Plateau Busters – The Arm Weightlifting Workout

October 30, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

It’s Friday, and I hope all of my favorite stayfitbuggers are getting ready for the weekend. Before you do prepare for a fun packed weekend, I’m going to share with you some of the best ways to overcome those weightlifting plateaus when building muscle fast on your arms.

Hitting a weightlifting plateau when building muscle for biceps and triceps is something that has affected me in the past, and I still have the painful memories of when it happened. To make a bad situation even worse, I have a 6′ 2″ frame, which equals super long limbs. Long limbs which are without a doubt harder to work than shorter limbs.

But luckily for you i overcame those weightlifting plateaus, and I got the muscles in my arms to gain muscle mass once again. And here is how you can do that too.

Bicep curls

Now, i’m not talking about ordinary bicep curls where you stack the weight on and lift. What you will want to do is up the ante and give your muscles something to talk about. Instead of just lifting the barbell, you first need to find yourself a gym partner or spotter. Then you need to focus on negative lifts.

Why?

Because the lowering phase of the bicep curl can deal with more weight.

Now what you must do is add approximately 20-40 percent more weight than your usual weight on the barbell, lift the bar with help from your gym partner and pause. Lower the bar slowly and controlled.

Performing the bicep curl this way is what allowed me to get that ‘pump’ back into my arms. If you had the same problem then definitley give this a try.

  • Four sets
  • 6 reps
  • once a week

Pre exhaust training

This simply means to exaust a muscle with an isolation exercise (exercises that focus on one muscle) and to perform a compound exercise straight after with no rest in between. To do that is for sure some hard s**t, and the guy that taught me how to do that was an animal. After seeing him do that, I had a new found respect for him. But pre-exaust training is what you can do when muscle growth has stagnated.

Tip

Always perform these exercises first in your weightlifting routine. That is when you will have the most energy to perform them to your best.

We now all know that to overcome a weightlifting plateau, you have to give them some new experiences, and this is what you can do for both biceps and triceps.

Exercise Combination’s

Biceps

Preacher curl and chin up
Concentration curl and barbell curl

Triceps

Skullcrushers and close grip bench
Tricep pushdowns and dips
Tricep kickbacks and dips

These combinations are all tried and tested, but you can make up your own too. Just make sure that one is an isolation exercise and the other is a compound exercise.

If you have a weekend workout coming up, be sure to give these a try. But for now, Bugs out!

See you in the comments.

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Plateau Busters – The Leg Weightlifting Exercises

October 29, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Welcome back to another episode of Plateau Busters. Today’s Agenda is all about the leg exercises

So far on plateau busters, I haven’t had much to complain about, as I don’t have a problem building muscle fast on those muscles that I have mentioned already. But today is the day where I will share your pain, as building leg muscles is something that I struggle with or have to work the hardest on to gain muscle mass. If that is you, we will together share the methods to overcome the chicken leg syndrome, which is a topic that I covered back in July.

In fact, the chicken leg syndrome may be the reason why you have hit a plateau in your weightlifting workout. The thing is, If you do not train your legs, your upper body mass will stop growing before it even builds into Hulk size muscle. I have seen many classic situations where that has happened, and when it does, it often leads to a situation where people cannot tell if you have muscles when fully clothed.

But for all of you who are including leg exercises into your weightlifting workouts, you would and should be doing the trademark compound exercises such as squats and dead lifts.

But in true plateau buster fashion, you will probably hit a plateau at some point and below you will find some exercises that you can include into your workouts to shake things ups a bit. But before I do, here are some key things to note about these exercises and the benefits that they can bring.

Stabilizing Strength

With many of these exercises you will be working one leg at a time. By working one leg at a time, core and stabilizing muscles will get stronger since they are more involved during these type of exercises. The added benefit here is that when you return to those more trademark exercises, you’ll find that you will be stronger when performing them.

Muscle memory

I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again. Your muscles will be in their honeymoon period with the first exercises that you hit them with, but after a few months, they will become accustomed to what you throw at them. Adding these exercises into the mix will shake things up a little, and just like when cheating on a girl friend… things will seem fresh, fun and new again.

Balance

When you do exercises with both legs, you may not notice if one leg is doing more work than the other. Although you’ll have to use less total body weight when you work your legs separately, each leg will actually be working harder since one leg alone will be carrying the weight. This is also a good thing to do if you find that one leg is bigger than the other as it can help expose muscle imbalances and help to correct them.

