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Do you postpone hitting the gym?

Here are 5 ways you can find motivation to work out Sometimes, it’s tough to take the first step and sign up for a gym membership. Other times, it’s hard to get back to your routine after a break. We round up five ways to get back into the swing of things

Eat-fasting 2.0 = two meals within a 12 hour period

  Eat-fasting 2.0 sanctions eating two meals within a 12-hour period. So does this diet plan work? The whole fasting and eating at the same time thing has become so ubiquitous, we’re inured to the fact that it’s the stupidest oxymoron since skinny-fat. But suspending logic and intellect for the sake of being able to buy lunch and stovepipe jeans, we’re digging scientific backing for a pro-grub upgrade to the 5:2 fad. How does it work Eat-fasting 2.0 sanctions eating two meals within a 12-hour period, which is – knock us down with a catwalk model’s thigh – almost normal. According to Salk Institute researchers, the program can help the body to burn fat rather than store it, despite no weird food or kJ rules and occasional cheat meals. They also put the kibosh on the six-meals-a-day boosting metabolism theory. Who does it: Fitness model Dr Sara Solomon. Browse more diet plans or connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest! {nomultithumb}  

Skinny To Strong: Karina Baymiller’s Complete Fitness Journey

In the fitness community, I’m most often recognized because of my big weight-loss transformation. I went from 185 pounds to a little less than 130 pounds. It took me a few years to get to my lowest weight, but I followed the motto that slow and steady wins the race and I never gave up. I know it was this attitude that helped me place second the 2013 Bodybuilding.com BodySpace Spokesmodel Competition.

Sometimes, I look back and can’t believe how far I’ve come. I don’t even remember the girl who had never stepped foot in a gym and gorged on pizza, chips, and ramen all day.

But I’ve decided my transformation work is not yet done—in fact, it’s only just begun! I’m on a second transformation journey, and this time I’m putting my happiness and my health first. I’m transforming my body from skinny to strong, and my mind from unhealthy to happy.

Before

After

Why I Decided to Change … Again

Believe it or not, when I weighed 185 pounds, I was one confident girl. I loved my body and never thought of myself as fat. I was who I was and that was that. I wasn’t defined by my body’s appearance. But that self-confidence changed the moment I decided I should lose weight. It seemed as though the more weight I lost, the more self-conscious about my appearance I became. I reached every weight-related goal I had set for myself, and yet I was never good enough.

At 125 pounds and with barely enough body fat to function, I competed for the first (and last) time with anxiety that I was “too fat” to be on stage. I had become so progressively wrapped up in numbers and body fat percentages over the few short years of dieting, that I was mentally destroyed.

I also noticed that my training started to suffer. I first began working out to be healthy and because I loved the way it made me feel, but I had lost sight of those reasons. I trained to burn calories and stay as thin as possible. If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run. I started to hate outdoor runs because I was forcing myself to do them. I allowed my training to control me. I stopped doing the things I enjoyed in exchange for doing whatever it took to stay thin.

Along with a severely distorted body image and training that was running me into the ground, my relationship with food started to become extremely disordered. Gone were the days of using food for fuel. If my food wasn’t weighed out to the gram and if I didn’t prepare it myself, I refused to eat it. There were days that I had full-blown anxiety attacks because I couldn’t log something in MyFitnessPal.

“If I didn’t burn enough calories according to my heart rate monitor—which was never accurate anyway—my mood was ruined. More often than not, I would make myself go back to the gym later to do HIIT or run.”

I began taking hours of my day to try to configure my food so I would hit my macros just perfectly. If I didn’t, another anxiety attack would ensue. To say I was obsessed is an understatement. I restricted myself with calories, types of foods, and situations. God forbid I would eat a cookie!

I felt like I was drowning, like I was just barely holding my head above water. Everything I had loved so much in the beginning—the healthy eating, the workouts, my body—now had complete control of my life. They were no longer positives. They had become negatives, weighing me down with each passing day. I knew I had to change. It was only a matter of time before I broke down completely.

That’s when I decided I wanted to find strength.

