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Iron Is A Girl’s Best Friend

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When I first picked up weights a few years ago, maximal lifting wasn’t even on my radar. I ran around in circles with my 10-pound dumbbells, completely unaware that I was missing out on an entire world of fitness.

In the world of 1RM strength, you set specific goals and work for weeks or months to inch closer to them. You push your body to its limits to achieve a triumph that only lasts a couple of seconds. But you also get rewarded with a rush unlike anything else. It’s a great world to be a part of, and it’s changed the entire way I view health and fitness.

I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on heavy lifting—yet. But I’ve still learned some important lessons along the way, and I’m confident you’ll find them just as helpful as I did. If you’re looking to find your numbers or move them up into uncharted territory, here are five rules you need to take to heart.

1 Train Systematically

If you’re currently training in the 10-20 rep range and have limited experience with anything less—think 3-8 difficult reps—then you aren’t ready for a 1RM test. Attempting a max test when you’re mentally and physically unprepared is a bad idea. You’re just setting yourself up for failure.

I highly suggest using a program that trains specifically for the kind of intensity you’ll find in a 1RM test. I used Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 system successfully for several months before getting a more personalized powerlifting training program from the Strength Guys. Trust me, proper programming makes all the difference both in terms of performance and safety. Squatting 3 reps at 85 percent 1RM is an entirely different ballgame than doing 15 reps on the leg press. Programs like 5/3/1, the Westside System, or Stronglifts 5×5 will prepare you for the intensity that lies ahead.

If you’re unsure of your max or haven’t yet had the chance to test it, I suggest using a 1RM calculator initially. Just enter your best lift, and it does the work for you. The heavier the weight and the lower the number of reps, the more accurate the calculator is. For example, 200 pounds for 5 reps is more accurate than 150 pounds for 9 reps. Nothing is as accurate as actually getting under the bar and testing your 1RM—preferably with some supervision from somebody who’s done it many times—but, these calculators can give you a sufficient idea of what your max should be. You’ll need that number in order for the percentage-based training of strength programs to be effective.

2 Learn How To Get in the Right Headspace

Testing your 1RM requires a serious amount of intensity and concentration. You won’t be frolicking in the land of unicorns, bunnies, and rainbows here. To be honest, testing your 1RM sucks. It usually hurts physically, and it always challenges your body’s idea of what is “possible.” Putting that kind of stress on your body is more than just a physical trial, though. It’s a mental one, too. Before you step up to a barbell to try for your max lift, you need to be a master of these three skills:

Focus

If you find your mind in 35 different places and none of them are at the gym with the bar, it’s not the day to test your max. There may be no such thing as the perfect day, but there are optimal conditions that give you a shot at hitting your best numbers. You want to be present and composed with mental clarity. Your focus should be on one thing and one thing only: moving that heavy weight.

Bench Press
Visualization

Visualize yourself easily pulling your deadlift max. Then see yourself adding some more weight and pulling again with ease. Picture your bench max going up without a hitch. Visualizing not only gives your confidence a much needed boost before you tackle your lift, but it can also actually improve motor performance, making your 1RM attempt a major success.

Jamming Out

Not everybody needs music in order to get into a PR headspace, but for many of us, it’s crucial. Listening to music during a training session has been proven to improve performance; it can also be a great boost of motivation when you’re aiming to venture into uncharted waters. Some people like screamo heavy metal to get their blood pumping, and others prefer electronic music, jazz, or film soundtracks to help calm their mind and set the scene for an epic triumph. Whatever works for you, do it!

3 Embrace The Routine

Everyone has their own way of getting ready for a max. Some people do a specific number of warm-up sets, and some people listen to a particular playlist or eat a particular meal. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it. For people who haven’t yet had the chance to take a 1RM, this is what I suggest the first time around:

Warm up

An extensive warm-up process is essential to get an accurate 1RM and prevent injury. I start with some basic mobility work, taking my joints through a full range of motion, and then I move to my warm-up sets.

Get heavy slowly

Opinions vary about which rep scheme to use as you work up to a heavy weight. Your program or coach might have a specific way of doing this; if so, follow it. Here’s the routine that I like to follow when testing my max or going for a PR.

  • Bar x 10
  • 50% x 5
  • 60% x 3
  • 70% x 2
  • 80% x 1
  • 90% x 1
  • 95% x 1
  • 1RM attempt

High reps don’t have a place on max day. I want to know that I can push or pull heavy weight, which is why I perform several sets of a single rep as I get closer to my max. Each of these reps boosts my confidence and prepares me mentally and physically for the pinnacle lift.

No matter how you choose to arrange your warm-up sets, they should fully prepare your muscles, joints, and central nervous system for the lift ahead. I always leave at least 2-3 minutes of rest between my warm-sets, and then I give myself an extra minute or two as I get closer to my max attempt.

“High reps don’t have a place on max day. I want to know that I can push or pull heavy weight.”

4 Find a spotter

I like to train alone. If you see me in the gym, my headphones are usually in, my hat is down low, and I have a leave-me-alone-until-I’m-done look on my face. On max day, it’s a different story. It’s crucial that you have someone spotting your bench max, unless getting pinned under a barbell sounds like your idea of a good time.

Utilizing a spotter on squat max testing isn’t always necessary, particularly if you squat in a rack with safety bars. If I’m testing my squat, I generally use the safety bars for warm-up sets and then grab the most experienced lifter I can find to spot me for my max attempt. Pulling a random spotter off the gym floor isn’t something that I mind doing, but if this is something you’re uncomfortable doing, bring a friend you trust to put your nerves at ease. And maybe have them read up on the rules of spotting first.

There’s no way to spot a deadlift physically, since you either pull the bar off the ground or you don’t. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invite a mental or emotional spotter along for the ride. If you feel like having someone yell “light weight!” in a Ronnie Coleman voice would help you move a heavy weight, then by all means make sure they’re there!

5 Make Your PR A Lift Like Any Other

The time has come. You’ve been training for this moment for months. You’ve done your warm-up sets, you’re focused and ready, and now it’s go time. All of your prior training has led you to this moment. Scary, right?

“I’m nervous, I’m pumped, I’m motivated, and I want to do something I’ve never done before.”

I’m always a mixed bag of emotions right before my lift, but I think that’s what carries me through and gives me the best possible lift. I’m nervous, I’m pumped, I’m motivated, and I want to do something I’ve never done before. Somewhere in that mess of emotions, I usually just say “Enough! I’m ready to do this,” and then I go for it.

Aside from this inevitable dialog, though, the mechanics of a max attempt should be the same as all the other lifts you practiced up until this point. This isn’t the time to do a quarter-rep or forget to engage your lats when you deadlift. As you visualize your lift, you should be taking note of form and remembering all your normal cues. A max lift where you injure yourself in the process doesn’t count in my book.

After your initial attempt is complete, step back and assess. How do you feel? How did the lift go? Are you ready for more, or did it take everything out of you? I like to keep going until I either miss a lift or know there’s no logical way I can get that weight back up. But many people will stop after one, and that’s fine.

If you feel like you’re ready to conquer another max attempt, I suggest giving yourself 7-10 minutes of rest before you step up to the bar again. Add no more than 5-10 pounds to the bar; don’t get greedy. Even if you leave that second or third max attempt unrealized, you should feel damn good about what you accomplish!

6 Don’t Overthink It

I’m often guilty of beating myself up after the fact. Did I eat too much? Too little? Could I have done another rep? Should I have done more weight? We all do it. When you’re completely invested in something—like so many of us in the world of health and fitness are—you want to be perfect.

But when you’re waging war against big numbers and percentages, there’s nothing to be gained by harboring regrets. Nagging doubts and questions can take over your brain and prevent you from improving, but just as importantly, they can keep you from enjoying an important victory.

The best possible advice I can give you is to let go. At no time is that more crucial than during and after your 1RM attempt. If you walk up to the bar wondering if you’re going to miss, or questioning your preparation, or revisiting the failed lifts of the past, you’ve already lost. You just have to go for it.

You’re ready. It’s time to believe in yourself. Pick up that weight and show the bar who’s boss.