Cable Step-Up

The muscles

  • Quads
  • Glutes (butt muscles)

How to do them

  • Attach a D-handle to a low pulley.
  • Place a flat bench in front of you so that you can stand with the weight rack of the cable apparatus behind you.
  • Grab the handle with your right hand and place your right foot on top of the bench.
  • Push your right foot through and lift yourself onto the bench.
  • In a controlled manner, slowly lower your body back to the floor by bending your right leg, making sure that your knee doesn’t go beyond your toes.
  • Perform the desired number of reps
  • Repeat with the other leg

Remember the art of building a bigger butt? That is where I taught you to squeeze your butt muscles as hard as you can. Do the same here when you lift your body and hold the contraction at the top for a count.

Alternative

To recruit your inner thigh muscles more, set the bench to your right side. Start with your right foot on the bench while holding the cable in your left hand, and step up in this fashion.

Standing Leg Extension & Hip Flexion

The muscles

  • Hip flexors
  • Quads

How to do them

  • Stand with your back facing the weight stack of a cable apparatus.
  • Hook your right foot inside a D-handle attachment connected to a low pulley.
  • The handle portion of the attachment should be on the top of your foot.
  • Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent and your hands on your hips or resting on a handle for balance.
  • Your right leg should be bent about 45 degrees at the hip so that your knee is pointed in front of you and down, while your knee is bent at about 90 degrees with your feet flexed upward.
  • Fully extend your right leg until it’s straight and your foot is in front of you.
  • Complete 15 reps, then immediately go into hip flexion.
  • To do this, maintain a bent knee as you lift your upper leg toward your chest until it’s about parallel with the floor or higher.
  • Switch legs after completing the set.

Note

Maintain the angle in your hip when doing the leg extensions and the angle in your knee when doing the hip flexion.

Alternative

Instead of doing 15 leg extensions and then 15 hip flexions, you can do one leg extension followed by one hip flexion, completing the set in this order.

Standing Leg Press on Assisted Pull-up Machine

The muscles

  • Glutes (butt muscles)
  • Quads

How to do them

  • Stand on an assisted pull-up/dip machine so that your right foot is on the right step of the machine and your left foot is on the middle of the assist platform.
  • Place both hands on your hips (or lightly hold onto the handles to maintain your balance) and keep your back straight.
  • Push down on the platform until your leg is fully extended.
  • Resist the platform back up until your right thigh is past parallel with the ground.
  • Repeat for reps and switch sides.

Note

Push down through your heel, forcefully contracting your quadriceps as you hold the platform down for a second or two in the bottom position.

Alternative

If your gym doesn’t have an assisted pull-up/dip machine, you can do this exercise using a rubber resistance tube. Securely attach one end of the thickest tube you can find to a handle at the cable station. (You may have to readjust it to find the appropriate amount of resistance.) Place your foot in the handle of the free end. Your leg should be bent 90 degrees at both the hip and knee at the start. Maintain your balance as you push downward with your foot.

All you have to do now is get those legs working. Stay tuned for more plateau busters.

See you in the comments.

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Plateau Busters – The Chest Workout Routine

October 28, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

As you now know from yesterdays post, one of the first things you will need to do to overcome those dreaded weightlifting workout plateaus is to start alternating your weightlifting exercises. There are many ways to train each muscle group, but not even I ‘Fitbug Shaun’ can give you all of that information in one post. Besides, I’m sure that you would get bored of reading all of that after a while.

Over the past few weeks I have been bombarded with muscle heads complaining that they cannot increase the size of their chest muscles, and for me, that seems quite bizarre, as I find that the chest is one of the easiest places to build muscle mass. And that statement right there is the universal weightlifting dilemma…

There is no one weightlifting routine to suit everyone!

Everyone’s bodies will respond differently in methods of building muscle fast.

Because of the complaints that I have been hearing about people having trouble building up their chest muscles, I decided to focus on that first. Below are several things you can do to alternate your workouts with some chest exercises that you may already be performing in your weightlifting workouts.

Dumbbell bench press


Now, the default exercise to do when you enter the gym will probably be the bench press, which is great. But you probably perform the bench press exercise with a barbell. As I mentioned yesterday, that is fine and you can give your muscles a real shocker, which will promote muscle growth. But after some weeks you will notice that muscle growth may seem to stop, as you are only working on a few muscle groups and your muscles will no longer be challenged. They will scream at you saying,

‘Come on, this is boring, show me something new already’

What we do is introduce the dumbbell bench press.