Letting Go

The first thing I had to change was my mindset. I had to let go of the unhealthy habits that were slowly suffocating me. My negative body image was, and still is to this day, the hardest thing to let go of. I found it much easier to allow for self-hate than to find self-love. Sadly, I think this is true for many people. But I had to let go.

I had to let go of having visible abs 24/7. I had to let go of desperately trying to maintain 12 percent body fat. I had to let go of the number on the scale. Most importantly, I had to let go of the idea that I would only be happy if I was lean. I wanted to be happy when I looked in the mirror, and I knew it wouldn’t come from a certain size. It had to come from letting go and loving myself no matter what.

“I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made.”

I still remind myself of where I started. That girl sitting on her ass eating ramen all day is 180 degrees from where I am today, and she always will be. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and the changes I’ve made. Whether I stay the size that I am now or gain or lose a few pounds, I love who I am. My worth is no longer based on what the scale says in the morning.

I don’t have “fat days” or “fluffy days” anymore, because quite frankly, I don’t care. I refuse to let something like three pounds of water destroy my day. I know now that I’m healthier than I ever was at 130 pounds. My hormones aren’t out of whack, I’m not moody or depressed, I don’t have random headaches, I’m not constantly fatigued, and I don’t feel weak.

Unfortunately, there’s a widespread belief that equates health to six-pack abs. This might be true for some people, but for the majority it’s not. I can lift more, sprint faster, and am healthier now than I ever was. There is beauty in strength. I don’t just say it, I know it.

Letting Go

I wanted my fire for exercise to burn like it did when I first started lifting, so I let go of the forced daily runs and extra HIIT sessions to “make up” for calories. I began to utilize conditioning work 1-2 times per week instead. I added back my short outdoor runs, but much more infrequently, and never because I felt pressure to burn a certain number of calories. I threw my heart monitor away.

I also discovered powerlifting. When I finally dropped the light-weight, high-rep stuff I was doing to stay thin, I started following Wendler’s 5-3-1 program and quickly fell in love. My strength skyrocketed, and when I decided I wanted to take my training to the next level, I signed with The Strength Guys. Now, the spark is back when I’m in the gym. I feel the fire again.

Squat

Strength Training Program

I follow an intense, block-periodization powerlifting program created by my coach, Jon Stewart. It’s high volume, tailored to correct my weaknesses, and uses movements and load intensities built for progression. I’m on six-week cycles of five-day splits. I have one day of light conditioning and one day of complete rest. Mobility is a vital component of my current program because my training pushes my body to its limits.

Each day and week I use different sets, reps, and weight with a specific rest time, exercise tempo, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to follow. Days one and three look on week three of my program.

  • Mobility TrainingMobility Training Mobility Training
    30-40 minutes

Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.

Pause Squats have the lifter descending to the bottom position of the squat and freezing. The bottom position is held for three seconds, maintaining tightness in the muscles and correct technique, before returning to the starting position.

Compensatory Acceleration Training (C.A.T.)

is lifting sub-maximal loads with maximum force. For more details check

elitefts.com

.

  • Mobility TrainingMobility Training Mobility Training
    30-40 minutes

Mobility Training includes foam rolling the area to be trained, plus two or three dynamic stretches/movements the prepare the area for training.

Reset Deadlifts are performed the same as a standard deadlift, but the lifter will put the weight completely on the floor and reset their hip position between each rep.

Letting Go

The hardest physical aspect to change for me was my diet. I had developed such rigid views and habits around food that it was almost more of a struggle to let them go than it was to keep them. I packed away my food scale and deleted MyFitnessPal. I started incorporating foods that I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in years. I stopped restricting. I re-learned how to eat, not from a clock or scale, but from what my body was feeling.

At first I thought I would feel free without the calorie counting, stress, obsession, and anxiety, but I didn’t. I would take two steps forward and three steps back, wondering if I would ever be able to change. It took years to develop my disordered relationship with food, and I knew it wasn’t going to take a week to fix it. So, I trusted the process just as I always had, kept working at it, and didn’t give up.

Today, around 70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food that allows my body to perform at its optimal level. This includes things like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.

70-80 percent of the food I consume is healthy, nutrient-dense food like lean proteins, organic dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts (and butters!), and seeds.

