Launched in 2015, Weight Training Is The Way (WTITW) is here to help you become a leaner, stronger, better version of yourself. Weight training is not only effective in building muscle and strength, but losing fat, improving cardiovascular health, increasing confidence and strengthening your mental health. Read the blog to find more information.
Have you promised yourself that 2017 is the year you’re finally going to sort your body out and get in great shape?
Build some muscle, reveal the abs that are hiding in there somewhere, get in a proper gym routine that actually lasts this time around?
New Year’s fitness resolutions are nice. Positive thoughts are really, really nice.
Problem is, most guys fail with their fitness resolutions because they make some (or all) of the mistakes listed in this article.
And, if you’re honest with yourself, there’s probably still that wee bit of doubt in your mind too that you can actually make it happen. Especially if you’ve already tried in the past and got nowhere.
One of my online personal training clients, a 32-year-old dad, told me last week: “I was always fired up at the beginning of the year to get myself in good shape, add muscle to my upper body and lose my gut.
“I’d buy new training shoes and clothes, and go out running for miles 4-5 days per week.
“Then I’d get bored. The results just didn’t come quickly enough and I got fed up. Within a few weeks I wasn’t exercising because it felt pointless and I was back eating garbage again feeling sorry for myself.”
Back then the biggest mistake he was making was #3 in this list below – training ineffectively.
While it may burn some calories, running does zilch for building muscle and improving overall body composition. Also, training five days per week is unnecessary and is hard to maintain in the long term for most guys, never mind a father-of-two.
He’s made more progress now in the past month than at any point in his life by cutting out previous mistakes and taking a different approach to his fitness and diet.
2017 can be different for you too if you avoid the seven mistakes listed below. It’s a blueprint for making your New Year’s fitness resolution stick – and becoming a stronger, healthier, better version of yourself.
Mistakes Guys Make With Their New Year’s Fitness Resolutions
#1 Not being clear about goals
It ain’t good enough just to say, “I want to get in better shape” or “I need to lose a few pounds and I’ll be happy”.
Hardly inspiring either, is it? Your fitness goals need to be clear, specific and measureable.
Fed up being too thin and want to gain muscle? Your goal could be to gain 6lbs in 12 weeks and add two inches to the thickness of your arms, for example. That’s clear, specific and you can measure it at the beginning and end of the 12 week period.
#2 Not working from a clear training plan
Training without a proper plan is like turning up to work wearing only Y-fronts and a tie. It won’t end well and you’ll probably end up feeling a bit stupid.
A training plan keeps you focused, gives you direction, and provides extra motivation.
On the other hand, if you arrive at the gym with the intention of just using whatever equipment is free, you’ll almost certainly have a half-assed workout. You’ll get little satisfaction from your training and will be less likely to bother turning up next time.
Simple tip: buy a pocket sized diary and spend 10-15 minutes every Sunday scheduling your training sessions and planning out your exercises for the week.
Take it with you to the gym and mark up how you performed, always aiming to improve next time around.
#3 Training ineffectively
I named my website Weight Training Is The Way because lifting weights is the most effective way to: build muscle, burn fat, improve overall body shape, bone density, develop strength, improve cardiovascular health, mental health….all at once.
Whether you’re a man, woman, reptile…you should be lifting weights. The benefits are too numerous to mention.
On the other hand, standard cardio such as running, jogging, cycling, aerobic fitness classes, don’t tick nearly as many boxes.
And if muscle gain is one of your fitness aims then you’re wasting your time with these forms of exercise.
#4 Messing up your calorie intake
I won’t state the obvious by banging on about how important it is to eat healthy foods and limit the junk.
But diet is also a numbers game. Going back to the example earlier of setting a goal of gaining 6lbs and adding a couple of inches of muscle to your arms.
This will be impossible without eating more food every day to increase calories. The body must take in more calories than it burns to allow for weight gain and proper muscle development.
Want an easy way to figure out how many calories you should be eating based on your fitness goals? The MyFitness Pal app does it for you – and it’s free. You can grab it at MyfitnessPal.com.
#5 No accountability
The chances of achieving your fitness goals are 10x more likely if you have someone holding you accountable.
Someone to check that you’re taking action consistently. Someone who can help keep you on track. Someone else you don’t want to disappoint rather than just yourself.
A fitness coach/personal trainer is the number one choice as they provide accountability – and the best advice to help you hit your goals much sooner.
But if you don’t have the cash, then it’s a great idea to hook up with a friend/workmate as a training partner so you can keep each other on track.
#6 Not measuring progress
Always set a clear starting point by taking ‘before’ pictures wearing shorts only. (Nobody likes these being taken but they’ll help motivate you into action).
The photos are also important for tracking your progress visually.
Also take a note of other key measurements based on your goals. Want to gain or lose weight? Jump on the scales.
Want to lose weight around your gut? Get the measuring tape out.
Take a new photo after each month, along with body measurements, and compare.
#7 Being impatient
Don’t believe all the hype you read on the front of men’s fitness magazines.
“Beach ready abs within 3 weeks” ain’t gonna happen. And no you won’t be “built like Wolverine” with their new six week training programme either.
Here’s a much better idea: be patient. Getting in great shape takes hard work, consistency and time.
