A no nonsense approach to teach people the safest, quickest way possible to change their fitness habits and to reach their goals. I want to motivate people to create a healthier lifestyle and the know how to reach their goals as fast as possible.Because unfortunately not everything in life is as easy as gaining weight.
While supplementation is not a mandatory aspect of your program, it can definitely improve the overall convenience and effectiveness of your fitness plan if you go about it correctly. There are an endless number of different products out there to choose from, the overwhelming majority of them being overhyped, over priced and downright ineffective.
The key is knowing which specific supplements to use, the highest quality brands, along with the proper dosing and timing. I don’t want to deter you from using supplements, they definitely have a place in your routine I just want you to understand how the industry works and how to recognize what to stay away from.
There are 7.7 billion people on this planet and one third of them are overweight or obese that equates to 256 billion potential customers the fitness industry can take advantage of. The supplement companies know that lean, muscular, impressive bodies are in extremely high demand and they’ll do just about anything to convince you that the answer lies in their new “breakthrough” product.
The Truth About The Supplement Industry.
Before we go any further, I will go on the record to say that supplements do work, but most of the fitness supplements available on the market are marginally effective at best, and more than not, a complete waste of money.
The supplement companies know that lean, muscular, sexy bodies are in high demand, and they’ll do just about anything to convince you that the answer lies in their next breakthrough product.
After all who wouldn’t like to pop back a few pills and instantly develop a brand new body.
All they have to do is hype up a random combination of ingredients, slap it together into a fancy bottle, place an excessive price tag on it, stick it on the shelves, and people will fork over their cash everytime.
As long as there is a compelling advertisement and an uninformed consumer willing to take the bait, this unfortunate situation will continue to perpetuate itself over and over again.
A few changes to the rules by a senator in Utah changed everything. Now, the supplement industry is no longer regulated by the FDA.
As a result of this deregulation, the supplement industry literally exploded. Anyone and everyone was free to create and sell supplements, and the marketplace began overflowing with every type of product imaginable.
Because of the intense competition. companies began employing all sorts of deceptive tactics as a means of getting ahead.
Outrageously false product claims
Low quality fillers
Ultra low cost manufacturing methods
Blatant label fraud
All of these bad habits gathered momentum and led to the current state of the industry. A state where most of the products in the marketplace are nothing more than overhyped, overpriced, ineffective fluff.
Some of the more easily influenced of you out there might be thinking…
“But I read a published article in a fitness magazine about product XYZ. How could they publish this information if it was blatantly untrue?”
It’s because fitness magazines are owned by supplement companies.
Did you ever wonder why over half of a fitness magazines content is nothing more than advertising for supplements and related products?
They don’y make their money from your monthly subscriptions, they make their money by selling supplements. And they do this by packing every single month’s publication with a gigantic mass of advertisements and bogus articles which are written purely for the purpose of promoting a particular supplement.
Don’t believe me? Do the research…
MuscleMag and Oxygen are owned by MuscleTech.
Ironman is owned by MuscleLink.
Muscular Development is owned by Twinlab.
Muscle and Fitness and Flex are owned by Weider.
Muscle Media is owned by EAS>
Muscle magazines are not reliable sources of information, because all of the strategies you read about are specifically manipulated to get you to buy more supplements.
You need reliable information that you can trust. Building an impressive body is hard enough, but when you combine it with all the lies and fraud in the supplement industry, you have a real problem on your hands.
You work extremely hard for every pound of muscle you build and every ounce of fat you burn, and you deserve a training, nutrition and supplementation plan that delivers the results it promises.
I’m going to get a bit more detailed now and reveal the 5 fundamental flaws that render the majority of fitness supplements out there nearly useless…
1. They use ineffective ingredients that are not backed by reliable research.
Let me ask you, when was the last time you studied an actual research paper or reviewed a reliable study conducted on the latest supplement you used?
My guess is, that you never have.
Far more often than not, the research is either sorely lacking or non existent.
Although there are literally thousands of compounds being promoted as muscle building and fat burning aids, only a very small percentage of these are backed by reliable research to substantiate their effectiveness.
In the world of supplementation, marketing is everything. Take some obscure ingredient, hype it up as the next big thing, support it with some blatantly false yet convincing research, and watch the cash come pouring in.
Take NO2 (nitric oxide) supplements for example. They are promoted for their supposed ability to increase blood flow to the muscles, translating to greater pumps in the gym, improved nutrient delivery and increased performance.
Did you know that there is currently no research clearly demonstrating that arginine AKG (the active ingredient in NO2 products) increases nitric oxide levels in the body, and that this increase in Nitric Oxide leads to gains in muscle size, strength or endurance?
Yet, NO2 products are some of the hottest selling products on the market today.
This is just one of the countless examples that have come and gone over the years. It’s a serious testament to the effectiveness of proper marketing and the power of the placebo effect,
It’s downright pathetic that companies would charge you money for products without a single shred of real evidence to back them up, but this is simply the way the industry works.
2. They provide weak dosages that produce no measurable benefits.
Of course, there are several compounds that are backed by solid research and that do show safe and positive effects on body composition and gym performance.
But simply including that compound in a particular supplement is not enough. It also needs to be present in an amount that produces measurable results.
This is another area where many products fail miserably.
The average consumer sees a a recognizable ingredient listed on the product label and assumes this is good enough. Little do they know that the actual amount of that ingredient that is included in the product is completely and utterly useless for building muscle or burning fat.
But because companies are not required to list the specific amount of each ingredient on their labels (they only have to list the total amount for all the ingredients combined), you have no way of knowing what’s exactly in the bottle.
Is it a potent muscle building blend or a pill full of rice flour? Believe it or not, the latter is often the case.
In the supplement industry, they call it “pixie dusting” the practice of including minimal amounts of each ingredient as a way to minimize production costs.
And at the end of the day, cutting costs is really what this is all about.
The supplement industry is ultra competitive, and for retail stores to even consider buying the product, it must be priced very low. For the company to make any real money their production costs must be minimal. In many cases, they can develop a product for literally just a few bucks, and then sell it tom you for $50 or more.
It’s not the supplement company or the retail store that gets screwed over, It’s you.
3. In some cases they blatantly lie about the true ingredient amounts that are present.
As if this wasn’t already enough, the sad truth is that some supplements don’t even contain what their label says.
If you’re going to get a supplement that doesn’t work, you should at least get 100% of what doesn’t work.
This is another way they cut down production costs to increase profits. If a company only includes 80% of what their label says they automatically increase their profits by 20%.
When you’re moving thousands of units per month you’re talking about a lot of profit being made.
Label fraud is common practice for small no name brands but it is more common than you’d expect even with the big name brand companies.
Unfortunately, there’s no way for you to know this unless you get the product tested by a third party which is completely impractical for the average consumer, so you have no choice but to take the supplement company’s word.
4. They are produced using low quality manufacturing methods.
Even if a particular supplement overcomes all 3 of the previous obstacles (and that is extremely rare), you still have to worry about the underlying product quality.
Most people are under the false impression that every supplement company owns its own manufacturing facility and personally develops all of its own products.
This vision of high tech machinery and scientists walking around in white lab coats is almost never the case.
Almost all companies outsource the production of their products to 3rd party supplement manufacturers. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it can become a huge problem when lower quality manufacturers are used as a way to further decrease production costs.
Are you receiving pure micronized creatine from germany, or cheap alternatives from China?
Are your supplements being made in a cGMP certified facilty, or one that uses cheap manufacturing methods?
Are they 3rd party tested?
Are they free of harmful contaminants?
When low quality manufacturers are used, it’s like playing russian roulette. You’ll never know if the product you’re getting is truly effective, or even worse is it safe for you to consume.
5. The true effects of their products are grossly exaggerated with outrageous marketing claims.
I’m sure all of us would love to lie lazily on the couch, pop back a few pills and see serious results, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.
Achieving a truly impressive body requires time and dedication.
That’s not what many supplement companies would have you believe, though.
With misleading ads that portray the process as a walk in the park as long as you take their supplement, these companies are concocting a complete fantasy and are misleading the true effects of their products.
While this doesn’t say anything about the actual supplement itself, it speaks volumes about the integrity of the companies behind them.
Would you buy something from somebody you didn’t trust? Then why buy supplements from companies who are perfectly willing to lie straight to your face?
The right supplements can certainly assist you in building muscle and burning fat at a faster rate, but only when used in conjunction with proper training and nutrition. This is a simple fact, and supplement companies should be fully transparent about this.
Don’t Outsmart Your Common Sense.
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The machine fly also known as a seated lever fly or a Pec Dec is a common machine found at any local gym, it consists of a small base and seat to sit on with a vertical post that has two arms on either side that you squeeze together to perform a chest fly.
The seat can be adjusted so that it can support different body types and the arms can usually be moved up or down so that you can work your high, mid and lower chest muscles.
Just like other machines it also comes with a weight stack that can be changed normally in increments of 10 pounds.
What Muscles Are Engaged With The Pec Dec?
The primary muscles that you will target are the…
Pectoralis major – This is the largest section of your chest muscle, it spans from the shoulder to the breastbone and are primarily used to control movement of the arm.
When you see a picture of a man with a well defined chest this is the muscle most responsible for that highly sought after look.
Pectoralis Minor – This is a thinner, flatter muscle found just underneath the pec major, as the name suggests it is the smaller of the two muscles and it stabilizes the scapula while also depressing, abducting, protracting of the scapula.
This is the red headed step child of the chest group, people looking for that classic bulbous chest need to understand that a well defined lower chest (pec minor) is what will create that aesthetic look.
Serratus Anterior – This muscle runs from the 1st to 8th rib on the side of the chest and inserts along the the entire medial border of the scapula, its main use is to pull the scapula forward around the thorax.
This is one of the coolest muscles when it is defined, it almost look like fingers wrapping around your torso and gives an unmistakable look of extreme fitness and power.
How Effective Is The Pec Dec To Other Equipment.
This is a question that will have different answers depending on who you ask, my opinion is you will receive a better chest workout using the bench press but that is probably because I always prefer free weights over machines.
However, when you compare the EMG tests done on the bench press and Pec Dec the results are very close and wouldn’t prevent you from doing one over the other.
Just remember that you wil be performing different rep ranges on the pec dec than you would on the bench press so if you’re new to the movement make sure you find out the proper load so that you don’t strain or hurt yourself.
It is superior to push ups, flys and dips so if you find yourself not liking one of these exercises or you just need a change of pace this is a great substitute.
Perfect Pec Deck - YouTube
How To Use The Pec Dec.
