Bang For Your Buck Weight Training

January 18, 2014 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

I’ve been building muscle for 13 years now. In that time I’ve trained in about 10 – 15 gyms across the globe (Each gym experience being mostly the same, except a few special hot spots). And if there is one thing I notice every single time I worked out, it is the fact that most people are not training to their fitness goal advantage.

You may say…

But Shaun, how do YOU know what these peoples goals are. Why don’t you just mind your own business. You don’t know their history, their past errors, what they’re correcting, or whatever that persons business is.


True!

What you stated there is something everyone in the gym should be doing.

MINDING THEIR OWN BUSINESS!

(Unless they’re actually genuinely trying to help of course)

But what I am talking about here is a time period ‘after’ I have trained, naturally communicated and networked with these individuals. And over the years of doing so, I find that most of these people really are not training to their advantage. What tends to happen is that they start off correctly. You know… choose a upper body workout day, a lower body workout day and so on. But then they make the mistake of…

DOING TOO MUCH!

Thinking that doing more and spending more time in the gym will make them grow bigger and quicker. And then those same folks wonder why they look the same year after year (At those who are actually trying to look different and not just ‘maintain’).

What these individuals need to be introduced to is the concept of…

Bang For Your Buck Weight Training

What is Bang for your buck weight training?

The simple formula:

  • 1 x compound lift per workout (Mandatory – Something you MUST do)
  • 2 to 3 assistant weightlifting exercises (Variable)

No less, No more

If you stick to that plan (which you should!) your workout may seem slightly short, yes. But if performed with the utmost intensity, the time it takes to complete your workout will be the last thing you’ll be thinking about. Getting some good post workout nutrition and serious rest is what you’ll be thirsty for.

The common mistake

Let’s take chest day for example…

We know that the bench press exercise is the undisputed king of all chest related exercises. But some individuals feel the need to follow it up with FOUR exercises to assist.

Why so much?

I understand that it’s important to hit all angles of your chest, but doing THAT many exercises can and will work against you if your goal is to actually ‘grow’. Especially after that 30 day muscle building honeymoon period (If you are new to weight training) where you can pack on 14lbs of muscle or more. Because after that, the gains will indeed slow down. That’s just how the human body works ‘naturally’. If it didn’t we’d all look like this guy.

Can you imagine that. Masses of young to middle age hulk size folk walking the streets, terrifying ordinary civilians. The government wouldn’t allow that surely. With the penalty of growing to such a size being sent to war in the middle east, or some place. 😐

Any how, in all seriousness, the point is this…

You don’t need to perform as much as you ‘think’ you do


Bang for your buck workouts (as the title reads)


Performing exercises that will give you the best gains, instead of exercises that won’t!

Let’s take a 4 day split routine for example…

Monday

#1 Mandatory exercise = Deadlift

#2 Bang for your buck assistant exercises = Lunges, Full hanging leg raises

Wednesday

#1 Mandatory exercise = Military press

#2 Bang for your buck assistant exercises = Dips, Dumbbell rows, Shrugs

Friday

#1 Mandatory exercise = Squats

#2 Bang for your buck assistant exercises = Leg press, Leg curls

Sunday

#1 Mandatory exercise = Bench press

#2 Bang for your buck assistant exercises = Pull ups (weight assisted with progression), Barbell rows

Each workout looks pretty basic… right?

WRONG!

If you focus on actually progressing over time with that same workout routine structure, with the utmost intensity, you will indeed feel ‘smashed’ after most workouts.

Now, there are obviously tons of exercises that you can perform out there. Each have their specific purpose. What you need to do is find your reason for performing them them. Not just to look cool, or feel good about yourself (Weird point that one is, but that’s the mindset the some people have when they workout).

My favorite weekly exercises at present are…

  • Weight assisted Dips/ Pull ups/ Chin ups
  • Barbell rows
  • Stiff leg deadlifts
  • Deadlifts

And I choose those particular exercises because I KNOW they are helping me.

  1. Strengthen the weaker areas of my body (Upper chest, build on my hard to gain naturally long arms)
  2. Compliment the said mandatory exercises, also known as the big four (Stiff leg deadlifts build lower back strength, which aids the big and powerful deadlift movement. Barbell rows assist with the bench press exercises).
  3. Build a balanced and symmetrical body (It’s very easy to mess this up if you start your weightlifting journey the incorrect way)
  4. BUILD MUSCLE (That’s what we’re all here to do. Those exercises will give me the best bang for my buck)

Some other good exercises include:

  • Smith machine military press (Good for those who find the military press to be a frightening and risky to perform exercise)
  • Dumbbell press (Incline/Decline)
  • Leg extensions/leg press
  • Deadlift performed on a smith machine

But again, be very clear as to why you need to perform them. If not, then don’t do them. Period!

Seriously, I’ve been guinea pigging it for several months now, met a ton of new people, and noticed some common mistakes amongst many. Let’s stop for a moment and look at this recent quote to myself from a fellow gym goer.

‘Shaun man, week after week…. it just looks like you keep growing, week after week. Seriously… is it genetics?’

