New Research : Bodybuilding and the Mind-Muscle Connection

In the bodybuilding world, one of the most important “principles” of lifting is the need to establish a mind : muscle connection.

It’s not enough to lift the weight. For maximum success, the trainee must put all of his/her intention into the muscle that is being worked.

For many of us who aren’t bodybuilders…who lift for strength, power, endurance, athletic performance, etc…this seems like a giant load of new age nonsense.

Until now:

In this new study, researchers found that when trainees (working with loads between 20 -60% of their 1 Rep Maximum) focused on the muscles being worked, they were able to increase muscle activation…without decreasing the activity of other muscles involved in the lift.

By focusing on the muscles, they actually made the muscles work harder.

Which is exactly what those bodybuilding gurus have been saying for decades.

arnold-concentration-curl

What does this mean to you?

If you lift weight in 20-60% of 1 Rep Max range, focusing intently on the muscles being worked seems like a really great idea.

If you lift in the 80+% 1 RM range, there is no need to focus on the working muscles…you should be focusing on perfect form & execution…your nervous system will look after how many muscle fibers are contracting to complete your lift.

In the 60-80% range, I don’t know what to tell you. The researchers in this study focused on intensities of 20, 40, 50, 60 and 80 % of the pre-determined 1RM.

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The Truth About Feminine Fitness

A long, long time ago, women’s workouts meant aggressive arm circles, bouncy stretching, and hundreds of step-touches. We got crazy flexibility, ceaseless endurance, and if our diet lined up properly, a lithe, slender body (just like Jane Fonda).

Fast-forward to today’s savvy women and we’ve graduated to wanting a lean, strong body. “Fit” and “skinny” aren’t synonymous anymore – we want a healthy, bullet-proof physique (and gorgeous muscle definition wouldn’t hurt)….aka the NEW feminine fitness.

If you’re still caught in the cardio-only rut or listening to celebrity trainers who admonish us to “never lift heavy weights” lest it make us “bulky,” read on to see what women’s workouts should look like today.

jane fonda workout

The New Paradigm

The updated heavy hitter in fat loss, health, and fitness is, without a doubt, strength training. I’m not talking about bodybuilding here, and you don’t have to be an athlete to strength train. You most certainly don’t have to be a guy to strength train, either!

Experts and scientists now agree that while the right nutrition and cardio-respiratory training are important to health and fat loss, strength training is the third most critical component.

In case you’re wondering, you definitely won’t become the She-Hulk of your neighborhood if you lift weights heavier than three pounds (or 100!). Women have much less testosterone than men and we have to work hard to build even a small amount of muscle. Even then, we can never build muscles as big as guys unless we’re juiced up on steroids – not likely in your case, I’m betting.

This may surprise you, but strength training helps me express my femininity. Being strong and fit is an important way I define myself. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that strength training has increased my self-confidence in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

Take a look at how strength training is a smart strategy for your body and mind.

Burn Mega Calories

If you’ve ever done a strength-training circuit, you know it can get your heart pumping. Squats, lunges, chest presses, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses back to back without rest is a major calorie burner!

Not only that, but strength training burns calories when you’re not exercising, too. This “afterburn” effect results when your muscles are busy repairing themselves after a good, heavy lifting session.

Since muscle is metabolically active tissue that burns fat even when you’re at rest, strength training increases your metabolism. This means the more muscle, the more fat burning!

Rock Functional Strength

You don’t have to be a bench-pressing beast to benefit from increased strength. Even lifting moderate weights can make you feel stronger and fitter for everyday activities like carrying your kids, pushing the lawnmower, or changing a tire.

Stay Youthful

We can stay strong and active into old age by integrating resistance training into our routine. One study at McMaster University showed that strength training actually reversed the effects of aging by changing tissue at the cellular level in healthy senior citizens [1].

It’s important to understand that unless we counteract it, losing muscle mass is an inevitable part of aging. Feminine fitness weight training helps us stay strong and mobile instead of becoming injured and inactive (which almost always leads to weight gain, too).

Since women are especially susceptible to bone loss, resistance training is also a must for stimulating growth in our bone density as we age.

Look Hot

Of course, when you’ve been strength training awhile, along with eating nutritious foods and managing your caloric intake, you’ll see muscle definition pop on your arms, abs, and legs. Feeling good about your body might be your top motivator, and that’s perfectly fine, too.

I used to have the flattest behind around – affectionately (or not) known as a “mom butt.” But doing heavy squats, lunges, kettle bell swings, and hip thrusts completely transformed my backside into one I am truly proud of (shake it!).

The benefits of feminine fitness strength training don’t stop there – try increased energy, better sleep, improved posture, and yes – even greater flexibility.

Let’s Go!

Getting started with strength training is easier than you might think. If you’re a beginner, I recommend checking out the articles here at Health Habits, my beginner’s guide, and “The New Rules of Lifting for Women,” by Lou Schuler.

Simply keep three things in mind and you can’t go wrong:

  1. Your top priority will always be impeccable form.
  2. You will keep progressing as long as you continue to add weight.
  3. Allowing your muscles to recover is just as important as your workouts.

Enjoy the benefits of feminine fitness strength training, and I’ll see you in the weight room.

About the Author

Suzanne Digre is a NASM-certified personal trainer who coaches clients online and in-person. With over 15 years of lifting experience, Suzanne writes at workoutnirvana.com, where she shares her passion for strength training and clean eating.

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How to Get Strong – The Science of Strength

In an earlier post, The Components of Physical Fitness, I divided physical fitness into it’s component parts and provided a brief introduction of each part.

In today’s post, I am going to focus on muscular strength…or as Google likes to say…how to get strong, how to get stronger, how to get brutally strong, how to get freaky strong, etc, etc, etc.

And if you plan on getting freaky strong, you’re going to need to understand the whys and hows behind getting strong. And those whys and hows are all based in science.

So….we’re going to look at some of that science to help you figure out how to maximize your own personal levels of “strong”.

Intro to Muscular Strength

How strong you are (and how strong you could be) depends on the performance of your body’s skeletal muscles.

Your body’s muscles are highly adaptable. They will react to the stresses that you place upon them.

  • Sit on the couch and they will atrophy.
  • Try and run fast and they adapt to produce faster contractions.
  • Lift heavy objects and they will increase their ability to produce maximum strength.

Muscular Strength can and has been categorized in a variety of different ways. In this article, I am choosing to divide Muscular Strength into four categories, based primarily on Newton’s Second Law.

vec F = m vec a (force is equal to the product of mass and acceleration.) Mass relates to how much weight/mass a muscle or muscle group can move. Acceleration relates to how fast that weight/mass is moved.

By using and manipulating force, mass and acceleration, we can force our muscles to adapt and become more efficient at generating…

4 Types of Muscular Strength

  • Maximum Muscular Strength
  • Maximum Muscular Power
  • Maximum Muscular Speed
  • Maximum Muscular Endurance

NOTE – Each of these categories has different characteristics with regard to mass and acceleration

Navigation

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Fitness for Beginners – How to Squat

My buddy Andi is back with another exercise video.

Last week it was Push-Ups…this week, we are focusing on developing leg strength with the bodywight squat. More specifically, today’s video showcases a progression of bodyweight squat variations..from the ultra-beginner high-chair two-leg bodyweight squat..all the way to single-leg pistol squats…ouch.

squat---shallow

Note – readers of Health Habits come in all different shapes, sizes and experience levels. Some of you will need to start with the most easiest squat variations performed in the video. Others will be ready to tackle the pistol squats. Most will be somewhere in the middle. Either way, I hope this video helps encourage you to push yourself toward greater levels of fitness.

Teaching my clients how to properly/safely squat is very, very important. Squatting is a very natural movement – babies squat before they walk. However, over time, most adults develop muscle imbalances and bad habits which made proper squatting technique next to impossible.

So…in addition to today’s video, I am going to give you two VERY important squatting tips.

1. Squatting is not about bending your knees and hips…it’s about dropping the weight of your torso straight down toward the ground. Focus on dropping your belly down between your legs.

2. Squatting involves movement in your hips, knees and ankles. Unfortunately, due to those bad habits and muscle imbalances mentioned above, most people put too much stain on their knees during the movement.

To fix that, I make sure that they shift their center of gravity backwards towards their hips…saving their knees undue load/stress. I do this by employing two “tricks”

The first is to have them squat facing a wall with their toes no more than 6 inches from the wall…forcing them to stick their butts backward.

The second trick involves some quasi-gross visualization….Imagine you got up in the middle of the night and needed to go to the bathroom…unfortunately the power was out and it was pitch black. You stagger into the bathroom, lift the seat, turn around and reach with your derrière…aiming in the dark to sit down safely without ending up on the floor.

The point of this exercise is to make them really stick their butt backwards when they squat..once again saving the knees.[/box]

face-the-wall-squat

Next post – Complete Core Conditioning

Reference

Fitness for Beginners – How To Do Push-Ups

Every January, gyms/health clubs/fitness centers around the world fill up with fitness virgins…eager to get in shape, drop a few pounds and transform their fat into fit.

Unfortunately, most of those newbies have no idea how to properly and safely perform resistance exercises…and are left to flail and flounder until they eventually quit out of frustration, embarrasment and/or injury.

woman-push-up

So…as a public service, we are starting this series of how-to videos for beginners. In this first video, my buddy Andi shows us a number of different Push-Up versions…starting with Wall Push-Ups (designed for the absolute beginner) and progressing all the way to some truly nasty Superman Clap Push-Ups.

All of these different push-up variations have one thing in common…good form Tight core muscles…not letting your back/belly droop. Tight leg muscles..helping you transmit energy effectively Shoulder blades retracted and held tight…protecting the shoulder joint from potential energy Proper breathing pattern – exhaling a thin stream of air as you push-up and inhaling a thin stream of air as you lower down to the floor[/box]

Next post….Bodyweight Squat variations

Reference

The Human Body is an Amazing Machine

One of the most important things I can do as a personal trainer is convince my new clients that their body is capable of making amazing improvements if they are willing to put in the work.

To prove that point to one of my most incredibly stubborn male clients, I decided to challenge him to a little contest.

The deal was that between Novemeber and March, we would both follow the same training, nutrition and supplement programs.

  • If he stuck to the program (90% adherence) and didn’t see a big change, I would refund everything he paid me for personal training.
  • If he stuck to the program and did see a big change, he had to give me 5 pairs of his Toronto Blue Jays season tickets.
  • If he didn’t stick to the program, I got the tickets and a weekend with his lady…a 1963 Corvette Stingray.
  • And if I didn’t stick to the program…I had to refund his money regardless of how he did.

KNUCKLE-SANDWICH

Fast forward to March 2013

  • We both stuck with the program
  • My client gained 18 pounds (12 muscle/6 fat)
  • My client increased every test lift (10 lifts) by a minimum of 34%
  • My client increased his 3 target lifts as follows:
  1. Squat went from 185 lbs x 5 reps to 365 x 5 reps
  2. Bench Press went from 205 lbs x 1 to 295 lbs x 1 rep
  3. Hanging Deadlift (from knees) from 225 lbs x 1 rep to 505 lbs x 1 rep

Not bad for a 48 year old guy with bad knees and a creaky lower back.

What about Me???

  • I gained 49 pounds (23 muscle/26 fat) 
  • My test lifts increased by a minimum of 35%
  • My 3 target lifts went back to levels I haven’t achieved in a decade:
  1. Squat went from 475 lbs x 5 reps to 675 lbs x 5 reps
  2. Bench Press went from 405 lbs x 1 rep to 545 lbs x 1 rep
  3. Hanging Deadlift went from 525 lbs x 5 reps to 765 lbs x 5 reps

What Now?

  • My client is going to start following a strict Paleo diet with the goal of dropping 15 lbs of body-fat before summer. We are also switching his training from strength to fitness/agility/speed and overall health.
  • I have started back on a hybrid Paleo diet designed to melt off all that body-fat I gained eating potatoes and rice. Like my client, I am going to switch my focus from strength to fitness/agility/speed and overall health. Along with the fat gain, my 43 year-old joints aren’t too happy about the strength/size phase. My knees and shoulders hurt…even with all of the rehab & mobility work I did over the winter.

