Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry that changes lives everyday but there is still one myth that plagues consumers and is pushed over and over again.
Why Getting Toned is the Biggest Myth in the Fitness Industry
If you or anyone you know is jacked and in super awesome shape I guarantee it took a ton of hard work and dedication to reach that level. So much work that the small percentage of people that have reached these elite levels of fitness is rather limited.
Bodybuilding is a very demanding sport and comes with great effort. The average person is not going to put in the amount of effort necessary to learning what works for them. Instead they would rather look for the next gimmick, diet or fad and be told what to do. The fitness industry sees this and continues to capitalize on selling you the idea that getting in shape can be easy.
We have all seen the commercials talking about “toning up” and “transforming your body”. These products continue to fly off the shelf and land in the homes of hopeless consumers. Selling the idea that getting ripped and shredded is way out of your reach and that if you buy these amazing products you can just tone up your body. Well I have news for you, it isn’t so!
What are you going to tone? Your Fat?!?!?
If you want the most awesome body you ever dreamed of then you have to work for it. And you have to build some muscle to burn some fat. You have to figure out what is going to get you there. You have to experiment, make constant changes, build a strategy and keep working at it. Thats what it takes.
If the industry decided to shift the way they present their ideas and products to consumers then the industry can benefit solely. But if consumers don’t demand better products by searching alternative answers then the industry wont change. Until now.
How You Can Transform Your Body Starting Today
You can dismiss these magical myths of confusion and put the bologna behind you. You can transform your body and create the physique you desire. All it takes is some hard work and a little bit of know how.
By looking into the past we can find clues and hints as to how success was achieved in various areas of life. For those that want to learn about business they research successful businesses and those that are responsible for creating them. If you want to learn how to be a race car driver then you look at race car drivers of the past and figure out techniques on how to win! So why not do it with bodybuilding? Learning from the past greats can put you on the path to physical fitness.
Bodybuilding dates way, way back all the way to ancient Greece. In the early 1900’s and so on there were many great men that helped to pioneer the sport. And bring acceptance in today’s society, Eugene Sandow, Reg Park, Steve Reeves, Bill Pearl, and Dave Draper to name a few. All of these men had amazing physiques. All of these men knew how to work for their physiques.
By studying the past we can make decisions on how to shape the future. Transform your body by learning what to do. It can be as simple as throwing out the bullshit you have been force fed and trying something new.
Implement These Tips and Tricks in Your Training and Watch Your Body Transform
By making a small change in how you do things you can begin to make larger improvements overall. It takes many swings of an axe to chop down a big tree but eventually it will fall. By implementing these five tips you can start to transform your training and create a program that works for you.
Tips and Tricks to Transform Your Body
Learn the compound movements and focus on making them the dominant exercises in your workout routines.
Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and so forth. Multi-joint compound movements utilize more muscle groups at once. Therefore being more efficient for building muscle and burning fat.
Eat more food. Even if you think your eating enough your probably not.
Learning what and how much to take in is key. Your body needs fuel in order for it to perform. There more active you are the more your going to need and want carbs to give you the energy you need.
Get enough rest and keep your stress levels low.
All the compound lifts are going to be a toll on the body. Make sure you get plenty of rest and keep your stress levels low so your body can be as efficient as possible at doing its job.
Grasp the concept of quality over quantity.
Proper form is key. If you do five reps and all five of them are in poor form you are definitely missing out on the benefits. Proper form and contraction of the muscles are essential.
Make progressive changes to your routines.
Progressive resistance is a concept often neglected. But it is probably the biggest tip that can change training protocols dramatically. Either add a little bit of weight here or there. Or make changes in your reps and sets. Just make small incremental changes over time and reap the rewards.
Outside all of that make training fun. Enjoy what your doing and share that enjoyment with others. It should not be a chore.
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Without over generalizing too much, most things that taste good to our pallet, either food or drink related, are not going to be good for us in terms of their health and nutrition benefits. Water is one healthy drink option that isn’t going to set your taste buds tingling, but there’s simply no escaping its critical to your health. With the human body consisting of approximately 60-70% body weight from water it’s easy to see why it’s so vitally important to stay hydrated at all times.