The first thing you always want to do is to make sure the machine is adjusted properly to your body, in this case you would adjust the seat so that the arm pads are level with your chest when you’re in a seated position
Select how much weight you want to use. Remember, you always want to be in control of the movement, don’t allow your ego to make you do something stupid or unsafe.
The starting position will be when you’re seated, grasping the handles and placing your forearms on the foam padding.
Slowly bring the weight up by pressing the handles together, you don’t want them to touch though.
When the handles are directly in front of you contract the chest muscles and hold for 2 to 3 seconds then slowly move back to the starting position.
To receive the best results when targeting any muscle it is recommended that you use different exercises or movements to isolate the entire muscle group.
You don’t want to just do a bench press, push ups and dumbbell press because all three of these movements are working the chest muscle in the same way.
You want to hit the fibers of any muscle group from all directions to make sure you work the entire area completely.
For example, using the Pec Dec, cable crossover and bench press would hit the pec major, pec minor and serratus anterior giving you a complete chest workout.
Tips On How To Use The Pec Dec.
Make sure to slightly bend your elbows, this relieves pressure on your ligaments.
Don’t touch the handles together, this will keep the chest contracted during the pause before you move back to the starting position.
Don’t bring your body forward while pushing the handles together, this will put extra stress on your shoulders.
Don’t let the weight drop to the floor always stay in control of the movement putting.
Pay attention to the eccentric portion of the exercise as you do to the concentric portion, you build muscle in both directions.
Make sure your arms are always parallel to the floor.
Contract your chest muscles for 2 to 3 seconds before moving back to the starting position
Common Mistakes Made
Not adjusting the seat – You want to make sure that the handles are level with your chest and your feet are firmly planted on the ground, this will guarantee that the movement is working the desired muscle group.
Not completing the entire motion – You want to press the handles until they are directly in front of you, pause for 2 to 3 seconds then go back to the starting position. Do not stop halfway, if you feel like you need to do this you may be using to much weight.
locking out your elbows – This puts stress on your shoulders, you always want to have a slight bend in your elbows.
Not contracting the chest muscles – This guarantees that you fatigue the chest fibers creating a more efficient workout.
Avoiding Shoulder Injury.
One of the biggest critiques of the Pec Dec is the way your shoulders are placed while you are sitting in a vertical position, some people while pressing the handles forward will feel strain in their shoulder joints. If at anytime you feel uncomfortable or have pain in your joints you need to stop the movement and find a different exercise.
You can adjust the Pec Dec but not in a way that it will prevent any of the pain you’re experiencing in the shoulder joints. There are plenty of substitutes to work the chest muscles don’t injure yourself and prevent being able to train going forward.
Substitutes For The Pec Dec.
How to Do Cable Crossovers - YouTube
Cable Crossover – The cable crossover just like the Pec Dec uses stretches and contractions to work the chest and is found to have a lot less stress on the shoulders.
How To: Dumbbell Flys On A Flat Bench - YouTube
Flat/Incline dumbbell flys – This is the closest exercise to the Pec Dec but it also has one of the biggest drawbacks, a major debate with the fly is the problems it can present to the shoulders.
Some people say that this is due to people not using the correct technique or trying to lift to much weight, while other people will tell you it’s because of the force put on the shoulders as you bring the weight down by your side.
Personally I love the chest workout I get when I perform the fly, use lighter weight at first and make sure your form is perfect, watch this video to see how to correctly perform the movement.
Sweat More, Bitch Less.
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Are you one of those people that go into your workout doing the same routine day in and day out? Do you incorporate tri-sets or supersets into your routine? Are you happy with your results? Are you performing an intense enough workout to push yourself enough to make your body feel like it’s in danger and needs to adapt and grow muscle?
This may sound dramatic but this is exactly what happens when you lift weights, your body realizes that you need it to do something that it has a hard time doing and its response is to build muscle so that it can adapt to the new stress you are causing it.
If your workout isn’t intense enough and isn’t kicking your ass than you aren’t doing anything but wasting your time and the person’s time who is waiting to use the piece of equipment your lazy ass is sitting on.
Progression comes from you approaching every workout with the intention of lifting a little heavier or at least doing one more rep than last time. Your main goal every time you approach the iron is to want to be better than you were last workout.
What Is A Tri-Set.
A tri-set is three exercises performed right after each other with the only rest coming from the amount of time it takes for you to set up and begin the next exercise.
The only time you will take a true rest period is after the third exercise and this can last anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes depending on the exercise and how much weight your using.
You’ll want to do a warm up tri-set first, I like to use 50% of the weight I would use during a normal tri-set. Remember, when warming up for any exercise you never want to train to failure, you only want to warm your muscles up and prepare your nervous system.
You can choose to isolate the same muscle group throughout the tri-set or do three different muscle groups all together, deciding to do different muscles can allow you to lift heavier since each muscle has a chance to rest while you’re working the next muscle group.
When planning to do a tri-set workout you need the ability to jump from one exercise to another, a bust gym can make this difficult.
Try planning your gym session at time when it is not as busy or if you have the choice and equipment workout at home so that you don’t have to worry about other people getting in your way.
The Importance Of Tri-Sets
Tri sets have many benefits over normal circuit sets
Increases your heart rate and burns fat.
Can prevent you from hitting an endurance and strength plateau.
Changes the way you stimulate your muscles triggering them to respond more efficiently.
Allows you to change things up to keep you from becoming complacent and bored.
Increases time under tension and volume to break you out of an existing strength plateau.
How Should You Structure A Tri-Set.
This depends, if your goal is to lift the maximum amount of weight using the most force than you should start off doing the most technical move first than end with the easiest move.
Explosive compound movement.
Strength based compound movement.
The reason I say this is because you don’t want to fatigue a muscle group doing an isolation move than try to use the same muscle group to do a compound movement that requires more weight and strength to perform properly.
This will only lead to poor technique and an increase which will hurt your results, lets be honest,in the end we all want results,this is why you’re reading this damn article in the first place, am I right?
Now lets say you want to completely blast a certain muscle group by fatiguing every muscle fiber in that group.
This time you would start off with the easiest movement and end with the hardest.
Higher rep isolation movement.
Moderate rep isolation movement.
Lower rep compound movement.
The idea behind this approach is that you will fatigue the targeted muscle group with the isolation movements and use the compound movement at the end to breakdown the muscle even more.
Upper body Tri set - YouTube
Upper Body Tri-set Exercises
I want to breakdown this section down into free weight movements and cable/machine movements so that whether you’re at the gym or home you’ll be able to put a complete tri-set program together without being limited by your equipment.
If you’re not sure how to perform an exercise click on the link and it will take you to a how to video.
Most calf exercises are going to be done with bodyweight or dumbbells, some gyms have standing calf raise machines, If your at home or the gym you’ll have access to dumbbells or a bodyweight exercise so I’m just going to list these here.
Tip Toe Walk, hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand a walk only on the tips of your feet not allowing your heels to touch the ground.
What Type Of Set Is Right For You?
There are many different types of ways to go about creating a fitness routine that is best fitted for you.
Here is a breakdown of the various choices and how and why to incorporate them into your workout regimen.
What Are They: This is the most common set you’ll see, this is when you perform an exercise, rest for a little bit then repeat the same exact exercise again.
Why Do Them: These work best when you’re planning on going heavy, the extra rest time you’ll need in between sets when doing exercises like deadlifts, bench presses and squatsmake these sets perfect so that you have optimal time to recover.
When To Do Them: Since you’ll be doing your heavier lifts with straight sets it makes sense to do these in the beginning of your workout. You don’t want to do heavy technical lifts at the end of your workout when you’re tired because it will lead to improper form and a higher chance of injury.
The 8 Best Supersets (YOU’RE NOT DOING!!) - YouTube
What Are They: This is when you move from one exercise to another with nom rest in between. You can target the same muscle group with both exercises or do non competing muscles so that the one muscle can rest while you’re doing the next one.
This will allow you to rest in between supersets less and you’ll be able to lift heavier.
Why Do Them: Super sets take less time then traditional exercises, so if you find yourself in a time crunch these will be perfect for you.
Since you’re moving from one move to the next with no rest this will help build your muscular endurance and elevate your heart making them better suited to burn fat.
When To Do Them: Supersets can be done whenever it’s good for you, combining multi joint exercises together in a superset will guarantee a wider training area and save you time in the end. For example do a Barbell overhead press with a deadlift.
How To: Triset Workout - YouTube
What Are They: Three exercises performed one after another with no rest in between
Why Do Them: Will help you avoid strength plateaus and help you get out of a plateau, great at increasing your endurance and burning fat.
When To Do Them: I like to save them for when I’m pressed for time, I would also recommend only doing them 2, 3 times at the most in a 1 week period. Unless you’re a superior human being (which I’m not) doing tri-sets to often will end up taking to much of a toll on you and will hinder your training.
Drop Sets For Building Muscle Mass - YouTube
What Are They: This is when you perform3 to 4 moves in a row but you decrease the amount of weight for each move.
We’ll use Bicep curls as an example…
First set your weight is at 35 pounds
Second set is at 30 pounds
Third set is at 25 pounds
4th set is at 20 pounds
Why Do Them: Again they are a great time saver and are perfect when you’re trying to isolate a muscle group and want to make sure you fatigue all of the muscle fibers.They also do a great job at increasing your heart rate helping with muscle endurance.
When To Do Them: I’m going to sound like a broken record here but you’ll want to follow the same rules as the tri-set.
Save them for when you’re pressed for time, don’t do to many of these a week, when done correctly they’re very tiring, also start with a warm up set using about 50% of the weight you would use on a normal drop set.
Circuit Training VS Reps & Sets in Calisthenics (WHICH ONE IS BETTER?) - YouTube
What Are They: An exercise routine that normally consists of 5 to 6 moves in a row with no rest but usually involving weight and cardio moves,
Why Do Them: You will mostly use a circuit set during a warm up, they’re perfect for getting your muscles and central nervous system ready to lift heavy.
You can also do a combination of weight and cardio moves to perform a full body workout in little time, if doing this at a gym just make sure you plan appropriately due to the fact that you will need a lot of space and equipment to complete the entire cycle.
When To Do Them: In the beginning of a workout as a warm up or if you’re trying to do a full body workout in a short amount of time.
You don’t need a reason to do tri-sets as they should be a part of everyone’s fitness plan, but they can be especially useful to someone that has found themselves stuck in a strength plateau, or if you need to burn those last couple of pounds and are having a hard time doing so.
All the exercises listed are great ways to perform a tri-set but in the end the best fitness routine is one that you’re confident and comfortable performing.
I like long walks, especially when they’re taken by people that annoy me.
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They are some staples that will never get old like baseball in the spring, the first cup of coffee in the morning and old Seinfeld episodes still being funny no matter how many times you’ve seen them.
