Real Tweaks Happen After The Explosion

April 14, 2014 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Explosion?

I thought those things only happen in wars and stuff?

Yes they do. But I’m talking about building muscle here.

You see… Whether you are new to building muscle or not. You would have experienced an explosive initial growth when you first lifted a dumbbell.

‘You broke your muscle building virginity’


You know the feeling right?

  • Sore for the first 7-10 days
  • Muscles feeling tense (You actually think you have grown because of how you feel, when you’ve actually probably shrunk)

Of course you know the feeling. And it’s great! And then you actually notice muscles that pop out that you didn’t even think existed. You begin to feel like one of these guys…

Literally!

Keep this up for 30 days and building 14lbs or more of muscle mass is highly achievable and highly probable. So I guess what I said in this post is reality… for the short term at least.

In my view, this is the best feeling you’ll EVER get throughout your fitness and bodybuilding life. Mainly because it’s a new and fresh experience for you. There really is nothing quite like your first time. 😉

However, it won’t take long until that inital honey moon period is over. Just like a male/female relationship… give it 3 months, and you’ll find that the happy fun period suddenly becomes less fun. And then problems arise. And in the case of building muscle?

  1. – You can’t seem to progress and lift any heavier weight
  2. – You may even notice that your muscles start to shrink
  3. – You get frustrated and get demotivated
  4. – You look the same year after year!

With that being the case, it’s time that you refocus your mindset for your next workout. Because all the above points really are not cool.

The refocus


#1  You can’t seem to progress and lift any heavier weight


This is the most common scenario in the gym. People lifting weights month after month, year after year, without seeing any real progress in both strength and size gains. This happens because of one main reason.

‘Because you are trying to gain too quickly’


Like I’ve said once before. The main reason you want to gain quickly is because of your ego. Maybe to impress the ladies. Who knows. But quit it already. Just like a male/female relationship, once that honeymoon period is over, you’re going to have to work at that relationship to keep it fresh. To keep it from going stale.

The same thing you need to do with your muscles!

The only thing you should be doing is focusing on slow growth and steady progress. For two main reasons…

  1. It’s the only way you’ll actually grow
  2. It’s the only way to gauge and understand what is working/ not working for your body

Hence the title of this post ‘Real tweaks happen after the explosion’.

  • You may have bulked quickly (Honeymoon period) and gained some extra stomach fat. Maybe cut carbs and increase protein intake
  • Your bench press gains may have flattened some what. Maybe switched things up and perform more pull ups and barbell rows for assistance
  • (#2) Your muscles have shrunk! More sleep? Add a deload week? Take a month off working out? Shorter workout period? Less exercise?

That list could go on and on and on. I will be covering many of these causes and more shortly, and whatever your cause is, you’ll have a solution.

#3 You get frustrated and get demotivated

The only reason this happens is because you have seen a lack of real progress. It’s natural. But one thing you have to understand here is that this WILL happen. It’s just a question of when?

When it does happen, all you need to do is STOP! And go back to the drawing board. Find out what your ‘today’ One Rep Max’s are and start over (This is what you base your future reps/sets/weights on you see). Refresh and start the honeymoon period all over again. Obviously it won’t be the same like the first time around… it never is. But utilizing this method to progress will work for years to come. How do you think people manage to stay married for so long? They work at it, change things up, refresh and recycle. And you will do the same.

#4 You look the same year after year!

This is a problem that I’ll soon fix for you all. Because what’s the point of looking like everyone else and your former self year after year. That’s what happens to 90% of gym goers. The main thing you need to do here is take a maximum of 1 year to build the body of your dreams (Easily done… no excuses here) and then maintain and tweak your results over the 2nd year. That’s the short version of your fitness plan. Follow that methodology and you certainly won’t look the same year after year. And you’ll probably be inspired to take up some kind of career in fitness at this point. Heck…. you’ll probably get approached by some industry guy/gal to become a spokesperson/fitness competitor. But like I said, this is just the short version… for now.

Now… I am still working on the early version of ‘the solution’ for all of you… and I’m keeping the theme of the program Stayfitbug style… as that’s what ‘I’ know most of you like and are used to on this site (More info coming up shortly). However, over the weekend, I watched a video by nutritionist Kyle Leon… and I do like the focus of his program, on being ‘diet precise’. Although not for everyone, and something I actually won’t be pushing forward too much (Initially at least – as I don’t think this is the most important thing you need to do to enhance your fitness lifestyle) I think the video is worth a watch, because what he says does make sense. Here’s the link to his video…

Click here ===> Build Muscle with a ‘diet precise’ approach

And when I show you what ‘I ‘think is important (As a core focus of what you should keep at the forefront of your fitness mindset) in the video ‘I’ show you, you’ll be able to make your comparisons and see where I’m coming from. Never the less, watch the video. Here’s the link again.