Results don’t happen overnight but they will happen if you stick with the right training programme, eat well and avoid making the same mistakes as most other guys kickstarting their New Year’s fitness resolution.
What to do next?
>> Buy a pocket sized diary, write down your fitness goals clearly and give yourself a deadline for achieving them. (3-4 months is a good time frame).
Have you ever attempted an exercise in the gym, had a mega fail…
…and then pretended you were actually just doing a stretch warm-up?
That’s exactly what I did when I tried pull-ups for the first time.
It might be the King of upper body exercises – but it’s so damn hard to master (until you follow the advice in this article).
The first time round I walked over, grabbed the handles above, squeezed my grip tightly to pull myself up…and moved about 0.5cm!
So I just hung there pretending I was stretching my arms, and then casually walked away 5 seconds later hoping no-one noticed.
“The pull-up is one of the best exercises for building muscle mass in your upper body…”
The idea may be simple: hands wide apart and lift your bodyweight upwards.
The reality is different: pull-ups are a ball-busting exercise (especially if you’ve only been hitting the gym for a few months).
Most gym-goers avoid this hugely effective upper body exercise because it’s too difficult, but this article will show you how to master it in a matter of months.
Even if you can’t complete one single rep right now, you CAN become a pull-up pro. It just takes a bit of perseverance and practice using a few clever tactics.
Fact is, the pull-up is one of theee best exercises for building muscle mass in your upper body, as well as developing the strength of your back, shoulders, chest and arms. If you’re serious about gaining muscle and getting in great shape then it’s time to perfect the pull-up….
Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups and the Muscles Worked
Sometimes pull-ups are referred to as chin-ups and vice versa. Don’t know if it’s an American thing…or if somebody was just mixing vodka instead of water with their protein powder when planning their workouts.
But there’s a clear difference between these two upper body exercises: how you grip the bars.
Pull-ups = overhand grip and hands at slightly wider than shoulder width. (See photo below).
Chin-ups = underhand grip and hands at shoulder width.
Both exercises largely work the same group of muscles but there is a slight difference.
With the underhand grip and palms facing inward, chin-ups put more emphasis on the biceps. The other muscles worked include chest, shoulders, upper and mid back (trapezius, latissimus dorsi), forearms and abs.
Pull-ups work these muscles too but activate the lower latissimus dorsi more, making it the king of upper body exercises in my opinion.
While both moves are difficult, the easier of the two are definitely chin-ups. So we’re going to put those aside and focus only on pull-ups in the rest of this article. Because once you can do pull-ups comfortably, chin-ups will be a breeze.
The Do’s and Don’ts of the King of Upper Body Exercises
If we’re going to do this, then we’re going to do it right. No half reps, no poor form, no injuries!
DO a proper pull-up this way:
Grab a pull-up bar at slightly wider than shoulder width, with your palms facing away from you.
Gripping the bar tightly, lift your feet off the ground and begin in a dead hang position.
Pull your body upwards by squeezing the bar with your hands and engaging your upper body muscles and core. Continue to pull until your chin is over the bar.
Now slowly lower your body, maintaining a firm grip as you straighten your arms and return to the starting hanging position.
DON’T do a pull-up like this:
Grab the bar at too narrow an angle, remember to keep your hands at just slightly wider than shoulder width.
Swing/kick your legs around as you pull upwards. Instead focus on tightening your core region to help keep you steady.
Jerk your upper body and head upwards to get your chin over the bar. Fully pull your arms all the way to the top until you get there.
Or let your body just drop to the bottom as this will likely cause an injury. Slowly lower yourself downwards.
How to Go From 0 Reps to Pull-ups Pro
It’s one thing knowing the do’s and don’ts of this awesome exercise, but it’s another thing actually doing pull-ups especially if you’re overweight.
Like I mentioned earlier, I struggled to do one single rep first time round. These days, I regularly do my sets of pull-ups and chin-ups with 25kg strapped to my waist.
It’s simply a case of developing upper body strength and gradually becoming more comfortable with the technique.
There are two ways to do this: use resistance bands or assisted pull-up machines.
These provide assistance during the exercise, taking some of the bodyweight off you, making it easier to pull up and also lower yourself down.
(In the pictures above, notice the thin black resistance band hanging round the bars and my shins resting on it).
Wrap the band around the bar/pull-up handles and pull the loop down towards your legs. Just as you’re getting into the starting position for pull-ups, lift your knees onto the band for support.
Then follow the directions given earlier for completing a pull-up.
Many gyms have machines that give you assistance when doing pull-ups, chin-ups and dips.
Like the resistance band, you rest your knees/shins on a cushion that compensates for some of your bodyweight. You can adjust how easy or difficult it is by altering the weight on the machine.
(Alternatively, if your gym does not have an assisted machine – and you don’t have a band – a training partner can hold your legs to give you assistance during the exercise).
Developing Your Technique and Upper Body Strength
No matter how good or bad you are at pull-ups, you’re now in a perfect position to get much better at them with support from either a band or assisted machine.
These will give you stability and, by taking some of the load of your weight, will make it easier to complete the exercise.
By consistently working on assisted pull-ups in the gym, you’ll continually develop upper body strength. You’ll then gradually be able to increase the number of reps to the point where you can complete the exercise unassisted – and build on it from there.
