Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Little Confused About Ab Training

Q:  I’m confused about ab training. I’ve heard some guys say they never train them and that dieting and cardio will bring them out. Others seem to tag them on as an after-thought at the end of their workout. When’s the best time to train them, how often should they be trained and, also, is it beneficial to train different portions of the abs separately?

A: I know how you feel. In fact, I remember attending a seminar once where  Mr. Olympia legend Lee Haney claimed that he never trained his abs. Dieting and cardio were all he needed. We should all be so lucky (read genetically gifted). Unfortunately, few of us are and that means that we definitely need to work our abs to bring out our six-packs, not to mention the obliques and intercostal striations. So when and how should we do it?

While the abs does require concentration, they’re not really going to exhaust you for any upcoming weight workout. So, it would appear to make sense to train them first in your workout, when you’re fresh and motivated. This seems logical but recent publicity has surrounded the idea that training abs first places your body at risk because it will pre-fatigue the abdominal wall and place it in an unstable position during compound movements like squats and dead-lifts. There are, however, no credible studies that verify such an idea. And real gym experience seems to contradict it. Most trainers actually report that they are able to lift more weight and feel stronger on compound movements performed after training the abs. In effect, the ab session acts as a warm-up, both mentally and physically, for the compound movements to follow. It makes sense then, to train the abs first in a workout.

As far as frequency of abdominal training goes, again there is a lot of conflicting advice out there. Many people assert that the abs are very resilient and respond well to frequent training, advocating daily ab training sessions. It’s true that the abs do bounce back quickly – if you fail to train them with sufficient intensity. Keep in mind that when we’re talking about the abdominals we’re referring to four muscles at the core of your body (the rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques and transverse abdominis). While proper training of these muscles will not impair future compound movements, over training them may well have a detrimental affect on movements like squats and dead lifts. So, if you’re working your abdominals with the same level of intensity that you’re giving to other body parts (which should be your goal), you wouldn’t want to train them more than two times per week, with at least a two day gap between training sessions.

Specifically targeting different areas of the abdominal wall is another hotly debated topic. On the face of it, the rectus abdominis, being one muscle, would get worked in its entirety by an exercise that stimulated it. After all, that’s the way it works with other muscles. Scientific studies seem to prove this (although there are some that show just the opposite – so much for science). Again, the real litmus test lies in real life experience on the gym floor. The majority of trainers would swear that specific exercises target specific areas of the rectus abdominis because they can feel and see that very thing in action. So, it’s pretty safe to conclude that yes, the rectus abdominis can be specifically targeted and it is proper to speak of exercises that target either the upper or lower areas of this muscle. So, for lower abs concentrate on bench leg raises, hanging leg raises and reverse crunches. For upper abs perform weighted crunches and weighted pull-downs (seated).

So, in summary, train your abs first in your workout. Limit your abdominal workouts to two sessions per week. Train abs just as you would any other muscle group. Do 3 sets of 8 reps per exercise and remain totally focused on the working muscle group throughout the movement.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Focused Back Training For Bodybuilding

focused back training
Do you have an extremely poor back? Has it cost you a few spots’ worth of placing in shows? At the local and regional level of shows, it is usually conditioning and structure that wins shows. At the national and professional levels, most bodybuilders already have superior shape and structure, and conditioning is usually pretty similar among the top 5 or 7 athletes in each class. At the lower levels of bodybuilding, having an excellent back is a rarity, as many people just getting into bodybuilding have spent their first few years of training focusing upon the showcase muscle groups of chest and arms. It’s never too late to make back a focus if you wish to go far in the sport of competitive bodybuilding, but the time to act is now. If your back is poor, there is only one person who can correct the situation: you.

