The Chicken Legs Syndrome

August 1, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug, The Health Bug

How to build leg muscles

This is a thing that affects most men (myself included). You know, legs as wide as your ankles ūüėģ . I may have been blessed in the high metabolism department, but because of that, i grew up suffering from what i call ‘ The chicken legs syndrome‘.

What is the chicken legs syndrome?

It may not be as drastic as having legs as wide as your ankles (well it is for him >>), but it is legs that are skinny enough to drive that nagging fear of not wanting to wear shorts in the months leading up to summer, or fear of wearing lycra if you’re an upcoming athlete. Of course some athletes like 100/200m runners get away with it, as a ‘model’ 100/200m runner would have skinny lower legs muscles, but very high and powerful calf muscles (which gives them the very much needed short bursts of energy).

Most guys that do go to the gym won’t have too many problems building their upper body muscles. But the leg muscles are a much larger muscle group than those up above, and they require much more work if you want to increase their size. The majority of people tend to turn away when faced with difficulty in anything that we may face in life, and it’s no different here. Guys would beef up their upper body muscles, forget to work on there legs and end up looking top heavy. Being top heavy is bad because it affects and can cause:

1) Imbalance

2) Unnatural look

3) Performance (especially in a sport)

And it’s very noticeable. Working this muscle group is also essential for developing and maintaining a high metabolism.

So how can we beat chicken leg syndrome?

As i stated, it won’t be easy, but with some persistence, perseverance and by following the basic guidelines below, it won’t be long until you find yourself joining the Fat legged brigade.

Start as you mean to go on

You must start working on your legs from day one. If you fail to do this the results of your upper body workouts will start to surpass the efforts of your lower body workouts. When imbalance does start to occur, it will be hard to catch back up and will start to turn into a game of cat and mouse.

Alternate

Your leg workouts. By doing this you will be working all of the necessary muscles so that none get left behind. So be sure to implement that into your plan.

Keep up the cardio

Cardio exercise and other sports do stimulate your muscles to a certain degree. This usually isn’t enough to result in muscle growth, but it is essential for maintaining muscle activity.

ACT NOW! ….well not just yet. This is just a starter on the menu. Stay tuned for the next post. I’ll be outlining some of the key exercises that started to work for myself.

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Muscle building from Fat, Muscle building from Bone

July 20, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Like most great things that are achieved…it will take time, hard work and perseverance (cliche i know! but still relevant). Building muscle, getting toned, ripped, cut or what ever you want to call it can be a thrilling, fulfilling and rewarding experience. And this applies to all types of people, Thin boned or Big boned! But the mistake i see people make is that they approach the cause in the same way. To get desired results you need to determine which body type you are first (Just look in the mirror, or down at your feet :|) and then build your workout routine around that body type. Below i will describe how you can achieve results for both body types.

Big boned

building a lean body


The most common ‘wrong approach’ to building muscle comes from people of this body type, especially guys. As mentioned in a previous post¬†(Confidence), most people probably do workout to get results and then show off¬†there newly chiseled bodies off to attract the opposite sex, and again…why not. It will boost your confidence which will increase your ability to build muscle . But big boned people tend to want to build muscle over the fat that they currently have. This will not work! What one has to do is:

1) Lose that unwanted fat FIRST

2) Get toned

3) Build muscle from your newly toned body

This makes perfect sense to most people. But the reality is, that people (mainly guys again – sorry gents!) will have excuses for not doing so, usually stemming from being scared of change or other personal attributes. The common things are.

1) I want results quickly (summers’ around the corner)

2) I’m not really fat, but i do want to get in shape.

I’m not really fat, but i like my current size.

I don’t want to look like a skinny guy.

The last statement is the most common. And it mainly comes from younger or inexperienced people. It is understandable for sure, and even though they know they may lose there current look for only a short period of time, it is still enough time to allow confidence levels to fall. And those thought processes are probably what leads to the ‘wrong approach’ mind set.

So remember:

LOSE IT…TONE IT…BUILD IT!