The bench press falls into this category as well, it has become an unofficial measure of how strong a person is, just think how many times you’ve heard the expression “how much can you bench”.
There is a reason it has lasted the test of time and that’s because a well-developed chest helps develop of parts of your body.
1. It helps increase how much weight you can push.
I know this is common sense but as you increase your push strength it will help increase the amount you can lift on other exercises such as the shoulder press, push-ups and chest dips just to name a few.
2.Increased strength, definition of Pec Major and Pec Minor.
Again this is isn’t a surprise but what you need to understand is a more developed chest will also help you increase strength and further develop your back and shoulders.
The pec minor is often overlooked but when you isolate the lower chest muscle you will develop a well-rounded chest improving your strength and aesthetic look.
3. Larger Delts
Bench pressing will develop and strengthen your anterior and medial deltoids, your delts are the one of the main muscles used when you perform the bench press and their growth will support stronger shoulders and help give you that sought after capped shoulder look
4. Triceps fit for a god.
When you perform a bench press you trigger all three heads of the tricep, 2/3 of the arm is made up of your tricep, even though the bicep is the vanity muscle that gets all the attention, the tricep plays a large role in giving you the huge arm look every guy is looking to achieve.
5. Healthy bones and great posture.
Any compound joint exercise you perform puts a greater amount of stress on your bones making your body respond by strengthening your bone density. Another benefit of overall strength, bone and joint health is good posture. Poor posture can be the reason for many health problems.
How to Do a Barbell Bench Press | Chest Workout - YouTube
How To Properly Execute A Bench Press.
Lie on the bench and under the bar in a location that you find it easy to unrack the weight, people will try to tell you to line yourself up in one particular way but in the end you need to be comfortable especially when you’re pushing heavier weights.
Set your feet so that they are back closer to your butt while keeping them flat on the ground.
Grab the bar using a medium grip and when you push up make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together, this will help limit the amount of stress that you put on them.
Arch your back. I know, here comes the controversy but a minimal arch in your back as you lift will keep your spine aligned and will help take pressure off your shoulders.
Your grip needs to be tight, Make sure not to hold the bar to high in your hand this could result in you hurting your wrist. Keep it as low on your palm as possible and make sure to grip the hell out of it.
The width of your grip will again be decided by how built you are and how long your arms are, do what is comfortable to you while maintaining proper form.
Take a deep breath in then unrack the weight and let the breath out, hopefully you have a spotter so that you don’t have to waste your energy while unracking.
Take another breath in as you lower the bar down as you do this allow to tuck your elbows in to isolate your lats more, this will protect your shoulders
Do not bounce the bar off your chest, if this is happening it’s most likely because you have too much weight on the bar. You should be in control of the weight at all times. You want to bring the bar down in a controlled manner, touch your chest and push it back up.
Keep repeating this until you reach your pre determined reps
Understanding Strength Curves.
Every exercise you perform has what is known as a strength curve.
All exercise are done by moving your joints at a certain angle, the strength curve is simply how much strength you can apply to different degrees of the angle.
Think about doing a dumbbell curl, you’re starting position is with your hands down at your sides then you will start to raise them up bringing the weights directly in front of you then finishing with them raised near your shoulders.
The amount of strength needed throughout this move varies depending on where you are during the joint angle, you would need little strength when the weights are down by your side at the beginning or at the top near your shoulders at the end of the movement, but when you’re in the middle of your curl this is when you have to apply the most effort.
We can break all exercises down into one of three categories…
Ascending – Is when you near full extension and the tension decreases at this point of the motion, this is noticeable in bench presses and squats.
Descending – This is when you near full flexion and the tension increases at this point of the movement and makes the movement harder. Leg curls and rows have descending strength curves.
Parabolic or bell shaped – This strength curve feels easier at the ends and harder in the middle the above example of a dumbbell curl would be recognized as a parabolic strength curve.
The bench press has an ascending strength curve, this means that the movement is easiest when the range of motion is at the top. Simply put you can move more weight at the top 1/3 than you can at the middle and bottom of the exercise.
An example of this would be, if you could bench 180 pounds when you bring the bar all the way down to your chest, you could probably bench 200 pounds if you only went down 2/3 of the way then back up again.
When Should You Start Using Bands?
The biggest reason people start to add bands to the bench press is when they hit a plateau.
I mentioned earlier how the bench press is the hardest once you hit the middle and the bottom of the movement, this can make it hard to progress your weight if you can’t strengthen this part of the exercise, in other words you’re stuck at a plateau.
How the bands will help you get out of a sticking point or plateau.
If your bench progression is being compromised because of the sticking point you’re encountering at the bottom of the movement then setting up resistance bands would lessen the resistance at the lowest point making it easier to get through it and continue to strengthen the muscles needed to make you more proficient at this lower part of the movement.
The bands will also make parts of your exercise faster so that if you notice that their is a point during your range of motion that you become slow or sluggish the bands will give you that jolt so that you can get through that sticking point as well and continue to train.
If you’re a serious lifter and want to train 7 days a week, bands can help you lighten the tension o days that you’re still recovering from a heavy workload the day before.
Change is the spice of life, you can use the bands just for the sake of changing things up and trying new moves.
Different Types Of Bands To Use.
There are many types of bands to use for different types of exercises the ones most popular for bench presses would be rubberbanditz.
Medium Resistance – 1/2 inch wide x 41 inches long – 15 to 35 pounds of resistance
Heavy resistance – 7/8 inch wide x 41 inches long – 30 to 50 pounds of resistance
Robust Resistance – 1 1/8 inches wide x 41 inches long – 50 to 80 pounds of resistance
Power resistance band – 1.75 inches wide x 41 inches long – 70 to 100 pounds of resistance
Strong Resistance – 2.5 inches wide x 41 inches long – 100 to 140 pounds of resistance.
Using Chains On The Bench Press.
The main reason to use chains is to increase your speed and learn how to push the weight right before the top of the move where you lockout, as you bring the weight down the chains pile up on the floor decreasing the weight they provide and also decreasing the tension they put on the bar.
As, you push up you pull the chains off the floor which obviously increases the tension on the move.
Let’s say you’re benching 200 pounds and you put 2 chains on your bar each one weighing 45 pounds, at the top of the bench press you will be pushing 290 pounds but at the bottom it will be the natural 200 pounds you have on the bar.
Sling Shot Demo - YouTube
How To Use The Sling Shot.
The sling shot is a product you wear on your upper body, the benefit you receive from this is it lets you increase the amount of weight you can bench without putting a harmful amount of stress on your body. You can generally handle about a 10% increase on your bench press.
The sling shot acts like your natural muscle movement by lengthening and shortening with your muscles, this means that it will actually help support you on the eccentric and concentric portions of your lifts.
Reducing the negative effects on your shoulders, neck and elbows.
How To Avoid Shoulder Pain From Bench Pressing
Coming from personal experience improper form on the bench press or pushing yourself beyond what you can handle can cause serious shoulder injuries and even worse will hinder your training and your results.
I can’t stress enough the importance of practicing patience, making sure you are always in control of the weight and to check your ego at the door and not to pay attention to the person next to you.
Some of these points were covered in the article above but I felt it was important to put them all in one section just to make it clear to anyone interested in learning about this or who has unfortunately already experienced it and wants to correct their form.
1. Use your legs, some people don’t realize this but the bench press is a whole body exercise, you want to bring your legs back close to your butt while still being flat on the ground and keep them spread wide.
You want to start each rep by pushing through your feet in order to help get the bar off your chest, the more of your lower body you use the less strain you will endure on your shoulders.
2. When you go to unrack the bar and during the actual exercise you want to try to touch your shoulder blades together, this will make sure that you keep a stable base to push with and keep your shoulders in line.
3. Lots of people will tell you to grip or hold the bar a certain way but this will vary depending on the length of your arms and your build.
In the end you want to do what is comfortable for you while maintaining proper form, a wider grip will lessen your range of motion and put more strain on your shoulders, so try to use a narrower grip that still feels natural to you.
4. Arch your back a little to take strain off of your shoulders and to keep your spine aligned properly.
Power lifters will utilize a very dramatic arch because it shortens how far they have to move the bar.
If you’re not training to be a power lifter try using a slight arch so that you can still get the same range of motion but still receive the benefits from the change of form.
In this article we’re going to talk about when, how and why we take creatine and to see if there is any side affects of taking creatine before bed.
What Is Creatine?
Humans are always looking for an edge to outlast the competition, this is why so many people fall for the professional marketing schemes promising the next “magic pill” to give them abs of steel or a runway models body overnight.
Truth be told the majority of products out there are only a marketing ploy to make you spend your money, but if there was one product that I would say resembles a so called “wonder drug” it would be creatine.
When you lift weights you make your muscles contract, this causes your body to use energy, this energy comes from a substance called Adenosine Triphosphate, that’s a long word so we’re going to refer to it as ATP for now on.
When your body runs out of ATP it will look for your creatine storage for extra energy, when you take creatine on a daily basis it’s stored within your muscle tissue as creatine phosphate. The problem with ATP is it is used up very quickly, once it is gone this is where the beauty of creatine comes into play as a secondary energy source.
Your body will tap into the creatine in your muscle fibers and will start to produce more ATP allowing you to keep working weight and making gains.
Does Your Body Make Its Own Creatine?
Your body can produce about 2g of creatine daily through your liver and kidneys by using three amino acids (glycine, arginine, and methionine), you can also add a little bit more through your diet by eating meat and fish.
So you may ask your self, why do I need to use creatine supplements if my body already makes it, The reason is that anytime you exert yourself through exercise or daily physical activities your body will quickly use up the creatine naturally made in your body.
So by the time you get to the gym you may already be in a creatine deficit, so by supplementing with it you are giving yourself a type of creatine insurance that you’ll have it when you need it.
While it is able to store extra creatine in your muscle fibers there is a limit of how much creatine your body can store, so after the initial loading phase try to stick to the 3 to 5 grams a day rule. We’ll touch on this more later.
How To Use CREATINE To Build Muscle: Loading, Timing & Hair Loss? (Science Explained) - YouTube
Creatine Dosing Instructions.
When you initially start to take creatine you’re going to administer what they call a loading phase, this is where you’re going to take a rounded or heaping scoop before breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime.
What this does is completely saturates your muscles with creatine and gets your body to store its peak limit.
After this you will take 3 to 5 grams a day to maintain your creatine levels so that you don’t ever have to worry about being in a deficit.
It is advised not to take more than the 20 grams a day due to the fact that excessive creatine will convert into formaldehyde in the urine.
Negative Side Effects From Creatine.