The first thing you need to do if you want a bigger back is to start eating. Scrap whatever diet you’re on, and add ten to fifteen pounds to your frame with the addition of some clean protein sources and some slow-burning carbohydrates. Some fats in the form of fish oil caps won’t hurt either. You cannot grow new muscle, particularly on an area such as the back, without the addition of some size onto your frame. And that size only comes with weight gain. Gyms across America are littered with “lean-ish” bodybuilders who weight a lean 170 and will never develop impressive back thickness because they just can’t eat enough food to reach a point where they are 190 pounds.

Training for width is the most important aspect. You will want to begin using wide-grip chins in every workout. You may only be able to complete a few reps at a time, but that will change quickly as you add more to your daily workload. Thickness training is only slightly less important. The use of deadlifts and rows in particular will make the middle and lower back muscle pop a bit more, and you will look thicker from all angles. This lack of thickness on some competitors is obvious when they are stood next to competitors with complete backs.

Outside of the gym, you can also make a major difference in terms of back development as well. Daily flexing of the back will help greatly. Stretch the lats using a door jam. Spend some time just hanging from a chin bar or door jam. This will give you more width and better mind-muscle connection. Finally, you will want to begin evaluating your back development and tracking your progress (or lack thereof) so that there are no surprises the next time you step foot on the bodybuilding stage. You will see growth of various areas of the back within weeks of starting your new movements with heavier weight and more food. Tracking this growth with photographs will allow you to more accurately measure the return on your work investment, and will keep you keenly aware of your strengths as they emerge and weaknesses as they remain. Severe back lag can be defeated, but only with a strict regiment of eating, training, and back mind-muscle connection and awareness.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

The Kingpin Approach To Bodybuilding Training

kingpin bodybuilding

There is an ancient technique among loggers in American states. Those who have ever seen logs being transported by water, such as when logs are assembled from the forest where they were harvested and dropped into a river to swim down stream and then be lifted off at the factory, the technique is easy but very ingenious. An average guy would not transport more that ten in a day, for most will lie across the wrong way, others will block the flow, others will get out of the water and mostly, others will assemble together and then stop somewhere creating a dam.

But professional loggers in the industry have over the years developed a very effective and wise way of clearing huge log-jams in the water. In this they are able to send large logs, thousands of them in a day down the river. What they have learned and therefore do, is to go at some intermittent points downstream and identify a huge log, just one which is repositioned in such a way that prevents others for jamming. This is the kingpin. It is just a single log, which if accurately re-positioned even slightly, restores the orderly flow of other logs down the river.

That is the idea, as simple as that. And in a much similar way, body builders must find their personal kingpins that help accelerate and rejuvenate the rate of progress enroute a body building program. This might be the area where the body builder is more conversant with, an area where the body builder is more willing to engage than others, a muscle that is stronger and more developed than others, a habit that is more ingrained than any other or a technique that has been perfected. One example is a body builder who is just so addicted to smoking and cannot do without it. He would do anything, or fail to do anything, just for a smoke.

This can be taken as a weakness which finally delimits gains in a body building. If so, then the body builder needs a lesson from the loggers. Consider this. If it is a must you smoke, just for an example, whet about putting conditions on when you smoke. One cigarette after successfully achieving such and such predetermined intensity, is a trick, isn’t it. If you hate cardio and still know that they must be part of your training, then what about getting on the gym and bringing the workout to conclusion with the promise that you will have a puff after the training is done? The smoking, negative as it is, has in this case been used as a kingpin.

It does not have to be that extreme but each of us has weaknesses and strengths. The kingpin approach recognizes the weaknesses and the strengths and then uses the strengths in pursuit of the weaknesses, so as to build up a comprehensive training regimen. By using strengths to overcome weaknesses, the kingpin approach helps you maintain training and remain focused on the goal without delimiting omissions.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Propel The Body Out Of a Comfort Zone

training intensity
At the very outset, body building relies on intensity. Maximal gains are only achievable when the maximal intensity is achieved in the training regimen. It is maximal intensity that the body is propelled to commission growth of new muscle tissues. Without reaching optimally maximal intensity, the body pretty remains in the same level, comfortable since it can handle the demands of training. But once that absolute failure have been achieved, when intensity has fully stimulated particular targeted muscle group, then the body is forced to build some more in anticipation of handling the intensity better tomorrow.