Key benefits

  • Develops more muscle mass in the middle and outer pectoral muscles
  • Allows for a greater stretch at the bottom and more efficient peak contraction at the top of the lift compared to using a barbell.

This can be performed in 3 different ways, just like the barbell bench press.

  • Decline – Lower chest
  • Flat – Base chest
  • Incline – Upper chest

And this is how you do them.

  • Start seated on a bench with the weights resting on your thighs.
  • Lay back and swing the weights back to the point where the corners of each dumbbell are slightly touching your outer pecs.
  • Push the weight up, bringing them slightly closer together at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the weight back down slowly.
  • (Two seconds on the way down for every second on the way up is a good rule.).
  • Repeat.

Dips


This exercises is in my favorite top 5. However, there have been times where I have hit a weightlifting plateau with this exercise.

How do you know when you have hit a plateau?

When you first perform the dips exercise, it will be hard as hell to lift yourself to at least 10 reps. Once you have surpassed that and can perform 10-15 reps a set, you will have probably hit a plateau. If so, here is what you can do.

Add resistance with a dipping belt

Progryp 100% Leather Dipping Belt, One Size Fits All, Black

This was one of the first things I started to do when I hit a plateau with this exercise and this is one great way to keep performing the exercise while gaining muscle mass.

Chest focus movement

To increase the role the pecs play in this exercise, point your elbows outward.

Keep them tucked in and pointed back. This forces your triceps to feel the force of your bodyweight, but you first need to decide whether you’re doing it for your chest or your triceps.

Don’t whip out each rep at explosive speed by dropping down fast and pushing back up even faster. Keep to a slow motion movement.

Seated Chest Presses


With this exercise, you will use similar movements as you do with the bench press. However, because this exercise is performed on a machine, your movements will be stabilized and the weights will not be moving around. This is one of the rare times that I actually give praise to machine weights.

Having the weights stabilized means that you get a more focused workout for your pectoral muscles and avoid wasting energy stabilizing the weight.

How to do it

  • Grip the handles.
  • Push them forward in a controlled motion.
  • And don’t lock your elbows at end of extension.

Push ups

Many people seem to neglect push ups once they get their gym membership, but don’t let that be you. After a month or two, try doing push ups again. If you can do at least 50 straight in one set, then you really are doing something right, for strength and for muscle mass. If not, then you need to be including push ups as a part of your alternate weightlifting workout.

You can also vary your push up workouts by adjusting the positions of your hands or by adjusting the elevation of your feet. I’ll will cover that in the up and coming bodyweight workout ebook, but for the mean time have a read of unique bodyweight exercise pt.3 for an example.

To really challenge yourself stick a 40-50 lb plate, or weight plates in a back pack on your back. Then perform the exercise. That will bust your plateau for sure.

Close Grip Bench Press


Close grip bench press is a great way to help break a plateau for your flat bench press exercise. This exercise is exactly the same as the free weight medium grip barbell bench press except that you will use a closer grip when performing this exercise.

How to do it

  • Lie flat on your back and grab the barbell above you with a grip about 12 inches apart. Lift the barbell off of the rack and slowly lower it to about 3 inches above your chest Press the bar back to the start position.
  • Be sure that when you are lowering the bar that you do so in a slow and controlled fashion.
  • Also, when you press the bar upward, you want to do so in an explosive fashion.

That is the key method of doing this exercise, however, there are some things to note.

– Having your hands in too close can actually damage your wrists and shoulder joints. As long as your elbows are in and the grip is about shoulder width or slightly less, performing this exercise will actually begin to hit your triceps more.

– Turn your palms inward at the top. It gives a better contraction for your muscles.

Stay tuned for more plateau busters, and again, do share your experiences with the weightlifting plateaus that you have faced.

See you in the comments

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Plateau Busters – The Weightlifting Workout

October 27, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

This is the dreaded thing we have all faced at some point, and it can be heart breaking when it happens.

Hitting a plateau is similar to that 3-month honeymoon period in a new relationship. Everything feels like you are on top of the world and it seems like it will be that way forever. Then one day, without warning, it just stops and becomes stale, and you have to find some way to reignite that ‘once upon a time’ burning flame.

If you are not familiar with what a plateau is, let me simplify the meaning for you.

A weightlifting plateau

The moment your body stops getting stronger or losing fat because it’s adapted well to your workouts.

