Tag Archive | "protein"

Image bianca.jpg

Fitness model healthy food swaps

Fitness website founder and model  //  Sporteluxe.com and biancacheah.com.au

“I eat a high-protein, low-carb diet. I don’t eat dairy foods like milk, cheese and yoghurt. Chicken and fish are my top protein picks and with them I always eat plenty of fresh vegetables – particularly the vegies in season as they are grown more naturally. I eat very little sugar and minimise intake of carbs as they make me feel bloated and lethargic.

I avoid processed foods, which really make me feel hungover. Vegies are on high rotation in my diet; the fresher the meal, the better I feel. I feel good knowing I’ve nourished my body with a huge vitamin boost, but I also believe it’s really important to allow yourself treats in moderation, otherwise abstaining can lead to binge eating. I like to snack on chocolate-covered goji berries, which are full of antioxidants.”

Cow’s milk 

»

Lactose-free almond or soy milk

Green vegies 

»

Green juices (broccoli, broccolini, spinach, cucumber)

Sugar 

»

Honey

Dried fruit  

»

Fresh fruit

White carbs 

»

Quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato

Bland food 

»

Flavoursome food (spices)

Fruit juices

»

Water

Wine

»

Biodynamic and organic red wine

Pasta

»

Steamed broccolini

Milk chocolate

»

Chocolate-covered goji berries

 

Sophie Guidolin

sophie

fitness blogger  //  sophieguidolin.com.au

“I overhauled most of my habits, which meant I cut back on sugar, reduced my intake of carbs, started avoiding processed foods, reduced my intake of preservatives, colours and additives, added more lean protein, reduced my intake of dairy foods and ate a bigger variety of vegetables.”

Liquid kilojoules (cordial, soda, milk)

»

Water

Brownies

»

Protein brownies

Flour pancakes

»

Quinoa pancakes

Cake

»

Low-carb cake (e.g. coconut flour)

White rice

»

Couscous

 

Emily Skye 

emilyskye

Fitness model  //  emilyskye.com

Taken from –

Fitness model healthy food swaps

Posted in Bodybuilding, Health Issues, Nutrition, Personal Fitness Training, Sports nutrition, Weight lossComments Off on Fitness model healthy food swaps

collette mcshane

5 minutes with The HIIT Mum

Pocket rocket and mother-of-one Colette McShane, aka. @TheHIITMum, is a fitness force to be reckoned with. Here, we chat to her about supplementation, passion and just getting stuff done.

I love helping others achieve good health because there is nothing more satisfying than seeing people achieve what they never thought possible. I love making a difference in people’s lives – a lot of parents write to me to say they are getting fitter and healthier, making it easier for them to play with their children.

I always kick the day off with a big, healthy breakfast as it sets the tone for the rest of my day. I make a yummy omelette, frittata or poached eggs with lots of vegetables. Lunch and dinner is anything from stirfry to healthy curries or Mexican-style wraps – again, with lots of vegies and lean proteins.

I snack on the Healthy Way range from Chemist Warehouse, as it’s accessible, varied and forever expanding. I love their vegie chips, all their nuts (I am walnut and almond crazy) and the trail mixes for snacking during the day. 

Continued here:

5 minutes with The HIIT Mum

Posted in Health Issues, Nutrition, Weight lossComments Off on 5 minutes with The HIIT Mum

binge-craving-sugar

How to stop yourself from overeating

How to stop yourself from overeating Wondering why you constantly overeat?

Here are three factors that may be contributing to over-indulging. It’s easy to over-dramatise the odd extra helping as a ‘binge’ or ‘blowout’, but if you are consistently eating more than your body needs, there may be good reasons.

The stick: Macro shortfall

The human body’s drive for protein is so powerful that it will keep consuming food until its protein needs are met according to a University of Sydney study.

As protein intake decreases, kilojoule intake increases, researchers reported.

The fix:

Consume 15 to 20 per cent of daily kilojoules from high-quality, low-fat protein sources. Lean meats, legumes, fish, eggs and tofu all qualify.

The stick: Multitasking

Whether it’s the portion sizes at your local, a bout of intense work stress or mindless nibbling in front of the telly, there’s a whole gamut of reasons why we eat more than what we need or when we’re not hungry at all .

The fix:

Try to eat intuitively – only when you’re hungry. Focus on eating when you feel hungry and stopping when you feel full.T

The stick:

OverwhelmResearch suggests that when we can choose from a wide variety of foods, we generally eat more

Follow this link:

How to stop yourself from overeating

Posted in Exercises, Fitness Equipment, Nutrition, Weight lossComments Off on How to stop yourself from overeating

A good training regime is, of course, essential for distance running.  But for real success on the endurance front, it is important to give your nutrition a long hard look. The longer you run, the more fuel your body needs. As a general rule, if you exercise at intensity beyond one-and-a-half hours, your body needs to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes to maintain performance, says nutritionist Sarah OíNeill (sarahoneill.co.uk). And if you don't consume the extra salt and sugar your body craves, you're more susceptible to dehydration.

Eating for Distance

A good training regime is, of course, essential for distance running.  But for real success on the endurance front, it is important to give your nutrition a long hard look. The longer you run, the more fuel your body needs. As a general rule, if you exercise at intensity beyond one-and-a-half hours, your body needs to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes to maintain performance, says nutritionist Sarah OíNeill (sarahoneill.co.uk). And if you don’t consume the extra salt and sugar your body craves, you’re more susceptible to dehydration.

Continued: 

Eating for Distance

Posted in Diets, Exercises, Fitness Equipment, Health Issues, Nutrition, Sports nutrition, Weight lossComments Off on Eating for Distance

Apply Here To Be A Transformation Of The Week!

Body Transformation: Paula Knaley Is In The Shape Of Her Life!

Why I decided to transform

At one point in my life, I held onto some weight from three pregnancies, I cared for my terminally ill mom, did not sleep well, felt depressed, and was saddled with far too much stress.

Needless to say, this combination made me at my heaviest during this time. Going into the fourth decade of my life in November 2010 sparked something in me; it became the catalyst to make changes!

In February of 2011, I decided joining a gym was the best way to get started. I felt that the only thing I had control over was my own physical appearance and health. The latter was the most important thing I wanted to change! As part of signing up, I was given three free sessions with a personal trainer, which I initially wasn’t interested in.

Somehow those three sessions drove out the competitive drive and feral beast in me. I saw the value in personal training, and from that point onward, I knew I made some of the best life-altering decisions of my life.

Before

After

AGE 40 / HEIGHT 5’8″ / BODY FAT 36%

AGE 42 / HEIGHT 5’8″ / BODY FAT 19%

Post To Fitboard

How I accomplished my goals

During my entire transformation, I faced many adversities in both my training and personal life. My mother passed away in April of 2012. In June of that year, my 11 year old son underwent an extensive chest surgery, and a month later, my husband was diagnosed with his second occurrence of melanoma. It was a very tough time. In training, I couldn’t fathom making such huge changes to my life at first, but I did not give up. I turned to books, the internet (Bodybuilding.com), and trainers at the gym for help.

I inched along slowly, training one day a week with a trainer and not knowing what to do the other four days at the gym. I knew they offered classes and boot camps that were also taught by trainers, but I felt intimidated at first. I forced myself to go to my first class, a “Core and More” class. Not long after, I almost got up and walked out because I couldn’t do many of the things the trainer was instructing us to do.

For whatever reason—embarrassment, fear of failure, or just plain stubbornness—I managed to stick with it, week after week, and began to be able to do things I couldn’t do the week before. It helped that there was a woman named Mary who excelled in every class I took; she was a real inspiration to me: cut, lean and very athletic. Mary could do anything the trainers threw at her. Her encouragement, along with the results I was seeing, really motivated me to keep going.

“I am a better wife and mother because of how I feel mentally and physically.”

I have my trainer, Kurt Jones, to attribute greatly to my success. He was a tough, hard-nosed, no-nonsense trainer and gave me exactly what I needed. He did not hand out complements very often, but when he gave me one, I knew I had earned it and worked my ass off to get it! Without a doubt, Kurt Jones was a huge factor in my success, aside from my own willingness to work hard and be consistent and disciplined at the gym and at home.

I continued my workouts and nutrition through all of my stress, as they had now become my lifestyle, addiction, and quite honestly, my saving grace. Keeping a food log was also very critical to my success. Without the workouts with Kurt and encouragement from my friends at the gym, I do not know how I would have survived the stress, worry, and anxiety of this crushing stress. Despite how badly I get emotionally torn up, Kurt would never let me hang my head and instead told me to harness my rocky emotions into strength.

In addition to my personal trainer and Mary, the support of my husband and kids were so indispensable. They understood my selfish need to spend a lot of time at the gym—sometimes twice a day—and to cook a lot of new, “weird” things. Things like spaghetti squash, quinoa, kale, almond butter, coconut oil, and almond milk, to name a few of the “new” things I introduced into our household pantry and refrigerator.

What has changed most is my own self-perception. I am a better wife and mother because of how I feel mentally and physically. My investment in my health has benefitted my family. As a result, my kids know what a serving size is, how to read food labels, and what good carbs and protein sources are. I share my healthy recipes with others as well.

Apply Here To Be A Transformation Of The Week!

Apply Here To Be A Transformation
Of The Week!

Bodybuilding.com honors people across all transformation categories for their hard work and dedication. Learn how our featured transformers overcame obstacles and hit their goals!

Supplements that helped me through the journey

Diet plan that guided my transformation

Training regimen that kept me on track

What aspect challenged me the most

The hardest part of the journey for me was getting started with the nutrition changes. I had to educate myself on what “clean eating” was and how to support my efforts at the gym.

Of course, what I ate before and after workouts helped maximize my results. It helped me to adhere to good eating when I wrote in a food diary. The work outs were tough, no doubt, but I actually learned to love those as well as the clean eating lifestyle.

My future fitness plans

Since attaining my goals of losing 50 pounds and body fat percentage of 19 in 2012, I have basically been maintaining. Weight loss is no longer my goal, but I change my work out routines to continue to build strength, muscle, and keep my fitness level. To that end, I still work out five days per week.