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Iron Is A Girl’s Best Friend

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Fitness Equipment, Nutrition, Personal Fitness Training, Training Methods, Warm up, Weight loss, Weight TrainingComments Off on Iron Is A Girl’s Best Friend

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15 ways to upgrade your gym workout

1.Try outdoor bootcamps… inside!
Such is the success of outdoor bootcamp classes, they’re now coming to the gym floor. ‘We’re seeing a lot of “outdoor-style” activity in the gym,’ says Technogym master trainer Steve Harrison (technogym.com). ‘They involve plenty of space, lots of running drills, small group interactions and shorter, sharper classes.’ Bootcamp classes are varied, improving your cardio fitness and stamina as you’ll be running, doing intervals and encountering obstacles. You’ll also boost your  strength using dumbbells, resistance bands or your own bodyweight for resistance. Some classes even add in some yoga poses to help your flexibility. You may focus on upper body and abs one week, then lower body the next, giving good variety. Pumping music will get you motivated.

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TRY: David Lloyd’s Orangetheory class, for example, is a 60-minute session for up to 20 people. Like a Bootcamp class, it also consists of cardio and strength-training intervals, featuring treadmills, rowing machines and weight-training blocks. It’s claimed to burn at least 500 calories per class.

2. Form a group
Create a mini workout club at the gym. Devise your own group circuits, or train together on the cardio machines. You’ll burn more calories when training with friends. A study of 1,000 women carried by Virgin Active shows that women who exercise with friends burn up to 236 calories, compared to 195 for those who train alone. The study also showed that 64 per cent of women push themselves harder when training with friends. ‘I can see more and more people forming HIIT groups and working out together,’ says personal trainer Philip Kasumu, an ambassador for BioSynergy. ‘Training alone can be daunting and working out together is a great way to socialise.’

TRY: Forming a group with friends and working as hard as you can in HIIT sessions. Go to a HIIT-based class for inspiration, then do your own to suit your availability.

3. Be the boss
Want some one-on-one advice but don’t like the idea of being bossed around by a PT? Good news. There’s a new, more empathetic breed of personal trainer, re-shaping themselves as lifestyle coaches and trying to find out what really makes you tick. The result? You get to take control of the sessions. ‘I tell trainers to let the client lead the workout,’ says Harrison. ‘There’s no point having a varied workout if the client doesn’t like it. I encourage personal trainers to ask the client: “Do you think you’d like to run?” “What sort of activities did you enjoy on holiday and how can you bring them back into daily life?” The aim is to get people relaxed and to have fun.’

TRY: Tell a prospective personal trainer what exercises you like and dislike. A good trainer should be willing to ditch those you don’t enjoy and offer alternatives.

4. Train for an event
Competing in an event such as a triathlon or a 10K run is one of the best ways to boost your motivation to train. Too daunted to sign up? Many gyms are now offering classes to help you get fit for triathlons and races, with classes ranging from triathlon training to express treadmill classes.

TRY: Some Nuffield Health clubs run Express treadmill classes lasting just 15 minutes and aimed at setting the right pace for you and improving confidence, which is ideal for new runners or those training for their first 5K.

5. Make it short
Gyms know your time is precious, so increasingly, they’re offering express classes to get you fit in half the time of regular ones.

Afterwards, your metabolic rate will be elevated, meaning calories burned at a faster rate post-exercise. Kettlebells are great for improving your strength and power, while also giving you a cardio workout, as your heart rate will soar, even while you’re doing the basic kettlebell swing. ‘During a shorter session, you tend to push yourself harder and the results are long lasting,’ says Harrison.

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TRY: Nuffield Health offers Express Kettlebells classes and Express Circuits that work your whole body in half an hour. Both are high intensity, so your heart rate will rise and you’ll burn optimum fat and calories.

6 Train in 3D
It’s all too easy to focus on exercises that involve moving in a straight line, such as squats or forward lunges. Yet in real life, we move in all sorts of directions. We rotate our bodies diagonally, twisting, turning and bending in many directions. Even when we run, we have to twist and turn to avoid pedestrians, other obstacles and potholes. So it makes sense that your training routine should reflect daily movements.

‘I like to incorporate functional training into my workouts,’ says personal trainer and fitness model Phoebe Robinson Galvin, an ambassador for Bio-Synergy. ‘We work on rotational lunges, rotational ball throws and standing ball cable woodchop, as I believe working in this range of motion helps to prevent injury.’

Multi-directional training will also help to improve sports performance, as many sports, including tennis, squash and football, involve multi-directional movement.

TRY: Nuffield Health and Virgin Active offer ViPR classes, where you move the cylinder in all directions, twisting and turning it across your body. You could also do moves such as hip crossovers on a Swiss ball.

7. Devise your own circuit session
If you want a flatter belly but don’t have time to join a circuit class, set up your own workstations – high-intensity circuit training is an effective way to reduce abdominal fat, reports the American College of Sports Medicine.

Circuit-style training is one of the fastest ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance, giving you a lean and toned body. And it’s easy to devise your own 20-minute circuit.

Make sure you have plenty of room and build in adequate rest breaks. Try setting up six workstations, then perform a minute on each workstation and move to the next one without resting, then rest at the end of one complete circuit. If this is too strenuous, reduce the work period on each station down to 40 or 30 seconds, then complete the circuit and have a minute’s rest, or rest for up to two minutes if you need more time to recover in between circuits. Depending on which body parts you want to work, you can set the circuit up in several ways: either to focus on a particular body part – such as doing three abdominal exercises back to back, (crunches, twists and reverse curls) or legs (deadlift, squats, step-ups) or you can alternate between upper and lower body exercises.

If space is limited, it may be safer to bring in more bodyweight exercises that require less equipment, such as squats, box press-ups and crunches.

If you’re new to circuits or new to exercise, it’s best to work on technique and perform each exercise at a slower pace to reduce injury risk. If you’re fitter or familiar with the exercises, you can perform each rep at a faster pace.

TRY: Squats, Push-ups, Kettlebell swings, Shoulder presses, Bench dips and Ab crunches. Rest for a minute at the end of the circuit, then repeat twice more. Make sure you stretch afterwards.

8. Be ahead of the rest
Keep your fitness ahead of the game and keep your motivation sky high by being the first to try new kit when it appears on the gym floor.

TRY: Some Fitness First and Virgin Active gyms now have Woodway Curve Treadmills in their gyms, which are self-powered. There’s no motor or button – the treadmill works by your own effort. Walking on a Woodway Curve could give you the same cardio workout as running on a motorised machine. Powering yourself means you burn 30 per cent more calories than on a normal treadmill. The harder you run, the more power you generate. The curve shape of the belt also means less impact on knees and joints, and it works your core, too.

9. Lift your own weight
Using your own body weight for resistance (with exercises such as press-ups and pull-ups) is a great way to get really strong and toned. Many gyms are now offering gymnastic rings, TRX machines or rigs consisting of ropes and pulleys to help you improve upper-body strength and build up to supporting your own bodyweight.

TRY: Use a TRX Suspension Trainer to do squats, reverse lunges, side lunges, chest press, rows for your upper back and many more moves. Change your body position to add or decrease resistance. For example, if you’re doing rows, the lower the angle of your body to the ground, the more of your own body weight you’re lifting. Remember to engage your core muscles while doing the exercises to support your body and strengthen your abs.

10 Beat the plateau
It’s easy to get stuck in a training rut or think you’re not improving. Checking your progress every four weeks will help you see how far you’ve come. For instance, if weight loss is your goal, you can check your body fat every four weeks (try the Omron BF306 Body Composition Monitor, £31.98 at www.amazon.co.uk). Having a varied training programme will also boost motivation and prevent boredom. ‘Continuous training with a clear goal in mind will get results. I keep measurements to track progress every few weeks,’ says personal trainer Carl Wallace from PureGym in Stoke says. ‘Change your workouts week-by-week, focusing on both cardio and resistance training. This will keep sessions fun and interesting.’ Another way to track progress is to set regular fitness tests.