This is basically what happens in muscle memory. Muscle memory is great because you can easily gauge when your muscles are being trained properly. The bad thing is, that once your muscles get used to certain weightlifting exercises they will no longer be challenged, and challenge is what your muscles will need in order to grow.

Today we will cover the basics.

Change your frequency

If you have been a follower on stayfitbug.com, I know that you workout at least 2-3 times a week, often with a full body workout on your weightlifting workout days. If so then you will usually need a days rest in between each day.

Changing how often you exercise will change the format of your workouts, and that is the key method to overcoming a plateau during your weightlifting routines.

These are some common methods that I have also included into my weightlifting routines, which will allow you to overcome those weightlifting plateaus.

Split weightlifting routine

When you feel a plateau coming along, switch from your full body workout to a split weightlifting routine.

* Alternating upper body and lower body workouts
* Alternating push exercises and pull exercises
* Working opposing muscle groups on different days

Switch back

After a few weeks of the split weightlifting routine, switch back to a full body weightlifting workout again. This is refreshing for you in your workouts as it keeps things interesting, and your muscles will respond in a good way too. Growth!

Pick ‘n’ Mix

Play a game of pick ‘n’ mix with both types of weightlifting workout routines. Once you find a method that works and which your muscles respond to best, keep at it.

Training like this will allow you to do more exercises in your weightlifting routine and will focus on individual muscle groups. But the best part is that it makes working out fun.

The TRX Door Anchor

A couple of months back I shared with you, which I consider my favorite piece of workout equipment for use on my globe trotting adventures.

I’m not too much of a fan of flashy over hyped products, I just pretty much go for products that I can rely on and which I know will work. When you travel it is not always convenient to workout at a gym, yet we all know the importance of maintaining muscle mass.

By using the TRX Door Anchor when I’m in hotels, it’s really easy to keep my muscles active. But one of the key benefits that I get out of using the TRX Door Anchor, which is also good for overcoming weightlifting plateaus, is that it does a fine job of working muscle groups which you may usually miss with common weightlifting exercises during weightlifting routines. And these are often smaller muscles… muscles that when worked, bulge out of there coffins in an instant. The really great thing about that, is that those smaller muscles complement the larger muscles.

The day that you reach that goal and decide to walk down the street, you WILL get noticed from a distance! That, I am sure of. So if you want to alternate your exercises, give the Door anchor a try.

Let me know some of the plateaus that you have hit during your weightlifting workouts, and then I’ll be sure to post more tried and tested ideas for overcoming them.

See you in the comments.

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Weightlifting Routine Do’s and Don’ts

October 26, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

It’s the start of another week stayfitbuggers and I hope you are all ready to rock and roll this week. Today I am going to start off with some workout do’s and don’ts. These are the should and shouldn’t do’s in the weights room and in your weightlifting workout routines.

These are many of the things that I see far to often while working out. Some of these things I have covered before. But to make for a great workout experience for all of us muscle heads at all times, be sure to use this as a go to guide that will lead you to being respected by all when working out.

The Weights Room

Spotting

DO
Spot your friend during a lift. Support his wrists on dumbbell overhead and bench presses.

DON’T
Support his elbows. It might help him get more reps, but if he loses control and his elbows bend mid-set, he’ll be eating his meals through a flexi-straw the rest of his life.

The clock

DO
Bring a digital watch or timer to the gym to help count down your rest periods between sets.

DON’T
Rely on the clock on the wall. It’s small, in the distance, and if you’re training hard enough, your eyes will be stinging too much from sweat to read it anyway.

Barbell placement

DO
Rest a loaded bar on the floor or on the supports of a rack.

DON’T
Set it on the bench. That can permanently bend the bar, tear up the upholstery of the bench, or tip over, sending weights flying all over.

The Mirrors

DO
Look in the mirror for exercises like curls and overhead presses. It helps you keep good form.

DON’T
Look in the mirror during squats (though that can be unavoidable if your gym’s squat rack is right in front of the mirror). It may cause you to tilt forward, straining your lower back.

Lift weights standing

DO
Stand up for most of your exercises. You’ll build more overall muscle and burn more calories.
DON’T
Stand right in front of the dumbbell rack. It blocks people from replacing their weights, and makes them want to hurt you.

Weightlifting routines

DO

Be consistent

You have to stick to your program and do your best every single workout. Remember the barbarian workout? If not make sure you read it. That is the attitude you will need to have.

