2″, my ankles are not going to be cool with holding up weight and having my feet so angled outward.  My version of sumo is a lot more tame than others because I am a short shit and my bone structure.

Here are three squat variations, Narrow, Standard, and Sumo <-Video Link.   I found this woman on instagram: _Brooklynfit
I found her recently on Instagram, she’s adorable & informative.

I recommended those Nike Free 5.0 TR Fit’s in my previous post because I also attribute those to my growing glute connection.  They have literally forced me to put my weight in my heel forcing me to really build up my glutes.
To anyone who may be new as well, when people are saying put all your weight in your heel they’re really saying put most of your weight in your heel but also on the middle/arch portion of your feet.  Putting all of your weight into just your heel will cause you to topple over especially with workouts that require more balance that isn’t quite achieved yet.

If anyone is interested I’ll follow up with a post of the workouts that really work my glutes and how I train them.  Also want to follow up by saying try to keep your reps in a 10-15 range.  Previously I’ve been guilty of keeping my reps low but you actually want them to be a bit higher in order to truly build and grow.

Over these past two weeks I’ve gone from 110-112lbs.  Not even excess body fat… i’m just on a complete bulking phase right now.  It’s scary, this is the heaviest I’ve been in a long time.  I started lifting at only 94lbs.  This time last year I was stuck at 105lbs for over half a year, and here I am continuously adding muscle.  But in a way that i’m still comfortable with my body and I know i’m not just getting fat lol.  For me personally hitting triple digits has scared me since I originally hit 100lbs in 5th grade.  But here I am… the healthiest, strongest and fittest I have ever been.  With no desire to starve myself or blow chunks down the toilet…  🙂

Key To Cardio 🗝

It’s almost widespread how much people hate cardio.  It’s been something I avoided or could only manage for maybe 10 minutes tops up until a few months ago.
It’s incredibly boring, and repetitive.  Does not stimulate my mind or keep me ‘busy’ enough to keep going lol.

Then I discovered 2 things.

Gaming + Cardio = A lot more cardio time spent while having FUN!

I also discovered spinning and i’ve fallen in love with it.  I also find it easier to game while spinning instead of the stair master or treadmill.

I find it difficult to think someone out there doesn’t like video games… but if you haven’t kept up to date, handheld gaming (ex: Nintendo 3DS XL) is a lot different than it used to be.  They’re pretty powerful gaming devices now and play out like full-throttle games that you can find on consoles or PCs.

I HIGHLY recommend my all time favorite game Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.  Remastered in HD and for the 3DS.  Listed now on Amazon for $19.88 for the hardcopy version, $19.99 for the digital download code.  I loved this game as a kid and I still love it even more now as an adult.

I find it difficult to play while on the stair master however if you keep it at a low speed, you can still play and game all while getting a good sweat and burn.
Personally I enjoy RPG games the most, and while spinning I unintentionally go really fast during boss battles haha.

Absolute Favorite: Best WeightLifting Shoe Out there! Nike Free 5.0 Tr Fit 5

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In these photos i’m wearing the Nike Free 5.0 TR Fit 5.  (Could they make the name any longer?!)
These were the first official shoes I got that were marketed for weight training.  I decided to take the leap and try them especially because I found these for like $40 something on eBay.  These were the first shoes I got that didn’t have super sturdy walls, and a heel.  I’ve honestly fallen in love.

Several things to note!

1) Textured, gripped, outer sole.  Prevents any slippage on carpet, hard flooring, gloss flooring, matts, leg presses, whatever you’re working with.  REALLY helps stabilize you on workouts that require a lot of balance and core work.
2) Weight distribution.  With these they’ve helped enforce me to put all of my weight in my heel.  Which I believe has helped me improve my squats, and glute work recently.  By putting all of your weight in your heel for some workouts it allows you to hit some more glutes.  I’ve also been learning some about biomechanics and how our bodies are all different, these have helped me to go lower in my squats and stay low.  This also goes along with my balance.  (New PR: I hit 135lb squat the other day!  Could only do 1 rep, and then completely maxed out.  IE I dropped after anymore reps than that even when I dropped the weight lol.)