The other 20-30 percent of food I consume is made up of things that I crave, or that I just plain want—no explanation or condition necessary. There is no special time, day, or place for these foods. I allow myself the freedom to eat them when I want them. Some days I’m at a 50/50 split, some days it’s 100/0, but on most days I stay right around 80/20. It all balances out.

I don’t restrict, I listen to my body’s needs and wants, and most important, I consume everything mindfully and in moderation. Through all of the extremes, I’ve found balance to be the key component in my physical and mental health. It’s also been the key to my happiness.

Sample Day

I don’t have a meal plan to follow because the foods and amounts I eat change on a daily basis. I don’t weigh or measure anything, so all quantities below are estimated. I don’t know my caloric intake or macro breakdown, but I would guess I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,200-2,700 calories per day. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Greek Chicken Wrap

Final Thoughts

Throughout my second transformation, I’ve found myself spending more time with friends and family. They couldn’t care less what I look like—my abs make no difference to them. As long as I’m healthy and happy, they’re happy too.

It’s funny because these are the people I pulled away from when I started my downhill slide into disordered eating and thinking. I sheltered myself from everything that wasn’t fitness related, even friends and family. But when I finally let go of the obsession and the stress, I felt free.

During this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.

The fitness community is full of extremes. We work out until we can’t move. We eat diets of tilapia and broccoli. It takes a strong individual to endure what we put ourselves through. But during this second transformation, I found that the middle is where I want to be.

I want to be somewhere between the overweight college girl and the underweight girl on stage, somewhere between the girl who ate pop-tarts for every meal and the girl who ate lettuce for every meal, somewhere between the girl who never stepped foot into the gym and the girl who wouldn’t leave it until she’d burned enough calories. This middle spot is where I’m happy and strong. It’s where I found my balance.


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Pro Advice: 6 Surprising Fat-Loss Facts

Most regular gym-goers are there for one thing and one thing only: to lose fat. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that goal, many people aren’t training for it in the most efficient ways and thus struggle to make real progress. What’s usually to blame for these ineffective fat-loss plans is a whole bunch of misinformation.

Get the real fat-loss facts right here! These six Optimum athletes know just what it takes to uncover those muscles hiding out under your body fat. Here’s what they have to say about some of those pervasive fat-loss myths.

Tobias Young

FAT-LOSS FALSEHOOD: “If I train abs really hard every day, I will lose belly fat and get a six-pack.”

REALITY: Everyone has a six-pack. It’s a muscle called your rectus abdominus. The only reason it’s not visible on everyone is because it’s usually covered with a layer of body fat. You could do 1,000 crunches seven days per week, but that won’t help you burn that layer of fat.

In order to lose fat, you must monitor your caloric intake and eat fewer calories than you expend. That way, your body will use stored fat for fuel. When your body burns fat for fuel, you don’t get to pick which parts of your body the fat will come off. Eventually, your entire body will be leaner, including that coveted abdominal area!

Jen Thompson

FAT-LOSS FALSEHOOD: “You can turn all of your body fat into toned muscle by lifting weights.”

REALITY: It is not possible to turn your body fat into muscle. Fat is fat and muscle is muscle—you can’t magically turn one into the other by lifting weights or doing cardio. However, weight training is the easiest way to control the shape of your body. The more muscle you have, the more fat your body will burn.

Keep in mind, though, that you can have a lot of muscle and still have fat covering it up. That’s why you need to do weight training, cardio, and have a clean, nutritious diet to maximize your weight loss and body-shaping potential.

Alex Carneiro

FAT-LOSS FALSEHOOD: “When trying to lose weight you need to drop your carbs and fats, but keep your protein intake high.”

REALITY: Fats and carbs both play a role in fat loss. Fats are responsible for hormone production, joint lubrication, and many other important health and muscle-building factors. Dropping your fats too low could compromise your health and your goals. Everyone’s body and metabolism is different, so it’s crucial to know how many grams of healthy fat you need to eat for a balanced nutrition regimen.

Carbs are always perceived as the enemy, but they too have a significant role in fat loss. The body needs glucose to work, and to a certain level, your brain requires it to think and function optimally. Some will argue that technically we don’t need carbs, but many of your body’s basic functions will decrease in performance without the right amount of carbs at the right times.