Here’s a five step process to do exactly that:
#1 Focus only on perfecting technique for the first couple of weeks
Using either the band or assisted machine complete just a handful of reps, only around 2-4.
Getting the technique right means…
>>> No swinging your lower body.
>>> Your chin going over the bar at the top.
>>> A controlled descent.
>>> Your arms straight at the starting position.
#2 Increase the number of reps
Keep working at it, always maintaining good form. No half reps!
As you inevitably get stronger, gradually increase the number of reps. Simply work till failure and complete as many reps as possible.
It won’t happen overnight but the aim is to reach double figures with the band or assisted machine supporting you.
#3 Ditch the band when you get this signal
When you reach 12 reps with good form then that’s the signal that you’re good to go unassisted. You’re ready to freestyle it!
It’s time to ditch the band or assisted machine and move on to proper pull-ups.
#4 Start confidently and put numbers out of your mind
When moving on to doing pull-ups simply focus on perfecting the initial reps.
You might only manage 1, it might be 3, but don’t worry about numbers in first week.
#5 Begin competing with yourself
At this point the aim is to start building on reps. Take note of how many you complete – and begin competing with yourself!
In every workout the aim is simply to beat your last number of reps by 1. Some days you might only equal the same number of reps as your previous session, but always challenge yourself to try and go one better.
This will spur you on and those numbers will gradually climb. A few months on, you’ll be banging out reps like a pro…
….and building your back, arms, shoulders, chest and core in one single incredible movement.
Don’t blame me when you need to throw out all your clothes because they’re too tight for your new V-shaped/strong/brilliant back.
When I first met Gerard McKay he was wearing a flowery dress, a bra, face paint and aviator sunglasses.
It was in the dance music tent at the T in the Park festival in July 2012. I didn’t know whether to shake his hand or KISS him!
Raving // dressing up // drinking // partying was standard behaviour for this 20-year-old joker/party animal.
That’s why I was completely SHOCKED when I first saw him lifting weights in the gym a couple of years ago.
<<IN MY HEAD>> “Surely, he’s not actually trying to look after his body for once….??”
<<THEN I’M THINKIN>> “Maybe he’s still p*ssed from the weekend and staggered in here by accident (wearing shorts and a t-shirt)…???”
I was right the first time – Gerard started lifting weights because he wanted to get in decent shape.
Problem was, he struggled big time to add muscle or see any results from his efforts. Basically going through the motions at the gym….and getting nowhere.
Then he asked if I’d coach him through my ‘Leaner, Stronger, Better’ programme.
Here’s What Happened After The First 30 Days….
Gerard said: “I’ve been lifting weights at the gym for years – but I barely saw a difference if I’m honest.
“I was doing the same old boring workouts and didn’t actually enjoy any of it because the results just weren’t happening.
“First My Shoulders Became More Rounded, Then I Started Developing A V-Shaped Back…”
“Marc completely changed how I trained.
“He also gave me tons of advice on diet, which was important because I didn’t really have a clue about what to eat and when.
“Within 3 weeks I started seeing changes in my body. First with my shoulders becoming more rounded, then I started developing a V-shaped back.
“My brother and mates started saying that they were seeing a real difference too.
“I couldn’t believe the difference after just one month after I got my first progress pictures taken.”
My ‘Leaner, Better, Stronger’ recently completed my 12 week online coaching programme
Before And After The 12 Week Coaching Programme…
Gerard’s goal – to finally add some muscle and see muscle definition.
He’s achieved it. Gerard went from 71kg to 77kg, adding lean muscle, stripping fat….and his strength in the gym went through the roof!
The one time party animal says he’s now “hooked” on training and looking and feeling his best.
Here are some of the main strategies we implemented that completely changed up Gerard’s training and nutrition.
Six Steps To Success….#1 Training just 3 days per week…
…with proper rest and recovery in between.
#2 Focusing mainly on compound weight training exercises…
…with cardio out the window.
#3 Always aiming for personal bests…
…and progressively overloading the muscles.
#4 Increasing his calories…
…and keeping track of his diet via MyFitnessPal.
#5 More healthy fats in his diet…
…and less sugar.
#6 Introducing new pre-workout and post-workout tactics…
…to maximise muscle gain and fat loss.
Gerard said: “This is the way I’ll be training and eating for life now – because it works.”
There are currently 3 spaces available on my ‘Leaner, Stronger, Better’ online personal training and nutrition coaching programme.Anyone interested can private message me via Facebook or email: email@example.com
Have you got to that point yet where you’re already thinking about your next workout when you’re leaving the gym after a great session?
When you’re buzzing to get back in there because you’re now actually seeing decent results.
Training for longer and for more days per week might seem like the obvious move when you’re on a roll…
But it’s a BIG MISTAKE.
More is not better. Overtraining can hinder your attempts to build muscle, it can increase your chances of injury, and most importantly it can damage your health.
>>> This article is all about showing you the way to train smarter, not harder.
>>> To avoid overtraining so that you can continue to make solid progress and maintain optimal overall health.
>>> It’ll focus heavily on theteachings of the late bodybuilding champion Mike Mentzer – a pioneer in weight training protocols – aswell as world-renowned sports nutritionist Dr John Berardi.