Click here ===> Build Muscle with a ‘diet precise’ approach

And remember, real tweaks happen ‘after’ the explosion. Keep the solutions above listed in your workout mindset, and you will indeed be better off for the long term.

See you in the comments.

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Unique Bodyweight exercises (part 3)

April 9, 2014 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

As i mentioned in part 2, i will soon put together an E-book regarding all bodyweight exercises that you can do, common and unique. But before i prepare that, I’ll leave you with 2 more exercises that you can try out.

Full planche push ups

You all know how to do normal push ups right? If not, then you can wait for the E-book. But if you know how normal push ups work, you’ll realize that what you see here is not the norm. What you see here is pretty hard to perform while doing many reps and will you need to have mastered ordinary push ups to pull this one off.

How do you do them?

Do as you see in the video and keep your whole body tensed.

Why should you do them?

Because they will give your whole body a workout

  • Wrists
  • Arms
  • Shoulders
  • Traps
  • Chest
  • Abdominals
  • Legs

You probably won’t be good at this exercise straight away, but take your time and work on your strength endurance.

Advanced Push ups

 

I’m going to end unique bodyweight exercises with advanced push ups. This exercise is quite unique as it is a combination of dumbbell fly’s and a push up, and is great for working on your chest on the cheap.

How to do them

1) Grab a pair of dumbbells and loosen the collars until they can roll.

2) Place them in front of you (vertically).

3) Get into the press up position.

4) Now instead of placing your hands on the floor, hold onto the dumbbells in front you, close together, and use them as push up stands.

5) Now slowly roll and extend both dumbbells outwards as you press down. Hold for a second and bring them in close again to the starting position. Also be sure to watch your balance.

6) As you go up and down try to keep your elbows bent a little, as this will make the exercise easier to perform.

As i mentioned, you will all get an in-depth version on how to do these unique and common bodyweight exercises. I will announce it via the site, but also via the newsletter, so sign up by clicking on the current E-book on the right side of this post to receive an automatic update for when i do announce it.

See you in the comments.

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Unique bodyweight exercises

September 17, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

bodyweight exercises

As of this month, it has been reported that we are now climbing our way out of the recession. But for many that doesn’t mean s***, and many people are still broke and struggling. If you fall into that category, you might have made cut backs on spending, and going to the gym may have been one of the things you cut back on, which is a worry as everyone from me to Aviva (check ’em out at http://www.aviva.co.uk/) are telling you the best way to be is to stay in shape. If so then it is your lucky day, as today I will be describing some unique bodyweight exercises that will allow you to maintain that sweet body that you have built up.

Advanced bench dips

bench dips

  • Difficulty: 4/ 10
  • Time to master: 2-3 weeks

Although this exercise isn’t too demanding on the triceps, it is still demanding enough that you will need to have a decent amount of current tricep strength to perform it.

Instruction

  • Find a bench and a wall
  • Place your hands on the bench, shoulder width apart and push your feet against the wall so that your legs are straight and roughly in line with the bench.
  • Put your feet against the wall, lift your arms up straight and lower yourself down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Hold this position for a second or two, and then back to the starting position.
  • Repeat

What makes this exercise unique is that instead of having your feet placed on the ground, they are up against the wall. Having your feet up against the wall means that your triceps will have to lift more weight. If you want to get creative then you can always place some weight plates onto your lap.

Full hanging leg raise

  • Difficulty: 6/ 10
  • Time to master: 2-3 months

Now normal leg raises can be a bit of a challenge for sure, you,

  • Grab a pull up bar.
  • Raise both legs together up to a 90-degree angle.
  • Lower your legs and repeat.

But now that you have no money to go to the gym, you have to up the ante a little.

Introducing the full hanging leg raise!

hanging-leg-rasie
The difference with this exercise is that instead of lifting your legs to a 90-degree angle, you must now lift them all the way up to the bar until your feet touch the bar. This will be a challenge yes, but once mastered, it will give you an increase in strength, flexibility and control over your body, along with perfecting those lower abs.

If you find that you are not able to get your feet all the way up, take your time and build up to that progression until you do reach the bar.

The Ab wheel roll out

  • Difficulty: 9/10
  • Time to master: 3- 6 months

This exercise is very similar to the exercise ball roll out exercise from yesterdays post. Again, it might look pretty simple to perform, but once you reach those last few reps, the burn really does catch you by surprise. Now the normal ab wheel roll out looks like this,

ab-wheel-rollout

  • Begin by kneeling on the floor, and hold both sides of the wheel.
  • Roll the wheel forward, and lower your body as far as you can without arching your back.
  • Use your abs to pull yourself back to the starting position.

