Thursday, February 23, 2017

Arm Training Tips For The Best Muscle Gains

arm training tips
Walk around any gym in the world, and you’ll likely see some pretty silly events going down. Sometimes it will be a weak looking person attempting to bench press about 100 pounds more than he should be, with an equally scrawny training partner above him rowing the weight above him loudly. Often, we’ll see men brave enough to enter the squat rack, but lacking the courage to complete repetitions more than one-eighth of the way down. And there’s always the young man training biceps without training them at all. You know the type. He’ll curl the dumbbells so violently that his back will get the workout his biceps should be enjoying. Such training practices are dangerous, a waste of time, and really take away emphasis from some really good failure and buddy training techniques which can make a huge difference in the gym. Let’s examine a few “brothers-in-arms” exercises and see how they can help lead to muscle gain, when used correctly.

“Brothers-in-Arms” training is very simple. You and a partner (or two) will train together using the same weight for an isolation movement using a barbell which can be handed back and forth very quickly. You will stand there and complete your standard 8 to 12 repetitions, then hand it to your training partner. Just like you, he will complete his standard amount of repetitions. This is normally the point where you would both take a break. But not today!

Instead, he will hand the bar back to you. You will then, after only enjoying 30 to 40 seconds of rest, will be required to shoot for your same 8 painful repetitions. When you complete them, pass the bar back to your friend, where he will have to complete 8 reps. He’ll hand it back to you, where you might eke out 4 to 5 reps. You will then continue going back and forth until neither of you can complete a single rep. The last man to curl – wins! This exercise technique works wonderfully for many movements. Barbell curls, EZ-bar curls, skull rushers, EZ bar triceps presses, reverse-grip biceps curls, and forearm wrist curls from both angles are all useful movements.

Always wear gloves when training in this manner. Aside from the fact you wouldn’t want to swap body fluids with anyone else in the gym, the barbell can become very slippery when you’re training in this manner, which can lead to slippage and possible injury. Gloves make that hand-off transition smoother as well, and less awkward should you end up touching one another’s’ hand. If you are used to using an mp3 player, you may want to turn it off for this movement. Find a training partner who is similar in size and strength to you. It wouldn’t make much sense for a 120-pound beginner to train “Brothers-in-Arms” style with Ronnie Coleman, now would it? The weight selected should be equally beneficial to both lifters. If one man can complete 8 reps and the other man only completes two, then one of them is wasting his time!

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Biceps & Triceps Training: You Can Trust The Machines!

triceps machine movements
If you’ve ever seen the Terminator series of movies featuring bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegge, you have learned one lesson, and learned it well. We cannot trust the machines! They have been sent back in time to destroy civilization, blow things up, and otherwise ruin peoples’ days.

In bodybuilding, machines get a bad rap as well. Any time you look over at the machines in your gym, it’s very likely you see some devices being used by less-than-serious lifters, with less-than useful weight. Machines are easier and safer than free weights. The safety issue can be important to those with less training experience or muscle mass, who therefore cannot control the weight like a larger, more experienced bodybuilder. However, the fact that many bodybuilders move to the machines to take it easy, seems to give them a bad reputation. The secret to success with using machines for making muscle gains – particularly in the upper arms – is to use them to make the exercise harder, not easier. The machine controls your range of motion and forces you to flex at the same point on every repetition, without resorting to cheating or a swinging of the weight.

What we seem to forget is that Casey Viator, Mike Mentzer, and yes, even the great Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, used machines very frequently as they lifted. Of course they realized the usefulness of free weight squats, deadlifts, rows, and bench and shoulder pressing for building muscle mass. But they were also aware of the fact that with training so much, there was no way in the world that their joints and muscles could recover fast enough from compound lifting. Plus, they knew that it was essential to hit the muscle groups (particularly smaller groups such as biceps and triceps) with deliberate, slow targeted work. Machines provided that.

