6 Reasons To Shape Up For Summer

Quick, do a digit check. Are all your fingers and toes accounted for, or have a few succumbed to the cold? I can tell you that this has been a brutally chilly winter for most of the upper Midwest, and my region isn’t alone. Records have been shattered all across the United States for cold, ice cover, and snow totals. Right now it seems impossible to imagine warmer days.

But, make no mistake, summer is coming. Soon it will be time to crawl out of our cozy hibernation nests, peel off the polar fleece we’ve been donning like battle gear, and reveal our pasty, dry skin to the warm basking glow of a spring sun. Finally, Vitamin D in its glorious, non-supplement form! You can almost feel it.

So what’s your game plan? Hot chocolate and blankets are just what the doctor ordered for frigid nights, but if you’ve gotten used to skipping the gym and hoarding comfort food, it’s time to change things up. Reignite your fire for fitness and get your head back in the game.

Here are a few reminders about why you should get going with your training and diet again. After all, spring and summer are going to be here in the blink of an eye.

1 Wedding Season’s Upon Us

June is a major month of note. Not only does it signal the first day of summer, Father’s Day, and the oh-so-notable Flag Day, but it’s also the most popular month for weddings. If you’re among those getting laced up in white, hitting a training program now will help you head down the aisle with extra confidence and, depending on your goals, an extra layer of lean muscle.

“Try a new lifting routine or kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training on a Stairmill.”

Use that save-the-date stuck to your fridge to inspire you to push forward, even if your new fit body is not for your own wedding. Try a new lifting routine or kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training on a Stairmill. Start with one minute at level 8, or 30-45 seconds at level 10, followed by brief rest periods for a total of 20 minutes. Shock your system into growth by trying German Volume Training (GVT), which pushes you to do 10 sets of 10 reps on one exercise. The more you ramp up your training routine now, the faster you’ll see results.

2 Smaller Clothes Are Coming

“Picture yourself running in shorts and a tank top. How does that make you feel?”

I promise I’m not poking fun at your winter weight. With warm weather around the corner, it’s just a matter of time until layers start coming off. Whether you’re ready for it or not, the time for that teeny-weenie bikini is fast approaching.

As you look out your window at the snow-covered ground, sunbathing on the beach might sound like a far-off dream. So take a step back. Picture yourself running in shorts and a tank top. How does that make you feel? Awesome, or anxious? If you’re not feeling great, remember that winter is the perfect time to get in gear. You might be more apt to don a cute new sports bra or running shorts when you’re feeling fit. Be the first one in your town to hit the ground running and looking mid-summer awesome when it’s only April.

Set a concrete goal. Sign up for a local event, 5K, 10K, or an obstacle race. Start training for strength and endurance now. Alternatively, have you ever thought about competing in a physique competition? Start taking a peek at local and regional competitions that are happening this year. Competitions that are 16 or 20 weeks out will give you a hard deadline while putting extra training gas in your tank.

If you’ve never felt comfortable wearing shorts, work hard so that this is the year to feel great in them. If you’re self-conscious about your skinny arms, make this the year of the muscle shirt. Plan jogs outside or go rollerblading for the first time in years. Grab some friends to set a pace for yourself and make it a cardio get-together. The more positive people you have around you to cheer you on, the more successful you’ll be.

2014 should be your year to shine, not cover up!

3 Spring Break Is Upon Us

Got a winter getaway trip planned? Time to get your butt in gear! You don’t want to have to worry about the pounds you’ve packed on while you pack luggage. If you’re planning on site-seeing, start now with 30-minute walks on the treadmill and tinker with the incline to mimic being outside. If you’re planning on snorkeling, get in the pool at your gym three days each week and push yourself for a calorie-burning, lap-swimming workout. Changing your cardio workout styles can not only lean you out, it can also prepare you for the vacation activities you’ve spent so much time saving up for. Don’t let it go to waste, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

“Get in the pool at your gym three days each week and push yourself for a calorie-burning, lap-swimming workout.”