NO!

And guess who that quote came from?

Individuals who:

  • Stay in the gym for 1 hour or more
  • Perform ENDLESS amount of exercises
  • And give ME a weird look when I arrive after and leave the gym before they do!

Go figure!!!!

Oh and don’t you worry. New progress pics are coming (Because I know that’s what you are wanting to see right now :). It’s ok, I’ve always been a great mind reader).

To conclude

When you hit the gym next, put a big X through the mistakes listed above (That’s if you’ve been making them. Most of you probably have).

Approach your workouts with a bang for your buck mindset. This will at least give you a good kick start until Stay-Fit Bug really takes you to the next level.

Bugs Out!

See you in the comments.

P.S

A tip for tall guys

Focus on building your quads, glutes and wings.

It is a lack of development in these muscle groups that make you look long and lanky (even if you are ripped to bits underneath your clothes) at certain angles. Building on these muscle groups will give you the much needed ‘3D effect’. Once you do… long and lanky no more. Big brutal sexy beast you will be.

P.S
Here’s a FREE video to watch, which describes
the type of muscle building diet plan to follow
to match with your bang for your buck weight
lifting plan.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH <===== Click here

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Do What Makes You Happy (Screw What ANYONE Else Thinks)

June 27, 2011 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

OK… It’s Rant time!!!!

Ok, Ok… it’s not really rant time. But it’s time to re-enforce the saying…

‘Screw what anyone else thinks’


What exactly am I on about? I’m not talking about what your friends, family, or whoever thinks about what you do in fitness. By now, they’ve realized you’re going to be an almighty fitbugger for life, while they rot in the pits of Hades. Dying fast twitch muscle fibers and the like.

What I am talking about however, is those gym rats that strike a conversation with you, just to drain energy from your positive successful muscle building and fitness self. Here’s what I mean…

Conversation

‘Hey, man, do you mind if I jump in with the sets with you on bench press?’

‘Ya, sure dude’

‘Thanks man, I’m just getting back into the groove. I’ve been away from the gym for 18 months while suffering from an injury, so I’ll be starting light’

‘Sure, no problem’

‘So what are you lifting’

‘Well, right now, I do 1 x 5 reps, 1 x 5 reps, 1 x max reps progressive weight’

‘Ah ok, cool. But dude, you need to be doing more reps man, for your height you should be bigger’ <— Errr assumption (And dude is actually in no position to question anyone with his current physique)

‘Well, I like my size, and my goal is strength progression. Besides, I’m just ‘maintaining right now” <—Looks at physique again

‘Ok cool, but you need to be getting in more reps man, and what you currently bench for your height is not enough. How much can you squat? If you master the squat, your bench will increase’ <— Err, did you not hear the last sentence?

‘Yes, compound exercises can work hand in hand with each other. But right now, I’m cool with everything I have going on’ <— (Guy is still currently physically weaker and visually crap in comparison at this time)

Bench pressing commences, while the argument instigator continues to push less (The Irony).

Now, I’m pretty sure many of you have struck up conversations with individuals like these at some point or another. And I’m here to tell you, when this kind of conversation happens, screw what ANYONE else thinks, and do what makes YOU happy. In the above scenario, there was probably also an element of ‘hate’ in the air too. Think about it, someone who had previously had fitness success, who now has a failing body, speaking to someone who is on the ‘right’ side of having a uber fitness body and lifestyle. That’s classic hate mentality right there. Yes, we can’t all control the things that happen to us in life. Sometimes putting a halt on our efforts to stay fit. But being on the ‘downer’ is no excuse to try and draw away the positive energy from someone who is high on the fitness lifestyle.

I won’t talk much more about this, as I think I’ve made my point here. Just do me a favor and screw what anyone else thinks. The Fit Bug cannot be eradicated 😛

P.S

More Fitness lifestyle stuff over on the 4 Pillars to the fitness lifestyle

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4 Pillars To The Fitness Lifestyle

June 7, 2011 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Let’s go back in time for a moment. to the moment where I wrote the ‘about me’ section of this website. It is on this page where I dive into my ‘still’ very recent past. Say from 2007-2009. Now, I won’t talk too much about the events that occurred during this time. But let’s just say, they weren’t the most pleasant years in terms of being happy, in comparison to many previous ‘happy’ years. And of course, it was that unhappiness that lead to the creation of the ‘now’ Stay-Fit Bug you see before your eyes.

Nearly two years on since inception, guess what? Happiness has been found again.

However…

I still wouldn’t consider my self to be completely happy. In fact, I don’t think any of us really do ever reach a state of complete happiness. If we do, then it’s usually seasonal. Because happiness = life balance. Life, as it happens is like a yo-yo. It’s up and down, never constant. In fact, the only guaranteed constant is change. So it’s no surprise that life balance and total happiness is hard to achieve.

Where am I going with this?

Well, as you may know by now, I constantly ‘shout’ to everyone in the fitness world to live it as a lifestyle, as that is the only true way to achieve long term results, especially when you’re trying to get ripped or build 14lbs or more of fresh lean muscle mass. But let’s stop for a minute. The first part of the word ‘lifestyle’ contains the word ‘life’.