3) Stylish.  One of my biggest withholdings from ever getting shoes designed for weight lifting was…they’re all ugly.  But I think the design teams have finally come along and picked up the slack.

Even without wearing these I do find myself putting my weight more in my heel and having better balance.  I’ve always struggled with bulgarian squats and curtsy squats but these have helped me a ton by having grip i’ve badly needed and allowing me to keep my weight in my heel.  I’m no longer falling over LOL and its allowed me to really strengthen up my core to completely nip that all in the bud.

They’re a pretty flimsy shoe with seemingly not much to them but they’ve made a world of a difference for me.  They’re pretty flat also which is one thing I was concerned about, I have high arches and I remember when I was younger I got recked by converses just due to how flat they were… but with these I haven’t had any problems and no pains.  I’m also not wearing them 24/7, only in the gym, but still.  No pains or problems is the best in my book!

If you look at my other shoe reviews, yes I do tend to prefer Nike.  I find them much more comfortable for me and consistent sizing that I can rely on.  I do however, believe Nike has poor and sloppy craftsmanship and that they seriously price gouge us customers because we see the sloppy handiwork of the paint and glue, and we all know they’re made in china for cheap.  Which is why I don’t buy from Nike directly, they do not need nor deserve retail prices.

Bodybuilding and Body Image

This is something I wanted to talk about after seeing a tweet I really relate to.
Someone tweeted out that bodybuilding has made them feel more confident with their body but also more critical….which is true big time.  I feel like i’m in an awkward stage of building… my muscle build up is slow (which is why i’ve stopped cracking down on my diet, when I start limiting intake solely for aesthetic reasons my progress slows down big time.)  I feel personally I still have my trouble areas, trouble areas that are purely from my genetics and hormones as women experience.  I’m talking about the saddlebag area and the under butt line that gets even worse when your shorts don’t fit! (Last years summer shorts no longer fit…. #bootygrowthFTW)  But like women I’ve been having mood swings stemming from hormones/time of the month… like this week has been BAD.  I don’t normally have a mood swing like I used to but it was REALLY bad this past week.  I completely broke down and hated my body.  Felt like i’ve gotten no where within these past 2 years.  It’s just been a mess.

But you know not everyone progresses as fast as others, everyone is different.  Everyone has different genetics and different problems.  Different areas that collect fat.  And definitely different muscle build time frames.  I also started off knowing NOTHING and going in clueless, slowly learning along the way.

I’ve had progress for sure, more numerically than aesthetically.  I haven’t accumulated enough muscle for it to take over fat… if that makes any sense.  My body fat percentage isn’t high, but my muscle percentage isn’t high enough to shine through.  I tear myself up more than anyone else.  I just lack patience, and I expect so much more results than what is reality at hitting 2 years.  But then again I went in blind and I went in all by myself, and have learned along the way and i’m still learning.  My workouts have been pretty amazing recently and my goal to tackle my quads and glutes is working tremendously with a lot of pain.  I can engage my glutes A LOT more than I ever could before, which makes for more results whenever I do an exercise to focus on glute growth.  But I feel the results don’t show like I would like.  But then again if you do really look into all these fitness people that are big in the business, look at how long they’ve been training… look at how long they’ve trained before the sexy results we all desire shows…  4 years for one, 6-7 years for another, were all different.  But were striving for the same thing.

No one can tear myself apart like I can, something that’s sad but i’m so sure of.  Weight training changes your body like you’ve never seen before… Here’s some before pictures of me that I recently stumbled across:
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I was skinny, sure.  But I was skinny-fat.  I carry my weigh in my hips, my love handles, thighs, and my lower back.  I have terrible genetics in that way.
My dad was lanky as hell when he was younger, never fat, and now he just carries weight in his stomach.  My mom is the furthest thing from athletic and sporty, she tried once but ended up in the hospital.  So on neither side do I have, or do I know I have, easy or quick muscle build up.  Although I think my brother had quick muscle build up but that was unintentional…and clearly didn’t transfer to me <_<.
But look at how tiny my legs and arms were.  I was never comfortable in my body here… like never..  I was never toned, I was never firm, I jiggled.  I’d have a ton of bad days and few good.  I was boney, and felt fat whenever I put pants on because my hips, thighs, and love handles.

