Properly Executing Strength Training Exercises Part 2

In this section we will cover how to determine the proper number of sets and repetitions to meet your individual goals. For those who want a better understanding of the program you currently follow, or want to design your own workout schedule, these are important variables that can greatly influence the results you see.

First off, let's be clear on what these two terms mean. A set is defined as an entire strength training exercise reflecting from when you begin the move to when you complete it. Using the simple bench press as an example, the set begins when you take the weight off the rack, continues through all the times you lower and raise the bar, and primarily ends when you place the weight back on the rack. Most workout schedules will have you perform exercises for more than one set.

A repetition takes place within each set. They are the individual efforts that you usually repeat more than once before resting again. Using the bench press, one repetition is completed when you completely lower the bar, and then raise it back to the top. Rarely, if ever, you will complete just one repetition in a set.

Varying the number of sets and repetitions can produce drastically different physical changes over time. If you know what you want to accomplish, then you need to know the right amount of sets and reps to match your needs.

Choosing the number of repetitions

As we mentioned in Part 1, it is important that you know how to choose the right weights, regardless of the number of repetitions you perform. We will not get into that again here, but anything we mention here is dependent on picking weights that are not too heavy or too light. Our goal in this section is to give you guidelines on what you can expect to achieve for each repetition range. Strength training can help you build muscle, get a great cardiovascular workout, and of course, make you stronger.

Very high repetitions, like 15 or more per set, works very well as a cardio workout to help burn calories and strengthen your heart. You will need to take very little rest between sets, and should be careful here not to go too heavy, but for this specific goal a 15+ repetition range is very effective. Do not expect to get significantly stronger or muscular, though. If you are really hardcore and do 50-100 + repetitions on each set, though, you will help to strengthen the tendons and ligaments that hold your joints together.

Choosing a 10-15 repetition range starts to work toward gaining some strength and muscle, but not too much. Personally I think it is a good range for beginner athletes to work with, because the weights will not be overwhelming and they get a lot of practice perfecting their technique. This is also about the range anyone under the age of 15 should use when they are dealing with free weights, although they should not be spending a lot of time with them at that age.

The 6-10 repetition range is a good transition zone for 15-16 year olds, and for those who want a little more strength and / or muscle development than they'd get from the 10+ range. Most athletic-based programs use repetitions in this range, but I would suggest that it is not the best choice. It is a certain safe choice in that you will not go too heavy, but you will see some strength gains. In my opinion, there is a better choice.

I believe that anyone really interested in building strength, power, or muscle mass should be primarily working in the 4-5 repetition zone. If you are over 16, follow the guidelines given in Part 1, and have good technique, training this heavy is as safe as anything else you'll do in a workout program. It allows you to consistently train with heavier weights, which in turn will build your strength and maximize your power potential. And, depending on the number of sets you elect to perform, it can quickly build muscle, as well.

Anything done for 3 repetitions or less works pretty close to your limits, and should be done sparingly. It will build strength and power, but will not do much for gaining muscle unless you do a very high number of sets. Elite power lifters may work in this range fairly regularly, but for 99% of us you can make great progress with the 4-5 rep plan.

No matter which range you feel is best for you, proper technique is always your first priority. And for those choosing weights of 10 repetitions or less, it is always a good idea to have a spotter watching you in case you misjudged what weight you should have used.

Choosing the number of sets

Regardless of the number of repetitions you perform per set, you can choose to do one, two, or any number of sets for a particular exercise. The amount of sets you complete has to do with one critical variable: volume. Volume involves the total amount of weight you lift within a workout. If you multiply the weight used times the number of repetitions per set, and multiply that by the number of sets, it will give you the total volume of weight you lifted.

Why is this so critical? Because the higher your volume, the greater your chance of building muscle. The lower the volume, the less chance you have of adding bulk.

Some athletes need extra mass to perform better for their sport, but others would have been adversely affected. Luckily, this critical factor can easily be controlled.

If you want to gain muscle, do more sets of each exercise. Three to five sets is usually about right, but occasionally you can go even higher. Anything more than 6 sets of a heavy weight exercise (using the 4-5 rep range we recommend) and you may not be able to sustain that volume for long without getting hurt. Tendonitis is the most likely problem you will face.