4 Spring Is The Season Of Love

Are you single? Why not utilize your time now to find your best and most confident version of yourself? Nothing is more attractive than someone who is strong, confident, disciplined, and goal-oriented. Put your best foot forward by buckling down on your training and diet routine. Already got someone special? Plan couples workouts and get to the gym together. Not only can you push each other, you can get in and out of the gym in a blink by supersetting exercises. One person can do sets of squats while the other person does kettlebell swings, then you can switch. Low-rest, high-intensity workouts will strengthen your bodies and the health of your relationship.

5 Your Friends Need You

Many people have already fallen off the wagon for their 2014 goals in your life. Why not give them a boost by leading the way?

Working in groups or having someone to keep you accountable for your goals often creates a solid emotional boost to the recommitment of goals. Be the catalyst in the lives of people around you by electrifying your social group with your enthusiasm to get back on the wagon.

“Working in groups or having someone to keep you accountable for your goals often creates a solid emotional boost to the recommitment of goals.”

Try a hip-hop dance class with your friends if you’ve always been curious. Find a training program online, or hire a trainer to bring you through a group workout. Set up a circuit routine the gets everyone involved—think biceps curls, planks, step-ups, and Swiss ball hamstring curls. Follow it with 5-10 minutes of hard incline cardio. If you’re a competitor, get together with a friend who shares your passion, and increase accountability by practicing posing and stage routines.

6 You Owe It To Yourself

Yes, winter can be brutal and can make the idea of training debilitating. When it’s 0-15 degrees outside, you don’t care much to venture outside the house. I get it. I live in Minnesota, where 2014 brought 44 nights below zero already, twice as many as we normally get in a year! Even so, you owe it to yourself to follow through on the goals you set—no matter the weather.

Give yourself the power and momentum to push forward and start your spring and summer seasons with the body and health you’ve always dreamed of having. Find inspirational members on BodySpace and ask them questions about how they got to where they are. Go to a big fitness expo or competition and talk to the people in the world of fitness. How do they keep their own fire aflame?

Follow your favorite athletes through social media and read inspirational books like “You Are a Badass,” by Jen Sincero, which is one of my personal favorites. Education and inspiration are crucial to your success. The motivation to keep going is available everywhere when you look for it and are open to it.

You’re just as worthy of your efforts now as you ever were. 2014 has barely started. It’s way too soon to give up on yourself. Start now or start again and make it the best year of your life!


Recommended For You

5 STEPS TO OVERCOMING FEAR

Fear is a normal emotion, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. In fact, it can fuel your goals. Take the reins and use fear as motivation.

6 MOTIVATION JUMP-STARTS

It’s easy for motivation to ebb and flow, and even hit an all-time low. Skip the mea culpas and learn how to max out on motivation.

4 SOCIAL MEDIA SANITY SAFEGUARDS

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Resist the urge to let online personas define your real life worth.

About The Author

Abby has experienced a variety of events that led her to embrace an underdog role. She hopes to offer a different perspective on health and fitness.

Scultping full upper-body workout by Marcie King

This full upper-body workout targets abs from every angle while sculpting arms, back and chest.FrequencyTwo to three days per week.The rulesPerform all exercises in pairs (e.g. 1&2, 3&4, etc), leaving 48 hours between workouts. (e.g. Tuesday and Friday).

5 equipment free exercises to tone your upper body

If you don’t have access to a gym, there are many ways you can get your daily workout in. Start off with our list of five upper body exercises.Clap push upChoose your appropriate option for the clap push-up depending on your fitness and strength ability. These can be done on either your toes, knees or eliminate the clap altogether and just keep it a simple push-up.Start in a plank position and use your arms to lower your chest towards to floor – a nice deep push-up will get great results. Push your chest back up as you would with a normal push-up but with more force, springing off the ground for a clap

5 exercises for at-home reformer Pilates

5 exercises for at-home reformer Pilates Want to bring your Pilates sessions home with you? Here are five ways to bring some reformer moves into your home workouts.If reformer Pilates sounds like your kind of deal, you better be prepared to part with a pretty penny. An hour-long private lesson can set you back hundreds of dollars, while group classes are still quite pricey.