TRY: Run 1K on the treadmill as fast as you can, record your time, and try to beat it four weeks later, after running regularly. Or complete 5K on the cross-trainer, again recording your time and try to complete it in less time in four weeks.

11. Find a swimming coach
If you did a lot of swimming on holiday, why not keep it up and improve? Hiring a swim coach can give you a better workout because if your swimming technique is stronger, you’ll be more efficient. This means you’ll have the energy to keep swimming for longer, burning more calories and making you fitter, plus improving your endurance.

TRY: Fitness First has a number of clubs offering Swimming Nature, a tailored instructional swimming programme, while Nuffield Health offers Swimfit classes. ‘Around 95 per cent of our centres have swimming pools and most of these offer swim schools,’ says Sarah Henderson, communications manager for Nuffield Health.

12. Count time, not reps
If you want to burn more calories, forget about counting the number of reps for each set of an exercise – try ‘time under tension’ instead. This simply means timing your exercises, rather than counting reps.

‘Remember, if you’re burning more calories, you’re burning more fat.’ It will also improve your strength too. A study published online in the Journal of Physiology showed that slower lifting movements create more strength.

TRY: ‘Do 30-45 seconds flat doing as many reps as you can, which will burn more calories than counting reps without worrying about a time limit,’ says Anthony Mendoza, David Lloyd platinum personal trainer.

13. Create an ‘afterburn’
Rather than just focusing on how many calories you’ve burned in your workout, create a fat-burning effect that lasts way beyond the session. ‘Triggering excess post-exercise consumption (EPOC) or ‘afterburn’ is crucial in prolonging the benefit of a session, as calories can continue to be burnt for up to 36-48 hours post workout,’ says personal trainer Alastair Crew. ‘I use a heart rate monitor to help gauge the correct intensity for myself and my clients – in a typical workout I’d like to achieve a minimum of 12-20 minutes at 84 per cent of maximum heart rate in order to trigger the EPOC effect.’

EPOC, also known as ‘oxygen debt’, is the amount of oxygen needed to return your body to normal after a workout. Exercise that places a greater demand on the body can increase the need for oxygen after a workout, creating the EPOC effect. High-intensity interval training is the most effective way to stimulate an EPOC effect.

TRY: To work out your maximum heart rate, deduct your age from 220.

14. Make cycling harder
Ditch the stationary bike and check out the Wattbike. It’s a serious way to burn more calories. The Wattbike can measure your power, your pedalling technique and heart rate, giving you instant feedback on your progress. It has a dual braking system, offering gears and a braking system on the flywheel to create the feeling of climbing hills. As it’s like a normal bike, it’s easy to vary the intensity and choose between sprints and climbs.

Try: The Watt Bike is available in David Lloyd health, Nuffield Health clubs, 29 Fitness First clubs and many Virgin Active gyms, while PureGyms have similar bikes called Matrix.

15. Beat the Plateau

It’s easy to get stuck in a training rut or think you’re not improving. ‘Change your workouts week-by-week, focusing on both cardio and resistance training. This will keep sessions fun and interesting,’ says personal trainer Carl Wallace from PureGym in Stoke. Another way to track your progress is to set regular fitness tests.

TRY: Run 1K on the treadmill as fast as you can, record your time, and try to beat it four weeks later, after running regularly in the intervening period. Or complete 5K on the cross-trainer, again recording your time and then try to do it in less time four weeks later.

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15 ways to upgrade your gym workout

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Health Issues, Nutrition, Weight loss, Weight TrainingComments Off on 15 ways to upgrade your gym workout

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 48

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One often overlooked element of the 1960s and 70s era of bodybuilding is that it was the dawn of visible abs among the bodybuilding elite. Take a look at Bill Pearl when he was Mr. Universe in the early 1950s, and again when he was Mr. Universe in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In his later years, he had them. Take a look at Serge Nubret when he won Mr. Olympia unopposed in 1968—he had them. On the other hand, young Arnold, the powerlifter and aspiring bodybuilder, didn’t have them—not until he started training abs daily, anyway.

“Abs every day” is one of Arnold’s best-known training mantras, but it’s not his best-loved. It gets criticized by many, but for every one of these critics, another will say it works wonders. No matter where you ultimately come down on the debate, you can now speak from experience. Over the last seven weeks, you’ve experienced Arnold-style abs in the form of endless reps of decline sit-ups, leg raises, and today’s special, cable crunches. But don’t let the sheer volume lead you to neglect the most important part of the movement: the squeeze! Arnold was insistent that the peak contraction be held during each and every rep, particularly in the cable crunch.

This is the abdominal equivalent of a double biceps pose. Hit it hard enough to make you feel it tomorrow on your rest day.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 48

Posted in Bodybuilding, Diets, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer Day 48

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Build A Body That Looks As Good As It Performs!

The ancient Greeks taught us many things: democracy, philosophy, and perhaps most important to the bodybuilding community, the idea of aesthetic sensibility. To the ancient Greeks, symmetry was beauty—a rule evidenced by their architecture, art, and ideal physique.

This ideal male form—as imagined in sculptures, paintings, and drawings— was usually made with a wide chest, broad shoulders, and a thick back placed upon a slim waist. The legs were muscular, but not overly huge. Everything was balanced and proportionate.

According to the ancient Greeks, the ideal male physique should have these measurements: the arms should be 2.5 times the circumference of the wrist, the calves 1.9 times the ankle size, the thighs 1.75 times the knee, the shoulders 1.6 times the waist, and the neck 2.5 times the wrist. A man’s build should also be athletic and lean.

The Greeks believed in these proportions for three reasons: to perform athletically and in battle, to live a long time with good health, and to be attractive in order to pass along genetics. I can’t argue with these goals. They seem to reflect what many gym-goers want for themselves: a body that looks, feels, and performs better.

In order to achieve the Greek ideal, you need to follow some of their fitness and lifestyle principles. Here are five of them!

1 Eat Like A Greek

The ideal physique can’t be built unless your eating habits support the necessary body composition. You only need a maximum of 10 percent body fat to reach that Greek ideal for size, strength, and symmetry. That means you can’t eat bags of potato chips and expect to look like Achilles.

Your diet should consist of lean meats like fish and poultry, plus vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, and plenty of water.

Call it paleo, call it the Mediterranean diet, or call it whatever, but your diet should consist of lean meats like fish and poultry, plus vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, and plenty of water.

A diet plan like that is the best way to fuel your body for performance and muscle growth while carving off any excess baggage.

2 Train Like A Greek

The ancient Greeks didn’t have health clubs with fancy machines. Although there is debate whether they actually invented the barbell, plenty of evidence has been found that ancient Greeks picked up heavy objects and walked or ran with them, and even threw them.

You don’t have to walk around with a giant rock to attain the Greek ideal. Instead, make big compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls, and weighted carries the backbone of your training program. Those movements are designed to improve your size, strength, symmetry, and overall function.

Make big compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls, and weighted carries the backbone of your training program.

3 Symmetry First

We tend to care too much about the muscles we can see in the mirror. Most guys spend too much time on their chest, shoulders, biceps, and quads. Achieving the ideal Greek measurements will be a lot harder if you only train the front side of your body. Moreover, we tend to use the anterior muscles more often in everyday life, so most of us are already asymmetrical before we even step into the gym.

I propose using a specialized training program for the muscles on our posterior side. For every two chest, shoulder, and quad exercises, perform three back, calf, and glute/hamstring exercises.

For example, if your weekly training program includes the bench press, incline dumbbell chest press, dumbbell overhead press, dumbbell lateral raises, squats, and lunges, add suspension body rows, dumbbell bent-over rows, chin-ups, pull-ups, deadlifts, dumbbell reverse lunges, sliding leg curls, and calf raises.

Adding exercises to train your back half will not only help you look better, but your posture will improve, your back will be healthier, and your performance in and out of the gym will increase.

4 Sprint And March, Don’t Jog

Perhaps we can take the ancient Greek tale of Pheidippides as a warning. According to the legend, Pheidippides ran about 150 miles in a day and a half to aid Sparta in their fight against the invading Persians. He then ran another 26.2 miles from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce the victory. On the completion of his mission, Pheidippides uttered “nike,” meaning victory, then collapsed and died.