Unfortunately, there is a definite downside to performing more sets, especially when using heavier weights. The added volume can be incredibly taxing on your body over the long term, and will make it difficult to work on other aspects of your training. I would recommend setting aside a specific time of year to focus almost solely on mass training, if it is even necessary for you, and save other goals for another time.

If you need to get stronger and more powerful, but want to avoid getting bigger or need your energy for other goals, then go with one or two sets per exercise. Two schedules that work well here are to do one set per exercise five days per week, or two sets per exercise three days a week. Both keep the volume relatively low, but the heavy weights will help you adapt to what you need. Keeping the number of sets down will allow you to put more of your energy towards other goals, allowing you to build two or more skills at the same time.

That is our general guide for how to determine the correct number of sets and repetitions you need to meet your goals. This is obviously a more detailed topic than we covered here, but hopefully it is a good starting point for you. In our final article in this series we will cover how to determine the right rest times in between sets, and give you some important reasons why you should always use proper technique in your training.

Successful Investing – Helping Investors Avoid Common Investment Mistakes

The Top Mistakes made by Investors

In my dozen plus years of advising individuals and businesses I have found a number of common mistakes that have derailed even the best laid financial plans. I thought by sharing them I might be able to help others sidestep the pitfalls and the negative impact they can have on your portfolio and long-term financial plans.

1. Failing to establish a time horizon and investing accordingly -

If you have expenses that need to be funded in 3 years or less, you should not be investing the cash for them in the stock market or other risky investments. These monies should be carved out of your investment portfolio (the money earmarked for long-term investing) and invested appropriately in liquid assets such as money market funds or term-certain fixed income offerings. If the money is not going to be needed for 3 years or more, an investment plan should be established based upon specific a time horizon and risk tolerance for these funds.

2. Failing to thoroughly diversify your portfolio -

Many investors know about the concept of diversification and think that by owning different investments, they are diversified. Diversification of an investment portfolio makes good sense on an intuitive level. However, it wasn’t until Harry Markowitz published his model of portfolio selection that this concept became a formalized part of sound investment practice and formed the basis of today’s Modern Portfolio Theory. Beyond this basic concept of diversification, the key to Markowitz’s premise is the revelation that the risk of any investment can be reduced and/or performance increased by forming a portfolio of diverse and non-correlated assets. That is, it is important not just to seek a diversity of asset types, but also to seek assets that have low or near-zero correlations to one another. It’s not about owning different investments; it’s about owning different, non-correlated investments.

3. Letting potential tax implications rule your investment decisions –

Many investors delay selling an investment that has done well regardless of how good or bad the future looks for the holding. Their response is, “I will have to pay taxes if I sell.” By not selling, they set themselves up for not having to pay taxes at all – usually because the investment starts on a decline and their concern switches from “having to pay taxes” to one of “hoping for a turnaround.” Don’t be afraid to take some profits off the table. While taxes are an unpleasant result of investing, I prefer to look at them as a positive sign as it indicates you are making money and your investment plan is working.

4. Buying a stock based upon a “hot tip” -

Too many investors listen to a friend’s advice because he or she always seems to have the next “great” money making idea. They don’t take the time to assess the idea personally and jump in because it’s only a few thousand dollars they are investing. Unfortunately this is not investing – it’s gambling. If you want to gamble, go to Vegas and at least get free drinks, dinner, a show and a room for the risks you are taking. Any investment that is being considered for your portfolio should be thoroughly researched and have passed a comprehensive financial screening scrutiny.

5. Attempting to time the market -

Waiting an extra day, week, or month to try and buy in at the “right price” just doesn’t work. No one can predict the future. If they could they most likely wouldn’t be sharing this knowledge with you for free. Successful investors use time, patience and a disciplined approach to increase the likelihood of maximizing their investment returns – not trying to time the market. If you have done the research and the investment is sound and meets your criteria then buy it, regardless of timing.

6. Failing to regularly reevaluate your investments -

Over time all investment styles, strategies and types fall out of favor. So, like timing the market, it becomes virtually impossible to know what is going to be “hot” in the next bull market and what isn’t. For this reason it is always prudent to stay up-to-date on your investments to insure they are still the same investment that you originally purchased (segment drift and manager changes can be one reason they may have changed). If your investments consist solely of mutual funds then an annual review is a good place to start.

