Fortunately when we talk about splits in body building, we are not talking about opening our legs until our groin rips, like in other sports.  Nope, for us all we mean is that we are divvying up the body parts to work, a few here and a few there.

I am splitting up my workouts lately to do a lower body workout one day and upper body and core on another day.  I am also running outdoors for cardio, aiming for about 30 minutes.  I am alternating weight days and cardio days and taking a day off whenever my body tells me to.  So these 2 workouts, combined with the cardio days and rest days, make up almost a week worth of workouts.

For example: Monday lower body, Tuesday cardio,  Wednesday rest, Thursday upper body and core, Friday cardio, Saturday rest.  Then Sunday you can either start the sequence again and work upper body or you can give yourself another rest day or do cardio and do the upper body workout on Monday again.  It all depends on how you feel and how fast you need to progress.  For example, if you need to lose more fat faster, you will want to do more cardio, more often.  If you need to build more muscle faster, you will want to do the weight workouts more often—but there are limits to how fast you can build muscle, unless you are genetically gifted (and I am not).  No for those of us who have to really work to put on muscle, we have to lift heavy weights and change our routines all the time so that we will constantly challenge our muscles. This means we will be sore and tired a lot and need rest periods in between workouts.  And because of these rest periods, it will take some time to get really muscular.  But it will happen, if you are consistent.

Consistency is key.  I have been struggling with that because I just moved into a new house and have been very busy with that and most days I have been so tired and beat up from the physical labor of working on my new house that I haven’t felt like lifting weights.  For instance, yesterday I did a lot of yard work and dug up and transplanted 5 rather large trees that had some pretty deep roots.  This was very tiring, but when I thought about it, I knew it didn’t help me build my deltoids or abs (the muscle groups I knew it was time to work).  So, even though I was tired and it was getting late, I took a nap and hit the gym at 10pm.  It was a short workout (because the gym was closing), but at least I did it.  Then, I came home and did my “Ab Ripper” P-90X DVD.

Another key when you are over-working yourself physically is glutamine.  I have been reading the training logs of several top female body builders lately and I noticed one in particular who does cardio twice a day for 12 weeks leading up to a competition! Yeah, that’s crazy, right?  How does she do it? She takes glutamine supplements 4 times a day!  4 times a day!  That was a real eye opener for me.  I get the glutamine every day in my Vega protein powder and occasionally I would add one more dose, if I really felt beat up.  But 4 times a day!?  If you are doing cardio twice a day, you will feel spent.  Trust me, I’ve tried it—once.  I wondered how the pros did that for weeks at a time.  It usually comes down to some sort of supplement that helps them maintain a crazy pace.  They take a lot of supplements–and use caffeine (something I never do) to maintain an un-human and in-humane pace of training.  These are the people who eat candy rather than real food and drink no water on a day of competition to keep their energy level up without actually putting anything of substance into their stomachs.  Then after the competition, I wonder what happens to them.  You can’t treat the body like that without some nasty consequences (I bet a lot of them get sick—regardless, they have to do nothing but sleep and eat for a couple weeks after that— and take lots of vitamins–maybe even get an IV dosage) and do some hard-core re-hydrating and restoring of electrolytes. This requires checking out of life for a while and dealing with feeling ill. No thank you!

I have read about a couple professional body builders who don’t do this sort of thing to themselves.  They do cardio either daily or every other day and they hit the weights hard every other day or so, and they have lots of rest days and they are still champions.  Anyway, my point is this—take some extra glutamine if you need to train extra hard for some reason (short term), but try to build a sane schedule for yourself for long term and don’t just rely on supplements to do unnatural things with your body; because even if you meet your goals, there will be consequences.  You will over-tax your immune system for one thing and be more susceptible to catching colds and getting the flu.  You might even end up in the hospital with severe dehydration.  You could also injure yourself and then have to take a break from training all together while you heal. (Muscle tear recovery can take several months or a year!) Then there’s the long term consequences to your internal organs, hormones and brain.  And on top of that, people who use too much caffeine or other stimulants are pretty unpleasant to be around (that hyper then sleepy bi-polar like behavior).  Enough said.