5 minutes with The HIIT Mum

5 minutes with The HIIT Mum Pocket rocket and mother-of-one Colette McShane, aka. @TheHIITMum, is a fitness force to be reckoned with. Here, we chat to her about supplementation, passion and just getting stuff done.My love for the health industry started very early. I’ve been athletic all my life, participating in triathlons and cross-country racing as a six-year-old in Scotland.

Jump Training: The 4-Move No Equipment Leg Workout

It’s become a common cliché that bodyweight athletes don’t have strong legs. Look at the comments on any YouTube clip showcasing advanced calisthenics, and you’re bound to see someone hating on the lack of lower-body development. A number of coaches also insist that it’s impossible to build a strong, powerful lower body without external weights.

Balderdash, I say! Bodyweight exercises alone can make you every bit as strong as can barbells and dumbbells. You just need to push yourself and get a little creative.

While newcomers need to spend some time honing their bodyweight squats and lunges, it usually doesn’t take long for these basic exercises to max out on their strength benefits. Once this occurs, however, adding weight is not the only solution; you can continue to build strength by simply progressing to more difficult bodyweight exercises, like I discuss in my book Pushing The Limits.

Ultimately, I recommend working up to single-leg movements like the pistol squat to get the most out of calisthenics leg training. However, these types of advanced movements may remain out of reach until you’ve built more strength. As an intermediate step, jump training can add a challenge to your lower-body workouts without the need for weights or equipment. And even if you’re well-versed in pistol squats, some of these simple exercises may offer you a new challenge and a welcomed change of pace.

1 Jump Squat

A jump squat is like a regular bodyweight squat, except instead of simply standing up at the top of your range of motion, you jump as high as you can, lifting your knees toward your chest at the top. You can do them jumping in place or up onto an object.

Though your legs obviously do most of the work, jump squats are a full-body exercise, so use your arms to generate momentum. Remember to stay light on your feet and avoid landing with your knees locked. Keep your joints relaxed and do your best to absorb the impact as gently as possible.

Try to go directly from one jump into the next, taking advantage of the elasticity of your muscles and their stretch reflex. If you’re not able to do this at first, however, just reset and take a few seconds between reps as needed.

“Though your legs obviously do most of the work, jump squats are a full-body exercise, so use your arms to generate momentum.”

2 Broad Jump

Another fun plyometric squat variant, the broad jump is essentially the same as the jump squat except you jump forward, not upward. You still want to lift your legs high as you jump, however; this will help you clear more distance. Leaving your legs dangling isn’t as aerodynamic. You’ll need a lot of space to practice broad jumps; I recommend a park or field.

Again, try to go from one rep right into the next, though feel free to take a few seconds between reps if you need to when starting out.

“Lunges are one of my favorite leg exercises, but like anything else, they need to be progressed once they cease to be a challenge.”

3 Jump Lunge

Lunges are one of my favorite leg exercises, but like anything else, they need to be progressed once they cease to be a challenge.

Start out with a stationary jump lunge by lowering yourself down into a split squat and jumping up at the top, gently landing back into the bottom position with your knees bent. Do several in a row, and then switch legs.

When you get comfortable with those, the cycle lunge is a more advanced jump lunge worth trying. It starts out the same as the stationary jump lunge, but once you’re in the air, you’ll have to quickly switch your legs before landing. Continue to alternate legs with each rep, going from one right into the next. Feel free to swing your arms for momentum or keep them at your sides. It might take a little practice to land comfortably without losing your balance.

4 Sprinting

Though often overlooked, running is arguably the most natural and fundamental of all lower-body calisthenics exercises. Though most people associate running with long-distance cardio training, sprinting turns up the intensity to such a degree that the body’s response is more like performing a heavy set of barbell squats than jogging a 10K. Yes, you can actually build strength and muscle through sprinting!