7. Basing investment decisions on emotion -

Maybe the stock market is going through a bad time because of a short-term geo-political or economic event. Stay calm and make an educated, well thought out decisions about what, if anything, to do. Assess whether the event will affect the economy long-term or if it’s just a short-term blip. The best move is often no move at all. If it is a short term incident, many times the smart, prudent investor will make additional investments because the current decline provides them with an excellent buying opportunity. The key to successful investing is to have a disciplined strategy and to stick with it.

8. Cashing out gains and dividends rather than reinvesting -

Once you’ve realized gains or had distributions and dividends paid out, insure they are reinvested back into your portfolio. If you pull out your capital gains, dividends and interest, your money won’t compound as quickly, thereby leaving you with a smaller chunk of change down the line. Letting your investments compound is one of the major tenets of successful investing.

9. Owning too much employer stock -

Many people get over-weighted in employer stock because of options and stock purchase plans made available in today’s competitive compensation packages. While these are great supplements to their annual salary they can put an employee in a position of having too much money invested in their employer’s stock. Additionally, it is quite common for people to invest in “what they know” and what do you know better than the company you work for? To compound the problem many people will add more employer stock to their 401k holdings and individual brokerage accounts. Not only does this create a diversification problem in their portfolio but it also subjects them to excessive single stock risk. A good rule of thumb to follow is to insure that no more than 5-10% of your entire investment portfolio is in any one single stock. If you find yourself in this situation the importance of creating a well thought out reduction strategy cannot be overstated.

10. Following the herd -

The most successful of all investors are moving in the opposite direction of what everyone else is doing. They buy when most are selling and sell when everyone else is buying. By following this simple plan you can preserve your capital and potentially sidestep the next bubble (can anyone remember real estate, internet stocks, and technology growth funds?).

11. Not investing at all –

Somehow in today’s society that Mocha Cappuccino Latte seems to take precedence over saving for the long-term. We are a society who wishes to satisfy the “here and now” rather than the securing our future. The important fact here is that those two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, BALANCE is the key in any long-term endeavor, but by always keeping an eye on the end goal you can make sure it is not out of mind while satiating the here and now.

12. Investing without a plan -

Investing without a plan and lacking the discipline to follow it is a sure way to lower your chances of success. The chances of obtaining any long term goal can be greatly enhanced by creating a strategy, following it and regularly reviewing it frequently enough so it reflects any changes that have taken place since implementation. Many investors start off with a small amount of money and start putting it to work without a plan. As time progresses they find they have a mish-mash of investments in their portfolio with no clear strategy or direction. It’s never too early to invest but it’s even better to invest early with a plan.

13. Taking too little risk -

Some people don’t want to take any risk and cannot stand the volatility involved with risky investments. While it may seem like you are keeping your money safe and secure by not taking risk, it is more than likely you are not because of inflation. If your time horizon is greater than 5 years it is recommended that you have no less than 25-30% in growth investments (i.e. stocks) in your portfolio to ward off the effects of inflation. The actual percentage to own is dependent upon many factors including but not limited to age, time horizon before money is needed, current financial situation, etc. A good general rule of thumb to use as a starting point for the percentage of equity you may include in your portfolio is “120 – your age.”

Pros and Cons of Watching Television

Many of us love watching TV especially during our free time and if we don’t have anything to do. We like watching TV while eating our favorite snacks or hanging around in a friend’s place. Either way we are entertained when we watch TV. There are many different programs we can watch on TV depending on our mood and our personality. Some love watching comedy and talk shows while others particularly kids and those who are young at heart love watching cartoons on Cartoon Network or Disney channel.

But then, watching TV has its advantages and disadvantages. Experts say that too much watching of TV especially among children is not good for the health and the mind. TV can be entertaining and informative yet at times it can be damaging and harmful.

Below are the Pros and Cons of watching TV.

Pros:

1.) Entertainment and Laughter

We are entertained by shows we love to watch. We laugh at things we find funny and comical in the TV program we are watching. We also love to dance or sing along with celebrities we see on TV and some of us even copy their dance moves and singing styles.