As for protein, a high-protein diet could benefit people in a caloric deficit.

Kelly Rennie

FAT-LOSS FALSEHOOD: “Eating fat makes you fat.”

REALITY: Fat doesn’t make you fat—consuming too many calories does. Foods that contain fat are part of a healthy diet, help maintain your lean body mass, and assist with metabolic function. Healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, almonds, avocados, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, and more. If you want to lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories and/or burn more calories.

Noah Siegel

FAT-LOSS FALSEHOOD: “Cardio is all I need for fat loss.”

REALITY: Every gym has the guy or gal who does an hour and half of cardio but never seems to make physique changes. They’re living proof that if you don’t change things up, steady-state cardio will become less and less effective at reducing your body fat.

Most people will be able to quickly lose a few pounds when they start a cardiovascular program. Usually, this “program” is a long, drawn out battle with the treadmill or my most-hated machine, the elliptical. The initial drop in body fat is due to the new stimuli, but that trend quickly begins to taper off until eventually the individual is able to go longer and longer distances without any change in body composition. As you get “better” at doing cardio, your body makes specific adaptations to the stress being placed on it in order to become more efficient. Your body will increase your ability to transport and use oxygen, create more capillaries to deliver blood and oxygen to the needed muscles, and will strengthen the bones and muscles being used.

Simply put, as you get better at the activity, you stop expending the same amount of calories. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you simply stop burning fat. This is a necessary adaptation from our ancestors who had to travel long distances without the amenities that we have today. (Of course, they weren’t eating any donuts or Big Macs.)

Once your body adapts to the stress you put on it, it’s time to change the stress. Personally, I’d only run for a long distance if I were being chased by a hungry lion, so it’s unlikely you’d catch me on the treadmill. I prefer to do weight training circuits combined with calisthenics, sprints, and jumps to keep things interesting. You can mix things however you wish, as long as you find it challenging.

Example circuit:
Little to no rest between exercises
Rest 3-5 minutes between circuits
Repeat circuit 3 times

20 burpees
20 box jumps
30 air squats
Bear crawl: length of gym
Crab walk: length of the gym
Rope drills (waves, slams, etc.): 4 sets of 30 seconds
Agility ladder drills: 4 sets

This should be about a 20-minute cardio session that yields 10 times the results than an hour of boredom on the treadmill.

Kelechi Opara

FAT-LOSS FALSEHOOD: “Eating small meals frequently speeds up your metabolism so you can burn more fat.”

REALITY: Bro-scientists will insist that eating small portions every 2-3 hours will increase your metabolism. They base this on the thermic effect of food (TEF), which refers to the energy (calorie) cost of your body processing the food you consume. On average, 15 percent of the calories you consume are burned by processing them (although the rate varies by macronutrient). Someone took this idea and assumed that the more frequently people consume their meals, the more frequent TEF will take effect and thus increase fat oxidation.

This seems like a good thought at first. But numerous research studies have proven this to be false and simple math reinforces what these studies already show. Here’s an example:

Let’s look at two people consuming 1800 calories. The 0.15 represents the thermic effect of food.

Person 1 consumes 6 meals of 300 calories: 300 x 0.15 + 300 x 0.15 + 300 x 0.15 + 300 x 0.15 + 300 x 0.15 + 300 x 0.15 = 270 calories burned.

Person 2 consumes 3 meals of 600 calories: 600 x 0.15 + 600 x 0.15 + 600 x 0.15 = 270 calories burned.

As you can see, the amount of calories oxidized through digestion is the same no matter how frequently a person eats.

Eating more frequently holds no metabolic advantage over eating less frequently. Of course, if spreading your meals across six feeds per day is more comfortable and easier for you, then do it. The key is to choose a meal frequency that fits your lifestyle. That way, you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan over time.

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Train With Dana Linn Bailey Contest: Winning Back Workout

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“When I got the call that I had won, I honestly didn’t know what to do—I just ran around the house crying like a total spaz,” recalls Sam. The day after DLB won the Olympia, Sam was there to meet her. Among flashing cameras and surprise visits from other notable Olympia athletes, such as Kai Greene, the two women got right down to business by crushing a back workout. “Getting to do what I love to do most alongside the person I most look up to was a remarkable experience,” says Sam.