“The body’s response to sprinting is more like performing a heavy set of barbell squats than jogging a 10K.”

Remember that when you sprint, both of your feet are often in the air at the same time, so sprinting is pretty much a form of jump training. You can do sprints for time or for distance, but either way, keep them brief and intense for the most strength benefits.

Here’s a simple routine that can be done anytime to help you find your footing in jump training.

Perform all exercises consecutively, with 1-2 minutes rest between each set.

  • Warm-UpWarm-Up Warm-Up
    Light jogging or jumping jacks for around 5 minutes
  • Jump Squat Jump Squat Jump Squat
    2 sets of 10 reps
  • Broad Jump Broad Jump Broad Jump
    2 sets of 5 reps
  • Jump Lunge Jump Lunge Jump Lunge
    2 sets of 10 reps
  • Sprints Sprints
    2 sets of 10 seconds

There is no single strength building method that’s guaranteed to work best for everybody. Weight training will forever have its place in strength and conditioning, but there will always be alternative options to help build athleticism outside of the traditional weight room setting. Bodyweight workouts are often the most practical means of getting a quick but effective workout when you’ve got a busy schedule and/or don’t belong to a gym.

Give the workout above a shot. I promise it will leave your quads aching and your hamstrings hammered.


Recommended For You

Pistol Perfect: One-Legged Squats And Beyond

Pistol squats pop up all over the place, but that doesn’t make this classic movement any easier. Commit, do the work, and let Al Kavadlo be your guide!

Bodyweight Bust! Four Bodyweight Training Myths Debunked

Don’t believe that high-level calisthenics are only for athletes who look a certain way. Everyone can benefit from the unique challenges that come with bodyweight training!

Ask The Muscle Prof: What’s The Best Cardio For Preserving Mass?

You’ve heard the benefits of high-intensity cardio for weight loss, but you’re concerned it’ll cost you hard-earned muscle. Learn the truth!

About The Author

Al Kavadlo, CSCS is one of the world’s leading experts in bodyweight strength training and calisthenics.

8 Unusual Arm Exercises You Have To Try!

So you want to increase your arm size by next month rather than next year? Great! I want you to do a few things:

  • Read or at least scan this list of eight great arm movements, many of which you’ve never tried before.
  • Pick two that seem appealing. These will form part of your next scheduled arm workout.
  • Hold up, you haven’t scheduled your next arm workout yet? Do that before you even read this piece.
  • When the time comes to head to the gym, dial in two or three tracks guaranteed to send your intensity through the roof. Crushing your reps will feel like nothing once you start training.
  • Slug down a preworkout like SuperPump 3.0 to make sure you’re ready to rock.
  • Enter the gym for the best arm thrash you’ve had in months. You’ll own the weights now!

Triceps

Constituting two-thirds of your upper-arm development, the triceps typically demand more volume than biceps do. In this age of rope press-downs and dumbbell kickbacks performed on Swiss Balls, many good old-fashioned triceps smashers have fallen by the wayside. Triceps typically respond well to all forms of extension exercises involving dumbbells, which allow for a greater range of motion compared to barbells.

The exercise forces you to work against gravity, as the shoulder joint stabilizes the upper arm. While it can be done with a barbell, this dumbbell version with palms facing in can isolate the triceps more effectively to build more mass.

Lying dumbbell triceps extension

Start by lying on a bench with your arms extended forward and your palms in. Slowly lower the dumbbells until they nearly touch your forehead. Pause for one second and then straighten arms and flex the triceps. It’s important here to keep the elbows in a fixed position and control each dumbbell through a full range of motion for maximum effect.

This heavy overhead extension targets an oft-neglected region of the triceps. It won’t be easy. So many people avoid doing it, and suffer incomplete development as a result.

Seated reverse-grip overhead dumbbell triceps extension

While seated, hold dumbbells with an underhand grip—as if performing a biceps curl—and extended your arms until the dumbbells are overhead. Maintaining a straight back, slowly lower the dumbbells to your upper traps until you achieve 90-degrees of flexion. After a moment’s pause, flex your triceps to raise the dumbbells back to the starting position. Be sure to keep your shoulders back and avoid letting your elbows fall forward.