Gastric upset is one of the few side effects associated with creatine, a lot of people will do a lighter loading phase around 10 grams a day to limit this problem.
You can also skip the loading phase if you would like to but just know that you may not see the same results as someone that did the loading phase.
Remember to be smart, if you’re having problems don’t ignore them, make sure to do what’s best for you to maintain your health.
Bloating- The way creatine is chemically structured makes it hold a large amount of water, so by default when you increase the amount of creatine in your muscles you will also increase the amount of water in your muscle fibers making them look bigger.
The best ways to avoid this is to make sure you drink a lot of water, I already explained how creatine will pull water into your muscles, well that water is coming from your body, so you have to drink enough water to make up for this in order to not become dehydrated and bloated.
Another way to avoid bloating is to take your creatine close to when you workout, the reason is because your muscles are looking for nutrients when they’re under stress and will convert more of the creatine into ATP production.
If you are having a hard time getting the bloating down try taking less everyday, take smaller doses on rest days and if you can’t get it under control stop taking all together.
When To Take Creatine?
Okay, this is why we’re all here right, to find out the perfect time of the day to take our creatine to receive the maximum results from it.
Sorry, but I’m about to piss you off because the fact is, no one knows.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of people that will fight you all day saying that…
Before your workout
After your workout
Is the best time to take your supplements and if you don’t you’re an idiot. (their words not mine)
Lets look at each time of the day to see the merit in each.
1.Before your workout– We already discussed that your body depletes its ATP storage very quickly so, it only makes sense that taking creatine before your workout would be the optimal time.
I’m not saying this is wrong, the one thing I will say to this however is that by completing the loading phase and taking 5 grams daily after that, you’re going to have a sufficient amount of creatine in your body pretty much at all times.
2. After your workout– We all know that after your workout your body is looking for nutrients and is going to quickly absorb anything you give it, plus creatine helps transport nutrients into your muscles to help them repair faster which is exactly what we want.
This makes sense and is very logical,
3. Before bed- This school of thought is a lot like the post workout method because when you’re sleeping your body is absorbing the nutrients you ate before bed and repairing itself and creatine will help it do this more efficiently.
You probably noticed a common theme with the three times we just went over and that is all three methods have there own merits that can make people feel this is the best way to do it.
Personally, I like to mix it with fruit juice in the morning because the sugar in the juice help it metabolize into your muscle quicker.
Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most studied supplement products on earth and no one has ever been able to identify a clear positive effect from taking it at acertain time of day.
The only time I would say this answer would change is if you’re mixing it with another supplement that you should take at a certain time of the day such as…..
Creatine And Pre-Workouts.
A lot of people buy or make their own pre-workouts and some like to mix creatine in with them, so common sense will tell you that you’ll need to take these about 30 to 45 minutes before your workout.
Creatine And Whey Protein.
Whey protein is so important to you to reach your goals that it should be considered the 4th major macronutrient.
Just like creatine people like to fight over the best time to take your protein shake and the results are the same.
Pre workout- Protein will help diminish muscle breakdown.
Post workout- It will help feed your muscles and repair them.
Bed time- Your body is looking for nutrients to help repair itself and protein will be utilized throughout the night to accomplish this.
Again, there isn’t any scientific data making any of these choices better than the next, decide what works best for you and stay consistent.
Does Creatine Affect Your Sleeping?
This rumor or accusation has caught more fire through gym conversations than it has in case studies and lab tests.
This doesn’t mean its not true but there just isn’t enough concrete evidence to say whether this is true or not.
Personally I don’t see any difference in my sleep habits or schedule when I’m on or off creatine.
When The Directions Say To Take Two Scoops But You Take Three.
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No matter if your a newbie or an experienced lifter there is going to come a point when you need to cut to shed some excess fat and create more muscle definition. A lot of people ask me if they should stop taking creatine when they start cutting or should they continue the same as they did when they were bulking. In this article we’re going to do a quick overview of what creatine is, the benefits, dosage amounts and why you should definitely take it while cutting.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a substance that is naturally made within your muscle cells, it allocates energy to your muscles during bouts of stressful heavy lifting and high intensity exercise.
It’s very similar to amino acids and in fact your body can produce it from the amino acids glycine and arginine.
The vast majority of your body’s creatine will be found in your muscles with a very small percentage being stored in your liver, brain and kidneys.
You would naturally affect the amount of creatine in you by how much meat is in your diet, how often you exercise, the percentage of muscle on your body and the amount of hormones like testosterone you have.
Is Creatine Safe?
Creatine is the number one fitness supplement sold and has been put through more testing than any other product, some people will tell you that it is unsafe but there is not one scientific test or study to back this claim.
There has been studies that last 4 to 5 years and have never shown any short or long term negative side effects.
The Manova study had a subject take creatine daily for 21 months and then did a blood test on this individual and measured over 50 blood markers and didn’t observe a single adverse effect.
When all is said and done creatine is one of the safest products on the market and should be included in your supplement regimen.
5 Reasons to Take Supplements (AND WHEN YOU NEVER SHOULD!) - YouTube
What Should You Expect When Taking Creatine.
Increased workload- It allows you to perform longer in the gym which will obviously help your long term muscle growth.
Will help individual cell performance- This is important when it comes to muscle repair and growth.
Hormone levels increase- Studies have shown testosterone and IGF-1 increase with creatine use
Hydrates the cell within your muscles- This likely plays a large role in muscle growth and fatigue.
Helps your body limit protein breakdown- This means that your muscles also won’t breakdown as fast.
The end result from all of the above factors is an increase in overall strength throughout the body.
This review showed an 8% increase in strength alone, 14% weightlifting performance and an increase in an individuals one rep max bench press by 43%.
It has been shown to increase muscle fiber growth 2 times more than just training alone.
I want to preference all this by saying that just like everything else in life, individual results are going to vary dramatically from one person to the next.
Will all play a major role in the results you get from any supplement or fitness routine.
Should You Take Creatine While Cutting?
I could conclude this entire paragraph by just saying HELL YES but since we’re here we mind as well discuss why creatine is so beneficial during a cutting phase.
You just spent months in the gym putting in all the hard work needed to build the body of a greek god and now you’re ready to burn off the excess fat that comes with being on a calorie surplus.
What is the one thing you fear at this point.
That’s right, losing any of the gains you just made during your bulking cycle.
In order for you to burn the fat away you need to put yourself into a calorie deficit, when not done properly this can be a major threat to keeping all the muscle you just gained.
Your sole focus when it comes to a cutting phase should be creating a diet, cardio, supplement program with the sole focus of preserving the muscle you have.
This means not being on to deep of a calorie deficit, being mindful of how much cardio you do and taking creatine to help protect your muscles during this phase.
When you take creatine it draws water into your muscle fibers which will act as a protective barrier and help support muscle repair and limit damage done during a cutting phase.
Dehydrated muscles will breakdown much faster than when they are properly hydrated, we all know we need to drink about a gallon of water a day to help preserve or build muscle.
Creatine will act as an insurance by acting as an aid in muscle hydration.
So, just in case you didn’t catch it the first time the answer is HELL YES.
Best Creatine To Take While Cutting.
There are many different types of creatine out there, I’m saving the specific details of each of them for a different post but for the sake of this post the simple answer is Creatine Monohydrate.
Why I’m saying this is quite simple.
It is the most tested creatine on the market
There is no doubt about its effectiveness and safety reputation
The cost per serving is cheap especially when compared to other supplements that don’t have nearly the the same amount of positive effects.
It is the king of creatine supplements and has no threat of being dethroned anytime soon.
One tip, if creatine monohydrate upsets your stomach try using demicronized creatine instead.
How To Take Creatine.
Dosage- If you’ve never taken creatine before you will want to start with a loading phase which consists of you taking 1 well rounded scoop before breakfast, lunch and dinner and then one last scoop before bed and do this for 5 to 7 days.
That makes a total of 4 scoops a day with each scoop being 5 grams for a total of 20 grams.
This will increase your creatine stores 10 to 40%
After the initial loading phase all you need to do is take one well rounded scoop once a day.
When to take creatine- Some people will say you need to take it right after you workout, personally I don’t believe or have ever seen any difference in taking it at any set point in the day.
Everyone will have a different opinion or take on this subject so in the end do what you think is right.
How to take creatine- I know people that take it with water and I can’t say they are wrong, I tend to agree with the studies that show if you take it with any type of juice that the sugar in the juice will cause an insulin spike helping more of the creatine to be absorbed into your muscles.
Is it okay to mix with my protein shake?
Some people also like to combine it with there protein shake to make it more convenient, this is perfectly fine also.
Creatine and protein will be absorbed by your body by a (on need basis) so in the end this won’t have any negative effects.
How to avoid bloating.
Simply put you need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water when supplementing with creatine, When creatine draws water into your muscles it is obviously pulling water from your body which will make you dehydrated.
Dehydration will lead to your body becoming bloated.
Constantly check the color and scent of your urine to make sure you’re not dehydrated, if you’re noticing a yellow tinge or dark yellow color to your urine or if you notice that your urine smells these are direct signs telling you that you need to drink more water.
I constantly talk about there not being any magic pills or wonder drugs in the fitness world but if I had to pick one product to compare to a wonder drug it would be creatine.
When used properly along side a well planned nutrition and fitness regimen it can definitely help you reach your goals.
This Is How I feel The Day After Leg Day
Standing Up: No Problem
Sitting Down: Shoot Me In The Face
Getting off the toilet: I Got This
Sitting On The Toilet: F#uck It I’m Just Going To Throw Myself Down And Hope For The Best.
If you’re trying to build mass, create definition, or just strengthen your chest you need to include the lower chest to make sure you’re training the entire area.
In this article we’re going to discuss the best lower chest exercises and break them down into machine, free weight and bodyweight categories so that if your at the gym, home or find yourself with no equipment at all, you can still put a proper workout together.
We’ll also learn the best tricks to target the lower chest and receive an intense workout every time.
The Anatomy Of Your Chest Muscles.
The pectoralis major is made up of two parts
Clavicular, which is the upper chest muscle.
Sternal, lower chest muscle.
The area we’re looking to hit is in the sternal part of the chest where you will find the abdominal head of the pectoralis, this is found within the lower most part of the pecs angled from bottom to top moving in the direction of your humerus.
Training your lower chest will make your upper body look more aesthetic and complete, a lot of people put all their attention into the upper chest and wonder why they don’t look as big or defined.
This is because when you train the lower chest muscle you make your chest more rounded, defined and stronger creating a more visually appealing look.
The Importance Of A Well Trained Chest.
All of your upper body muscles are interconnected and help support each other during everyday wear and tear, especially if you’re performing intense workouts 3, 4, 5 times a week.