Mentzer – Mr Olympia in 1979 – was way ahead of his time and a proponent of sensible training and dietary principles that went against what 99.9% of what other bodybuilders were doing at the time.
While weightlifters were training hard 5,6,7 days per week, Mike was only doing 3 days.
While other weightlifters were eating crazy amounts of protein per day in an attempt to keep the biceps bulging, he was eating just 60g and stressing the importance of sufficient calories instead.
I’ve followed Mike’s training principles for more than a decade. This is simply because they make sense – and I can spend less time in the gym and still get great results.
Training Smarter, Not Harder
Why exercise nearly every day of the week when you can train for three?
Why spend two hours in the gym when you can finish your session in one?
And why do countless sets and reps when you can simply up the intensity in each of your exercises to stimulate muscle growth and development?
Training one day on, one day off is the way forward to ensure you properly recover after a tough workout and the body can repair itself and develop more muscle tissue.
We’ll soon discuss the effect heavy weight training has on the muscles and why proper rest is so important.
But a clear sign we need some time away from the barbells and dumbbells is the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) – aka the pain the following day after a tough session (…which is usually even worse the second day).
The soreness should be enough to convince you to take a day off after training. If you’re not experiencing DOMS then you’re not training intensely enough in the gym.
The ‘3,6,9 Method’ – as I call it – is a great guideline for ensuring you’re training hard enough to fatigue the muscles and kickstart hypertrophy (the muscle building process).
3 = the number of sets you need to complete for each exercise.
6 = the minimum number of reps you must be able to complete with a particular weight.
9 = the maximum number of reps you should be doing before upping the weight level and increasing the intensity further.
I always recommend just 2-3 sets of every exercise in your routine. Fitness studies have shown that this is enough – if you complete the exercises properly.
This 2010 study showed that to achieve hypertrophy 2-3 sets per exercise were much more effective than just 1 single set.
BUT….the results also showed that there was no significant difference between 2-3 sets and 4-6 sets per exercise. So why do double the amount of sets?
How Overtraining Can Hamper Muscle Growth
Mike Mentzer, pictured below, wrote in his book, ‘High Intensity Training – The Mike Mentzer Way’: “Intense exercise will stimulate a compensatory build-up of muscle tissue, which will enable the body to cope with the stress of intense exercise again in the near future with less disturbance and fewer demands on the body’s limited resources.
“Taken to extremes, as is the case with most bodybuilders who overtrain, the exercise will place a drain on the recuperative subsystems of the body that prevents the build up of added muscle tissue because all of the reserves will be used up in an attempt to overcome the depletion caused by overtraining.
“…the less time spent in the gym actually training the better. Once you have stimulated growth, with the required high intensity training, get out of the gym!”
The Importance Of Rest And Proper Recovery
Want bigger muscles? A leaner, more athletic physique? Then give your body a break after a tough weights session.
The hard work may be done in the gym…but you then must supply your body with proper nutrition and a recovery period of around 48 hours, sometimes longer.
This is essential so that the body can repair the damage done to your muscle fibres through lifting heavy weights and build more muscle tissue as a result.
Fitness and nutrition expert Ru Anderson stressed the importance of recovery after workouts when I interviewed him last month.
Ru said: “A big factor to bigger muscles and greater strength is the ability to fully recover from your training efforts. Train hard, but ensuring you can recover from it is key.
“Many magazines and programs can push your recovery abilities too far, because they have been created by athletes or those using assistance.
“Find a program that you can train hard with, but recover fast on.”
Sleep is so important to our overall health, yet many of us don’t get the recommended eight hours per night.
It’s also when the body manufactures more of the anabolic hormones testosterone and growth hormone, which are the key players involved in muscle tissue growth and remodelling.
Studies have shown that poor sleep can significantly lower testosterone production.
This one from Penev et al involving a group of elderly men showed that the guys who had 4 hours sleep produced half as much testosterone as those who got 8 hours’ shut eye.
If you struggle to get a decent night’s sleep, I’ve got the dream solution at the end of this article.
What About Targeting Different Muscle Groups On Alternate Days…?
Many bodybuilders try to get around the DOMS by training different muscle groups on different days.
Mon – chest and triceps; Tue – back and biceps; Wed – legs….you know the drill.
I did it myself for a while too, thinking it was a shortcut to faster results.
It wasn’t. It also meant I was spending way too much time in the gym unnecessarily.
While many bodybuilders these days swear by split muscle group routines and do get amazing results, Mike Mentzer spoke out against training this way.
In his book ‘High Intensity Training – The Mike Mentzer Way’, he wrote: “Many bodybuilders wrongly believe that a split routine of six days a week, with one half of the muscles exercised on one day and then rested on the following day while the other half are being exercised, will provide the rest required for adequate growth following exercise.
“You must remember that exercise always has a generalized effect on the entire physical system as well as a localised one on specific muscles.
“So, even though you may be affording your alternately worked muscles a certain amount of rest on a six day split routine, you are not providing the needed rest for the overall physical system when you tax it with everyday training.”
Mike said that adding more sets to your workouts and training on additional days without sufficient rest should be “avoided at all costs”.