Now my favorite pants that I used to wear ALL THE TIME, I can’t wear anymore.  I have too much of a butt, my leg muscles are too big, they just don’t fit.  My shorts don’t fit.  Jeans don’t fit, last auction I worked I tore two of my black work pants… (that were like kids jeggings, looked like black jeans but were stretchy…not stretchy enough for this butt) It’s unfortunate but funny and I was like F-IT wearing these anyway lol.

It’s learning my new body, learning to like and love my new body, work on this project even harder, work on myself till I love myself, till i’m comfortable, and learning to love these muscles.  I’m very weird about my legs.  Big muscular arms don’t phase me one bit.  They aren’t big, but I want those muscles, I have a decent muscle base there.  But my legs make me struggle.  I don’t know why, I guess because I struggled with my legs a lot and always have.  Now adding muscles but not enough to overcome the fattiness that resides there makes me feel insecure.
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^ This picture is from this previous week

This is why I train my legs SO MUCH.  I’m hitting these areas hard because I want them to change.  No more saddlebags, firm glutes, firm quads, and firm, hamstrings.  Fix that shit up so I can wear whatever I want once I find the things that fit and I don’t feel restricted because I look fat, or fatty, etc.  Once I build up enough muscle i’m definitely going to start hitting the macros and restricting myself but I know if I were to lean down now bulking will be incredibly hard, and I wouldn’t look toned and firm like i’d like because not enough is there.  I feel like this journey is interesting…depending on the person.  There’s awkward stages like in middle school.  But in the end you look amazing.  It’s deceptive because people think it’s easy and only takes a year or two but it doesn’t.  But these awkward stages make you feel like is this what I really want?  Even though you know it is.  Maybe some people do it for how they’ll look in the end, but I also want to be strong and powerful.  Protect myself and be my own person.  Be a ninja 😉

On a side note, my absolute favorite weight training shoes are these.  The Nike 5.0 TR Fit.  They’re amazing, great underlining grip, doesn’t hurt my arches, and makes it easier to put my weight in my heels.  Highly recommend.

This wraps up my personal, bloody truth, and struggle of a time with this journey and my current feels.

4Kor Fitness Bands: New Gym Bag Must-Have

4Kor Fitness Bands

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I had been wanting to get bands for added resistance in the gym as well as something easy to travel with.  I came across 4Kor Bands on Amazon, they’re currently priced at $16 on Amazon!  They’re reasonably priced, you get 6 bands ranging from X-Easy all the way up to XX-Heavy.  They’re strong, and well made.  Even being stretched out a ton, still absolutely no wear.  I suggest rinsing them off after receiving them due to white residue, just because it’ll transfer to your clothes.

Here is a video from my instagram using them for squats, helping me hit my glutes as much as possible.

And here is Jay using them for push-ups.

These are so multifunctional and amazingly well made.  Justin has used them in his home gym for resisted pull ups, push ups, tricep push-downs, seated rows, and many more.  And still, no wear.  I highly recommend the company, and for those that love to support small business’ they are a family-owned and run company.  I’ve had these since February and no problems.  They come with a handy bag so you can easily store your bands and keep them all together no matter where you’re going.  They come with a Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee too!  You can’t beat that.

They just released Warrior Bands, I have not used them before but they just released them for those seeking longer bands!

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The prices on these range from $11.95 – $21.95.  Pricing changing due to resistance of the band.  The offer three different colored bands at different resistances.

Atlas Wearables Wristband UPDATED Information

A few weeks ago I posted my review of the Atlas Wristband, including some how-to’s and facts on how this band works.  A few days ago I got an app update as well as a big firmware update on the wristband.  I really like these changes and a matter of fact they addressed some things I had problems with prior to the update.

There’s no longer a heart rate mode.  It’s now called Stopwatch/Cardio mode.  What I love about it: On just the one screen it shows me how long i’ve been going in the center, on the top left it shows me how many calories i’ve burned, and on the top right it shows me my heart rate.   It even allows you to pause it, and then continue it.

As far as logging workouts, after 10 it no longer skips by 5’s.  It now includes all whole numbers which is awesome.  It allows you to more accurately track your weight lifting status.