2.) Information and How-To

We learn a lot of information about places and people that we usually don’t learn on magazines, books and newspapers. There are travel shows that show us beautiful places in the world and inform us the culture of different countries which can be a great help especially if we are planning to travel. We also easily learn how to cook new recipes by watching cooking shows and we can learn doing some other stuff through programs that show step-by-step procedures of performing a particular work, exercise or other interesting stuff.

3.) Improve Memory and Easy Learning

We usually take note of the time schedule for our favorite programs especially if it is only shown once or twice a week. We tend to store and recall the things that recently happened in our favorite show before the next episode will be shown on TV. This will help enhance our memory which we can apply on our daily life. For children, it is easier to learn math, science, alphabet and other subject matters if someone can show them how to do it like counting, identifying objects and a lot more. Educational TV shows are available for children to watch and learn.

4.) Bonding With Family and Friends

Watching TV is a great way to bond with family and friends especially on weekends. You can laugh and discuss things that you see on TV. That can be really fun.

5.) Awareness and Alertness

Weather reports and current news on different parts of the worlds can make you aware of what is happening outside your country. You can also be alert when there is an incoming typhoon in your area and that can help you get prepared.

Cons:

1.) Decline in creativity and imagination.

TV shows including commercials have tendency to share their creative works on us and impart their ideas and opinions on us which is not favorable and can lead to a decline in our creativity and imagination since we can not think on our own since creative stuff are readily available and shared to us.

2.) Health problems

We usually eat junk foods or any of our favorite snacks while watching TV. This is not good for our health because we tend to eat a lot while we are sitting down facing the television. This can lead to obesity since we don’t move a lot when we watch TV. This can also lead to other serious ailments caused by eating a lot and moving less.

3.) Makes people lazy

Most of us get hooked when watching programs of our favorite TV channel. We sometimes even forget to do our work or other important things because we got engaged in the show we are watching. Some people forget to do their household chores because they would rather watch TV than work.

4.) Some shows don’t teach good values.

There are TV programs that do not teach good values particularly to children. Instead of teaching them good deeds they even imitate, re-enact or spoof important things happening around us which is not good for children to watch.

To sum up, in watching TV you should choose and monitor the TV programs that you and your children should watch. Choose programs that can help you learn and grow as a person. You should also limit the time your children spend in watching TV. The maximum number of hours small kids should watch TV is 3 hours while for teenagers you should make sure they watch good shows only when they are done with homework and projects.

Employment Law, Part I

Just how serious is employment law to the small businessperson? Very serious and let me tell you a true story; A horror story, which will make you think about just how serious these issues can be. In San Antonio TX one of our wash trucks was driving down the road and a border Patrol Officer passed them. We run a company which does onsite washing; Http://www.CarwashGuys.com . Down the road they dropped over two trucks and were handcuffing Mexican illegal aliens from those company's work trucks. Our crew drve by on their way to work. They had just left the shop and had on board two workers who worked for Labor Ready Co, for a year and a half previously and were still employed from them from time to time. We had gotten extra workers and filled our service truck with workers who were temporaries to work for us since they needed extra help with the full schedule that day.

The border patrol officer was then done with the other companies' trucks and saw we had Hispanic labor in the back and folded over our truck after chasing it down the highway. Turns out Labor Ready had hired the illegals because theyave fake identification to them; I question the Labor Ready procedures. Labor Ready charges us $ 11.95 per hour for workers they pay $ 5.40 per hour. That is fine with us on those super busy days. So it's a deal and saves us from background checks for jobs that are not too serious like rinsing car lots. Well we found out that 4 of the five workers we had gotten from Labor Ready did not have green cards or US Identification of any type, so they cuffed them right on the highway and took them in. Good, we do not hire illegals anyway. But think about it we hired labor from a reputable nationwide company, a franchise called Labor Ready. They take care of all this stuff and charge us up the gazooo for the workers.

We know they are overcharging but for temporary extra labor for one day it is worth it. They told us there are certain questions that can not ask them when hiring, such as are you a US Citizen or where were you born or things like that. I can not believe we have laws in the banking industry called "Know your customer laws" yet in employment we have no "Know your employee laws". We have an unspoken do not ask the employee anything except when you can start and explain the type of work. We have laws in banking so we catch money launderers and those who are working hard to not pay taxes they owe.