Deemed potentially injurious and less beneficial than other moves, parallel bar dips have been swept under the rug. However, when correctly performed, they can stack more mass on the back of your arms due to their ability to overload all three triceps heads. To perform this move safely and correctly, hang between two parallel bars and use your triceps to push up until the arms are almost straight (not to complete lockout). Slowly lower your body, keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides and legs behind your body, until the upper arms run parallel with the floor. You know you’re on the right track when you form a 90-degree angle between the upper arms and forearms.

Parallel bar triceps dips

Biceps

The high visibility of impressive biceps commands respect and conveys a respectable degree of upper-body power. Although they are beauties to be admired, the volume of work is often overstated. Because they already receive indirect tension from other upper body training, 2-3 movements per session for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps each is ample for maximal recruitment. Add these three rather obscure movements to have your biceps reaching new developmental “peaks.”

The biceps ladder is a great movement for extending the time under tension while enabling maximal contractibility of both biceps heads. It also emphasizes the negative part of each rep to promote more muscle micro trauma (and subsequent growth) compared to other movements.

Biceps ladder

This movement is best performed on a power rack or a Smith machine. Set bar at a level low enough for you to fully extend the arms, with your back just clear of the floor. Begin by grasping the bar with an underhand grip, arms fully stretched; then contract your biceps while curling your upper body to the bar until it touches your forehead. Squeeze hard at the top, and then slowly lower back down to starting position. After completing as many reps as possible from this position, raise the bar a notch and immediately complete another set to failure. Continue in this fashion until you reach the farthest notch.

Concentration curls have always been a favorite of people pining for that coveted biceps peak. The cables will allow more tension to be placed on the biceps long head and recruit a greater number of muscle fibers as a result.

Seated cable concentration curl

Start by attaching a single handle to a seated row cable. Position yourself seated and facing the machine, then rest the back of your upper arm on your knee and curl weight until the palm almost touches the front deltoid of the working arm. Remember to squeeze and slowly extend your arm to the starting position.

6 Spider curl (AKA: the Larry Scott curl)

The spider curl is so named after the eight-legged bench it was originally performed on. It was popularized by the first-ever Mr. Olympia winner, Larry Scott, who rocked unmatched biceps. The movement helps to lengthen the long head to promote greater fullness while building the short head to create more biceps width.

Spider curl

Now comes the fun part! Lean forward on a vertical preacher bench with the triceps pressed flat against the front padding and arms fully extended, thus achieving a nice stretch. Now raise weight to shoulder height by squeezing the biceps and repeat. Simple yet effective!

Forearms

Aside from titanic triceps and biceps, no other muscle grouping is as routinely displayed as the forearms. Comprising many individual muscles, the forearms are notoriously a stubborn group of muscles to train. Given their involvement in almost all exercises, they need both volume and massive weights to be properly hit. The exercises featured below will have yours larger and more impressive in no time.

Isometric training (static contractions held for 10 seconds or longer) is an effective way to build muscle endurance and provides one hell of a mean burn. When the forearms are subjected to such a stimulus, the results can be truly spectacular. The plate pinch-hold is a classic and easy to perform.

Grasp two weight plates of the same size and resistance at arm’s length, between your thumb and fingers. Extend toward the floor and hold for at least 30 seconds, then switch to opposite side. Flatter plates can be difficult to grip so it’s worth experimenting with flat plates or hollowed-out plates.

“The forearms are notoriously stubborn to train. They need both volume and massive weights to be properly hit.

The bulk of forearm mass can be found in the flexor muscles situated on the underside of this grouping. Rather than hitting them with variants of the underhand wrist curl, change up your flexor training with behind the back overhand curls. This seldom-performed exercise will pump your forearms to great effect and gains.