Maybe it’s just a romantic tale, or maybe the Greeks recognized the catabolic effects of long-distance running. Whatever the case, we can learn from Pheidippides. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best way to improve performance and decrease fat mass. Low-intensity cardio—activity that doesn’t labor your breathing too much—can improve aerobic abilities and aid in recovery.

Too much activity in the middle, especially when you’re on a diet, can lead to the loss of lean muscle tissue and overstress the body.

5 Measure and Adjust When Appropriate

Although the measurements for the ideal Greek physique can provide some amazing insight into symmetry, I would caution against using them early in a training program.

People just beginning the type of exercise and lifestyle needed to achieve these proportions will see their body go through many adjustments in the first six months to a year. Using these exact measurements too early may be more discouraging than helpful and inspiring.

Instead, hold off on really trying to achieve specific measurements until you’re close to your goal, and then use the information to adjust your training program if needed. Think of your body as a sculpture. You first have to carve a general shape from a block of stone before you chisel the fine details.

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Build A Body That Looks As Good As It Performs!

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on Build A Body That Looks As Good As It Performs!

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13 Essential Mass Gaining Tips

Want more size? You’re definitely not the only one! Many of us want more mass. Successfully putting it on, though, is where things get difficult. Skinny so-called “hardgainers” aren’t the only people who struggle to add muscle to their frames.

Lots of people—including women—lift and eat their hearts out without seeing their measurements reflect it as much as they’d like.

It may feel like you’re cursed, but something more tangible and fixable is always to blame. Arm yourself with the right information, and finally feel your clothes straining from dem gains!

1 Know Your Nutrient Timing

When you eat can have a major effect on your body composition in addition to what and how much you eat.

Supplying your body with an abundance of calories when you’re just lying around on the couch does you no good. Fuelling your workouts with good nutrition, on the other hand, is paramount to your success.

“Your insulin sensitivity is at its peak first thing in the morning and immediately after your workout,” explains Tobias Young, Optimum Nutrition-sponsored athlete. “For me, eating more carbs early in the morning and after my workouts has brought optimal results.”

We still have a lot to learn about nutrient timing, so it’s hard to give a universal prescription. Recognize that everybody is different, but also grant the possibility that when you eat can have a major effect on your body composition in addition to what and how much you eat.

2 Train Your Weaknesses

Hate doing squats? Maybe that’s a sign that you should make them your highest training priority! Training your weaknesses can make huge differences in your physique.

“The mass game is all about creating an illusion of beast-like proportions,” explains fitness model and Bodybuilding.com contributor Noah Siegel. “To win the game, it’s important to hit your weak points and turn them into features that stand out in the crowd.”

Siegel says he always starts a workout by fatiguing the muscle groups he feels are weakest, and then progresses into his stronger muscles from there. This way, he trains to his fullest capacity.

3 Eat Carbs

When it comes to building quality mass, quality food is the key. A good portion of that quality food should come in the form of carbohydrates. “Great carb sources that are inexpensive include potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, and pasta,” explains Young.

Fruits are also excellent sources of carbs because of their antioxidant content and overall nutrient content. Don’t feel guilty eating them!

Most experts agree that muscles need carbs in order to grow. If you’ve been trying to bulk up with a “low-carb” diet, maybe it’s time to switch your game plan.

4 Try A Mass Gainer Supplement

One tried-and-true approach for gaining appreciable size is supplementing with a weight gainer. Weight gainer protein supplements usually contain more than 500 calories per serving and include lots of carbs, protein, and even some fat to help you gain size.

It’s important, however, to know your body type so you can select a weight gainer that’s right for you and your goals. “Serious Mass is awesome for hardgainers and Pro Complex Gainer is a superb choice for mesomorphs,” recommends Tobias.

Mass gaining may not seem like an exact science, but maybe that’s why you haven’t been successful. Use the right tool for the job and see what happens!

5 Get Lots of Sleep

Recovery is one of the most underrated elements of gaining quality lean muscle mass. If you aren’t sleeping enough at night, you rob your body of the primary time it uses to repair muscle damage so you can hit the gym feeling stronger than you did before.

Actors bulking for major film roles are often ordered by their trainers to sleep at least 10 hours per night! That may not be an option for you, but start prioritizing sleep more, and it’s highly likely you see great gains in both strength and size. A fatigued body will never be a strong one.

6 Keep Fats In The Picture

Some people also shun dietary fat when they bulk because they’re afraid eating fat will make them fatter. This just isn’t the case. People who are building muscle need fat to reach their necessary calorie-intake levels.

Saturated fat helps keep testosterone levels in a healthier range so you can add quality muscle.

Saturated fat helps keep testosterone levels in a healthier range so you can add quality muscle. Aim to get 15-20 percent of your fat calories from saturated fats and the rest from unsaturated and omega varieties.

7 Love The Process

Steve Cook feels that taking the time to stop and simply enjoy the process has helped him make the most of his fitness journey.

The IFBB men’s physique pro explains, “When running a marathon you wouldn’t focus on the finish line. You’d focus on what’s immediately ahead of you. Focus on doing everything you are capable of in the now, and the future will take care of itself.”

There’s no need to rush. Know that muscle-building takes a lot of time, and it’s your long-term passion that will ultimately see it through. Be patient and have fun!

8 Train With Intensity

You can’t expect great results if you half-ass your workout.

Think back to the last time you did a workout. Did you really give it your all?

Many people hit the gym and just go through the motions. They may spend more time taking selfies, texting, or finding the right music than actually lifting. You can’t expect great results if you half-ass your workout.

The next time you have a date with the iron, dial it in and focus. Feel your muscles squeezing at the top of each rep. Extra focus can increase your intensity and mean the difference between mediocre and superior results.

9 Add Variety

It’s important to add variety to your routine. If you continue to do the same things over and over again, your body can prepare itself for the workouts and you won’t get as much out of your training. To keep your body guessing, add even small changes to the movements in your workout.

For instance, do a wide-grip lat pull-down one session and a reverse-grip pull-down the next time. Play around with different lunge variations or even different push-up hand positions. Little changes can quickly add up and contribute to faster results.

10 Don’t Eat The Same Food Every Day

If your diet consists of chicken and rice, chicken and rice, and chicken and rice, you need to change it up. If you eat the exact same meals day-in and day-out, you run the risk of not only diet boredom, but actual nutritional deficiency.

While you may hit your macronutrient targets for proteins, carbs, and fats, don’t forget about all the micronutrients your body needs. They play critical roles in building muscle, energizing your body, repairing broken down tissue, and keeping your immune system strong.

If you eat the exact same meals day-in and day-out, you run the risk of not only diet boredom, but actual nutritional deficiency.

If you rely on the same six or seven foods daily—even if they are healthy foods, you’re still not likely to get all the nutrition you need. Add some new foods to the mix, and both your taste buds and your body will thank you.

11 Track Your Progress

Tracking everything you do in the gym takes time, but it has a big payoff. You might remember what you did for your last workout, but what did you do last month? If you don’t keep track of changes over time, how will you spot trends in your progress, learn which programs produce the best results, or discover how your body reacts to new stimuli?

By keeping a workout log, you’ll be able to track your history in the gym. That’s an important aspect when it comes to choosing new workout regimens, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and determining your future goals.

12 Don’t Weigh Yourself Daily

If you’re the perfectionist type who has big expectations, you might spend too much time worrying about what the scale says.

Remember it’s normal and natural for your weight to vary slightly from day to day, so don’t freak out if you step on the scale and don’t love what you see.

Pay attention to the long-term trends in your body. Those day-to-day variations are small potatoes compared to the changes you’ll see over weeks or months.

13 Never Stop Learning

Your quest for mass should also be a quest for knowledge. From new nutrition protocols to new supplement information and workout techniques, there’s always something to learn. The most successful individuals constantly strive to better themselves in both mind and body.

Take the time to do research, read, and learn about your goals. The more you know about them, the more prepared you’ll be for setbacks, and the more likely you’ll find success.