Thin boned

thin

Ok…you body types will have things a little easier than your Big boned counterparts. I should know, i started off this way! The problem here is completely reversed. Thin boned body type individuals tend to be slim, not because they don’t eat a lot of food (quite the opposite actually). It’s because they have a very high metabolism. This is both a gift and a curse because:

1) You can eat like a pig and care less about calories

2) Your wardrobe will be pretty consistent through out most of your life

3) But you can’t put on weight naturally and instead of worrying about calorie in-take you worry about staying off of that treadmill (Maintain)

What these body types need to do is structure their workout routines and daily meal schedules so that there workouts are as affective as can be (Muscle mass + Cardio). The key benefit of being this body type is that you are either already ‘ripped’, or you can get ‘ripped’ in a matter of weeks rather than months. But it will take months to build and maintain that muscle mass for sure. That is the hard part!

So remember:

RIP IT… BUILD IT… MAINTAIN IT!

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Building muscle with or without supplements?

July 18, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

mens workout without body building supplementsThis is a question i had always asked myself ever since i started to workout. And i was always a firm believer in taking the ‘grow slow’ approach to building muscle (or anything else¬†in life in-fact). Taking supplements in return for short term results will usually always give longer term side effects. And if that has been you, i am sure at the end of it all you probably asked yourself ‘was it really worth it?’. You will be better off by implementing the following, which will allow you to build muscle with the patience of a tortoise, but at the speed of a Hare!

Lift heavy, Lift slow, Lift less

The key to building more muscle mass out of every workout is to lift enough weight to cause muscle failure in only 3-5 reps (repetitions of the movement). Rather than burning calories and creating lean muscle by doing many reps with lighter weights, you’re taking just a bit of time to literally tear your muscle fibers apart, preparing them to build mass and strength when they receive protein from your next meal.

Big multi-joint compound exercises

Make sure that 95% of the exercises you perform regularly in the gym are big multi-joint compound exercises. It doesn’t matter if your goal is fat loss or building muscle… big multi-joint exercises should comprise 95% of the exercises you do in your workouts if you want to get lean, ripped, and powerful.

It’s easiest to think of it in terms of the major movement patterns such as these (focus 95% of your workouts on these):

  • upper body horizontal press (bench press, pushups, dips),
  • upper body horizontal rows (1-arm dumbbell rows, seated cable rows, bent over barbell rows),
  • upper body vertical pull (lat pulldowns, pullups, chinups),
  • upper body vertical press (overhead dumbbell and barbell presses, barbell or kettlebell clean & presses)
  • lower body squatting movements (front squats, back squats, overhead squats, bodyweight squats, etc)
  • lower body deadlifting movements (regular deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts)
  • lower body single leg movements (lunges, step-ups, jump lunges, etc)
  • abdominal and core exercises (these are important, but still are 2nd priority after all of the major upper body and lower body multi-joint movements… your abs and core will be worked from most major multi-joint exercises anyway)
  • abdominal and core exercises (these are important, but still are 2nd priority after all of the major upper body and lower body multi-joint movements… your abs and core will be worked from most major multi-joint exercises anyway)

The other 5% of your exercises can focus on single joint exercises (isolation exercises) such as bicep curls, tricep presses, calf presses, shoulder shrugs, shoulder lateral raises, pec flyes, etc, etc. However, these exercises are only accessory exercises to do after the main focus has been the multi-joint drills.

Eating clean, eat quality

The quality of protein (and additional nutrition from vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) are best injested by the body from real whole food such as eggs, meats, dairy (preferably raw), fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc. instead of from processed protein powders, chemical-laden bars, and meal replacements.

Train hard

Of course, all that i mentioned above is irrelevant unless you put the work in.

Train hard and intensely 3-4 days/week for 45-60 minutes per weight training workout. Keep your workouts to no longer than 60 minutes as training too much beyond this point can trigger excess catabolism. You want to stay anabolic, but you still need to train your body hard and intensely enough to trigger muscle growth.

Try a super-set style of workout program to maximize the intensity that you can train.¬† My favorite combinations are opposing upper and lower body movement patterns that don’t interfere with each other, such as squats coupled with pullups as a superset, or bench press coupled with deadlifts as a superset.

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of these types of upper/lower body supersets done with heavy weights at a high intensity. My most significant muscle mass gains¬†happened when I started doing these types of workout combos regularly (although still mixing up my training variables).

These are methods that have stuck with me till this day. Caloric intake can simply be adjusted whether your goal is fat burning or gaining muscle mass.

To conclude

Implement the above and you will be rewarded all without the use of supplements. However, i do realize that from ‘real life training experience’ there will be times you cannot keep this up (see my first post ‘Stay-fit bug’ ). If you do include supplements into your workouts, be specific on which ones you use and how you use them. But the fact is, unless you are a body builder, you won’t really need them.

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