Stick to the basics

I know that I encourage you all to build muscle using innovative exercises, but you should always include the basic exercises in your weightlifting routines.

  • Dead lifts
  • Dumbbell presses
  • Chins
  • Squats
  • Military presses
  • Heavy bicep curls

These will not be going out of style anytime soon.

Don’t over train

Allow yourself enough time to recover between workouts. Be sure to watch for signs of over training.

Eat super foods

Your diet should consist primarily of rice, pasta, oatmeal, vegetables, chicken, lean beef, tuna, and other Foods that I have mentioned in the past few weeks.

Sleep

Sleep at least 8 hours per night. I know that you all probably get les than this, but you need this time to recover as well as benefit from the natural boost of natural growth hormone that occurs during REM-sleep.

DON’T

Stick to the same weightlifting routine

Get stuck in a rut

Doing the same things with the same exercises month after month will not challenge you. The difference between sticking to a program and being stuck in a rut is whether you change things around and make progress or not.

Substituting good food with supplements is a bad idea

Supplements are great for giving you that extra edge that you may need at times, but it can never take the place of real food. Plan your diet around solid meals, and use supplements to feed your body of the nutrients that it may lack.

Never ignore injuries or signs of over training

Be sure to rest and/or talk to a doctor if you experience stubborn joint pain or similar symptoms. Prevention rather than detection.

Don’t get caught up in fitness magazines

If some hulk sized muscle head says he does a sh*t load of sets for biceps, that doesn’t mean you have to do that too. Listen to your body; you will know when enough is enough

Don’t lose sight of the big picture

You may have hit a plateau and motivation maybe low. If so, there’s only one-way to beat it…

Try harder and train smarter.

The reward will come when you get off the plateau and start making progress again. A positive attitude is everything.

These are all things that I have covered at some point or another, and you should follow them at all times. Just in case you missed it, have a read of the gym etiquette rules that I laid out some months back. Once you follow all of these rules in your weightlifting workouts, you will find that working out will be more fun for each and every one of us.

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The Super Hero Workout – The Weightlifting Exercises (Part 4)

October 23, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

This is the fourth and final day of the super hero workout  – the weightlifting exercises. How ever, if I do get to speak to any of these super heroes in person anytime soon, I’ll be sure to find out their super hero weightlifting workout routines for you.

There have been a few articles where I talk about the correct way to lift weights for building muscle fast, such as the high metabolism workout. The best way to lift weights is with an explosive movement, because that is when the muscles begin to work the most. To perform those explosive movements effectively you will need flexibly, quick reflexes and of course, explosive strength.

Although Venom is one of my favourite marvel comic super heroes, Spiderman is the one that would best represent these attributes.

So how can you develop speed, agility and explosive strength like Spiderman?

There are a few ways, but these next few exercises will be good start. All of which will improve your explosive speed and strength during your weightlifting workout routines and your cardio training routines.

The Box Jump

This is all about training the muscle memory in your legs. Do this exercise enough and you’ll find yourself performing quick foot movements during your every day actions such as walking up stairs or climbing ladders.

  • Set up a box or aerobics step in front of you, high enough to be challenging, but low enough to be safe
  • Then bend your hips and knees to gather momentum
  • Explosively jump onto the box and hold for a second
  • Step off the box.
  • That represents one set

Perform six sets of three reps, resting 60 seconds between sets.

You could also perform these on your house steps if you can’t find a box.

Slalom Rope Skips

Skipping is a classic way to increase the responsiveness of the movements in your legs and performing slalom skips will help you do just that.

  • Stand with your feet together holding a jump rope, and imagine a line beneath your feet. Begin the skip rope while simultaneously jumping side to side, back and forth over the line, as quickly as possible, keeping your feet together.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.

Perform five to six sets, resting 30-60 seconds between each set before lifting.

Pro-Agility Shuttle


When I was at school, they would call this exercise the beep test, and it will most likely deceive you the first time that you perform it. The Pro-Agility Shuttle is like the shortened version of the beep test.

Here’s how you can do the shuttle run.

  • Find a field or court with a lined surface, or set up cones to act in place of lines.
  • You need three lines spaced five yards apart from each other.
  • Straddle the middle line, get into a three-point stance, and place one hand on the ground. Now turn and sprint five yards to your left and touch the left-most line with your left hand.
  • Then turn and run 10 yards to your right and touch the right-most line with your right hand.
  • Finally, turn and sprint back five yards to the line you started at.
  • That’s one shuttle.