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Excerpt from – 

13 Essential Mass Gaining Tips

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on 13 Essential Mass Gaining Tips

<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

Thumbnail

Grind To Grow: Try Your Squats And Presses With Kettlebells!

I’ll never forget the first time I squatted with a pair of 32-kg kettlebells on my chest. It felt like an elephant was sitting on me. The pressure in my gut was immense, and I could barely breathe. Afterward, my abs were almost immediately sore. I was shocked, because as a competitive weightlifter I could front squat, butt-to-ankles, more than 400 pounds. But these two 70-pound balls of iron made me feel like I was fighting for my life!

I quickly learned that kettlebells are unjustly overlooked as strength equipment; they are often only favored as endurance tools for high-rep ballistic movements like swings and snatches. They’re equally adept and providing muscular overload on slow, heavy lifts like squats and presses.

Why? It’s simple: Your body knows that to get stronger, as well as to continue burning fat, it must adapt. Heavy kettlebells give it a challenge that is uniquely difficult to overcome. Because of their odd shape, kettlebells actually make the body do more work than traditional implements such as barbells and dumbbells. Sub them out even just for a couple of movements you already do, and you may be surprised at the benefits you receive.

The Toughest Squat You’ve Never Done

The reason the double-kettlebell front squat is so much more challenging than its barbell cousin is due to leverage. Consider the rack position: With a barbell, the load rests near the top of the spine, across the collarbone and the front of the deltoids, just below the head. In this arrangement, the barbell becomes virtually one with the lifter, making it easier to move the external resistance. This allows you to move much more weight.

With a kettlebell, it’s almost the opposite. In the rack, the weight rests low, against the outside of the forearms, with the elbows pointed down rather than out. The bells try to pull your body forward and off-balance, which forces your entire midsection to reflexively contract in order to keep you from folding in half.

If you’ve been lifting—or just reading about lifting—for a few years, you’ve probably heard this same argument used as a reason to do barbell front squats rather than barbell back squats. But the truth is that the simple substitution of two kettlebells—or even just one—for a barbell means your midsection will take even more of a beating. And this has benefits beyond building core strength.

To start with, you’ll become a better squatter. Because the spine is protected due to the increased reflexive core activation from the rack, lifters can usually squat deeper with kettlebells than they would with a barbell. The difference here is one you’ll likely feel on your backside for days after the first time you try it, so consider yourself warned.

Kettlebell Exercises
Watch The Video – 0:44

Grind To Grow

The increased stability demands upon your core musculature during the front squat are also present in other slow kettlebell lifts—or “grinds,” as they’re often called. Look at the double kettlebell military press, for example: The increased demands placed upon your core mean your body has to work harder to stabilize your joints so your prime movers—the lats and delts, in the case of the press—can do their work.

The upshot, as with the front squat, is that you’ll need less weight to make all types of muscles work more efficiently—particularly the crucial stabilizer muscles around the shoulder and other joints. Efficiency, in this case, means they’ll do what they’re supposed to when they’re supposed to do it. To pick one painful example for many lifters, a strong rotator cuff stabilizes your shoulder joint so you can safely bench press. A weak or injured one, on the other hand, keeps you from benching heavy, or from doing it at all.

Double Kettlebell Military Press

I’m also of the opinion that one of the causes of what are commonly called workout “plateaus” are actually stabilizer muscles that are weak or don’t work properly. Faced with a heavy load that might damage the joint, your body intuitively protects itself by shutting down the nerve force to the bigger muscles—the prime movers—that traditionally do the work.

You may have heard similar logic used to tell you why you should train with free weights rather than with machines. Yes, it’s true: Core and joint stabilizer activation happen to a certain extent with any training tool, but both are more intense with a kettlebell, due to the increased muscular activation from the offset handle. Consider them the freest of free weights.

You Only Need One

“Resist the urge to let your stronger side set the pace. Train both sides to be relatively even with each other.”

Want to know what’s even tougher than a double-kettlebell grind? The same movement loaded unilaterally. Working one side of your body at a time, as with a single-kettlebell military press, requires your body to make all the muscles on the side opposite of the load—and especially the core musculature—contract to keep you from being pulled over sideways.

Another interesting result from training with a single-kettlebell is that you can even-out strength imbalances from side-to-side. Often, side-to-side imbalances are responsible for holding back your progress on traditional bilateral exercises like the barbell squat, deadlift, and military press. Many people find a single-kettlebell front squat to be much more challenging on the core than a double front squat. The same thing holds true for the military press.

If you find you have a strength imbalance, resist the urge to let your stronger side set the pace. Train both sides to be relatively even with each other, both in the number of reps and the amount of weight you put over your head. You may feel like you’re holding back at first, but don’t be surprised if your big barbell lifts get stronger as a result.

Grind to Burn

Strength is a worthy goal on its own, and it’s more than enough reason to try kettlebell squats and presses. But getting stronger is also essential for burning fat and getting leaner over the long term.

Think of it as a cycle. The increased muscle activation and range of motion you experience from doing deep, difficult squats and overhead presses demand that more muscles work harder than they would otherwise. When you work harder, you burn more calories. And since training the core, especially in an integrated manner while standing, makes the body stronger, you’ll be able to lift heavier and work even harder in the future—which burns even more calories. And so on …

The downside, if there is one, is that kettlebell grinds are known to leave bruises—on your ego. I think you’ll be just as surprised as I was at just how hard they make you work. But stick with them, and you’ll also be surprised by the fruits of your labor: A stronger midsection, a more powerful and defined body, and more strength you can put to good use.


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Grind To Grow: Try Your Squats And Presses With Kettlebells!

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, Sports nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on Grind To Grow: Try Your Squats And Presses With Kettlebells!