Thirty years later, bodybuilders are divided. With the use of many of today’s advanced drugs and judging panels which award mass monsters, many guys do focus primarily upon the heavy compound mass movements in order to gain a lot of muscle and keep it on. As a result, we don’t see the clean, lean, crisp defined physiques of years past. Instead, the stages are literally littered with bulky clones. As a bodybuilder rising through the ranks with complete control over your training regimen, you can change this. You can become one of the Bob Cicherillo clones that trains light with machines, and still win bodybuilding titles. You don’t become the biggest man on stage using machines, but you do possess one of the best physiques up there.

biceps machine movements
Useful biceps machine movements include cable curls with one or both hands, preacher machine curls, and the wide variety of dedicated machines. Useful triceps machine movements include cable pressdowns, overhead cable pressdowns, and the wide variety of Hammer Strength and Nautilus machines your gym offers. There are literally dozens of variants, but they all pretty much focus upon the three heads of the triceps with good accuracy. Keep your repetitions slow and under control, and focus upon flexing the muscle group at the peak contraction point of every repetition. Over time, you’ll see shape and lines emerge from the machines that will certainly give you an advantage on the bodybuilding stage. I’m still not saying you should trust any machines that travel back through time hell-bent on destroying the planet, but those in your gym are probably pretty safe – and actually useful as well!

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Friday, February 17, 2017

How To Determine The Training Frequency For Your Routine

training frequency
Body building beginners especially are fond of asking how often they should train. This is a very important question, for it can determine success or failure of a body building program within months after initiation. If for instance you train to the optimal intensity on Tuesday, should you hit the gym again on Wednesday or should wait until Thursday or even Friday? What determines our training frequency? What kind of training frequency facilitates optimal muscle mass and strength development? The question applies to both the beginner and the intermediate or advanced body builder.

The answer to these pertinent questions lies in each individual body builder’s genetics. The body requires an average of 48 hours at the minimum, to fully recover from intense exercise. However, some individuals require even longer recovery periods based on their genetic wiring. The physiological processes based at the cellular level of muscle tissues, require enough rest and a supply of nutrients to heal, recover and rejuvenate, before the body builder can train the same muscle or muscle group again.

It is therefore upon you to determine how long it takes your muscles to loose their soreness and feel strong again after a training session, and then to leave this amount of time after every training session, for recovery. The guiding principle, rule of the thumb as they call it, is if you can feel your muscles slightly sore, don’t train that muscle yet. The fact that they are still sore means that they are still repairing and recovering and have not achieved their health completely. If you go to the gym just yet, that soreness will ultimately develop into injury and the muscles will be damaged, sometimes beyond repair. You end up staying out of the gym longer, nursing injuries.

At the average, a beginner should train at an interval of 48 hours to 72 hours, and therefore attending three training sessions for each week. But then again, don’t go for more than 96 hours before you resume training, unless you have muscle injuries to heal. A Monday then Wednesday the Friday training schedule would therefore be ideal. Amplifying the diet is also a good way to ensure quick recovery.

For advanced bodybuilder there is an option available in attending the gym regularly. At this stage, the body is stronger and more apt to handle training stress. Nevertheless, rest and recovery remain as important if not more. The best thing to do is to split up the workout routine for a week into several isolation-training sessions. A good example top elaborate this is, if you train the back on Monday, you must allow at least 48 hours for the back to recover before hitting it again with intense exercises. Instead of keeping out of the gym on Tuesday, you can attend a training session for the upper body. On Wednesday, you can still train, but this time you target the lower torso.

You can therefore train daily, but on each day, a different muscle or muscle group is trained and then given adequate time to recover before being trained again. For both the beginner and the advanced body builders, the essence is in ensuring complete recovery before retraining any muscle. Training a muscle too frequently or the again, too infrequently, results to what the pros call, sub-maximal gains.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Overtraining: Does It Hurt Or Heal The Bodybuilder?

overtraining

We work all year to build ourselves up. We train heavy, eat big, sleep a lot, and use various supplements to boost our bodyweight, drop fat, and build muscle. We grow physically stronger, and over time our health improves as well. Better cardiovascular system oxygen flow, more efficient digestion, and great balance in enzyme levels in the blood mean we are healthy, vibrant, and on the right track. However, in our efforts to achieve our best possible shape and health, we do often take it just a little bit overboard. We become ill, or we injure something due to just not getting enough rest. Enthusiasm is good, but it does often lead down this road. The following are some of the reasons that an otherwise good bodybuilder will begin falling apart.