Every system and function in your body relies on sufficient water levels to function efficiently and effectively. Going into a state of dehydration can not only create internal disruptions, but it can also bring about a state of fatigue and mental confusion. At higher levels of dehydration it can become both critical and life threatening.
Water really is that important….
Ways To Make Your Water Intake More Appealing
Infuse Your Water With Herbs – and Even Veggies/ Fruits
Already a trend in California and other health conscious areas, infused water is a big hit. It offers a blast of freshness to your water and gives it some excitement – and not to mention people like fashioning a nice water bottle with some colorful herbs and fruit to show off.
Infuse your water overnight with some basil…yes basil….sounds strange but just try it. Be creative and mix and match herbs and fruit to make a unique drink. The key to extracting all the oils and flavor from an herb..is to “smack it” . Smack the herbs in between your hands – do not tear or shred…then place the herbs in a glass bottle or pitcher and fill with water and let marinate overnight.
Some best herbs to infuse: Basil, Oregano, Mint and Sage
Mix with some fruits / veggies with herbs or infuse what you wish: Cucumber slices, Orange Slices, Lemon, Lime, etc.
Cucumbers are a very fresh veggie that make your water taste extra clean. So experiment away…
Try some Mint and Orange Slices ….Get Refreshed !
Add A Little Juice
Why not add a few drops of your favorite juice to your glass of water to spice things up a little. Find something with natural ingredients and preferably no added sugar which will hopefully satisfy your taste buds for a short while! Cranberry is a sure favorite.
Create Some Frozen Alternatives
With the summer months now upon us, what better way to celebrate than by creating your own ice cubes and/ or ice lollies. Add flavorings such as those described above to create your very own flavorsome iced masterpieces!
Don’t forget that water can also be obtained from the foods you consume. Previous research has demonstrated that up to 25% of your water requirements are met through food consumption alone. Vegetables and fruits tend to contain the highest percentages of water, so why not opt for a salad on a regular basis or ensure these foods feature regularly in your diet. Alternative foods such as soups and broths also contain high water levels and with the British summer being as unpredictable as ever, you might just need a warm meal in the near future!
Don’t Forget – Caffeine Intake Requires More Hydration
Limit the caffeine intake as well…or note that for every glass of coffee – you will need at least two glasses of water to supplement the dehydration from your coffee and other beverages.
Legs and Glutes are two of the most commonly overlooked areas of the body that lack severe attention and dedication. Ever see a guy that has a massively built upper body, but has chicken legs? Not appealing or proportionate. Here are some great leg exercises that will be proven techniques for greater strength and size – where it counts!
One of my favorite exercises is the “Vertical Leg Press” using the Smith Machine, a.k.a. “Brazilian Leg Lift”. This is an exercise provides great growth, and I never see anyone doing this in the gym (except me) – be careful-as this could be dangerous. There is a machine specifically designed for this – which the video below- shows the machine and proper form for this phenomenal exercise.
Very long video- just watch about a minute to grasp the concept.
Start out with light weights until you master both balance and the ease to lock in the bar…and wear proper shoes.
If you do not have the specific machine shown above in your gym, it is just as effective using the Smith Machine –
Check out Karin Keenan showing us how it is done…
Don’t Forget the Lunges
Lunges rely on the same muscles as those utilized with the squat. What the lunge offers is a greater range of motion, which provides a substantial development of the glutes and hamstrings.
Amateur and sometimes professional Bodybuilders are notorious for often neglecting legs and glutes, especially as they become so focused on training the larger and more noticeable ones – being chest arms, etc. The hip adductors -a.ka. the inner thigh and abductors – a.k.a the outer thigh are prime examples of overlooked muscles. These muscles add stability and mass to the thighs. Although they’re relatively small and barely visible, they add to hip stability and overall thigh mass and are critical to athletic performance. Lunges contribute significantly to their development.
The squat is one of the best exercises for initiating a strong muscle growth response. It stimulates every single muscle fiber in the lower body while working your core to the bone.
When performing squats, make sure to do a full range of movement, squatting all the way down known as deep squat -to ensure strong glute activation from the lift going back up.
Display your strength and prowess by executing one of the classic bodybuilding maneuvers, the overhead press. In the days of old, lifters would act out spectacles of might. Viewers watched in awe as hefty loads were thrusted overhead, hence the name overhead press.