“I learned that surrounding yourself with supportive, educated people who have similar goals is key.”

For my 43rd birthday in November 2013, I had the “after” pictures taken. As a gift to myself and documentation of my journey, I had a friend who is a photographer, Scott Petranek, come and shoot pictures during one of my workouts with Kurt. At age 43, I am currently in the best shape of my life and I love the way my body looks. I feel great and know I am doing everything I can to optimize my health.

People have suggested I compete, and although I appreciate the compliment, it’s just not something I am interested in. I officially consider myself a “gym rat” and plan to continue to train hard simply because I love it.

Suggestions for aspiring transformers

My favorite quote is, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet!”—it’s so profound and true. What you put in your mouth supports what you do in the gym. An honest, detailed food log kept me accountable and was critical to my daily food planning.

I learned that surrounding yourself with supportive, educated people who have similar goals is key. Join a gym, hire a trainer, do your own research — any or all of these are integral to success.

“Anyone who is determined, willing to work hard, and dedicated can obtain these kinds of results.”

If you are going to go through the trouble of making a nutrition and work out plan, follow them! You don’t have to be a competitive body builder to get ripped and lean. When I first started this journey, I had never seen “an average woman” look like my friend Mary did, or be able to perform feats of strength and stability that she did.

Anyone who is determined, willing to work hard, and dedicated can obtain these kinds of results. It’s a great feeling knowing you earned the results because they aren’t going to happen any other way.

How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals

I especially like tuning into BodyBuilding.com on Facebook for daily news feeds from the site. The articles on exercise ideas for specific lifts are some of my favorite. New ideas, new workouts, and the “why” behind certain principles all help me better understand this health aspect of my life.

Reading other people’s personal stories has been truly inspirational and worth reading. I loved that I learned so much throughout my journey, and I hope to continue to learn.

Paula’s Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. “Lola Montez” by Volbeat
  2. “Lift Me Up” by Five Finger Death Punch
  3. “Yeah” by Usher
  4. “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse
  5. “Sweat” by David Guetta (feat. Snoop Dogg)

 

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Continue reading:

Body Transformation: Paula Knaley Is In The Shape Of Her Life!

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Health Issues, Nutrition, Training Methods, Warm up, Weight loss, Weight TrainingComments Off on Body Transformation: Paula Knaley Is In The Shape Of Her Life!

Apply Here To Be A Transformation Of The Week!

Body Transformation: Caty Pasternak Lost 110 Pounds And Built Curves!

Why I decided to transform

I was chubby growing up but really packed on weight during high school because I used food as an emotional support base. By age 17, my eating was out of control.

My parents were active, but their attempts to get me to exercise were useless. Then, one day, I was sick of being the funny, fat girl. I wanted to shop at stores with my girlfriends and get asked to prom.

My fitness journey started slow. I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes per day and cut back on junk food. When I saw the scale go down, I became more motivated to stick to it. My parents were thrilled and I was happy for myself.

During the next couple years, I continued to challenge myself on DVD workout programs, yoga, and spin classes. Fitness replaced food and became my new healthy addiction.

I’m much happier now and do whatever it takes to encourage others to make changes for the better. I’m a personal trainer and take great pride in transforming the lives of others.

Before

After

AGE 17 / HEIGHT 5’5″ / BODY FAT 35%

AGE 22 / HEIGHT 5’5″ / BODY FAT 13%

Post To Fitboard

How I accomplished my goals

In the beginning, I only utilized cardio for weight loss and switched between walking, jogging, and the elliptical. As I progressed, I added in circuit weight and core training and group fitness programs. I got my weight down, but lost lots of muscle from too much cardio and inadequate nutrition. I needed a new challenge and turned to lifting.

I thought lifting would make me big and bulky, but it actually gave me curves and wasn’t boring. I challenge myself by adding more weight and volume to stay continuously engaged. It made me feel strong inside and out. The confidence I gained from lifting is the biggest benefit.

Apply Here To Be A Transformation Of The Week!

Apply Here To Be A Transformation
Of The Week!

Bodybuilding.com honors people across all transformation categories for their hard work and dedication. Learn how our featured transformers overcame obstacles and hit their goals!

Supplements that helped me through the journey

Diet plan that guided my transformation

  • Tilapia Tilapia

    4 oz

  • Brown Rice Brown Rice

    1 cup

  • Vegetables Vegetables

    1 serving

Training regimen that kept me on track

What aspect challenged me the most

Dieting is the most challenging aspect because I love food. It’s hard to turn down my favorites, but I’m not hard on myself anymore. I got over the fear that I will gain the weight back and let myself splurge on occasional cheat meals. Meal prep can be tedious, but it’s worth it.

“Be patient. It’s hard advice to swallow, but it’s the truth.”

My future fitness plans

I became a personal trainer in 2013 and it has been the most rewarding endeavor of my life. It allows me to challenge myself and gives me power to challenge others.

Maintaining health comes first, but I’ve become a more aesthetic-based trainer. I would never have dreamed of entering a bodybuilding competition before but am happy to say that I will enter one this year.

Suggestions for aspiring transformers

Be patient. It’s hard advice to swallow, but it’s the truth. You didn’t gain weight overnight and you can’t expect to lose it overnight. Keep your goal in mind and set small goals to stay engaged and hopeful. If you want to lose 50 pounds in six months, focus to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals

Bodybuilding.com provided me with great supplements to fuel my body and is an indispensable source of education. When I first started lifting weights, I learned from Bodybuilding.com videos, tutorials, and the forums. I recommend Bodybuilding.com to my clients and will be an avid user for life.

Caty’s Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. “Where The Hood At” by DMX
  2. “Down With The Sickness” by Disturbed
  3. “Get Back” by Ludicrous
  4. “KNAS” by Steve Angello
  5. “Pump It Up” by Joe Budden

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About The Author

Have you made a dramatic change either by gaining muscle or by losing all the weight you have been hoping for?

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Body Transformation: Caty Pasternak Lost 110 Pounds And Built Curves!

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Weight lossComments Off on Body Transformation: Caty Pasternak Lost 110 Pounds And Built Curves!

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Evolution Of Flex, Episode 1: Arnold Classic Preparations And Back Workout

In 2013, Flex Lewis cemented his place in bodybuilding history. He won his second Mr. Olympia 212 title and became a household name in the industry. He also signed with BSN to help take his career, and his body, to the next level.

In this new video—shot 18 days before the 2014 Arnold Classic 212—Neil Hill and Flex discuss their training partnership and how Flex’s shift to BSN has affected his career.

Hill has been working with the inaugural Arnold Classic 212 Champion for more than 11 years. These guys know each other so well that their relationship has matured beyond the typical coach and trainee setup.

Flex Lewis
Watch The Video – 04:15

Evolution

Leading up to the Arnold Classic 212, Flex Lewis hit a crossroads: “I was faced with a situation where I was asked: Do I evolve as a bodybuilder and take it to the next level, or do I remain where I am?” he says. Flex obviously decided to continue his evolution, as witnessed by his stunning physique and win at the Arnold.

If you want to partake in Flex’s evolution yourself, just try one of the brutal Y3T workouts Neil Hill used to build and carve Flex’s back during the duo’s Arnold prep. This workout stems from week two of Y3T, so the reps are relatively high and the rest is limited.

Push yourself through the entire training session and build the back of a champion.

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Evolution Of Flex, Episode 1: Arnold Classic Preparations And Back Workout

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Warm upComments Off on Evolution Of Flex, Episode 1: Arnold Classic Preparations And Back Workout