As mentioned earlier, life is very up and down, and many things that happen in our lives will have a direct impact on what we set out to do in the fitness world. Like…

1) Your lady stresses you out for some reason or another (Yes, relationships are great, but we all know they can be stressful).

2) Your boss stresses you out with their personal problems.

And many others.

With that being said, living the fitness lifestyle is obviously more than just about becoming physically fit. In fact, there are 3 other key elements to add to being physically fit in order to truly be fit and happy. And so, I introduce you to the 4 pillars of the fitness lifestyle.

Pillar #1 ‘Physical’


Now, it has been stated time and time again that you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone. And I felt the brute force of this between 2007-2009 when I was part of a new internet start up business. You see, I had always been physically fit, coming from an athletic background. And the longest I’d stayed away from the gym was 12 months max. So I’d always have some kind of muscle mass and more often than not, be physically fit and healthy. So to be away from fitness for 2 years, not only turned me into a walking zombie. It also shattered my health, which in turn melted my mental state (Because a healthy body = A healthy mind and vice versa) and my confidence to go with it! Which is a vicious cycle to be in, because you can’t be happy if you aren’t healthy, let alone ripped or shredded.

This will have a direct effect on your relationships or potential dates too. If you have a life partner, you better just hope they are supportive, because if they aren’t, they’re probably a bag of negative or ‘wrong’ energy. THAT… you don’t need! And if you’re dating, what new date potential wants to get with some one whose nuts and bolts are all over the place? But more on this shortly.

The main point here, whether you have taken up fitness or not, is that you need to (First and foremost) get your physical health sorted out to begin living the fitness lifestyle.

A few quick starter points

  • Wake up early, between 5.00am – 7.00 am (We are super mind and body fresh at this time of the day)
  • Go to bed early (9.00pm is ideal. But let’s be honest, you won’t hit the sack until 11.00pm. Which still isn’t bad)

Pillar #2 ‘Emotional’

OK, earlier I talked about relationships and dating. I’ve spoken briefly on this topic before, in terms of how this can have an effect on your fitness lifestyle. But the emotional pillar is more than life partner relationships. It’s about the relationships that you have with anyone in your close circle. But to point it out again. You simply can’t fulfill pillar #2 without sorting out pillar #1 first. It won’t be fair on you, your partner or potential partner. You have to take care of no.1 first before even attempting to take care of anyone else.

Now, in terms of relationships with other people, you just need to follow a few simple rules if you want to fulfill pillar #2 and be emotionally fit and happy.

  1. If some one drags you down, verbally, physically or any kind of ‘…ally’, Cut them loose! (Friends, family or whoever. It doesn’t matter. They’re the wrong people. Cut them loose!)
  2. If someone continuously lifts you up. Bring them close. Reeeal close. They may not be that way to you forever. But they will indeed be the right person(s) to have around at the time.
  3. This may sound cliche. But follow your gut, always. Because it’s always right. Not doing so will lead you down a wrong path = emotional pillar fail.

Having great emotional balance with those you associate with is not always an easy thing to accomplish. But I can almost guarantee that following the above can get you there. Once you get this part of your being right, pillar #3 should become much easier to conquer.

Pillar #3 ‘Mental’

OK, so now you’re physically fit.

You look good…

You feel good…

Strangers now react to you differently in a new and positive way….

You’re attracting the opposite sex…

You’re getting laid (The opposite sex some how sense that too)…

You’re happily taken or happily dating…

You’re in the zone!

But you only got to this place because you conquered pillar #1 and #2. You see, fitness really is more than just being physically fit. Yes, once you become physically fit, pillar #3 becomes much easier, but you still have to work on getting mentally fit if you are mentally ‘ill’. Because if you are in the wrong place mentally, you’ll eventually back down on the fit and happy scale.

Being mentally fit interms of the lifestyle is more of a case of having things in working order.

Structure!

– Do you have a daily planner?

– Do you have a plan for your fitness regime?

– Do you have a set plan for your short term/long term goal?

That list could go on and on. But if you currently don’t have that kind of structure in place, then the 4 pillars are in danger of crumbling one by one… back to square one! Of course, in reality, all 4 pillars won’t be equal at all times in your life. They’ll move up and down as time goes on. But having that structure in place will allow you to achieve success in the 3rd mental pillar.

Everything will seem ‘in flow’ and you’ll find your creative sweet spot.

  • Switching up your routines and taking on new fitness challenges becomes a breeze
  • Being creatively romantic to your partner becomes a breeze
  • You can become instantaneously spontaneous, regardless of how much responsibility you have

But to achieve and succeed at pillar #3, you have to work at it. It will take months, sometimes years to get it completely right. Once you do, you really will be in a sweet spot.

Pillar #4 ‘Spiritual’


This is my favorite pillar of all

Why?