This guide will cover the basics of an overhead press and how to begin doing it.
Before we begin this lecture I must point out that there are known variations of the overhead press. Some simply differ in name whilst others differ in overall technique. The most common instances of the overhead press are Military Press, Seated Shoulder Press, Seated Military Press, and Push Press.
In essence the main differences among the various overhead presses are whether you’re sitting or standing and whether the legs are involved or not. For example in the Push Press the lifter utilizes a slight burst in lower leg strength to assist in getting the bar up overhead.
We will be focusing on the traditional Overhead Press. This movement is great for building upper body strength as well as helping to stabilize the core and build a solid muscular structure. By maintaining as strict as form possible, the lifter will thrust the weight upward in a straight line , lock out at the top, and return to the starting position, all with a minimal amount of lower body push.
The Benefits of the Overhead Press
Learning to press a significant amount of weight overhead can be a very beneficial experience both physically and mentally. It is a compound lift and will require the lifter to engage all the muscles in the body. Each time you load the bar with plates and execute your lift ,you can expect . . .
Gains in Size and Strength—You will be amazed at how strong you get and how this strength carries through to many other lifts. By working the overhead press, your body works together to lift and stabilize the weight overhead.
Improvements in Flexibility— With strict form, you improve your flexibility in your wrists and shoulders. This improved flexibility can carry over into other lifts like the clean-and-press or even the front squat.
Better Posture—With strict form not only will your strength increase in your upper body, but the strength that is built up in your core and stabilizer muscles assists in your posture. Better Posture increases your overall confidence and boosts your self image.
Standing Tall with the Overhead Press
Pressing weight overhead can be tricky and in some cases rather scary. However, the rewards and joy that come from achieving it bring forth a powerful feeling of accomplishment. When approaching the overhead press for the first time many people want to try a seated version or even resort to using the smith machine. I highly advise to stay away from both.
The reasons I feel most people are afraid of any pressing movement is the lack of control and possibility of being stuck under the weight. In some cases, this could apply, but with the proper equipment and setup, those fears can be eliminated.
As a word of condolence from someone that has gotten stuck in an overhead press, its not that scary. In most cases, all you have to do is drop the weight and be aware of where it is falling. If you press upwards and feel yourself going back you know your form is off but you also can save the lift by slightly stepping. Or in an extreme case just letting go and moving your body forward out of the path of the falling weight.
Once you conquer your fears in any lift whether it be the overhead press—or even—the squat you can accomplish anything.
A Lesson in Overhead Press Form
As I stated before, learning to overhead press can be rather freaky. It shouldn’t be. Taking the time to learn and develop your technique for this movement is critical. The overhead press is great in building impressive shoulders and upper body strength.
This lesson will cover the proper form used for a strict overhead press.
The items we will need in order to complete our overhead press will be a barbell and a power rack.
Note: Smith machines are great inventions and have their purpose. However they are not beneficial for us during this workout. The overhead press on a smith machine does not allow the stabilization muscles to engage. Always press with free weights.
Overhead Press Setup
The press can begin either in a power rack or on the floor. As a beginner it is much easier to un-rack the weight in the proper position, than to clean the weight from the floor. As you advance this is a great way to add some dynamic to your lift.
Note: for taller lifters or shorter power racks adjust the j-hooks so they are in the front of the rack allowing you to lift free of any obstructions.
Approach the barbell in the power rack and grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
With a firm grip, dip under the bar and allow it to rest on your front deltoids.
With your elbows pointing forward and slightly upwards, press the weight up with your legs and take a step back from the rack.
With your feet together or a little narrower than shoulder distance apart, tighten your core, legs, and upper back to stabilize the weight and form the proper base to push off of.
Squeezing the glutes is a great way to keep all of the muscles engaged.
Your head should be in a neutral position, chest up and tight, back slightly arched, stabilization muscles engaged, and your elbows pointing forward, not down.
The elbows point forward which gives the body a “platform” to push from. With the elbows pointing down strength and stability are lost. You can press lighter weights this way, as the load increases the lift will become more difficult.
At this point you should look like a statue. Firm, solid, and ready to press the weight high above your head!