My philosophy is this: As long as I am consistent with lifting as heavy as I can, as often as I can, and as long as I am giving my body enough protein to build muscle (1 gram or more per lb of body weight for my target weight), I WILL build muscle.  And as long as I am eating a clean vegan diet (limiting sugar and fat) and pushing myself with the intensity and/or duration of my cardio (and not over doing it because if I do, I will get too tired and get set back), aiming for 30-45 minutes of something challenging approximately every other day, I WILL have very low body fat—eventually.  It all takes time.  It takes some people years to achieve their dream body, but every single one of those achievers always say that it was absolutely, positively WORTH IT!!!

Here are my weight workouts (diet at bottom):

Lower Body

  • standing calf raise: 12 reps/140 lbs X 3
  • squat: 50 lbs + bar (I think it weighs another 50 lbs) X 3
  • cable kickbacks (alternating legs): 10 reps/33 lbs, 10 rep/40 lbs, 10 reps/33 lbs
  • outer thigh Roc It machine: 10 reps/34 lbs X 4
  • rotary calf press Roc It machine: 8 reps/342 lbs (feet straight), 10 reps/342 lbs (toes pointed in), 8 reps/342 lbs (toes pointed out) X  2 (whole series)
  • leg extension: 12 reps/140 lbs, 8 reps/160 lbs X 2, 8 reps/ 100 lbs
  • seated hamstring curl machine: 6 reps/100 lbs, 8 reps/ 100 lbs, 8 reps/90 lbs (drop set to) 5 reps/70 lbs
  • kettle ball swing squats: 15 reps/53 lbs (24 kilos) X 3

Upper Body

  • lateral raise: 8 reps/50 lbs X 3
  • rear delt fly: 4 reps/70 lbs (drop set to) 5 reps/55 lbs, 3 reps/70 lbs (drop set to) 5 reps/55 lbs, 6 reps/55 lbs (drop set to) 5 reps/ 4o lbs
  • pec fly: 15 reps/40 lbs, 10 reps/55 lbs X 2
  • shoulder press: 10 reps/40 lbs X 2. 10 reps/30 lbs X 2
  • weighted crunch: 25 reps/70 lbs (would have liked to do more of these but the gym closed and I had to leave—but I went home and did the P90-X Ab Ripper DVD)

Here’s what I ate yesterday:

  • Breakfast (34 g protein): smoothie with 2 cups soy milk (14 g protein), 1 banana, frozen blueberries, 1 scoop berry flavor Vega Sport Performance Protein (20 g protein) and 1 tsp extra glutamine powder (I say “extra” glutamine powder because the Vega has some in it already).
  • Snack: handful or walnuts (1 cup= 10 g protein)
  • Lunch (43 g protein): Sandwich made with 5 slices of Tofurky deli slices (13 g protein), Alvarado St California Complete Protein bread (10 g protein), mustard, 6 leaves raw spinach, slice of red bell pepper, slice of Rice Cheese (2 g protein)
  • Snack: Cliff Builder’s Bar (22 g protein)
  • Dinner (25 g protein): Black pepper steak style seitan (20 g protein), 1 small red potato covered in herbs (oregano, basil, lemon pepper), 1 cup cooked spinach with lemon juice (5 g protein)
  • After Workout (37 g protein): smoothie with 2 cups soy milk (14 g protein), 1 banana, 1 scoop berry flavor Vega Sport Performance Protein (20 g protein), 1 tsp chocolate, cinnamon, red pepper powder, 1 tsp natural peanut butter (3 g protein), 1 tsp extra glutamine powder.
  • Before Bed: large mug of chamomile and lavender tea with 1/2 cup soy milk (4 g protein).
  • Total 175 grams of protein for the day!

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