<div id="DPG" webReader="250.776488207"><p>We've all had bad days. You know, those days when you have to force yourself to get off the couch and get to the gym. When you finally talk yourself into getting there, your workout is lax and you know you didn't make any progress toward your goals. Those days suck, but they're also bound to happen.</p><p>Nobody is born with never-ending energy and a bottomless spring of motivation. All of us will eventually struggle. It's what we do with those bad days and how we overcome them that make the real difference in our fitness endeavors.</p><p>So, how do we overcome those bouts of lacking motivation, fatigue, and stress? What can you do to maximize your intensity and make every rep count? Here are 23 great ideas!</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">1 Crank Up The Tunes</h4>
</p><iframe class="left-image" src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:bbcommusclemusic:playlist:1J8SlUklLmy5QX9LgvwK9N" width="270" height="350" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><p>Numerous studies have shown that music has the power to elevate a downer mood. Take advantage and get yourself psyched up before you even start your workout.</p><p>On your way to the gym, listen to whatever gets you pumped and then keep that momentum and music going when you get to the gym!</p><p>Research confirms that lifting to your favorite tunes can help you push harder and get the most from every set.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">2 Visualize</h4>
</p><p>Before you even leave the house, close your eyes for a few minutes and watch yourself go through your workout. Visualize putting that pin on the bottom of the stack and dominating that machine.</p><p>Watch yourself set a new PR on the bench or squat. Feel those muscles moving and flexing, and then go to the gym and make that vision a reality!</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">3 Warm Up Well</h4>
</p><p>I've been training for 15 years and I still see people walk in the door and go directly to the bench press. Those muscles are cold! There's no way that you'll be able to have a good workout with the jump-start strategy.</p><p>Get yourself on a treadmill or use another warm-up technique so your blood will flow and your muscles will be primed for the carnage ahead.</p><p>A warm-up is also a great way to get mentally ready to go. You'll probably find your workout is much better from beginning to end if you spend 5-10 extra minutes preparing for it.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">4 Take a Pre-workout</h4>
</p><p>Need a hit of energy? There are some great supplements which can help you feel more pumped about your workout. There's a reason you see a lot of ads and promos for <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/goalpreworkout.htm">pre-workout supplements</a>—they work.</p><p>If you've been using the same pre-workout product for a while, then cycle off for a few weeks or try a new product.</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/neon-sport/volt.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/neon-pre-workout_ratingbanner_01.jpg" width="402" height="167" class="c13"/></a><a href="http://reviews.bodybuilding.com/Neon_Sport/Volt"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/neon-pre-workout_ratingbanner_02.jpg" width="158" height="97"/></a><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/neon-sport/volt.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/neon-pre-workout_ratingbanner_03.jpg" width="158" height="70"/></a><p>
<h4 class="c12">5 Amino Up</h4>
</p><p>It's one thing to get amped for a workout, but you also need to be able to train with intensity from your first lift to your last rep. <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bcaa.html">Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs)</a> are essential building blocks of protein that will keep your muscles fueled in training and help you recover after.</p><p>Add some to your water bottle and you may feel as strong during the second half of the workout as you did when you started.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">6 Avoid Machines</h4>
</p><p>WBFF competitor, fitness model, and <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/neon-sport.html">Neon</a> athlete <a href="http://instagram.com/missashleysarina" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Ashley Sarina Hoffmann</a> knows a thing or two about using free weights to increase the intensity of her workouts. "Although I use machines at times, I try to stay away from them and focus more on free weights. By using free weights, I engage my core more and don't restrict my range of motion. Lifting with dumbbells and barbells also helps balance, stability, and overall athletic performance."</p><img src="images/2014/23-ways-to-boost-workout-intensity-3.jpg" width="560" height="312"/><p>Free weights recruit more muscles to the lifting task than machines which balance the weight for you. Use the dumbbell rack to your advantage!</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">7 Vary Your Workouts</h4>
</p><p>Doing the same thing day-in and day-out is both boring and unproductive. Try something new! If you've been all about single sets, try some circuits. Or, if you've been giant or supersetting your lifts for the last few months, switch to heavy straight sets.</p><p>Not only will these changes help you feel more motivated, but they'll actually shock your muscles so they have no choice but to recover and grow.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">8 Be Explosive</h4>
</p><img src="images/2014/23-ways-to-boost-workout-intensity-1.jpg" width="191" height="286" border="0" class="right-image"/><p>"Although I use machines at times, I try to stay away from them and focus on free weights."<br />—Ashley Sarina Hoffmann</p><p>"Explosive movements develop fast-twitch muscle fibers and use the maximum amount of force in the shortest amount of time," says Ashley Hoffmann.</p><p>By introducing explosive movements like box jumps or barbell squats into your fitness regimen, you increase the intensity of your workouts and make them more fun .</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">9 Try Dropsets</h4>
</p><p>Straight sets are absolutely effective, but you can make workouts more challenging and interesting by using dropsets. To do them, grab a really heavy weight and lift it until failure. Once you hit failure, strip some weight and keep going.</p><p>When you hit failure again, take weight off and keep repping it out. Once you hit failure again, you can even go through the motions one more time. By the end, you'll have a bigger pump than ever!</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">10 Superset Lifts</h4>
</p><p>I love supersets. Pick two exercises—either for one muscle group or for opposing muscle groups—and perform one immediately after the other without rest. You'll get two sets for the price of one and a shorter, more intense workout. Ashley Hoffmann utilizes supersets, too. "Supersets are a great way to maximize intensity!" she says.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">11 Circuit Train</h4>
</p><p>This is a principle similar to supersets, but instead of two exercises, you can do four, five, or even more. Go though one set of every movement before you rest. Once you've gone through every exercise, rest 2-3 minutes, and then go through all the exercises again.</p><p>Repeat this cycle as much as you'd like. If you haven't done much circuit training before, I can promise you that by your last circuit, you'll be totally worn out. This is a great way to introduce some cardio into your resistance training.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/23-ways-to-boost-workout-intensity-2b.jpg" width="560" height="353"/><p>Straight sets are absolutely effective, but you can make workouts more challenging and interesting by using dropsets.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">12 Do Rest-Pause Reps</h4>
</p><p>Have you ever tried to hit 10 reps and reached failure at seven? Don't sweat it. Next time this happens, re-rack the weight, count to five, and then pick up where you left off. You're still hitting the reps you want, but taking a little break so you can get there.</p><p>Rest-pause reps can help your body respond to the heavy weight so that the next time you try, you may be able to finish the set without taking a break.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">13 Add Partials</h4>
</p><p>To get a little more out of each set, try performing a few reps of the top half of the exercise when you hit failure with a full range of motion. These partial reps will extend the set and ensure that you break down every last muscle fiber you have.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">14 Cheat</h4>
</p><p>Don't use this as an excuse to overlook form completely, but you can put a little body English into some of your lifts so you can use more weight.</p><p>Put a little swing into heavy barbell curls or kickstart those laterals when you get near the end of a set. It worked for the old-school guys, and it'll work for you!</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">15 Throw In Cardio Bursts</h4>
</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/jumpropes.html"><img src="images/2014/23-ways-to-boost-workout-intensity-4.jpg" width="159" height="180" border="0" class="right-image c16"/></a><p>"Grab a jump rope, do some burpees, or even hit an ab exercise between sets for 20-30 seconds," says Ashley. "This way, you're not standing around between sets so you can keep your muscles working and fat burning. If you choose to incorporate cardio bursts into your routine, rest a little longer between sets so you can perform the next set with as much energy as you can."</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">16 Include Negatives</h4>
</p><p>If you have a spotter at the ready, then use her to your advantage. Once you get to the end of the set, lower the weight for five seconds. Have your partner help you to get the weight back to the top. Do this for five reps. I promise you'll be in pain.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">17 Squeeze</h4>
</p><p>When you perform your reps, don't lower the weight as soon as you lift it. Hold it at the peak of the contraction for a few seconds and squeeze the hell out of the muscle. Then slowly take the weight back to the starting position and try it again. Increasing the duration of your sets will put a new spin on your workouts and make them much more difficult.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">18 Train To Failure</h4>
</p><p>"You can incorporate training to failure in a couple of ways," says Ashley. "On the days I lift heavy, I hit failure when I hit max weight. On my max days, I always have a spotter for safety and ensure I have good form. On days I incorporate hypertrophy training, I hit failure on the last set by going until I possibly can't squeeze out another rep. Sometimes I hit failure at 15 reps, sometimes at 20 reps, and sometimes I don't even count and just lift until I'm tanked."</p><img src="images/2014/23-ways-to-boost-workout-intensity-5.jpg" width="560" height="338"/><p>The more reps you do, the better you'll understand how a lift works. Use lighter weight on Olympic lifts until your form improves, then go heavier!</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">19 Take It To 100</h4>
</p><p>Powerlifters do one rep for the max amount of weight. This technique is the other extreme. Grab a light weight and lift for 100 repsr, or go a little heavier and rest for 15 seconds every time you hit failure; then pick up where you left off and add up until you hit the century mark.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">20 Pre-exhaust</h4>
</p><p>Most of us start our workouts with a compound lift like the squat or bench press. To mix things up, choose an isolation exercise and do 3 sets of 10-12 reps with as much focus and effort as you would if you had started with a big lift.</p><p>After you complete three sets of the isolation lift, take on the lift you would normally start with. You probably won't be as strong, so you'll have to put more intensity and focus into the movement.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">21 Time It</h4>
</p><img src="images/2014/23-ways-to-boost-workout-intensity-6.jpg" width="179" height="210" border="0" class="right-image c17"/><p>After you complete your warm-up, set your alarm for an hour. Once that alarm goes off, you're done—whether you completed your planned workout or not.</p><p>This extra pressure will help you stay on track and keep chitchat to a minimum.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">22 Rest Less</h4>
</p><p>To maximize her time in the gym, Ashley keeps her eye on the clock. "Sometimes we get too caught up talking to other gym members, searching for a song we like, or even checking social media sites in between sets. Before we know it, 5-10 minutes have gone by and our body has cooled down. On days that I don't lift really heavy, I keep my rest to 45-60 seconds so my body stays warm and my heart rate stays high," she says.</p><p>
<h4 class="c12">23 Talk Positively</h4>
</p><p>Whether you're in the car, locker room, or maybe in the middle of the set, tell yourself your plans for the weight, set, or rep. You might look like a crazy person, but who cares! You're in the gym to get shit done.</p><p>Hearing your own positivity could psych you up more than if you were just thinking it. Once you crush the weight, just tell yourself: "Good job. Now do it again."</p><br /><br /><h4>Recommended For You</h4><div class="c20" webReader="4.0396039604"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/6-ways-to-strengthen-your-mindset.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/6-ways-to-strengthen-mindset-small.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="4.71287128713"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/6-ways-to-strengthen-your-mindset.html">6 Ways To Strengthen Your Mindset</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
Use these tips to revamp your mindset and multiply your motivation.</p></div></div><div class="c20" webReader="5.50578034682"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/50-fat-torching-tricks-fire-up-your-fat-loss.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/50-fat-torching-tricks-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="7.34104046243"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/50-fat-torching-tricks-fire-up-your-fat-loss.html">50 Fat-Torching Tricks: Fire Up Your Fat Loss!</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
Push past fitness plateaus, ramp up your weight loss, and achieve your New Year's resolutions with these 50 fat-torching tips!</p></div></div><div class="c20" webReader="3.51111111111"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/flip-on-your-growth-switch-with-pumpkin-protein-pancakes.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/protein-pumpkin-pancakes-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c19" webReader="4.0962962963"><h4 class="c18"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/flip-on-your-growth-switch-with-pumpkin-protein-pancakes.html">Flip On Your Growth Switch With Pumpkin Protein Pancakes</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
Fuel up and pig out on pumpkin with this meal that's sure to meet your macros!</p></div></div><br class="c21"/></div>

Motivation Overdrive: 23 Ways To Boost Workout Intensity

We’ve all had bad days. You know, those days when you have to force yourself to get off the couch and get to the gym. When you finally talk yourself into getting there, your workout is lax and you know you didn’t make any progress toward your goals. Those days suck, but they’re also bound to happen.

Nobody is born with never-ending energy and a bottomless spring of motivation. All of us will eventually struggle. It’s what we do with those bad days and how we overcome them that make the real difference in our fitness endeavors.

So, how do we overcome those bouts of lacking motivation, fatigue, and stress? What can you do to maximize your intensity and make every rep count? Here are 23 great ideas!

