Tag Archives: weight lifting

The Full-Body Blast

Being disciplined in the gym and with nutrition is a virtue…as is making good on promises.

As promised, the Full-Body Blast!

Building big, lean muscles doesn’t necessarily mean spending every day in the gym. You only need to do this particular routine 3x a week.


For all sets, go as heavy as will allow you to do no fewer than 10 reps but no more than 12 reps on any set. Do 2 sets of each exercise before moving on to the next. Some exceptions to this general rule are highlighted below. Rest 30-60 seconds between sets, and rest 60-120 seconds before moving to the next exercise. Timing IS important. Each session should last no more than 60 minutes. Any longer, and you are probably resting too long between sets/muscle groups (and you may also be over-stressing the body). If you’re not completely smoked by the end of a given workout, you probably didn’t go heavy or quickly enough.

Important Notes! — Be sure to check with your medical provider if you have any doubts about your physical ability to perform any of these exercises. If you’re new to lifting, you may need to Google some moves. There are a lot of great videos out there with solid demonstrations. Helpful tip: If the person demonstrating looks out of shape, move to the next video.

The Weekly Plan ~


    – Barbell (BB) bench press

    – Crunches (3 sets of 30-40) ** GOOD FORM! **

    – Lateral pull-downs (or chin-ups if you can do at least 8-10 unassisted)

    – Military dumbbell (DB) press

    – BB curls — Note: If you can’t curl a combined weight of 45 lbs [standard BB weight unloaded] or more, stick to DB curls until you can

    – Dips (3 sets to failure each time)

    – BB squats

    – Machine press (MP) calf extensions

Tuesday: Light cardio or rest


    – Dumbbell bent over rows

    – Incline dumbbell press

    – Alternating dumbbell curls

    – MP leg press

    – Quick clean — Instructions: Weighted barbell rests in the starting position on thighs, overhand grip, knees slightly bent, swing weight up to collar bone, set for 1-count, swing weight back to legs, repeat (3 sets of 8-10) ** VERY HIGH INTENSITY **

    – Standing calf raises (higher volume — 12-14 reps per set)

    – Skull crushers — Note: Only try this if you really get it. Otherwise, supplement with cable push-downs (keep elbows in; back straight!)

    – Decline sit-ups (weighted — 3 sets of 10; non-weighted — 3 sets of 30-40)

Thursday: Light cardio or rest


    – Seated calf raises — Tip: Go heavy on these. Should be able to do no more than 8-12 reps per set for 3 sets.

    – Machine leg extensions

    – Seated row

    – Hanging leg raises (or use dip/leg raise station w/elbow support) — (3 sets; each to failure)

    – Seated fly — Tip: Watch your form! Be sure you’re not working your shoulders and not your back.

    – Alternating DB bench press

    – EZ bar curls — Tip: Go heavy! It’s Friday and time to really pump up those arms! Just watch your form and ensure you are not swinging the weight up.

    – Close grip BB bench press (or diamond push-ups to failure)

Saturday: “Fun day” — biking, walking, team sports, visit to the beach/pool, dog park, yard work, etc.

Sunday: Rest up!

As you become more familiar with this routine and each exercise, you should experiment with exercise order. Don’t be afraid of throwing in a little mor cardio, but don’t overdo it. Listen to your body.

Yes. It really is that easy.

Until next time…

Warmest Regards,


Friday Wrap-Up No. 3


Happy Friday, folks. I hope you’re still tracking and making progress toward those seven goals for the week!

As for me, it never ceases to amaze me just how successful we can be when our minds are focused on specific goals. My progress this week has been astounding! And I’m not just trying to motivate myself to keep it up over the weekend ahead.

One of my goals for this week was to find a new gym routine and stick with it. I’ve been weight training in earnest for over two years now. The routines I’ve followed have mostly been my own.

Remember, over the course of nearly 20 years, I’ve built up my fitness experience and knowledge base. But that doesn’t always translate to best practices.

So after making good on my goal to grab a new routine (that 5-day split discussed on Wednesday), I was admittedly a bit reluctant to take it all the way.

But I did take it all the way, and I’ve got to say, it’s been a real eye opener!

Less is more…

As it turns out, less really can be more.

My typical workout takes me about 45-60 minutes, though I’ve been known to spend upwards of 90 min in there if I throw in a 3 mi run on top of it all.

The touted success behind this routine hinges on the concept of focused output in three ranges: power, muscle, and burn. Here are my notes from yesterday’s workout:

Quads and Calves
Start: 15:50
Finish: 16:20

Squat – Power Sets: 2-4 Reps: 3-5
(180×5) 1 min rest
(180×5) 1 min rest
(180×5) 1 min rest
(180×5) 2 min rest
* Smith machine- 90 lbs per side

Leg Press – Muscle Sets: 2-3 Reps: 6 to 12
(270×12) 2.5 min
(360×8) 1.5 min
* Solid set at 360 (4 plates/side)

Front Squat – Muscle Sets: 2-3 Reps: 6-12
(90×5) 1.5 min
(90×6) 1 min
* smith- 45lb per side

Leg Press – Burn Sets: 1 Reps: 40
(210×12 — 190x8x8x4x4x4) = 40 reps

Seated Calf Raise – Muscle Sets: 2 Reps: 10-15
(50×14) 1 min

45 Degree Calf Raise – Burn Sets: 1 Reps: 40
(90x24x3x3x4x3x1) = 40 reps
* mega burn!

So you can see how it works. I probably could (perhaps should) have given closer to 2 minutes between sets…at least for those heavier, power sets. In all, it took me just 30 minutes to complete the entire workout.