Training 52 weeks per year

The top guys in the sport take 1 to 2 months off of their training each year, and they have every advantage (chemical, food, rest, etc) in the world. You have a far more demanding schedule, and much less assistance. It would make sense that you would definitely need a break each year. Even if you never plan on competing, you should still take 1 to 2 breaks of 2 to 3 weeks each year. It’s often a good idea to plan your breaks around vacations, moving, graduations, honeymoons, child births, or other major life events in which your daily and weekly schedules would be severely impacted anyway. If you’re in Orlando for a week with the family, you should really focus on visiting Sea World and Disney and taking lots of pictures, not scanning the yellow pages for a cabbie to take you to the nearest commercial gym.

Maxing out every week

It’s good to push yourself to new limits, but the damage you inflict upon your muscles and joints with just a single max-out can leave you sore for a week. Stick with pushing yourself to the limit just once per month.

Running a diet for more than 12 weeks

After three months on a diet, you are in one seriously catabolic state. Fat begins to preserve itself, and you’ll begin burning valuable muscle. If you must run longer to achieve contest conditioning, take one cheat meal per day to restore your metabolism and preserve your muscle.

Training 6 days a week

As a steroid-assisted bodybuilder, you may be able to get away with training a grueling six days per week. The bodybuilders of the 1970s did it, as evidenced by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s own encyclopedia detailing 12 workouts per week, spread over six days. Today’s guys – much larger – don’t train nearly that much and neither should you. Stick with four to five training sessions per week.

Suffering a nutrient deficiency

If you aren’t deriving enough iron, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals from your diet, you are in urgent need of a daily multivitamin. Not taking one for a period of months can lead to deficiencies which can harm your health, as well as your muscle building goals. A multivitamin as well as vitamins B, E, and C are essential for daily use, along with a good omega-3.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Importance Of Neck Training For A Bodybuilder

neck training

Q: Is it important for bodybuilder’s to train the neck and, if so, what exercises are the best?

A: Yes, it is important for a well rounded physique to have a muscular neck. A thick neck, offset by huge sloping traps, is the epitome of raw power and manliness. A physique without good neck development is, quite simply, incomplete. Think of the last two Mr. Olympia’s – Coleman and Yates. Without thick, muscular necks they would not have been able to stand head and shoulders above the competition. Apart from the aesthetic appeal of a thick, strong neck, developing this area of your body can give you some major injury insurance. The effects of whiplash can be greatly reduced, if not eliminated entirely by the possession of a strong neck. In addition many of the nagging injuries picked up during training result from weak neck muscles. So, if you’re not incorporating neck training into your program, maybe it’s time you did.

So how can you go about building an impressive neck? Well, to develop the back of the neck, the old stand-by is the wrestler’s bridge. This is a great exercise that can be done anywhere as it incorporates bodyweight resistance only. However, you have to pay careful attention to what you’re doing as the risk of injury is quite high. Lie on the floor, facing up and bridge up on your head, raising your hips and arching your back. Lift your hands off the floor. Try to stay in this position for one minute, progressively increasing your time each workout.

An invaluable piece of equipment for building the neck is the neck harness. If your gym doesn’t have at least one of these, suggest that they correct that situation smartly. The neck harness has a cap that fits onto the head. Weights are attached to the harness. Get into position by bending at the knees with an arched back and resting your hands on your knees. Begin a repetition by bending your neck down to full extension and then lift back up to full contraction. Working from side to side will also work the sternomastoids, which give width to the neck.

Complete your neck work with body weight resistance neck extensions. Sit on a bench and, placing your hands on your forehead, slowly move your head from a position where you are looking up until your chin is resting on your chest. Keep constant tension throughout and keep your neck moving smoothly the entire time. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.