The unique version looks like this,

ab-rolloutab-rollout

The difference now is that only your feet and hands are on the floor. The real burn here is when you return from the extended position. That is where you will suffer, but master this exercise and you will see improvements in your strength on all parts of your body.

One legged squat

one-leg-squat

  • Difficulty: 6/10
  • Time to master: 2-3 months

Now we can test if all of that squatting with weights in the gym has or has not improved your functional strength. This is the best leg exercise that you can do with your body weight. Some may even go, as far as to say that it is the best leg exercise of the lot! But 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.

This exercise is all about balance, but once you master this one, you will build real true strength for sure.

I am without a doubt a bodyweight exercise enthusiast, but that is also a good thing for those of you reading this. Why? Because I don’t want you to end up being the ‘king’ of the gym who can’t manage to do a single pull up. That is no real king in my eyes.

These bodyweight exercises will help you build real strength, and better yet, you will be building muscle and strength on the cheap in the space of your own home. So follow these exercises through and you will succeed in your strength gaining efforts.

See you in the comments.

You can now grab the Unique Bodyweight Exercises Ebook here.

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Killer Compound Exercises

September 2, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

This is a guest post from Jedd Johnson, strength coach, strongman competitor and performer and Grip competitor.  Check out his site at http://www.dieselcrew.com.

Killer Compound Exercises

Let me ask you a question.  Do you go to the gym to get serious results, or do you go to pass time, hang out, catch up on gossip, and hang out in the air conditioning?

If you go to the gym and train so that you can have a good time, chat, and just listen to the radio in the cool air, then this article isn’t for you.  Feel free to check out the next headline.

However, if you go to the gym to put in an hour or more of solid, hard work, work up a serious sweat, and put yourself through a routine with the goal of improving your physical conditioning, then you’ve come to the right place.  You’re my kind of guy and I want to help you out.

I know that you are hitting it hard in the gym, never missing the workout, and I want to give you a handful of gold nuggets that are going to help you be more productive.

The fact is, many of the hardest workers in the gym make the mistake of incorporating an over-abundance of isolation movements.

Now, I’ll admit, I love hitting dumbbell curls as much as anyone, but the problem with dumbbell curls, tricep push-downs, leg curls, and leg extensions is that they are isolation movements, meaning they isolate one muscle group and have activity at one joint.

THE KEY TO BUILDING SERIOUS MUSCLE IS COMPOUND MOVEMENTS.

Compound movements are just the opposite of isolation movements in that they involve multiple muscle groups all at the same time.  These movements are effective at producing natural testosterone in your body, which means you are going to be out-growing your tee shirts in no time.

How do you know you’re working a Compound Movement?  The detail that sets compound movements apart from other lifts is movement over multiple joints.  This movement over multiple joints is what begins to involve more musculature into the lift, making you work harder, causing a spike in your testosterone production, and resulting in more muscle growth on your body.

Check out this illustration for an easy way to tell isolation movements apart from compound movements.

Side Lateral Raise

Side lateral raises
Side lateral raises

The Side Lateral Raise is a common exercise for generating a monstrous set of shoulders.  With the Side Lateral Raise, there is movement at one joint, the shoulder.  The muscles involved in the movement are the deltoids, but aside from them, not much musculature is taxed in the movement.

Standing Military Press

standing military press
The Standing Military Press is another common shoulder exercise, but in this case, there is movement involved at the shoulder, and at the elbow.  Throw in the fact that you are standing, and this requires even more coordination and muscular involvement, but even if you perform this lift seated, you will still involve more muscle than Side Laterals alone.

Now that you understand the concept of compound exercises, it’s time to know which ones to put into your routine.  The following three exercises are what I call the Killer Compound Exercises.  These lifts NEED to be in your weekly routine starting now.  You need to look at where you can start implementing them starting this week.

Back Squats

back squats
The Back Squat should be one pillar of your compound movement training.  It is used mainly as a lower body movement, but when done properly, there is tension created throughout the entire body.

When you do these, make sure you remember to get down to parallel or below.  Quarter squats are not going to do anything for you except make you lose cool points.

The Workout:  Form is very important with Back Squats and since they involve so much musculature, your form can break down easily, especially if you are not used to doing them.  You don’t want to bring about an injury from poor form, so stick with singles, doubles and triples with the Back Squat.  Because I keep the reps lower, I usually hit several warm-up sets with sub-maximal weights and then do 5 work sets.  I hit Back Squats every week, usually on Sunday or Monday, or whenever my training cycle starts over.

Dead lift

Dead lifts

Also considered a lower body movement, the Deadlift hit the legs and lower back well, as well as the lats, rhomboids, erectors, and traps.  This movement is great for targeting huge masses of muscle, even causing tension to be produced in the shoulders and arms.  Your hand strength will be taxed with this one as well, so make sure to get your grip on!