<div id="DPG" webReader="151"><p>When it comes to building muscle, boosting your performance, adding strength, or torching fat, staying hungry for success is key. No matter how hungry you are, however, plateaus and hurdles will rise. Whether your workout program stops yielding results or you just hit a motivational snag, the time will come when you need to push the envelope and hit some new training techniques.</p><p>Don't get complacent with your workouts, personal bests, or results. Focus on progress, and keep getting better! Every training session is a chance to improve, especially if you add some new tools to your training kit. To kick things up a notch, break free of plateaus, and jumpstart your workout, check out these six cool tips and techniques.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">1 Go Slow to Grow</h3>
</p><p>Wander into any gym and you're bound to see someone lifting at lightning speed. I'm sure you've seen a guy at your local gym blasting through biceps curls by the dumbbell rack, gunning each arm like it's a death race. Alas, many trainees make this mistake. They perform every exercise and rep as quickly as possible, using momentum to swing the weight up before letting pull it back down.</p><p>When it comes to training, tempo and timing are key. Slow down your movement pattern. You don't necessarily have to use a glacial training tempo, but you should pause at the top and bottom of each rep. Keep tension on the working muscle, but don't let yourself swing the weight. Doing this will place more total stress on the muscle tissue, causing more stimulus for growth.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/6-training-tips-to-skyrocket-your-results-1.jpg" width="560" height="397" border="0"/><p>"When it comes to training, tempo and timing are key."</p><p>If you really want to spur new results, slow the down the eccentric portion of your big lifts. The eccentric portion of a repetition is the lowering phase, like lowering the weight in a biceps curl. Slow eccentric lifting can create more mechanical muscular damage and lead to increased growth, so go slow when you want to grow!</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">2 Stagger Your Calories</h3>
</p><p>If you're like most people trying to build muscle or cut fat, you're probably pounding calorie-boosting, muscle-building meals or eating light to ensure you come in at a calorie deficit. If you're eating the right quantity and quality of foods, you should be seeing results in either direction. But are you seeing the best results possible? If progress has slowed, try staggering your calories.</p><p>Those who stagger their calories tend to see superior results over those who keep them at a baseline level throughout the week. Sure, staggering takes a bit more work on the planning front, but it's worth it, and the main recipe is pretty darn simple: Eat more on the days you train, and less on the days you don't.</p><p>If your aim is more size, a staggered calorie approach with a greater surplus on your training days will give you fuel for exercise and growth when you really need it. Likewise, if you're dieting, taking a larger deficit on non-training days and eating closer to maintenance on workout days will keep you better fueled for intense training and help prevent a metabolic crash due to constant low-calorie intake.</p><img class="float-left c11" src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/6-training-tips-to-skyrocket-your-results-2.jpg" width="239" height="321" border="0"/><p>"Find that next level, discover what it feels like, and then raise your expectations of what you need to do to create change."</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">3 Train With Someone<br /><span class="c13">Stronger</span></h3>
</p><p>BPI Vice President James Grage rebuilt a competition-worthy physique after surviving a brutal car crash. Once he recreated his foundation, he found a workout buddy with more experience to take kick his results up a notch. "To take your training to the next level, you have to know what the next level is," he says.</p><p>"You may think that you're giving it 100 percent, but what are you basing that on?" James asks. "Do you really know what you're capable of? You won't know until you push yourself beyond what you're familiar or comfortable with." Train with someone who trains harder than you. Find that next level, discover what it feels like, and then raise your expectations of what you need to do to create change.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">4 Alter Your Macronutrient Ratio</h3>
</p><p>You've probably read diet advice that says moderate-to-high carbs, moderate protein, and lower fat intake is best for muscle-building success. But, have you ever tried something else? While a higher carb intake works for some people hungry for weight gain, others see even better results when they boost their fat intake and keep carbs down.</p><p>In short, don't chain your diet to one specific macro ratio without engaging in some personal exploration. Once you've mastered calorie management, try shuffling your macronutrients around. Play around with your different macronutrient percentages to find what works best for your body. Different ratios might boost your results and help you feel better on a day-to-day basis.</p><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">5 Shut Down The Machines</h3>
</p><p>Weight machines are great for specific applications and overall exercise variety. With many machines, you don't have to worry as much about technique or form, but if you're really looking to advance, free weights are essential. Using dumbbells and barbells requires more total muscle activation because you need to stabilize yourself through each lift. That same required stabilization will help strengthen your core and various accessory muscles.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/6-training-tips-to-skyrocket-your-results-3.jpg" width="560" height="357" border="0" class="c14"/><h6 class="altH6 c15">Barbell Deadlift</h6><p>
<h3 class="article-title c10">6 Try A Heavy, High-Rep Set</h3>
</p><p>If you really need to supercharge a single training session, combine intensity and volume for one heavy, high-rep set. Unlike other sets, where you goal is to move through each reps before resting, this protocol calls for you to take a brief 10-second pause between each rep you perform. Doing this will allow you to move into a higher rep range per set while using a heavier weight.</p><p>Using this technique, you can train your body to better tolerate fatigue while lifting a near-maximal load. You'll start developing a higher level of muscle strength than you previously thought possible, and you'll create more muscular damage and metabolic stress. Guess what those cause? More growth.</p><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bpisports/bpisports.htm"><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2013/bpi-sports-banner-2.jpg" width="560" height="144" class="c16"/></a><br class="c17"/></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>
</ul></div></div></div>

6 Training Tips To Skyrocket Your Results

When it comes to building muscle, boosting your performance, adding strength, or torching fat, staying hungry for success is key. No matter how hungry you are, however, plateaus and hurdles will rise. Whether your workout program stops yielding results or you just hit a motivational snag, the time will come when you need to push the envelope and hit some new training techniques.

Don’t get complacent with your workouts, personal bests, or results. Focus on progress, and keep getting better! Every training session is a chance to improve, especially if you add some new tools to your training kit. To kick things up a notch, break free of plateaus, and jumpstart your workout, check out these six cool tips and techniques.

1 Go Slow to Grow

Wander into any gym and you’re bound to see someone lifting at lightning speed. I’m sure you’ve seen a guy at your local gym blasting through biceps curls by the dumbbell rack, gunning each arm like it’s a death race. Alas, many trainees make this mistake. They perform every exercise and rep as quickly as possible, using momentum to swing the weight up before letting pull it back down.

When it comes to training, tempo and timing are key. Slow down your movement pattern. You don’t necessarily have to use a glacial training tempo, but you should pause at the top and bottom of each rep. Keep tension on the working muscle, but don’t let yourself swing the weight. Doing this will place more total stress on the muscle tissue, causing more stimulus for growth.

“When it comes to training, tempo and timing are key.”

If you really want to spur new results, slow the down the eccentric portion of your big lifts. The eccentric portion of a repetition is the lowering phase, like lowering the weight in a biceps curl. Slow eccentric lifting can create more mechanical muscular damage and lead to increased growth, so go slow when you want to grow!

2 Stagger Your Calories

If you’re like most people trying to build muscle or cut fat, you’re probably pounding calorie-boosting, muscle-building meals or eating light to ensure you come in at a calorie deficit. If you’re eating the right quantity and quality of foods, you should be seeing results in either direction. But are you seeing the best results possible? If progress has slowed, try staggering your calories.

Those who stagger their calories tend to see superior results over those who keep them at a baseline level throughout the week. Sure, staggering takes a bit more work on the planning front, but it’s worth it, and the main recipe is pretty darn simple: Eat more on the days you train, and less on the days you don’t.

If your aim is more size, a staggered calorie approach with a greater surplus on your training days will give you fuel for exercise and growth when you really need it. Likewise, if you’re dieting, taking a larger deficit on non-training days and eating closer to maintenance on workout days will keep you better fueled for intense training and help prevent a metabolic crash due to constant low-calorie intake.

“Find that next level, discover what it feels like, and then raise your expectations of what you need to do to create change.”

3 Train With Someone
Stronger

BPI Vice President James Grage rebuilt a competition-worthy physique after surviving a brutal car crash. Once he recreated his foundation, he found a workout buddy with more experience to take kick his results up a notch. “To take your training to the next level, you have to know what the next level is,” he says.

“You may think that you’re giving it 100 percent, but what are you basing that on?” James asks. “Do you really know what you’re capable of? You won’t know until you push yourself beyond what you’re familiar or comfortable with.” Train with someone who trains harder than you. Find that next level, discover what it feels like, and then raise your expectations of what you need to do to create change.

4 Alter Your Macronutrient Ratio

You’ve probably read diet advice that says moderate-to-high carbs, moderate protein, and lower fat intake is best for muscle-building success. But, have you ever tried something else? While a higher carb intake works for some people hungry for weight gain, others see even better results when they boost their fat intake and keep carbs down.

In short, don’t chain your diet to one specific macro ratio without engaging in some personal exploration. Once you’ve mastered calorie management, try shuffling your macronutrients around. Play around with your different macronutrient percentages to find what works best for your body. Different ratios might boost your results and help you feel better on a day-to-day basis.

5 Shut Down The Machines

Weight machines are great for specific applications and overall exercise variety. With many machines, you don’t have to worry as much about technique or form, but if you’re really looking to advance, free weights are essential. Using dumbbells and barbells requires more total muscle activation because you need to stabilize yourself through each lift. That same required stabilization will help strengthen your core and various accessory muscles.

Barbell Deadlift

6 Try A Heavy, High-Rep Set

If you really need to supercharge a single training session, combine intensity and volume for one heavy, high-rep set. Unlike other sets, where you goal is to move through each reps before resting, this protocol calls for you to take a brief 10-second pause between each rep you perform. Doing this will allow you to move into a higher rep range per set while using a heavier weight.

Using this technique, you can train your body to better tolerate fatigue while lifting a near-maximal load. You’ll start developing a higher level of muscle strength than you previously thought possible, and you’ll create more muscular damage and metabolic stress. Guess what those cause? More growth.


About The Author

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.