1 Crank Up The Tunes

Numerous studies have shown that music has the power to elevate a downer mood. Take advantage and get yourself psyched up before you even start your workout.

On your way to the gym, listen to whatever gets you pumped and then keep that momentum and music going when you get to the gym!

Research confirms that lifting to your favorite tunes can help you push harder and get the most from every set.

2 Visualize

Before you even leave the house, close your eyes for a few minutes and watch yourself go through your workout. Visualize putting that pin on the bottom of the stack and dominating that machine.

Watch yourself set a new PR on the bench or squat. Feel those muscles moving and flexing, and then go to the gym and make that vision a reality!

3 Warm Up Well

I’ve been training for 15 years and I still see people walk in the door and go directly to the bench press. Those muscles are cold! There’s no way that you’ll be able to have a good workout with the jump-start strategy.

Get yourself on a treadmill or use another warm-up technique so your blood will flow and your muscles will be primed for the carnage ahead.

A warm-up is also a great way to get mentally ready to go. You’ll probably find your workout is much better from beginning to end if you spend 5-10 extra minutes preparing for it.

4 Take a Pre-workout

Need a hit of energy? There are some great supplements which can help you feel more pumped about your workout. There’s a reason you see a lot of ads and promos for pre-workout supplements—they work.

If you’ve been using the same pre-workout product for a while, then cycle off for a few weeks or try a new product.

5 Amino Up

It’s one thing to get amped for a workout, but you also need to be able to train with intensity from your first lift to your last rep. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential building blocks of protein that will keep your muscles fueled in training and help you recover after.

Add some to your water bottle and you may feel as strong during the second half of the workout as you did when you started.

6 Avoid Machines

WBFF competitor, fitness model, and Neon athlete Ashley Sarina Hoffmann knows a thing or two about using free weights to increase the intensity of her workouts. “Although I use machines at times, I try to stay away from them and focus more on free weights. By using free weights, I engage my core more and don’t restrict my range of motion. Lifting with dumbbells and barbells also helps balance, stability, and overall athletic performance.”

Free weights recruit more muscles to the lifting task than machines which balance the weight for you. Use the dumbbell rack to your advantage!

7 Vary Your Workouts

Doing the same thing day-in and day-out is both boring and unproductive. Try something new! If you’ve been all about single sets, try some circuits. Or, if you’ve been giant or supersetting your lifts for the last few months, switch to heavy straight sets.

Not only will these changes help you feel more motivated, but they’ll actually shock your muscles so they have no choice but to recover and grow.

8 Be Explosive

“Although I use machines at times, I try to stay away from them and focus on free weights.”
—Ashley Sarina Hoffmann

“Explosive movements develop fast-twitch muscle fibers and use the maximum amount of force in the shortest amount of time,” says Ashley Hoffmann.

By introducing explosive movements like box jumps or barbell squats into your fitness regimen, you increase the intensity of your workouts and make them more fun .

9 Try Dropsets

Straight sets are absolutely effective, but you can make workouts more challenging and interesting by using dropsets. To do them, grab a really heavy weight and lift it until failure. Once you hit failure, strip some weight and keep going.

When you hit failure again, take weight off and keep repping it out. Once you hit failure again, you can even go through the motions one more time. By the end, you’ll have a bigger pump than ever!

10 Superset Lifts

I love supersets. Pick two exercises—either for one muscle group or for opposing muscle groups—and perform one immediately after the other without rest. You’ll get two sets for the price of one and a shorter, more intense workout. Ashley Hoffmann utilizes supersets, too. “Supersets are a great way to maximize intensity!” she says.

11 Circuit Train

This is a principle similar to supersets, but instead of two exercises, you can do four, five, or even more. Go though one set of every movement before you rest. Once you’ve gone through every exercise, rest 2-3 minutes, and then go through all the exercises again.

Repeat this cycle as much as you’d like. If you haven’t done much circuit training before, I can promise you that by your last circuit, you’ll be totally worn out. This is a great way to introduce some cardio into your resistance training.

Straight sets are absolutely effective, but you can make workouts more challenging and interesting by using dropsets.

12 Do Rest-Pause Reps

Have you ever tried to hit 10 reps and reached failure at seven? Don’t sweat it. Next time this happens, re-rack the weight, count to five, and then pick up where you left off. You’re still hitting the reps you want, but taking a little break so you can get there.

Rest-pause reps can help your body respond to the heavy weight so that the next time you try, you may be able to finish the set without taking a break.

13 Add Partials

To get a little more out of each set, try performing a few reps of the top half of the exercise when you hit failure with a full range of motion. These partial reps will extend the set and ensure that you break down every last muscle fiber you have.

14 Cheat

Don’t use this as an excuse to overlook form completely, but you can put a little body English into some of your lifts so you can use more weight.

Put a little swing into heavy barbell curls or kickstart those laterals when you get near the end of a set. It worked for the old-school guys, and it’ll work for you!

15 Throw In Cardio Bursts

“Grab a jump rope, do some burpees, or even hit an ab exercise between sets for 20-30 seconds,” says Ashley. “This way, you’re not standing around between sets so you can keep your muscles working and fat burning. If you choose to incorporate cardio bursts into your routine, rest a little longer between sets so you can perform the next set with as much energy as you can.”

16 Include Negatives

If you have a spotter at the ready, then use her to your advantage. Once you get to the end of the set, lower the weight for five seconds. Have your partner help you to get the weight back to the top. Do this for five reps. I promise you’ll be in pain.

17 Squeeze

When you perform your reps, don’t lower the weight as soon as you lift it. Hold it at the peak of the contraction for a few seconds and squeeze the hell out of the muscle. Then slowly take the weight back to the starting position and try it again. Increasing the duration of your sets will put a new spin on your workouts and make them much more difficult.

18 Train To Failure

“You can incorporate training to failure in a couple of ways,” says Ashley. “On the days I lift heavy, I hit failure when I hit max weight. On my max days, I always have a spotter for safety and ensure I have good form. On days I incorporate hypertrophy training, I hit failure on the last set by going until I possibly can’t squeeze out another rep. Sometimes I hit failure at 15 reps, sometimes at 20 reps, and sometimes I don’t even count and just lift until I’m tanked.”

The more reps you do, the better you’ll understand how a lift works. Use lighter weight on Olympic lifts until your form improves, then go heavier!

19 Take It To 100

Powerlifters do one rep for the max amount of weight. This technique is the other extreme. Grab a light weight and lift for 100 repsr, or go a little heavier and rest for 15 seconds every time you hit failure; then pick up where you left off and add up until you hit the century mark.

20 Pre-exhaust

Most of us start our workouts with a compound lift like the squat or bench press. To mix things up, choose an isolation exercise and do 3 sets of 10-12 reps with as much focus and effort as you would if you had started with a big lift.

After you complete three sets of the isolation lift, take on the lift you would normally start with. You probably won’t be as strong, so you’ll have to put more intensity and focus into the movement.

21 Time It

After you complete your warm-up, set your alarm for an hour. Once that alarm goes off, you’re done—whether you completed your planned workout or not.

This extra pressure will help you stay on track and keep chitchat to a minimum.

22 Rest Less

To maximize her time in the gym, Ashley keeps her eye on the clock. “Sometimes we get too caught up talking to other gym members, searching for a song we like, or even checking social media sites in between sets. Before we know it, 5-10 minutes have gone by and our body has cooled down. On days that I don’t lift really heavy, I keep my rest to 45-60 seconds so my body stays warm and my heart rate stays high,” she says.

23 Talk Positively

Whether you’re in the car, locker room, or maybe in the middle of the set, tell yourself your plans for the weight, set, or rep. You might look like a crazy person, but who cares! You’re in the gym to get shit done.

Hearing your own positivity could psych you up more than if you were just thinking it. Once you crush the weight, just tell yourself: “Good job. Now do it again.”

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Motivation Overdrive: 23 Ways To Boost Workout Intensity

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Warm up, Weight lossComments Off on Motivation Overdrive: 23 Ways To Boost Workout Intensity