The Negative Effects Of Overtraining On Your Health
Comparing excessive exercise to driving a car on full throttle all the time, he said it’s only a matter of time before the car (aka our bodies) break down.
Dr Berardi, pictured below, warns that overtraining consistently will frazzle our nervous system, weaken our immune system and lead to illness.
He wrote: “Training too frequently and intensely — again, without prioritizing recovery — means that stress never subsides.
“We never get a chance to put gas in the tank or change the oil. We just drive and drive and drive, mashing the pedals harder and harder.
“If we ‘lift the hood’ we might see…
“Poor lubrication: Our connective tissues are creaky and frayed.
“Radiator overheating: More inflammation.
“Battery drained: Feel-good brain chemicals and anabolic (building-up) hormones have gone down.
“Rust: Catabolic (breaking-down) hormones such as cortisol have gone up.”
Dr Berardi warns that this could lead to problems including depression, anxiety, poor sleep and lower metabolism.
He insists that for every intense workout, there should be an equally intense focus on helping your body repair and rebuild.
Am I Overtraining? 5 Signs You Probably Are…
#1 Being Too Sore For Too Long
It’s normal for your muscles to be sore for a couple of days after a good weight training session.
But when it gets to four or five days then it’s a sure sign you aren’t recovering well.
Give yourself an extended break to avoid interfering with the repair and muscle building process.
If your nervous system is frazzled from overtraining, or your hormones are all over the place, then you’re sleep will likely be affected.
Try to get into a regular sleeping pattern of going to bed no later than 10pm and rising at the same time each day.
#3 Feeling Run-Down
If you’re low on energy and catching every cold and virus going around, then there’s a fair chance your immune system has been weakened by training too hard, too often.
Rest up, take some immune boosting vitamin C supplements.
#4 Lack Of Results
If you had been seeing steady progress for a while and then this halted, despite equal or more effort in the gym, then it could be that your body has been struggling to recover.
#5 Dwindling Motivation
We already know that longer training sessions and working out on more days of the week can actually hinder your efforts to build muscle and sculpt a better overall physique.
And if it’s got to the stage where your workouts are not as effective as they used to be, then your training motivation will naturally drop off.
Feeling Stressed? Give Yourself A Break…
Highly demanding jobs, relationship problems, money worries….these everyday life issues many of us face trigger the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Training hard in the gym also releases the same hormones….in response to the stress your muscles face throughout a weight training session.
Too much of both in your life for too long leads to one thing….BURNOUT.
Exercise can of course help relieve stress….(aka smashing a punch bag and pretending it’s your boss’s face)….but the overall physical impact of stress in and outside of the gym can become too much.
Dr Berardi said: “We still need to help our bodies recover from all the stress we experience.
“How well you’ll recover (and how much extra recovery you might need) depends on your allostatic load — i.e. how much total stress you’re under at any given moment.”
Treat Your Body Well. Here’s How…
Sticking to a simple day on, day off training schedule is the first step to avoiding overtraining.
If you’re training intensely enough during those sessions – using the ‘3,6,9 Method’ mentioned earlier – then you should be too sore to step back in the gym the next day anyway.
While we may train like Rocky in the gym, it’s important we treat our body well afterwards for proper recovery and muscle development.
Here are my top 4 tips for treating your body like a King…
#1 Enjoy a relaxing warm bath at least twice a week. This is an awesome reward for yourself on non-training days.
#2 Meditate. No, it doesn’t involve sitting in the lotus position pretending to be a monk. There are some amazing guided meditation audio recordings that can really help you wind down after a long, stressful day.
#3 Get to your bed early with a book. Not only does reading help me get to sleep much quicker, but a good educational book last thing at night is much better than filling my head with garbage from Facebook or reality TV.
#4 Take ZMA capsules or use magnesium oil before bed. These are hugely beneficial for a deep, restful sleep which is of course crucial for your body’s repair and recovery.
Here’s the good news: you’ve just saved the $50 you were going to spend on a penis pump.
And here’s the bad news: you’re gonna have to spend some extra time pumping up those arms.
Don’t panic. This article will deliver six solid strategies for bulking up your arms through weight training.
I’ve used them all to good effect. And while I’m not claiming to be on a par with Popeye, my arms are much thicker and stronger than they used to be.
But it wasn’t always like that. Infact I was so self conscious about my skinny arms all through my teenage years that I used to do all sorts to try and hide them.
I would spend ages shopping for t-shirts and would only wear ones that hid most of my upper arms.
Short sleeved shirts were a complete no-go because they would have fully exposed the undeniable fact that my arms clearly resembled twigs.
And on nights out sporting whatever skinny-camouflaging-clothes-combo I came up with, I would end up just wanting to punch the guys who were showing off their bulging biceps in tight t-shirts.
I didn’t do it obviously. Incase they snapped one of my twig arms right off.
Ahem, moving swiftly on…
Assuming you’re already clued-up on the basics of muscle gain ( i.e. lifting heavy weights, and eating a clean diet with sufficient amounts of protein ), let’s move on to the plan of attack for inflating those arms of yours.
Six Step Strategy For Strengthening And Thickening Your Arms
#1 Focus more on your triceps.
The schoolboy error that most people make when aiming for bigger arms is putting too much emphasis on biceps isolation exercises.