Train With Dana
Watch The Video – 11:09

Although she was depleted and tired from the day before, DLB challenged Sam to do her best. “The thing about Dana is that she is so inspiring,” says Sam. “She makes you feel like you can do it too. There are some people who are discouraging and have a cocky attitude. She’s not like that at all. She’s really uplifting, inspiring, and motivating.”

“I was speechless the whole day—I just tried to take it all in. This day changed my life.”

Follow the workout these two inspiring ladies did together!

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Featured Product

Ryan Hughes’ Power Pecs Chest Workout

Back when I only had 135 pounds on my 6-foot-1 frame, I had to deal with the usual labels: ectomorph, hardgainer, skinny kid. I didn’t care for those words then, and I don’t like them any better now.

I used weights to change my physique. I love to train heavy, I love to move quickly, and I love the pump I get from high volume. I put all three of these elements into each workout I do, and I couldn’t ask for better results.

Today’s chest workout is no different. It combines a fast pace to keep your heart rate up, high volume for an insane pump, and heavy weights to make you stronger.

When you put each of these pieces together, you end up with a max-effort workout that will challenge all aspects of your fitness level.

Let’s get it done!

Power Pecs
Watch The Video – 11:11

One of the toughest aspects of this workout is the mental game. Your body will always have that extra rep, or that extra set, but you have to find the mental energy to get it done. I may not be the biggest or strongest guy in the gym, but I guarantee no one can outwork me.

If you’ve never done this type of training before, you might find it difficult. If you fail, put the weight down and give yourself a little break before you finish the set. You want the shortest rest periods possible, but do whatever you need to get the work done. Never give up on a set.

A lot of guys tell me that they want to build the best physique ever. I think that’s the wrong approach. Don’t focus on being the best ever, focus on building your best physique ever.

Max out what you can do. If you constantly compare yourself to everyone else, you’ll sell yourself short. Hit this workout with all you’ve got and reap the personal rewards.

Program Notes

Incline dumbbell press

I like to do a couple warm-up sets before starting the first heavy set. Don’t go too heavy on the warm-up because you’ll wear yourself out. Eighty total reps is a lot of reps, so you have to keep an eye on muscular endurance. This is a chest marathon.

I start with 75-pound dumbbells for the first warm-up set and then go up to 85 pounds for the second. When I start my working sets, I go up to 100 pounds. Don’t worry about what I’m doing, though. Pick a weight that’s challenging for you.

This style of training is mentally draining. Dig deep and do your best on those last couple sets. If you need to rest-pause to hit the total rep count, do it, but make sure you finish every single rep.

Hammer strength chest press

You can do these with whatever grip you prefer. Challenge yourself with the weight and then increase it every set. You might feel like you’ll never get those target reps, but trust me—I’ve been doing this long enough. One way or another, the reps will come.

Hammer Strength Chest Press

Reverse-grip barbell bench press

Use lighter weight for this exercise and focus on the contraction—squeeze on each and every rep. You want to push until you can’t go anymore. Crush the barbell with your grip and engage your mind-muscle connection.

If you fail on this exercise, don’t panic. Let the weight briefly sit on your chest, reverse your grip back to normal, and press the bar back up.

Pec deck

Make sure you don’t round your shoulders forward: Keep your chest high and maintain a good arch in your lower back. Focus entirely on the chest and squeeze.

Pec Deck

Incline dumbbell flye

Get as much as you can out of this exercise. Stretch nice and wide at the bottom of each rep, and squeeze at the top for a full contraction. Don’t go too heavy or you’ll round your shoulders forward. Keep the tension entirely on your upper chest.

High cable flyes

We’re doing 100 total reps, so do as many reps as you can per set and as many sets as you need to get to 100 reps. I usually do four sets of 25 reps.

High Cable Flyes

At the end of the workout, you’ll be exhausted. You may want to give up and walk out. But at the end of the day, you always have those extra reps and extra sets in you. Leave them in the gym.

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About The Author

Ryan Hughes was one of the first men to qualify as an IFBB Physique Pro. He works as a personal trainer and fitness model in New York City

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