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Strength & Resistance

10 Leg Exercises Every Man Should Try

By | Strength & Resistance, TRAINING & WORKOUT | No Comments

Yes, using up all of your time on building your upper body might not be enough when you have maximized the growth. With upper body strength comes the need for lower body strength too, particularly when the legs are being used the most for the exercises and the workouts. Continuous walking during the day can have its effects on the legs, for which the restoration of strength and stamina is vital. Thus, to help you get back on your feet and have a muscular and proportionate body, here are 10 exercises which will restore your inner Usain Bolt back to health:

1. Leg Press: This weight training exercising machine can be used without much hard work as you lie down and push the weight away with your legs, ultimately leading to a lot of pumping of blood into the legs, encouraging growth and workout in calves, hamstrings etc from a 90 degree angle.

2. Squats: How can we forget one of the greatest leg exercise practices of all times? Squat exercises can lead to many benefits including a full body workout while toning legs, strengthening the core, etc. With movements you might have actually done in your daily life, they are not very hard to get a hold of, and once done, it can be quite enjoyable too.

3. Sumo Squats: Another type of squat, sumo squats are usually done with feet wider than hip width. They are great at increasing flexibility in the inner thighs while also maintaining the glutes.

4. Split Squats: Split squats are now becoming a popular choice among many strength coaches. Requiring for the person to stand with their back foot behind, dumbbells are essential which the person will use in order for muscle exercise along with balancing the feet. Glutes, calves and quads are their main focus.

5. Glute machine: Obvious by the name, glutes exercises can be performed easily in them such as hip hinge, glute bridge etc. All you have to do is climb onto the machine and then you can proceed with your glutes pressing on the machine and do a number of sets in order to have more strength as well as flexibility on the glutes.

6. Dead lifts: Don’t be scared by the name. This weight lifting exercise is one of the most common exercises you will come across in a gym. All you have to do is load a barbell from the group to the hips while your whole body works out with the pressure. However, don’t handle more weight than you are capable of, these are called “heavy” lifting for a reason.

7. Leg extensions: Another weight training exercise, they require resistance while focusing on the quadriceps muscles of the legs. With the Leg Extension Machine, all they require is for your leg to bend at the knee and then go back to the original position.

8. Leg curls: Leg curls will require you to climb onto the machine and bending your legs till your heels reach your buttock and then bring them back again. Yes, makes you feel like a baby but with hard work!

9. Calf raises: Calf raises mainly target your calf through standing on toes, holding dumbbells while maintaining balance to come down again without falling.

10. Lunges: And lastly, this popular positional exercise will require you to put one knee bent and forward while the other remains behind. While you can increase the pressurize with dumbbells, the lunges alone will strengthen and build muscles.

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5 Ways To Gain Muscles The Natural Way

By | Strength & Resistance, TRAINING & WORKOUT | No Comments

 

1. Keep your training under 1 hour

Contrary to what a lot of people believe, it is not advisable to train for more than an hour. This is applicable to all types of training. According to various studies, it is better to train harder than longer. When you are regularly training for more than an hour at a time, processes of the body in the hormonal level may be affected. As a result, it will be harder for you to gain the muscles that you want.

2. Do not underestimate the importance of resting in between your workouts

We know that you are very eager to achieve a better body right away, but as mentioned earlier, it will not help if you will push your body to the limit by training long hours. Your body needs rest in between your workouts. This is especially important for people with fast metabolism. Your body uses the rest period to build your muscles.

3. Make sure that you are following the right diet

It is important to increase your protein intake if you want to gain muscles. Some of the foods that are rich in protein include fishes like salmon and tuna, beef, pork, eggs (especially the egg whites), chicken, turkey and cheese. Aside from protein, it is also vital to include carbohydrates in your diet. Some good sources of carbohydrates are sweet potato, bread and oats.

4. Eat at least 5 times a day

Eating at least 5 times a day will help your body during the muscle-building phase. It is a good way to refuel the body to especially if you do high-intensity training. It is best not to wait for the time that you are hungry again. It is also not advisable to skip meals.

5. Build a mind-muscle connection

According to some studies, visualizing the muscle gain that you want can actually help if you want to increase your muscle mass. Aside from the positive effects that it can bring your body, it is also a good way to improve your focus on what you need to do. Cliché as it may sound, it is true that what the mind can conceive, you can achieve. This is the same when it comes to muscle building.

These are just some of the ways to gain muscles the natural way. Always remember that you can achieve the body that you want if you have enough determination and perseverance. If needed, you can ask an expert for professional advice on how you should go about your training.

 

photo thumbnail credit: faktbodybuilding.blogspot.com

Dumbbell Exercise Tips

By | Strength & Resistance, TRAINING & WORKOUT | No Comments

This is not intended to be a fool proof how to get killer-biceps guide in the gym but quite the opposite to what is normally done. Little do people know but there are some highly popular week in week out exercises done in the gym that are of little or no consequence compared to other exercises.

This may have the purists out there complaining but the fact is, singular exercises such as dumbbell curls are totally overrated when done as a stand-alone isolated exercise.

Dumbbell curls

  • When isolating one muscle area only such as the bicep curl the rest of the body is put under little duress.
  • It is this lack of resistance that allows the body to be lazier and the bicep is only going to bulk up but not strengthen up significantly.
  • If the bicep curls were done in a combination with another movement putting other major muscle groups under pressure then this would be a different story.
  • The body will react to resistance based exercises much more aggressively if it is under severe physical pressure.
  • For instance, the dumbbell curl when incorporated into a squat will work better all round.
  • The bicep is still transferring the resistance throughout is natural path of the curl but combining this exercise with a full thigh squat will up the level of bodily exertion and the consequent resistance a whole level higher.

Speaking of leg squats

  • The quads will appreciate the extra dumbbell weight now being incorporated into the squat and therefore claim the extra energy needed to make the nice smooth squat back up to a balanced upright position.
  • The bicep however, is going to notice that things have changed and some of the blood cells, it was relying on before, have now been sent southwards.
  • This in turn brings the bicep much quicker out of its comfort zone and into a less oxygen rich environment.
  • The weight will take on a new meaning without the comfort of a protected dumbbell curl when just sat on a bench.
  • The whole body will be taut from the twin pressures of significant weight resistance coming from two areas and therefore go into its own full body stress management reaction.
  • This will allocate where the muscle groups are under duress the most and redistribute power and latent energy accordingly.
  • From this knock on affect each muscle group is forced to react in its own sweet way which will undoubtedly add to pinpointed physical exertion and a natural muscle building resistance reaction will get underway.
  • All this happens without you knowing exactly what is happening but your body will tell you it is now working much harder than before.
  • The discomfort level will rise but psychologically that is what you are there for.

If you look at the physiques of gymnasts or even the amateur rope exercise enthusiasts of old, you will notice a high degree of cut and muscle development without the bulky appearance of unnatural bicep and muscle growth. This is because their sport and training regimen puts their bodies under increased exertion because their exercises include full body weight propulsion.

When you consider the extra implications of lifting your own body weight before movement and completion of an exercise it is easier to see the total body stress from dealing with such a weight strain. Now consider this scenario of a gymnast extending his biceps on a pommel horse whilst holding his full body weight ten centimetres above the bench you can clearly see the tremendous difference compared to guys that may only be content with sitting on a bench when doing bicep curls.

 

thumbnail photo credit: dumbbellsetreviews.com

Acquiring Lean Muscle As An Ectomorph

By | BUILD MUSCLE, Strength & Resistance, TRAINING & WORKOUT | No Comments

Most skinny people think that they cannot look great because they are naturally skinny and that their body is not capable of gaining lean muscle. It’s certainly a myth. If you are an ectomorph, a term presented by an American psychologist W.H. Sheldon that is being used to describe people who are naturally skinny, it is still plausible to gain lean muscle so as to improve your physique.