Thinking of the ‘guns’ and flexing the head of the bicep, they hit barbell curls hard and try all sorts of variations of dumbbell curls for growth.
When you consider that the triceps make up roughly two thirds of the upper arm, it makes more sense to put more emphasis on this muscle. As it is made up of three heads (long, lateral and medial), the triceps brachii is the largest muscle in the upper arm and deserves some special attention.
My favourite triceps exercises are: dips, triceps extensions on cable machine, skull crushers (below) and narrow bench press.
#2 Change up your routine regularly.
You must keep mixing it up with the types of exercises you do, the number of sets, and how many reps you do each time in the gym. Don’t allow your muscles to adapt to the same old routine, you must find fresh ways to keep stressing your muscles in order to force them to grow.
“You’ve got to shock the muscle, shock the muscle, and shock the muscle with different kinds of training principles.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger.
His arms are now legendary and, in his prime, Arnie revealed his favourite biceps exercises were: barbell curls, dumbbell curls on an incline bench, and concentration curls.
His top triceps moves were: narrow bench press, triceps extensions, and single arm dumbbell triceps extensions (above the head).
#3 Don’t forget compound exercises.
It would be daft to get too carried away with biceps and triceps isolation exercises in an attempt to grow bigger arms.
Compound exercises such as chin-ups, below, and pull-ups are devastatingly effective not only for increasing the size of your arms, but for overall upper body development.
To download my free guide on the best compound exercises and how to perform them correctly click here.
#4 Feel the tension.
Quite often when performing exercises such as the dumbbell curl we’ll lift the weight to the top and move straight into lowering it again for the next rep.
Instead of this, make a conscious effort to hold the dumbbell at the peak of the movement and squeeze for 2-3 seconds.
This is another top training tip Arnie revealed in this article he wrote for Men’s Fitness magazine. Working out this way intensifies muscle contractions and causes more stress.
“The more stress you place on the muscle, the more muscle growth you stimulate,” according to The Terminator.
#5 Slow down.
We’ve just mentioned the importance of squeezing when contracting the muscle, but there are also more gains to be had by slowing down the negative part of your exercises every now and then. (Remember, it’s best to keep switching up your routine).
For example, lowering your body more slowly when doing chin-ups will place more strain on the muscle and encourage more growth.
Same goes for isolation exercises such as preacher curls or triceps extensions. Make a conscious effort to lower the bar more slowly and in a controlled manner for maximum effect. (This will mean lifting a lighter weight than usual).
#6 Add creatine into the mix.
If you’ve been lifting weights for a while with little progress in muscle size and definition, then supplementing with creatine monohydrate might well be your saviour.
It’s an amino acid that’s found in various foods and is also naturally produced in the body, helping to deliver energy to all cells, primarily muscles.
Creatine has been proven to be effective in improving performance in weightlifters and other athletes. This is because it increases the body’s ability to produce more energy rapidly, meaning you can train harder and for longer.
Creatine also pulls more fluid into the muscles, giving them a fuller look. For more details on the science behind creatine and recommendations on dosage visit http://www.creatinemonohydrate.net/
If you put these strategies into practice and stay consistent with your training you can expect to see growth in your arms.
And if you’ve never supplemented with creatine before you might be surprised at the results in as little as two weeks.
What weight training programme should guys be following to get in great shape?
One men’s health and fitness magazine promises you “beach ready abs within three weeks”…
…while the one sitting on the shelf next to it has the “ultimate guide to bigger biceps”.
Your mate in work writes down his exercise routine and you give that a bash…until your gym’s resident meathead tells you what weight training you “really should be doing”.
This all adds up to the # 1 Thing Holding You Back From Achieving The Body You Want….
When it comes to health and fitness, we’re bombarded from every corner with advice on what to do. There’s so much information and so many options that you probably don’t know where to start.
You’re not alone – this is a problem most folk face. Here are some of the emails I’ve received from guys looking for training help:
“There’s so much information and every one has different ideas, so I always get confused about what to follow and what will work for me…”
“I hate cardio, but my personal trainer says I should be doing more to help burn belly fat.”
And a couple of comments I noticed when prowling around fitness forums recently:
“I read Men’s Health monthly, but there are so many different things that I really don’t know where to begin.”
“I’d like to get in better shape because I want to join the Army, but I’m not sure where to start, how many reps to do etc…”
I think you get the picture that there are quite a few confused dudes out there. No wonder, there are so many options to transform our bodies and health that we try everything – and master nothing.
It’s time to cut out all this confusion crap and focus on what actually works best for getting in great shape. This will give you the clear direction needed…which leads to consistency…which leads to momentum…which then delivers us beautifully at results!
What Not To Do…
#1 Get sucked in by the latest training fad
Fitness magazines are always promoting fancy new training programmes on their cover, most of them are filled with over-complicated, convoluted exercises.
To sell more copies.
Gyms and health centres are always looking to introduce new fitness classes and latest pieces of equipment.
To sell more memberships.
#2 Look for shortcuts to success
I’m talking “mass gainer” protein powders, electric “six pack” machines, fat burning tablets. These are never going to deliver the physique you really want.
Reality check – you’ve got to bust your balls to get in great shape.