Increase Your Training Intensity To Propel The Body Out Of a Comfort Zone

The human body is a masterpiece or adaptation. For instance, if you are new in body building, even the smallest barbell intimidates you. You see it and you wonder how you can ever lift that for a second rep. after a while, you see guys lifting the huge one at the corner for eight reps and you are perplexed. At that time, you are no longer intimidated by the small one, but the bigger one. The attitude, even before you get physical, has adapted and shifted to a higher level.

Then one day you start training and of course you start at the bottom of the rack. The body complains, it is angry with you, it is totally crises, asking, how could you push me through that? The muscles ache all over, you cannot even have a shower, the biceps can not allow that. You are seriously in pain. If you are determined enough, you go for the second session and the body complains again, this time not so vehemently. By the fourth session, the body learns that you are never going to let it free. Consequently it commissions an emergency operation. Muscle growth goes to the overdrive, muscles are built up and fortified to provide enough strength to get the fifth session going without pushing the body too far.

By and by, what was initially a hustle to get done becomes comfortable and the body no longer wimps. If you remain at that same intensity, the body is okay, comfortable and appreciative, but no further growth will be commissioned. The fact is, you must give the body a reason to grow, it never does so willingly or volitionally. Next time, after some months maybe, you decide to increase the barbell poundage and you add a few on the rod.

The first days, the body is totally mad, why do you have to go and do what I don’t feel comfortable with. It watches and hopes you will never again demand so much of it. When you persist in the second and third day on the amplified intensity, the body knows now that things are no longer okay. Again an emergency operation is put in place, growth is commissioned to cater for the increased intensity. To the body, the hope is in your maintaining the same intensity level throughout so that it remains comfortable with training. Yet for the body builder, priority ought to be prompting the body out of that comfort zone once it adapts to the level of intensity, for that is the only way to achieve progressive gains in both strength and muscle mass.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Advantages Of All-machine Bodybuilding Training

all-machine bodybuilding training

Many of the machines in your gym probably get a bad rap. Compared to the free weight compound movements like squat, bench press, and deadlift, the Hammer Strength and Nautilus machines in your gym often look a little soft. Bodybuilders will sometimes see them as inferior, designed for women, children, and the elderly, never to be touched by a strong man seeking to add muscle to his frame. However, this is not true. It is very possible – and often advantageous – to use the machines in your gym to keep the muscle and strength gains coming. Let’s examine some of these advantages!

Joint wear & tear

As we age, the cartilage in our muscle groups tends to wear away over time. No matter how much we stretch, how well we eat, or how healthy we eat, we’re going to be facing the prospect of surgeries in our 50s or 60s if we’re still lifting heavy. One key to keeping your joints healthy as you age (or keeping problems areas from inflammation when you are younger) is to use machines from time to time. Same pump, less wear n’ tear!

Avoid the weight

Is it nearly impossible to get into the free weight section of your gym at 6 pm on a weekday? Chances are, the place is packed with people training chest, biceps, and shoulders, leaving very little room for you to get in there. Instead of losing your pump walking in circles waiting for a turn on a bench, why not move over to the very empty, inviting machine presses or curls? You’ll get the same pump, without all the waiting!

Training around soreness

If you completed a monster back day yesterday, you’re probably limping around the gym today, aching any way you turn. Hopping on a flat bench and attempting a heavy bench press today will leave you in excruciating pain as the lats and biceps are recruited to help you to move the weight. You should try using machines in these situations. You’ll be able to isolate the muscles of the pectorals without recruiting so much assistance from support muscle groups which may be in need of rest today!

