Tag Archives: quick muscle growth

Wide vs Close Grip Pull Ups: Which is Best?

pull-up-

Pull-ups are difficult, demanding and strenuous exercises. You need to lift all your weight with the use of your back, chest and arm muscles. It might be a daunting challenge at first, but with a bit of work and perseverance, you will be able to benefit muscles that are otherwise difficult to reach.

Before you start, make sure you have warmed up properly. Strength training puts a lot of stress on your muscles, and jumping into it without the preparation of a gradual warm up could lead to injuries.

Once your arms, back and chest muscles are a bit warmer, it is time to do the pull-up challenge. As with every difficult exercise, do not overstress yourself. Begin slowly and rest if you need it.

Pull-ups are simple because all you need is a stable overhead bar and a good grip with your hands. But it is not as easy as it seems at first. If you want to get the full benefits from pull-ups, you need to pay attention to the grip. The way you place your hands greatly determines what muscles you will be using, how your body will be moving and the level of difficulty you will be facing.

There are two main types of hand grip:

Wide Grip

This is the more traditional grip method. Stand and reach up to the overhead bar with both hands placed slightly beyond the width of your shoulders by a few inches. Turn your palms around so that they are facing forward. When you pull yourself up, your shoulders will be performing a powerful adduction movement: that is, flexing towards you, and making your upper arms move towards your sides. This is really good for shoulder flexibility as well as muscle toning. And you will also be putting to work the large wing-like back muscles known as latissimus dorsi.

Close Grip

In this modality, your hands must grip the overhead bar exactly at shoulder level, with your palms facing forward the same way as in the wide grip. The close grip forces your upper arms to move behind you and your shoulders to extend. With the close grip you will also work on the latissimus dorsi, but there will be a big contribution from the large front chest muscles, the pectoralis major, and the biceps.

All three muscles will harmoniously work together and get toned in accordance.

Another version of the close grip is where your palms are facing you (otherwise known as chin-ups). The latissimus dorsi will still be doing most of the work, but this time the biceps will be more involved.

The close grip uses the mechanical benefit of two large and powerful muscles, front and back, which makes doing pull-ups a bit easier, and also for a greater number of repetitions.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to try a close grip before you move on to the wide grip.

How To Perform Cardio Exercises If You Have Bad Knees

Cardio exercise

Cardio exercise is a high-impact activity that can seriously backfire if you have bad knee problems. Cardio workouts with injury are always a gamble, even if you are otherwise young and healthy. Running or rope jumping with bad knees is not a good idea because of all the impact and pounding on your joints. Did you know that when you run, your body absorbs your weight x 7 every time you take a step? So if you weigh, say, 170 pounds— that would still be 1,119 pounds of pressure on your knees every single time your foot hits the ground.

Other exercises without impact and pounding, like cycling, still put a lot of repetitive stress on your joints, especially knees and ankles.

No joint stress cardio

To protect your knees from the impact and repetitive stress of cardio, here are three items you can easily work into your training routine. You will tone your muscles, burn calories and keep your knees in good shape.

1.     Battling ropes

Battling ropes need to be long and thick, the more the better.  Loop them around something stable that will not move and then take each end in your hands, pulling while doing the exercises. A good example of battling ropes cardio is rope slams— where you slam each end of the rope up and down on the floor, making waves. These exercises are quite aggressive for most people, so start slow and move up to longer sets as you feel more comfortable with it.

2.     Kettlebells

Cardio kettlebell exercises involve a lot of swinging and snatching. You can effectively strengthen the muscles in your hamstrings, glutes and lower back, but putting no stress whatsoever on your knees. Kettlebells come in different sizes and weights, but it is always a good idea to start slowly. Try 44 or 53-pound units and then move on to heavier ones as you see fit.

3.     Sledgehammer

Sledgehammer exercises, or sledgehammer swings, involve an eight-pound and a car tyre. The bigger the tyre, the better. You swing the sledgehammer hard against the tire, hard and rhythmically, in circular motions. Do a number of sets on each side (Twenty is good to start with). There will be no impact on your knees, but your pectorals, upper body and biceps will benefit tremendously.

Each of these three exercises can be part of a workout routine, or be the routine itself. You can include them as needed in your usual training, and feel all the benefits of cardio exercise without causing further injury to your knees.

Advice About Training From The Experts

advice training

When it comes to finding the perfect fitness plan for you, there is a lot you can learn from experienced professional trainers.

These little tips will help you put together a much better workout routine and fitness plan, while at the same time improving your quality of life more than you could ever imagine.

1.     Start slow and organize yourself.

a.      Make small changes. If you are new to fitness training, start little by little. Gradually introduce activities and changes to your day.

b.     Plan ahead. When you have time to spare, plan your fitness schedule for the week. You will be able to do it more efficiently.