Conclusion

The Human Body is an Amazing Machine.

Reebok Nano 2 Shoe Review

The Reebok Nano 2 isn’t your run of the mill athletic shoe. It’s equal parts…

  • Barefoot/Minimalist shoe
  • Running shoe
  • Gym workout shoe

And unlike most of the hybrid shoes I have beta-tested in the past few years, it does a great job at blending the best parts of these three very different styles of athletic shoe.

reebok-nano-2.0

  • It provides better stability than a pure barefoot shoe. This is important if you’re participating in activities that require rapid changes of direction – soccer, tennis, sprinting, fitness classes, football, Zumba dance fitness, ultimate frisbee, interval training workouts, etc.

Your foot stays in place when you’re moving from side to side or exploding from a dead-start into a full-out sprint.

  • Unlike most running shoes that have a built-up heel and force you into an unhealthy heel-toe running form, the almost completely flat profile of the Nano 2.0 allows you to adopt a natural “barefoot”  running style.

barefoot-running

  • But before you go thinking that the Nano is a true minimalist/barefoot shoe, we need to look at the sole of the shoe. Because, unlike most barefoot shoes, the Nano has a thicker sole & midsole designed to…
  1. Provide more cushioning for runners, and
  2. Provide a flat, stable base for weightlifting

As this shoe was designer for Crossfitters who do all manner of exercise, this was the most necessary design feature of the shoe. And in my humble opinion, Reebok has done a fine job of engineering.

I have been running in barefoot/minimalist shoes for years, and while I did notice the loss of “ground-feel” caused by the thickness of the sole/midsole, I had no problems going for a 30 minute jog prior to hitting the gym for a resistance training workout.

[box type=”note”]This rigid sole would be a drawback for trail runners who want to “feel” the ground conditions and run “naturally”. Due to this, I wouldn’t recommend the Nano 2.0 for trail running or for runners who require high levels of proprioception.[/box]

  • While the Nano doesn’t provide optimal proprioceptive feedback, it does provide one of the most important features of a barefoot shoe – natural foot movement

The wide toe box and “natural” foot shape allows your foot to move as it was designed to move. Unlike most fitness shoes with a narrow toe box and all manner of corrective technology, the Nano 2.0 doesn’t force your foot into any un-natural positions. And this is a very very good thing.

reebok-nano-2.0-top-view

 All in all, I am a big fan of this shoe. I have used them over the past month for a wide variety of workouts and I wasn’t disappointed by them once.

And I don’t think you will be either.

This Killer Leg Workout Will Have You Cryin’ For Yo’ Mama

I have a nasty little leg workout for you today. Simple but nasty.

  • Load a bar with half your body-weight (incl the bar weight)
  • Put it on your back
  • Squat all the way down – ass to ankles
  • Repeat for 100 reps
  • Complete all 100 reps as quickly as possible – 10 minute Maximum

killer leg workout

If you can complete this in under 5 minutes, you need to take it up a notch by not racking the bar at any time during the 100 reps of excruciating pain & nausea. You can rest whenever you want, but you have to keep standing with the bar on your back

If you’re up for the challenge, try to beat my time….

  • 135 lbs (I am weighing 248 right now, but it was easier to just load the bar with a 45 lb plate on either side)
  • 7 min 22 seconds
  • and I never rested the bar
have fun

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Get Ripped, Get Huge ASAP

The Holy Grail of Bodybuilding

  1. Get ripped…
  2. while packing on slabs of muscle…
  3. in a short time frame….
  4. without drugs.

And here’s how we’re going to do it.

andreas-munzer-ripped

NUTRITION

Calories

Between 10 – 12 calories per pound of Lean Body Mass (LBM)

  • LBM = your total weight – body-fat weight

Example

  • a 220 lb man with 20% BF has an LBM of 176 lbs
  • An LBM of 176 = a range of 1760 to 2112 calories per day

Peri-Workout Nutrition

Drink a serving of Gaspari Nutrition’s Size On Max Performance during the course of your workout.

  • Creatine + whey protein hydrosylate + leucine + carbohydrates + some other “stuff” = my favorite workout drink.  (180 calories)

Post-Workout Nutrition

  • Whey Isolate protein shake – water, 2 scoops of  protein, shake, chug – (200 – 260 calories of muscle re-building-ness)

[box type=”note”]If you’re finding that you’re not gaining or shudder…losing some muscle mass on this plan, I want you to add extra carbs to this shake – fruit, sweeteners, whatever Take the calories away from the carbs you eat during the rest of the day[/box]

Rest of the Day Nutrition

In addition to the workout supplements, I recommend 2 tbsps of fish oil to be taken each day. Personally, I take 1 tbsp in the morning and the second spoonful before I go to bed.

Next, we need to subtract the supplement calories from the daily allowance…

  • Fish Oil (240 cal)
  • Size On (180 cal)
  • Whey Protein shake (200 – 260 cal)
  • Total – 620-680 calories

This leaves our test subject with between 1080 and 1492 calories for the rest of the day

Here’s how he’s going to get those calories

  • 1/2 will come from carb-free Protein sources – eggs, beef, chicken, fish, etc…
  • 1/2 will come from the approved vegetable list

If you need to use fat to prepare your meals, subtract those calories from your protein sources

Approved Vegetable List

  • Leafy, green, salad-type vegetables – Amaranth, Arugula, Beet greens, Bok choy, Broccoli Rabe, Borage greens, Brussels sprout, Cabbage, Catsear, Celery, Celtuce, Ceylon spinach, Chaya, Chickweed, Chicory, Chinese Mallow, Chrysanthemum leaves, Collard greens, Corn salad, Cress, Dandelion, Endive, Fat hen, Fiddlehead, Fluted pumpkin, Garden Rocket, Kale, Komatsuna, Kuka, Lagos bologi, Lamb’s lettuce, Land cress, Lettuce, Lizard’s tail, Melokhia, Miner’s Lettuce, Mizuna greens, Mustard, Napa cabbage, New Zealand Spinach, Orache, Pak choy, Paracress, Poke, Radicchio, Sea beet, Sea kale, Sierra Leone bologi, Soko, Sorrel, Spinach, Summer purslane, Swiss chard, Tatsoi, Turnip greens, Watercress, Water spinach, Winter purslane and Yarrow
  • Flowers and flower buds – Artichoke, Broccoli, Caper, Cauliflower, Courgette flowers and Squash blossoms
  • Bulb and stem vegetables – Asparagus, Cardoon, Celeriac, Celery, Elephant Garlic, Florence fennel, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Leek, Kurrat, Lotus root, Nopal, Onion, Pearl onion, Prussian asparagus, Spring Onion/Scallion, Shallot, Welsh onion and Wild leek
  • Root and tuberous vegetables – Bamboo shoot, Beetroot, Burdock, Broadleaf arrowhead, Camas, Canna, Carrot, Cassava, Chinese artichoke, Daikon, Elephant Foot yam, Ensete, Ginger, Hamburg parsley, Horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, Jícama, Mashua, Parsnip, Pignut, Prairie turnip, Radish, Rutabaga, Salsify, Scorzonera, Skirret, Swede, Sweet Potato or Kumara, Taro, Ti, Tigernut, Turnip, Ulluco, Water chestnut, Yacón and Yam
  • Sea vegetables – Aonori, Carola, Dabberlocks or badderlocks, Dulse or dillisk, Hijiki, Kombu, Laver, Mozuku, Nori, Ogonori, Sea grape, Sea kale, Sea lettuce and Wakame
  • Other Vegetables/ Fruits – Bell pepper, Bitter melon/Bitter gourd, Chayote, Courgette, Cucumber, Ivy Gourd, Eggplant/Aubergine/Brinjal, Luffa, Pumpkin, Squash, Sweet pepper (Capsicum), Tinda, Tomatillo, Tomato and Winter melon
Approved Supplementary Fats
  • Avocado oil, bacon fat, butter, coconut oil, ghee, lard, tallow, nut butters, walnut oil, macadamia oil, and olive oil (over salads & veg only – don’t cook with olive oil)

TRAINING

This series of workouts will pile on muscle mass faster than a big tub of steroids.

.Reference

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3 completely badass fitness products that you’re GONNA buy…or else.

Alright….maybe badass isn’t the appropriate description for these products.

None of them are going to smack you around for being a pair of idiot skinheads starting trouble on a public bus.

But they will help you :

  • make your feet work better
  • reduce associated pain
  • pack on muscle faster than cheap internet steroids

Correct Toes

Dr. Ray McClanahan (podiatric physician) believes that the best way to treat most foot problems is by allowing the foot to function exactly as nature intended. Unfortunately, the shoes you are wearing right probably don’t do that. This realization is why so many people are giving barefoot / minimalist shoes a try. Unfortunately, if you have been wearing “normal” shoes for most of your life, switching to a barefoot shoe isn’t going to fix your feet.

This is where the Correct Toes spacer can help. They are designed to spread your toes into their natural and correct position…improving “proprioception, which then allows the brain to better promote balance and optimal muscle function”.

Paired with a quality pair of barefoot / minimalist shoes, Correct Toes returns your foot to its natural state, treating most foot problems, and by extension, many musculoskeletal problems.

Sidewalk Surfers from Sanuk

There is no point in buying the Correct Toes spacer and fixing your gnarly old feet if you’re going to keep shoving them into a pair of “normal” shoes and scrunching them together like some masochistic Chinese foot binding experiment. What you need to do is buy a pair (or two) of barefoot / minimalist shoes that allow your feet to move as they were originally intended.

And that’s one of the reasons why I have been wearing a pair of Sanuk Chibas all summer long.

Some of the other reasons are…

  1. they are comfortable as heck,
  2. can be worn on the beach AND with casual clothes,
  3. they look pretty darn good
  4. and they come with an antimicrobial additive…meaning they won’t stink after hours and hours of barefoot wear.

SizeOn

skinny exercise weightlifterA few months back, I started working with two different 40+ year old clients who wanted to add some muscle to their “slender” physiques. In addition to a complete restructuring of their diets and an introduction to a truly nasty training program, I put them both on Gaspari Nutrition’s SizeOn product.

Instead of taking a bunch of different products, I wanted one supplement that would service their workout endurance demands as well as help them pack some meat on their hardgainer bodies. And SizeOn turned out to work perfectly.

Both clients had already started gaining muscle with SizeOn, but when we added it into the mix, things really took off.

  • Both gained significant muscle mass
  • Subject #1 gained 14 lbs of muscles while losing 7 lbs of fat
  • Subject #2 gained 11 lbs of muscle while losing 22 lbs of fat.

Pretty significant transformations…especially when you consider that both of these guys were both ectomorphs and lifelong hard-gainers.

I can’t say enough about this product – Great Stuff!!! – Here are the ingredients if you want to check it out.

Science of the Squat – Depth & Load – and How They Impact Your Squatting Muscles

The squat is often called the King of Exercises.

And for good reason – because nothing develops lower body muscle mass, strength & power faster & better than barbell squats.

And if you want to be known as the King of the King of Exercises, you’re going to need to take a look at this new research published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to determine the relative muscular effort (RME) while performing the squat exercise. Specifically, the researchers were looking at the effects of barbell load and squat depth on hip extensor, knee extensor and ankle plantar-flexor RME.

Study Design

Ten strength-trained women performed squats (50-90% of 1 RM) in a motion analysis laboratory to determine hip extensor, knee extensor and ankle plantar-flexor net joint moment (NJM). Maximum isometric strength in relation to joint angle for these muscle groups was also determined. RME was determined as the ratio of NJM to maximum voluntary torque matched for joint angle.

Results

Both barbell load and squat depth had significant interaction effects on hip extensor, knee extensor and ankle plantar-flexor RME (relative muscular effort).