Finally, a bit of safety advice when it comes to neck training. The neck is a very vulnerable body part and safety should be a prime concern at all times. For this reason it is suggested that your neck workouts be done on your non-weight training days, perhaps before your cardio sessions. Make sure that you don’t do any sudden, jerky movements when training neck. Always have a smooth, slow execution of movement, concentrating on the feel of the target muscle. Go through a full range of motion on all exercises. This is especially important with regard to the harness exercises. Finally do some specific stretching exercises for the neck as a precursor to your resistance workout.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Are Cable Exercises Effective For Leg Training?

cable exercises

Q: What do you think of cable exercises for the legs when preparing for contests? Do you think they are beneficial or take too much energy away from size-preserving exercises like squats?

A: Everyone is different. I’ve seen guys get ready for shows still doing squats, leg press and hack squats, with absolutely no finishing type exercises and look separated, sharp and cross striated. I’ve also seen guys do lunges, leg extensions and other specialization exercises and look fantastic too. I think it really knows how your legs respond to stimulus. Do you, for instance, respond well to either high rep or low rep training and still have fantastic legs?

If that’s the case, you can’t make that many mistakes and anything you do will benefit your legs. However, if you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t really do well with low rep training and needs more intensity and duration built in to leg workouts, I’d say that finishing work is really going to benefit you, as well as doing giant and supersets. In general, I’m a big fan of cable movements for the legs, as I feel they require a great deal of control.

When you’re talking about controlling movement and becoming precise, you’re using far more ligaments, tendons and insertion attachments than you would doing compound exercises like squats. Isolation is the key to most finish work and using cables forces you to be precise. Many gyms, unfortunately, don’t have ankle cuffs any longer. Nor do many of them have that small sissy squat apparatus with the floor plate, two padded rollers and a back plate to stabilize the calves and isolate the quads. That was always my favorite ancillary piece in the gym when I was coming up through the ranks.

It really burned my quads like nothing else, and the separation I got from it was unbelievable. If you were to combine something like that with cable leg extensions and lunges, you could really do some great work on bringing out tendons and ligaments that look impressive on stage and create the illusion of additional separation. So yes, the more stuff you can do to bring those things out, I think you should be all about it!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Backwards Quadriceps Training

quadriceps training

The best kind of training is the style that you’re not currently using. This applies to cardiovascular exercise, as well as the routines employed for individual body parts and the entire body split. Today, let’s examine a quadriceps training routine that challenges us to start with the low-weight, high intensity work, then move up to some higher-weight, lower-volume training. This will ensure both the slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers are trained adequately!

Start this training routine with leg extensions. Your first set should be the lightest, highest-repetition set of your day. Aim for fifty repetitions! At the conclusion of this first set, everything else you do this day will feel like a breeze! Complete three more sets of leg extensions, with repetition ranges in the 25, 20, and then 15 range. You should stretch out a bit following these sets to break up the lactic acid and enormous amount of blood which should be flowing into the region.

Next you are ready for leg presses. Keep the weight moderate to allow you four solid sets of the 12 to 20 range. You may be tempted to pile on the plates and go heavy, but there will be plenty of time for that. Keep the weight moderate, the repetitions slow and controlled, and try to flex and feel every bit of each repetition. Of course, following each set, stand up and walk around the gym, stretching your legs out as much as possible.

Finally, your third and final movement will arrive, and by now you should already know what they will be: Squats! You’ll be completing six sets of squats to completely and thoroughly finish your thighs off for the day, and for the week. Your first set will consist of twenty reps with a moderate weight of 185 to 225 pounds. From there, you will move up the weight while scaling back the repetitions. Your rep ranges should approximate 15, 12, 10, 8, and 6 for the last five sets of your day. At the conclusion of your last set of squats, you should have a serious time even balancing the weight. After all, you will have just completed fourteen sets in a manner completely backwards from your normal procedure. Your body will be confused, which, when combined with proper diet and rest, should lead to some new growth as the muscles of the legs work to adapt to this changing workload.

You should train this entire routine with a partner, if at all possible. If this is not an option, you will want to opt for finding either a fellow trainer on the gym floor, or locating a gym employee to spot, as you approach the end of the workout. Of course, the weights you will be using for the final sets of squats will be less than what you typically use when squats begin your day. You’ll be pre-exhausted! However, as you push your body to its limits, you may encounter a situation where your leg muscles fail before you are ready. This can lead to injury. However, a good spotter who is alert in his duties can help to watch your back when the weight wants to come tumbling down!

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