Because if you have reached this point, you truly will be one of a kind ‘fit’. Seriously. Life in 2011 and beyond is busy. Life in 2011 has internet + mobile internet + internet on airplanes = super duper noise for your brain. With all that mess, I can bet that most people don’t reach a true spiritual place. I’m talking about being thankful, meditating, being grateful, forgiving, studying (Most people don’t reach this place because of surrounding negativity). 90% of the time, the most spiritual place I find is the gym.

  • Working out opens up and clears my sweat glands
  • Big open spaces in the gym (It’s just me and the gym – when it’s quiet – mostly day time – It’s just me and the bar)

I would love to meditate, but I’m also a born westerner. So even if I manage to travel to places such as India, like mentioned in this post (Where real meditation happens). I still have a thing for the fast life, being a young guy and all. So my next best friend is the gym. Or simply a quiet park.

I’ve talked about living the fitness lifestyle before. But THIS… is how you live rthe fitness lifestyle successfully. It’s more than just getting physical and throwing a few dumbbells around.

If you ever feel like you at rock bottom, follow these pillars in the said order (although it probably won’t happen that way) and you will truly live a happy fitness lifestyle.

The key = Daily persistence = Magic

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Low Intensity Cardio or High Intensity Cardio?

May 2, 2011 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

 

Daniel Offer writes. Offer exercises in the evenings at his local gym and in the surrounding villages when not working on his Facebook emoticons application Emoinstaller. In short, Emoinstaller provides additional Facebook smileys for your Facebook account.



Everyone knows that a good cardiovascular workout improves your general health, and that the results will vary depending on the frequency and intensity which with you exercise. So, which type of workout is right for you?

Cardio routines are classified according to the average heartbeat rate maintained during the session, which is expressed as a percentage of maximum heart rate (MHR), the greatest number of times your heart can beat in a minute.

MHR can be calculated using the following formula: = 206.9 – (0.67 x age)

Low intensity cardio is performed at 60 – 70 % of MHR, and is any kind of exercise that allows you to maintain a comfortable, easy pace throughout the duration of the session.

It is often associated with aerobic / steady state exercise, which is any kind of activity which allows you to keep a regular heart rate for an extended period of time. Examples of low intensity aerobic activities include gardening, a gentle stretching routine, or a long, slow walk or cycle.

It is also possible to do a hybrid aerobic-interval training at low intensity. This kind of exercise involves alternating short periods of low impact aerobic training with short periods of rest, repeated for as long as it takes to reach 20 – 30 minutes of activity in total. When done by untrained beginners, or people who are too overweight to perform bouts of aerobic activity for any length of time, the goal is to increase the level and intensivity of the activity whilst bringing down the amount of time spent resting. This type of training is also used by strength and power athletes during recovery periods in between high intensity training, and is usually referred to as tempo work.

By contrast, high intensity cardio is any type of exercise which challenges your body and leaves you breathless and exhausted. During high intensity cardio your target heart rate zone should be 70 – 80 % of MHR.

Though a high intensity cardio workout can be aerobic, like endurance running, it is most often associated with interval training. High intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions last for 15 – 20 minutes and involve alternating short periods (30 – 90 seconds) of intense activity with longer periods of either total rest, or very low activity.

In the end, whether you’re doing aerobic exercise or interval training, it’s all about how hard you are pushing yourself.

Low intensity cardio vs high intensity cardio

Despite the debate surrounding the advantages and disadvantages of low and high intensity cardio routines, results of studies carried out over the past few years do allow some conclusions to be drawn.

Level of preparation

Low intensity cardio be done by just about anyone at any level of fitness. Little, if any, warm-up is needed, and it´s easier to maintain a steady pace for a long time. It does not need to involve a structured, scheduled workout, you can pick an activity that you already do on a daily basis and simply do it for a bit longer, like walking more or taking the stairs more often.

However, for many people, this type of exercise can get boring as it takes a long session to get significant results, and the only factors you can use to push yourself further and improve on your fitness level are speed, incline and duration.

High intensity cardio is generally considered more interesting because it can be practiced with any activity which allows the intensity level of the exercise to be easily adjusted, like running, cycling, skipping or using a variety of gym equipment. There are also more ways in which you can alter the workout to push your body further (speed, amount of repetitions, length of rest periods, bodyweight vs free weights, exercise duration etc).

However, it requires a moderate to high initial level of fitness and a lot more motivation. If you are not motivated, working at such at high intensities can result in an inconsistent workout schedule, or even burnout.

Health benefits

Even exercising at modest intensities will improve your general level of fitness, increasing your lung capacity and improving your cardiovascular fitness, which in turn lowers ´bad´ (LDL) cholesterol and risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. Improved blood circulation also permits the fatty acids in your bloodstream to move more efficiently into the muscle, meaning that fat is more readily available when you need the fuel.

Exercising regularly is a good way of managing your weight, and it will help your body become more efficient at processing oxygen, allowing your cells to metabolise and burn fat more efficiently. Regular exercise also reduces the number of stress hormones in your system, and seems to produce chemical changes in the body which enhance your psychological fitness and alleviate the symptoms of moderate depression.

However, after some (relatively) small improvement in general fitness and the initial loss of excess fat, the results achieved by low intensity exercise tend to plateau. When this happens, the only way to build on the initial results is to push yourself to do more.