  • Knee extensor RME increased with greater squat depth but not barbell load
  • Ankle plantar-flexor RME increased with barbell load but not greater squat depth
  • Hip extensor RME increased with both greater squat depth and barbell load

Conclusions

This data suggest:

  1. Training for the knee extensors can be performed with low relative intensities but require a deep squat depth.
  2. Heavier barbell loads are required to train the hip extensors and ankle plantar-flexors.

What does this mean to you???

It depends on your training goals?

  • Are you a bodybuilder trying to develop your quad sweep ala Tom Platz?

Then you need to squat deep – Ass to the Grass as they say

  • Or maybe you’re a sprinter, or a football player, or a powerlifter, or a strongman looking to develop a uber-power posterior chain to dominate your sport?

Then you need to focus more on load than depth of squat

  • Or maybe you’re an all-around / hybrid kind of athlete like myself?

Either way, with this info, you’ll be able to design better/smarter/more effective squat programs…all thanks to science 🙂

Reference

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Ultimate Hardgainer Workout – Shoulders, Back, Neck and Traps

DAY 4 – Shoulders / Vertical Back / Neck & Traps

Warm-Up

Each workout begins with a 10-15 minute warm-up all of your joints and muscles to get them ready for the workout. Feel free to use the warm-up I lay out in my Best Body workouts. The idea is to lube up your joints and warm up the muscles.

The Workout

7 supersets in a row – 2 of them single limb sets – 5 of them with 2 exercises apiece

Superset #1 

  1. Wide Grip Pulldowns / Assisted Chins supersetted with
  2. Overhead Shrugs (barbell or dumbbells)
  • 2 Exercises 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, wipe up your sweat and move onto Superset #2

Superset #2

  1. Narrow Grip Pulldowns (or assisted Narrow Grip Pull-Ups)
  2. DB Waiter Walks
  • 2 Exercises – 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set of Pulldowns  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • 30 STEPS per set for Waiter Walks – be aware of your environment as you walk – no tripping
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, move onto Superset #3

Superset #3

  1. Face Pulls on Pulldown Machine (or bands)
  2. BB or DB Front Raises (or bands)
  • 2 Exercises 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes move onto Superset #4

Superset #4

  1. Single Arm Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise – dumbbell, kettlebell, band
  • 1 Exercise – 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per arm, alternating left, right, left, right… using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, stagger on over to Superset #5

Superset #5

  1. 4-Way Neck Flexion – (replace machine resistance with hand reistance ONLY)
  2. Straight Arm Pulldowns – (cable or band) – also called Shrug Pulldowns or Scapula Pulldowns
  • 2 Exercises – 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, have faith that you’re almost finished and move onto Superset #6

Superset #6

  1. Straight Arm Pushdown – (cable or band) – often incorrectly called a S.A. Pulldown
  2. DB Shoulder Press – (DB, KB or band)
  • 2 Exercises –  5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, rejoice in the knowledge that you have only 5 more minutes to go

Superset #7

  1. Single Arm Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise – dumbbell, kettlebell, band
  • 1 Exercise – 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per arm, alternating left, right, left, right…using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set

That’s it for today, and if you don’t want to be brutally sore for the next 3 days, take a look at these post-workout pain-reducing techniques.

The Ultimate Hardgainer Workout – Arms and Core

DAY 3 – Arms / Core

Warm-Up

Each workout begins with a 10-15 minute warm-up all of your joints and muscles to get them ready for the workout. Feel free to use the warm-up I lay out in my Best Body workouts. The idea is to lube up your joints and warm up the muscles.

The Workout

Arms

3 supersets in a row…1,2,3

Superset #1 

  1. 2 Arm Palms-Up Bicep Curl – (Barbell, Dumbbell, Cable or Bands)
  2. Overhead Tricep Extension – (Barbell, Dumbbell, Cable or Bands)
  • 2 Exercises 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, get your ass off the floor and move onto Superset #3

Superset #2

  1. 2 Arm Hammer Curl – (Barbell, Dumbbell, Cable or Bands)
  2. Tricep Pushdowns (cable or bands)
  • 2 Exercises 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, get your ass off the floor and move onto Superset #3

Superset #3

  1. Undergrip Bodyweight Rows
  2. Bodyweight Skullcrushers
  • 2 Exercises 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, get your ass off the floor and move onto Superset #3

Core

3 more supersets.

Superset #1 
  1. Dead Bugs
  2. Reverse Hyperextension
  • 2 Exercises – 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – bodyweight only
  • Keep proper form on every rep
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps with good form, drop the number of reps
  • After 5 minutes, get your ass off the floor and move onto Superset #3

Superset #2

  1. Woodchops – (Cable or Bands) – rotate through the hips – DON’T twist the spine
  2. DB Waiter Walks
  • 2 Exercises 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per side per set for Woodchops  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • 30 sets per set for Waiter Walks – be aware of your environment as you walk – no tripping
  • Keep proper form – I would rather see you use less weight or perform fewer reps
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, get your ass off the floor and move onto Superset #3

Superset #3

  1. McGill Crunch
  2. Stir The Pot – McGill – FF to 1:03 on the video
  • 2 Exercises 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per set of McGill crunches
  • 5 circles in each direction for Stir The Pots
  • Keep proper form
  • Minimize rest between sets
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, slightly increase your rest period
  • After 5 minutes, collapse on the floor and do 10-15 minutes of stretching
That’s it for today, and if you don’t want brutally sore arms for the next 3 days, take a look at these post-workout pain-reducing techniques.

Ultimate Hardgainer Workout – Chest and Back

DAY 2– Chest / Horizontal Back / Rear Delt

Warm-Up

Each workout begins with a 10-15 minute warm-up all of your joints and muscles to get them ready for the workout. Feel free to use the warm-up I lay out in my Best Body workouts. The idea is to lube up your joints and warm up the muscles.

The Workout

Chest / Rear Delts

Perform the following 3 Chest / Rear Delt Supersets in series – 1,2,3

DB Fly / DB Press / DB Rear Delt Fly – 3 different positions (high incline/med incline/flat) – 5 minutes each position

  • 3 exercises back to back for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Start with the High Incline version
  • No rest between exercises
  • After you’ve completed the 5 min of High Inclines, rest for a minute and adjust the bench to a mid-incline position
  • After 5 minutes of mid-inclines, adjust the bench to a flat position
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • Including rest periods, this should take 20 minutes

Horizontal Back

This time, you have 2 single arm exercises, followed by a 2 exercise superset

Standing 1 Arm Cable Row (you can substitute bands)

  • 1 exercise – 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • Set the cable stack/band in a low position
  • 5 reps per set – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Do 5 reps with the left hand, then do 5 reps with the right hand
  • After this set, move the position of the cable UP one notch
  • 5 reps left hand, 5 reps right hand
  • No rest between sets
  • Here’s what the mid position will look like
  • Continue moving the cable up one notch until you reach the high position or the 15 minutes are complete
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set

1 Arm Bodyweight Row (Smith Machine, suspension trainer, cable stack set to heaviest weight)

  • 1 exercise – 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per set – bodyweight only
  • Do 5 reps with the left hand, then do 5 reps with the right hand
  • As you tire, change the angle of the exercise…horizontal is harder, vertical is easier
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion

Cable Straight-Arm Push-down / Push-Ups (you can substitute a band for the cable)

  • 2 exercises – 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • 5 reps per exercise per set  – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Do 5 reps push-downs, then do 5 reps with of push-ups
  • As you tire, I want you to sacrifice the number of reps instead of sacrificing form
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on the pushdowns, lower the weight for the next set
  • If you can’t get 5 reps on push-ups give me 4..or 3..but keep the form tight
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion

That’s it for today, and if you don’t want a brutally sore upper body for the next 3 days, take a look at these post-workout pain-reducing techniques.

  • Next Hardgainer Workout is Arms & Core training

Ultimate Hardgainer Workout – Legs

Yesterday I outlined The HealthHabits HardGainer Program of Death.

Today, it’s the details for…

DAY 1 – Quads / Hip flexors / Hams / Glutes

Warm-Up

Each workout begins with a 10-15 minute warm-up all of your joints and muscles to get them ready for the workout. Feel free to use the warm-up I lay out in my Best Body workouts. The idea is to lube up your joints and warm up the muscles.

The Workout

Quads / Hip Flexors

Perform the following 4 Quad / Hip Flexor exercises in series – 1,2,3,4

Leg Press 

  • Alternating sets of single-leg leg presses
  • 5 reps per set – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Go back and forth from left to right for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, strip your weights and move onto….

Bulgarian Split Squat

  • Bodyweight only
  • 5 reps per set
  • Go back and forth from left to right for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • Try to get 5 reps per set – odds are you will be doing singles by the end of the 5 min
  • After 5 minutes, stagger over to the Straight Leg Raise bench

Single Leg – Leg Raises

  • Bodyweight only
  • 5 reps per set
  • Go back and forth from left to right for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • Try to get 5 reps per set – odds are you will be doing singles by the end of the 5 min
  • Hard – straight leg – Easier – bent leg –  Easiset – Bench Knee-Ups
  • After 5 minutes, pick yourself up and move over to
  • NOTE – videos show 2 leg version – sorry for the confusion

Leg Extensions

  • Alternating sets of single-leg leg extensions
  • 5 reps per set – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Go back and forth from left to right for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, strip your weights and move onto….

Hams / Glutes

Now that we’ve trashed the front of your legs, it’s time to move to the backside. Same as last time…1,2,3,4.

Single Leg Hip Thrust

  • Alternating sets of single-leg hip thrusts
  • 5 reps per set – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Go back and forth from left to right for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, strip your weights and move onto….

Single Leg Leg Curl

  • Alternating sets of single-leg hip thrusts
  • 5 reps per set – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Go back and forth from left to right for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you can’t complete 5 reps on a set, lower the weight for the next set
  • After 5 minutes, it’s time for…

Single Leg Straight Leg Deadlift

  • Alternating sets of single-leg hip thrusts
  • 5 reps per set – using a weight you could perform 10-15 reps with
  • Go back and forth from left to right for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • Try to get 5 reps per set – odds are you will be doing singles by the end of the 5 min
  • After 5 minutes, pick yourself up and move over to…

Single Leg Stability Ball Leg Curl 

  • Alternating sets of single-leg stability ball leg curls
  • Bodyweight only
  • 10 reps per set per leg
  • Go back and forth from left to right for 5 MINUTES – Set your timer
  • No rest between sets
  • No partial reps – full range of motion
  • If you’re too wobbly to hold second leg in the air, bend your knee and put your foot flat on the floor

That’s it for today, and if you don’t want brutally sore legs for the next 3 days, take a look at these post-workout pain-reducing techniques.

The next post will outline the details of  Day 2 – Chest & Back

The Ultimate Hardgainer Workout

Every week, I get a couple of readers ask me about training programs for hardgainers. And while, I do have a great size-building workout posted already….it isn’t a true hardgainer program.   So here are the instructions for my ultimate hardgainer workout.

But this one is.

The HealthHabits HardGainer Workout of Death

hardgainer---before-and-aft

THE RULES

  1. Focus on individual muscles or small groups & not movements – think pecs instead of bench press
  2. Keep the number of muscles worked per workout to a minimum – no full-body workouts
  3. Maximize the volume of work applied to those muscles
  4. Limit rest periods during the workout
  5. Make good use of post-workout recovery techniques to help aid recovery and avoid crippling DOMS
  6. In between these workouts, don’t do anything more challenging than a brisk walk.

All of these rules work together to do one thing:

To force the targetted muscles to do the most amount of direct work that is humanly possible….and then help you recover from it. For whatever reason, hardgainers need to be pushed really, really, really hard to force their bodies to adapt and create new, bigger muscles

Okay, that’s the theory….here’s what you’re actually going to do.

The Week at a Glance

  • For true hardgainers, I have set this up as a 4 day split routine with a mandatory 5th Rest Day.
  • After the rest day, you start over with Day 1.
  • This means 6 workouts per week.