Hold a dumbbell with an overhand grip and fully extend your arm to the back of your body a little wider than shoulder width. Keep your arms steady and curl the weight toward your forearm flexor; squeeze hard at the top. Slowly lower and repeat.

Mixing it up for further arm mass gains

If your goal is Hulk-like hypertrophy, the right combination of exercises for the greatest growth stimulus is the key. Remember that all arm movements will build mass, but it is the training style, rep range, and volume of weight lifted that will help determine growth. Try incorporating the above exercises into your arms regimen or even increasing your training volume by adding an exercise to your current routine. Then improved size and shape will be yours forthwith!

References
  1. Stoppani, J. Climb the Ladder for Bigger Biceps. Muscle & Fitness [Online] http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/arms-exercises/climb-ladder-bigger-biceps retrieved on 22.4.14


Recommended For You

Fred ”Biggie” Smalls Workout: 8 Moves To Awesome Arms

Get your guns! Take a page out of Biggie’s book and learn how he prepares his biceps and triceps for an important contest. Here’s to volume!

Arms By Alex: Strong Biceps And Triceps Workout

Forget small-arms fire. It’s time to turn your guns into cannons. Alex Carneiro’s video workout will help you build bulging biceps and horseshoe triceps.

Old-School Arms: Josh Halladay’s Arms Workout

NPC competitor Josh Halladay is on a quest for his pro card in 2014. Here’s the off-season arms workout that he’ll use to add serious muscle to his arms!

About The Author

As an active martial artist, bodybuilder and accredited personal trainer, David employs the latest cutting edge research to enhance his own progress.

Barbell Workout

Strong is sexy! Sometimes big heavy metal weights can be a little bit daunting, but combining weight training into your workout will help you burn more calories and tone your body. So bust your fears, check out this barbell workout to get summer ready!

How to do it: Perform 8-10 reps of each move one after the other in a circuit, resting between sets if you need to. Once a circuit is complete, return to the start and repeat. Keep going until you’ve reached the time recommended for your level.

Beginner: 10 mins

Intermediate: 15 mins

Advanced: 20 mins

Squat (Areas trained: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves)

Technique

–       Holding the barbell resting on your shoulder muscles, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart

–       Bend your knees and hips to lower your body until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor

–       Reverse the position, extending your hips and knees to return to the start position.

Romanian Deadlift (Areas trained: Hamstrings, Lower back, Glutes)

Technique

–       Hold the bar with an overhand grip approximately shoulder-width (your thumbs should brush the outside of your thighs)

–       Place your feet approximately hip-width apart, with knees soft and your feet straight ahead

–       Maintaining a flat back position, bend forward at the hips, lowering the bar towards the floor

–       Reverse the position, extend your hips and return to the start position

Hip Thrust (Areas trained: Glutes, Hamstrings, Core) 

Technique

–       Set up with your shoulder blades in with the bend an holding a barbell to your hips.

–       Place your feet close to your bottom, so that at the top of the hip thrust, your calves are at 90 degrees to the floor

–       Drive through your heels and focus on using your glutes to pish your hips straight up. Finish with your hips as high as possible while maintaining a neutral spine.

–       Lower; repeat. 

How to lose the last two kilos

How to lose the last two kilos They say the last two kilograms are the hardest to lose, but we’ve found a loophole.STEP 1.Calculate your baselineBasal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories you’d burn per day if you were to lie in bed 24/7. It’s based on various factors including your height, age and body composition (a higher muscle to fat ratio will burn more calories even at rest). To calculate your BMR, plug your deets into this equation (known as the Harris-Benedict equation):BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)e.g. a 30-year-old female measuring 167 cm tall and weighing 54.5 kg would compute 655 + 523 + 302 – 141 to get a maintenance level daily calorie need of 1,339, or 5,624 kJ, per day (multiply calories by 4.2 to convert to kJ lingo).STEP 2.Body auditIf your numbers come in low, don’t panic. In addition to what you burn to maintain basic bodily functions, you need to add your other energy usage.

Top
Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

%d bloggers like this: