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A Protein-Rich Diet and Your Journey to Weight Loss

When you think about weight loss and dieting, most people consider that cutting fatty foods from the menu should do the trick. Well, while this will help in a certain way, you will need to do more if you want to get rid of excess weight and carve a beautiful body. For example, you should cut the carbs and add more protein to your diet. Protein is great for muscle development, and it will keep you full for longer, as a meal rich in proteins takes longer to digest and boosts your energy, even if you have a consistent workout schedule. So, let us develop this subject and see how proteins can help you enjoy a great body and help you get rid of fat deposits.

Make the transition gradually and do pay attention to calories

If you want to try a protein-rich diet for reaching your weight loss and fitness goals, you need to know that the adjustment should be made in a gradual manner. In other words, you should make the change happen within a week, gradually increasing the number of proteins you consume per day. But because we are talking about losing weight, you will need to keep an eye on the calorie intake as well. So, be smart when choosing your meals, so that you remain within the recommended number of calories. This is why you should opt for a salad made out of leafy greens, for example, if you want to enjoy a healthy steak for your protein intake. But, besides lean meat, there are other foods that can provide a high level of proteins. Thus, beans, soy, dairy products with low-fat content, eggs, seafood, seeds, and nuts, they are all great protein sources. So you will never get bored of having rich-protein meals, as these foods can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. But, you do need to have in mind that there are some risks when it comes to adopting a protein-rich diet if you have kidney and liver disorders, so make sure that you talk to a doctor before starting anything.

What about vegans and vegetarians?

There are some people that do not want to eat meat, as it is a lifestyle choice. We are talking about vegans and vegetarians. In this case, how can they enjoy the protein-rich diet? In this case, you can always opt for a protein powder for weight loss. Protein powder is obtained out of plants, whey being the most common option. But, this powder is also derived from soy or flax seeds. So, it is a product that can be easily used by those that don’t want to eat meat or animal products. Don’t worry, as plant-based protein powder is of high-quality and reliable if you choose products made by trustworthy providers. Also, protein powder is extremely easy to use, and you can have your portion of proteins on the go by preparing a beverage with this powder and water or by adding it to your favorite smoother and shakes. So, you can have it ready for when you’re done exercising, so you can replenish the reserves of your body.

Diets rich in proteins and low on carbs

The diets that recommend high protein intake and low carbs on the menu will tell you to take most of the calories allowed for the day from protein-rich foods. If you ever tried the Atkins diet, this is one of the diets of this kind. Why are this diets effective? Well, to start with, you need to know that the body needs carbs for the production of energy. You can consider carbs the fuel required by your body to run. But, when you cut the carbs, the body is forced to start using its own reserves, through a process called ketosis. This is how these diets stimulate the body to melt fat so that it can obtain the fuel it needs for the production of energy, promoting, this way, effective weight loss.

The truth is that lowering the carbs is one of the best things you can do when looking to lose weight. Also, increasing protein intake will help you adjust better to a workout routine, especially if you are just starting out and you are trying to obtain muscular resistance. But, at the same time, you should make sure that you enjoy plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well, besides proteins, because your body needs the vitamins, minerals, and fibers they have to offer. While protein powder is rich in fibers because it is obtained out of plants, meat has no fibers, so you need to add it to your diet by having fruits and vegetables. 

Proteins keep food cravings at bay

The best part about having more proteins in your diet is the fact that you will feel the need to eat less often. They take longer to be processed, so you will enjoy the sensation of satiety for a longer period. This is great news for anyone that is looking to lose weight, as food cravings are the biggest challenges when it comes to respecting the calorie program for a day. But, once you eat a meal rich in proteins, you will not feel the need to eat anytime soon, and you will have plenty of energy to do anything you proposed for the day. Not to mention that proteins are highly necessary if you want to build lean muscles and improve the shape and tonus of your body. So, if you are looking for a good strategy for weight loss and get a body that will be admired, basing your diet on proteins is a good way to go. Just to talk with your doctor first, especially if you have some health conditions so that this particular kind of diet will not cause you any trouble. While protein-rich diets work for most cases, there are situations in which they may interfere with the health problems someone is suffering from, so it would be best to take this worry out of your way first.

The post A Protein-Rich Diet and Your Journey to Weight Loss appeared first on GGP.

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How to Choose the Best Spinning Program for You

Ever since its creation almost three decades ago, spinning has been the preferred workout of people belonging to several age groups and walks of life. Due to its engaging nature, pedaling indoors is a great way to lose weight and build muscle that is also easy on the joints. For this reason, it accommodates many different sets of desires and predilections. 

The Best Spinning Programs

Attending a spinning class weight loss program is an excellent idea when you want to drop some extra pounds and get in shape in an entertaining way. There are plenty of studios and types of classes to choose from, and they all cater to various needs and preferences of the general cycling public. Here are the five best alternatives to consider. 

1. Equinox

In terms of trendy spinning classes nowadays, nothing quite beats the rise in popularity of the Equinox fitness franchise. Their locations offer a variety of classes dealing with different types of physical activities. But in terms of indoor biking, nothing beats their innovative and complex “The Pursuit” package.

It is a studio cycling program that mimics varied types of terrain and different riding styles for an authentic experience. For this reason, the class is recommended for outdoor riders that want to continue their training when conditions do not allow it on the outside. Nevertheless, that isn’t mandatory when joining.

Anyone can enjoy “The Pursuit”, provided that they have an interest in pedaling. According to the official website, it is an addictively wild ride that uses gaming and data visualization for the purpose of full immersion. Thus, not only will you feel like our riding outdoors, but you will also see it with each push.

The equipment in the studio comes with a built-in computer that allows members to track their progress. Therefore, you won’t have to invest in additional equipment in order to monitor what you are doing. The typical “The Pursuit” class starts with a rapid bike fit, followed by an intro. Then you warm up prior to the actual fun.

Once you get into it, the entire experience will be divided into two or three stages. Cooldown then follows, allowing you to recover and get the best bang for your buck. If engaged with appropriately, the program is a highly competitive and physically intensive affair that will leave you shaped, toned and ready for action.

2. SoulCycle 

While Equinox is popular among the athletic crowd, SoulCycle is definitely the most talked about spinning program among the younger crowds of millennials. This is because it expertly manages to combine an intensive workout with mantras and spirituality. What is more, the studios are located in major trendy cities such as New York or San Francisco.

According to instructor Kym Perfetto, it is a “serious sweat session”. It provides members with an intensive dose of cardio, and the entire thing is set to the most engaging motivational music the industry has to offer. This enhances motivation and pushes people to commit to their goals more than ever, which is essential when progress is what you’re after.

One session lasts for 45 minutes, and it consists of several intervals. This allows participants to push past their limits and benefit from the maximum potential that indoor cycling has. This is all available for the reasonable price of 40 dollars. Although this a bit costlier than the average spin class at your local gym, you do get a lot for your money.

The price is also influenced by the fact that it’s a fashionable workout for the youth of today, and the studios are located in affluent metropolises across the United States. Spinning has always been rather on-trend, which is why franchises will always charge more per class. Therefore, if you have the money to spend, it is an option worth considering.

SoulCycle is a true spin class that focuses on the actual act of spinning. Therefore, from a professional point of view it is recommended for cyclists that want to improve upon cadence. If you are not an athlete, this could still be a fun class for you because it will help you reach your fitness goals and find inner peace all at the same time.  

3. Peloton

Peloton is the perfect hybrid cycling program that manages to suit the needs of both gym goers and astute homebodies. For the first category, there are studios located in various cities, and members can easily join the classes held there. The themes and approaches are as varied as they come, which means that there is something for everyone.

Instructor Christine D’Ercole attests that Peloton offers riders the possibility to pursue either interval classes, power zone training, or heart-rate based training. What is more, the studios also have a wide offer of rhythmically diverse and musically themed sessions for those who enjoy mixing their exercise with some motivational tunes.

The different types of classes are designed in such a way as to suit a wide array of needs and preferences. Thus, if you want to mix in up at the gym and explore everything that spinning has to offer, put on some bike shorts and attend some Peloton classes. The experience is certainly a beneficial one for both body and mind, which is a huge plus.

However, for those who don’t want to work out in a group setting, Peloton also has custom stationary bicycles available for purchase. The machines offer the possibility to follow patented workouts conducted by certified instructors from the comfort of your own home. Simply install your Peloton spinner in a spacious room and get started on your workouts.  

Therefore, the program caters to at-home spinning aficionados as well. The bike retails for almost 2,000 dollars, which is quite the hefty price tag. Fortunately, the payment can also be executed in installments of around 100 dollars, which are spread over a period of two years. This is more convenient than attending weekly classes, and after a while it becomes free too.

4. Flywheel

Getting a full body workout in a reasonable amount of time seems like an impossible aim to reach. Fortunately, there is a solution, and it involves spinning. The Fly 45 program provided by the renowned Flywheel fitness studios is exactly what you need if this is your situation. As the name suggests, one session lasts for just 45 minutes, and you get a lot done in this short frame.

First of all, the Fly 45 program is based on high-intensity interval training, a concept that is rather popular among avid gym goers. It involves alternating between high-intensity movements that are dynamic and fast-paced, and low-intensity recovery periods so that the maximum amount of exercise is encompassed in a relatively small temporal window.

What is more, Flywheel also adds an upper body toning exercise routine in every pedaling session. This allows members to exercise far more than their legs and buttocks while in the bike seat, engaging every single muscle in the unified goal of slimming down and building brawn. It is also a class that is suitable for aerobic and anaerobic cycling training.

In addition, first-time attendees get a lot of help from the staff with matters such as bike setup, posture adjustment and so on. Therefore, at Flywheel it doesn’t matter if you’re a newcomer or a seasoned professional. Everyone is treated with the same amount of care, concern and respect, which creates the perfect environment for an engaging exercise session. 

5. Drop-In 

Attending trendy classes at a fashionable studio is an excellent choice if you have the budget for it. However, if you want to keep it thrifty and save some money, you can drop in at any local gym and attend one of their regular spinning sessions. These typically cost around 20 dollars in a run of the mill location, which certainly won’t break the bank.

Of course, the machines, equipment and other amenities won’t be as luxurious as they would be at Equinox or SoulCycle, but you can easily make do with what you are offered. You can put together your own motivational playlist, and even purchase an affordable cycling computer to track your progress expertly. With determination, you can achieve many things.

While smaller studios might just offer one type of spin class that approaches the workout in a traditional manner, watch out for places that explore the waters a bit more and dive into the world of HIIT, rhythmic cycling, and so on. You will be surprised by what hidden gems some drop-in classes can be, so don’t be afraid to give them a shot. 

The Bottom Line

The world of fitness is ripe with trendy studios where innovative spinning classes are held each day. This creates a variety in approach, thus accommodating a lot of different individuals and their specific requests. What is more, there is something out there to suit every budget, which is why indoor cycling has maintained its popularity over the years so well. 

The post How to Choose the Best Spinning Program for You appeared first on GGP.

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7 Post-Workout CBD Products to Try

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the 85 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in hemp, marijuana, and other plants in the cannabis family. In terms of cannabinoids, most people are familiar with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Where THC is mainly known for its psychoactive effects and creating the characteristic high associated with cannabis, CBD creates physiological effects, most prominently a state of physical calm and relaxation.

When CBD enters your system, it binds to certain receptors found throughout your brain and immune system, including receptors involved in pain management. CBD has recently become a popular addition to a wide range of therapeutic health products, including post-workout supplements. The compound can potentially provide several post-workout benefits, including:

  • Reduced pain, a common result of hard training
  • Reduced inflammation in joints and muscles, which promotes faster recovery and healing
  • Improved sleep, an important element of post-workout recovery and general health

CBD also shows some anti-catabolic properties, meaning that it can combat the effects of cortisol and other catabolic hormones to slow the breakdown of muscle mass and promote greater muscle growth. Let’s take a closer look at some post-workout CBD products and supplements that you may want to add to your routine.

Herbal Renewals Hemp Oil Paste

Herbal Renewals Hemp Oil Paste comes in three different labels: blue, gold, and green. All three forms of Herbal Renewals Hemp Oil Past offer the purest CBD content currently available on the market. The blue label features a lower concentration of pure CBD and milder taste than the gold label, making it ideal if you’re just starting out with CBD products or otherwise more sensitive to CBD. However, the lower concentration of CBD means slightly slower absorption. The green label comprises raw, unheated hemp oil that contains high concentrations of both CBD and CBDa, the acidic form of CBD.

If you have had a particularly rough day at the gym, the high CBD concentration in Herbal Renewals Hemp Oil Paste can promote increased calm and relaxation, allowing for better sleep, while reducing soreness and stress, all of which equates to more efficient recovery. The hemp oil paste can be taken orally, and it is compatible with any wax vaporizer pens.

Made by Hemp: CBD Salve for Joints and Muscles

Joint and muscle pains after a workout can be a big problem. Aside from keeping you from getting in more workouts in your home gym, muscle soreness can make everyday activities feel harder than they should, from carrying groceries to heading to work.

Made by Hemp’s CBD salve for joints and muscles is a topical solution for all forms of joint and muscle pain, from chronic, everyday aches to post-workout muscle soreness. Topical treatments are beneficial if you are suffering from localized pain, like muscle pain or inflammation. Topical CBD solutions tend to work faster as they don’t need to go through your digestive system.

Each container of Made by Hemp’s CBD salve has about 100 milligrams of CBD combined with various essential oils, including lavender, rosemary, peppermint, and sweet almond, all of which offer extra therapeutic benefits and aromatics. The salve also contains olive oil, sweet almond oil, and beeswax for easy application.

Applying this topical solution can help to soothe stiff joints and sore muscles, ensuring that they won’t keep you from getting through your day. As CBD is not a psychoactive, you can increase the amount that you apply as necessary without having to worry about any potential negative effects.

BioCBD+ Premium CBD Topical Oil

BioCBD+ Premium CBD Topical Oil is formulated for muscle and joint relief while simultaneously moisturizing and protecting your skin. Along with CBD, this topical oil contains several other natural ingredients, including:

  • Curcumin – Mainly found in turmeric, curcumin is a phytochemical pigment that provides many plants with a vibrant yellow color. Studies show that curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that can also help to relieve inflammation and promote skin health.
  • Eucalyptus extract – A large evergreen tree native to Australia, eucalyptus has numerous uses, including treatment for colds and asthma. Eucalyptus has also been shown to act as an effective antimicrobial and antiseptic, allowing for effective wound healing and natural pain-relieving qualities.
  • White willow bark – Willow bark, in general, has commonly been used as a potent pain reliever, acting similarly to aspirin. Willow bark has also been used in relieving fevers and treating colds and flus.
  • Ginger – Although ginger is commonly known as a spice and digestive aid, studies show that it possesses potent anti-inflammatory qualities and may help to ease muscle soreness.

BioCBD+ topical oil is instructed to be used twice a day and rubbed gently into your skin, allowing for complete absorption of the CBD and other natural ingredients.

Mary’s Nutritionals Cannabis Patch

Another option for post-workout joint and muscle soreness, Mary’s Nutritionals Cannabis Patches offer the soothing effects of CBD over a longer period of time. Each patch contains 10 milligrams of hemp oil extract that is released over the course of eight to twelve hours. This allows for a more controlled, targeted application compared to other topical forms of CBD. These patches are best if you’re not sure how much CBD you actually need or need a steady dose of CBD throughout the day. The patches are free of latex and feature a hypoallergenic foam backer to prevent potential allergic reactions. Each patch is made with a pharmaceutical-grade adhesive, ensuring that the patch stays on your skin without any slippage.

The hemp oil in each patch is carefully extracted from organic industrial hemp cannabis plants, ensuring the highest quality of concentrated hemp oil and CBD on the market. The usability, effectiveness, and discreet application make it an ideal and innovative means of soothing sore muscles and aching and preventing potential overuse injuries during your workouts.

Mary’s Nutritionals Muscle Freeze

Mary’s Nutrionals Muscle Freeze is a soothing CBD lotion that helps to moisturize your skin while also providing a unique cooling effect (hence the name) to ease tired, achy joints and muscles. Each container is infused with 75 milligrams of CBD combined with a variety of natural plant extracts, organic ingredients, and essential vitamins. The result is a muscle rub that keeps your skin healthy while promoting muscle recovery after a workout.

When you experience any pain or discomfort in your muscles or joints, gently rub Muscle Freeze onto the affected area. Increase the amount as necessary until you get the desired effect.

Elixinol Hemp Oil Liposomes

The key to this product is the liposomes. In its natural state, hemp oil is fairly dense, which inevitably means that it has trouble passing into your cells, leading to a slower absorption rate. Most products offset this by increasing the dosage. Elixinol bypasses this altogether by pre-dissolving their hemp oil and inserting it into liposomes, which essentially comprise sacs of phospholipids enclosed in water droplets. Liposomes are much easier to absorb, allowing for more efficient delivery of CBD into your system.

Elixinol’s Hemp Oil Liposomes come in spray pump bottle. Five pumps added to water or sprayed under the tongue twice a day offer about 5 milligrams of CBD. The quick absorption allows for quicker relaxation and calm.

Canna4 CBD Post-Workout Capsules

Where some post-workout supplements put CBD front and center, many include the cannabinoid into other formulas, allowing for complementary benefits. Canna4’s CBD post-workout capsules combine 30 milligrams of CBD per serving with a formulation of compounds that is designed for muscle growth and recovery. Each capsule includes:

  • L-Arginine – L-arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid that is often prized for increasing nitric oxide activity and production. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that plays a significant role in increasing blood flow, improving immune responses, and reducing inflammation.
  • Creatine – Creatine is one of the most popular ingredients in exercise supplements. It is known for increasing energy during physical activities and contributing to increases in strength and muscle formation.
  • BCAAs – Branched chain amino acids refer to a group of three amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, and valine. These amino acids can help to promote the synthesis of muscle proteins and increasing muscle growth over time. Supplementing with BCAAs can help to prevent fatigue during workouts from a decline in existing BCAAs in your system.
  • MCT Powder – MCTs (medium-chained triglycerides) are a type of saturated fat naturally found in dairy, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil. Studies suggest that MCTs may increase metabolic rate and promote fat loss.

Combined with CBD, these compounds allow for improved recovery after a workout while providing your muscles with resources for optimal repair and growth.

What you do after your workout is just as important (if not more so) than what you do during your workout. How you treat yourself post-workout determines how you heal, grow, and improve. Adding CBD oil in any supplement or form can go a long way to relaxing your body and giving your muscles the rest they need. On top of CBD, make sure you still get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet, and drink plenty of water to fuel your body for your next workout.

The post 7 Post-Workout CBD Products to Try appeared first on GGP.

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Should You Work out If You're Still Sore from Yesterday's Workout?

Have you recently struggled with an intense workout and your muscles still hurt? So, are you now wondering if it's okay to hit the gym again while you're still sore from yesterday's workout?

Please note, muscle soreness is quite natural; it's mainly caused by the release of lactic acid in your muscles. In some cases, pain doesn’t subside the next day. During such situations, it becomes a tough decision whether you should get back to your fitness regimen or take a day off in order to give adequate rest to your muscles. Well, this article aims to provide in-depth information regarding this topic and help you make the best decision.

What Is Muscle Soreness?

For many individuals, muscle soreness is a pretty common symptom that usually happens after a tough workout session. While such vigorous exercise sessions may help you easily accomplish your fitness goals. However, one of the most common consequences of intensive workouts (for example, stair climbers at a gym, eccentric exercises, downhill running, and heavy weight lifting) is the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. If you do not stretch properly both before and after an exercise session, lactic acid will accumulate in your muscles and cause soreness. 

As mentioned earlier, any kind of tough exercise may result in muscle soreness, particularly if those workouts are new and unfamiliar to you. Other than that, muscle soreness also inflicts beginners who're working out for the first time. 

The reason behind this painful symptom is simple and straightforward. If your body isn't used to handling tough workouts and your muscles aren't necessarily prepared for such gym sessions, then you are expected to experience muscle soreness. 

The Role of Lactic Acid

During vigorous and strenuous exercise sessions, your circulatory system can't fulfill the demand of supplying a steady flow of oxygen to your muscles. That's why your muscles tend to shift from aerobic metabolism (that requires oxygen) to anaerobic metabolism. 

During the process of anaerobic metabolism, your muscles break down carbohydrates in order to generate energy. As a result, a compound (named as pyruvate) is produced. Next, when oxygen supply is available, pyruvate is further broken down aerobically to generate more energy. However, if sufficient oxygen isn't available, pyruvate will be turned into lactic acid. 

Lactic acid is then broken down into another biochemical compound (called lactate) that releases hydrogen ions. In general, your body will clear these compounds simply by metabolizing them for energy. However, when the lactate production exceeds its clearance rate, then it accumulates in your bloodstream and muscles. 

With rising levels of lactate are accumulated in your tired muscles, it causes soreness and a sensation of fatigue. Other side-effects of such a high lactate level will result in disruptions of metabolites and increasing acidity of your muscle cells. All of these factors are related to muscle soreness that you often experience after practicing a tough workout session.

DOMS Theory, Swelling, and Microscopic Damage

Muscle soreness that's often associated with exercise is also known as DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness. It makes your muscles feel gross, sickly, and sore. In addition to these, it makes your life uncomfortable and reduces your strength. 

This nastiness generally starts after a bit of a delay and then continues to create a feeling of swelling and soreness for the next 24 - 72 hours and even more. Clearly, DOMS is both annoying and style-cramping. Plus, it discourages people to continue a daily fitness regimen. Another dirty secret of DOMS is the loss of strength. Plus, if your muscles are sore and hurting all the time, then you are probably sabotaging your workout efforts. 

Please note, lactic acid is considered to be one of the main culprits that trigger DOMS. However, lactic acid is typically removed from your muscle after a while. So, what are the other culprits behind DOMS?

Well, it's often caused by a rapid influx of prostaglandins, white blood cells, various nutrients, and body fluids that flow to your muscles in order to repair the damage that's created by a strenuous workout. Note, this type of muscle damage is widely known as microscopic damage. But, do not be worried. Microscopic damage is nothing but the process of muscle growth. Please note, it's not a kind of injury or damage that needs a physician's attention. 

The good news is that microscopic damage ensures that your muscles are ready to handle the similar intensity of workouts and makes them more resilient (without further causing any sensation of swelling and soreness). The swelling and inflammation may build up and last for two - five days (based on the intensity of the workout). After that, you will no longer experience any pain or discomfort.

Please note, muscle soreness is often considered to be quite necessary to attain your desired fitness goals. Obviously, there is no such scientifically proven evidence that supports this particular idea. Nevertheless, some people (including athletes, trainers, and professionals) are never satisfied with their exercise sessions until their muscles are sore. And, there is a rationale for this logic. 

Remember, if you exhibit the symptoms of muscle soreness (after a workout session), then there should be microscopic damage to your muscle fibers that will eventually repair and strengthen your muscles. Hence, it can be further concluded that muscle soreness is a predictor or potential marker of an upcoming muscle growth.

The Verdict: Should You Workout When Your Muscles Are Sore?

Please do not take a prolonged break from your day-to-day fitness program even if your muscles are still sore from yesterday's workout. In fact, you can actually practice certain exercises to help alleviate muscle soreness, such as light aerobic or cardio exercise and stretching. The combination of stretching and light cardio will eventually reduce swelling and increase more blood circulation to your muscles. 

For your reference, you can start with ten-fifteen minutes of light cardio and continue with your fitness regimen by practicing some stretching, lifting, and a final round of cardio. Apart from that, some fitness aficionados recommend practicing low-impact exercises like easy cycling, walking, or swimming. Now, if your muscle soreness resolves or it does not interfere with your performance, then you're all set to continue with your workout.

However, if the condition worsens or it causes too much unbearable pain, then your muscles probably need more time to rest, recover, repair, and grow. Also note, everyone responds differently. That's why you are encouraged to experiment with different fitness routines in order to find out an ideal one that really works for you.

Ways to Assess If You're Workout Ready Even If You're Sore

So, are you still in a dilemma about weather you should stick to your routine gym session or take a break? In this context, please keep reading and reveal four ways to assess if you're workout ready even if you're sore.

Step 1 - Evaluate the Intensity of Soreness: First of all, you need to evaluate the intensity of your muscle soreness. It will be a key way to assess if you are workout ready. Is it like your legs hurt when you try to run or you can't simply get out of the bed as the pain is so severe? In these situations, rate your condition on a scale of one - ten. If it ranks something between 4 - 5, then you can continue following your fitness regimen. On the contrary, if it ranks something between 8 - 10, then you probably need a break in order to rest the muscles.

Step 2 - Listen to Your Body: Remember, your aim is to attain your fitness goals and make continuous progress. Isn't it? So, please make sure to listen to your body. Obviously, you are bound to experience a little amount of soreness. However, if your body is extremely tired, exhausted, and worn out, then you can take a break.

Step 3 - Range of Motion Test: This is another effective and objective way to assess and determine if your muscles are too sore to train. For instance, if the soreness is so severe that you can't perform specific exercise movements with correct form, then you aren't ready yet to hit the gym. In such situations, please take a day off till the soreness lessens.

Step 4 - Strength Test: In strength test, you need to check if you can handle regular weights for a specific workout and rep range. For example, if you can not perform the desired number of reps without causing any unbearable pain, burn, and soreness, then you are not workout ready yet.

Follow these four simple guidelines in order to determine if you can train your sore muscles.

The Final Takeaway
  • Muscle soreness usually occurs when vigorous exercise sessions cause microscopic muscle tears.
  • Simple and light workouts on a sore muscle may help alleviate the pain and foster speed healing. Alternatively, practicing extremely tough workouts on sore muscles will increase the risk of injury.
  • If the pain is severe and intense, then take a complete break and let your muscles heal.
  • If you do not prefer to take a break, then try to mix up your workouts, targeting other muscles which aren't sore.

The post Should You Work out If You’re Still Sore from Yesterday’s Workout? appeared first on GGP.

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Benefits, Muscles Worked and Variations of the Dumbbell Shoulder Press

There are numerous exercises that you can benefit from, but there are quite a few that you just cannot ignore. The dumbbell shoulder press is one such exercise that has plenty to offer, but only as long as you know how to execute it well in the first place.

A lot of people will tell you a lot of different things about the dumbbell shoulder press, complicating matters for someone who wants to benefit from said exercise. For this reason, here is an elaborate guide to the benefits, tips, muscles worked and variations of the dumbbell shoulder press. 

What is a Dumbbell Shoulder Press?

If you are desperate for a hulking physique, or simply want a stronger upper body, you will need to give your shoulders the much-needed attention to get the results you want. Bulky arms will do you no favors, especially if you have coat-hanger shoulders. 

Fortunately, the road to broader and stronger arms is simple if you start with the dumbbell shoulder press, also referred to as the dumbbell overhead press.

Apart from developing your upper body strength, dumbbell shoulder press will make you broad and strong enough to catch everyone’s attention. In fact, you will be the guy that everyone will ask for to load overhead lockers on an airplane, not entirely a benefit but a confidence booster nonetheless.

By using dumbbells instead of a barbell, you ensure that each side of your body broadens and grows equally strong, since you can’t exactly rely on one shoulder to handle all the weight alone.

Muscles Worked

When it comes to the movement of the dumbbell shoulder press, it is no different from the strict press. If done correctly, it can cause the significant growth of the upper chest, triceps and the shoulders. Depending on the angles, grips, and variations of the shoulder press, you can highlight certain aspects of your posterior, anterior and the overall region of your shoulders.

The primary muscles targeted by the dumbbell shoulder press are as follows:

  • Upper chest
  • Traps
  • Deltoids, i.e., anterior, medial and posterior shoulder
  • Triceps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press Variations

With dumbbell shoulder press, you have a lot of variations to work with. Not only will you not get bored doing the same exercise over and over again, but you can address weaknesses while stimulating your shoulders from different directions for the best possible results.

If you wish to learn more, here are some of the common, yet most effective, dumbbell shoulder press variations you can benefit from.

  • Seated

With the seated variation of the dumbbell shoulder press, it allows the lifter to move weight with as much shoulder strength and strict form as possible. This is because of how the position restricts the lifter’s capacity to extend to engage the upper pecs while increasing leverage into the press at the same time.

Due to this, you will get ‘active’ direct movement to strain the shoulders. With less leverage in the seated position, it will increase demand on the shoulder muscles without depending on the supporting cast.

  • Standing 

The standing dumbbell shoulder press variation is mostly the same as the seated variation. The only difference here is you will stand to use the hips, core, and legs to even out the movement, which also creates back tension to make way for an inclined chest/shoulder pressing movement.

Enough emphasis cannot be placed on the fact that this variation needs to be executed strictly, extending the back ever so slightly to press overhead for powerful movements.

  • Partial

Partial or half reps are mostly frowned upon, but what most people do not realize is that the partial dumbbell shoulder press has a lot of benefits. It is more specifically used to isolate a range of movement for increased muscular strength and growth. At the same time, it is perfectly suitable for those with injury concerns.

Just like a quarter or half squat, partial dumbbell press training can increase overhead muscles mass and lockout strength for athletes in particular. It can also play a vital role in strength development.

  • Arnold

This variation is named after none other than the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is brutal when it comes to shoulder development, designed for training schemes with higher and moderate reps to develop the shoulder muscles, including the anterior, medial and posterior deltoids. Due to the sweeping motion, this variation of the dumbbell shoulder press proves to be a specific and effective way to increase the size and shape of the deltoids.

  • Neutral Grip

There are times when you may want to limit the stress on your shoulders, which is where the neutral grip variation comes in. Apart from decreasing stress, the neutral grip dumbbell shoulder press trains the shoulder muscles for endurance, mass, and strength.

Benefits of the Dumbbell Shoulder Press

If you are still not entirely convinced about the dumbbell shoulder press, you will think otherwise once you evaluate its benefits. Do note though, the different variations highlight some benefits more than others, which is why you need to fully understand and realize the modifications mentioned above.

  • Greater Muscles Mass

With the help of dumbbell shoulder press, you can quickly build hypertrophy. You will also benefit from muscular activation as the dumbbells gain new muscle fibers while synchronizing movement coordination, no different from other benefits associated with unilateral training. 

  • Work the stabilizer muscles

With the dumbbell shoulder press, you are forced to move each weight separately with each hand. You are primarily using your stabilizer muscles, and through continuous exercise will improve balance and control of the upper arms and shoulders. 

  • Achieve symmetry 

Unilateral training is known for being highly efficient at increasing muscle mass, unilateral strength, and movement. Similarly, dumbbell shoulder press exercises do this and so much more, mostly greatly benefiting muscular/strength asymmetries and/or addressing asymmetrical movement patterns. 

  • Get wider shoulders 

Since the exercise involves the use of dumbbells, you will find it easier to hold and maneuver weights freely than you ever could with a barbell. That is not all, as the dumbbell shoulder press targets the lateral deltoids intensely, even more than barbell movements. If everything goes as planned, you will develop ‘capped’ shoulders, thus granting you a V-shaped look. 

Who should use Dumbbell Shoulder Press? 

Now the real question you need to be asking yourself is who should use the dumbbell shoulder press. You need to understand that not just anyone can do whatever exercise their heart desires. If you are new, you will need to consult with a coach or gym instructor to plan out what exercises you need to perform based on what you are trying to achieve.

With that out of the way, here is a look at the different scenarios under which you will need to use the dumbbell shoulder press:

  • People lacking Strong Bones 

If you are one of those people that are suffering from weak bones, you should look no further. The dumbbell shoulder press just like other strength training exercises increases bone strength. While lifting, the weight of the dumbbells strains the bones, which in turn causes them to adapt accordingly. Your bones will respond to this stress by bolstering mineral density, which also decreases the chances of osteoporosis. 

  • People lacking Strength 

Those significantly lacking the necessary strength to carry out exercises will find the dumbbell shoulder press to be of great use to them. Since the exercise targets numerous upper body muscles simultaneously, improving strength will be as easy as 1-2-3. Women, in general, will greatly benefit from the dumbbell should press, especially if they want to improve upper body strength. 

Losing muscle as you grow old can make it difficult for you to pick a can of soup over your head. For this reason, the exercise is a must to do now and for years to come to maintain your independence and health. Remember that even if you don’t exercise daily, it is never too late to start.

  • People lacking Stability 

People do not realize that they lack the stability needed to carry out complex tasks, or even pick up weights for that matter. After several workouts of the dumbbell shoulder press, you will notice a drastic change in your shoulders, arms, and torso. The movement of the exercise strengthens the stabilizer muscles of your shoulders, elbows, and wrists and keeps your joints in place. 

There is no denying the fact the exercise does not directly affect the muscles of your torso, but they do help in maintaining your posture as you lift weights. Eventually, there will come a time when your overall balance and core stabilization will be at an all-time high.

  • People lacking in Other Areas 

The dumbbell shoulder press has a lot more to it than meets the eye, as is evident with how it can positively affect other areas of your life. For instance, with regular shoulder press exercises, you can enhance your performance in other activities, like the bench presses and triceps-based exercises.

By continuing the dumbbell shoulder press, you are strengthening your shoulders, so much so you will decrease the risk of injuries while carrying out activities like softball, swimming and other actions which require the use of your upper body and arms.

Tips on executing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The dumbbell shoulder press offers a lot of benefits, but the only problem is that it is an exercise that can be done wrong quite easily. It does not have to be wrong in the way that you would hurt yourself, but its effectiveness is not as much as it should be. To prevent this from happening, here are some tips for your consideration. 

  • Get into Position 

To get into position for the dumbbell shoulder press, keep the dumbbells on the floor in front of your bench. Learn forward to grab the dumbbells, and in one powerful movement pull the dumbbells off the floor, returning back to the bottom position of the press.

  • Lighten the Weight

If you think you can start with heavier weights, you are wrong on so many levels. Despite exercising every now and then, you still need to start small. You need to start with dumbbells that are 25% lesser than the weight you usually use for other exercises. 

  • The Dumbbells shouldn’t bang into each other 

Under no circumstances should you slam the dumbbells into each other, as it will put the tension on your shoulder joints rather than the shoulder muscles. If that does not convince you, consider how annoying it can be for others. 

  • Breathe

To maximize core stability, hold your breath at the bottom. While passing the sticking point, exhale. On the way down breathe in, pushing out your chest while allowing your shoulders to meet the dumbbells.

  • Dig your Feet In 

Dig your feet in and keep your core tight to use the power of your legs to push your hips backward. You will not only engage your core but will solidify your base of support too. 

If your legs are not locked in, you will lose core stability and power. You will need to keep the tension on at all times since flailing your limbs around will not help you pull off a tricky rep.

Once you are done with your exercise, don’t let go of the dumbbells just yet. Let them down slowly and gradually and place them back on the floor so you can start over again for the next set.

With all the information provided above, you should now be able to determine whether the dumbbell shoulder press is beneficial for you in the first place or not. If you do find it to be of use, you will find the tips above to be of great use to you, so much so, you will get more out of the exercise than you possibly could have before. In fact, you will build stronger, broader and developed shoulders in no time. Here’s a quick reminder. Consult your GP before beginning any exercise program.

The post Benefits, Muscles Worked and Variations of the Dumbbell Shoulder Press appeared first on GGP.

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The Ultimate Guide to Push-Pull Workouts

When creating a fitness routine, it’s common to arrange your workout schedule according to specific body areas—leg day, upper body, core, etc. But this doesn’t take into account how your muscle groups work together when exercising and moving in general. To make your routine more efficient and effective, plan your workouts according to how muscle groups move and function. Enter: push-pull training.

Popularized by bodybuilding athletes, the push-pull training style focuses on how muscle groups work together. Don’t worry, you won’t necessarily adopt a bodybuilding physique. But you will get stronger and build the kind of muscle symmetry common in these athletes.

What is Push-Pull Training?

Push-pull training takes two major things into account: how your muscle groups work together and the necessary recovery period to see results and reduce overuse injuries. A routine is broken down by pushing and pulling activities. So, in one session, you’ll train muscles involved in pushing movements, such as a shoulder press or push-up. In the next session, you’ll train muscles required for pulling, such as renegade rows or pull-ups. 

What are Push Muscles?

Push muscles contract when weight is pushed away from the body. Push muscles include the chest, shoulders, triceps, and thighs.

What are Pull Muscles?

Pull muscles contract when weight is pulled toward the body. Pull muscles include the back, biceps, forearms, rear deltoids, traps, and hamstrings.

While leg muscles are included in both push and pull muscles, many athletes choose to add an additional leg day to their routine, given that they are one of the largest muscle groups in the body.

Benefits of Push-Pull Workouts1. Avoid Overworking Body Parts

Exercise puts intentional stress on the body so your body needs time to adapt by thickening and strengthening the various tissues and muscles involved. If you exercise in such a way that doesn’t allow repair and restoration to occur, the overload can cause injuries. Basically, without a workout routine that prioritizes balance, there’s a greater chance you’ll cause damaging stress to the muscles in your body.

For example, if you start with a chest day on Monday and move on to shoulders the following day, you end up using some of the same muscles like your deltoids. This can lead to strains and muscular stress. Separating them by push and pull muscle groups will give each group ample time to recover.

2. Increase Physical Fitness

A push-pull training schedule is highly focused so your full body workout is broken up over a few days. On this routine, you may spend more time in the gym, but that will lead to a fitter body. The more consistent you are in your training, the more likely you are to develop lifelong healthy habits.

3. Healthier Lifestyle

When you’re working out more, you’re more likely to drink more water and eat a healthier diet. With better eating, drinking, and workout habits, you enjoy a stronger, more balanced, and fitter life. That comes with improved energy levels and generally better physical and mental health.

Push-Pull Training Tips for Beginners

As a fitness beginner, it’s important to ease into any training program slowly. For push-pull training, use smaller weights and only workout three days a week, giving your body plenty of rest and recovery time. As you get stronger, gradually increase the weight and start to transition to an advanced training schedule involving more days.

Example push-pull training schedule for beginners:

  • Monday – Pull
  • Tuesday – Rest
  • Wednesday – Push
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – Pull
Push-Pull Training Tips for Advanced Lifters

For advanced lifters with plenty of weightlifting experience can easily incorporate more days of push-pull training into their routine. Advanced lifters should aim for 4-5 sessions a week. You can start your week with heavier, more intense push-pull days and end your week with lighter, more moderate push-pull workouts.  

Example Push-Pull Training Schedule for Advanced Lifters:

  • Monday – Intense Pull
  • Tuesday – Intense Push
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday – Moderate Pull
  • Friday – Moderate Push 
Do I Need a Gym for Push-Pull Workouts?

The gym isn’t for everyone. While it’s a great place for beginners to learn technique and for fitness enthusiasts of all levels to fit in quality workouts with the necessary equipment, some people do better outside of the gym. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options to assist a fit lifestyle. 

At-home Gym

At Garage Gym Planner, we are fanatics about the at-home gym. A personal space like this gives you the privacy, freedom, and money-saving benefits over big-box, commercial gyms. You’re also more likely to fit in your workouts because everything you need is right in your home. By choosing the right equipment for your garage gym, you set yourself up for success in your push-pull workouts. 

Fitness Apps

Whether you go to a big box gym or have an at-home gym, sometimes it’s still hard to motivate yourself to work out. That’s where smart fitness apps come in. A fitness app can offer the same motivating guidance of a trainer for a fraction of the cost. Many offer multiple trainers, training styles, and workout types, too. For example, personal trainer app Aaptiv has a team of experienced trainers who create workout classes in a variety of fitness categories—everything from cardio to strength training to yoga and meditation—set to motivating playlists that make you actually want to work out. 

Push-Pull Sample Routine

To get started on your push-pull training, here are some sample workouts designed by Aaptiv, a personal fitness app.

Day 1 – Intense Pull
  • Seated row – 8 sets, 3 reps
  • Deadlift – 8 sets, 3 reps
  • Bent over lateral raise – 8 sets, 3 reps
  • Pull ups (assisted if you’re a beginner) – 8 sets, 3 reps
Day 2 – Intense Push
  • Bench press – 8 sets, 3 reps
  • Front squat – 8 sets, 3 reps
  • Dumbbell overhead press – 8 sets, 3 reps
  • Plank – 3 sets, 60 second hold
Day 3 – Rest

On rest days, you can and still should move, but don’t do any lifting or intense workouts. Instead, go for a walk, stretch, foam roll, meditate, etc.

Day 4 – Moderate Pull
  • Dumbbell rows – 4 sets, 6 reps
  • Romanian deadlift – 4 sets, 6 reps
  • Dumbbell rear delt fly – 4 sets, 6 reps
  • Dumbbell curls – 4 sets, 6 reps
Day 5 – Moderate Push
  • Tricep pushdown – 4 sets, 6 reps
  • Dumbbell side raises – 4 sets, 6 reps
  • Incline bench press – 4 sets, 6 reps
  • Goblet squat – 4 sets, 6 reps
Day 6 – RestDay 7 – Grab Bag or Rest

Depending on your personal schedule, on day 7 you can restart your push-pull circuit, add in a leg day or an ab day, or take another rest day.

Your push-pull routine will depend on your personal lifestyle, schedule, and fitness goals. You can group the more intense workouts at the beginning of the week if that’s when you feel most rested or you can alternate. Try intense pull, moderate push, rest, moderate pull, and intense push. 

The biggest benefit to push-pull training is working out according to how your muscle groups work together to allow your body to build and recover more efficiently. Training more often without overstressing your body will help you achieve better, more balanced strength and fitness.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Push-Pull Workouts appeared first on GGP.

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I Did Hip Thrusts for 4 Months: Here’s What I Learned

I don’t know about you but I used to skip leg days quite often when I first started working out. I guess that’s something most guys do when they start working out.

Unless you are in a sport which requires solid leg strength such as basketball or soccer, as a guy you don’t really feel the need to have a well-developed and really strong lower body. You just want to have an aesthetic, thick upper body with nicely defined shoulders, a big chest, wide back, toned up arms and a small waist.

That’s the key to looking aesthetic!

But at some point, when you look into the mirror and you notice that you look a bit disproportioned, with under-developed legs, your training routine probably needs to be reconsidered.

That is when you should seriously consider stepping up your lower body training routine. And that’s exactly what I did after I started gaining enough size in my upper body.

Unfortunately, due to my boundless desire to get my legs up to speed, I overdid it and started to experience knee pain whenever I squatted using relatively heavy weight. As much as I loved to squat I had to step it down a little bit so I wouldn’t completely screw my knee up.

Knee issues are a common thing when there’s an imbalance between the anterior and posterior chain of the leg muscles - namely between your quads versus the glutes & hamstrings. I rarely used to hit my glutes directly. I mean, that’s a girl’s thing, right? Having a big butt and stuff.

Luckily for me, I got over this misconception and start improving my glutes.

Leg Day Routine

Here’s how my typical leg day workout looked like.

Back Squats

Squats were still the top exercise I would do during any given leg day.

I was doing front squats before, but I changed that to back squats so I would shift more weight to the back and activate the glutes a bit more.

I did 5 sets of 8-12 reps.

Hip Thrusts

Right after the squats, I moved to the barbell hip thrusts.

This exercise was my main glutes builder. I could really feel the glutes being activated more than I could target that particular area with any other exercise.

I did felt some lower back activation as well, but the glutes definitely took the hardest hit.

It took me a while to get used to the movement and I used really light weights until I got to form right. But once everything was in check I was adding more weight to the bar every single time I was hitting my legs.

The reason I did hip thrusts as the second exercise in my leg routine was to still be quite fresh and have enough energy to put into it. Most of the times I was doing 4 to 5 sets of 8-10 reps each.

I did, however, experiment with different rep ranges and I had days where I would do as little as 4-6 reps, but use really heavy weights.

Stiff-leg Deadlifts

Right after the hip thrusts, I moved to the stiff-leg deadlifts. My glutes were already pretty zapped from the hip thrusts so I didn’t go really heavy with this one.

3 sets of 8-10 reps was the usual routine.

Leg Press

Leg press was one of my favorite exercises to do so I couldn’t just leave it out because of the hip thrust. So I continued to do 4 sets of leg press. I was using 4 plates on each side, doing 12-15 repetitions for 3 sets.

I couldn’t really feel that much glutes activation regardless of the feel placement though, but this was hitting my quads and hamstrings for sure.

Walking Lunges

Lastly but not least, to really finish off the legs I did just 2 sets of walking lunges using a 20 – 25 pounds dumbbells. I think it worked more like a cardio training to be honest because there wasn’t that much weight, but my legs muscles were so tired that I couldn’t really go any heavier.

So that’s what I did for almost 4 months, once every week.

Did I notice any changes?

I sure did.

My knee Pain Improved

I actually started feeling better after just 4 workouts or so. So after roughly one month, I could start to squat without feeling that much pain in my knees. I was not 100% back to hitting my PR, but I was definitely noticing an improvement.

The important thing that I think it helped here was me being patient and not increasing the weight that much, despite the fact that I really wanted to.

So I just kept using a moderate weight for the next couple of months until I couldn’t feel any pain at all and gradually added more weight. And it all went really smooth from there on.

My all-time PR was 315 pounds before I started to feel the pain in my knees. When I was following this “active recovery” type of routine, I was squatting 225 pounds. So I dropped the weight quite a bit and just been patient with everything.

So if you ever find yourself in the same situation, regardless if it is a knee injury or an elbow, shoulder or anything else for that matter, just take things slowly, be patient and smart with your approach and you will recover quite fast.

Use moderate weights for a while even after the pain goes away. Just give your body more time to recover and you’ll be back to 100% for sure.

My Lower Back Felt Stronger

Now, I don’t know if this has to do anything with the hip thrusts, but my lower back felt stronger than before. I was feeling more secure when I was squatting 315 again, my form was better and I just had better core stability.

I couldn’t really feel much of my lower back muscles getting activated when I did the hip thrusts, probably because I was focusing so much on squeezing the glutes, but it must have hit my lower back as well.

I mean, the only other exercise that I was doing that was hitting my lower back directly was the stiff-leg deadlift. But that was something that I did before, so I tend to believe that the hip thrusts really helped with the lower back as well.

I Become Stronger and More Explosive

And man I’m telling you - a stronger lower back combined with toned up glutes means you can get stronger and better at and much more complex movements such as the squat and deadlift.

You get better core stability, more balanced muscles and all that put together just allows you to use more weight with better form. And ultimately that means more muscle gains, a better looking, symmetric and more proportionate body.

I also found the glutes to play an important role in the first half of the squat movement. This meant that I could push up through my legs more explosively than before. And the same goes for the deadlifts.

Besides those two types of movements and doing the Cize thing, I don’t really do any other exercises r physical activities that require much explosiveness. But if you are looking to improve your vertical jump or if you are doing sprints, better explosiveness will probably help your performance.

My Glutes Become Stronger

For me, this was an obvious outcome. As a person who rarely focused on glutes development, there was no other way but up. So I gained quite a little bit of glutes strength fast.

After my 4-month test, I was able to hip thrust more weight than I could squat. Obviously, it was a gradual process, but with the right approach, you can gain glutes strength in a few months.

So I used the old progressive overload technique which works great for any other body part. My goal was to add more weight to the bar each time I trained my glutes, and that’s exactly what I did.

So instead of doing more reps as I got stronger, I simply kept my rep range within the 8 to 10 reps and increased the weight to the point where I couldn’t do more than 10 reps. As mentioned before I did do as little as 6 reps when I first increased the weight, but I rapidly worked my way up to 8 reps.

I’m not saying you should use the exact same rep ranges like I did, feel free to experiment, but that is what worked for me.

I Looked Fitter

This wasn’t necessarily a goal of mine, and I actually didn’t want my butt to grow. To be honest I was actually afraid that I would end up looking awkward. I guess this is how most women feel about weight lifting – with being afraid of getting that bulked up look and all - nothing further from the truth.

So I actually ended up looking better. My legs looked more toned up, not bigger, and everything was just better proportioned than before.

Muscles are a very compact kind of tissue after all, and it takes so much time and effort to put on just a couple of pounds of pure muscles. But for some reason, I must have forgotten that. On top of that, I stayed pretty lean all this time, so there was no way I would’ve started to get that bulky butt look.

Conclusions

With all that being said, the bottom line is that if you neglect any body part, regardless if it is your glutes, your back, or another muscle group, you will start to notice muscle imbalances, pains or even injuries at some point.

For me personally, the glutes were my point of failure. And I am happy to say that they are now my strongest body part. Not only that, but other muscle groups improved and got stronger thanks to it.

So train each body part equally. And when it does happen to have some body parts that might be lagging behind (the question is not if it happens, but when it happens), start focusing on that particular muscle group for a few months. Get it up to speed with everything else.

Balance your body and constantly work on improving your weak parts. That’s the correct way of moving forward to achieving the physique of your dreams. The key thing here is to act early on. As soon as you notice that something is off. Don’t wait until you have pains in your joints or get injured.

Author Bio: Tyler

Tyler has been working as a certified personal trainer for over 10 years specializing in weight loss and functional training with women between the ages of 30 - 65. He also enjoys helping others become industry leading personal trainers through his website PTPioneer.com and YouTube Channel.


The post I Did Hip Thrusts for 4 Months: Here’s What I Learned appeared first on GGP.

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Best Romanian Deadlift Substitutes for Strength and Muscle Growth

When it comes to building strength, athleticism, and the overall health of your body, there are very few exercises that can compete the deadlift. It’s generally the exercise that we can load up with the most weight and allows for the most muscle growth.

There’s a variation, however, that aggressively targets the posterior chain of muscles: the Romanian Deadlift. It’s a great functional strength builder that offers a myriad of benefits, but it can also leave certain lifters more susceptible to injury. The Romanian deadlift was made popular by Romanian weightlifter Nicu Vlad. He competed in the Olympic Games in 1984, 1988 and 1996 winning gold, silver, bronze medals. He performed the exercise to compliment his Olympic lifts.Some athletes have a difficult time performing the Romanian deadlift properly, and it’s not a lift that will suit every lifter. But there are also some exercise variations available to help target the same areas that the Romanian Deadlift excels in.

Benefits of Romanian Deadlifts

The Romanian deadlift is actually not a deadlift at all; the barbell does not hit the ground between repetitions. With that said, it’s a top choice by strength athletes and coaches because it works several large muscle groups simultaneously and allows a lifter to lift heavy while specifically targeting some of the biggest muscles in the body.Sports trainers love this exercise too, especially football linemen and wrestlers. Although it was developed by an Olympic lifter to build strength in the lower back for the clean, it also develops great power in the hips and pelvis. The Romanian Deadlift excels at building explosive lower body strength and building up muscles that are generally more prone to weakness and injury.

Bodybuilders can also benefit from this exercise, not only for its ability to improve strength in other primary lifts like barbell deadlifts and power cleans, but specifically for adding muscle mass to the lower back, glutes and hamstrings.

Muscles Worked

The Romanian deadlift works many of the same muscles that any deadlift targets. However, this lift specifically targets the spinal extensors, glues, and hamstrings. The Romanian Deadlift also heavily focuses on the mechanics of a “hip hinge,” teaching the lifter’s glutes to fire and provide the explosive strength to complete the movement.The glutes are the largest and most powerful muscles in the body – and a muscle group that can become underdeveloped in those who sit often throughout the day. These muscles provide hip stability and a weakness in the glutes can cause posture and stability issues elsewhere. The Romanian Deadlift is a great exercise to eliminate these issues.The hamstrings are another muscle that can be underdeveloped in some individuals. For many people, the quadriceps are more developed than the hamstrings. The Romanian Deadlift pulls the quadriceps out of the movement and allows the lifter to specifically target the hamstrings without the quads helping out.

The extensor muscles function to stabilize the spine and straighten the torso. Weak extensors can leave a lifter susceptible to spinal injuries. The Romanian Deadlift also secondarily works the core, lats, and traps.

Alternate Exercise 1: Sumo Deadlift

One of the biggest dangers of the Romanian deadlift applies to those who suffer from back weakness or lower back pain. Luckily, there’s a fantastic alternative to alleviate the load on the spine: The sumo deadlift. The sumo deadlift is essentially a deadlift with a much wider stance. It allows the spine to stay more vertical throughout the movement while also focusing more heavily on the glutes and hamstrings than the traditional deadlift.To give this movement a try, use an Olympic bar and stand with a wider stance than a conventional deadlift. The idea here is that you should stand so that your feet are pointed toward the plates on either side and your kneecaps in line with your toes. For most people, this generally means that taking a generous step wider with each foot than a conventional deadlift stance.

Other than gripping the bar in the middle, the mechanics of a sumo deadlift are like that of an ordinary deadlift. The other main difference is that the movement begins in the knees rather than a hip hinge. As you lift the weight off the floor, drive your hips forward to explode through the end of the movement. If done correctly, the exercise will target the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps without putting the spine at risk. 

Alternate Exercise 2: Leg Curl

Leg curls are an accessory exercise used by bodybuilders, strength athletes and runners because they directly target the hamstrings. The biggest issue with most deadlifts and squats is that they’re quadriceps-dominated movements. The leg curl allows you to supplement any sort of compound movement by giving your hamstrings individual treatment.

If you are lacking development in your hamstrings or experience tightness and discomfort when performing Romanian deadlifts, then leg curls can be a wonderful addition to your exercise routine.There are several variations of leg curl machines. The most popular is the lying leg curl, but some machines also allow you to perform the exercise while seated. Most universal multi-stations also have a pulley set up to allow you to perform one-legged standing leg curls as well. If you have the equipment on hand, it might be worth experimenting to see which version works the best for you.

As an isolation exercise with movement occurring at only the knee joint, the leg curl is a very simple exercise. Whether lying, seated or standing, the basic movement is that you simply bend at the knee and try to bring the heel of your foot up to the top of your hamstring. The key to using this exercise as a Romanian deadlift alternative is to try to correct any issues you might be having with your hamstrings. If you suffer from a lack of strength, it might be worth loading up the weight and working on adding strength. For muscle tightness, go light and work on repetition.Isolation movements like the hamstring curl are used by bodybuilders for aesthetics. If your exercise goals are related to appearance, the leg curl can work wonderfully in your exercise regimen. If you’re hoping to increase your functional strength, however, you can still use the leg curl in ways to improve your health and flexibility.

Alternate Exercise 3: Deep Lunges

Our final exercise alternative is the perennially underrated lunge. 

Lunges are a fantastic exercise in their own right and a great alternative to the Romanian deadlift because they allow you to work with a lighter load and still see results. Unilateral exercises like the lunge are fantastic for functional strength as well; they can help you identify weaknesses that are hidden in bilateral movements like the deadlift.

You can perform a deep lunge with a barbell across the back of your shoulders or by holding dumbbells in your hands. When performed properly and dropping down into a deep position, lunges do a great job of working the hamstrings, glutes and hips.The exercise may sound simple to perform, but it has some variables that will be different for everyone. Start in a standing position and take a comfortable step forward. As you plant your leading foot, drop your weight slowly and brace on your leading leg. When done correctly, the lead leg’s knee remains right over the foot for the entire movement. Allow the knee of your opposite leg to nearly touch the floor before pushing through the heel of your lead foot and raising yourself to your starting position.

There are plenty of lunge variations, but a stationary lunge is probably the way to start. Variations like the walking lunge take some time to master the mechanics. As a variable to the Romanian deadlift, the lunge will focus much more on the quadriceps than any of the other exercises listed, but it will train functional strength, balance, and flexibility in a safer way. The lunge also allows for more customization; you can load up heavy for fewer repetitions or perform the exercise in a way that targets increasing muscular endurance.

Final Thoughts About Romanian Deadlifts and Alternatives

The Romanian deadlift is one of the best assistance exercises you can perform to improve many of the Olympic lifts and it’s a fantastic exercise in its own right. The Romanian deadlift is one of the only exercises that allow you to lift heavy weights without mainly targeting the quadriceps. 

But as with any exercise that loads heavy, inflexibility or injury can make the exercise a tough task to perform effectively. Some people also have issues with feeling the exercise properly or having the mind-muscle connection to properly fire the right muscles at the right time. For those people, there are plenty of other exercises you can substitute to achieve similar results.Try including sumo deadlifts, leg curls and lunges in your weight lifting routine and see how your body responds to them. When performed with proper lifting technique, these exercises should be a little easier on your body without sacrificing the benefits to strength and size that the Romanian deadlift provides.

Valerie Cox is a contributing author for Texas Orthopedics.

The post Best Romanian Deadlift Substitutes for Strength and Muscle Growth appeared first on GGP.

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Front Lateral Raises: Execution Tips and its BenefitsIntroduction

When it comes to weight training there are numerous workouts to try and explore. There are people who are always coming out with new and advanced ways of performing weight training exercises. It’s just amazing to see how many exercises can be performed with the help of dumbbells and rods.

Every single exercise targets specific muscles, and it has its way of impacting those muscles. Lateral raise is one of the very common and effective exercises that target various muscles. The lateral raises can be performed with the help of weight lifting , dumbbell, and some other pieces of equipment in the gym.

What are front lateral raises?

Talking about lateral raises in general, it is an isolation exercise that focuses on strengthening the entire shoulder. The lateral raises target the front, back, and upper trap. Later you will see that the front lateral raises will be discussed in detail. 

The front lateral raises can be defined as the raises that are different from lateral raises. These lateral raises focus on moving the weight forward while doing the raise, instead of side or back like other lateral raises. It’s a weight training exercises, which isolate shoulder flexion. The front lateral raises involve raising two dumbbells to shoulders height.

Front Lateral Raises: Muscles worked

This exercise can be included easily into your fitness routine. These exercises involve the muscles of the upper body. Here is the list of muscles that are targeted by front lateral raises:

  • Lateral Deltoid
  • Anterior Deltoid
  • Trapezius

Let’s discuss these muscles deeply, categorizing them into primary and secondary muscles.

Primary muscles

Let’s discuss how the front lateral raises target primary muscle of the body. The deltoids involve the muscles, such as the medial, posterior, and anterior head. The front muscle is known as the anterior while the muscles on the side are called medial and posterior refer to the muscles on the back of the body. 

The posterior is also called the rear delts, whereas the medial is also called the lateral delts. The major primary muscles that are targeted by the front lateral raises are the medial and anterior delts. These muscles are located on the front along with the sides of the human shoulders.

Functions of the front lateral raises

The function of anterior deltoids is to raise the arm in a forward position. This exercise is responsible for stimulating this motion to make your anterior deltoids stronger. 

Secondary muscles

It’s true that the front lateral raises just burn off your anterior deltoids, but the secondary muscles are also targeted in the process of performing front lateral raises. Some of the secondary muscles that are targeted are abs, rotator cuff, biceps, trapezius, pectorals, serratus anterior and erector spinae. 

One of the major back muscles in the body is the trapezius muscles. These muscles assist in moving and stabilizing the shoulder blade. This muscle is composed of upper, middle, and lower fibers. Talking about erector spinae, these are the set of muscles that help in extending the vertebral column.

Let’s discuss pectorals now. These are the muscles that establish the link between the chest and the upper arm and shoulder bones. The rotator cuff is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joints specifically, which consists of four tiny muscles.

The serratus anterior lies on the upper rib cage. This muscle is similar to the shape of a finger at the time it is fully developed.

Benefits of Front Lateral Raises 

We have discussed how the front lateral raises target various primary and secondary muscles. Here are some of the benefits of performing front lateral raises on a regular basis. 

1. Toned Muscles

The first benefit of the front lateral raises is toned muscles. The anterior deltoid muscles or we can say the front part of the shoulder muscles is mainly targeted by the front lateral raises. The front lateral raises stimulate these muscles, which help in achieving toned shoulder muscles.

Toned shoulder muscles provide a definition for top arms, which means that you will look awesome when you wear tank top or T-shirt. With the mixture of regular cardiovascular exercises to burn fat and the front lateral raises, you will slowly start to observe muscular definition in your body.

2. Improved functional ability

We already discussed the functions of the front lateral raises in brief before. However, We will discuss this issue in details later. Like I’ve said before, the front lateral raises stimulate the motion of anterior deltoids to make them stronger. 

A stronger muscle helps in giving a muscular definition to the body. However, a strong muscle is not only for enhancing the looks of a person. According to Sport Injury Clinic, stronger anterior deltoids also assist in making day-to-day activities easier. A person with strong anterior deltoids does not have a difficult time lifting the object.

There is always a task of putting something heavy on a shelf to hauling boxes. A strong shoulder provides the functional ability to a person to lift heavy items. Furthermore, the risk of injury is also significantly reduced in an attempt to lift heavy objects or to catch an item in the air. 

3. Strengthen stabilizing muscles

In the earlier part of the article, we showed how the front lateral raises not only targets front shoulder muscles, but also many other secondary muscles. These raises utilize upper back as stabilizing muscles. 

As many secondary muscles, such as rotator cuff, trapezius, erector spinae muscle, pectorals, chest muscles, and so on, it helps in keeping your body steady as you attempt to lift weights. 

Tips on executing front lateral raises

Performing front lateral raises is not a difficult task. It’s a beginner level weight training workout. You just need a pair of dumbbells and a little bit of strength and energy to perform this workout. 

To perform this exercise, you need to be in a right position at first. Stand tall, to begin with, and keep your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand after getting into the position and keep your hands in front of your thighs.

Your palms must face toward you. Now, you should slowly raise your arms up front. Hold for a few seconds once the dumbbells reach your shoulder height. Then slowly get back to the starting position.

In general, 3-4 sets of the front lateral raises would be good for beginners. However, some lifters may also go for 6-10 sets. The recommended reps are 8-15 for front lateral raises. These raises are good to do when you are doing workouts for your shoulder muscles.

Here are some of the things you would want to remember while performing this workout. 

  • Do not lower the weights quickly. It is better to slowly lower the weights with more control. 
  • Always maintain a slight bend in your elbows. 
  • Do not go with the flow. Practice controlling the movement and focus on achieving a good contraction in the shoulder. 
Who can do front lateral raises?

The front lateral raises are for everyone, whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or an advanced guy in the field of fitness. However, it does not mean that the level of training would be the same for all the people. 

If you are just starting out in weight training, it’s recommended that you start with as less as 3 pounds of weight. A little more experienced guy can go for 5-6 pounds of weight for mastering the technique.

Do not just stick to light weights, though. After you master the technique, you can raise your weight. The theory of more reps with lighter weight helps in reducing body fats faster is a myth. It’s recommended you raise your weight as you go.

However, it does not mean that going too heavy is recommended. Try to increase weight by 1-2 pounds at a time. A wrong execution of exercise is one of the causes of joint pain, so you should be careful while performing weight-training exercises. And, there is also a risk of ankle pain due to weightlifting. 

Final Thoughts

There are many different types of weight training workouts. Each weight training workout has its own set of benefits to offer. Among various types of weight training exercises, front lateral raises are one of the weight training exercises that you want to add to your fitness plan, as there are plenty of benefits of the front lateral raises. 

Adding a variety of workouts will help in keeping your workout session interesting and experimentation with workouts will also increase your chance of achieving an attractive body over the period.

According to the study, the problem of muscle loss is very often seen in the aging process. And, the study has shown that incorporation of weight training can help in slowing down muscle loss and preventing the condition like osteoporosis. So, it’s recommended that you keep yourself involved in resistance training.

Keep in mind that an incorrect execution of exercises can lead to various negative results. Always consult with your trainer while performing weight training exercises if you do not have enough knowledge to properly execute the exercises.

The people with the signs and symptoms of joint pain may want to consult with a doctor before performing these workouts. 

The post Front Lateral Raises: Execution Tips and its Benefits appeared first on GGP.

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A Comprehensive Guide To Jefferson Squats

Whether you are a professional athlete or you are just starting out there is a good chance that you have heard of the Jefferson squats. With their ability to greatly increase glute development, grow your quads, and improve your torso all at the same time it really is no wonder that more and more athletes are opting for this exercise as opposed to others. With that being said, if you truly want to take advantage of everything that the Jefferson squat have to offer, you need to understand everything there is to possibly know about this workout from the history to its benefits, and that is what you are going to learn below.

What Are Jefferson Squats?

The Jefferson squats is an old technique that you just don’t see many people utilizing anymore, but it truly is an excellent workout because of the way that it tests and works your lower body. One of the most unique things about this workout is that it can be adapted to meet the specific needs of beginners and experts alike. When you learn the proper movements and loading of this exercise, you truly can achieve greatness.

In order to perform this movement, you are going to need to take a wide stance and straddle your barbell. You now want to squat, keeping your glutes tense as you do so, with one hand in front of your body and the other behind it. When you raise up, make sure that you force your knees out, so that you not only activate your glutes, but you keep them constantly working throughout the set.

The more proficient that you get at this exercise, the better you will be able to perform a squat. In addition to this, you will learn how to activate your glutes, hams, and quads to achieve the best possible results.

History

The fully comprehend the importance of the Jefferson squat you must know more about its history. A strongman with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Charles Jefferson, was highly recognized for his strength. In fact, Jefferson could break chains without breaking a sweat. The human powerhouse created the Jefferson deadlift or Straddle deadlift during his career as a circus performer. 

The Jefferson squat is utilized to strengthen the leg muscles and build both asymmetric and anti-rotation strength. Today, the exercise is still utilized by professional and nonprofessional athletes around the world.

Jefferson Deadlift And Jefferson Squat

While the Jefferson squat and Jefferson deadlift refer to the same exercise created by Charles Jefferson, they vary in a variety of ways. One of the most notable differences is how the exercises are performed. For instance, the Jefferson squat requires the athlete to keep their spine more vertical and knees bent at a higher degree, so the hips drop downwards. This stance allows for greater quad engagement when compared to the Jefferson deadlift.

The Jefferson deadlift, on the other hand, is performed with a more hinging motion and less knee bend to increase hamstring, back and hip loading. It is not unusual for athletes to switch up these movements to achieve the maximum benefits offered by both exercises.

How Has The Jefferson Squat Changed?

As mentioned above, some athletes will switch up the movements of the Jefferson squat and Jefferson deadlift. In fact, the technique has been perverted to the point that it is no longer considered a Jefferson squat. It is not unusual to hear athletes refer to the technique as “straddle deadlift,” which is not the same thing as a Jefferson squat. 

Before integrating the Jefferson squat into your workout, you should research its proper technique. Veteran athletes may be able to point you in the right direction, but do not rely on this information alone. Once you become familiar with the technique, you can share your experience with others.

Traditional Squat And Jefferson Squat

When some people think of the Jefferson squat, the traditional squat will come to mind. The difference in these two exercises is where the location of the weight during the exercise. In the traditional squat, the weight is placed slightly in front. In a Jefferson squat, the weight is centered under you. Many athletic trainers recommend the Jefferson squat to the traditional squat because it is considered safer.

When To Do Them 

If you really want to add quality in a more isolated approach, you should consider throwing in Jefferson squats right after you perform your main sets of squats or deadlifts. This will not only put a lot of emphasis on your leg development, but it will add enhancements to the glute and quad areas as well. With that being said, you should keep in mind that the Jefferson squats could also be used as your main strength lift for one training session. While you might feel the need to add these squats to your normal routine, you shouldn’t feel obligated to do. You should always feel free to perform exercises independently.

If you want to get out of bed in the middle of the morning and perform Jefferson squats, you should do so. It is your choice. Once you’ve experienced these exercises for yourself, you will likely feel the urge to do them around the clock. Just remember to take breaks frequently to avoid getting yourself injured.

Benefits Of Jefferson Squats

So, why would anyone want to do Jefferson squats? The answers are plentiful. The truth of the matter is that Jefferson squats offer a wealth of benefits. As long as you build up your endurance and stick with these squats, you’ll be able to achieve a great deal in a short period of time. Below, you will learn more about the benefits of performing Jefferson squats.

  • Can Help Stabilize Your Core – Your core muscles rely on all surrounding muscles. This includes your quads and lower back. Jefferson squats help you develop both of these muscles and more. By performing this exercise, you’ll be able to strengthen your core quicker than ever before.
  • Improves Muscular Development – Jefferson squats can help you improve your muscular development far quicker than the alternatives.
    Enhanced Asymmetrical Strength – Asymmetrical training can be a great way to boost your strength and stability. Jefferson squats can deliver enhanced asymmetrical strength with practice and patience.
  • Protects The Spine – Some lifting exercises are very dangerous and could negatively impact your back and spine. This is less of a problem with Jefferson squats. This exercise actually develops the lower back and protects the spine from injuries.
  • Offers Multiplanar Training – Straight line exercises can be very limited. Sometimes, you need to mist it up. The human body can move through three plans of motions simultaneously. Therefore, you should be performing multiplanar training exercises. Look no further than Jefferson squats.
  • More Back Friendly – Individuals will back pains and disorders will often have trouble performing normal squats. If you fit into this category, you should most definitely try Jefferson squats. This exercise is considered less strenuous on the back than others.

Truly, there are tons of benefits associated with Jefferson squats. In the beginning, they’ll be tough. Nevertheless, they’ll pay off dividends in the long run.

Who Should Do Jefferson Squats?

Are you thinking about doing Jefferson squats, but aren’t sure whether or not they’re right for you? The Jefferson squat is a pretty simplistic exercise that is ideal for a large group of individuals. This free-weights exercise can help strengthen your quads. It may also help develop your glutes, hamstrings and lower back to some degree. All you really need to perform this exercise is a barbell. If you want to build your quads or lower back, you should definitely perform this variety of squats.

Jefferson squats are a good exercise for lots of people. Even if you’re a runner, you can benefit immensely from this exercise. Also, if you suffer from back problems, you will likely prefer Jefferson squats over the alternatives. If you just want to experiment a bit, you should give them a try. There is a good chance that you’ll fall in love with them.

Tips For Executing Jefferson Squats

Jefferson squats are a tough exercise that will definitely deliver big results. As long as you stick with them, you’ll eventually be able to build your endurance and strength. In return, this will make performing Jefferson squats so much easier. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to make the process slightly easier. First and foremost, you should be very precise with your grip. Make sure that your grip remains even at all times.

Your torso should be in the dead middle of the bar when attempting Jefferson squats. Your feet positioning is also very important. Make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Keep your toes pointed outward slightly. You should also consider mixing it up by performing the exercise with wrist straps. For a tougher or easier exercise, you can try experimenting with a wider and closer stance. Play around with it to find out what works best for you.

Conclusion

There is absolutely no doubt that Jefferson squats can be tough. Nevertheless, they’re a great workout for people that want to build their quadriceps as quickly as possible. Just remember that you need to take your time and build up your endurance. Do not rush Jefferson squats. Be patient and do not push yourself too hard or you may wind up getting seriously injured.

Bruce Kuster graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Biology and Health Science, he is also a coach and CrossFit lover, Bruce likes to share his passion for sport and nutrition on wealthformyhealth.com.

The post A Comprehensive Guide To Jefferson Squats appeared first on GGP.

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