Your chest muscles are paramount when performing upper body workouts like push ups, dips and all overhead movements such as presses and chin ups.
They also play an important role in your posture, back development and shoulder movement.
How Do You Target The Bottom Of Your Chest?
It’s all about the angle…
If you do an incline bench you’ll stimulate the upper chest, using a flat bench or decline bench you will now target the lower chest muscles.
It’s opposite for a push up though, an incline push up will use the lower chest while a decline push up will use the upper chest.
The angle that your body is in while doing certain exercises will have all the say in which muscles you will be working.
The amount of weight you use on a incline bench press may be more than what you will use on a decline bench press, be careful and learn what works best for you without getting hurt.
The Best Exercises For The Lower Chest.
I’m going to break this section down into 3 groups…
Free Weight exercises.
Machine or cable exercises.
I am in no way saying that you need to pick a group and only do those types of exercises, in fact that would be the last thing I would want you to do.
I’m doing it this way for convenience…
Lets say your traveling and don’t have access to weights or a gym, now you can utilise the bodyweight exercises.
Or you have a home gym that has free weights and no machines, now you’ll know which moves to use for free weights.
If you go to the gym you can incorporate all of the exercises together to find out what works best for you with all the options available.
Free Weight Exercises For The Lower Chest.
Decline Dumbbell Bench Press.
1. Lock your legs in and lay down on the decline bench while holding a dumbbell on top of your thighs. Make sure that the palms of your hands are facing each other.
2. Now move the dumbbells in front of you always keeping them at shoulder width.
3. Your starting position will be with your wrists rotated so that they are facing away from you, make sure that you are still at shoulder width.
4. Bring the dumbbells down at a controlled speed slowly to your side, your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor throughout the entire movement. If you feel like you don’t have control of the weights the entire time you need to lighten your load.
5. Using your chest muscles push the dumbbells up, once you feel your muscles contracted at the top lock your arms out and hold it for a second or two and then start to slowly come down. (It should take you at least twice as long to bring the weights down than when you push the weights up.
Dumbbell Pull Over.
Using a bench, lie down on your back perpendicular to the bench while laying a dumbbell in your lap, make sure that your head isn’t hanging over. It should be stabilized enough that you don’t feel any strain on your neck.
1. Flex your hips slightly and grasp your lone dumbbell from the side with both hands under the inner plate of the dumbbell
2. Raise the dumbbell over your chest making sure to keep your elbows slightly bent.
3. Now lower the dumbbell over and beyond your head until your upper arms are in line with your torso.
4. Pull the dumbbell back up and over your chest and repeat.
5. Make sure to keep your hips from raising during the exercise and the amount of range you are able to achieve is going to depend on your shoulder flexibility, don’t over do it and hurt yourself.
Decline Barbell Bench Press.
1. Secure your legs at the end of the bench and lay down.
2. With a medium width grip you want to maintain a 90 degree angle in the middle of the exercise between the forearms and the upper arms, lift the bar from the rack and lift it straight over you while keeping your arms locked. Your arms should stay perpendicular to the floor. This is your starting position.
3. Come down at a slow controlled rate until the bar touches your chest, do not bounce the bar off of your chest you should always have 100% control of the weight.
4. After pausing for a second or two, bring the bar back to the starting position lock your arms and squeeze your chest while your muscles are in the contracted state, hold for a second and then start coming down again at a slow controlled rate. Again, you should take at least twice as long coming down as going up.
5. repeat until you have completed your sets, if you are new to this exercise use a spotter or be very careful about the amount of weight you try to lift at first.
6. Also be leary of how far forward the bar moves, you want the bar to touch the lower chest and not anywhere else.
Decline Dumbbell Flyes.
1. lock your legs in and lie downholding a dumbbell in each hand placing them on top of your thighs, make sure the palms of your hands are facing each other.
2. Bring the dumbbells in front of you keeping them at shoulder width, your arms should be perpendicular to the floor and fully extended, while keeping the palms of your hands facing each other. This is your starting position.
3. While keeping a slight bend to your elbows, lower your arms out to the side in a wide arc until you feel your chest muscles stretch. Making sure you keep your elbows bent is important because this will prevent you from putting stress on the biceps tendon.
4. Using the same exact arc as going down, bring the dumbbells up to the starting position. Hold for a second or two as your chest muscles are contracted and repeat until your reps are done.
Decline Dumbbell Press With A Rotation.
1. Lock your legs in and lie down on your bench holding a dumbbell in each hand resting them on top of your thighs.
2. Bring the dumbbells up over your chest, making sure to have your palms facing away from you.
3. In a controlled manner bring the weights down to your armpits and slowly rotate your elbows in to your sides.
4. slowly push the weight back up while swinging your elbows out until you end up in the starting position again.
5. hold for a second or two while your chest muscles are contracted and repeat. It should take twice as long to bring the weights down as it does to push them up.
Cable Or Machine Exercises For The Lower Chest.
Seated Machine Flyes
1.Select your resistance, sit on the machines seat and adjust it so that your feet are completely flat on the floor.
2. Grab the handles of the machine making sure that your hands are level with your shoulders, keeping a slight bend in your elbows bring your hands together.
3. When you feel your chest muscles contract hold the exercise for a second or two then slowly release back to the starting position.
1. Select your resistance, position the pulleys above your head and grab each pulley with your hands.
2. Step forward while slightly bending your torso, pull your arms together in front of you. This is your starting position.
3. Keeping your elbows slightly bent to prevent hurting your biceps tendon, move your arms straight out to the side in an arc until you feel tension in your chest. Always keep your arms and torso stationary all the movement should be done at your shoulder joints.
4. Using the same arc as before return back to the starting position, make sure to hold the position for a second before repeating until your reps are done.
Cable Lower Chest Raise
1. Set up at a low pulley cable machine, stand in front of the machine with one foot forward and one back, grab both handles with each hand while keeping your hands by your side.
2. Slowly raise the handles up in front of your body ending about chest high and squeeze your chest.
3. Hold for a second or two while contracting your chest muscles, then slowly lower the handles back to the starting position.
4. Make sure the lowering motion takes twice as long as the raising motion.
Chest Fly Pulses
1. Stand in front of the cable machine with one foot forward and one back and grab the handles with each hand.
2. With your elbows slightly bent bring your arms in front of your body until they almost touch.
3. When your arms are almost touching hold the movement there contract your chest muscles and alternate opening and closing your arms isolating the chest muscles while you do this.
4. Slowly open your arms to the starting position and rest, do 4 to 5 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
Bodyweight Exercises to Build Your Lower Chest.
1. Find a dip station or any parallel bars that are stable, even the edge of a table will work. Hold your body at arms length with your arms locked out above the bar or table.
2. Slowly lower yourself while angling your torso forward and bending your elbows slightly until you feel it in your chest.
3. Once you feel your chest tighten, push yourself back up and hold at the top as you contract your chest muscles.
Incline Push Ups
1. Find a sturdy elevated platform, a plyo box or a bench will do just fine.
2. Place your hands on the side or edge of platform keeping your elbows slightly farther than shoulder width
3. Start off with your arms locked out pushing your body up, keep your body straight and your back flat, now lower yourself to the platform by bending your arms.
4. Slowly push yourself back up and pause at the top as you contract your chest muscles.
Walking Push Ups.
1. Get into a standard push up position making sure your body is straight and your back flat.
2. Do a push up, then move your right hand to the side a few inches followed by your left and do another push up.
3. Now move both hands back to the original spot and execute another push up.
4. This time your going to move your left hand a few inches to the left followed by your right hand and do another push up.
5. You just did 4 push ups that equal 1 rep.
Tips To Help You Train Your Lower Chest.
In this section I just want to go over some tips to either help you isolate the lower chest or ways to increase the intensity of your workout.
1.Use a larger % of free weights than machines.
Machines are more user friendly and a lot of people are intimidated by free weights but you will receive a much more intense workout using free weights.
It is much easier to isolate a single muscle with weights rather than machines and for those of you that have time restraints, a harder more intense workout means you can get more out if it in less time.
2. Execute a lower chest exercise into the beginning of your workout.
The 2 most important rules when it comes to building muscle is progression and intensity, you’re most intense when your not tired so if you perform a certain exercise early in your fitness routine when your strength. energy and focus is at its highest.
3. Incorporate more exercises into your routine for one certain muscle.
If you’re trying to target a particular muscle that your having a hard time developing than try adding another exercise move for this muscle group later on in your workout.
Try using different angles or mixing up free weights with bodyweight exercises and machines.
Different variations will help you hit different muscle fibers causing a better overall development.
4. Train certain muscles after a rest day.
If you’re trying to isolate or pay more attention to a single muscle group doing it after a rest day will ensure that your body’s glycogen storage will be full ( in layman’s terms you’ll have more energy). To perform a more intense workout.
It will also help that your shoulders and triceps will be rested due to the fact that most chest exercises are multi joint exercises.
If you do train your chest in the middle of the week try not to exercise shoulders or arms the day before.
Another way to make sure your chest is doing more of the work is to keep your elbows from getting to close to your torso, this will take less stress off of your triceps allowing you to isolate the chest more.
5. Don’t half ass your tricep training.
As you know your triceps play a big role in your chest workouts, if your triceps are weak they will become a weak point in your chest training and prevent you from pushing your chest muscles to concentric failure.
As I stated above just make sure you train your triceps a couple days before your chest.
6. Leave your ego at the door.
To many guys are so worried about the amount of weight their lifting to stroke their ego they don’t realize it will actually hurt your gains.
If the weight is to heavy you’re going to have to use your arms and shoulders more, thiscauses your chest day to turn into arm day.
Be patient use correct form and techniqu and your numbers will go up.
In this article I’m going to write about how cardiovascular and weight training workouts should compliment each other in one fitness plan.
A lot of times cardio for beginners translates to someone looking for the correct way to perform a 100% cardio workout routine because they’re either timid, uneducated, intimidated or bias about the benefits of weight training along with the aerobic exercise.
If you’re one of those people that isn’t ready to start weight training you can still use all the guidelines we’re about to go over to create the best cardio workout for you.
I just hope that you keep an open mind to the benefits of an all encompassing workout.
Cardio And Weight Training
I don’t care if you’re a female, male, fat, skinny, tall, short, a track star or a power lifter it won’t change the fact that the underlying foundation of your fitness routine should always include weight training.
Why do you ask…
There are normally two goals people have in mind when they start to workout.
To properly attack both of these goals you need to have a plan that includes cardiovascular and weight training aspects in it.
If, your goal is to lose weight then…
Weight training will help you keep the lean muscle you already have, keeping your body focused on burning your extra fat reserves. It will also activate the process known as Nutrient Partitioning, this is where the body decides if it has to store the energy from your diet or burn it, ideally you’d like all those nutrients to be partitioned to muscle as opposed to fat.