Beginning to Overhead Press
With the proper setup in place you are ready to begin the overhead press. Remember to keep your back and core tight. You need a solid base while pressing the weight overhead.
Standing tall and strong take a deep breath, hold, and begin by pressing the weight upwards.
The goal is to keep the bar in as straight of a line as possible.
The bar will be moving up and in a straight path we want to keep the weight as close to the body as possible but we also want to avoid hitting ourselves in the chin, in order to do so we will need to move our head back a little bit.
Once the weight has cleared the chin and is moving upwards past your nose or bodies will need to begin to shift to compensate for the path that the bar is traveling. In order to do so we must begin to bring our chest forward.
As we fully extend our arms overhead, our bodies should be directly underneath the bar.
Head looking forward, arms extended and locked out, elbows slightly flared, back moderately arched, feet solid and together firmly planted on the floor. You have successfully completed the first part of the overhead press.
Releasing your breath, control the weight back down. Reset to the starting position and prepare yourself for your next lift.
Keep in mind that you had to slightly adjust the position of your body to get the bar above your head, so you will need to reverse that path as the bar descends back down to your shoulder shelf.
Viola! You just completed your first overhead press. You should feel proud of yourself. This is such an amazing accomplishment.
If you get stuck don’t worry. Keep on trying. Remember to keep focus on your form.
As a resource a great video on learning the overhead press is the video Standing Military Press by Testosterone Nation.
The grandaddy of all lifts, squats. If you are not squatting, you are totally missing out big time. The squat is one of the most important exercises you can do. Along with working your legs, squats engage the whole body. Learning to squat is essential when beginning any training program.
This guide will cover the basics of a squat and how to begin doing them.
First and foremost, I would like to explain that there are three variations to the actual squat itself. All very useful yet, different in their own rights. The three squats are the olympic squat (high bar), low bar back squat, and front squat.
Each of the three squats has different variables which affect how they are performed. The obvious difference between the front squat and the other two back squats would be placement on the back or placement on the shoulders. And the main difference between the olympic squat and the low bar back squat would be the placement on the back.
As in the diagram, the bar position of the squat determines the angle of the back and the overall geometry of the movement. The positioning of the hips and knees changes, but one thing that remains the same is that the bar travels in a straight up and down vertical path, balanced over the middle of the foot.
The variation of the squat we will focus on is the low bar back squat. The reason we will focus on the low bar back squat is because this particular form will allow the most weight to be used.
The Benefits of the Squat
Squats require the use of every muscle in the body. The back and arms hold the weight, your core stabilizes the body, and the legs drive the squat back up from the bottom position. Each time you load the bar and get underneath it you can expect . . .
Gains in Size and Strength—There is no doubt you will be getting stronger. You’re putting your body under a heavy load it is not used to and you’re calling for all the various muscle groups to work together. Stronger squats means the ability to gain more muscle.
Improvements in Flexibility—In order to squat, you need to have some degree of flexibility and mobility in your joints and ligaments. Squats help to improve this over time, proving that lifting weights will not make you stiff and rigid.
Better Posture—Perfecting form will not only help with increasing your strength it will also help in your posture. Many of our daily functions are in a chair at a desk. With proper form, our muscles will become stronger and more stable; thus helping to reduce any posture infractions as well as carry over into a healthier life.
Common Squat Myths and Misconceptions
Many gym goers and lifters of old commonly reference the squat as being the culprit responsible for their now shotty knees as well as aches and pains. Improper form in any exercise will lead to aches, pains, and serious injuries. The squat is not responsible, the lifter is responsible.
Your knee joint is strongest in a fully flexed/extended position, not in-between. Partial squats only strengthen your quads. All full range of motion squat will work your entire leg including your glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Always squat with proper form and always squat to proper depth. Partial squats and limited ranges of motion do have their place. However, they are for more advanced lifters and are in place for specific reasonings. Your efforts should always be to squat to depths of parallel or below.
Squatting incorrectly and performing partial squats repeatedly will result in muscle imbalances and probable cause for injuries.
Proof is in the pudding, it’s not called the deep knee bend for nothing.
Children and babies sit in a squat position time and time again without any problems. Just because we lose this ability over time does not mean deep squats are wrong, it just means we have work harder at regaining the flexibility we once had.