<div id="DPG" webReader="194.675770155"><p>In many serious lifters' playbook, the squat is the go-to lift for developing serious lower body strength and size. It no doubt gets the job done, but as with all exercises, there will come a point where you feel like you've hit a ceiling. You know you <em>should</em> be able to move more weight around, but your muscles just don't seem to cooperate. At times like these, a temporary vacation from the same-old squat routine is in order.</p><p>Don't worry, after you try one or several of these tried-and-true techniques, you can always come back to the squat variations you know and love best. In most cases, you'll be stronger and more balanced when you do.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">1 Try Single Leg Variations</h3>
</p><p>It's amazing how simply shifting the work from two legs to one leg can exponentially crank up the difficulty. You might think, "Ok, I'll just squat half of the heavy load I've been moving in a back squat," but in most cases, you'll find that weight laughing at you the first time you try it.</p><p>The increased balance demands of single-leg squat variations make them highly difficult to the unaccustomed, but they are worth it! Stick with them until you find your footing. Unilateral exercises also confer additional benefits in correcting side-to-side muscular imbalances, which many people find to be a key to building even greater bilateral (two-leg) strength.</p><img src="images/2014/6-tricks-for-a-stronger-squat-graphics-1.jpg" width="560" height="373" border="0" class="c11"/><h6 class="altH6 c12">Pistol Squats</h6><p>While there are many one-legged squat moves to choose from, my somewhat unorthodox recommendation for you, if you struggle to improve a barbell back squat, is to try the pistol squat. Tread lightly! Even bodyweight pistol squats can be extremely difficult for most lifters, at least in the beginning. The initial instability produces more muscle engagement, and the high level of muscle control this exercise demands may initially force you to hold onto something for balance. There's no shame in that, I promise!</p><p>In the beginning, perform this exercise with bodyweight only until you can safely and confidently hit six consecutive reps. After you've done this for a while with good form, you can start adding weights, either by holding a dumbbell plate, a kettlebell, or a couple of light dumbbells held straight out in front of you. Once you can perform 6 good-form reps with a weight between 25 and 45 pounds in your arms, you should see a notable improvement in every other lower-body lift.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">2 Spread Out</h3>
</p><p>In a standard back squat, most experts would direct you to point your feet straight forward, or perhaps ever-so-slightly outward. A small adjustment in your foot position, they know, can cause a significant shift in the muscles that are worked.</p><p>Following that logic, try this on for size: Spread your feet slightly past shoulder-width and point your toes outward at a 45-degree angle. This adjusted position is called the sumo squat , and it will develop strength and mobility of the hips, adductors, and glutes to a greater extent than a narrow-stance squat.</p><img src="images/2014/6-tricks-for-a-stronger-squat-graphics-2.jpg" width="560" height="373" border="0" class="c11"/><h6 class="altH6 c12">Sumo Squat</h6><p>Some people may find this position to be more comfortable for their individual body, and it becomes their go-to squat. That's great for them, but make sure you do it right before you fall in love. Ensure that your knees don't spill too far over your toes when you drop it low. And, perhaps even more importantly, don't flare your knees inward as you bottom out. Get them out wide over your toes!</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">3 Pause At the Bottom</h3>
</p><p>Are ya ready to feel your quads and buns burn? Try pausing at the bottom of any squatting movement. This applies to front squats, back squats, pistols, and all other variations you see in the gym. This pause eliminates the stretch reflex in the muscles, and thereby forces the muscle to generate more "true" force to be able to complete the squat.</p><p>What do I mean by "true?" At the bottom of a deep squat, the stretch in your hamstrings and adductors helps you bounce out of the hole to some degree, even if it doesn't look like a "bounce" per se. Envision pulling back a rubber band to a stretched position; it is now primed to spring back to its normal elasticity with even greater power. Adding a brief isometric contraction of about 2-4 seconds makes this "bounce" impossible, and has the potential to improve strength and power production from the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and other lower-body prime movers.</p><p>Some lifters find this to be such an effective technique that they perform at least some sets starting from the bottom. This is known as an "Anderson Squat."</p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vmUCquVG3pM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">4 Add Half-Reps From the Bottom</h3>
</p><img src="images/2014/6-tricks-for-a-stronger-squat-graphics-3.jpg" width="235" height="378" border="0" class="float-right c13"/><p>Trying new squatting variations is only one way to attack a squat that doesn't seem to be progressing. Another is to take your current form of squatting and simply make it more difficult. A great way to accomplish this is to perform half-reps from the bottom.</p><p>These are just what they sound like. Sink down into a full squat, and then rise up just halfway. Pause, and then lower back into the hole before pushing up into the full standing position. Sound easy? In execution, it's anything but. This technique places more stress on your muscles during your weakest point of the squat movement pattern, which allows you to build strength where you need it most. Just don't call me when you can't sit down comfortably for the next few days.</p><p>Few people are able approach their normal squatting volume with half-reps being added in, so take it slowly. Add 1-2 half reps per set to start, and build up until you can perform a full set with a half-rep in between each full rep.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">5 Shift the Load</h3>
</p><p>When someone mentions the squat in casual conversation—what, your friends don't do that?—-most people imagine the back squat during which the bar is placed behind the neck. But that is only one type of loaded squat, and to be honest, it isn't right for everyone. Some people simply never feel comfortable with the spinal compression that results from having a barbell sit on top of their back. Others find that for reasons of balance, knee strength, or something else, they are able to achieve far superior form with other variations. Open your mind and your squat will feel the benefit!</p><p>Take, for example, the front squat. In comparison to the back squat, the front squat hammers the quads more and calls for additional muscle activity from the hips and lower back. Due to the biomechanical nature of the movement, the front squat places less spinal compression and torque on the knees as well. Simply put, it offers much of the same stimulus as the back squat, but less risk to your most vulnerable areas.</p><img src="images/2014/6-tricks-for-a-stronger-squat-graphics-4.jpg" width="560" height="314" border="0"/><p>"In comparison to the back squat, the front squat hammers the quads more and calls for additional muscle activity from the hips and lower back."</p><p>Most athletes find that maximal weight they can front squat will be approximately 80 percent of a back squat's maximal lift, so bragging rights aren't quite the same. But in recent years, having a strong front-squat max has become cooler than ever, and is often taken as a sign of being an overall well-rounded athlete. And you'd better believe boosting your front squat will help your back squat grow, too!</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">6 Make It Explosive</h3>
</p><p>Common sense says that the only way to develop a heavy squat is to squat heavy. Sure, that's part of it, but there is another proven method: <em>squat fast</em>. Bar speed is often overlooked because it often makes the exercise feel "easy" or less productive, but cranking up the velocity of your squat can help your squat immensely by allowing you to practice technique while still training for peak power.</p><p>So what exactly makes it a "speed squat?" Perform the squat at a smaller percentage of your max. Depending on your repetition range and volume of work you want to get done, this can range between 35 and 70 percent of your one-rep max. For heavier loads, lower the rep scheme; the lighter the scheme is, the higher reps should be. You can perform a set portion of a leg day for speed, or if you're really dedicated to squatting, you could split your week into <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-road-to-two-plates-you-can-squat-deadlift-225.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">light and heavy days</a>.</p><iframe src="//instagram.com/p/iMcBe4xEP8/embed/" width="560" height="650" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><p>Another way to add power to the squat is by performing bodyweight squat jumps. Drop down into a deep bodyweight squat and launch yourself off the ground as high as you can go. Land quietly, meet the balls of your feet to the floor, and bend your knees slightly to absorb the impact. Drop back into the squat position and continue your reps in this fashion. As you would in any exercise, maintain proper form throughout, being mindful of spine and knee positions. Don't lean too far forward or let your knees pass too far over your toes.</p><p>Give one or all of these tips a try on your next lower-body training day, and share your experience in the comments below!</p><br class="c14"/><h3 class="article-title">Recommended For You</h3><div class="c17" webReader="5.76136363636"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/maximum-fitness-6-secret-weapons-of-the-super-fit.html"><img src="images/2014/maximum-fitness_muscletech_smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c16" webReader="7.09090909091"><h4 class="c15"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/maximum-fitness-6-secret-weapons-of-the-super-fit.html">MAXIMUM FITNESS</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
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Protein is an essential component of the muscle-building process. Yet, many women stray away from consuming enough protein for maximum results. Let go of fear, bust through myths, and learn about the power of protein!</p></div></div></div><div class="padded-content article-content mod-about-the-author" id="article-about-author" webReader="40.009569378"><h4 class="article-section-header">About The Author</h4><div class="ata-left-column" webReader="6.54088050314"><div class="ata-author-name"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sclark.htm">Shannon Clark</a></div><div class="author-gradient-button"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sclark.htm">VIEW AUTHOR PAGE</a></div><p class="ata-author-summary">I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.</p></div><div class="ata-right-column"><div class="ata-author-image-frame"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sclark.htm"><img src="images/2013/writer-shannon-clark-sig-new.jpg" alt=""/></a></div><div class="ata-view-all-articles-link"><ul class="bb-chevron-list bold-type"><li><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sclark.htm#articles" class="bold-type">View All Articles By This Author</a></li>
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6 Tricks For A Stronger Squat!

In many serious lifters’ playbook, the squat is the go-to lift for developing serious lower body strength and size. It no doubt gets the job done, but as with all exercises, there will come a point where you feel like you’ve hit a ceiling. You know you should be able to move more weight around, but your muscles just don’t seem to cooperate. At times like these, a temporary vacation from the same-old squat routine is in order.

Don’t worry, after you try one or several of these tried-and-true techniques, you can always come back to the squat variations you know and love best. In most cases, you’ll be stronger and more balanced when you do.

1 Try Single Leg Variations

It’s amazing how simply shifting the work from two legs to one leg can exponentially crank up the difficulty. You might think, “Ok, I’ll just squat half of the heavy load I’ve been moving in a back squat,” but in most cases, you’ll find that weight laughing at you the first time you try it.

The increased balance demands of single-leg squat variations make them highly difficult to the unaccustomed, but they are worth it! Stick with them until you find your footing. Unilateral exercises also confer additional benefits in correcting side-to-side muscular imbalances, which many people find to be a key to building even greater bilateral (two-leg) strength.

Pistol Squats

While there are many one-legged squat moves to choose from, my somewhat unorthodox recommendation for you, if you struggle to improve a barbell back squat, is to try the pistol squat. Tread lightly! Even bodyweight pistol squats can be extremely difficult for most lifters, at least in the beginning. The initial instability produces more muscle engagement, and the high level of muscle control this exercise demands may initially force you to hold onto something for balance. There’s no shame in that, I promise!

In the beginning, perform this exercise with bodyweight only until you can safely and confidently hit six consecutive reps. After you’ve done this for a while with good form, you can start adding weights, either by holding a dumbbell plate, a kettlebell, or a couple of light dumbbells held straight out in front of you. Once you can perform 6 good-form reps with a weight between 25 and 45 pounds in your arms, you should see a notable improvement in every other lower-body lift.

2 Spread Out

In a standard back squat, most experts would direct you to point your feet straight forward, or perhaps ever-so-slightly outward. A small adjustment in your foot position, they know, can cause a significant shift in the muscles that are worked.

Following that logic, try this on for size: Spread your feet slightly past shoulder-width and point your toes outward at a 45-degree angle. This adjusted position is called the sumo squat , and it will develop strength and mobility of the hips, adductors, and glutes to a greater extent than a narrow-stance squat.

Sumo Squat

Some people may find this position to be more comfortable for their individual body, and it becomes their go-to squat. That’s great for them, but make sure you do it right before you fall in love. Ensure that your knees don’t spill too far over your toes when you drop it low. And, perhaps even more importantly, don’t flare your knees inward as you bottom out. Get them out wide over your toes!

3 Pause At the Bottom

Are ya ready to feel your quads and buns burn? Try pausing at the bottom of any squatting movement. This applies to front squats, back squats, pistols, and all other variations you see in the gym. This pause eliminates the stretch reflex in the muscles, and thereby forces the muscle to generate more “true” force to be able to complete the squat.