So it is okay for the government to enforce those laws through private enterprise, but it is not okay for employers to ask questions to protect homeland security and save themselves from embarrassment. Of course in this case it is not a crime to hire someone who has given you false information, and we can not collect damages from a company who followed the employment laws? So what the hell do we do here? We want to help enforce the law as well, so do all true Americans. But we have so many laws in place that keep us from helping the situation.

Incidentally the workers who were handcuffed called us at 7 am morning two-days later and are ready to work and asked what time to meet. They were picked up at 9 am hand cuffed and stamped and exported that day. They were back in one day ready to work within 2 days. Some border patrol we have, what a complete joke; Protecting America, me ass? Why not implant a homing devise in these illegals and track them by satellite and find out the leaks in the system and plug them; Homeland Security or Homey Land of opportunity. You step up border patrol and catch these people and document on a board the number of deportees, yet they come the day back into the country. This is a true story you can call me for more information.

We have half a notice to go to the border patrol and give them free truck wash every morning and ask them to run the workers records and remove them from the crew. Sometimes the yellow truck will be known for not hiring illegals. A few weeks of that and every one who comes to work for us from Ready Labor will know it. Is this what we have to do to plug the system? Can not the border patrol guys figure it out; Then we will? If you can not enforce our borders then open them. But do not lie to the small businesses of America that somehow we are protected at our borders. We are not. This is a sham. Did not the Jordan Commission spend years putting together a plan only to have it never implemented? Why did we waste or breath? This is pure politics, not reality; Another of Smoot's points in his book "The Business Side of Government." One of the workers asked to work for us again and he wanted to borrow the twenty dollars he spent for the bus ride from Laredo to San Antonio. Even the illegals think this is a joke. We told him he could not work for us anymore. He did not understand why, because other businesses would have I guess that is why he was dumfounded when we told him to get lost. We called the border Patrol and they said they could not pick him up unless we knew for sure he was illegal. We said well you picked him up yesterday is he suddenly legal now? Can you prove it? No, all we can prove is your system does not work and that Labor Ready is doing an injustice to its customers, stocksholders and this country by not enforcing the laws of our land; The same laws, which have provided economic wealth to them over the years. Are they doing this all over the country? Yes.

The manager of Labor Ready said they did not like the laws either, but they needed to make a living and the companies need workers. So does this mean that Labor Ready who has offices all over Texas never disclosed this to their stockholders or customers? Yes it does, which is a gray area at least and a violation of disclosure law at best. The truth here is that no one cares. We make rules to appease the masses who vote for these things and tell the people we are saving them from terrorists. What about terrorists who are dark skinned and speak Spanish? What if a Middle Eastern spoke Spanish and was a terrorist and told the others he snuck over the border with he was from Argentina, they would not know either. And the business owner would hire them through a temp agency, who was making money off the business owner pointing to employment laws and said, well they had fake paperwork not my fault. Maybe it is not the border patrol's fault but shunning responsibility does not save us from the next attack.

Either we are worried about the next attack or we are not. I want someone to call me from the INS or Border Patrol to discuss this and I want a satisfactory answer or we will take this true story and document it and send it to the media one day before we send it to all the Congressmen and Senators. If we are not worried about terrorists then tell us. If we are, then fix the leaks. Why does it take 10 years to fix problems, when international terrorist groups only wait 3-5 years between acts? Good question worth answering and with all the BS and rhetoric we are seeing opposition from the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Hispanic Politicians. With 65% of the population of San Antonio Hispanic who do not want these laws at all, then extend the Mexican Border to include San Antonio TX as a free zone. Why not make it all of Texas and we can then defend the borders of Texas, which can be a free zone with Mexico.

If you are just going to give it lip service and not fix the leaks of illegals then open the borders and forget it. This is pathetic. We know how to enforce the barriers and we give out fines to businesses who do not complain, yet allow free entry by anyone who can walk. I am surprised we have not made ADA mandated border crossings for those in wheel chairs or are asthmatically challenged. Put in 1 foot per 1 inch inclines over the Rio Grande for those in wheel chairs and then nice sidewalks all the way to Washington DC so they can have a baby and run for Congress or become a radical speech writer and proponent of mass demonstrations and guns . You think I am kidding do not you. I am serious all this is so fake and such a ridiculous waste of breath and tax payers money.

End of Employment Law, Part I