High intensity cardio provides you with all the health benefits associated with low intensity cardio, but it delivers better results, and it also delivers these results faster.

Exercising at high intensities also increases endurance. During periods of great activity, when our body is running out of oxygen, it shifts to from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. Lactic acid, the end product of this process, begins to accumulate in the muscles as its cells are unable to burn it off quickly enough – that’s the pain that you feel just before muscle fatigue sets in. High intensity training allows you to increase your lactic acid threshold, the point at which the lactic acid begins to accumulate in the muscles, meaning that you can work harder, for longer.

High intensity workouts also boost your metabolism during and after exercise. Every exercise session generates a certain amount of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), sometimes called ´exercise afterburn´. EPOC represents the extra oxygen the body has to consume after a workout just to get the body back to it’s pre-exercise state (replenishing energy and oxygen stores, removing lactate, bringing body temperature and heart beat down to pre-exercise levels, etc).

It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 48 hours for the body to fully recover to a resting state, depending on the intensity and duration of the workout, as well as the level of fitness and gender of the athlete. A high intensity workout will produce a significantly longer period of EPOC than a low intensity workout, during which oxygen, and calories, are also consumed at higher levels.

Weight loss and the fat-burning zone

Most of the war of words in the low versus high intensity training discussion has been over weight loss and the so-called fat-burning zone.

Though your body always uses fats and carbohydrates, and some protein, as energy sources, the proportion of each substance used changes depending on the intensity of the exercise done.

During periods of low activity, a person´s body uses fat as its primary source of fuel; fat provides over twice the amount of energy than an equivalent amount of carbohydrate or protein, but it takes more time to convert to energy. When operating at higher intensity levels, the body turns towards carbohydrates as a primary fuel source, as they can be converted to energy much faster than fat, making them more readily available for the body’s immediate energy needs.

The fat-burning zone varies per person, but is thought to be around 60 – 70% of MHR, thereby falling in the low to medium intensity exercise range. A person out this zone will burn a higher proportion of fat calories as a percentage of total calories burnt.

However, if you increase the intensity of the exercise you will burn more calories in total, and, depending on the duration of the session, more fat calories.

For example, if a person exercises at 60% MHR for a half hour walk and burns 300 calories, and 50% of those calories are fat calories, they have used up 150 fat calories.

If a person exercises at around 80% MHR for half an hour burns 450 calories, if 40% of those are fat calories, they have used up 180 fat calories. This gives them a higher overall calory burn, and a higher amount of fat calories burnt.

Low intensity cardio is good for initially dropping weight when you are very unfit, and for keeping your weight down. There is also evidence to suggest that, because the low amount of effort involved, it’s easier for people doing low intensity workouts to exercise consistently, and stick to diets.

However, as the overall calory burn from low intensity cardio is much less during the same period of time, if you are serious about losing weight, you will have to put more effort into your exercise routine.

It is also better to vary the type of exercise you do if you want to keep losing weight. Doing a lot of aerobic exercise in particular, allows your body to adapt to the activity and become more efficient at burning calories whilst doing it; this means that you will keep having to increase the amount of time you spend on the same exercise if you want to continue seeing results.

Risk of injury

With exercise always comes a risk of injury. Low intensity cardio however does, in general, present a lower risk of injury than high intensity cardio.

Any kind of endurance training can generate overuse injuries as you are subjecting certain parts of your body to stresses for a long period of time (for example, joggers often have knee injuries). People not interested in improving their endurance levels can avoid this problem by simply changing the type of exercise they are doing.

At high intensity levels there is also the risk of over-training. This is what happens when someone is training excessively and/or not eating properly, and can result in a loss of muscle mass. When the body has exhausted its blood glycogen (carbs), it starts to break down (catabolise) protein, to get the energy it urgently needs; if the person’s diet does not contain enough protein and overall calories to sustain them through their workout, the protein is provided by their muscle tissue.

Performing at a high intensity for too long (which depends on the fitness level of the athlete) has also been shown to increase the levels of catabolic hormones like cortisol in the blood, which can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue.

The results of excessive aerobic training on the body are nicely demonstrated when you consider the thin physique of a marathon runner who has specialized in endurance training, as opposed to the bulkier form of a sprinter who generally trains for short intensive bursts.

Excessive training of a certain muscle group and its supporting muscle groups can also lead to local over-training, sometimes suffered by bodybuilders or strength/power athletes. This is because when you work out at high intensities, you are causing microscopic tears in your muscles, and your body needs both the time and the right nutrients to repair the tissue damage caused by the workout and rebuild bigger, stronger muscle.

The problem can be exacerbated when the person is also dieting to lose fat. The lessened calory intake simply makes the body have to dip further into its fuel reserves, sacrificing more muscle tissue along the way.

Other than persistent pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints, over-training can cause lowered testosterone levels and can lead to psychological problems like depression, irritability, mood swings, insomnia and an inability to concentrate. It can, however, easily be avoided by keeping the intensity of your training program under control.