What do I mean by “true?” At the bottom of a deep squat, the stretch in your hamstrings and adductors helps you bounce out of the hole to some degree, even if it doesn’t look like a “bounce” per se. Envision pulling back a rubber band to a stretched position; it is now primed to spring back to its normal elasticity with even greater power. Adding a brief isometric contraction of about 2-4 seconds makes this “bounce” impossible, and has the potential to improve strength and power production from the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and other lower-body prime movers.

Some lifters find this to be such an effective technique that they perform at least some sets starting from the bottom. This is known as an “Anderson Squat.”

4 Add Half-Reps From the Bottom

Trying new squatting variations is only one way to attack a squat that doesn’t seem to be progressing. Another is to take your current form of squatting and simply make it more difficult. A great way to accomplish this is to perform half-reps from the bottom.

These are just what they sound like. Sink down into a full squat, and then rise up just halfway. Pause, and then lower back into the hole before pushing up into the full standing position. Sound easy? In execution, it’s anything but. This technique places more stress on your muscles during your weakest point of the squat movement pattern, which allows you to build strength where you need it most. Just don’t call me when you can’t sit down comfortably for the next few days.

Few people are able approach their normal squatting volume with half-reps being added in, so take it slowly. Add 1-2 half reps per set to start, and build up until you can perform a full set with a half-rep in between each full rep.

5 Shift the Load

When someone mentions the squat in casual conversation—what, your friends don’t do that?—-most people imagine the back squat during which the bar is placed behind the neck. But that is only one type of loaded squat, and to be honest, it isn’t right for everyone. Some people simply never feel comfortable with the spinal compression that results from having a barbell sit on top of their back. Others find that for reasons of balance, knee strength, or something else, they are able to achieve far superior form with other variations. Open your mind and your squat will feel the benefit!

Take, for example, the front squat. In comparison to the back squat, the front squat hammers the quads more and calls for additional muscle activity from the hips and lower back. Due to the biomechanical nature of the movement, the front squat places less spinal compression and torque on the knees as well. Simply put, it offers much of the same stimulus as the back squat, but less risk to your most vulnerable areas.

“In comparison to the back squat, the front squat hammers the quads more and calls for additional muscle activity from the hips and lower back.”

Most athletes find that maximal weight they can front squat will be approximately 80 percent of a back squat’s maximal lift, so bragging rights aren’t quite the same. But in recent years, having a strong front-squat max has become cooler than ever, and is often taken as a sign of being an overall well-rounded athlete. And you’d better believe boosting your front squat will help your back squat grow, too!

6 Make It Explosive

Common sense says that the only way to develop a heavy squat is to squat heavy. Sure, that’s part of it, but there is another proven method: squat fast. Bar speed is often overlooked because it often makes the exercise feel “easy” or less productive, but cranking up the velocity of your squat can help your squat immensely by allowing you to practice technique while still training for peak power.

So what exactly makes it a “speed squat?” Perform the squat at a smaller percentage of your max. Depending on your repetition range and volume of work you want to get done, this can range between 35 and 70 percent of your one-rep max. For heavier loads, lower the rep scheme; the lighter the scheme is, the higher reps should be. You can perform a set portion of a leg day for speed, or if you’re really dedicated to squatting, you could split your week into light and heavy days.

Another way to add power to the squat is by performing bodyweight squat jumps. Drop down into a deep bodyweight squat and launch yourself off the ground as high as you can go. Land quietly, meet the balls of your feet to the floor, and bend your knees slightly to absorb the impact. Drop back into the squat position and continue your reps in this fashion. As you would in any exercise, maintain proper form throughout, being mindful of spine and knee positions. Don’t lean too far forward or let your knees pass too far over your toes.

Give one or all of these tips a try on your next lower-body training day, and share your experience in the comments below!


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6 Tricks For A Stronger Squat!

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on 6 Tricks For A Stronger Squat!