Link – 

6 Training Tips To Skyrocket Your Results

Posted in Bodybuilding, Exercises, Nutrition, UncategorizedComments Off on 6 Training Tips To Skyrocket Your Results

<div id="DPG" webReader="178.5"><p>I've been hearing a lot lately from people "in the know" about how competitive athletes should never lift heavy. "All it'll do is make you bulky and slow," they say. "You need high reps. Don't ever squat/deadlift/clean/snatch/row, because those are bad for your knees/back/whatever." You get the picture.</p><img class="float-right c10" src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/heavy-lifting-for-athletes-2.jpg" width="225" height="361" border="0"/><p>So what's the alternative? I look around, and damnit if coaches don't have their clients standing on a stability gadget with legs akimbo and a kettlebell dangling somewhere or other. For crying out loud, they do stuff that would make my yoga friends cringe! And they call it "functional training for sports." What is that? When has training for sports ever not been "functional?" Can somebody tell me the last time they saw a football field or an MMA cage made up of Bosu balls?</p><p>It's time to set things straight. There is a time and place for non-heavy training, for sure. But forsaking heavy training altogether is a bad idea. I've got more than two decades of training elite athletes under my belt from over 30 different sports, and at some point, they all trained heavy. If you want to be elite, I'm here to tell you that, sooner or later, you've gotta put a heavy bar on your back.</p><h3 class="article-title">Forget What You've Been Told</h3><p>Before we get into any of the nitty gritty, let's destroy the most prevalent myths I hear from athletes about lifting heavy.</p><ol class="dpg-list"><li><em>Lifting heavy will make me fat.</em> Only if you eat more than you need. So don't.</li>
<li><em>Lifting heavy will ruin my flexibility.</em> Two words: Flex Wheeler. Next.</li>
<li><em>Lifting heavy will make me overtrain.</em> Not if you cycle like I'm going to show you. If you do any type of training too much, you can overtrain.</li>
<li><em>I will develop an imbalanced physique if I take out isolation exercises.</em> Way wrong. Compound and multi-joint movements will work every muscle like you never have before. If anything, you're more likely to get "unbalanced," whatever you think that means, by living on a steady diet of isolation movements.</li>
</ol><img class="c11" src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/heavy-lifting-for-athletes-3.jpg" width="560" height="363" border="0"/><p>None of this is to say that you should lift heavy all the time, like hitting max lifts five times per week for six weeks straight. Nor is this an excuse to throw around ego-inflating amounts of weight with crappy form. Unfortunately, these are some of the things many people do when they think they're training heavy. Lifting heavy is a planned assault, and I've got your plan.</p><h3 class="article-title">Why Train Heavy?</h3><p>In short, resistance training enhances all other types of training. It's simple physics: Whether you want to hit harder, move faster, or hit an extra gear when victory is on the line, you need your muscles to be able apply more force than your opponent's. And your muscles get better at applying that force when you train with heavy weight.</p><p>When you train heavy—and correctly—these are some of the benefits you can expect:</p><ul class="dpg-list"><li>More power for hitting or pushing into balls, the ground, obstacles, or opponents</li>
<li>More explosive speed</li>
<li>Long-duration power production from more efficient motor unit recruitment</li>
<li>Denser muscles</li>
<li>Bigger muscles</li>
<li>Increased testosterone production</li>
<li>Denser bones</li>
<li>More resilient muscle fibers</li>
</ul><p>How does this sound so far?</p><p>Plus, no matter how exciting your sport may be, trust me when I say there's a special type of thrill that comes from walking up to a weight that should kill you, and then moving it against all that gravity. Knowing that you beat the iron, yourself, and your previous PR, even though you're physically drained, delivers an unequaled rush.</p><h3 class="article-title">The Wavy Road to Heavy</h3><p>I'm a proponent of what's called undulating periodization, or non-linear periodization. Simply put, it's a training regimen that succeeds by having you alternate very light days with I'm-gonna-crush-myself-to-death heavy days. There have been some people over the last few years who claimed to have invented it, but it's been around for about 60 years and originally came from the Eastern Bloc countries.</p><p>Like other forms of periodization, undulating periodization's ultimate aim is to get you to lift a heavier weight over time. But alternating workouts allows you to actually train more than you would be able to if you simply pushed for absolute strength in a linear progression. Along the way, you develop other athletic traits while also saving yourself from injury—and insanity.</p><img src="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2014/heavy-lifting-for-athletes-1.jpg" width="560" height="375" border="0"/><p>"Like other forms of periodization, undulating periodization's ultimate aim is to get you to lift a heavier weight over time."</p><p>Generally, I suggest hitting a one-rep max on a particular lift only about once a month. Now, don't take that to mean you have license to slack off the other three weeks. During that time, you'll be training for speed, power, and hitting maxes on your other lifts. Yeah, not much rest here.</p><p>Still, I strongly recommend that a program like this should only be undertaken by an experienced lifter, and if you're a competitive athlete, during an off-season. It can be pretty intense, and I don't want you to overdo it.</p><p>The easiest thing for most people to do when implementing a heavy training program, no matter their sport or goal, is to organize their program around three weekly training sessions: a push day, a pull day, and a leg day. Each of these days will also further break down into a weekly heavy strength day, a medium power day, and a light speed day.</p><p>Here's an outline of how it would work over the course of a three-week microcycle:</p><h4 class="article-title">Week 1</h4><div class="left-side-stripe" webReader="-10"><p><strong>Monday: Heavy Legs</strong><br />>95% 1RM, 3 sets of 4 or fewer reps, 5 minute rest<br /><em>Example movement: Back squat</em></p><p><strong>Wednesday: Light Push</strong><br />70-75% 1RM, 4 sets of 10-12 reps, 1 min rest<br /><em>Example movement: Medicine ball chest throw</em></p><p><strong>Friday: Medium Pull</strong><br />83-88% 1RM, 3 sets of 6-8 reps, 2 min rest<br /><em>Example movement: Pull-ups, weighted if necessary</em></p></div><h4 class="article-title">Week 2</h4><div class="left-side-stripe" webReader="-7"><p><strong>Monday: Medium Legs</strong></p><p>83-88% 1RM, 3 sets of 6-8 reps, 2 min rest</p><p><em>Example movement: Front squat</em></p><p><strong>Wednesday: Heavy Push</strong></p><p>>95% 1RM, 3 sets of 4 or fewer reps, 5 minute rest</p><p><em>Example movement: Bench press</em></p><p><strong>Friday: Light Pull</strong></p><p>70-75% 1RM, 4 sets of 10-12 reps, 1 min rest</p><p><em>Example movement: Speed deadlifts</em></p></div><h4 class="article-title">Week 3</h4><div class="left-side-stripe" webReader="-7"><p><strong>Monday: Light legs</strong></p><p>70-75% 1RM, 4 sets of 10-12 reps, 1 min rest</p><p><em>Example movement: Plyometric box work</em></p><p><strong>Wednesday: Medium push</strong></p><p>83-88% 1RM, 3 sets of 6-8 reps, 2 min rest</p><p><em>Example movement: Incline bench presss</em></p><p><strong>Friday: Heavy pull</strong></p><p>>95% 1RM, 3 sets of 4 or fewer reps, 5 minute rest</p><p><em>Example movement: Barbell deadlift</em></p></div><h3 class="article-title">The Details</h3><p>Now, after all of this is said and done, you may be asking yourself, "But wait! What about my beloved accessory movements?" You can include them judiciously in this program, but you need to alter your way of thinking about them.</p><p>Accessories in this regimen are not the same as in a bodybuilding program. As I mentioned before, we're not really concerned here about isolating any single muscle; rather, our thinking must stay focused on the development of overall strength and improved neurological connection to the muscle group. So accessory lifts should be planned to that end: placed after your primary movements, with similar reps, sets, rest, and loads to the rest of the program. A couple of examples include walking lunges on leg day and floor triceps presses on pressing day. Just don't go so overboard with them that they interfere with the project of building strength!</p><p>Another question that rarely gets asked but usually should: "What if I miss a day? Is the whole cycle ruined?" The great thing about this program is that it is flexible and can be altered depending on the condition of the athlete on a particular day. For example, say we're doing a 6-week cycle, and we have an athlete scheduled for a heavy leg day, but he comes into our facility feeling exhausted from practice. Max effort is out of the question, so we can switch out his heavy leg day for a light leg day, and then we'll make up the heavy day the next week. As long as the integrity of the overall program is maintained, he'll keep making progress.</p><p>This program is simple, but I've seen it work wonders with a wide range of athletes. Cycle it in and benefit from the basics. Strong muscles are the foundation of everything else in athletics, so don't be afraid to go heavy!</p><br /><br class="c12"/></div><div class="padded-content article-content mod-about-the-author" id="article-about-author" webReader="38.4738095238"><h4 class="article-section-header">About The Author</h4><div class="ata-left-column" webReader="6.25"><div class="ata-author-name"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/michael-palmieri.html">Michael S. Palmieri</a></div><div class="author-gradient-button"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/michael-palmieri.html">VIEW AUTHOR PAGE</a></div><p class="ata-author-summary">Michael is the Director of Performance and Research at The Institute of Sport Science & Athletic Conditioning in Las Vegas.</p></div><div class="ata-right-column"><div class="ata-author-image-frame"><a href="http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/michael-palmieri.html"><img src="images/2013/writer-michael-palmieri-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/michael-palmieri.html#articles" class="bold-type">View All Articles By This Author</a></li>
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Get Under The Bar: Heavy Lifting For Athletes

I’ve been hearing a lot lately from people “in the know” about how competitive athletes should never lift heavy. “All it’ll do is make you bulky and slow,” they say. “You need high reps. Don’t ever squat/deadlift/clean/snatch/row, because those are bad for your knees/back/whatever.” You get the picture.