Cardio when done alongside a proper nutrition plan is very efficient at burning fat and will be used to keep you in a calorie deficit for a long period of time.
Now lets say your goal is to build muscle…
In order to build muscle you have to push your body to the point where it feels it needs to adapt to the stresses you’re putting it under and weight training is the single most efficient means to achieve this.
Cardio will help control how much fat your body stores during a weight lifting routine due to the fact that you’ll be in a calorie surplus.
The subject of which cardio exercises burn the most fat is highly debatable and controversial.
The expert opinions differ about the intensity levels, duration and frequency, everybody has a different ideal of what makes the perfect cardio session.
The truth is, executing a proper cardio routine is very straightforward.
Anyone that is putting in the effort performing an aerobic exercise is looking to burn calories, any type of exercise that is done at a high level of intensity for a sufficient amount of time will allow you to reach this goal.
A couple factors to think about when creating a cardio plan
Reduce any chance of injury.
Pay attention to your calorie intake and how much cardio you do to minimize lean muscle loss.
Be as productive as possible at burning calories
Cardio exercise will increase your appetite, you will need to learn how to cope with this.
I’m going to touch on all of these above topics and talk about how long each session should last, how often you should perform them and which intensity levels are the best for your goals.
There are countless cardio exercises.
I could name dozens more but I think you get the point, anyone of these options in the end will give you the same outcome, they’ll all burn calories, reduce fat gains during a bulking session or burn a higher percentage of fat during a cutting phase.
The only difference is some need a higher amount of intensity from you to perform than others. For example, running is going to tire you out quicker than walking.
This is where we’re going to get into the controversial part of the argument.
For years, we were told that you didn’t want to work yourself to hard and you wanted to stay at a comfortable pace, meaning you would still be able to hold a conversation with someone while performing your exercise.
In other words you’re not breathing very hard.
The reason behind this stems from the way your body uses its energy resources.
When you’re exercising at a comfortable pace and your oxygen supplies are equal to your oxygen demands than fat will be your bodies primary choice for a fuel source.
When you start to perform at a higher intensity level, known as anaerobic exercises, your body will switch to carbohydrates as its primary fuel source.
I know what you’re thinking, if my goal is to burn fat and low intensity cardio forces your body to burn fat as its primary energy source than that must be the most efficient method to lose weight.
Not so quick…
While low intensity cardio sessions that last a longer time such as a 40-minute walk will burn a larger % of fat during the actual exercise.
High intensity, low duration cardio exercises or HIIT for short will burn a greater NET amount of body fat lasting Beyond the actual exercise.
That means that when your sitting on the couch after your high intensity workout is over you’ll still be burning fat, in fact the fat burning affects will last for hours after the exercise is done.
This is possible because of the oxygen deficit you create within your body during a HIIT workout, because the body is then forced to burn an excess amount of calories to make up for the deficit.
In the end, HIIT workouts destroy a higher amount of total body fat while maintaining the largest % of lean muscle mass. This is exactly what you want no matter if you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight.
You have to be careful how many HIIT sessions you do a week depending on what other workouts you’re performing,
If you do weight training 4 days a week, adding 2 or 3 HIIT sessions on top of that may be too much.
Just be careful and do what is best for you while still achieving your goals.
How long your cardio workouts last is going to vary depending on what intensity you’re performing them at.
Intensity and duration will always go hand in hand.
The harder you workout the less amount of time your body will be able to keep that pace up.
The average HIIT workout lasts between 15 to 20 minutes, I would say that if you’re easily able to exceed 20 minutes then you probably not performing at a high enough intensity.
Or you’re an alien, If you are there isn’t anything wrong with that, just saying.
Low intensity workouts normally last around 45 to 60 minutes.
There isn’t a one size fits all answer to this.
Individual body types, goals, diets all need to be considered when answering this question.
Even what type of job you do will play a role, If you work in an office and sit on your butt for the most of the day than you will need more cardio.
If you’re bending re barb and constantly in a state of motion throughout the day than you will need less.
I know this is common sense but a lot of people don’t take it into consideration.
Your goals will determine this as well.
If you’re trying to build muscle you need to be on a calorie surplus so you don’t want to overdo the cardio and put yourself into a calorie deficit.
If your goal is to burn fat than you will find yourself doing more cardio to maintain the calorie deficit.
As a beginners rule I would say to perform 2 to 3 cardio sessions a week and to track your progress and modify as needed.
If you have a proper nutrition and weight training plan in place you shouldn’t exceed more than 3 cardio sessions a week, if you’re not implementing any weight training exercises than you will probably be around 4 or 5 sessions a week.
This is going to depend on what other workouts you’re doing alongside your cardio workouts.
If you’re not including any weight training exercises than you can perform cardio whenever it best fits your day to day life.
If you’re planning on balancing your fitness routine with cardio and weight training than you will need to modify it a bit.
If performing cardio and weight training on the same day try to separate them by 8 hours or so, you never want to do cardio training directly before weight training.
Efficient weight training comes from lifting as heavy as you can as many times as you can within a set amount of reps and sets depending on what your goal is. You should always go into the gym as focused, energized and strong as you can help.
If you absolutely have to perform one or the other right after each other due to time restraints always do cardio after weights, keep in mind though this may hinder the recovery of your muscles and in the end produce negative results.
I always recommend performing your cardio on your off days or if time allows do your cardio in the morning and weight training in the afternoon or vice versa.
How to structure HIIT Workouts.
The premise behind HIIT training is that you will perform an exercise at a higher intensity for a certain amount of time then you will perform at a lower intensity for a set amount of time and then repeat the process.
The positives of interval training are…
You will expend maximum energy throughout the entire session.
It maximizes the amount of calories .
Allows time to rest while performing the low intensity intervals.
Creates mental benefits also, since you’re not continuing at the same pace the entire time, the exercise won’t seem as monotonous.
Your body will continue to burn fat even after you’re done the initial workout.
There are countless interval combinations you can use so don’t focus too much on the numbers, there isn’t one interval structure that will burn significantly more fat than another.
Just make sure that you aren’t half assing your workouts and you’re making continuous progress.
If your a beginner you’re not going to start with advanced interval training you will need to start off with a lower intensity plan, if you’re at a more advanced stage than you can push yourself with a higher intensity plan.
Beginners Intensity Intervals..
90 to 120 seconds of high intensity / 90 to 120 seconds of low intensity
This isn’t going to fit everyone, use it as a guideline and modify it as needed, if it’s too easy shorten the intervals and do the opposite if it’s too hard.
As you get used to it and get in better shape you’ll be able to perform at a higher pace.
During the high intensity part of the exercise you want to train at an intensity greater than what your used to.
For example, you’re on your favorite machine at the gym and your normal resistance is setting 4 or 5 you’ll want to raise that to 7 or 8.
A lot of times I see people treat the low intensity part of the exercise as a break, this isn’t what you should do, simply scale the resistance back to a 4 or 5.
As a beginner I would push to do around 5 or 6 intervals.
Moderate Intensity Intervals.
30 to 60 seconds high intensity / 30 to 60 seconds of low intensity
This is going to be harder as you will be pushing yourself with almost maximum effort during the high intensity part.
This doesn’t mean 100% since you can’t sustain a full effort for that long, but you should be pushing yourself as hard as you can.
Since you’ll be working out at a higher intensity level, the lower intensity level will have to be modified to a lower level to help you recover.
Again this doesn’t mean you stop working, you need to set a pace where you are still moving and not letting your heart get to low but where you are recovering enough for the next high intensity interval.
I want to reiterate that the times above are guidelines and you need to decide what is safe for you while still progressing and achieving results. Your times will vary depending on your fitness level and experience.
You’ll look to perform between 6 to 10 of these intermediate intervals to make a full session.
High Intensity Intervals ( you’re going to feel the burn)
These exercises will be performed at an all out pace and should only be performed if you feel comfortable working at this extreme, with enough rest in between intervals you will be expected to perform at 100% during the high intensity part of the exercise.
For the lower intensity part you should wind things down to the point where you are staying in motion but barely exerting any effort.
This extreme will shorten the duration of your workouts while giving you the most desired effect on your caloric expenditure.
As a warning these when these high intensity exercises are performed properly they will kick your butt, they are brutal and will require a lot of focus and determination.
If you choose a lower end interval time for example 15 seconds high intensity and 30 seconds low intensity, I would use the either a stationary bike, recumbent bike, or doing outdoor sprinting.
I would shy away from a treadmill due to the fact of the speed of the treadmill won’t be able to adjust up and down quick enough to keep up with the pace of your session.
You’ll complete 4 to 8 of these high intervals to make up a session.
Tips To Begin with
Start out with an interval program and intensity level that you feel safe with, and focus on progressing from there. Always err on the side of caution and start with a lower intensity level and gradually build up.
I would also highly recommend keeping a log of your cardio workouts, just like you want to see progression in your weight lifting routines you also want to see the same from your cardio sessions.
Always strive to do better with each workout, here are some examples of increasing the difficulty of your exercises.
Increase the resistance of your machine
increase the resistance that your traveling at a given resistance
Decrese the resting times in between intervals
Increase the work period of an interval at the same intensity
Perform more intervals
Low Intensity Non Interval Cardio
An aerobic session will last around 40 to 45 minutes and be performed at a steady pace (no intervals) all the way through.
The intensity level will be lower than compared to HIIT training but it should by no means be easy, if you don’t feel challenged your not pushing yourself hard enough.
If you ranked your daily activity levels from 0 to 10
0 being when you’re sitting on the couch and 10 being you running through a brick wall then these cardio sessions would fall between a 5 and 6.
There isn’t much else to these workouts, jump on whatever piece of equipment you like the most and go at it.
Digital Calorie Displays
If you’ve ever been on any cardio equipment you have seen the display that tells you how many calories you burnt during your session.
I want you to take these readings as lightly as possible, some machines are very inaccurate, while others that have you put in your sex, weight, and age tend to be more accurate. There are still a lot of different factors for that can make these readings bogus.
You can use them as a baseline to see if changes to your intensity and duration increases or decreases the amount but don’t think that when it says you burnt 500 calories that it is accurate.
In addition, when you do HIIT training, how many calories you burn during the session isn’t the main goal. It’s the effect you have on your resting metabolism so that you burn calories long after the workout is done.
How To Get A Six Pack?
Most conversations about cardio exercises end with someone asking what exercises can I do to get a six-pack or lose belly fat.
The answer is NONE…
There are no top secret techniques, workouts or diets that are going to target the fat around your midsection.
