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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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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