Perform six to eight shuttles, resting 60-90 seconds between each. Begin each shuttle by running in a different direction than you did in the previous one.

For example
In your second shuttle, start by sprinting to the right.

This will test your reflexes and endurance, and will beat the crap out of you when it does. Keep that in mind and you won’t have me on your back telling you I told you so.

This can all be a part of your cardio workout routine, and if you stick at these exercises, within a couple months, you’ll find yourself bouncing around just like Spiderman.

See you in the comments.

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The Super Hero Workout – The Weightlifting Exercises (Part 3)

October 22, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

In previous posts such as balancing cardio and weight training, I talked about the importance of including cardio training into your weightlifting workouts. I also explained how you can set your own personal fitness goals and how to balance both resistance training and cardio training for overall fitness. Another thing I always ramble on about is the importance of building real functional strength, especially with the use of bodyweight exercises, and in terms of being able to run faster and improve your endurance, the formula is quite simple.

Strength = Speed

Now, when I think of super heroes who can move at lightening speed, Cheetara of the Thundercats always comes to mind.

The only thing is, Cheetara never did reach that real super hero status. So who else could take the crown as speed king of all super heroes?

The Flash

He is without a doubt the undisputed king of speed in the super hero world, and if you have been living under a rock these past few decades, then here is a recent video from the cartoon Justice League, which will show you why he has that name.

You may not be able to move as fast and sustain that level of speed in the real world, but the exercises you will see here will allow you to get close to it.

The One Legged Squat aka The Pistol Squat


This exercise happened to be a crowd favourite out of all of the bodyweight exercises that I covered in unique bodyweight exercises some weeks back. The only thing is, that it will take some time to master. Once you do master this bodyweight exercise it will build supreme strength in your legs, as well as improving your balance. Here’s how you do it,

  • Stand straight.
  • Hold one leg out in front of you.
  • Hold both arms out straight in front of you.
  • Lower your self down on one leg.
  • As you reach the ground, tense your butt and stomach muscles.
  • Hold the position briefly.
  • Rise back up and repeat.
  • (Stand in front of a wall to use for support if you need it.)

Perform three sets of 10 reps on each leg, resting three minutes between sets.

Run Up Hills – The Hill Sprint


Running up hills is something you should do as a part of a high intensity cardio workout, but if you do run up hills then you only want to do that once or twice a week, as you will definitely feel the burn after doing so. But in terms of building strength, speed and endurance to move like the flash, you will want to perform hill sprints as a part of your cardio training workout.

  • Find a hill or other surface that’s inclined by at least 15 degrees
  • You will want to feel resistance when you sprint it, but it shouldn’t feel like you are climbing The Mount Everest.
  • Sprint up the incline for 25 yards
  • Then walk back down
  • Rest for two minutes.

I did something similar to this back when I was training as an athlete. But what this exercise teaches you to do is to apply greater force to the ground with each step that you take while running as fast as you can. Again… strength = speed

The A skip

This is one of many techniques to help improve how fast you can move your feet and the effect that you will want from performing this exercise should look something like this,

Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap!

But the reason that I like this exercise is because it teaches you to drive your feet straight down and land underneath your hips ‘properly’. Here is how you do it,

  • Bring your right knee up in a skipping action, so that your left leg is hopping.
  • As soon as your right heel clears your left knee, drive the right leg down in a “piston”-like action.
  • You should then land on the ball of your foot.
  • Each hop is only a couple of inches off the ground.
  • As you drive your right leg down, your left arm should also be going down and vice versa.
  • Keep your torso tall and straight.
  • Do this for 15 yards.
  • Perform three sets at your own pace.

There are other techniques you can use to increase your running speed, strength and endurance as I’ve had first hand experience with many. But for now, give these exercises a try and be sure to include them into your weightlifting routines.

Read part 4 here:

The Super Hero Workout – The Weightlifting Exercises (Part 4)

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The Super Hero Workout – The Weightlifting Exercises (Part 2)

October 21, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Welcome to part 2 of the Super Hero Workout. As I stated yesterday, I will be posting weightlifting exercises that when performed correctly to their full potential, will make you look like your favorite super hero. Today’s super hero is,

The Incredible Hulk – Chest and shoulders


No matter what body part that we cover on Mr Bruce Banner, it will be a beastly sized muscle. But in terms of his size, it is his chest and shoulders that stand out the most, and this is how you can build a set just like his.