Popeye workout

  1. Quads / Hip flexors / Hams / Glutes
  2. Chest / Horizontal Back / Rear Delts
  3. Biceps / Triceps / Core
  4. Shoulders (Front/Side) / Vertical Back / Neck & Traps
  5. Rest
  6. Repeat
Note: This 4 day program can be modified to fit your goals/lifestyle/training experience level
  • Instead of 4 on-1 off, you could do it over 7 days with M/W/F/Sun being your training days
  • Or over 8 days with an off day in between each training day
  • Or you include include one or more of these workouts into an existing program to bring up lagging bodyparts

The 4 on-1 off works best, but it’s pretty intense

A Day at a Glance

  • Each workout begins with a 10-15 minute warm-up all of your joints and muscles to get them ready for the workout. Feel free to use the warm-up I lay out in my Best Body workouts. The idea is to lube up your joints and warm up the muscles.
  • With this workout, instead of counting reps, set & weight lifted, each muscle group will be trained for a set time, with the goal being to do the most “work” during that set period of time.
  • Each muscle group will be hit with 2 – 4 exercises during that set time period.
  • Each muscle group will usually be hit by both compound (bench press) and isolation exercises (DB chest fly).
  • I have organized the exercises in a specific order to maximize your results.
  • We will be using 3 different set-extension techniques to help you extend the length of the set and maximize the volume of work inflicted on your muscles.

hulk muscle

  1. Alternating Single Limb Sets – left, right, left, right – kinda self-explanatory
  2. Drop Setslowering the weight used on successive sets as you begin to fatigue
  3. Rest Pausewhen you think you can’t complete that final rep, pause…take 2-3 big breaths…and then lift the weight

Okay, there’s the overview.  Here come the workouts…

Quick Navigation

Next PageDay 1 – Quads / Hip flexors / Hams / Glutes

Like this article???

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As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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Will Stem Cells Replace Steroids?

Researchers from the University of Illinois have made a very interesting discovery regarding exercise and adult stem cells.

They found that after they put their little lab mice through a little lab mouse workout, there was a dramatic increase in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in their little lab mouse muscles.

This is important for a number of reasons.

  • It establishes a link between exercise and the health of your muscle (no big surprise there)
  • However, it may mean future stem cell treatments for age or disease related muscle loss as well as rehabilitation for injured muscles
  • It also means that once the research progresses a little further, you can bet that bodybuilders will find a way to incorporate MSC treatments into their regime of steroids, growth hormone, diuretics and insulin

STEROIDS-STEM-CELLS-MARK-MC

 

  • And after the bodybuilding community has found a way to MacGyver MSCs into their bodies without killing themselves, this therapy will eventually filter down to pro athletes, Olympians, amateur athletes, college students, the dudes at your gym and eventually every 50+ man going through a mid-life crisis.

Just think…in 20 years, we could have senior citizens walking around looking like the 1970s version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

arnold-young-old-fit-fat

 

All thanks to stem cells..

Reference

 

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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Homobrassinolide….aka Steroids that taste good on hot dogs

It’s probably a false alarm, but researchers from NC State have found that the plant steroid homobrassinolide has “anabolic steroid-like” effects with minimal side effects.

Testing this plant steroid on lab rats, the researchers documented:

  • an increase in appetite
  • an increase in lean muscle mass
  • an increase in the size & number of muscle fibers
  • and an increase in physical performance
  • with minimal or no androgenic side-effects

Woo Hoo!!!!

Mustard flavored steroids with no side effects!!!!

So, what the heck is homobrassinolide?

  • Homobrassinolide is a brassinosteroid found in the mustard plant.
  • Brassinosteroids are plant-derived polyhydroxylated derivatives of 5a-cholestane, structurally similar to cholesterol-derived animal steroid hormones and insect ecdysteroids, with no known function in mammals.
  • 28-Homobrassinolide (HB), the specific HB tested in this experiment, is a steroidal lactone with potent plant growth-promoting properties

The Science

In this particular study, 28-Homobrassinolide (HB) stimulated protein synthesis and inhibited protein degradation in L6 rat skeletal muscle cells (EC50 4 μM) mediated in part by PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.

Oral administration of HB (20 or 60 mg/kg/d for 24 d) to healthy rats fed normal diet (protein content 23.9%) increased food intake, body weight gain, lean body mass, and gastrocnemius muscle mass as compared with vehicle-treated controls.

Note – this dosing protocol equates to a dosage of between 1363 and 4090 mg per day for a 150 lb man.

The effect of HB administration increased slightly in animals fed a high-protein diet (protein content 39.4%).

Both oral (up to 60 mg/kg) and subcutaneous (up to 4 mg/kg) administration of HB showed low androgenic activity when tested in the Hershberger assay.

Moreover, HB showed no direct binding to the androgen receptor in vitro.

HB treatment was also associated with an improved physical fitness of untrained healthy rats, as evident from a 6.7% increase in lower extremity strength, measured by grip test.

In the gastrocnemius muscle of castrated animals, HB treatment significantly increased the number of type IIa and IIb fibers and the cross-sectional area of type I and type IIa fibers.

These findings suggest that oral application of HB triggers selective anabolic response with minimal or no androgenic side-effects and begin to elucidate the putative cellular targets for plant brassinosteroids in mammals.

Conclusion

Don’t get excited when a supplement company comes out with a new homobrassinolide supplement next month.

Even if homobrassinolide pans out as a treatment for muscle wasting and an awesome new supplement for 16 year old boys sick of getting sand kicked in their face….it’s going to be years and years before an effective product comes to market.

Ineffective over-hyped products will be on the market in 2-3 months.

Reference

The Coolest Way to Get Bigger Biceps

Brazilian researchers have discovered the absolute coolest way to build massive muscles.

In their study, 16 men were subjected to a laboratory workout consisting of 4 sets of bicep curls at 80% of their 1 RM. The men were asked to perform repetitions to voluntary fatigue and the number of reps were recorded.

In between sets, researchers applied wet bags of ice to the biceps of 8 of the men.

RESULTS?

The 8 men who received the inter-set cooling protocol were able to complete 21% more reps than the control group.

And if that wasn’t cool enough, blood tests indicated that those extra reps were achieved without inducing any additional muscle damage.

Conclusion

  • Hypertrophy is primarily a function of load, volume and recovery.
  • Bodybuilders spend thousands of dollars on drugs and supplements to achieve a 20% increase in training volume
  • The first guy who tries this at your gym is going to look like a freak

Reference

The Prejudice Against Muscled-Americans

America has a secret shame.

Even after decades of confronting her racial, social & religious prejudices, Miss Liberty still harbors an unspoken hatred towards her most defenseless of citizens.

The Muscled-American

And the first step towards ending this muscle-ism is to admit that it exists and expose it to the light of day.

And Jason Jones of the Daily Show has done just that.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Plight of Muscled Americans
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:396657
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
  • Comedy Network – Canada
  • vodpod
  • hulu

🙂

A Solution for Skinny – Fat Runner Syndrome

In spite of two major knee reconstructions, I love running long distances.

Even though I am built like an hypermuscled Clydesdale, I still love throwing on a pair of shoes, hitting the trails and watching the world slow down as I ground out the miles. Aside from the numerous health & fitness benefits, I love how I “feel” when I run.

So, I can understand why a LOT of runners:

  • Focus exclusively on running
  • Ignore the other components of physical fitness
  • Allow muscle mass to waste away
  • And end up with a Skinny-Fat body

But…it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is possible for long distance runners to hold onto a decent amount of muscle mass and avoid looking like a anorexic Hollywood actress

Here’s how.

Nutrition

  • The Paleo Diet should form the base of your eating plan. The high nutritient : calorie ratio makes it the best choice for repairing muscular damage brought on by your workouts.
  • Fish oil and a quality green food are two base supplements that I recommend to all clients – runners or not.
  • While Paleo is your best choice throughout the day, when it comes to your pre & peri-workout nutrition, Paleo carbs (except for fruit juice) aren’t going to work. Too much fiber, slow digestion, full belly. Not good when you’re running for miles & miles.
  • What you need is Sugar and BCAAs before, during & after each work – cardio & resistance.
  • Buying tip – My favorite BCCA supplements are Scivation XTEND and Biotest Surge Workout Fuel.
  • Supplement daily with Creatine. Improved ATP storage. Improved muscle cell hydration. Better looking muscles. What else do you want?
  • Buying tip – Choose a micronized creatine powder from a reputable brand

Training

Here’s where we stimulate muscle growth.

And we’re going to use either of these two programs to do that.

But, we’re going to make some modifications:

  1. You’re going to do a maximum of two weightlifting workouts per week. You pick which bodyparts you want to work on.
  2. You’re not going to do the leg workouts during your running season.

I have tried to have clients do both and it almost never works. Without a pile of performance enhancing drugs, your legs won’t recover from the combination of weight lifting & running.

Post Workout Recovery Techniques

  • Post-Workout Carb/Protein Shake
  • Hot/Cold Contrast Showers
  • Fish Oils
  • Meditation / Sleep
  • Epsom Salt Baths
  • Ice
  • Massage
  • TENS
  • Chiropractic / Acupuncture
  • Traumeel

Sleep

GET 8 HOURS SLEEP!!!!

And consider switching to a “barefoot” running technique

Ever since I switched to…

  1. running in barefoot / minimalist shoes and
  2. landing on my forefoot / midfoot instead of using the standard “heel-toe” running gait

…my knee pain & shin splints have disappeared.

Well, there you go.

A solution for Skinny-Fat Runner Syndrome.

Follow the plan and within no time, you’ll be a lean-muscular runner.

 

 

Health Habits Workout – Week 35/Day 3 – The Deadpool Workouts

.
Week 3 – Day 3…last workout of the week
.
Get ready to sweat…this one is a real Mother-Trucker.
.
WORKOUT WARM-UP
.
Same warm-up as always…with the goal being to warm up the muscles & lubricate the joints.
.
Feel free to substitute exercises as long as they get your joints all warmed up.
,
Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction
.
Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP
.
1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up
.
THE WORKOUT
.
As I mentioned in Part Six, each workout has 6 main lifts. Most main lifts will also employ a “wake up” exercise to get your fast twitch muscle fibers primed & ready I have arranged each of the six (6) lifts by movement or muscle group in a way to maximize performance & recovery.
.
Superset #1
.
This first superset focuses on the horizontal pulling movement
.
The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set Start with the…
.
Wake-up exercise – 1 Arm Isometric Row – Grab hold of an immovable object (ie. heavy barbell, cable stack, piece of equipment, flagpole, etc and try to pull it towards you using a rowing motion. Neither you nor the object should move. Hold for 2-5 seconds per rep for 3-8 reps Then, move as quick as possible to the….
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Main Lift – 1 Arm DB Row – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight
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Rest long enough to catch your breath & go again (wake-up left arm, main lift left arm, wake-up right arm , main lift right arm…)
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Superset #2

This second superset focuses on the posterior chain (lower body).

The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set..

Wake-up exercise – Broad Jumps –  3 reps

After a few broad jumps, move as quick as possible to the…..

Main Lift – Deadlift or Pullthroughs – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

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10 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully.

After 10 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

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Superset #3

This second superset focuses on Vertical Pulling movements.

The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set..

Wake-up exercise – Jumping Chins or Speed Band Pulldowns –  3-8 reps

Note – Perform the lift much faster than the guy in the video

Main Lift – Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups or Pulldowns – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

.

10 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully.

After 10 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

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Superset #4

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on your core – specifically on bracing the core

Their is NO wake-up exercise …today we have 2 Main Lifts

Main Lift #1 – Ab Wheel Roll-Outs – as many reps as possible with good form

Main Lift #2 – Standing Cable Plank/Bridge

  • Using a resistance band or cable station, face away from the band/cable station holding the band/handle overhead.
  • If arms overhead is too tough on your shoulders, rest your hands on your head.
  • With a “slight” forward lean, walk (gradually) forward until the resistance starts to pull you backwards or you start bending at the spine.
  • This exercise mimics a bridge/plank exercise, except instead of being in a horizontal position, you are vertical
  • To make it tougher, stand on one foot.

5 minutes – back & forth between the 2 exercises – focus on form

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto…

.