The Workout:  Again, Deadlift form is important to get the most out of this exercise.  You should feel every bit of muscle in your body tensing up as you pull the bar off the floor to the lockout position.  When performing the deadlift, I like to get warmed up really well and then work singles.  I also like to work triples for speed, but I don’t usually go up much higher than 3 reps per set.  I like 5 work sets for the Deadlift as well.  After that, my form usually begins to go.

Clean and Press
clean and press

Pulling an object from the floor and pushing overhead is plain and simple a brute strength movement.  It also involves a ton of musculature to perform and should be included in your program if you are truly serious about getting big and strong.

For the Clean and Press, you can use the bar that is in your gym, or an odd object, like keg or sandbag.

As always with compound movements, you must pay attention to your form so that you can do more reps and generate more testosterone and make more muscle.

The three lifts above are what I consider staples of my routine.  I have done them for years and I plan on doing them for years to come.  These full body movements will make a huge difference in your training.  Start taking your before photos now, because in 16 weeks you are going to look like a completely different person.

In addition to these three core lifts, for every muscle group, there is a good example of a compound movement to fit the need.  For as hard as you work in the gym, you should make sure these lifts are in your cycle as well to get the most out of the time you are putting in the gym.  Here they are:

  • Quads – Lunges
  • Hamstrings – Romanian Deadlifts
  • Biceps – Power Curls
  • Triceps – Close Grip Bench Press
  • Upper Back – Pull-ups
  • Lower Back – Deadlifts
  • Chest – Bench Press
  • Shoulders – Military Press

I want to know what you think about these movements once you try them out, so please leave a comment here, or come check out my website, http://www.DieselCrew.com.  We train for and compete in Powerlifting, Strongman and Grip competitions.  We have tons of articles and videos up as well as free give-aways and newsletter, so please feel free to come check us out.

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Forget About The Gym! Play Rockband and Guitar Hero For Fitness

August 31, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Guitar Hero for fitness

In a previous post, I talked about unique ways to build muscles, forearms to be specific. The great thing about most unique approaches to building muscle is that they often put an emphasis on building functional strength. This is strength that you would use performing everyday tasks from pulling, pushing, climbing or lifting. These are benefits that you don’t get when using weights machines. These unique approaches are also very good for those that either,

1) Don’t have time for the gym

2) Simply not a fan of them

This is where RockBand and Guitar Hero would come into play.

Guitar HeroRockBand 2 for fitnessGuitar Hero 5
For those who don’t know, RockBand and Guitar Hero are music games that simulate a ‘Rock band’ experience via a games consoles (PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii) and plastic (instrument shaped) controllers.

It was the year 2005 and it had been a few months since I graduated. I was (and still am) quite active in the online business world and I loved trying out new games in my spare time. September had arrived and I picked up a copy of Guitar Hero (version one) along with the controller. I won’t bore you with my life story, so to keep a long story short,

‘ It led to many memorable nights rocking out on a guitar to classic rock songs and a new found level of virtual rock stardom’

Fast-forward to 2008 and these games had now evolved into hugely popular family/ friend’s music games, leading to a fun fuelled Christmas holiday season. But the games now included,

  • Drums
  • Microphones
  • Multi-player action (A physical or virtual band)

The key thing about playing these games over anything else is that you get the feeling that you are in a real band. You will sweat, rock out, take breaks and feel exhausted… just like you do in a real band. And if you have watched a real band on stage, whether it be the drummer, guitarist or lead singer, you will know that performing can be a hell of a workout.

Up until this day I would sometimes do 5-6 hours straight when playing RockBand. I usually like to be the drummer and I can tell you, it is a workout. The difference being that it’s a lot more fun than hitting the gym, and I would often play this instead of doing my usual ‘alternate’ home work out routine.

Being a drummer mirrors compound body exercises

Strong drummer

I’ve often talked about the importance of performing compound body exercises when working out, and by being a drummer in RockBand or Guitar Hero, you can develop similar results to what that exercise can give.

Playing the drums in general is a very strenuous task. You will use all 4 limbs to play a number of repetitive motions many times. Although the game is a simulation, the actions you perform are still quite real.

In a 4-minute song at 120bpm playing a standard 8th note rock beat, you’ll hit your hi-hat 960 times and your kick, snare at 120times.

In 30 minutes of playing you can raise your heartbeat to round 120-140bpm. That is a lot of sweat.

So the key benefits here in comparison to exercising is that you will be working,

  • All four limbs
  • Heart
  • Lungs

Ok, we know this is a fun and unique way to exercise, but be more specific, what muscles get worked and from what actions?

In RockBand and Guitar Hero you have different difficulty levels.

  • Easy
  • Medium
  • Hard
  • Expert

The real comparison between playing this and exercising in the gym is when you become an expert drummer.

Instruments and muscles worked

Cymbals

Once you start playing the cymbals on expert, you will feel worked out and the key muscles that will feel worked are,

  • Shoulders
  • Upper back
  • Forearms
  • Triceps
  • Lower back (If you sit up straight)

Bass

In both games you will get this as part of the drums and again, when you get to expert level and start playing fast you will lift your legs up more and that will work your,

  • Thighs
  • Shin muscles
  • Ankles
  • Calves

That does sound good and I’m all for new approaches to fitness, but I’m no skilled drummer, what can I do to practice the movements?

Without a doubt, jumping on RockBand or Guitar hero can be a challenge for beginners. Or some people may not want to take up RockBand, Guitar Hero or drumming and just want to perform the actions involved. For both here are a couple of things you can do.

1) Get some drumsticks and practice on a pillow, there would naturally be no bounce so you’re forced to pull the stick back up rather than relying on rebound.

2) You can do the same for your feet with the bass. Do this in front of the television. I’ve also tried this exercise when I am resting between weight lifting sets at the gym. This means I get to perform two workouts, my normal one and a drumming one, now that’s what I call a good use of my time! 🙂

If you have not yet played these games and wish to try after reading this, please keep this in mind.

Purchase RockBand game only (for the music tracks)
Purchase Guitar Hero drums (better quality)

  • In any form of exercise if you start to experience acute sharp pains, stop immediately. I’m talking nasty hard pain, especially in your chest. Not just mild discomfort.
  • If you are drumming and your wrist start to hurt, stop and rest them.
  • Also, build up your endurance exercises over time, if you haven’t played a single stroke before, start slowly, rest and then build up over time. This is to give your body time to adapt to the extra workload you are placing on it.
  • If you have any difficulty breathing, again, stop and go and see your doctor.
  • Lastly, if you haven’t done much exercise go and see your doctor first before starting just for a check up and get the OK to start again. I don’t want any of you hurting yourself following this advice.

As you can see, playing RockBand or Guitar Hero can be a quite radical, yet unique approach to improving fitness. You probably won’t gain any real muscle mass from doing so, as most of these activities are aerobic, but it will certainly increase your strength and endurance. Besides you get to kill 2 birds with one stone. Keeping fit while at the same time… having fun.

Do you play any musical instruments? If so has it had an effect on your fitness levels?

See you in the comments.

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How To Build Killer Shoulders?

August 18, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Build strong shouldersIf there is one muscle group which I truly love over all others (ok, may be not the abs) it would have to be the shoulders. The reason why, is because once you have built great shoulders, you will look good regardless of your frame or the clothes that you wear. This is great for guys who suffer from (I really do have muscles), and as I have stated before, most of you really do workout so that you are noticed by others.

Many of you probably are familiar with shoulder exercises to do at home or at the gym.  But I’ll describe the exercises that have worked for myself over the years, without the use of any supplements, which gave me KILLER SHOULDERS!

Shoulder muscles ‘Deltoids’

Anterior (Front)
Medial (Middle)
Posterior (Rear)

Strong shoulder muscles

Dips Exercise

Dips exercise
Target Muscles: All shoulder muscles, triceps and chest

When I hit the gym I usually try to start with this exercise. It’s a killer shoulders exercise because you have to use your own body weight, but once you master it, you will prove to yourself that you really have increased your strength.

  1. Raise yourself up to an initial position with your arms extended and supporting the entire weight of your body.
  2. Next, lower yourself to a final position where your elbows are bent and your shoulders are mildly stretched.
  3. Then use your arms to push yourself upwards to the initial position.

Wide Grip Pull-ups (with a dipping belt)

Wide_Grip_Chin up

Target muscles: Posterior (rear), Latissimus Dorsi (lower back)

This is another strength testing exercise, but once mastered, add a dipping belt for a more challenging exercise. It primarily targets your lower back, but does also work the shoulders.

  1. Allow your body to hang from the bar with your arms straightened.
  2. Then pull yourself upward so that your chest nearly touches the bar and your chin is over the bar.

Barbell Upright Row

Target Muscles: All, but mainly Anterior (Front), Back

I never used to include this in my workouts in the beginning, but then I realised that if you want great looking shoulders then you must work them on all dimensions. This primarily targets the front shoulders.

  1. Place your hands no more than six inches apart on the bar.
  2. Pull the bar to just underneath your chin, allowing the elbows to flare out as wide as possible.

Dumbbell Side Raise

Dumbbell lateral side raise
Target Muscles: Anterior (Front)

This is my all time favourite weights assisted shoulder exercise. No matter how many times I perform, or how good I get at this exercise, it is always a challenge. But stick at it and this will give you a fine set of shoulders!

  1. In correct posture, stand with your legs spaced shoulder width apart.
  2. Keep your abdominal muscles tight, knees bent and chest relaxed.
  3. Slightly in front of your sides lift the weight directly up, while focusing on your shoulders.
  4. Stop when your elbow joints are in a straight line with your shoulders and reverse the motion down.
  5. Under control, lower the weight, stop when your arms slightly touch your sides and reverse the motion.

Dumbbell Front Raise
alternate_front_dumbbell_raise

Muscles worked: Anterior (Front)

This is similar to the side raise exercise, but instead you place the dumbbells horizontally, one on each thigh. I actually find this one more of a challenge than side raise exercise, but keep this up and the results will come.

(With both raises it is highly advisable that you start off with lightweights)

There are other exercises you can use to build your shoulders, but these ones work quite well. Try to alternate these exercises on different days of your weekly workout schedule. Keep that up and I can almost guarantee that you will achieve some serious results along with KILLER SHOULDERS!

What exercises have worked for you?

See you in the comments

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8 Ways to build great forearms (eliminate chicken limbs)

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

How to build strong forearm musclesThis is the muscle group I am most passionate about building. I don’t think there are as many chicken-limbed (arms) guys as there are chicken-legged guys, but I do know they exist in numbers.

The forearms and wrists are some of the hardest muscle groups to build muscle on. When I first started working out, it took me months before I started to see any real muscle gain results in my forearms. Unless the rest of your body is well developed or you show your body off often, wearing t-shirts without having strong forearms will lead people to believe that you are part of the (I really do have muscles…can’t you tell) club.

Your grip strength is extremely important and useful in so many ways.  The stronger your grip, the more weight and heavier weight you can lift and the longer you can keep the position. In a good portion of the more heavy pulling exercises, grip strength is the number one limiting factor. Believe it or not, the most effective forearm grip exercises are not the typical wrist curls you will see most guys in the gym do. You do get a real burn from these exercises and you can gain results from doing so. But the real problem with these exercises is that they don’t encourage practical body motions that we perform in our day-to-day lives. (Similar to some machines in the gym)

Below are some alternative techniques you can use to build HULK LIKE looking forearms, while performing movements that will allow your body to respond and  say ‘that movement makes sense… I’ll go with that’.

Bucket Of Sand

Get a bucket, spade and sand, which you can find at a home improvement store.  Fill the bucket with the sand. Then, you want to put your hand down far into the sand where you still have hand movement. Start moving your hand all over and tightening and loosening your fingers, essentially playing with the sand.

A few minutes of this and your will feel all the muscles in your forearm and the small muscles in your hand start to tighten and you will feel the burn.  Alternate hands a few times, doing this about 3 minutes or more per hand.

Tennis Ball

This method is often used by physical therapists and their patients for regaining grip strength after any type of hand, arm or shoulder surgery.  Common sense will tell you that if you are not trying to “regain” strength, you would be adding to the already existing strength you have. This is convenient as well because you can do it while watching TV. (Better than those hand grip things)

Barbell (A fave)

A former body builder I once knew taught me this. Try it… you will feel the burn!

Take your barbell with a moderate weight and set it on the stand just above knee level.  Stand beside the bar and reach down gripping the centre of the bar with one hand and lift the bar then let it go down below the stand and hold this position for as long as you can.  Your resistance is gravity and balancing the bar with one hand.

Weight Walk

Grab a pair of the heaviest dumbbells you can handle in each hand and walk with them until you cannot hold the dumbbells anymore.  You don’t have to limit yourself to dumbbells, you can use any other heavy object (try younger kids… they’ll enjoy the ride) that you can grip with both hands at the same time, say a couple of bags of dog food or something heavier in each hand.  You can also use the EZ curl bars and load them up to the capacity that you can handle.

Thick Bar

This is a common one. You will see most guys in the gym use this to get the grip strength they are looking for.  Using a thicker bar puts a very different kind of stress on the grip and forearms, giving you vast improvement.  There are many types of commercial grips that you can buy to add to your dumbbells even, but to make them thicker, you can wrap them with tape to gain the thickest size for your preference.

Reverse Curls

These are actual reverse barbell curls. This is the exercise that will put your forearms into fatigue mode real quick. Your grip will literally be the only thing keeping the bar from falling to the floor. (I have the power!)

Wrist Straps

I am only including this because this is a huge no-no when you are trying to develop your natural grip strength. As you know, the wrist straps serve as an assistant and this will hinder any progress you might be shooting for. It is okay to use them for the heavier lifts, but if you become dependent on them, you will not gain the grip strength and forearm development that you need.