#3 Switch between cardio and weight training so you can also burn fat
If you’re lifting weights the way a man should really lift weights then you don’t need to add any cardio into your gym session.
Lifting heavy with big compound exercises also delivers a big cardiovascular punch. Also, training this way keeps your metabolism levels elevated for much longer after your workout….meaning you’re still burning fat at rest.
#4 Over-complicate your diet
Eating chicken and broccoli five days per week because your PT says so. Having mega “cheat” days. “Bulking and cutting”.
The biggest problem with all this? It can’t be maintained in the long run. It’ll also make you miserable.
What To Do Instead…
#1 Get stuck into compound weight training exercises
The big buster moves that deliver an all-over body workout and create an anabolic environment in the body. This equates to more muscle, less fat.
The squat, deadlift, bent over row etc have been around for a long time – and they’ll always outlast all the latest fad training programmes. Why? Because they’re far more effective for building muscle, burning fat and optimal body composition.
#2 Lift heavy and change up your routine
Progressively overloading the muscles with heavy resistance triggers hypertrophy, kickstarting the muscle development process.
Regularly changing your routine by mixing up the order of exercises, number of sets, and rest in between them further shocks the body into growth and development.
#3 Keep pushing on, aiming for personal bests
Every workout should be seen as an opportunity to better yourself. To lift a bit more than last time, to do that one extra chin-up, to write down a new personal best.
“Life is about growing and improving and getting better.” – Conor McGregor, UFC World Featherweight and Lightweight champion.
#4 Simplify your diet so that it can actually be maintained
Too many healthy diets are actually unhealthy for us.
When our meals are boring and bland, or we’re cycling various foods in an unnatural way we quickly get fed up…and end up looking for the nearest Big Mac and fries.
Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods as consistently as possible, making sure you get in sufficient calories from the best sources of protein, carbs and fats for your training goals.
Sydney-based personal trainer Dinny Morris says: “In terms of adherence, simpler exercise and nutritional approaches are usually more sustainable because they tend to throw up fewer obstacles than more complex and involved methods.”
Stop over-thinking it, focus on compound exercises, simplify your diet, and just lift some damn weights.
FREE Report: “More Muscle, Less Fat…With The 8 ‘Pillar’ Exercises No-One Should Ever Miss Out!”
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In this 25 page report you’ll learn:
The most effective weight training exercises for building muscle and burning fat
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All the common mistakes – and how to avoid them.
A simple way to figure out how much weight you should be lifting.
Exactly which muscle groups are being targeted by each exercise.
‘What do squats do?’ A question I overheard someone ask the gym instructor while getting an induction last week.
I was sooo close to bursting into their conversation and shouting: “EVERYTHING!”
But that might’ve been a wee bit weird. So I left it. Decided to write this blog post instead.
The squat is royally praised as thee King of Exercises. No wonder. This one single movement can have a dramatic impact on that body of yours. Not just your legs, your whole body.
This article will explain six solid reasons why you should be squatting. It’ll also demonstrate how to perform squats properly.
At the end of the article you can also grab the FREE ‘How Not To Squat’ guide, which explains the four common mistakes many people make when doing squats. Make sure you download it so you can avoid those errors and make proper progress.
How Squats Returned My Long Lost Ass
I’ve got a lot to thank squats for. The number one reason I’m grateful to squats is that they reunited me with my long lost ass!
Yep, I was one of those guys whose ass kinda disappeared at some point through high school. I was always skinny, and the main reason I took up weight training when I was 16 was because I wanted to add muscle to my thin frame.
I didn’t like my skinny arms, but I HATED the fact that I basically had no ass. No curve. Just one big extended back.
It might sound a bit funny now, but I was really self-conscious about it. I would get jumpers and jackets in a bigger size so they could hang over and hide that area.
When I first started weight training I never bothered with squats because I thought they simply built your thigh muscles. When I learned how they work various muscle groups at once – and kickstart muscle growth all over the body – that was me hooked.
And within months my rear reappeared.
The squat builds muscle, burns fat, and tones and conditions the entire body in one single movement. If you’ve also been wondering ‘what do squats do?’ then you’ll want to start including them as part of your workout regime after reading these six benefits.
‘What do squats do’ indeed….?
# 1 Number one legs exercise. Bar none.
The nature of the the whole squatting movement brings every leg muscle into play. In the space of 2-3 seconds you are hitting the calves, thighs and butt hard.
First, as you dip down those muscles are put under strain to prevent you from falling under the weight of the barbell. Next, they combine to create explosive power to push your hips through and return to a standing position.
No other exercise targets your leg muscles in such a concentrated, intense way.
# 2 Number one all over body exercise. Bar none.
Want a bigger chest? A broader back? A stronger core? Then squat. That might sound daft because it seems you are working the lower part of your body.
Squats create an all over anabolic environment – which has a positive knock-on effect on other areas of your body you are not consciously targeting.
It delivers an all-round workout that no other weight training exercise, with the exception of deadlifts, can rival. Here’s why below.
# 3 Supercharges testosterone and growth hormone production.
Squats trigger a natural increase in both growth hormone and testosterone in men. Let’s start with testosterone, the male sex hormone. While women have much lowers levels, both sexes need an optimal supply of testosterone to maintain and build muscle properly. It is also important for feeling vital and functioning properly in everyday life.