Superset #5

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on the core – side flexion and/or rotation

Their is NO wake-up exercise …today we have just 1 Main Lift

Main Lift #1 – Standing Cable Woodchops – Starting with a horizontal woodchop, perform 3-8 reps (using an 8 rep weight) from one side, then switch to the other side and repeat. After chopping to both sides, adjust the position of the cable – setting it higher – this creates a decline movement, provides a different stimulus & decreases the difficulty as fatigue begins to set in.

5 minutes – back & forth between the 2 exercises – focus on form

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

Superset #6

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on some of your “beach muscles”

The is NO wake-up exercise …just 2 exercises – back to back – for as many reps as you can get in 5 minutes

Lift #1 – Cable Tricep Pushdowns – palms down – elbows pinned to your sides – pick a weight that you can handle 10 reps and then perform between – 3-10 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (pushing down) as quickly as possible

Lift #2 – Reverse Grip/Palms Down Cable Bicep Curls – pick a weight that you can handle 10 reps and then perform between – 3-10 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible

5 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & go stretch out those muscles

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And feel free to hit me up with questions about this workout.

It’s not exactly the type of workout you’re going to find in your copy of Men’s/Women’s Health

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Building Muscles 101…aka Turning Skinny Guys into Ripped Guys with Muscles

Today’s article is for the ectomorphs (aka skinny guys) in the audience.

Specifically, it’s for those guys who want to look a little less like Michael Cera and a little more like 1970s bodybuilding legend Frank Zane….or maybe somewhere in between.

  • And I’m here to tell you that it can be done.
  • It isn’t going to be easy…but it can be done.

frank zane beardmichael cera

 

So, let’s get started…

First off, let’s discuss why you are so darn skinny in the first place.

Answer: Genetics + Lifestyle

Genetics

When it comes to your genetics, you’re kind of stuck.

There is nothing we can do about your genetic inheritance….unless you are willing to submit to some freaky stem cell operation being performed by former East German scientists.

So, let’s just drop the subject of genetics and move onto lifestyle.

Lifestyle

Ectomorphs never like hearing this, but when it comes to “bulking up”….success depends entirely on:

  1. stimulating muscle growth &
  2. eating like a pig.

That’s it……That’s the big secret.

So, why is it that every single skinny client that I have ever had has sworn that they:

  1. work out harder than anyone in their gym &
  2. eat like a pig.

…and they still can’t gain any muscle.

The Answer?

They lie to themselves.

Like most of my obese clients, they think that they are doing all of the right things.

But, after a week or two of tracking their workouts & their food intake, it becomes clear that they need to:

  1. stop doing so many cardio workouts, bicep curls, crunches &
  2. start eating like a pig

Let’s start with the workouts

Start with this mass building program.

Now, on to the food

First off…we determine how many calories you need to eat per day.

Start by determining your Lean Body Mass.

  • Hop onto a bathroom scale that measures body-fat percentage along with your weight.
  • Record both numbers
  • Multiply your weight by your BF % (150 lbs. x 9% = 13.5 lbs.)
  • 13.5 is your body-fat in lbs.
  • Subtract your body-fat weight from your total weight (150 – 13.5 = 136.5 lbs.)
  • 136.5 is your Lean Body Mass

Now, if your body-fat % is 10% or lower

  • Multiply your LBM by 17 to calculate your Maintenance Calories
  • Using our example, our test-skinny would need to eat (136.5 x 17) 2320.5 calories every day just to maintain their current level of buffness.

If your body-fat % is between 10% – 15%

  • Multiply your LBM by 16 to calculate your Maintenance Calories

If your body-fat % is between 15% – 18%

  • Multiply your LBM by 15 to calculate your Maintenance Calories

If your body-fat % is between 18% – 21%

  • Multiply your LBM by 14 to calculate your Maintenance Calories

If your body-fat % is above 21%

  • Multiply your LBM by 13 to calculate your Maintenance Calories

And now that you have determined your Maintenance Caloric Needs, if you want to gain muscle, you need to take it up a notch.

I recommend increasing  your daily caloric intake by between 500 – 1000 calories.

That would mean that our test-skinny would need to eat between 2820.5 – 3320.5 calories per day.

And that’s a lot of food.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Commit to a minimum of 2 weeks of non-stop big eating
  • Set an alarm to remind you to eat at least 5 meals per day
  • Write everything down – a food log is essential
  • Chug a minimum of 2 meal replacement shakes per day – Muscle Milk & Monster Milk are 2 of my favorites
  • Carry high calorie snacks with you everywhere – nuts, seeds, granola
  • Post workout – drink a shake & eat additional carbs (fruit for the Paleos & grains {bread, rice} for everybody else)
  • Eat a protein/carb meal right before bed – meal replacement shake, cottage cheese, meat & potatoes, ham sandwich, etc…
  • And always, always, always…make sure you hit your caloric target

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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Health Habits Workout -Week 34/Day 2 – The Deadpool Workouts

It’s Week 2 – Day 2 of this nasty Deadpool Workout

enjoy.

WORKOUT WARM-UP

Same warm-up as always…with the goal being to warm up the muscles & lubricate the joints. Feel free to substitute exercises as long as they get your joints all warmed up.

Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP

1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up

THE WORKOUT

As I mentioned in Part Six, each workout has 6 main lifts.

Most main lifts will also employ a “wake up” exercise to get your fast twitch muscle fibers primed & ready

I have arranged each of the six (6) lifts by movement or muscle group in a way to maximize performance & recovery.

Superset #1

The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set

Start with the…

Wake-up exercise – Bodyweight Jump Squats –  3-8 reps

Then, move as quick as possible to the….

Main Lift – Barbell Front Squats or Back Squats – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

Rest long enough to catch your breath & go again (wake-up, main lift, wake-up, main lift…)

After 10 minutes, rest a little bit & move onto….

Superset #2

The goal is to perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per set

Start with the…

Wake-up exercise – Isometric Shoulder Press –  3-8 reps

Press up into an immovable object….as hard as you can – hold each rep for 1 second – Repeat for 3-8 reps

Then, move as quick as possible to the….

Main Lift – Push Press – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (lifting up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

10 minutes – back & forth – resting as little as possible – moving quickly & powerfully

After 10 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

Superset #3

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on a horizontal pulling movement

The is NO wake-up exercise …today we have 2 Main Lifts

Main Lift #1 – BW Scapula Row or Standing Cable Scapula Row – 5 minutes – as many reps as possible

Main Lift #2 – Standing Cable Plank/Bridge

  • Using a resistance band or cable station, face away from the band/cable station holding the band/handle overhead.
  • If arms overhead is too tough on your shoulders, rest your hands on your head.
  • With a “slight” forward lean, walk (gradually) forward until the resistance starts to pull you backwards or you start bending at the spine.
  • This exercise mimics a bridge/plank exercise, except instead of being in a horizontal position, you are vertical
  • To make it tougher, stand on one foot.

5 minutes – back & forth between the 2 exercises – focus on form

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

Superset #4

This 10 minute superset focuses on a horizontal pushing movement  – 3-8 reps per set

Start with the…

Wake-up Exercise – Plyometric Pushups

Main Lift – Bench Press – any variation – 3-8 reps – perform the concentric part of the lift (pressing up) as quickly as possible – choose a weight you can perform 8 reps & stick with that weight

Rest long enough to catch your breath & go again (wake-up, main lift, wake-up, main lift…)

After 10 minutes, rest a little bit & move onto….

Superset #5

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on core flexion & stability

The are NO wake-up exercises …just 2 main lifts

Main Lift #1 – Hanging Leg Raise

Main Lift #2 – Standing Cable Plank/Bridge

  • Using a resistance band or cable station, face away from the band/cable station holding the band/handle overhead.
  • If arms overhead is too tough on your shoulders, rest your hands on your head.
  • With a “slight” forward lean, walk (gradually) forward until the resistance starts to pull you backwards or you start bending at the spine.
  • This exercise mimics a bridge/plank exercise, except instead of being in a horizontal position, you are vertical
  • To make it tougher, stand on one foot.

5 minutes – back & forth between the 2 exercises – focus on form

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

Superset #6

This time, we have a 5 minute superset focusing on core Extension & stability

The are NO wake-up exercises …just 1 main lift

Main Lift #1 – Toes to the Sky

After 5 minutes, catch your breath & move onto….

.

nothing – you’re done

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And feel free to hit me up with questions about this workout.

It’s not exactly the type of workout you’re going to find in your copy of Men’s/Women’s Health.

.

If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.

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The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout – Part Six

In Part Five of the Deadpool series, I told you about the four “beta-test” versions of the Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout:

Each version was designed for different types of clients with different types of bodies and different types of goals.

  • Version 1 is designed to make a lightly muscled, super quick, speed demon kind of body even faster & more explosive
  • Version 2 is designed to take a heavily muscled, bodybuilder kind of physique and push it through plateaus to a new level of muscle mass
  • Version 3 was created for my strongman buddies. This workout would add muscle mass, but the primary goal was to build freaky levels of strength & power…size was secondary
  • Version 4 is my favorite….

It’s 2 parts Version 3 mixed with 1 part Version 2 and sprinkled with 1 part Fat Loss.

Strength + Power + Speed + a healthy dose of EPOC makes this my favorite workout for creating a truly athletic body capable of just about anything.

So, that’s what we’re going to start with:

The Deadpool Ultimate Workout

Because this workout is a hybrid – we will be using:

All 3 of  the fast-twitch muscle fiber Wake-Up techniques

  1. Very Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions – ex. Partial range bench press or Isometrics
  2. Very Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions – ex. Plyometric movements (depth jumps)
  3. Very Fast Concentric & Eccentric Muscular Contractions – like a hummingbird flapping it’s wings

Note – we will focus mainly on techniques 2 and 3. The heavy concentrics will only be used  prior to the big compound powerlifting style lifts.

After waking up the fast-twitch fibers, we will stimulate them with a variety of explosive concentric lifts with the focus on muscle tension and speed of movement.

NoteWe will not be using slow  paced eccentric lifts in this program. I use that technique with trainees focusing primarily on maximum strength. For trainees  interested in power, speed & fat loss, this technique tends to do more harm than good.

But, for reference, I am listing all 3 of the main lifting techniques used during the work sets.

  1. Slightly Less Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions…through a full range of motion and performed as fast as possible. Think explosive bench presses.
  2. Slightly Less Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions….but we drastically increase the time under tension. Sloooowwww negatives on those bench presses.
  3. With no pause at the top or bottom of the lift. The muscle is always under tension.

Program Design

Because this program is designed to make you look great & perform better, I will be choosing mainly compound exercises that

  • use a lot of different muscles
  • work in numerous planes of movement
  • tax your energy systems quite heavily
  • and don’t fit well into split routines

For these reasons, the Deadpool Ultimate Workout will consist of three (3) total body workouts per week.

What you do during the rest of the week depends upon your goals / lifestyle.

  • For fat loss, I would recommend some additional HIIT workouts
  • For improved aerobic/cardio function, throw in some “cardio” training
  • For pain reduction / looser muscles /joint mobility problems, try out a Feldenkrais class or Pilates or a Circular Strength Training class or yoga or go for some chiropractic/acupuncture/soft tissue therapy. And don’t forget the foam roller.
  • For a little fun, try a dance class or join a boot camp or play tennis or golf or swimming or tantric sex….

But, keep in mind that your Deadpool workouts are pretty tough on the nervous system and that any additional workouts should be of a lower intensity to allow for nervous system recovery.

The Workouts

  • Each workout will include six (6) main lifts
  • Not including warm-up and cool-down, each workout will not last longer than 60 minutes.
  • Each work set will consist of between 3-8 reps.
  • Each work set will include a “wake up” exercise & a main lift
  • During the main lift, the concentric portion of each lift is performed as fast as possible – lots of power
  • Minimize your rest between sets

Okay, those are the basics.

There are a lot more options that we can use, but let’s start here and once you have mastered this workout, we will add in some more tricks.