Like I mentioned in my prior post, even though it’s already out to the public, it doesn’t mean the work put into it is done.  It’s constantly being worked on, updated, and made better.  They are welcome to any and all feedback and listen to their customers which is pretty awesome.

Updates!

I was going to upload a review of an Adidas backpack I received when I worked an Adidas event however I couldn’t find the same backpack on the website, or anywhere….  I’ll keep looking though because I really want to tell you guys about it but if I do I want to have an actual link to it.

Muscle gains have been extraordinarily different for me these past couple months, not only that my training.  I’ve had more off days since November than I have since I first started lifting.  Between getting sick pretty bad & frequently and then lately “not feeling it” a lot.  Luckily, I had to see a doctor for a health situation and we got to talking about my immune system and she put me on prenatals plus minerals, as well as folic acid.  This has been pretty awesome because my immune system has strengthened and I haven’t felt like i’m getting sick or anything since!  (Over the past year I would get sick every time I traveled for work, and then frequently feel sick or get colds anytime in between.  It was bad.)  I even traveled to Houston a few weeks ago and didn’t get a cold or anything!

As far as training goes, I’ve been training heavier.  Not afraid to go heavy, not waiting for when my current weight ‘feels too light’ none of that.  Starting off heavier and heavier, and then with workouts where you can really hurt yourself such as deadlifts i’ll pyramid my way up in weight, not afraid to push myself to the point where it’s scary.  Not only that but with the help of my boyfriend and his home gym, i’m able to experiment with things and have his help.  Such as completely max out weight and reps and have him there to spot me/correct me.  Outside of his home gym I’ve always worked out solo so i’ve never had a spotter before or someone to push me.  I’ve also added in resistance bands, and a wide variety of workouts.  Mixing things up, maybe not doing the same specific workout for 2 weeks or more.  Just completely adding in new things, working out till i’m shaky and unstable.  On some days i’ll do maybe 3 different workouts, with more reps and sets then I’d typically do.  It’s working out so much more than I ever expected.  I’m surprising myself and impressed with myself.  I’m only 5’2″, I seem to weigh in at 110lbs solidly with few fluctuations.  For the longest time I was stuck around 105.  I’m more toned than I ever have been although i’m still not “lean.”  I’ve been eating what I want, whenever I want, trying to be semi-mindful of protein intake and trying to avoid fried foods for the most part.  It’s not the most visually appealing, and self fulfilling but i’m damn strong for as small as I am and eventually i’ll get back to my dieting and focus on my body.  I’m about to be out of town for 2 weeks so i’m not on my way to fill the fridge with health foods that will expire.

Milestones!  I recently deadlifted 170lbs (my current max).  Which holy-shit.  That was from the beau helping me out and pushing me to find my max.  Today my comfortable max solo was 165lbs.  I was maxing out myself due to prior reps and pyramiding up in weight, I was starting to break form and found it no longer safe to go heavier today.  The other day I leg pressed 573lbs.  I was dumbfounded.  I’m pretty sure I could’ve gone heavier too but I had already done about 60 reps give or take at that point and didn’t want to be stupid.  My absolute struggle has been squats though.  I’ve been focusing on strengthening my quad, glute, and hamstring muscle groups before trying to go heavier on them.  I’ve just been absolutely failing in that department but finally understood why.  I need more quad development 110%.  The amazing thing is i’ve finally gotten my glutes to grow.  I’m just stupid excited lol.  I’m still a long way from my long-term goals but things are changing and happening, i’m so excited.  I’m constantly learning and implementing.

I recently went on vacation with my boyfriend, and during the time I had about 2 weeks where I worked out only a handful of times, maybe even 3 weeks.  I had just lost motivation and wasn’t regaining any bit of it.  I go through stages where i’m like “HOLY SHIT MY DREAMS ARE HAPPENING! MY DREAM BODY IS FORMING” and literally in the same day I can go to “I’m fat.  My ass is flabby.  I’m not getting stronger.  I’m weak.  My ass will forever not grow.  I’ll never be lean.  I’ll never have muscles you can SEE”  partially because i’m a woman…but also this is the long road to goals.  Back and forth, pros and cons.  If you’re impatient like I am you definitely understand without a doubt.