<div id="DPG" webReader="280.562259402"><p>It's the million-dollar question: How do the fit stay fit?</p><p>At Bodybuilding.com, we're uniquely qualified to know the constellation of factors which separate the successful from the unsuccessful when it comes to fitness. That's because we have <a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/">BodySpace</a>, which is more than just the largest social media site in the world dedicated to the fit-minded. It's also a vast data pool that amounts to the world's largest fitness study, a research effort that we refer to as the Strength in Numbers Study.</p><p>Our Strength in Numbers findings are based on BodySpace members who actively make progress toward their stated goal, whether it's weight gain or loss. If you move toward your goal on BodySpace, we consider that fitness success.</p><div class="c15" webReader="13"><h2 class="article-sub-header c13">WHAT IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS?</h2><p class="c14">The Strength in Numbers Study is based on data collected from our very own social fitness network, BodySpace. Our findings come from BodySpace members who successfully make progress toward a stated fitness goal, whether it's weight gain or loss. Every time members post to FitBoard or add a picture, they contribute to the study.</p></div><p>Every time you track a workout, post to <a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/fitboard/">FitBoard</a>, add progress pics, and engage in myriad BodySpace activities, you help the community at large. You help us understand the habits that generate fitness success. If you're an active BodySpace member, you contribute to the greater fitness good.</p><p>No matter how many numbers we crunch about crunches, no matter how much digits we slice and dice about getting sliced and diced, shaping up still requires one person to dig deep and make a commitment to become better.</p><div class="cool-fact" webReader="11"><h3>The Power of Progress</h3><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/coolfacts-bluebar.gif" class="c16"/><p>Did you know that BodySpace members altogether lost a total of <strong>1,977,631 pounds</strong> in the last year? The average user also lost<br /><strong>4 percent body fat</strong>. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back<br />for all your tremendous hard work!</p></div><p>New habits must be formed, changes must be made, and reproducible motivation must roar to life. Everyone walks their own path toward their goals, but simple daily habits that reinforce eating better, exercising regularly, and sleeping more still lay the groundwork for a fit life.</p><p>The majority of fit individuals don't spend hours in the gym, live on a diet of cabbage, or nit-pick the optimum amount of holy water to achieve immortality. Instead, fit people share a set of outrageously simple and positivity-reinforcing habits. These are the eight habits of highly successful fit people, according to the first major batch of our Strength in Numbers data.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">1 Highly Successful Fit People Track Their Workouts</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>Memory sure works in a funny way. If you've been relying on it to recollect the exact number of reps <em>and</em> the weight for each of the five (or was it six?) exercises you did two Tuesdays ago, the only exercise you'll be doing at the gym is frustrating yourself.</p><p>It's more than merely a matter of organization. Neglecting to track your workout via an online tool or a <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/printworklog.htm">journal</a> is a rookie mistake, one that can lead to unproductive workouts and a stark absence of recognizable progress. Simply writing down your workouts makes you more aware of what you may or may not be doing. You might be surprised to learn that you were, in fact, doing only 20 minutes of cardio rather than 30.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/fit-people-track-workouts_stat-circle.png" class="c20"/><p><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-2.jpg" width="560" height="332"/></p><p>Additionally, a visual record—especially one that other people can view—holds you accountable to completing your workout, gets you fired up about measurable progress, helps you avoid exercise plateaus, and could even engage you in some friendly competition among peers.</p><p>All of these serve to help the fit stay fit—or in some cases, get even fitter.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">2 Highly Successful Fit People Find a Plan And Stick It Out</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>There are literally hundreds of exercise plans out in the wild. It's not uncommon for a newcomer to struggle with finding the "perfect" exercise blueprint. When it comes to picking out a suitable workout program, the best method is to just go with one that fits your goal and difficulty level, and then feel out the program for at least six weeks. Why?</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/arnold-schwarzenegger-blueprint-trainer-main.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-3_01.jpg" width="186" height="323"/></a><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/erin-stern-elite-body-4-week-fitness-trainer.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-3_02.jpg" width="190" height="323"/></a><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/built-by-science-six-week-muscle-building-trainer.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-3_03.jpg" width="184" height="323"/></a><p>If you're new to exercise, your body undergoes major changes as it attempts to wire your motor units and brain to become better accustomed to new movement patterns. Typically, it takes 4-6 weeks for your body to adapt and for beastly gains to come out of hibernation.</p><p>It is for this reason that both sticking it out the first six weeks of the program and tracking your workout—the first habit we discussed (see the synergy?)—are so crucial. In doing so, you can make smart tweaks to turbocharge your program and view progress in numbers, even if they don't immediately make themselves apparent on your body.</p><p>Once you get over that initial adaptation phase, the transformation begins to take shape, making you more likely to dive further into the program. This brings us to the next point ...</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">3 Highly Successful Fit People Post Progress Pictures</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>You may laugh at the prospect of someone who poses in front of the bathroom mirror, arm outstretched, ready to snap a picture. Maybe you actually know someone who does this, but it turns out there may be something scientifically sound to the "selfie."</p><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-4.jpg" width="205" height="333" border="0" class="right-image c21"/><p>Progress photos can help you track your progress. Each snapshot in time showcases subtle changes that you might otherwise have never noticed ("Wow, my abs look like they could crush tomatoes here!") and incidentally lights up certain regions in your brain related to euphoria.</p><p>These visual milestones trigger a stronger and stronger release of dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical strongly linked to reward. As you ease the psychological tension between your desire to reach your fitness goal and the hard work needed to achieve it, you will uncover the drive necessary to keep pursuing your goal because you're closer than you were before.</p><p>It might feel a bit awkward at first to take photos of yourself, but these quick snaps can help keep you grounded and motivated.</p><p>When you advance, they allow you to identify weak points or lagging body parts and zero-in on what you need to improve.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">4 Highly Successful Fit People Seek and Share Motivation</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>When you first start your fitness journey, summoning motivation day-in and day-out can be likened to moving a hundred-ton hippo that won't budge an inch no matter how much you goad, hoot, and prod it. Is this genetics or laziness? <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23552494" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Some studies</a> seem to think motivation is inherited, but the literature on motivation itself is <a href="http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/6/695.full" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">still pretty unclear</a>. What <em>is</em> clear, however, is that intrinsic motivation doesn't always come easily, so it has to sprout elsewhere.</p><div class="galleryPhotosContainer"><div class="galleryPhotosRow"><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/38589152" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/02/06/31107422/gallerypic/eRGLUjbDBPTCfkkzpkngBwtqEyiYyZVHXnsng.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/35652762" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/01/05/31107422/gallerypic/WdkZCPlmDFmKurfWpkSRYLYCDMWUJGeGtSWfg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/36643952" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/01/15/31107422/gallerypic/RxOJtUuwIAqfssmcggnQlQHHspxgVDKOCtsIg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/33908142" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2013/11/17/31107422/gallerypic/boamlfKagrSKgcqpMLKeZdNmGuzZqzdZzNmjg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/30375611" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2013/08/14/31107422/gallerypic/FkTRTVZwBqliEwnsUTDedqglWmpIiUGDMCjwg.jpg"/></a></div><div class="galleryPhotosRow"><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/20229352" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2013/01/22/31107422/gallerypic/TItGlYfsbUMRFRIdXmAqTeXLuHVuvCWyNtSwg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/16359152" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2012/10/16/31107422/gallerypic/fDWMFqAkPGddxEAtxLszStSYxxjLYtqKIltug.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/12706412" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2012/07/18/31107422/gallerypic/qDRcgeEOLYZcSKvbrYlnGlPrJhDZuRnxIting.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/35468792" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/01/02/31107422/gallerypic/aWGPFEgVLwKyBRAPUOGiJJKgwATaqddYCASeg.jpg"/></a><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/photos/view-user-photo/36643932" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><img class="galleryPhotosThumbnail" src="http://imagecdn.bodybuilding.com/img/user_images/growable/2014/01/15/31107422/gallerypic/gaomLocnkCHXprabuRGSwmjNwretOMxbrscVg.jpg"/></a></div></div><p>Enter the Internet sub-genre of fitness motivational pictures and quotes, aka "fitspiration." Popular quotes range from "A one hour workout is only 4 percent of your day. No excuses!" to "Believe yourself and you are halfway there," to the more abrasive and succinct, "Shut up and train." These powerful quotes and images are staples on <a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/fitboard/">FitBoard</a>, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Just a cursory look through any of these places will hit you with enough extrinsic motivation to kick your arse in gear.</p><p>The best type of motivation, though, is realizing that you enjoy working out and can gain a sense of achievement from doing something awesome. For this reason, tracking your progress through workout logs, pictures, and even occasional medical checkups is incredibly important.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">5 Highly Successful Fit People Make Fitness Social</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>Few things are 100 percent enjoyable when done solo. For instance, the struggle of a 6 a.m. workout is instantly made better with a workout buddy (and a hit of caffeine, of course).</p><p><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-5.jpg" width="560" height="328"/></p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/fit-people-make-fitness-social_stat-circle.png" class="c23"/><p>Numerous studies reinforce the idea that social support helps create a positive feedback loop to spur on a person's positive self-perception and keep him or her exercising. A study that came out of the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention shows that social support specific to fitness kept people committed to exercise measurably better than just general support. It's no wonder that fitness conquests are likely more successful among groups which channel the same exercise mindset, like on BodySpace or group fitness classes.</p><p>Interestingly, a study conducted at Kansas State University found that it's better to buddy up with others who are fitter than you are. It sounds like counterintuitive advice, but hanging with someone stronger or fitter is the perfect motivator, because apparently motivation and harder bouts of effort often germinate from "feelings of inadequacy." These feelings can push you toward improvement.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">6 Highly Successful Fit People Constantly Learn</h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-5.jpg" width="311" height="314" border="0" class="right-image c24"/><p>As mentioned before, attaining better fitness at the individual level isn't an exact science—at least not yet. New research on a variety of nutrition and fitness topics hits multiple scientific journals daily, nightly, and ever so quickly. Unless you consume content regularly, it's difficult to keep up with the latest skinny.</p><p>Of course, the Achilles' heel in all this is that such information amounts to the good, the bad, and the ugly.</p><p>You have to apply some critical thinking to separate the chaff from the wheat. Inevitably, you'll come across grand claims with pseudo-scientific backing and a lot plain old-fashioned bro-science, so an active mind and keen eye are essential.</p><p>Don't think you have to try every new program under the sun, either. Rather than implementing everything all at once, save certain tips and techniques for later. Consume quality content regularly, but always examine it through the lens of your own goals, body, and lifestyle.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">7 Highly Successful Fit People Regularly Visit Fitness<br /><span class="c25">Sites</span></h3>
</p><h3 class="article-title c19"></h3><p>Through our Strength in Numbers Study, we discovered that the most successfully fit people in the world start off by doing what you're doing right now: Being here and reading this. This habit goes hand-in-hand with Habit No. 6 and proves that you're on the prowl for information, education, and constant self-improvement.</p><p>Being engaged in such activities will help you stay committed to fitness for life. Whether you're looking for information, recipe ideas, or social support, you're in this for the long haul.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c17">8 Highly Successful Fit People Take These Supplements</h3>
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<li class="c26"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/multi.html">Multivitamins</a></li>
<li class="c26"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/creatine-monohydrate.html">Creatine Monohydrate</a></li>
<li class="c26"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/mic.html">Micellar Casein Protein</a></li>
</ul></div><p>Granted, these supplements won't make or break your fitness progress. After all, fitness is based first and foremost on smart training and precision nutrition. To be effective, dietary supplements must stand upon a solid foundation of whole foods and consistent effort. Supplements augment and can enhance your hard work, but they won't do any of that work for you.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/fit-people-take-supplements_stat-circle.png" class="c20"/><p><img src="images/2014/8-habits-of-highly-successful-fit-people-graphics-6.jpg" width="560" height="342"/></p><p>In addition, if often isn't possible to get <em>all</em> the necessary nutrients exclusively from real foods. Some chalk it up to inconvenience—a wholesome meal may just be out of reach simply because of the environment or time constraints. Other times the problem might be more complex and further out of your control. Then there's the growing dearth of nutrients from food itself due to modern agricultural practices, soil depletion, long carbon footprints, and excessive processing.</p><p>The nutrients present in food today aren't in the same concentration as food grown 50 years ago, much less hundreds of years ago. Iceberg lettuce, for example, now has the same nutritional value as cardboard.</p><p>In these instances, supplements—in particular protein—provide the extra nutrients needed to support the fit life of exercising individuals, especially people with specific body composition or strength goals.</p><p>If you want to learn more about the popular supplements and see where they fit in your strategy, you can learn a thing or two from <a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bbmainsupp.htm">our supplements page</a> or the category guides linked to the ingredients above.</p><h3 class="article-title">BodySpace, Your Space</h3><p>Are you already a BodySpace member or an active part of another online fitness community? Sound off in the comments below and let us know the habits which work for you. Don't forget to give yourself a hug for beginning or continuing your fitness journey with others like you!</p><a href="http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/2014-bodyspace-banner.jpg"/></a><h5>References</h5><ol class="dpg-list"><li>M. D. Roberts et al. Phenotypic and Molecular Differences Between Rats Selectively-Bred to Voluntarily Run High Versus Low Nightly Distances. AJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2013; DOI:10.1152/ajpregu.00581.2012</li>
<li>Oka, RK et al. Sources of social support as predictors of exercise adherence in women and men ages 50 to 65 years. Women's Health. 1995 Summer;1(2):161-175</li>
<li>National Institute of Mental Health. "Brain signal boosts as monkey nears reward." NIMH. NIMH, 30 May, 2002.</li>
<li>4. Kansas State University. "Burning more calories is easier when working out with someone you perceive as better." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2012.</li>
<li>Mark W. Howe et al. Prolonged dopamine signalling in striatum signals proximity and value of distant rewards. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038</li>
<li>Fan MS et al. Evidence of decreasing mineral density in wheat grain over the last 160 years. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. 2008;22(4):315-324</li>
</ol><br /><h3 class="article-title">Recommended For You</h3><div class="c29" webReader="6.1875"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/muscle-manifesto-5-principles-of-the-lifting-life.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/5-principles-of-the-lifting-life-twinlab-smallbox2.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c28" webReader="8.25"><h4 class="c27"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/muscle-manifesto-5-principles-of-the-lifting-life.html">5 Principles Of Lifting Life</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
A personal record is great, but it's just a number. Strengthen your life from the bottom up, and your lifts will grow alongside it!</p></div></div><div class="c29" webReader="5.37209302326"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/learn-olympic-lifts-snatch-and-clean-and-jerk-progression-lifts.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/olympic-pregression-lifts-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c28" webReader="6.90697674419"><h4 class="c27"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/learn-olympic-lifts-snatch-and-clean-and-jerk-progression-lifts.html">How To Master Olympic Lifts You Think You Can't Do</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
The snatch and the clean and jerk are difficult movements-but highly effective. So before you load a barbell and try one of them, give these progression lifts a go.</p></div></div><div class="c29" webReader="5.02475247525"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/fitness-360-samantha-ann-leete-leetes-fitness-feats.html"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/sam-leete-fit-360-main-smallbox.jpg" alt="" width="200" height="114"/></a><div class="c28" webReader="6.4603960396"><h4 class="c27"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/fitness-360-samantha-ann-leete-leetes-fitness-feats.html">Full Plan Shows You How To Look Like A Spokesmodel Winner</a></h4><p style="display: inline;" class="webReader-styled">
Samantha Ann Leete was the perfect choice to win the 2013 BodySpace spokesmodel contest. To see how she won, check out her full plan right here!</p></div></div><br class="c30"/></div>

Strength In Numbers: The 8 Habits Of Highly Successful Fit People

It’s the million-dollar question: How do the fit stay fit?

At Bodybuilding.com, we’re uniquely qualified to know the constellation of factors which separate the successful from the unsuccessful when it comes to fitness. That’s because we have BodySpace, which is more than just the largest social media site in the world dedicated to the fit-minded. It’s also a vast data pool that amounts to the world’s largest fitness study, a research effort that we refer to as the Strength in Numbers Study.

Our Strength in Numbers findings are based on BodySpace members who actively make progress toward their stated goal, whether it’s weight gain or loss. If you move toward your goal on BodySpace, we consider that fitness success.