Studies have also found that long sessions of aerobic training (like long distance running) can lead to the production of free radicals in the body. Unless these are neutralized by antioxidants in the diet, they can damage important cellular structures and accelerate the symptoms of aging. However, regular exercise has also been shown to enhance the body’s antioxidant defense system, so this kind of damage is normally found in “weekend warriors”, people who are generally inactive but sporadically participate in long sessions of physical activity.

Training schedule

Low intensity cardio sessions are generally longer than high intensity ones, as it takes more time to burn the same overall amount of calories. However, as low intensity cardio is mostly low impact, it can be done on a daily basis, depending on the fitness level of the person and the amount of time they have available.

Conversely, high intensity cardio is very time-efficient as the sessions are short and provide rapid results. However, because of the impact that working at high intensities has on the body, this type of workout should not be done daily, as you run the risk of over-training and injury. Unless you are exceedingly fit, it is recommended that you keep your high intensity sessions to 2 or 3 times a week, and have rest periods in between.

If you do want to exercise in between high intensity sessions, doing some low intensity cardio has its advantages: the easy activity keeps the blood flowing and can be psychologically beneficial, and bodybuilders in particular can also use the activity to burn off the extra calories they are eating to keep up their muscle, whilst avoiding the problems which come with over-training.

Which type of cardio workout is for me?

Studies have shown that tailoring a routine to your individual needs is the best way to get results, and the type of cardio that you choose to do should depend on your fitness level and goals. However, the following generalizations can be made.

Low intensity exercise is for:

  • Very overweight people and unfit beginners, and those who are not motivated enough to do more intensive exercise

  • People recovering from injury, and people with certain chronic health problems like congenital heart disease, asthma and arthritis
  • Pregnant women and the elderly
  • People who are trying to burn fat, especially in conjunction with a low-fat diet
  • People wanting to exercise in between high intensity training sessions

High intensity exercise is for people who are moderately to very fit, highly motivated and:

  • Want to lose weight

  • Want to increase their endurance levels
  • Want quick results and are pressed for time
  • Get bored easily

Combining a variety of routines will prevent your body from adapting to any particular type of physical activity, as well as protecting you from overuse injuries and keeping you interested in your workouts.

Whichever type of cardio routine you choose, it should be one you are motivated to do and will be able to sustain.

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The Hardgainers Guide To Building 3D Arms

April 18, 2011 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug


Screw the intro. Let’s just jump right into it.

#1 Longer arms need a specific fix



Ok. We all know that taller/shorter guys build muscle at the same rate, as heavily discussed in the building muscle for short vs tall guys post. However, the main issue is not so much that it’s harder to build muscle for taller guys. The main issue is how to make the muscles ‘appear’ bigger.

The solution for bigger arms =

CONSISTENCY!


You see, height really isn’t the issue here. If you’re a hardgainer, you’re a hardgainer. And 9 times out of 10, your main issue will be fixing the struggle of building muscle on longer limbs. In most cases, you’ll be able to build stand out chest, shoulder, lats and abdominal muscles with ease. Triceps, Biceps forearms and legs however is a whole new challenge altogether. You’re probably nodding your head right now, talking back to yourself saying ‘yup, yup, that’s me’.

Now, there are many factors to why you could be struggling to build on those muscle groups as a hardgainer (Diet, workout frequency, workout intensity, workout longevity and others). But the reason I place consistency as point #1 is because the rules of building muscle are mostly the same for anyone who decides to do so.

If you have naturally smaller muscle groups on certain parts of your body, it’s not hard to workout that those muscle groups may take a little longer to build to take them to ‘stand out’ level. So the only real solution is the above + consistency. It may just take a little longer until those muscle groups begin to ‘stand out’. That’s it.

Now that we have consistency out of the way. Let’s look at the exciting stuff. The most effective ways to build 3d arms as a hardgainer.

#2 The exercises


Ok. Most of you know of my distaste for the lack of pull ups/ chin ups being performed by the average gym goer. Which is retarded, because pull ups and chin ups are hands down two of the best upper body exercises there are (Which also help increase your gains in the big 4 compound exercises).

And if you’ve been around the site for some time, you’ll also have picked up the points where I talk about the importance of focusing on building your triceps over your biceps, as triceps make up at least 2/3s of your upper arm (They are the real t-shirt fillers). Although that point is true, you do in fact need to focus on building both. It’s just that you can get away with skipping bicep isolation exercises altogether and get the same or even better results ‘over time’ (Because building standout arms naturally, as a hardgainer will take time I’m afraid). And now for the exercises that will get you those stand out bi’s, tri’s and forearms  in record time (As long as you stick to all other aspects of the training regime).

  • Chin ups + weight assisted – Biceps
  • Pull ups + weight assisted – Triceps
  • Muscle ups – progress to these from pull ups

  • Dips

And of course, the big 4 compound exercises

Like I said earlier, triceps make up nearly 2/3s of your arms. Compound exercises are great, but they won’t always necessarily hit those…

#3 smaller muscle groups




Why is this important?