Hanging

Just hang? Yes… just hang. Sounds easy, but don’t be fooled by this one. You can really only accomplish this as long as you have a chin-up bar (Stick one at the top of the door).  Grab the bar with your hands evenly apart and just hang there until you can no longer hang. What I mean is not just letting go when your hands get fatigued.  I am talking about hanging there until your fingertips are the only things holding you up and you literally fall off the bar because your hands have locked up with lactic acid. This will also accomplish a great upper body stretch.


All of the above exercises are pretty simple to perform. More importantly they encourage natural motion and will definitely catch a ladies attention when she grabs your arm 🙂

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Effective 6pac building techniques

July 31, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

how to build abs and tone muscle

When i left high school, one of the first things i wanted to get into was working out, because i started off slim to average build. I eventually went from slim to bigger slim, like those i mentioned in (Muscles do exist). I didn’t want to start lifting weights before 16 years old because i knew it could possibly stunt my growth (good thing i didn’t – i am a sky scraping 6’2 now :)). So i started to workout using my own body weight using exercises from pull ups, push ups, sit ups, crunches, pull ups with weights and others. After 4-5 weeks i started to notice that i was getting more toned, but no real gains in muscle mass (that was ok – i expected that). But one area of my body that i saw develop really quickly was my stomach. Even though i was of a slim/ average build, my stomach never really was defined to begin with. But here is what i done:

– 30 push ups a night (50 when maxed out)

– 150-200 sit ups a night

– No change in diet

– Consistence and regularity

– 10 weeks…. then!

I take a look in the mirror…stop! and say ‘Heeey, i really do have a 6 pac’ 🙂

To this day people will stop and ask me ‘What did you do to get that?’ I tell them the above and i get a shock response. So i would assume that building a 6 pac is quite hard for most to achieve. It’s either that or i just worked damn for it. Although i did work hard for it initially, one thing is for sure… it wasn’t easy. So when you see all of these videos and adverts describing that you can achieve results in just X no. of weeks, it’s usually a false positive, or its based on a generalization that everyone has the same body type (which obviously is not the case). What has surprised me the most up until now (10+ years later) is that i have done RARELY any stomach exercises since then, yet most of what i achieved at the time has stayed the same. (don’t be mislead, maintain it)

So what were the reasons for my relatively quick results. Hard work? My physique? Regularity and consistency? Diet? I would say a variation of all of those things, but below are some of the best ab exercises for building a 6pac that you can take away and implement into your workouts.

Exercise #1 – Sit-Ups
Sit ups. How to build a 6 pac

This is the one that everybody seems to know about but the majority of people do wrong. Remember that the smallest adjustments can make all the difference and we want our workouts to be as effective as possible to get the most out of every minute we exercise (if in doubt ALWAYS ask!). Here’s how to do proper sit ups:

Lie flat on the floor with your legs stretched out and your arms beside you. Lift your knees up by bringing your feet closer towards your body – about the distance from your heels to your calf muscle. Cross your hands over your chest and lift your body all the way up so that even your lower back lifts off the floor. Stay there for about 3 seconds and then gently lower yourself. Repeat about 20 of these in 3 to 4 sets, but don’t strain yourself – especially if you haven’t done it for a while. As you build your ab muscles you can start making it more challenging by sitting on an inclined bench or by holding a weight over your chest. (My fave part)

Abs Exercise #2 – Crunches
crunches. How to build a 6 pac

Once again, lying flat on your back, pull your legs towards your body slightly. With your arms crossed over your chest tighten your abs by ‘pulling’ your abdomen towards your spine as you inhale. Now lift your shoulders off the floor and don’t lift your body all the way up – you just need to lift your shoulders to tighten your abs. As you lift your shoulders you want to exhale. Stay there for about 3 seconds and gently lower your shoulders. In the lowered position you should relax your abs. Now repeat.

The key here is to focus only on your abdominal area as you do this. Flexing your abs and proper breathing is essential – remember that your breathing originates in your abdomen with your diaphragm. Repeat 10 to 20 times and do 3 to 4 sets of these.

Abs Exercise #3 – Leg Lifts

leg lifts. How to build a 6 pac

Your abs are a very important muscle group as it is a ‘pivot point’ in your body. With leg lifts we use this deliberately to tone our abs. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and your arms beside you (or on chest). Place your hands flat on the floor beside you and in this position, with your legs straight, lift your legs up as far as you can. Preferably your legs should be up in a 90 degree angle with the floor, but this might be difficult for some at first. Then, slowly lower your legs, but do not let your feet touch the ground. Repeat 10 to 20 times and do 3 to 4 sets of these.

Of course, these exercises are by no means the only way to get great abs, they are just some of the best abs exercises there are. Even so, you will still have to combine them with proper cardiovascular exercise like running, swimming or cycling as it will help you loose weight/work all muscle groups while targeting the abdominal muscles. I mentioned earlier that i didn’t change my diet much, but that’s just me. For most, you will have to control your diet. Fatty foods tend to ‘gather’ around the abdominal area which might make your workouts worthless.