Oversized women tend to be jealous of skinny women because they can eat whatever they want without gaining too much weight. That is because an ectomorph’s metabolism acts up like a fast jet plane, burning a lot calories more than a typical person does. However, for skinny men, this is rather unimpressive. Attracting an opposite sex can sometimes be harder compared with men who have wonderful physique. So if you think you want to be that hot guy with 6-pack abs, then exert extra effort and let’s start building your muscles.

Exercising without doing it right will tend to make you lose more weight rather than gain. In order for you to acquire lean muscle, you need to have a special diet that will be beneficial to your specific body type. So here are some effective diet tips in order for you to gain some weight and acquire the type of body you have been dreaming of.

Carbohydrates

Food rich in carbohydrates have been completely eliminated or partially divided into different portions on a typical person’s diet because it’s the source of most unwanted fats. But for an ectomorph, he has to consume a lot of carbohydrates and burn just a part of it. Indeed, an ectomorph’s best friend!

Two Types of Carbohydrates:

  • Fast-Acting Carb – When you ingest a fast-acting carb food, your liver will immediately secrete a hormone called insulin so as to fight the glucose. When you are not doing anything, your body will store the glucose which will later on turn into fats. Well, it may be very unsafe for those who gain weight fast but for an ectomorph, this will be beneficial especially when taken at a right time. When is the right time? Preferably after your workout. Your muscles can actually be fuelled up into accelerated anabolic recovery phase with the help of the insulin increase.
  • Slow-Acting Carb – The second type is the slow-acting carbohydrates which are surely great to build muscles. These do not heighten up the insulin since glucose is gradually broken down in small amounts. You have to constantly supply your body with the building blocks so as to keep track of the muscle building stage, also known as the anabolic phase.

The exact amount of carbohydrates needed to consume depends on your weight. So for every pound, you will be required to eat between 2 to 2.5 grams of carbohydrates. However, it is also better if you will change your diet from time to time so as to not let your body adapt to the amount of food you are taking.

Protein

Protein is an essential building block of muscle. A huge percentage of your muscle is made up of protein. It helps rebuild damaged muscles after strenuous work and exercise. Therefore, in order for you to efficiently develop your muscles, adequate amount of protein must be habitually taken.

To compute for the right amount of protein your body needs, about 1.5 grams must be taken for every pound of your body weight.

Foods Rich in Protein:

  1. Turkey
  2. Chicken
  3. Tuna
  4. Salmon
  5. Cheese
  6. Pork Loin
  7. Tofu
  8. Beans
  9. Eggs
  10. Yoghurt

Apart from the aforementioned reasons, protein also helps in suppressing appetite and burn fats.

If you are an ectomorph, you have to bear in mind that your approach towards building lean muscle is different to what other people do. You have to eat as much as what your body needs in order for you to gain and not to lose some pounds. With proper diet and training, you will surely attain the physique you have been dreaming to have.

 

thumbnail photo credit: bonytobeastly.com

5 Amazing Reasons To Build A Strong Core

By | GET STRONG, Strength & Resistance, TRAINING & WORKOUT | No Comments

Getting your torso back in shape is more than just maintaining your ab muscles. Your core is considered by most as the powerhouse of your body. Aside from the fact that your core muscles help facilitate most of your movements in an efficient manner, it is also home to your internal organs and to the spinal column, which is a part your central nervous system.

Want to find out more about what having a stronger core can bring you? Well, here are some of the benefits that you should know about:

1. Injury Prevention

If you have suffered from an injury before, then you already know how the pain feels like and you may never wish to experience the same way again. By building your core, you are able to build the muscles necessary for a better overall fitness. Keep in mind that movements start from the center and moves out. With a strong core, you are rest assured that all your movements will come from a strong midsection. In addition to this, the core muscles help protect delicate internal organs and prevent debilitating injuries involving the spine.