2.     Intensify your workout.

  • Work out harder, and you will burn more.  A hard, intensive workout will keep you burning calories for hours even after you leave the gym.
  • Start your day with exercise. Do your fitness routine first thing in the morning, and you will not have to make room for it in your busy schedule. It will also be much more intense and effective.

Do your fitness routine first thing in the morning.

3.     Focus on your inner body and mind, and enjoy it.

  • Fitness starts from the inside. Working out will improve your physical appearance, but that should not be your reason to do it. You do it to be healthy.
  • Meditate. Your mind is part of your body –don’t leave it behind.  Re-connecting to your source will give you peace of mind and heal emotional wounds.
  • Do the things you like. Working out does not have to be a self-imposed obligation; not if you find something you really like to do.

4.     Don’t procrastinate, just do it. And do it well.

  • Don’t give yourself unrealistic goals, but stick to your plan as much as possible. Share your goals with friends: it will keep you motivated.
  •  Combine cardio and strength training. Your workout will be shorter and more effective.
  • Picture your goal, then break it down into smaller goals. Step by step, you will get where you want.

5.     Pay attention to your posture, your diet and your commitment.

  • Watch your feet. Proper foot placement is paramount to good balance and spinal alignment.
  • Eat well. Eat clean, unprocessed food – fruit and vegetables, lean meat, good fat and grains. Think of food as fuel, not a reward for your cravings.
  • Set a two-day rule: Don’t go for more than two days without training. Stick to that rule no matter what you do and where you go.

If you do this well, your strength endurance will certainly increase and then all you will need to do is repeat this circuit two to four times.

 

9 Kettlebell Moves That Burns Away Fat

kettlebell

Kettlebell exercises

Kettlebells are an all-around fitness training tool, perfect for cardiovascular exercises combining strength and flexibility workouts. For strength training and weight loss kettlebells are your best allies.

So what is a good kettlebell strength training routine? David Schenk, a certified trainer from World Kettlebell Club, has put together a complete and effective fat-burning  kettlebell workout. It should be done following a Tabata interval (8 sets of 20-second repetitions, resting 10 seconds in between).

What you need

Some clear space, an exercise mat and two kettlebells. This routine focuses on all your major areas: shoulders, biceps, triceps, torso, back, glutes, knees and legs. There are nine different sets. Here is a brief description of each, along with their benefits:

1.     Goblet Squats

Holding the kettlebell’s handles, stand up and then squat down. This tones all your major muscles, but especially quads.

2.     Thruster

A continuation of the previous exercise. This time, when you stand back up push the kettlebell up with your arms. It improves cardio and strength.

3.     Turkish Get Up

A bit more complicated, but easy. Lie on your back and bend your right knee. Holding the kettlebell in your right hand, lift it up above your head as you push yourself up with your left arm, straightening your back. Then move up, with your left knee on the floor, and stand straight, all the time holding up the kettlebell. Repeat on the other side. It works on your whole body.

4.     Dead-Lift

Take the kettlebell in your hands and hold it down. Then squat down, resting the kettlebell down on the floor while still holding it. This tones your legs, glutes and lower back.

5.     High-Pull

Standing straight and holding the kettlebell in your hands, lift both elbows up and push the kettlebell towards your chin. You will be working on your shoulders, biceps and back.

6.     Dead-Lift to High-Pull

A combination of the previous two exercises, starting with the first one and progressing to the second. It will benefit all the combined muscles as well.

7.     Burpee to High-Pull

Stand up, with the kettlebell on the ground. Then bend your knees as you put your hands down. Stretch your legs until your back is straight, then bring your feet forward until you are squatting. Grab the kettlebell handle with both hands and stand up straight while pulling the kettlebell as in the High-Pull. It will do wonders for your torso, legs, shoulders and biceps and also for your cardio.

8.     Back-Pulls

Hold down the kettlebell with your right hand, then flex your left knee and push your right foot back. Do pulling movements with your right arm. Repeat with the other side. It will tone your shoulders, biceps and back.

9.     Renegade Rows

Using two kettlebells on the floor and grabbing their handles with each of your hands, start in push-up stance, then pull one kettlebell up while supporting your weight on your other arm. It will work on your entire upper body.

When done well, these exercises are guaranteed to lead you towards successful fitness and weight loss, while at the same time taking a lot less time than regular gym workouts.

Start slow

If it is your first time, start slow. Do not overstress yourself, but work your stamina up step by step. You can begin by doing one cycle with each set of exercises, and then as you gain resistance you may work your way up to faster and more intense training, until you can accomplish the Tabata interval.