Weightlifters, powerlifters, and even some bodybuilders squat to much lower depths than parallel with much heavier weights. Compared to any other sport weightlifting has a lower rate of injury overall.
Avoiding injuries while squatting can be very simple. Use common sense. Practice proper form. Always use a power rack. When you are just learning to squat this can be your saving grace. There is nothing like getting too tired to push back up and just dropping the weight on a safety bar as opposed to being stuck with a couple pounds on your back.
A Lesson In Squat Form
Learning to squat can be very intimidating. It shouldn’t be, however. There are very few people that do it correctly and very few people who will take the time to show someone how the proper squat should be performed. And since there seems to be such a misconception as to what a squat really is, it can get rather confusing.
This lesson will cover the proper form used for a low bar back squat.
The items we will need in order to complete our squats will be a barbell and a power rack.
I cannot advocate enough the importance of proper form. Learning to squat correctly without any weight will instill the correct motor patterns in our body and will assist in our efforts.
Note: Smith machines are great inventions and have their purpose. However they are not beneficial for us during this workout. Squatting on a smith machine puts the body in a fixed path and does not allow the stabilization muscles to engage. Always squat with free weights.
Many things will come into play while squatting, so start squats with the proper setup.
Approach the barbell in the power rack and dip underneath it.
Position the bar low on your back just above the bump in your shoulder blades.
With as narrow a grip as you can manage, set your chest by adding a slight arch in the back.
Squeeze your upper back muscles together and keep your back tight at all times.
This will allow for a stable upper body and will help to hold the heavy loads as you progress.
Keep your head in line with your body and find an area on the floor or wall just in front of you. Focus on that.
If possible avoid squatting in front of a mirror, rely on the feeling. Focusing on the mirror enables you to become dependent and can actually throw you off.
Plant your feet firmly underneath you, slightly wider than shoulder width. Press up from your legs, not your back. You have now unracked the weight.
Take one step directly back with your foot and the follow with the other foot.
If you step back and your feet are not slightly wider than shoulder width you can make a slight correction with your second step by making one small step out, putting your feet in the optimal squatting position.
Standing firmly with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and your toes pointed no more than 45 degrees from the body, your are now set up and ready to squat.
Beginning to Squat
With the proper setup in place you are ready to squat. Remember to keep your back and core tight. You need a solid base while squatting and your core is it.
Take a deep breath and hold it, causing your abdominal muscles to tighten.
Begin the movement by performing hip break.
Hip break is when you engage the hip muscles and push the glutes back.
Keeping tension in your muscles slowly bend at the knees pushing the hips backward and keeping the hamstrings tight.
Do not be afraid to fall. It will feel awkward at first. Keep going with the movement. With proper form you will not fall backwards.
As you lower the weight aim, to keep your knees out and tracking in line with your foot. The outside of your quad should line up with the outside of your foot.
A good way to always ensure this happens is to envision spreading the floor apart with your feet you want to get the pressure to the outside of your foot where you are most stable.
Go parallel or below. Your hip joints need to be lower than your knee. Over time you will be able to judge the proper depth. It will help if you can get a training partner to give you subtle cues.
At the bottom of the squat, you will be in what’s called the hole. With your breath still held and your muscles tight, squeeze your glutes and drive back up from the hips.
Never let your shoulders lead. That is the incorrect way to squat. Power comes from the ground up and the hip is your delivery point. Your shoulders and upper body will follow-suit naturally. Imagine someone pressing their finger into your lower back as you push against it. This will help to teach the proper pattern your body should follow as you return to the top.
Drive upwards, slowly releasing the air until you reach midway, then exhale to force the rest of the air out as you reach the top.
Lock out the movement with a deep squeeze of the glutes.
Take a big breath and repeat.
There you have it. You just learned how to do your first squat. And you’re well on your way to building some serious size and strength.
It took me many attempts to learn to squat and with much research and trial and error I figured it out. Once you get the proper form, squatting is very rewarding and fun.
As a resource some great videos on learning the low bar back squat are Mark Rippetoe’s “Fixing the Squat: Hip Drive” and “Candito Training “How To Low Bar Squat”.
Mark Rippetoe: Fixing the Squat: Hip Drive
http://youtu.be/yha2XAc2qu8 How To Low Bar Squat