Gymnastics Flyes


The last time I talked about using gymnastic rings was when I covered the muscle up exercise in unique bodyweight exercises. That is a monster 9/10 difficulty exercise for sure. But it’s time to talk about the gymnastic rings again. To build a set of The Hulk’s chest and shoulders, you need to be doing some gymnastic flyes. Here’s how.

  • Set up a barbell high in a power rack and loop the straps around it
  • Let them hang slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab them, keeping your body tense in a straight line
  • Lower your torso down by widening your arms as far until you feel comfortable with the width
  • Reverse the motion until your arms are out in front of you

Perform two sets of as many reps as possible as the last chest exercise in your workout, resting two minutes between sets.

Hang Clean and Press (Shoulders)


This compound exercise scared me when I first saw it being performed. I saw a guy in the gym doing it once and he was quite ripped, so he must of been doing something right. Anyhow, once I did learn how to perform this exercise properly, I started to feel and see the effects of it. Here’s how to do it.

  • Grab a barbell overhand at shoulder width.
  • Keep your back flat and lower it to knee level
  • Straighten, shrug up, and come up on the balls of your feet
  • Then, flip your wrists over and press the weight straight overhead
  • Reverse the motion to return to the starting position.

Perform one set of six to eight reps, rest 90-120 seconds, and then use a lighter load for a second set of 10-20 reps.

Both of these exercises have proved to work wonders for me and they never do seem to ease up on the difficulty factor. If you want to look like even 1% of what The Hulk looks like, then be sure to include these into your weightlifting workout routine.

See you in the comments.

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The Super Hero Workout – The Weightlifting Exercises

October 20, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Now I know how much you all like to build your individual body parts, and I know that everyone has there struggles with building certain muscle groups. We can always find solutions for effectively building those muscles and I’ll always do my best to provide that.

But over the next few days you may possibly find the answer to that as I attempt to make you look like your favorite super hero by focusing on their strongest body parts.

We all have our own favorite fictional super hero’s (sadly they don’t exist in real life) whether from a film, cartoon or computer game and my personal favorites are…

Wolverine – X-men (cartoon/ film/ comic)
Kratos – God of War (Computer game)
Venom – Spiderman (Cartoon)
Lord Lion-o – Thundercats (cartoon)
Goku – Dragon ballz

And others

But over the next couple of days I’m going to focus on some well known animated super heroes from our good friends marvel comics and help you build their strongest muscle group with unique weightlifting exercises.

Wolverine – The forearms

Out of all of the X-men, wolverine has to be my favorite, quite simple because he represents raw power, and I have always been a true muscle head at heart for as long as I can remember.

In regards to his muscular frame, some may say his biceps or shoulders stand out from his stocky frame. But I’d say it’s his forearms that stand out and here is how you can build a pair just like his in your weightlifting workouts at the gym.

The Plate-pinch Curl

This exercise is actually harder then it looks, but add this exercise to your weightlifting routine to start building your forearms like Mr Logan’s.

  • Grab two wide-rimmed plates and put them together with the smooth sides facing outwards
  • Place your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other
  • Then Lift!
  • Lower your arms back down to your sides
  • Try using 45lb weights

If that is too much for you just start off light and progress to heavy weights. In general you should try to aim for 8-12 reps with 4 sets. The key to success with this exercise is by lifting till failure. Painful but gainful.

Reverse Thick-Bar Curl


An old friend who was a security guard introduced me to this exercise; I can tell you now… his forearms were HUGE. This exercise is a favourite for sure. Just be prepared to feel the burn.

  • Grab the bar with both hands at shoulder-width, overhand grip
  • Lift and curl
  • Lower it to complete one rep
  • Perform four sets of 8-12 reps, resting as little as possible between sets.

Hammer Curl with Twist


These are quite similar to the reverse thick-bar curl exercise, however, these promote a better Range Of Motion for the movement of your arms.

  • Grab the dumbbells and curl them with your palms facing your sides.
  • When your forearms are parallel to the floor, rotate your wrists inward so that your palms face the floor
  • Rotate them back outward until they face the ceiling
  • And finally rotate them back so that they face inward again, and lower your arms back to your sides.

As someone who has naturally small wrists, I have made it a passion of mine to know the best ways to build up your forearms and I perform 2 out of 3 of these exercises every other session.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s super hero where I’ll describe how you can build chest and shoulder muscle like The Incredible Hulk.