Well, this is something that I don’t see talked about too often. You see, the muscle building trend in todays world is how to build a shredded yet somewhat still bulky physique. (Unlike our 1980 ancestor friends whose goal was to get as big as a house). And when your goal is to build the ‘ripped’ physique, it’s your smaller muscles that will play a big part in getting you to look that way. Now, it is true that you can follow a training program that focuses on  building out certain parts of your body, which of course would be an ideal solution for buildng out these smaller muscles (After all, following ANY good training program is recommended for opitmal results, regardless of what your goal is – I’ll cover this at some point).

But let’s now look at the exact smaller muscles in your arms that will make that 3D effect happen for you. And the exercises you can perform to make them grow and stand out.

Brachialis

(Click exercise name to view video of each exercise)

Places a focus on the long head (lateral head) of the biceps brachii as the shorter head will enter into less active state as it continues to contract.


Brachioradialis

Triceps brachii (Medial head)

If you can build these smaller muscles to the point where you can see them without flexing your muscles, then you will truly stand head and shoulders above the rest and your arms will truly look 3D.

#4 Grow a pair of wings



Now, like I said before. It’s important to build both tris and bis when building muscle to get your arms looking truly 3D. And I did say to place a focus on building out your triceps. Because most of that roundness and appearance of size (from a front view of your arms) will come from the muscles at the back of your arms (triceps).

However… a common thing that I see on some people, is that they build stand out triceps (GREAT!). But have no bicep development what so ever. Which means, when you turn your  arms outwards away from your body while standing upright, your arms will look puny as hell. Not a good look when wearing that tight white tee/vest in summer. If that is a problem you face, follow all that you read above and you will be cured.

Redbull gives you wings

No it doesn’t, resistant training does.

Ok, I’ve talked about building your lats before, in this post. And here’s the extreme lats development picture that I used in that post…

Now, building a great pair of lats will do two things…

  1. Give you width and make you look bigger than you are
  2. Make your arms appear bigger than they actually are

And point no.2 is what we’ll discuss here. You see, it’s all good and great talking about how to build 3D arms, developing muscles groups that you constantly struggle with, etc, etc, etc. But it’s not always that easy. Most of us have lives outside of fitness, which we have to combine with fitness in order to live it as a lifestyle. Because this muscle building game is a marathon and not a sprint. And as a hardgainer, you will struggle to build stand out arms.

BUT…

If you can build a solid pair of lats, you can cheat a little. Because your arms will have no choice but to rest against them. Which means your triceps will look bigger than they actually are.

Of course, I don’t encourage NOT building struggling triceps/biceps. But if you are sick of your long lanky arms making the rest of your body look puny, then an increase in lat development is one way to go.

In fact, forget you even read that. Work hard and build EVERYTHING!

Conclusion

I could probably go on and speak more in depth on this topic, but I’m going to stop before I bore you to death. (To be continued – at some point). The main thing to take away from this is that you need to focus on building rounded, truly 3D arms as a hardgainer. Do that and you will look skinny no more… from ANY angle.

And if you need to fix the diet part of your bodybuilding lifestyle to a whole new level, then check out this video from fitness model Kyle Leon. Who has designed a way for everyday people to get ripped the fitness model way. After all, those are the folks who get into that lean shape a few times a year. Diet IS the most important part of building muscle, so here is the video for you.

(Opens in a new window)

See you in the comments.

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3 Compound Exercise Muscle Building Assists

April 11, 2011 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Ok, it’s time to take a walk into the gym again. But this time we are going to make a few changes to some of the exercises that you perform along side the compound exercises that you would perform on a normal day at the gym. 3 exercises to be specific.

The goal?

The goal is to perform assistant exercises that will…

1. Help strengthen synergist muscle groups

2. Help increase performance in the said compound exercises

And the 3 compound exercises in question are?

  1. The Deadlift
  2. The Squat
  3. The Bench press

#1 The deadlift


So, the deadlift is the undisputed king of all weightlifting exercises, as it works all muscle groups. But namely your butt, back and thighs. However, the deadlift is not an exercises for newbies. And chances are, your lower back muscles won’t be ready for the amount of stress you are about to inflict on it. Which is why you need to take as much time as you need to improve your form, because if you mess up your back, you’re screwed. Because your lower back is the most important muscle in your body.

Why?

STABILITY!

Assistant exercise = Stiff leg deadlift



Target: Hamstrings

Secondary target: Glutes, Lower back

Tip

It’s ‘ok’ to perform stiff leg deadlifts along side the standard deadlifft movement.

1. Because the stiff leg deadlift is more of a light endurance and conditioning exercise (Well, as long as you treat it that way).

2. There should be no problems as long as you are focusing on good exercise form.

Now, why did I choose the stiff leg deadlift?


1. They’ll make your hamstrings expload in size, better than most other exercises can.

2. It will help strengthen your lower back muscles, which in turn should allow you to push forward and progress better with the deadlift exercise.

How to perform them?