WHAT IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS?

The Strength in Numbers Study is based on data collected from our very own social fitness network, BodySpace. Our findings come from BodySpace members who successfully make progress toward a stated fitness goal, whether it’s weight gain or loss. Every time members post to FitBoard or add a picture, they contribute to the study.

Every time you track a workout, post to FitBoard, add progress pics, and engage in myriad BodySpace activities, you help the community at large. You help us understand the habits that generate fitness success. If you’re an active BodySpace member, you contribute to the greater fitness good.

No matter how many numbers we crunch about crunches, no matter how much digits we slice and dice about getting sliced and diced, shaping up still requires one person to dig deep and make a commitment to become better.

The Power of Progress

Did you know that BodySpace members altogether lost a total of 1,977,631 pounds in the last year? The average user also lost
4 percent body fat. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back
for all your tremendous hard work!

New habits must be formed, changes must be made, and reproducible motivation must roar to life. Everyone walks their own path toward their goals, but simple daily habits that reinforce eating better, exercising regularly, and sleeping more still lay the groundwork for a fit life.

The majority of fit individuals don’t spend hours in the gym, live on a diet of cabbage, or nit-pick the optimum amount of holy water to achieve immortality. Instead, fit people share a set of outrageously simple and positivity-reinforcing habits. These are the eight habits of highly successful fit people, according to the first major batch of our Strength in Numbers data.

1 Highly Successful Fit People Track Their Workouts

Memory sure works in a funny way. If you’ve been relying on it to recollect the exact number of reps and the weight for each of the five (or was it six?) exercises you did two Tuesdays ago, the only exercise you’ll be doing at the gym is frustrating yourself.

It’s more than merely a matter of organization. Neglecting to track your workout via an online tool or a journal is a rookie mistake, one that can lead to unproductive workouts and a stark absence of recognizable progress. Simply writing down your workouts makes you more aware of what you may or may not be doing. You might be surprised to learn that you were, in fact, doing only 20 minutes of cardio rather than 30.

Additionally, a visual record—especially one that other people can view—holds you accountable to completing your workout, gets you fired up about measurable progress, helps you avoid exercise plateaus, and could even engage you in some friendly competition among peers.

All of these serve to help the fit stay fit—or in some cases, get even fitter.

2 Highly Successful Fit People Find a Plan And Stick It Out

There are literally hundreds of exercise plans out in the wild. It’s not uncommon for a newcomer to struggle with finding the “perfect” exercise blueprint. When it comes to picking out a suitable workout program, the best method is to just go with one that fits your goal and difficulty level, and then feel out the program for at least six weeks. Why?

If you’re new to exercise, your body undergoes major changes as it attempts to wire your motor units and brain to become better accustomed to new movement patterns. Typically, it takes 4-6 weeks for your body to adapt and for beastly gains to come out of hibernation.

It is for this reason that both sticking it out the first six weeks of the program and tracking your workout—the first habit we discussed (see the synergy?)—are so crucial. In doing so, you can make smart tweaks to turbocharge your program and view progress in numbers, even if they don’t immediately make themselves apparent on your body.

Once you get over that initial adaptation phase, the transformation begins to take shape, making you more likely to dive further into the program. This brings us to the next point …

3 Highly Successful Fit People Post Progress Pictures

You may laugh at the prospect of someone who poses in front of the bathroom mirror, arm outstretched, ready to snap a picture. Maybe you actually know someone who does this, but it turns out there may be something scientifically sound to the “selfie.”

Progress photos can help you track your progress. Each snapshot in time showcases subtle changes that you might otherwise have never noticed (“Wow, my abs look like they could crush tomatoes here!”) and incidentally lights up certain regions in your brain related to euphoria.

These visual milestones trigger a stronger and stronger release of dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical strongly linked to reward. As you ease the psychological tension between your desire to reach your fitness goal and the hard work needed to achieve it, you will uncover the drive necessary to keep pursuing your goal because you’re closer than you were before.

It might feel a bit awkward at first to take photos of yourself, but these quick snaps can help keep you grounded and motivated.

When you advance, they allow you to identify weak points or lagging body parts and zero-in on what you need to improve.

4 Highly Successful Fit People Seek and Share Motivation

When you first start your fitness journey, summoning motivation day-in and day-out can be likened to moving a hundred-ton hippo that won’t budge an inch no matter how much you goad, hoot, and prod it. Is this genetics or laziness? Some studies seem to think motivation is inherited, but the literature on motivation itself is still pretty unclear. What is clear, however, is that intrinsic motivation doesn’t always come easily, so it has to sprout elsewhere.

Enter the Internet sub-genre of fitness motivational pictures and quotes, aka “fitspiration.” Popular quotes range from “A one hour workout is only 4 percent of your day. No excuses!” to “Believe yourself and you are halfway there,” to the more abrasive and succinct, “Shut up and train.” These powerful quotes and images are staples on FitBoard, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Just a cursory look through any of these places will hit you with enough extrinsic motivation to kick your arse in gear.

The best type of motivation, though, is realizing that you enjoy working out and can gain a sense of achievement from doing something awesome. For this reason, tracking your progress through workout logs, pictures, and even occasional medical checkups is incredibly important.

5 Highly Successful Fit People Make Fitness Social

Few things are 100 percent enjoyable when done solo. For instance, the struggle of a 6 a.m. workout is instantly made better with a workout buddy (and a hit of caffeine, of course).

Numerous studies reinforce the idea that social support helps create a positive feedback loop to spur on a person’s positive self-perception and keep him or her exercising. A study that came out of the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention shows that social support specific to fitness kept people committed to exercise measurably better than just general support. It’s no wonder that fitness conquests are likely more successful among groups which channel the same exercise mindset, like on BodySpace or group fitness classes.

Interestingly, a study conducted at Kansas State University found that it’s better to buddy up with others who are fitter than you are. It sounds like counterintuitive advice, but hanging with someone stronger or fitter is the perfect motivator, because apparently motivation and harder bouts of effort often germinate from “feelings of inadequacy.” These feelings can push you toward improvement.

6 Highly Successful Fit People Constantly Learn

As mentioned before, attaining better fitness at the individual level isn’t an exact science—at least not yet. New research on a variety of nutrition and fitness topics hits multiple scientific journals daily, nightly, and ever so quickly. Unless you consume content regularly, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest skinny.

Of course, the Achilles’ heel in all this is that such information amounts to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

You have to apply some critical thinking to separate the chaff from the wheat. Inevitably, you’ll come across grand claims with pseudo-scientific backing and a lot plain old-fashioned bro-science, so an active mind and keen eye are essential.

Don’t think you have to try every new program under the sun, either. Rather than implementing everything all at once, save certain tips and techniques for later. Consume quality content regularly, but always examine it through the lens of your own goals, body, and lifestyle.

7 Highly Successful Fit People Regularly Visit Fitness
Sites

Through our Strength in Numbers Study, we discovered that the most successfully fit people in the world start off by doing what you’re doing right now: Being here and reading this. This habit goes hand-in-hand with Habit No. 6 and proves that you’re on the prowl for information, education, and constant self-improvement.

Being engaged in such activities will help you stay committed to fitness for life. Whether you’re looking for information, recipe ideas, or social support, you’re in this for the long haul.

8 Highly Successful Fit People Take These Supplements

Granted, these supplements won’t make or break your fitness progress. After all, fitness is based first and foremost on smart training and precision nutrition. To be effective, dietary supplements must stand upon a solid foundation of whole foods and consistent effort. Supplements augment and can enhance your hard work, but they won’t do any of that work for you.

In addition, if often isn’t possible to get all the necessary nutrients exclusively from real foods. Some chalk it up to inconvenience—a wholesome meal may just be out of reach simply because of the environment or time constraints. Other times the problem might be more complex and further out of your control. Then there’s the growing dearth of nutrients from food itself due to modern agricultural practices, soil depletion, long carbon footprints, and excessive processing.

The nutrients present in food today aren’t in the same concentration as food grown 50 years ago, much less hundreds of years ago. Iceberg lettuce, for example, now has the same nutritional value as cardboard.

In these instances, supplements—in particular protein—provide the extra nutrients needed to support the fit life of exercising individuals, especially people with specific body composition or strength goals.

If you want to learn more about the popular supplements and see where they fit in your strategy, you can learn a thing or two from our supplements page or the category guides linked to the ingredients above.

BodySpace, Your Space

Are you already a BodySpace member or an active part of another online fitness community? Sound off in the comments below and let us know the habits which work for you. Don’t forget to give yourself a hug for beginning or continuing your fitness journey with others like you!

References
  1. M. D. Roberts et al. Phenotypic and Molecular Differences Between Rats Selectively-Bred to Voluntarily Run High Versus Low Nightly Distances. AJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2013; DOI:10.1152/ajpregu.00581.2012
  2. Oka, RK et al. Sources of social support as predictors of exercise adherence in women and men ages 50 to 65 years. Women’s Health. 1995 Summer;1(2):161-175
  3. National Institute of Mental Health. “Brain signal boosts as monkey nears reward.” NIMH. NIMH, 30 May, 2002.
  4. 4. Kansas State University. “Burning more calories is easier when working out with someone you perceive as better.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2012.
  5. Mark W. Howe et al. Prolonged dopamine signalling in striatum signals proximity and value of distant rewards. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038
  6. Fan MS et al. Evidence of decreasing mineral density in wheat grain over the last 160 years. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. 2008;22(4):315-324

Recommended For You

5 Principles Of Lifting Life

A personal record is great, but it’s just a number. Strengthen your life from the bottom up, and your lifts will grow alongside it!

How To Master Olympic Lifts You Think You Can’t Do

The snatch and the clean and jerk are difficult movements-but highly effective. So before you load a barbell and try one of them, give these progression lifts a go.

Full Plan Shows You How To Look Like A Spokesmodel Winner

Samantha Ann Leete was the perfect choice to win the 2013 BodySpace spokesmodel contest. To see how she won, check out her full plan right here!


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Strength In Numbers: The 8 Habits Of Highly Successful Fit People

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