See you in the comments.

Read part 2 here:

The Super Hero Workout – The Weightlifting Exercises (Part 2)

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10 Power Foods To Eat For Breakfast

October 19, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

In previous posts such as how to increase your metabolism, I have noted the importance of why you need to eat breakfast in the morning. In terms of increasing your metabolism it is a very important thing, but it is also important when you are building muscle. It will help you kick-start your day and keep you focused through out.

But it’s not just about eating anything when building for muscle. The foods listed below will give you more energy, provide life long health benefits and more importantly, be very satisfying to eat.

Shredded wheat

Now I’ve been eating cold cornflakes as my default breakfast for years, but when I was younger, my mother always told me to eat more shredded wheat. The thing is, shredded wheat just isn’t as nice as cornflakes (and I still think that), but that fact is, a high fiber breakfast will do you a whole lot more good. Having a high fiber breakfast such as shredded wheat will also decrease your chances of heart failure in the future.

If you don’t like shredded wheat that is fine, you just need to make sure that the cereal you go for has whole-wheat, oats or bran listed first on the box.

Whole grain bread

If you have been serious in your weightlifting workouts then you will without a doubt be wanting to eat more food, quite simply because your body will be demanding more energy. If that is the case then you may want to eat some whole grain bread along side your cereal. Eating this carb packed food will keep your stomach at bay until midday.

Left over Pizza

Now if you are anything like me, you will be a fan of ordering food/ dinner at least once or twice a week. If one of those orders is pizza then you may often fall asleep watching a movie and have some pizza left over. If so, then you have a great breakfast awaiting you for the following morning, and here’s why,

The Pizza

  • Vegetables (tomato sauce)
  • The cheese (protein)

And the variations of other toppings leave the options open for all types of benefits from eating left over pizza.

Low-fat cottage cheese

The main reason for eating this is because of the high protein stores contained within it (with no sugar). That is

4 ounce serving = 15 grams of protein

However, I understand that Cottage cheese isn’t everyone’s favorite, so if you want to opt for something else, go for plain yogurt.

Sausages

I am a big fan of the fry up breakfast and one of the best foods to include in your fry up would be sausages due to its leaner, nitrate-free and protein packed nature. If you want to spice things up a little, go for tomato and basil chicken sausages (it’s light on the calories too)

Steel-cut oats

This will be your fiber breakfast meal. A decent sized bowl of oats would be packed with approx 8 grams of soluble fiber. Again, this will be a belly filler for the morning hours. You may also want to add some berries or honey to awaken your taste buds for the morning.

Tea

And I’m not talking about the Starbucks kind either. Unless you are breaking the rules (which you should do sometimes), most Starbucks teas wont do your diet any good.  In terms of tea, Indian tea is my favorite, but for the purpose of power foods, go for Mighty Leaf Organic Earl Grey.

Why?

Other than being a great tea, it is also very tasty and you won’t feel the need to add milk or sugar.

Whole eggs

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been told to not eat the yolk in eggs, but I was never told the real reason why. Yes, it does increase your cholesterol…. but that is, your ‘good’ cholesterol, so I found that eating whole eggs wasn’t so bad after all. The yolk also contains the vitamin b12 which helps break down fat and helps the muscles contract better. So go for the whole egg.

The Egg Mcmuffin

Many off us like to eat on the move, especially in the morning as time is usually against us at that time. If you do have to stop off at the drive thru at McDonalds then go for the egg Mcmuffin for your whole egg alternative. The good thing about the Mcmuffin is that it will provide an equal amount of fat, protein and carbs. That is,

Fat = 12 grams

Protein = 30 grams

Carbs = 18 grams

So don’t wait up, wake up and get your egg on.

A glass of milk

If I happen to miss out on my Shredded wheat, Quaker oats or cornflakes, then I make sure that I at least have a glass of milk for breakfast. Milk in general is great, despite all of the things that you hear about it being a cause of cancer. It is also good for your teeth, which will enhance the glow of your grill as you migrate into old age. If you want to spice things up you could always go for chocolate milk. Chocolate milk gives the perfect balance of carbs, protein and fat and is great for repairing your war torn muscles from the weightlifting workout the night before.

Feel free to play around with combinations of these foods and post your ideas and experiences in the comments too if you have any. Either way, these are all foods that you should include for your morning meal at some point.

See you in the comments

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