Execution

Like the standard deadlift exercise, the stiff leg deadlift is performed standing up, with the bar placed on the floor 3-4 inches in front of your shins. Don’t worry about scraping those shins. At least you’ll know you’re performing the exercise correctly that way. What would you rather have, scared up shins that eventually heal, or a back that’s screwed up for LIFE???

In all seriousness though. You could always wear football shin pads to protect your soft baby skin.

Instruction

#1 Once in the execution position, bend down with your knees and grab the barbell with one hand using an overhand grip (palms facing down) and the other hand using an underhand grip (palms facing up) with your hands around shoulder width apart or wider.

#2 Keep your back straight, stand straight up while resting the barbell on your thighs. (Remember to keep the bar close to your body on the way up)

#3 On your way up to the top of the movement, pull your shoulders back (But don’t hyper extend), stick your chest out, and arch your back ‘slightly’.

#4 Keep your eyes facing forward throughout the entire movement. Doing so prevents your back from arching.

#5 Slowly bend at the hips lowering the barbell straight down and still close to your body.

Where you should feel tension?

In your hamstrings! If you begin to feel it in your lower back then you are performing the exercise incorrectly. Here’s a few mindset tips to help you fix that.

#1 Like I mentioned earlier, this exercise should be treated as light endurance rather than an all out blasting session of increasing the weight. Do that and I can guarantee that in one of your stiff deadlift sessions you’ll start to feel a stabbing pain through your lower back and down your right or left leg. The technical term being a disc herniation at the L5 vertebra. OUCH!

Trust me, like I’ve said on previous posts. YOU DO NOT WANT THIS!

  • Never do this exercise as a max lift. (You know, like your reps based on your ORM)
  • Do not test your ORM
  • Do not train till failure
  • Focus on a slower movement.
  • Focus on using your butt and hamstrings to drive the movement.
  • If you have back pain history, skip this exercise altogether, it really isn’t worth it.


#2 Bend your knees

Let’s take a look at a real world example

Say you have the bar loaded with 25kg. The force of lifting a 25 kg load from the ground with your knees bent is 3 times your bodyweight on L3 (a vertebrae in your low back). Lift that same load with your legs ‘straight’ and suddenly you have 4.85 times your body weight acting on L3. Pretty big difference right? Bend your knees slightly please and don’t screw up your back. Back pain reduces grown men to tears. Trust me, I’ve seen it!


#6 Lower the bar down as far as your hamstrings will let you ‘comfortably’ go. (This is different for everyone. Your body will let you know how far down you can go).

#7 Ready your hamstrings and begin to raise the bar straight back up.

#8 Repeat.

#2 The Squat


Squats, like other big compound movements usually get a bad name, because of the injuries that can occur on your lower back. But ONLY if performed incorrectly. One thing you need to ensure that you have when attempting to progress with the squat exercise, is upper back strength. And the following exercise will give you plenty of that.

Assistant exercise = The barbell row


The barbell row is a pretty tough exercise to perform. Mainly because you are fighting against gravity. Nevertheless, performing this exercise will help you improve performance in your bench press, overhead press, deadlift and of course squats.

I’ll give your eyes a rest for a moment and give you a video to watch which shows exactly how to perform them.

#3 The bench press



The bench press is the exercise that even non gym goers know about. Yes, it is that popular. But the real reason behind it’s popularity is the fact that it’s the only upper body exercise that allows you to load up a stack load of weight. STACK LOADS!!!

However, the following exercise will help you increase your strength gains and performance on the bench press exercise. Yet, despite it’s popularity, you still won’t see many people performing them in the gym. Maybe they’re just scared of progressing. But you are not one of those people!

Assistant exercise = Pull ups and chin ups


Pull ups and chin ups are the opposite movements to the bench press and overhead press exercise. It will take you some time to really conquer pull ups and chin ups, but once you do, your performance in the said weightlifting exercises will improve vastly.

The most common tip is just to keep doing more pull ups and chin ups. The more you do them, the better you will get. Before you know it, you’ll get yourself a dipping belt and start adding some resistance. Once you get to this stage, you’ll start to get weird looks from people at your gym. Simply because most people are weak. They just can’t do them.

Now for some quick fire tips before I leave you with a video.

  1. Always perform them with a full range of motion (All the way UP and all the way DOWN)
  2. Always aim to get your chin over the bar (This may take time to perfect, but always aim high. Never partial)
  3. Don’t swing! And keep your hips inline with your body
  4. Always start from a relaxed dead hang position and pull UP!
  5. Squeeze your butt and cross your legs (Effective when adding resistance by placing a dumbbell between your feet. 20kg max. After that, get a dipping belt)
  6. Look up. This mental technique will help you perform more reps. It’s kind of the same reason why looking down over a high building will cause you to fall off.
  7. Use a BAR and not machines. What I just said. Do not disobey.

The video…

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

P.S

If you are still struggling with your muscle building goals, then it could be down to factor no.1… DIET!!

If so, it probably means you need a good muscle building diet to follow. The only person I know who ‘solely’ focuses on this is Muscle building expert Kyle Leon.

CLICK HERE ===> TO WATCH HIS MUSCLE BUILDING VIDEO PRESENTATION

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