What happened to my legs?!

I awoke this morning with LLS, or lead legs syndrome, with yesterday’s quick but intense leg workout nearly lost from my short-term memory bank (doesn’t take much). Obviously there is something to be said for this 5-day split. I am very grateful that I made good on this specific goal. It’s just what my body needed!

Next week…

We’ll set some more goals on Monday. This time, though, let’s narrow it down to just two or three objectives that may take more than a week (but no more than two) to reach. I thrive on shared goal setting, so please start thinking about your goals now. Until then…

Warmest Regards,

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hump Day & Full Disclosure

Hi, folks. Happy Hump Day!

With just three more days left, it’s time for a mid-term review of this week’s goals. Here is a list of the seven goals I set for myself on Monday. In truth, my “seven” started on Sunday. So be fair to yourself as you review your own progress.

My Short Seven:

  • Perform 20 – 30 min of interval cardio on at least 5 of 7 days
  • Find a new weight training program and stick to it (it’s time for a changeup)
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night
  • Do one relaxing, enjoyable thing each day this week
  • Avoid alcohol and starchy foods
  • Do a solid 5-10 minute warm up before every weight training session
  • Find at least one new fitness podcast and one fitness blog to follow
  • So if you recall from Monday’s post, I’ve linked these seven short-term goals to seven long-term goals. If you accepted my challenge, you’ve done the same.

    Did you share your short list with anyone? It’s not too late if you haven’t. That’s important to your success, but don’t just take it from me. Check out what CrossFit guru Nichole DeHart of CrossFit Invictus had to say about it:

    Build a support group. It is crucial to have support when you are trying to achieve something that takes perseverance, dedication and determination. Your support group should be made up of people who have your best interest at heart. They can help motivate you and provide encouragement along your journey to success. They also provide needed accountability. Identify those who detract from your stated goal and try to eliminate their influence as much as possible.

    As promised…FULL DISCLOSURE:
    My Monday challenged me big time. Meetings took up most my day, and family duties kept me busy into the evening. I met all my nutrition goals, but I did not see the inside of the gym or log more miles into my Adidas miCoach app. I did, however, get a full 8 hours sleep.

    I awoke Tuesday recharged and ready to tackle my goals. With the exception of a business lunch of steamed rice and Kung Pow Beef (unavoidable), I did well on nutrition. Fitness-wise, I nailed it! I grabbed Steve Shaw’s Power Muscle Burn 5 Day Powerbuilding Split as my new gym routine. KILLED IT!

    This morning’s wakeup found me wondering how a bear attacked me in my sleep. At least, that’s how my chest and tris felt after yesterday’s “5 Day” bout. With about 7 hours of much-needed sleep ahead, I can rest easy knowing I knocked out some more goals today. Another “5 Day” down, and I played a board game with my family. Check and check.

    One last note…I started following a new fitness blog about one young lady’s body transformation journey. She liked my last post; I returned the favor. One more goal achieved! Now I just need to find a new fitness podcast (suggestions welcomed).

    Closing Comments:

    Keep your eyes on the prize. As you strive to meet these short-term goals, motivate yourself by solidifying that link to those bigger goals. Great work so far, everyone. Please feel free to share your goal quests here. We want to support you!

    Until Friday…

    Warmest Regards,

    7 in 7 — Succeed!


    It’s a new week filled with new potential. As I mentioned in my last Friday Wrap-up, I’ve decided to change things up a bit at Aj’s Focus on Fitness. Instead of hitting “Publish” six or seven times a week, I will only be doing that three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

    Why the change, Aj?

    Well, as I explained on Friday, it’s been almost a month since I started this blog. After 23 articles, it dawned on me that I needed more time each week to come up with some higher quality stuff. Those extra days in between posts should help me achieve that goal…among others.

    How many goals will you score this week?

    No. That’s not what I just asked my soccer-crazy teenager. That question is for all of us. Me too! How many fitness and health goals can I reach in the next seven days? This is the focus of today’s post: goal setting.

    Unlike that As Seen on TV product that allows would-be master chefs to just “SET IT AND FORGET IT!”, I’m going to challenge you to set seven realistic and attainable, short-term goals pertaining to improving upon your current fitness and health profile. That’s one goal per day.

    Cool! I am going to lose 20 lbs, become a vegan, buy that $4,000 home gym I’ve been wanting for years…

    Like I said, these seven short-term goals need to be realistic and attainable. And I’ll add one more requirement: they need to do something to advance your efforts toward those bigger, long-term goals.

    I don’t really have any long-term fitness and health goals, but can I still play?