Note: As i stated there are other methods out there to building great abs, below is a video that shows another good method of building great abs. Some of you may have seen, some of you may not. Either way, give it a watch.

How to get a 6pac (but in 3 minutes :S?)

Also view my Lower abs exercises pot on how to get ride of that fat in the lower ab area.

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Home workout vs Gym workout

July 19, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

fitness at home in a home gym and home workout plan

Now this is something that i have debated over with myself for a few years. Which is better for you? The home work out or the gym workout? Well, both are good. But which one you choose comes down to your needs and desires. From a personal experience i would choose the gym work out, simply because i have always achieved better results from using the best equipment ( and to actually WORKOUT).

The best routine for people with busy schedules (which is the majority) would be to have a variation of both home workout routines and gym workout routines in any given week. The days you go to the gym will give you your optimum results, and the home workout days will allow you to maintain those results. But lets break down all the possible factors of which can help you determine which to choose.

Privacy

Many people who are body concious tend not to want to show off to a group of strangers. This mainly affects people who are trying to lose weight and is probably one of the key reasons these people put off going to a gym. If this is you then a home workout may suit you best.

Gym open hours

I have personally experienced a conflict with this. You will always have to schedule your workout times around the gym open hours. But the gym open hours  may conflict with your daily/weekly schedule. If so, again…you may want to opt for the home workout.

Crowded gym

This coincides with the above. First you have to schedule your routine around gym open hours. Secondly, you will have to schedule your routine around the ‘non busy’ periods in that gym. You can:

a) Choose a non commercial/ local gym

b) Use my method of gym/ home workout routines

Pay as you go vs memberships

If you are affected by gym open hours and crowded gyms, then you probably have quite a dynamic yet busy schedule (non 9- 5ers). If so then it maybe be a good idea to opt for a pay as you go gym and utilize my method of gym/home work out routines. Believe me, you will save a lot of money doing so!

Workout time, no excuses

Now having a home gym has its benefits, but since your gym its at HOME you now have no excuse to put the ‘workout time’ off. Easier said then done when your favorite TV series comes on, wife and kids come home, girlfriend steps in, friends come over…(sound familair?). This is when going to gym wins in 2 ways:

1) Damn i’ve paid this membership fee…i need to use it.

2) Pushes your motivation and you tend to workout to your max.

The weather

It maybe winter, or you live in a country where it frequently rains (The UK!). If this is the case…home gym is for you

Location

Is the gym far from your home? if so and if you have no means of transport. Home gym it is.

The Look of Love

Now i am not one to go out looking for love, as i believe that love will find you when it’s ready (but thats a different matter). But if you are, then you could well and truly find it at the gym. I for sure have met quite a few like minded ladies in all of the gyms i attended over the years. So if you are looking, then stay out of the home and get yourself down to the gym.

Home suitable gym

Not all homes can be tailored to be built into a gym setting. You would usually need a fair amount of space and understanding housemates/family. If not, then you better keep that membership going. But if your home can be tailored, then you’ll be saving a lot of money, as home gyms are less costly than gym membership costs overtime.

Home gym equipment

Ok, so your home is suitable to be converted into a gym setting.

If you do decide that you prefer to exercise at home vs gym, you will need to carefully select the best home gym equipment for you.  The best home gym equipment allows you to perform several types of exercises on one piece of equipment, is suitable for people at various levels of physical fitness, and is easy to store in your home.  It is also affordable for the average person.

I’m no pro, who do i learn from?

One negative to going the home gym route is that you do not have access to trained professionals to help you learn to use the equipment and develop an exercise routine that is best for you.  There are a couple of ways you can deal with that.  Exercise equipment that you purchase frequently comes with an instructional video.  If so, watch the video carefully.  Sales representatives may be trained in helping you learn to use the equipment but they may not, so ask about their credentials before seeking their assistance with this.  You can also hire a personal trainer for a session or two just to help you get started on your exercise routine.

This is a negative for sure and a huge positive to going to a gym. Although the professionals are there, the best people you will learn from are the regulars that you train with. They will tell you when you are doing something wrong (something i mentioned in an earlier post). Without that you could well be doing yourself more harm then good. No amount of money saved can compensate for damaging your health.

If you have training experience and a home suitable to be gym equipped, then going the home gym route can work pretty well. You will probably maintain your exercise plan for a lot longer than those paying gym memberships to. If not, then you would probably be best suited to sticking with your local gym, membership or Pay as you go.

If you have any other thoughts or experiences on Home vs Gym workouts, do send your comments. I would love to hear them!

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