So what’s the alternative? I look around, and damnit if coaches don’t have their clients standing on a stability gadget with legs akimbo and a kettlebell dangling somewhere or other. For crying out loud, they do stuff that would make my yoga friends cringe! And they call it “functional training for sports.” What is that? When has training for sports ever not been “functional?” Can somebody tell me the last time they saw a football field or an MMA cage made up of Bosu balls?

It’s time to set things straight. There is a time and place for non-heavy training, for sure. But forsaking heavy training altogether is a bad idea. I’ve got more than two decades of training elite athletes under my belt from over 30 different sports, and at some point, they all trained heavy. If you want to be elite, I’m here to tell you that, sooner or later, you’ve gotta put a heavy bar on your back.

Forget What You’ve Been Told

Before we get into any of the nitty gritty, let’s destroy the most prevalent myths I hear from athletes about lifting heavy.

  1. Lifting heavy will make me fat. Only if you eat more than you need. So don’t.
  2. Lifting heavy will ruin my flexibility. Two words: Flex Wheeler. Next.
  3. Lifting heavy will make me overtrain. Not if you cycle like I’m going to show you. If you do any type of training too much, you can overtrain.
  4. I will develop an imbalanced physique if I take out isolation exercises. Way wrong. Compound and multi-joint movements will work every muscle like you never have before. If anything, you’re more likely to get “unbalanced,” whatever you think that means, by living on a steady diet of isolation movements.

None of this is to say that you should lift heavy all the time, like hitting max lifts five times per week for six weeks straight. Nor is this an excuse to throw around ego-inflating amounts of weight with crappy form. Unfortunately, these are some of the things many people do when they think they’re training heavy. Lifting heavy is a planned assault, and I’ve got your plan.

Why Train Heavy?

In short, resistance training enhances all other types of training. It’s simple physics: Whether you want to hit harder, move faster, or hit an extra gear when victory is on the line, you need your muscles to be able apply more force than your opponent’s. And your muscles get better at applying that force when you train with heavy weight.

When you train heavy—and correctly—these are some of the benefits you can expect:

  • More power for hitting or pushing into balls, the ground, obstacles, or opponents
  • More explosive speed
  • Long-duration power production from more efficient motor unit recruitment
  • Denser muscles
  • Bigger muscles
  • Increased testosterone production
  • Denser bones
  • More resilient muscle fibers

How does this sound so far?

Plus, no matter how exciting your sport may be, trust me when I say there’s a special type of thrill that comes from walking up to a weight that should kill you, and then moving it against all that gravity. Knowing that you beat the iron, yourself, and your previous PR, even though you’re physically drained, delivers an unequaled rush.

The Wavy Road to Heavy

I’m a proponent of what’s called undulating periodization, or non-linear periodization. Simply put, it’s a training regimen that succeeds by having you alternate very light days with I’m-gonna-crush-myself-to-death heavy days. There have been some people over the last few years who claimed to have invented it, but it’s been around for about 60 years and originally came from the Eastern Bloc countries.

Like other forms of periodization, undulating periodization’s ultimate aim is to get you to lift a heavier weight over time. But alternating workouts allows you to actually train more than you would be able to if you simply pushed for absolute strength in a linear progression. Along the way, you develop other athletic traits while also saving yourself from injury—and insanity.

“Like other forms of periodization, undulating periodization’s ultimate aim is to get you to lift a heavier weight over time.”

Generally, I suggest hitting a one-rep max on a particular lift only about once a month. Now, don’t take that to mean you have license to slack off the other three weeks. During that time, you’ll be training for speed, power, and hitting maxes on your other lifts. Yeah, not much rest here.

Still, I strongly recommend that a program like this should only be undertaken by an experienced lifter, and if you’re a competitive athlete, during an off-season. It can be pretty intense, and I don’t want you to overdo it.

The easiest thing for most people to do when implementing a heavy training program, no matter their sport or goal, is to organize their program around three weekly training sessions: a push day, a pull day, and a leg day. Each of these days will also further break down into a weekly heavy strength day, a medium power day, and a light speed day.

Here’s an outline of how it would work over the course of a three-week microcycle:

Week 1

Monday: Heavy Legs
>95% 1RM, 3 sets of 4 or fewer reps, 5 minute rest
Example movement: Back squat

Wednesday: Light Push
70-75% 1RM, 4 sets of 10-12 reps, 1 min rest
Example movement: Medicine ball chest throw

Friday: Medium Pull
83-88% 1RM, 3 sets of 6-8 reps, 2 min rest
Example movement: Pull-ups, weighted if necessary

Week 2

Monday: Medium Legs

83-88% 1RM, 3 sets of 6-8 reps, 2 min rest

Example movement: Front squat

Wednesday: Heavy Push

>95% 1RM, 3 sets of 4 or fewer reps, 5 minute rest

Example movement: Bench press

Friday: Light Pull

70-75% 1RM, 4 sets of 10-12 reps, 1 min rest

Example movement: Speed deadlifts

Week 3

Monday: Light legs

70-75% 1RM, 4 sets of 10-12 reps, 1 min rest

Example movement: Plyometric box work

Wednesday: Medium push

83-88% 1RM, 3 sets of 6-8 reps, 2 min rest

Example movement: Incline bench presss

Friday: Heavy pull

>95% 1RM, 3 sets of 4 or fewer reps, 5 minute rest

Example movement: Barbell deadlift

The Details

Now, after all of this is said and done, you may be asking yourself, “But wait! What about my beloved accessory movements?” You can include them judiciously in this program, but you need to alter your way of thinking about them.

Accessories in this regimen are not the same as in a bodybuilding program. As I mentioned before, we’re not really concerned here about isolating any single muscle; rather, our thinking must stay focused on the development of overall strength and improved neurological connection to the muscle group. So accessory lifts should be planned to that end: placed after your primary movements, with similar reps, sets, rest, and loads to the rest of the program. A couple of examples include walking lunges on leg day and floor triceps presses on pressing day. Just don’t go so overboard with them that they interfere with the project of building strength!

Another question that rarely gets asked but usually should: “What if I miss a day? Is the whole cycle ruined?” The great thing about this program is that it is flexible and can be altered depending on the condition of the athlete on a particular day. For example, say we’re doing a 6-week cycle, and we have an athlete scheduled for a heavy leg day, but he comes into our facility feeling exhausted from practice. Max effort is out of the question, so we can switch out his heavy leg day for a light leg day, and then we’ll make up the heavy day the next week. As long as the integrity of the overall program is maintained, he’ll keep making progress.

This program is simple, but I’ve seen it work wonders with a wide range of athletes. Cycle it in and benefit from the basics. Strong muscles are the foundation of everything else in athletics, so don’t be afraid to go heavy!


About The Author

Michael is the Director of Performance and Research at The Institute of Sport Science & Athletic Conditioning in Las Vegas.

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Get Under The Bar: Heavy Lifting For Athletes

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