Workout #1

As I mentioned above, each workout has 6 main lifts. Most main lifts will also employ a “wake up” exercise to get your fast twitch muscle fibers primed & ready

I have arranged each of the six (6) lifts by movement or muscle group in a way to maximize performance & recovery.

  1. Posterior Chain – Lower Body – Choose from deadlift, cable pullthrough, hip thrust, Olympic lifts, GH Raise, sled push/prowler/etc – Perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per sets – Start with a weight that you can move for 8 reps with good form – for now, leave that weight constant – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  2. Lower Body – Lateral / Rotational movement – Choose from Linebacker shuffle – band, cable and cable/band Woodchop – Max reps in 5 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight
  3. Upper body horiz pullrows, sternum chins – Max reps in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight – – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  4. Vertical pullstraight arm pulldowns / reverse shrugs, high pulls, olympic lifts, shrugs – Max reps in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  5. Core – bracing – planks – horiz/vert, roll outs, waiters walk, turkish get-up – Max reps in 5 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight
  6. Beach Muscles – bicep curls, lateral raises, forearm flexion – Max reps in 5 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight

Workout #2

  1. Anterior Chain – Lower Body – Choose from Squat, lunge, reverse sled drags – Perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per sets – Start with a weight that you can move for 8 reps with good form – for now, leave that weight constant – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  2. Vertical push – Choose from Overhead press, push press, thruster, handstand pushup – Perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per sets – Start with a weight that you can move for 8 reps with good form – for now, leave that weight constant – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  3. Horizontal pull – Choose from Face pull, horizontal cable shrug / straight arm row– Max reps in 5 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight
  4. Horizontal push – Choose from Chest presses, pushups, dive bombers, st arm press or reverse horizontal shrug – Perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per sets – Start with a weight that you can move for 8 reps with good form – for now, leave that weight constant – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  5. Core – flexion – Choose from Hanging leg raise, toes to the sky, roll outs – Max reps in 5 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight
  6. Core – extension – Choose from Back extension on pulldown machine, toes to the sky, roll outs – Max reps in 5 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight

Workout #3

  1. Upper body horiz pull – Choose from Bodyweight rows, face pull, horiz shrug or st arm row – Perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per sets – Start with a weight that you can move for 8 reps with good form – for now, leave that weight constant – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  2. Posterior Chain – Lower Body – Choose from Deadlift, pullthrough, hip thrust, Olympic lifts, GH Raise, sled push/prowler/etc – Perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per sets – Start with a weight that you can move for 8 reps with good form – for now, leave that weight constant – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  3. Vert pull – Choose from Chins or pulldowns – Perform as many sets as possible in 10 minutes – 3-8 reps per sets – Start with a weight that you can move for 8 reps with good form – for now, leave that weight constant – Use a “wake-up” exercise
  4. Core – bracing – Planks – horiz/vert, roll outs, overhead lifts – Max reps in 5 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight
  5. Core – side flexion / rotation – Woodchops – bad for lumbars – Max reps in 5 minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight
  6. Beach Muscles – Choose from Reverse bicep curls, pushdowns, calf raises – Max reps in 5minutes – 3-8 reps – constant weight

Now What?

  1. Choose your own exercises & create your own Deadpool Ultimate Mega-Mass Workout
  2. Hang on for an hour or so and I will begin posting weekly Deadpool workouts here and on Facebook

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.

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Free Your Mind and Bigger / Stronger Muscles Will Follow

Lately, I have been bumping into way too many close-minded fitness “experts”.

Experts who honestly believe that their training method is perfect and that every other method sucks in comparison.

To these people, I dedicate this little nugget of exercise science.

The Science

occlusion kaatsu bicep

Researchers already know that single-joint training (ex. bicep curls) with blood flow restriction (aka Occlusion Training or BFR) results in significant increases in limb muscle size and single joint strength (aka Bigger & Stronger muscles).

What they don’t know is the effect of blood flow restriction (BFR) on multi-joint training (ex. bench press or squat)

To test their hypotheses, researchers grabbed a bunch of college students, restricted the blood flow to their upper arms (biceps/triceps) and had them perform the following bench press workout.

The Workout

  • Flat Bench Press
  • 4 sets / 75 reps total
  • 30% of one repetition maximal (1-RM)
  • performed twice daily,
  • 6 days week for 2 weeks.

During the exercise session, subjects in the BFR group placed elastic cuffs proximally on both arms, with incremental increases in external compression starting at 100 mmHg and ending at 160 mmHg.

Before and after the training, triceps brachii and pectoralis major muscle thickness (MTH), bench press 1-RM and serum anabolic hormones were measured.

The Results

Two weeks of training led to a 6% increase in 1-RM bench press strength in the BFR group. The control group increased their 1-RM strength by only 2%.

And it wasn’t just an increase in strength. The BFR group increased triceps and pectoralis major muscle thickness by 8% and 16% respectively while the control group increased pec thickness by 2% and actually lost 1% of tricep thickness.

Interestingly, there were no changes in baseline concentrations of anabolic hormones in either group.

Conclusion

These results suggest that occlusion training is not only effective for increasing the strength & hypertrophy of the occluded muscles (limb muscles), but that non-occluded muscles also receive significant strength & hypertrophy benefits from this form of training.

Warning

I am not suggesting that you start wrapping tensor bandages around your limbs before your next workout.

Restricting blood flow during strenuous physical activity may have unintended side effects as yet undiscovered, and I don’t want to be responsible for anyone throwing a blood clot and keeling over in the middle of the gym.

Let’s let the eggheads study it a bit longer.

Conclusions #2

Exercise science expands its knowledge base every day.

New training methods are created.

Old methods are improved upon.

And close minded “experts” who think that their method of training is superior to all others should get prepared for disappointment.

Reference

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

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arnold duelling biceps fitness exercise healthhabits

1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train Your Biceps

Last year, I posted two of my most popular articles:

Today, we move on to biceps.

1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Biceps

In an attempt to organize the million and one ways that you can train your biceps, I decided to organize all of these different lifts into different categories.

Categories

  1. Movement
  2. Unilateral / Bilateral
  3. Stance / Body Orientation / Position of Load
  4. Equipment
  5. Range of Motion
  6. Tempo or Speed
  7. Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift
  8. Lifting Surface
  9. Training Volume
  10. Rest Periods

Movements

  • Elbow Flexion

  • Forearm Supination

  • Shoulder Flexion (weak)

shoulder flexion healthhabits

  • Shoulder Transverse Flexion (weak)

shoulder transverse flexion healthhabits fitness.

Unilateral / Bilateral

  • 1 Arm Curl / 2 Arm Curl

bicep curls fitness exercise healthhabits

Stance / Body Orientation / Position of Load

  • Vertical Body Position – Standing / Kneeling / Sitting upright

  • Horizontal Body Position -Supine – Incline Bench

bicep curl standing seated healthhabits fitness exercise

  • Arm Angle – Cross Body / forearms straight ahead / forearms flared out

bicep curl hand position healthhabits fitness exercise

  • Position of Weight relative to body midline – ex. dumbbells v.s short barbell v.s olympic barbell

bicep curl db bb healthhabits fitness exercise

  • Grip – Pronated (palms down), Supinated (palms up) or Neutral Grip (hammer grip)

Equipment

  • Barbell
  • Dumbbell(s)
  • Kettlebell(s)
  • Band(s)
  • Medicine ball, sandbag, log, tire, rock, person or any other extreme implement
  • Machines – Smith machine, Seated Bicep Curl machines
  • Cable weight machines
  • TRX / Blast Straps / Rings & Chains – curl your bodyweight
  • Chin-up bar- curl your bodyweight

Range of Motion

  • Full range of motion
  • Partial range of motion – 1/2 curls, 1/4 curls
  • 1 and 1/2 reps – lower the weight all the way down, come up half way, lower again and then lift all the way back up

Tempo or Speed

  • There are a number of different systems for classifying lifting speed. For simplicity sake, I will stick with the basics: fast, moderate, slow & pause
  • Different speeds of motion can be used for the different portions of the lift: descent, bottom, ascent, top
  • You can mix and match the different speeds with the different portions of the lift depending on your training goals
  • Most bicep devotees lower the bar fast, bounce the bar off their thighs, and then lift the weight as fast as possible.
  • Personally, I prefer to lower my weights slowly, pause at the bottom to minimize the stretch shortening cycle, and then lift as fast as possible.

Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift

  • Your 1 Rep Max Lift is the maximum amount of weight you can successfully lift with good form.
  • If you are lifting for strength, you will likely choose a load that is close to your 1 Rep max. A lower percentage load is used when you are performing high reps for muscular endurance or for low reps and high speed in an attempt to develop muscular speed.
  • Caution – guys who are overly concerned with how much weight they can curl end up doing bicep curls that look like this….

arnold cheat curl fitness exercise healthhabits

Lifting Surface

This category is primarily employed by the Bosu or “functional training” crowd. Most lifters choose to keep their foot on solid ground as it allows them to generate maximum force. However, challenging you balance with various tools/techniques can have some carryover effect to the stabilizer muscles and overall athletic coordination. So, if you’re interested, here are some options:

  • Balance disks or Wobble Boards
  • a Bosu
  • a foam roller or a split foam roller
  • a stability ball – as if the Bosu wasn’t crazy enough

Training Volume

  • Depending on your training goals (power, strength, hypertrophy, endurance, speed), you can choose a variety of reps per set, sets per exercise and total sets/reps per workout

Rest Periods

  • This category refers to the length of the rest periods taken between sets.
  • Short rest periods are used as a tool to develop the trainees anaerobic energy system.
  • Long rest periods are used to allow more complete muscular and/or nervous system recovery.
  • And as with tempo and load percentage, there is an almost infinite number of positions in between.

Putting it all together…

If you mix and match all of the options that I have listed above, you can probably come up with more than a million and one different ways to train your biceps.

Just don’t try doing all of them in one workout.

And odds are that I have probably missed a bunch of different techniques, so feel free to comment and I will update the post.

Have fun.

Related Posts

The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

deadpool

Since building the Squidoo Lens about Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool Workout, I have become a big Deadpool fan and am really looking forward to the movie. I think the studio made a great choice casting Ryan “Smart Ass” Reynolds in the role of Wade Wilson.

But, as I mentioned in the lens, Ryan is naturally a pretty skinny guy.

As a result, adding a whole lot of muscle mass was job #1 as he got ready to take on the role of Deadpool.

And he did a pretty good job.

Ryan-Reynolds

But we can do better.

In Part 1 of this series, I outlined the concepts behind my Official “Make Ryan Reynolds your Beeyotch” Workout

In this post, I give you a mass building workout that will put Deadpool to shame.

And I have named it…

The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

DeadPool muscle

Like I mentioned in the previous article, the key to the success of this mass building phase is the focus on your nervous system and fast-twitch muscle fibers.

The theory is that since most hardgainers are slow-twitch fiber dominant, and slow-twitch fibers aren’t built for hypertrophy, we need to do something special to wake up those dormant fast-twitch fibers and force them to grow.

And here’s how we’re going to do it:

  • Each workout will consist of a series of 2-exercise supersets
  • The first exercise in each superset is designed to wake up the fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • The second exercise in each superset is designed to take advantage of the newly awakened fast-twitch fibers

How to Wake Up your Fast-Twitch Fibers

I was exposed to this concept about 15 years ago. At that time, I was training for powerlifting and strongman events. But my bench press was stuck. So, here’s what I did.

I would perform a partial bench press in a power rack with as much weight as I could handle. After a few sets of single reps, I would crawl over to standard bench press and attempt a maximum lift.

This technique allowed my to put over 30 lbs on my maximum bench press…after just 2 workouts.

The Theory

My strength was improved due to some combination of fast-twitch muscle recruitment and improved neuro-muscular co-ordination.

Since then, I have researched this topic…without much success. At least in the English speaking world. Those Russians were way ahead of us back in the day.

Anyway, most of you probably don’t care very much about the theory, so let’s move on.