2. Better Posture

Weak core muscles lead to slouching. Aside from that, it can promote wear and tear of the back bones, which in turn can lead to osteoporosis or other incapacitating disk injuries which may ultimately result in compression of the ribcage ending in difficulty of breathing and asphyxia. Proper posture will facilitate safer exercises which lessens the likelihood of getting back injuries.

3. Healthier Back

As we all know, back aches (most especially on the lower part of the back) can be quite debilitating. A lot of us think that this is brought about by excessive stress and fatigue. It is true that fatigue and stress are contributing factors but the main reason why you feel back aches is the fact that your abdominal muscles are quite weak. By strengthening your core muscles, you can be able to restore balance in between the back and front part of your body. As a result, back pain will be minimized.

4. Efficient Daily Movement

As mentioned above, core muscles play a big role in helping you carry out movements in a much more efficient manner. A strong core makes it easier for you to carry out simple daily tasks such as going up the stairs, carrying heavy items and maintaining good balance. With a stronger midsection, you will be able to have full control over your muscles. In addition to that, having a stronger core prevents you from overworking your other muscles.

5. Enhanced Physical Ability

Again, the strongest force of the body originates from the core. The closer it is to the center, the stronger the force. In fact, there is no athletic movement that does not involve the use of this set of muscles. Since having a stronger core allows you to do so much without producing any pain, you will be able to go longer when it comes to playing a sport or performing a workout.

The next time that you are tempted to shy away from doing core strengthening exercises, it is best that you think about these amazing benefits. In this way, you will be a lot motivated to perform those much needed core strengthening exercises that can benefit you in more ways than one.

 

thumbnail photo credit: ottawamassageblog.com

5 EFFECTIVE WAYS TO BUILD MUSCLES

By | BUILD MUSCLE, Strength & Resistance, Tips, TRAINING & WORKOUT | No Comments

For those who have been trying to build their muscles, they surely know that it is definitely not a walk in the park. You will need patience and determination to achieve what you want regarding the size of your muscles. If you feel that you have both, then just follow the tips that we will list below.

  1. Increasing caloric intake

If you want to bulk up your muscles, the very first thing that you should do is to increase your caloric intake. In order for the muscles to increase in size and mass, you will need to eat more. But make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet and that your caloric intake is not excessive. Talk to your dietician if needed.

  1. Increasing protein in your diet

Experts in bodybuilding know that protein is important when you are targeting your muscles. One thing to remember is that the amino acids from protein are considered the building blocks of the muscles. One excellent source of protein is fish such as tuna.

  1. Increasing good fat in your diet

When we say good fat, we are not talking about the fat from burgers and butters. According to experts, increasing the good fat (like olive oil and flaxseed oil) can help you build your muscles faster and easier.

  1. Taking supplements

As mentioned earlier, a well-balanced diet is important especially when building muscles. In order to make sure that you have all the essential vitamins and minerals, you may want to consider taking supplements. Choose your supplements depending on your health needs.

5.  Doing the correct exercise routine

There are different types of exercise. Some exercises are done to increase your strength while others are done to get rid of excess fat. If you are building your muscles, you should do exercises that will workout your muscles such as Barbell Bench Press, Bicycle Crunches, Pec Deck Flies and Dumbbell Bench Press.

There you have it! These are just some of the most effective ways to build your muscles. Again, you cannot do it overnight. If you have enough self-discipline, you will surely achieve the muscles that you want in no time. Just follow the tips we have listed above and wait for the result.

5 Strength Training Myths You Must Bust

By | GET STRONG, Strength & Resistance, TRAINING & WORKOUT | No Comments

Many people have bought gym memberships and worked their butts out non-stop and are pretty much surprised why their training is not building the way they have it in mind. The problem here, my friend, is education. A little research goes a long way; a reliable source of course.

1.      Strength Training Always Involve Heavy Weights

Athletes would have to disagree on that. Go to an MMA gym and you will find out what these people do to gain strength. Strength is not all about being big and bulky. In fact, these people lift less and do more body weight training exercise and sparring. You might be surprised seeing them ascending on rope without leg assistance. There is no denying that strength can be achieved even without the iron.