Squats have also been scientifically proven to ramp up the production of growth hormone – a powerful anabolic hormone which stimulates the growth of muscle, cartilage and bone. Growth hormone is also crucial to the fourth benefit below.
# 4 Promotes optimal body composition.
Squats promote the development of a natural, well proportioned body. This is down to several reasons. It targets several muscle groups at once (legs, abs, lower back).
It all goes back to the anabolic environment created by the spike in testosterone and growth hormone again. This has the biggest effect on body composition because it not only helps pack on muscle all over, but burns excess fat simultaneously.
# 5 Strengthens your back against injury.
Back problems are one of the most common injuries. Everyone knows who knows someone who ended up with a dodgy back playing football, sitting in an uncomfy work chair, or just getting out of bed the wrong way.
That does not mean squats should be avoided for fear of back trouble. If performed correctly squats can strengthen your back, improve your posture, and actually help prevent against these kind of injuries in future.
Your erector spinae – aka lower back – is central to the whole squatting movement. As you dip with the barbell resting on your shoulders, the lower back works in tandem with your thighs and calves to steady the weight – and prevent you from ending up on your backside.
The process of edging this area outwards in a slow, controlled way while carrying the weight keeps the muscles in this lower region tense and under strain. This first part of the move alone helps strengthen the lower back.
Muscles in this area are further strengthened and developed as you push powerfully back up through your hips.
# 6 …ultimate ass shaper.
Right, let’s be honest, the human species loves a badass ass. Both guys and girls. If you go on a date with someone you generally have copped a look at their bum within 2.3 seconds of first seeing their face.
Problem is, most of us have rear fear. Either it is too fat. Out of shape. Not toned. Or just sometimes the ass has gone AWOL – like mine did.
Enter the squat. This exercise is a miracle worker for sculpting a well-shaped, firmer butt. This is because it effectively targets all three areas of your butt muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
Each muscle is used to some degree everyday life as you stand up, bend over etc. The squat is so effective in shaping and toning your butt because it targets all three areas in one full range of motion.
Overcoming The Blocks Holding You Back
‘But isn’t it only powerlifters who do this exercise?’ – Powerlifters do squats indeed. That’s why they are strong as hell. But they are also on another level transforming their body – and are actually getting results – include squats as part of their routine. This is down to the benefits listed above.
‘I’m worried I might get injured’ – Firstly, if you have any hip or mobility problems then you should of course seek medical advice before trying squats – or any exercise programme in general. For others, there are steps you can take to make sure you perform the exercise properly and avoid hurting yourself.
‘Can I do squats safely without a training partner?’ – Have you already had visions of you collapsing under the weight of the bar? Stumbling? Somehow losing grip and the bar falling off your back?
Don’t worry – everyone who has ever squatted has had some sort of nightmare scenario running through their mind. This is totally normal but put it out of mind because there are safety measures you can – and should always – put in place at the gym.
Safety First – And Quality Over Quantity
There will most likely be two options for completing barbell squats at your gym: a squat rack and Smith machine. Most squat racks have a frame which allow you to put safety bars in place at either side at around waist height. Smith machines have safety catches as standard.
Either setup can then catch the barbell if it somehow falls – so always put these measures in place before you get started.
Proper technique is crucial with any exercise. While increasing the weight and lifting heavy is the ultimate aim, that all becomes pretty pointless if your technique goes out the window. Always go for quality over quantity.
If you are just starting out with squats or are fairly inexperienced with the exercise, then start with a very light weight until you are comfortable with the movement.
How To Do Squats Correctly
>> Warm up for a minute or two doing bodyweight squats, hamstring and quad stretches.
>> Place the barbell on the rack at shoulder height and add the weight plates to each side. Ensure they are locked on using a collar or clamp.
>> Position yourself under the centre of the bar so that it sits on your trapezius. Stretch your hands out and grip the bar at either side at a length that feels comfortable.
>> Lift the bar upwards off the hooks and step back with both feet.
>> Position your feet in a natural standing position, toes pointing forward and slightly outwards.
>> Keep your back rigid, holding the barbell on your trapezius with good posture.
>> Staring straight ahead, squat down in a controlled manner until your thighs are parallel with the floor or just slightly lower.
>> Keeping your eyesight focused ahead, push back up forcefully through your hips and straighten your legs back into the starting position.
Time To Get Started
You – and everybody else you know – should be doing squats a couple of times per week. The benefits are too good to be missing out on.
If they were previously part of your training regime then get them included again. And always start your weights session with squats because that’s when you have most energy to power through them and make gains.
The satisfaction from completing one of the toughest exercises straight away will also spur you on to have a great workout overall.
If you are just starting out with squats make sure to follow the safety advice and go light at the beginning. Even start with the olympic bar itself, which weighs 20kg, until you are comfortable with the technique and can complete more than 10 reps.
How NOT To Squat – Download Your Free Guide
There are four common mistakes you must avoid when doing squats. Make these errors and at best you will limit your progress. At worst you – or someone else – might end up needlessly injured.
Learn how to avoid these mistakes and become a master at squats by downloading this free ‘How Not To Squat’ guide.