In fact, it’s physically impossible to dictate the precise areas on your body where fat is decreased. This is known as the fallacy of spot reduction.
Fat loss only occurs on a total body scale.
As you keep to your fitness plan you will eventually start to trim down everywhere including you stomach.
Some people think that when they do crunches or leg lifts their burning the fat around their stomach or turning the fat into muscle, this isn’t how it works.
All you’re doing is working the abdominal muscle, you’re not stimulating fat loss from that area.
I know I’m being redundant here but I hear this all the time.
Yes, if your goal is to develop a tight stomach than you will need to do resistance exercises that target the abdominal muscle but they will only start to show once you have loss a certain percentage of body fat.
So the simple straightforward answer to this is to focus on reducing your overall body fat%. This is accomplished through a proper combination of weight training and cardio, along with proper nutrition and supplementation.
Now that you’re motivated to start weight training, the next step is to gain knowledge about the correct way to go about it. This weight training guide can be broken down into three categories
Stimulate= Any action that breaks down muscle tissue via body weight training or weight training.
Recovery= After breaking down your muscles the body will repair the fibers to their original form.
Growth= When you stress your body it attempts to fix itself to prevent future harm. When you weight train your body will build muscle to acclimate itself to this new strain it’s experiencing.
Intense weight training will stimulate the muscles and start to break them down.
Proper nutrition, rest and the correct supplements will allow your body to start the recovery process which will lead to maximum muscle growth, each action relies on the last for you to receive the greatest results.
Why Your Muscles Grow.
The human body has been evolving for millions of years, making it very effective at adapting to changes in the environment and different types of stress. This is essential since your body’s ultimate goal is to keep you alive long enough to pass your genes on to the next generation.
When you’re tired your eyes get heavy and you start to yawn.
Your sick, you’ll have a fever in order to fight off the infection.
When something is causing you harm you feel pain.
If you start to overheat you sweat.
Get to cold you start to shiver.
These are all examples of your body identifying certain stresses in the environment and coming up with ways to overcome them to keep you alive and healthy.
Intense weight training is just another example. Lifting heavy weights puts your muscles under stress, the body’s way of trying to limit this stress in the future is to rebuild your muscles to make them stronger. This is known as Hypertrophy.
The quickest way to reach hypertrophy is to reach maximum muscle failure. (this is where you can not continue with an exercise due to muscle fatigue) The safest way to do this is to stop one rep short of complete muscle failure, this will help reduce the chances of injury.
Achieving muscle failure will create deeper inroads into your muscle fibers and cause what are known as micro tears. This process is what causes your body to perceive it as a threat which will make it adapt.
As soon as you are done working out, your body will start this process to make you stronger. It’s actually very simple when you break it down, there is one very important thing you have to understand.
For adequate muscle growth to happen, your body has to be put under enough stress that it thinks it is a threat to its well being. In other words you need to work hard and don’t half ass your way through your workouts.
Progression and Intensity.
To achieve any results you must abide by these 2 rules. This is the most important rule to pay attention to in this entire weight training guide.
Progression: This equates to regularly increasing the number of reps, or the amount of weight lifted during your exercises every week.
Intensity:How hard you push your muscles on every rep of any given exercise.
Your long term success heavily relies on this, to successfully build muscle you must.
Train with a high enough level of intensity on each given set to trigger an adaptive response from your muscles.
Progressively increase the workload by adding more weight to your routine over time to produce consistent gains.
In order to continually see results in muscle growth and not reach a plateau you have to keep your body adapting to harder workouts. If you always lift with the same amount of weight and do the same number of reps, your body is going to eventually get used to this and your results will diminish.
To prevent this from happening you need to gradually and intelligently increase the amount of weight you lift over time.
For example, let’s say you we’re benching 180 pounds and you did this for two months without making any changes, do you think you would see much of a difference.
No, you wouldn’t.
It is important that every single time you workout, you have a well thought out plan to implement.
You have to know what exercises, reps and amount of weight you used the previous workout to know what you are trying to achieve during today’s workout.
The entire goal of everything you achieve during your workouts is consistent progression,then clearly the entire basis for building muscle is to build strength. This is a common law of muscle growth and applies no matter what type of approach you choose to put forth in the gym.
It’s all about getting better each and every workout.
In order for muscles to grow they must perceive the stress placed upon them as a threat.
There is no room for slacking or laziness. If you truly want to add a considerable amount of muscle mass to your frame, then you will have to endure the inevitable discomfort that is associated with intense weight training.
The reality is you won’t achieve increases in muscle mass and strength unless you train at a level that is very close to complete muscle failure.
Concentric Muscle Failure. The point at which you are unable to complete an additional positive repetition of any given exercise despite your greatest effort.
There are two sides to every exercise.
The positive concentric part is the lifting phase, such as the pressing motion of a push up or the pulling motion of a chin up.
The negative eccentric motion would be the lowering phase of a push up or chin up.
When we talk about Concentric muscle failure we’re talking about being unable to perform an additional positive repetition.
So, training one rep short of this point means that you should continue each set until the point where, if you were to give an all out 100% effort you would only be able to do one more rep using proper form.
If you are not willing to cross a certain threshold on each set, your body is simply not going to respond in a positive fashion. Muscle growth is an adaptive mechanism and the body will only adapt if given the right incentive.
Write it down.
It doesn’t matter how good of a memory you have, you must keep a written record of every workout you perform.
This will give you a visual record of the exact weight you used and reps performed in the previous workout.
This is an extremely powerful tool and will enable you to progress as fast as you possibly can. A written record will hold you accountable and motivate you to increase your weight and reps.
It’s also exciting to look at past weeks and have written confirmation that you are progressing in weight and repetitions.
How Often Should You Increase The Weight On Each Exercise.
Focus on increasing the number of reps that you can perform with a given weight until you’re able to hit the upper end of your targeted range with that specific weight. So if the rep range for a particular lift is listed at 5 to 7, wait until you can perform 7 clean reps on the first set with a given weight before adding more the following week.
Once you reach the upper end of your targeted rep range with a specific weight on the first set of the exercise, increase the weight on the first set for the following workout. For smaller isolation lifts, a typical increase would be 2.5 to 5 pounds. On larger compound lifts, it would usually be between 5 to 10 pounds.
You also don’t have to use the same weight for every set of a given exercise. For example, if you only got 5 reps on the first set with a certain weight, it would be fine to decrease the weight on subsequent sets to ensure that you stay within your assigned rep range.
Just make sure that anytime you increase the weight you keep the same form and technique, you should never compromise this just for the sake of jacking up your numbers.
True progression means that your form remains exactly the same every time you increase the weight. If your range of motion begins shortening, you start using excessive momentum, your rep speed increases or technique gets sloppy, this means your adding weight to fast.
Building muscle isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon.
Keep your ego in check. Take your time and focus on gradually increasing the weight while maintaining perfect technique at all times.
Not only is lifting heavier weights with inferior form not going to help you gain muscle faster, it’s going to greatly increase your chances of becoming injured.
Intensity and progression absolutely is the most important, foundational principle of your training routine. It must be implemented with caution and common sense if you want to produce permanent gains over the long term.
How many workouts should you do a week and how often should you train each individual muscle group?
This has been a debate for years and just like all exercise topics there isn’t one answer that can be tailored for every person.
It will depend on your experience level, genetics, how disciplined you are with your nutrition plan, how quick your body recovers in between exercises and the amount of intensity you put into your workouts.
Even with all those variables, we can still apply the basic guidelines which will help the majority of people in the majority of situations.
In today’s day and age of the microwave most of us want results overnight, unfortunately that isn’t possible when it comes to building muscle. You can apply techniques that will assure you progress at the fastest rate possible.
Your goal should be to workout at the highest frequency possible while still fully recovering in between sessions.
The more often you workout and fully recover, will overtime promote more muscle building growth periods and in the end will result in substantial progress. At the end of the day, the training regiment that allows you the fastest strength gains will likely be the same plan that produces the highest amount of muscle growth for you.
How do you know if you’re properly recovering in between sessions?
The two main things to look for are that you’re continually coming back to the gym stronger over time and that your not overly run down or exhausted during the week.
Remember, muscle growth doesn’t happen in the gym, muscle breakdown happens in the gym.
When you perform intense weight training, you are damaging your muscles. It is while you’re out of the gym resting and eating that the muscle growth process is actually taking place.
This is when your body will be rebuilding the muscles larger and stronger in preparation for the next workout. It is extremely important that you do not interfere with this process and that you allow your body sufficient time to repair and heal itself before you break them down again.
If you’re unsure of how often to train a certain muscle group, always err on the side of caution and go with more rest rather than less.
If you give a muscle an extra day of rest after it has already fully recovered, there is no threat of a loss. Muscle loss won’t occur until a particular muscle has gone untrained for about 2 to 3 weeks.
However if you over train a certain muscle, you will have a direct and immediate threat of interfering with the recovery and growth process that was gained from the previous workout.
As I already mentioned, recovery is growth. If you make a habit of training your muscles before they fully recover, you will either gain muscle mass at a slower rate than what your maximum potential would allow, or even worse you won’t grow at all.
Perform 3-5 total weight lifting workouts per week. 3 to 4 will most likely be your sweet spot but those who are more advanced with good recovery ability can stretch it to 5 in certain cases.
Directly train each muscle group 1.5 to 3 times per week. Beginners who are just starting out and using lighter weights can generally recover at a faster pace than in comparison to more advanced trainees who are handling heavier weights. For that reason, newbies are typically better suited to directly hitting each muscle group at a slightly higher frequency, while more advanced trainees should use a lower frequency.
Young man working out with battle ropes at a gym
When we talk about workout volume we’re referring to the total number of muscle sets that you will perform for each specific muscle group for each workout.
Just like training frequency, there is no way to apply a single guideline here for everyone since it can vary depending on several factors.
Keep in mind that intensity and volume go hand and hand, as intensity increases, the volume must decrease and vice versa. For that reason, the specific amount of reps a trainee should perform during a workout would be largely dependent on the overall intensity they were putting forth on each set.
For example, a person who was training all the way to complete muscular failure on every set would require less overall volume than a person training at a lower level of intensity.
You should be training 1 rep short of concentric muscular failure and this will land your optimal volume range on about the medium end of the scale.
Below is the total sets per muscle group per workout.
Beginners will generally be best off training with a lower volume of sets per muscle group for each workout. 3 direct sets is the recommended number.
Intermediate will land in the middle of the range with a moderate volume of 6 sets for large muscle groups and 3 sets for smaller muscle groups.
Advanced trainees will perform a bit more volume per muscle group at 8 sets for large muscle groups and 5 sets for smaller muscle groups.