The Wake-Up Exercises

I use 3 different methods to wake up the fast twitch fibers

  1. Very Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions – that’s what I did with the partial rack bench press
  2. Very Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions – Plyometric movements
  3. Very Fast Concentric & Eccentric Muscular Contractions – think sprints or throwing movements

Okay, your fast-twitch fibers are awake…now what?

Now we take advantage of those FTs, by exposing them:

  1. Slightly Less Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions…through a full range of motion and performed as fast as possible. Think explosive bench presses.
  2. Slightly Less Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions….but we drastically increase the time under tension. Sloooowwww negatives on those bench presses.
  3. With no pause at the top or bottom of the lift. The muscle is always under tension.

Reps, Sets & Bodyparts

Here’s where individual goals play a part.

Are you interested in athletic performance or just getting big and buff like Arnie?

  • My GPs were athletes, so I had them doing total body workouts. If they had been interested in appearance only, I would have had them do split body workouts (ie Back & Bis on Monday, Chest & Tris on Wed)

When it comes to rep selection, I had the GPs perform 3-8 reps on the Wake Up sets and 3-8 reps on the Work sets

For sets, I was much more fluid and looked at performance and time.

  • Max time for a workout was 45 min
  • But more important than time was speed. If I noticed a drop in the speed of movement, we shut everything down and hit the showers….not together. You get my point.

So, there you go. That’s the nuts and bolts of the Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

In the next installment, I will give you some examples of Wake-Up Exercises and show you how to pair them with the traditional lifts to get the best results.

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I, Bodybuilder….Fitness Marketing 101

I Bodybuilder

Nobody does a better job marketing to amateur bodybuilders than the guys at T-Muscle.

And they may have outdone themselves with this program.

Just released this morning, people are already going nuts.

They are lining up to buy a supplement that costs 80USD and may only last for two weeks.

Prorate that over a year and we’re talking just over 2000USD.

And they’re begging to buy it.

Begging.

OH MY GOD THIS IS SO EXCITING I WAS LITERALLY SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS EVERY 10 SECONDS WHILE READING THE ARTICLE.

So, my question is…

What do we need to do to get the general public this interested in their own health & fitness?

What buttons need to be pushed?

Imagine how quickly America’s obesity epidemic would be turned around if everyone got this excited about a new exercise  nutrition program.

300 million fitness junkies.

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Health Habits Pop Quiz

If you think it’s possible, leave a comment explaining how it can be done.

On Friday, I will throw in my 2 cents.

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Do You Wanna Get Big and Strong?

It’s a common theme in gyms all around the world – Guys want to get bigger and stronger.

So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. A kick ass training program designed to get you bigger and stronger.

The “Do You Wanna Get Big and Strong?” Program

Phase 1  –  10 x 10 Training

In phase 1, we are going to use one of the all-time best size building programs.

This phase goes by many names….

  • Call it  10×10 training,
  • Call it German Volume Training,
  • Call it that mother-blanking workout that causes so much pain that you can barely walk after a workout, call it whatever you want.

Here’s what you’re going to do.

  • Lift 3x per week on non-sequential days (M,W,F)
  • Rest between lifting sessions (Tu,Th,Sa)
  • Sunday is devoted to either HIIT training or Cardio training or something else athletic.
  • Day 1 focuses on Chest & Back training
  • Day 2 focuses on Legs & Abs/Core
  • Day 3 focuses on Arms & Shoulders
  • Each bodypart will be hit with one main compound exercise for 10 sets of 10 reps.
  • You are going to stick with that same exercise for the next 6 weeks
  • I have also included a couple of supplemental exercises in each workout. If you find that your muscle mass isn’t noticeably increasing, remove the supplemental exercises and just stick with the basic 10×10 sets.
  • When it comes to weight selection, choose a weight that you perform for 20 reps. This means that the first few sets of the 10×10 will seem way too easy. But don’t worry, around set number 6, you WILL feel the pain.
  • If you are able to complete all 10 sets of 10 reps, you need to increase the weight. Don’t make a huge jump in weight. A 5% jump should be about right.
  • After 6 weeks, you should be ready to move onto Phase 2. However, if you find that you’re still growing like a weed after 6 weeks (and you aren’t too bored of doing the same exercises over and over) feel free to stay on Phase 1 for another 2 weeks.

Suggested Exercises

For the 10×10 exercises, we are going to choose big, long range of motion, compound exercises. We want to involve as many muscle groups as possible while still maintaining simplicity of movement.

In the past, some people have tried to incorporate olympic style lifts into 10×10 training. It doesn’t work real well. Too much volume. Too much fatigue. Too high a chance of injury. Stick to the basics

  • Suggested 10×10 Chest ExercisesPresses – BB or DB, Incline, Decline, Flat…it’s your choice. You can even do push-ups with additional resistance (chains, bands)
  • Suggested 10×10 Back ExercisesChins or Rows – Try to resist doing pulldowns – do a band assisted chin-up if you need help. For rows, standing cable, bent-over barbell, even bodyweight rows with additional weight (weight vest, chains)
  • Suggested 10×10 Legs ExercisesSquats or Deadlift – Front squat, back squat, safety bar squat, trap bar squat – For deadlift, if technique is an issue, partial deadlifts out of the rack may be an option – set the pins just below knee height
  • Suggested 10×10 Arms & Shoulders ExercisesDips, Curls & Presses – no machines

Why the 10×10 Program works

It’s simple. You are exposing your biggest muscle groups to a huge volume of work.

You will grow. I have seen this program work time and time again.

And if you don’t that even the skinniest guy can get big and strong, check out Christian Bale

Christian Bale muscle transformation

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Health Habits

Do You Wanna Get Big and Strong?

Phase 1 Workout Log – PDF

Next Page – Phase 2

 

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1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

A couple of months ago, I posted an article on 1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Squat.

Today, we move on to the chest. And just like last time, I am pretty sure that I will omit something, so feel free to let me know what I missed and I will add it to the post.

1,000,000,001 Different Ways to Train your Chest

In an attempt to organize the million and one ways that you can train your chest, I decided to organize all of these different lifts into different categories.

Categories

  1. Movement
  2. Unilateral / Bilateral
  3. Stance / Body Orientation / Position of Load
  4. Equipment
  5. Range of Motion
  6. Tempo or Speed
  7. Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift
  8. Lifting Surface
  9. Training Volume
  10. Rest Periods

Movement

  • Press

bench_press

  • Fly

dumbbell fly

Unilateral / Bilateral

  • 1 Arm Push-Up / 2 Arm Push-Up
  • 1 Arm Press / 2 Arm Press
  • 1 Arm Fly / 2 Arm Fly

babypushup

Stance / Body Orientation / Position of Load

  • Vertical Body Posititon – Standing / Kneeling / Sitting upright
  • Horizontal Body Position – Supine – Flat Bench
  • Horizontal Body Position -Supine – Incline Bench
  • Horizontal Body Position -Supine – Decline Bench
  • Arm Angle – Close Grip v.s Wide Grip, Elbows tucked tight to the torso or flared out to the side
  • Position of Weight relative to Pectoralex. Presses to the Neck v.s a press where the bar contacts the body at or even below the nipples

Press to the Neck

  • Grip – Pronated, Supinated or Neutral Grip

Equipment

  • Barbell
  • Dumbbell(s)
  • Kettlebell(s)
  • Bodyweight only
  • Weighted Vest
  • Band(s)
  • Medicine ball, sandbag, log, tire, rock, person or any other extreme implement
  • Machines – Smith machine, Pec Dec, Chest Press machines, etc….
  • Cable weight machines
  • Benches / Boxes / Stability Ball
  • Stability balls
  • TRX / Blast Straps / Rings & Chains

Range of Motion

  • Full range of motion
  • Extreme range of motion – ex. cambered bar chest press
  • Partial range of motion – board presses, partial presses in the power rack or those partial range presses some guys do to make themselves feel strong


  • 1 and 1/2 reps – lower the weight all the way down, come up half way, lower again and then lift all the way back up
  • Focusing on a specific range – i.e focusing on the lockout of a bench press puts the emphasis on the triceps instead of the chest

Tempo or Speed

  • There are a number of different systems for classifying lifting speed. For simplicity sake, I will stick with the basics: fast, moderate, slow & pause
  • Different speeds of motion can be used for the different portions of the lift: descent, bottom, ascent, top
  • You can mix and match the different speeds with the different portions of the lift depending on your training goals
  • Most benchers lower the bar fast, neglect to pause at the chest, and then lift the weight as fast as possible.
  • Powerlifters (in competition) have to pause at the bottom of their bench presses.
  • Personally, I prefer to lower my weights slowly, pause at the bottom to minimize the stretch shortening cycle, and then lift as fast as possible.

Weight of Load as a % of 1 Rep Max Lift

  • Your 1 Rep Max Lift is the maximum amount of weight you can successfully lift with good form.
  • If you are lifting for strength, you will likely choose a load that is close to your 1 Rep max. A lower percentage load is used when you are performing high reps for muscular endurance or for low reps and high speed in an attempt to develop muscular speed.

Lifting Surface

This category is primarily employed by the Bosu or “functional training” crowd. Most lifters choose to keep their foot on solid ground as it allows them to generate maximum force. However, challenging you balance with various tools/techniques can have some carryover effect to the stabilizer muscles and overall athletic coordination. So, if you’re interested, here are some options:

  • Balance disks – standing cable or band work gets even harder
  • a Bosu – pushups on the bosu
  • a foam roller – I know a guy who performs chest presses while lying on a foam roller to open up his rib cage & thoracic spine. Not sure if I am buying it, but he swears by it.
  • a stability ball – in place of a standard bench

Training Volume

  • Depending on your training goals (power, strength, hypertrophy, endurance, speed), you can choose a variety of reps per set, sets per exercise and total sets/reps per workout

Rest Periods

  • This category refers to the length of the rest periods taken between sets.
  • Short rest periods are used as a tool to develop the trainees anaerobic energy system.
  • Long rest periods are used to allow more complete muscular and/or nervous system recovery.
  • And as with tempo and load percentage, there is an almost infinite number of positions in between.

Putting it all together…

If you mix and match all of the options that I have listed above, you can probably come up with more than a million and one different ways to train your chest.

Just don’t try doing all of them in one workout.

And like I said, I have probably missed a buch of different techniques, so feel free to comment and I will update the post.

Have fun.

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WARNING: Tabata Workouts WILL Cause Fat Loss

tabata

I have a love/hate relationships with Tabata training…..I love what it does for me, but I hate how I feel around minute #3.

Seriously…Tabata training is one of the best ways to quickly improve fitness & melt body-fat. If that piques your interest, read on….

Pre-Workout Checklist

  1. Pick an exercise that uses a lot of muscle – squats, power cleans, pull-ups, etc… To make that selection, you can choose from the list of exercises that I have provided or pick your own if you think my choices stink.
  2. Pick a weight that you can handle for at least 7 reps.

Execution

  1. Perform as many reps as possible within 20 seconds – maintain good form
  2. Rest for 10 seconds
  3. Perform 7 more sets
  4. Move on to the next exercise

Note:  Use a clock, stopwatch, workout buddy or a dedicated HIIT timer to keep track of your work sets and rest periods. I know of two HIIT timers on the market.

The Workouts

Instead of giving you a static workout with pre-selected exercises, I have decided to organize the workout by movement patterns (e.g. Vertical Push) or dominant muscle groups (Quadriceps).

Within those groups, I have given you a list of related exercises.

For example, within the Vertical Push Movement Group, you can choose from 1 Arm Overhead PressPush Presses, 1 Arm Grappler Presses, Side Presses, etc…

Remember, the goal is to go as hard as you can for 8 sets of 20 seconds.