    Of course you can! What you may discover along the way is that your long-term goals turn out to be just bigger versions of some of the short-term goals you’ll set this week.

    What do you mean by “realistic” and “attainable”? Aren’t they kind of the same thing?

    Right you are—mostly. A realistic goal may be to lose 40lbs of body fat. That is also an attainable goal. But that goal is not specific enough to truly be judged as either realistic or attainable. You need to build in some parameters.

    “I am going to lose 40lbs of body fat over the next 6 months.”

    That is a very realistic and attainable goal.

    “I am going to lose 40lbs of body fat over the next 2 months.”

    Though it may actually be attainable, it’s not very realistic for most people (especially those interested in healthy fat loss).

    So here’s what we’re going to do…

    Me: I am going to share seven of my short-term goals this week and then tie them to some specific long-term goals. By the end of the week…full disclosure on both successes and failures.

    You: Your challenge is to write down your seven short-term goals, link them to some long-term goals, and then share that list with another person or group of people. It doesn’t really matter who, but I highly recommend you choose an optimistic and generally fitness- and health-oriented personality. By the end of the week…follow up with that person/group to let them know how you did.

    If you want to, I encourage you to share them right here on this blog. This blog is a safe place for that kind of thing, because the feedback you need will always be helpful and encouraging. If you’re taking the time to read up on fitness and health topics, I’m a fan!

    The following numbered list hits on my short-term goals for this week. The second list correlates to each of the short-term goals as it ties them to long-term objectives.

    My Short Seven:

    1. Perform 20 – 30 min of interval cardio on at least 5 of 7 days
    2. Find a new weight training program and stick to it (it’s time for a changeup)
    3. Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night
    4. Do one relaxing, enjoyable thing each day this week
    5. Avoid alcohol and starchy foods
    6. Do a solid 5-10 minute warm up before every weight training session
    7. Find at least one new fitness podcast and one fitness blog to follow

    The Bigger Picture:

    1. I want my current 27 min 5K to be an easy 24 min by September
    2. I want my bench, squat and dead lift sets to go up by 20 lbs each in the next 30 days
    3. I want to get back on a regular sleep schedule by the end of the month
    4. I want to reduce stress for the long-term
    5. I want to drop my BMI by at 5% by September
    6. I want to improve my flexibility and reduce potential for injury
    7. I want to be working in the fitness industry full-time within the next 5-10 years

    Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

    ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

    I’m excited to discover what you and I can achieve this week. Let’s surprise ourselves! We’ll chat more on Wednesday. Until then…

    Warmest Regards,


    Supplementing Hope for Hard Work? — News flash!

    Alright. Earlier last week I brushed over my use of weight training supplements, but I suggested it might come up later for discussion. Well, my friends, later is now.

    As any serious athlete will tell you, various supplements really can make a difference in one’s physical (and even mental) performance; be it in a gym, on a bike, or in the ocean. What you likely won’t hear any of them say, though, is they got fit initially by supplementing alone.

    Youth is wasted on the young…

    I remember being about 30lbs overweight as a young 24 yr-old father of two…even as a budding member of the military services. This was before I embraced fitness as a lifestyle and instead viewed it as something those guys on magazine covers did for a living. I really wanted to be like them, but I didn’t believe it possible for me.

    And then I found Diet Fuel–little magic pills of ephedrine that, when combined with a heavy cigarette habit, could really melt off the pounds! Of course, what the label didn’t mention (not sure if the stuff is still being sold) is that it turns users into raging jerks. Nice trade off…

    I dropped 30lbs or so, and I never exercised. Not a good idea. The weight all came back over the next year and then some. What a waste! And a dangerous one, at that.

    The Secret!

    So I’m now almost 36. It took me a few years to figure out, but I finally learned the secret to supplementing. If you want to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, sport a fine physique, and nurture your body’s most critical internal mechanisms, here is the secret formula for success:

    – Eat right (3 small meals & 2 healthy snacks per day)
    – Exercise (at least 3 times a week for at least 30 min per session)
    – Drink plenty of water (at least eight (8) 8 oz glasses per day)
    – Get a sufficient amount of sleep (at least 8 hrs per night)
    – Vacation as often as possible (just don’t break the bank or lose your job)
    – Contribute to your favorite charitable organization (give back!)
    – Volunteer your time to help with something bigger than you (get out and help!)

    That’s about it. Pretty basic.

    What’s that? I didn’t mention supplements?


    But don’t you use supplements?

    Yep. Sometimes I do, but not to lose weight or with the hopes of making things easier. In fact, when I do supplement (say…with a pre-workout shake), I do so to push beyond growth plateaus.

    Before you go drop 50 bucks to shed 30 pounds, consider dropping your daily calories, upping your physical activity, and doing something nice for someone else just for the sake of doing it.

    We’ll cover supplements more in another post soon. For now, though, I just wanted to make it clear to everyone that supplements are for pushing past natural limits; not avoiding hard work. What’s more, not all supplements are created equal. Some are very dangerous and should not be ingested by most human beings.

    Until next time…

    Warmest Regards,