Keep in mind these are basic guidelines and can be tailored to your individual liking.
There are two main exercises you will perform.
Compound exercises-Multi joint movements which require the use of more than one major muscle group at a time. (squats, deadlifts, bench presses)
Isolation exercises– Single joint movements which only require the use of one major muscle group at a time. (tricep push downs, lateral raises, bicep curls)
If your goal is to create a well rounded muscular physique as opposed to gaining pure strength or improving athletic performance than a mix of both types of exercise is ideal.
Compound exercises will form the foundation of your workouts in order to efficiently train multiple muscle groups at the same time using maximum weight, while isolation exercises will be used to target smaller muscle groups that may not receive optimal stimulation from compounds only.
The basic compound movements include exercises such as squats, deadlifts, leg presses, lunges, rows, chest presses, pull ups, pull downs, and overhead presses.
The main isolation movements include exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, flys, calf raises, shrugs and direct abdominal exercises.
When it comes to the issue of free weights vs machines and cables you should use all three throughout your routine as they each provide their own unique advantages depending on the situation. Free weight exercises will be used in the majority of your workouts with machine and cable exercises being mixed in for certain movement patterns where they are best suited.
Although rep ranges will vary depending on the specific exercise or muscle group being trained, low to moderate rep sets will be used the majority of the time.
Sets that utilize heavier weights and low to moderate reps are the most effective means of stimulating maximum muscle growth and strength gains.
Some exercises will have a rep range of 5 to 7, while others will be between 8 to 10. This depends on the particular movement and how large or small the range of motion is.
Once you can complete the maximum number of reps with a given weight, it’s time to add more weight to the bar.
Why 5 to 10 reps?
Training 1 rep short of failure within a range of 5 to 10 will generate optimal stress and tension on those muscle fibers that are most susceptible to hypertrophy.
In addition, it’s a good range for generating maximum intensity since you know that the set will be short and sweet rather than dragging on for minutes on end.
What happens when you go above or below this range?
1 to 3 reps: The primary benefit that you’ll achieve in the 1 to 3 rep range is an increase in strength. You’ll be optimizing your body’s neural efficiency, meaning you’ll become more efficient at using the muscle mass you already have.
This is a good range for power lifters and athletes who are looking to enhance their strength without actually getting bigger, but for those specifically aiming to build muscle it’s not going to be optimal.
10 plus reps: While you will certainly see gains in muscle size and strength with higher rep ranges, in the majority of situations I wouldn’t advise going any higher than 10 reps.
As you drift into higher reps, lactic acid build up increases and the cardiovascular system comes more heavily into play. This is good for increasing endurance but not ideal for achieving maximum muscle overload.
Mixing in some higher rep work toward the end of your workouts is not a big deal, but the foundation of your training should rest between 5 to 10 rep range.
This range is not too high, not too low and allows for the best mix of strength and size gains while allowing you to execute each set with maximum focus.
To understand the speed at which you should perform your repetitions, you must first understand the 2 basic weight lifting phases.
Concentric or Positive: When the muscle contracts by shortening. For example, the pushing phase of a bench press or the pulling phase of a chin up.
Eccentric or Negative: When the muscle is put under tension as it lengthens. For example, the lowering phase of a bench press or the lowering phase of a chin up.
So, how fast should you perform your reps?
The concentric portion of the rep should be performed as fast as possible while still maintaining complete control of the weight, while the eccentric portion should be performed in 2 to 3 seconds.
One error a lot of weight lifters make is assigning a set speed to the concentric portion of the rep. Since you’ll be training with as much resistance as you can safely handle, the weight should be heavy enough that you must exert maximum force at all times on the positive motion.
When you decide to change your eating habits, deciphering food labels becomes a must use tool, but if you have never paid much attention to it before it can be a little confusing. In this article I will break down the nutrition label facts and explain why it’s important to read food labels and how to use the information to reach your goals easier.
The labels will change sometimes and in the upcoming years (Between Jan 1st 2020 and Jan 1st 2021) depending on the size of the food company. The FDA will be changing the labels, the new designs will incorporate larger print for the serving size, calorie and servings per container. It will also tell you how much total sugar and added sugar is in the product.
A set amount of food such as a cup or ounce, portion control is very important when managing your weight. Checking the serving size will tell you how the calories and nutrients are broken down for that item. That way you know exactly what size portion you should eat of that particular food depending on your calorie needs.
It’s also great for product comparisons, just be sure to read the label carefully. One package or box is not always the same, for example one type of cereal may have a serving size of 3/4 cup but another will have one cup as a serving size.
Depending on your goals, sex, age and activity level your daily calorie needs won’t be the same as everyone else. If you’re not sure how many calories you need, do this quick formula to receive an accurate caloric total. Harris Benedict Formula
The FDA general guideline
40 calories per serving is low
100 calories per serving is moderate
400 calories per serving is high
No matter if your goal is cutting or bulking, counting calories is very important. When you read the nutrition labels at the grocery store compare the calorie count to the serving size then look at other products and determine the best fit for your diet.
Healthy fatty foods are essential to a healthy diet providing energy and they help keep you satisfied throughout the day. Fats provide 9 calories per gram, this makes it very calorie dense meaning you should moderate how much you eat of it. The recommendation is between 20% and 35% of your calories come from fat.
Not all fats are the same. Unsaturated fats are the best when it comes to heart health, the nutrition label will break down the individual types of fat.
Mono-unsaturated fats (MUFA’s)
Fatty acids that have one double bond and are usually liquid at room temperature but will begin to thicken when chilled. Plant sources rich in MUFAs are vegetable oils such as canola, olive and sunflower as well as nuts. To gain the benefit of healthy fats you want to consume foods with high percentages of mono-unsaturated fats.
Examples of (MUFAs)
Macadamia nuts 80%
Olive oil 77%
Canola oil 59%
Peanut oil 46%
Poly- unsaturated fats (PUFA’s)
Fats that can have two or more bonds and are also usually liquid at room temperature. Most sources derive from vegetable oils and some nuts and seeds, including avocados. PUFAs provide essential fats for our body.
Examples of PUFAs
Flax Seed Oil
These are fats that have double bands, this means that they stay solid at room temperature, this is the reason they can cause plaque to build up in your arteries. High amounts of saturated fats come from animal products such as meats and dairy, also oils like coconut and palm oils.
You should try to stay under 10% of your total calories coming from these types of fats. 14 grams or less should be ingested on any given day.
Alternatives to red meat and pork are chicken and turkey without the skin, if you want to cut saturated fat even more, eat fish, nuts, beans and soy products.
Not only can eating dairy products increase your saturated fat intake, you also have to be aware of how your food is being prepared and the types of drinks you are having. Different types of coffee can have creamers or milk in them even the butter on your toast. All of these sources add up quickly.
Trans fat also called unsaturated fat are a type of fat that occur in small amounts in nature but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats in the 1950’s for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and for fast food.
A lot of times you will see products stating they have zero grams trans fat, legally companies are allowed to say this as long as the product doesn’t have more than 0.5 grams of trans fat. To get around this read the nutrition label to see if any ingredient listed has hydrogenated or any form of the word such as hydrogenation.If you see these words that particular product has trans fat and I wouldn’t recommend buying.
You should avoid trans fat at all costs and all it takes is common sense. The largest % of foods that have the highest amount of trans fat are;
See what I mean by common sense, everyone knows that all the foods listed above DO NOT belong in any successful diet.
If your worried about cholesterol intake than you will want to look at this section of the nutritional label.
The recommended daily amount of cholesterol is 300 mg per day. Dietary Cholesterol is found in foods that come from animals, this includes meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Plant foods such as grains, vegetables, fruits and oils do not contain dietary cholesterol.
Sodium is an electrolyte that is imperative for muscles and nerves to function properly. Over consumed sodium can cause adverse negative effects.
Excess sodium increases blood pressure because it holds fluid in the body and that creates an added burden on the heart. Too much sodium will increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease. 1 in 3 Americans will develop high blood pressure in their lifetime.
To avoid this, limit the amount of table salt you use and always try to eat whole foods instead of processed foods. Pre processed foods have higher amounts of sodium in them to keep them fresh longer due to sodium being an excellent preservative.
When it comes to sodium, most experts recommend that you should keep your sodium intake under 2,300 mg per day.
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients used to make up our diet, it is our main source of energy providing 4 calories per gram. The largest percentage of your diet will come from carbohydrates. Your age and activity level will determine how much you need daily.
You should include 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories you ingest.
Dietary fiber is indigestible carbohydrates that are intact from plants, simply put this is the fiber naturally occurring in plants.
Knowing how much sugar you’re eating is important when it comes to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. This is why you should always check the amount of sugar in the foods you buy and make sure to choose foods that contain less sugar.
Not all sugar rich foods are the same, on the new labels you will see a column for total sugar and one for added sugars. Since added sugars are mostly empty calories that increase your daily caloric intake and provide very little nutritional value, you want to stay away from them.
Protein is one of the 3 major macronutrients that provides functional and structural components to all animal cells. 9 essential amino acids make up the protein structure, essential means these particular amino acids can not be synthesized by humans and can only be obtained through proper diet.
The quality of protein is determined by two factors, the first is bio availability. Which is the percentage of protein that will be allowed into your body after it’s digested.
The second is its amino acid profile relative to the body’s requirements for growth, maintenance and repair.
When you check the protein amount on the label also check the fat grams to make sure the number isn’t to high. Protein rich foods are also high in saturated fat and some dairy choices that are high in protein can have trans fat.
Vitamins and minerals
On nutrition labels, vitamin content is provided as the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving.
Not all vitamins are required to be on nutrition labels so you don’t end up with a well-rounded view in the end.
With this category I could get very technical about fortification and nutrient dense but all you really need to pay attention to are the numbers under the thick black bar. This will give you important information about the healthy micronutrients in your food . If you choose foods that are more nutritious it will be easier to for you to build a strong, fit body. The perfect scenario is would be people who choose foods that are low in calories and high in nutrition.
Percent daily value
This can be deceiving because the daily percentage is based on a 2000 calorie a day diet, the vast majority of the population is not on a 2000 calorie daily diet. However you can use it as a guideline to get an understanding if this food product is high in nutrients or not.
If your seeing a lot of low percentages next to the important categories than you know it’s a poor food choice.
Refined grains, in contrast to whole grains, refers to grain products consisting of grains or grain flours that have been significantly modified from their natural composition. The process of modifying it generally involves the mechanical removal of bran and germ, either through grinding or selective sifting.
Many refined grains have a low fiber count but have high amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron
Grains made from the entire grain seed including the bran, germ and endosperm. Many are also sources of dietary fiber
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