Muscle group isolation

There will always be times when you just want to focus upon a single muscle group, without bringing in many support groups. When larger muscle groups are asked to control and lift a free weight, they will often recruit support muscle groups, or secondary muscles, to help move the work. For example, your triceps and shoulders might end up doing more work then your pectorals on an incline bench press movement. Machines can help to alleviate this problem by allowing you to focus solely upon the primary group being trained.

Interestingly, if you look at some of the biggest professional bodybuilders in the sport as they train, particularly before a show, you’ll notice that many of them will use machines almost exclusively. For them, the name of the game is adding new muscle to their body through small incremental increases in weight used on movements over a period of years, along with consistent caloric surplus eating that leads to the gain of new muscle. Follow these tenets for your own growth, making machines an integral part of the progressive training process.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Abdominal Training For Intermediate Bodybuilders

abdominal training
Possessing a slim and tight six-pack for your midsection is key for looking good on the bodybuilding stage, or just at the beach. However, many bodybuilders will train the muscle group like any other. The truth is that the abdominals are built like no other muscle group, and must be trained differently as a result. Let’s examine some of the keys to effective abdominal training. Keep an open mind, as many of these techniques won’t apply to other muscle groups.

Machines work!

If you spent your leg and chest workouts hiding from free weights and relying solely upon the use of Hammer Strength and Nautilus machines to get the job done when it comes to stimulating the muscles, you wouldn’t see all that much muscle growth. However, the use of crunch and leg raise machines, as well as cable crunches, can be very beneficial for abdominal development. Remember, the goal isn’t to move X amount of weight – it’s to deliver a sensational pump to the entire abdominal region.

Weighted repetitions

We’ve always been told to avoid using any heavy weight at all when it comes to abdominal training. However, this actually should only apply to those with naturally wide waists. If you have decent shoulder width and a small waist, and particularly if you are lacking in the muscle department, it may advance your abdominal development greatly to use some weighted crunches or weighted side bends. If you notice your obliques growing too large, cut back on the weight and they’ll shrink down, just like any other muscle group.

Specific serratus training

If you’re training chest, back, and abdominals regularly, your serratus development should be fine. You’ll know for sure in the closing weeks of your diet when the body fat percentage is low enough for the serratus to emerge. Toss in machine or barbell pullovers a few times each month when training chest or back, and you’ll be fine in the serratus department.

Diet dependent

You’re not going to have abs like Ahmed Haider, no matter how hard you train them. You need diet to help bring out new cuts and shape, and make your highly developed abdominal muscles become visible to the eye. There are a lot of people out there with terrific sets of abs that we’ll never see, because they can’t diet down to 6 percent body fat.

Repetition range

As you probably already know, a repetition range of 8 to 12 is ideal for most muscle groups. For complete abdominal development, you need to toss this mantra out the window. Sets consisting of 20 to 50 repetitions are going to be necessary if you want complete abdominal development. Weighted sets of 8 to 12 repetitions aren’t going to give you the midsection you desire!

Use the clock

An old trick of the great Arnold Schwarzenegger was to train abs by the clock, not by the set. A stopwatch set to 20 or 30 minutes should be more than adequate for keeping you on track with training, without spending your time counting sets and reps. Put on some intense music or your favorite television show, and start crunching!

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Circuit Training For Bodybuilding – When It Works, When It Doesn’t

circuit training
The phrase “circuit training” is tossed around a bit in bodybuilding circles, most of the time in a very negative manner. Hey, circuit training is for girls, right? Oh, and old people too! Real men train heavy, using earth-crushing free weights and very low-repetition sets. They spend 4, 5, or even 6 sets at a time on each exercise, and over an hour on each body part. Circuit training is the opposite of that, right?

First, let’s define circuit training. You will be completing multiple exercises in a row for one or more body parts. If it’s chest day, circuit training might entail four straight chest movements. If you’re training arms, you might be completing biceps and triceps movements, several sets in a row, with a few minutes’ rest in between the 60 or 80 repetitions. Additionally, you can train your full body using circuit training. You’ll often see elderly or beginner trainers in your gym using this technique. This doesn’t mean it is only effective for them. Rather, they enjoy the simplicity and full-body nature of this training system.