  • Don’t use this workout to try out new exercises – You won’t be able to develop maximum intensity if you need to concentrate on technique. Choose exercises that you know you can perform effectively and safely.
  • If you can’t make it through all 8 sets because of the lactic burn to a muscle, eliminate that exercise and replace it with one that uses more muscles. e.g. a push press uses more muscles than an overhead barbell press.
  • Single limb exercises allow you overcome this problem as well – e.g. 1 Arm Overhead Press v.s. Barbell Overhead Press

Workout # 1

  1. Vertical Push Movement
  2. Horizontal Pull Movement
  3. Quadriceps Dominant Movement
  4. Core Stabilization – focus on Spinal Flexion & Extension
  5. Vertical Push Movement – optional
  6. Horizontal Pull Movement – optional
  7. Quadriceps Dominant Movement – optional
  • Feel free to re-arrange the order of Exercises 1, 2 and 3. It doesn’t really make a difference.
  • Sets 5 to 7 are for advanced athletes only. Remember, intensity is the key to Tabata success. Don’t try and pace yourself in order to add another set. Go full out on each set. Believe me, 4 sets of full intensity Tabatas should be enough to have you soaking wet with sweat and bordering on nausea.

Workout # 2

  1. Vertical Pull Movement
  2. Horizontal Push Movement
  3. Hamstrings/Glute Dominant Movement
  4. Core Stabilization – focus on Rotation and Lateral Flexion
  5. Vertical Pull Movement – optional
  6. Horizontal Push Movement – optional
  7. Hamstring/Glute Dominant Movement – optional
  • Feel free to re-arrange the order of Exercises 1, 2 and 3. It doesn’t really make a difference.
  • Sets 5 to 7 are for advanced athletes only. Remember, intensity is the key to Tabata success. Don’t try and pace yourself in order to add another set. Go full out on each set. Believe me, 4 sets of full intensity Tabatas should be enough to have you soaking wet with sweat and bordering on nausea.

Vertical Push Movement

Horizontal Pull Movement

  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Row or Band Row
  • Body-weight Rowuse an adjustable power rack or Smith machine. This allows you to modify the angle of pull and the percentage of body-weight. Also, change your grips from set to set – width, underhand, overhand
  • 1 Arm or 2 Arm Seated Rows – I prefer the standing rows because of their high demand for stabilization, but the seated version is pretty good as well
  • Avoid any bent-over movements – Your lower back will fail long before the rest of you

Quadriceps Dominant Movement

  • Front Squats – Dumbbells or Barbell
  • Body-weight or Weighted Vest Squats – 1 Leg or 2
  • Overhead Squats1 Arm or 2, 1 Leg or 2
  • Quad Dominant Lunges – Lunge forward onto the ball of your foot AND keep your step short and allow the knee to travel past your toes…I know, I know, everyone says not to lunge this way, but it really hits the quads. BTW, take a look at how far your knee travels past your toes as you climb a flight of stairs…ooooh scary stuff.
  • Bench Step-Ups
  • Bulgarian Lunge/Squat

Core Stabilization – focus on Spinal Flexion & Extension

  • Standing Cable or Band Crunch
  • The Ab Wheel
  • Leg raises/Knee-Ups / Crunches (various) – I would skip these exercises – you will fatigue quickly and you will probably have to cheat to complete all 8 sets

Vertical Pull Movement

Horizontal Push Movement

  • Push-Ups – like the Body-weight Row, use a Smith machine to adjust angles and body-weight resistance. Also, adjust hand placement (width, overhand, underhand) from set to set. Trust me, switching grips will increase the number of reps you will be able to perform
  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Press or Band Presses
  • Stay away from any standard bench press type exercise. The lactic acid will hit way too soon. You will never get a good Tabata workout…trust me. The cable/band exercise is the best choice. Even the push-ups allow you to use your legs and core to help perform the lift. You need these extra muscles to take some of the load

Hamstring/Glute Dominant Movement

Core Stabilization – focus on Rotation and Lateral Flexion

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The BEST Core Exercise

Okay, technically they are the two best core exercises, but the Roll-out

and the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In

are, in my opinion, the most complete core exercise combination. Period.

Here’s why

  1. They address the two primary functions of the core musculature unlike any other movement.
  2. They are infinitely scalable. Beginners can modify the movements to protect their lower backs while advanced athletes can perform variations that completely tax their strength, balance and co-ordination.

This is the part of the post where I discuss the science behind the exercise, so if that is not your thing, please skip ahead to the videos.

Core Function and the Roll-Out

The two main functions of the core are:

  1. The stabilization of the spine via abdominal compression
  2. Movement – spinal flexion, extension, rotation, tilting the pelvis

Spinal Stabilization

Physiologists often use the analogy of the human spine being like the mast of a sailing ship.

The core muscles – Transverse abdominus, Rectus abdominus, External and Internal obliques, Multifidus, Quadratus lumborum, Iliopsoas, and the Erector spinae all work together as a group to support your spine from your pelvis to your rib cage. While they all work as a team, the Transverse abdominus is the key player.

While there is great debate about the best way to train the Transverse Abdominis (T.A.), there is a general consensus that any movement where you are forced to tighten you core against the demands of gravity or an outside source WILL be effective to develop the T.A.

One of the most popular T.A. dominant exercises is the bridge or plank.

The Roll-out and the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In provide the same benefit as the bridge, but with the added benefit of being a dynamic, rather than static movement.

Core/Spinal Movement

Spinal Flexion is controlled mainly by the Rectus abdominus and the Iliopsoas. The most popular Spinal Flexion exercises are the crunch and reverse crunch.

The Roll-out produces the same movement as the crunch with the added benefit of spinal stabilization.

The Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In gives you the same benefits as the reverse crunch with the added stabilization.

Spinal Extension is controlled mainly by the Erector spinae and the Multifidus muscles. Spinal extension training is generally addressed by posterior chain movements like deadlifts, good mornings and bodyweight hip extension movements. As such, this section of the “core” will be omitted from this post.

Lateral Flexion is controlled mainly by the External and Internal obliques. Lateral flexion is usually trained by some form of side bends.

Rotation is controlled mainly by the Obliques, Multifidus and the Erector spinae. Spinal rotation exercises have been the flavor of the month for a little while now. One of the most popular is the wood chop.

You will have to forgive my lack of video (my digital recorder was stolen, hence the youtube videos), but if you can imagine, performing the Roll-out moving at various angles will give you an intense lateral flexion movement combined with forward flexion and stabilization.

With the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In, you can combine spinal flexion and stabilization with lateral flexion and rotation by rotating and twisting the hips as you move the stability ball back and forth.

Scaleability

As you have seen in the accompanying videos, there are various ways to perform the Roll-out and the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In.

With the Roll-outs:

  • beginners could start on their knees with a stability balls,
  • increasing the difficulty by moving their arms further away from their body.
  • graduating to the ab wheel,
  • then a loaded barbell.

The variations are as endless as your imagination. For example, stretch tubing can be attached to the ab wheel in order to increase or decrease exercise intensity.

Conclusion

As I said at the outset, the Roll-out and the Stability Ball Pike/Knee-In are the best core exercises. I hope that I may have converted a few of the ab crunchers out there.

Give them a try. And if you don’t own an ab wheel, Amazon sells them at a great price.

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Muscular Strength made simple

In my post, The Components of Physical Fitness, I divided physical fitness into it’s component parts and provided a brief introduction of each part.

Since then, I have written in more detail about Structural Balance and Energy System FitnessToday I will try to explain the concept of Muscular Strength and how it applies to overall physical fitness.

Intro to Muscular Strength

This component of physical fitness deals specifically with the performance of the body’s skeletal muscles.

  • Your skeletal muscles contract and stretch in order to produce movement. Simple.
  • How they produce that movement is less simple.

Your body’s muscles are highly adaptable. They will react to the stresses that you place upon them.

  • Sit on the couch and they will atrophy.
  • Try and run fast and they adapt to produce faster contractions.
  • Lift heavy objects and they will increase their ability to produce maximum strength.

What is Strength?

Muscular Strength can and has been categorized/defined in a variety of different ways. I am choosing to divide Muscular Strength into four categories, based primarily on Newton’s Second Law –  \vec F = m \vec a (force is equal to the product of mass and acceleration.)

  • Mass relates to how much weight/mass a muscle or muscle group can move.
  • Acceleration relates to how fast that weight/mass is moved.

Note: You don’t need to know all this science stuff, but it can really help your strength training if you do 🙂

There are 4 Categories of Muscular Strength

  1. Maximum Muscular Strength
  2. Maximum Muscular Power
  3. Maximum Muscular Speed
  4. Maximum Muscular Endurance

Each of these categories has different characteristics with regard to mass and acceleration

1.  Maximum muscular strength

Maximum Muscular Strength is an extreme form of muscular strength.

In relation to newton’s Second Law it completely favors mass over acceleration. It is a measure of the maximum mass that a muscle, or muscle group can move, regardless of time.

  • Think immovable object v.s irresistible force.
  • Pushing your ‘out of gas’ car up a hill to the gas station at the crest of the hill.
  • Your maximum squat at the gym.

Got it?

The importance of maximum muscular strength?

While this is a point of debate amongst both academics, coaches and athletes, I believe that maximum muscular strength is the most important component of overall muscular strength.

Looking at the force-velocity curve, we see a relationship between force/mass and velocity / acceleration. 

  • Maximum Muscular Strength would be represented by the point on the curve in the upper left corner.
  • Muscular Speed would be represented by the point on the lower right.
  • Power is the combination of strength and speed.

  • If you were to increase your maximum strength, you would shift the force-velocity curve and your muscular power upwards.
  • Conversely, if you could increase your speed of movement, you would shift the curve to the right, also increasing your power.
  • Increasing both strength and speed would push the curve both up and to the right, resulting in even greater increases in power.

For most athletes, that is a welcome goal.

How do you develop maximum muscular strength?

Maximum Muscular Strength is developed using different forms and methods of resistance training. Generally speaking, heavy weights for low repetitions are used to develop max strength.

As this is a very complicated subject, I will be discussing this topic in detail in future posts.

Maximum muscular speed

As mentioned above, Maximum muscular speed is the ability to produce a low force muscular movement very quickly. As seen in the force-velocity curve, muscular speed is both a relative and absolute term.

Relative, because your mass (along with a bunch of other “stuff”) impacts the speed that you can achieve. To illustrate this point, let’s look at the animal kingdom.

A cheetah, while incredibly fast – 60+ miles per hour is no match for the peregrine falcon, which can dive at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.

In the world of athletics, speed is also relative. The world’s fastest sumo wrestler may be fast against his peers, but against an Olympic 100m champion???

And when we’re comparing apples to apples, Maximum Muscular Speed is often the determining factor in an athletic competition.

For example, superior hand speed often makes the difference in a boxing match between two men in the same weight category.

How do you develop maximum muscular speed?

Like Maximum Muscular Strength, speed can be developed using resistance training techniques. However, Max Speed training most often involves body weight training that attempt to maximize both the condition of the muscles and the performance of the neuro-muscular system as a whole.

I will also be covering this topic in more detail in future posts.

Maximum muscular endurance

Maximum muscular endurance is the ability to produce a smaller amount of force, but do it for a long time. A marathon runner is a great example of muscular endurance. His body weight requires less force to move than your car, in neutral, going uphill; but he is able to move that weight for 2+ hours non-stop.

Why do you need maximum muscular endurance?

Maximum muscular endurance is the least sexy of the 4 categories of Muscular Strength. However, it is the most vital when it comes to general health and longevity. While not being taken to extremes, the training to improve muscular endurance has a beneficial effect on your cardio-vascular health.

How do you develop maximum muscular endurance?

Maximum Muscular Endurance is generally trained with body-weight exercises. While there may be a need for injury prevention resistance training exercises, most endurance athletes focus their training on their sport of choice.

I will also cover the training methodologies of endurance athletes in a future post.

Maximum Muscular power

Muscular power is the combination of maximum strength and speed.

An Olympic weightlifter is a great example of power.

How do you develop Maximum Muscular Power?

As Maximum Muscular Power is a combination of Max Strength and Max Speed, the development of power involves a combination of training methodologies.

I look to cover this topic in my next post.

Muscular Strength

I hope this introductory post was helpful in helping you understand Muscular strength training and how it impacts athletic performance and general physical fitness.

In future posts, I will go into a more detailed explanation of each of the 4 categories. I will also provide same training programs for each category of Muscular Strength.