2.      Strength Training Will Make You Big

A lot of women, especially, believe that strength training will make them big. Well, in fact, it may; but it also depends on the modality of training. Training for strength will cause you to develop muscle and this is inevitable. The method of training, however, determines if you will grow big or lean. Weight lifting makes you stronger and same goes for running, cycling, swimming etc. The key is, if you don’t want to gain some muscle mass, avoid working out with extremely heavy objects. Nevertheless, training makes you stronger, definitely.

3.      Strength Training Will Render Me Stiff and Inflexible

Being big and strong requires you a little more room for movement because of your size but when we talk about flexibility, this idea is a hoax. In fact, proper training form makes you more flexible because joints, tendons and muscles gets more accustomed to performing more strenuous exercise, especially those involving  full range of motion exercises.

4.      Strength Training and Isolation Exercises

Many people believe isolation exercises will dramatically reduce adipose tissues and result in sculpted physique. Doing a hundred crunches will do very little in reducing the amount of adiposities surrounding your belly. Lowering your body fat percentage and adding up muscle mass is attributed greatly on diet and quality nutrition.

5.      Discontinuation of Strength Training Will Transform Muscle Into Fat

When you started doing strenuous physical exercise, you burn more calories every day. In turn, your nutritional requirement increased and naturally, the body required more food. The problem is, when you decided not to train anymore, the habit of eating more stayed. Unspent calories are stored in the body in the form of fat. Muscle transforming into fat will not happen.

Squat Variations That Rock

By | featured : magazine, Strength & Resistance, TRAINING & WORKOUT | No Comments

 by Sally Symonds

Studies show that squats burn more calories than any other single exercise – not to mention the butt-boosting-benefits! It’s important to have correct squatting technique in order to avoid injuries.  But once you’ve mastered this, then varying your squats is one of the best ways to get the most out of the exercise.  Here are some ideas to help get you started:

1. Technique squat

Start position:

Stand in front of a chair or step approximately as high as the back of your knee.

Movement:

Lower into a normal squat and keep the pressure in the heels of your feet. Make sure you have your abs drawn in to support yourself. Leading with your hips, lower yourself until you touch the chair, sit down, then rise back up to standing position.

Options:

– When you feel the chair touch your butt, go straight back up to the standing position. This makes the exercise harder—because you don’t sit down, your leg muscles don’t get a rest.

Start with a high chair or step, and when your confidence, technique and strength have grown, lower the chair or step height to below the knee so you can squat deeper and make the exercise more challenging.

 

2. Uneven squat (one foot on step or bosu)

Start position:

Place one leg on a slightly elevated flat surface such as a step or bosu). Distribute your weight evenly between both legs.

Movement:

Lower into a normal squat. Make sure you distribute your weight evenly in both legs as much as possible throughout the movement. The leg on the ground will work slightly harder.

Note: a brick, solid box or even the bottom of your stairs at home make an excellent substitute for an aerobic step or bosu.

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3. Dumbbell weighted balancing squat on a balance beam

Start Position:

Place a balance beam on the ground and stand on top of it in a normal squat start position. Hold a dumbbell in each hand down beside your body.

Movement:

Lower into a normal squat. Keep your weight through the middle of your feet and minimise any wobbling.

 

4. Double freeFORM squat

Start position:

Place both of your freeFORMs in their docks with the deck-locks disengaged. Stand with one foot on top of each freeFORM. Position the freeFORMs so you can stand with your feet stand shoulder-width apart.

Movement: 

Lower into a normal squat. Focus on minimising any rotation in the freeFORM.

 

5. Zerchers squat 

Start Position:

Start in a normal squat position. Bend your arms and hold them out in front of you. Place a barbell across your elbow joint at approximately chest height.