Now that we know what circuit training is, let’s examine some times when it can be used beneficially. If you’re a bodybuilder, you might automatically assume there isn’t a time when you should be using circuit training. This isn’t entirely true. If you’re 10 days out from doing a bodybuilding show, you had better believe you will be using circuit training at this point. It’s the only way to keep your muscles hard in these closing days of a die without risking clouding your vascularity (from multiple heavy sets) or risking injury (as you are very susceptible to joint damage with body fat and water levels this low). Additionally, there will always be times where you may be on vacation or crunched for time, when you have to get in a full body workout, just once or twice per week. For those times, circuit training is ideal!

There are other times when circuit training is not the way to go. Off—season bodybuilders attempting to gain muscle mass aren’t going to benefit all that much from the almost cardio-style training that is circuit lifting. You need higher volume training for each body part to pack the muscle group with blood, rich in amino acids. While any lifting is better than no lifting at all, circuit training isn’t going to be ideal for mass building.

When you’re burned out on your training, or your circumstances permit it, give circuit training a shot. Remember that you don’t have to train with the comparatively light weights used by the weak and the elderly. And you don’t need their relaxed pace. There is no rule saying you cannot knock out a full set of incline dumbbell presses for 6 repetitions, then move on to a nice set of high-repetition leg extensions! The only rule in the gym is that you make the rules. Good luck, and remember that circuit training is just another tool at your disposal.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Five-star Calf Training Tips For Bodybuilders

Calf training is tough, no doubt about it. Compare it to training you utilize for body parts such as chest or biceps. When it comes to those areas, you can clearly see the muscle group being stimulated. Motivation is always there because people who take interest in your training or physique will often ask to see these body parts. And since they’re visible in just about any mirror you walk past or photograph you take, you are constantly reminded of them.

calf training tips
Calves are a whole different story. First of all, they are usually concealed in your pants. Even when you’re completing, you have no clue when they look like. When a bodybuilding show arrives, you don’t know if you’re winning handily or being destroyed in the comparison poses on calves, because you can see neither your own calves, nor those of your competitors! Nobody ever asks you to see your calves, and you forget about them any day you’re not training them. Let’s plan a five-point approach to training calves correctly, running the gamut from warm-up to cool-down, which helps us to solve the problems involved with calf training.

Point One

To start the day, you’re going to want to utilize some slow, focused repetitions in the higher rep range, from 15 to 25 repetitions per set. Choose seated calf raises for this movement for 3 to 4 total sets. The focus of this set is to draw blood into the muscle group, period.

Point Two

It’s power training time. Climb aboard the leg press machine and complete 5 sets of very slow, very heavy toe raises from the locked position. Use a repetition range of 6 to 10 repetitions.

Point Three

Welcome to Smith machine time. Reps will be a bit faster for this exercise. It’s okay to deliver some speed and excitement to your cal training and get those fast-twitch muscle fibers firing! Four sets of this movement will get the lower legs blasted and sore as can be.

Point Four

Slower and tougher is the name of the game now. You’ll be completing four sets of seated or angled calf sled raises for your final weighted movement. Rep range can vary from 10 to 20 as your comfort (or pain) levels dictate!

Point Five

This isn’t an exercise, per se. Rather, this is the culmination of the day’s training that will result in you wrapping up the day with some very slow, deliberate calf stretching for 1 to 3 minutes at a time, with and without a dumbbell for additional weight, on a step or ledge in your gym. You aren’t trying to grow new muscle with this movement. Rather, you want to draw blood into the muscle group, breaking up lactic acid and exposing the parts of the calf muscle to as much deep stretching as possible.

Change out the exercises to fit the options available in your gym, as well as your personal preferences. The bottom line is that you should be hitting your calves from a variety of angles, with high, medium, and low repetition ranges to keep your calves growing.

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