Movement:

Lower into a normal squat, and focus on maintaining upright posture and not allowing the weight in your arms to pull you and your shoulders forward.

 

So whether you’re looking for an easy way to lose weight or some super strength gains, no exercise program is complete without a range of squat options.

 

About the author

Sally Symonds is a health and fitness writer, motivational speaker and one of the few people in the world who has lost over 50% of her original body weight.

sally-symonds

 

 

The 5 non-negotiable safety tips for strength training

By | Strength & Resistance, TRAINING & WORKOUT, Weights, Workout | No Comments

by Susy Natal

If you want to get strong with your resistance training, you need to be prepared to work hard if you actually want to see progress. There is, however, a big difference between pushing yourself and compromising your safety. Injuries are not fun and heavy weights create many new risks in the training environment. While it may be tempting to cut corners at times, never forget that an injury-free body will always make the most progress as there is no need to take extended breaks from training to recover.

1.  Maintain Good Form

Proper form on resistance exercises keeps the joints moving in the ways that they are supposed to. Do not compromise form just to pick up something slightly heavier. You may get away with it a few times, but even if you don’t have an accident, the repetitive mal-tracking of joints can lead to niggling injuries, which will ultimately compromise your progress. If you are unsure of what the correct form is for an exercise, look it up online. If you are still unsure, ask for the assistance of a trainer to work through the exercise.

2.  Have a Spotter

This is not relevant to all exercises, but if a weight can drop on you from above, and you are working anywhere near close to failure, have a spotter. This is particularly important for bench-press and heavy squats. This is not where it ends though. Make sure that your spotter actually knows how to spot and is paying attention while you complete your set. Don’t be afraid to give specific instructions on how you wish to be spotted – a spotter is there to help you.

3.  Warm Up

Never try to hit a heavy lift cold. At best you increase your likelihood of suffering from temporary cramped or strained muscles and DOMS. At worst you increase the risk of tearing a muscle. A warm-up may “waste” ten minutes of your time, but if you are ever tempted to skip it, have a think about how much will go to waste with a tear and the surgery that would follow.

4.  Work within a safe Range of Motion

This is particularly relevant for squatting. You may have heard all manner of recommendations for how to squat. Some say you must have your feet pointed forwards, others say your butt must go all the way to the ground, and so on and so forth. The truth is that all humans have different skeletal structure, different injury histories, different heights, different proportions, etc. If we all had the same body I would agree that we must all absolutely complete all exercises in the same way, but that is clearly not the case. If you tip forward very far if you try to go “ass to grass” then stop at a height that is safe for you. If you have extremely tight calves, you may need to spend some time working on mobilising these, but in the meantime, squatting with your feet turned outwards is fine. You should move through a range where you feel that you are in control of the weights, experience no sharp pain (see point 5), and are able to maintain good form (tying in with point 1). This is another one where obtaining the advice of a trainer may be beneficial if you suspect that something is not quite right.

5.  Push Sensibly

The previous points are not designed to deter anybody from resistance training. I personally train with very heavy weights regularly and it is one of my favourite forms of training. I have an absolute rule regarding pain for myself and everybody else: If the pain is a dull burning then I encourage you to push through this and learn to acknowledge it as a necessary part of the process. You should never experience any sharp pain – sharp pain means danger of an incoming injury. If you ever feel a sharp pain in the middle of a set, stop immediately. Depending upon how you feel afterwards, you may want to stop for the day, move onto something else, lower your weight, or may realise something was just wrong with your form, where you can just make a correction and keep working.

If you have these five tips in mind when you lift, you can then turn your focus to pushing as hard as possible, knowing that you are being mindful of your safety. Happy lifting!

About the author

Susy is a personal trainer at Bondi Platinum Fitness First in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Her background is in psychology, scientific research and statistics, but her love for a healthy lifestyle and of setting goals and chasing them down has taken over. Susy competes as a fitness model but trains across several modalities of fitness, including powerlifting, gymnastic basics, military style training and calisthenics, as well as traditional body building work.