 

10 Exercises for Toning Your Body After Weight Loss

Body Toning

We are always given tips to losing weight; drink more water, do cardio, eat less, decrease your serving size. But after we lose the weight, what’s next? We have hanging arms, tummies and flabby legs. One obstacle has been overcome and another created.

Below is a list of exercises that you can do to tone your body after you have lost the weight. The exercises have been categorized into upper, lower and total body workouts.

Upper Body Workouts

  • Push-ups

Moving yourself from a full plank position, with your hands apart and your feet together, bend your elbows while you lower your body toward the floor without touching. Keep your back straight and avoid touching the floor with your inner body. Do 10-15 reps.

  • Chest Press

Lie on your back, knees bent at hip width and arms out at 90 degrees with dumbbells in hands. Lift arms towards the ceiling and press the weights to the center of your chest. Do 10-20 reps.

  • Kneeling Curls

Kneel, shoulder width apart, with your arms by your side with dumbbells in your hands. Do bicep curls, turning your palms up while lifting. Do 10-15 reps.

  • Quadruped Kickback

Start in a kneeling position with your hands on the floor with dumbbells in hands. Bend your right elbow upward with your palm facing in and extend your arm to your hip. Return elbow to original position and repeat on left side. Do alternate sides for at least 5-10 reps.

Lower Body Workouts

  • Rear Lunges

Holding dumbbells with your arms by your side, stand upright with your feet together. Take a wide step back with your right leg into a lunge while bending both knees. Keep left thigh parallel to floor. Return to standing position. Repeat using other leg. Do 10-20 reps.

  • Sumo Squat

Holding dumbbells, stand with your feet wide apart. Bend your knees so they go over your toes. Extend your arms and bring them slowly down towards the ground. Complete 20 reps. 

  • Side Lunges

Holding dumbbells with your arms by your side, stand upright with your feet together. Using your right foot, step to the side, while bending your knee and pressing back your hips. Return to start position and do the same with the left leg. Do 10-20 reps.

Total Body Workouts

  • Plank Inchworm

Start in full plank position. Slowly walk your hands in towards your legs as your hips are lifted in a pike position. Walk your hands back to the original position. Do 5 reps.

  • Lawnmower Row

Start in a lunge position with arms by your side. Reach left arm towards your right shin and row left elbow behind your body while rotating your torso to the right. Lower your left arm and do 15 reps.

  • Squat Curl and Press

Do a full squat holding dumbbells with your hands reaching downwards. As you stand, bend elbows to shoulder width, curling the dumbbells in with the palms facing each other. Press the weights overhead. Do 10-15 reps.

 

The Benefits Of Upside Down Inversion Exercises

Upside down Exercises

Inversion exercises are done while being hung fully upside down with the support of inversion boots on a horizontal bar. Sounds tricky? It is and can be quite a challenge, but the benefits gained from doing inversion exercises might encourage you to try it yourself.

Inversion Boots

When doing inversion exercises, inversion boots – otherwise called “gravity boots” – are worn to support your body. Inversion boots are made with straps to hold on to your ankles and attach to the horizontal bar. This is the only thing that is used to support you and keeps you safe while allowing you to do the various exercises that act as therapy for your body.

Types of Exercises

Inverted Squats

Squats are done the same way as standing. The only difference is that you are fully inverted instead of standing before starting each bend. In order to complete the proper form of each squat, start at a 180 degree angle then bend your knees while raising your body toward the bar. This exercise works on your hamstring and glutes.

Inverted Sit-ups

You are better able to stretch your body through inverted sit-ups. Fully invert your body and stretch through 180 degrees, brining your chest toward your thighs. This exercise works on your lower back and abs. 

Full Inversion

Full inversion means that you hang yourself completely; toward the floor. This exercise is one that takes very little work and allows you to take the time out and meditate. It releases stress and back pain, improves circulation and gives you mental alertness. The gravity also realigns your spine.

Three Points Hang

As a beginner, you can try the three points hang. This means that three different points of your body are supported by the horizontal bar at all times; your feet and one of your hands at a time.

Therapeutic Benefits

Inversion exercise falls under the category of core training. It works your legs (hamstring and glutes), abdominals, chest and back. Apart from inversion exercises physically molding your body, they are therapeutic. Inversion exercises help to realign your spine, improve blood circulation, reduce stress, increase flexibility, improve posture and rehydrates the vertebral discs (allows for flexibility of the spine).

Precautions

Although inversion exercises help your physical and mental health, there are certain precautions that must be considered before attempting the maneuvers. If you have hernia, glaucoma, high blood pressure or heart disease, it is not advisable for you to do the exercises. Also, pregnant women and persons suffering from obesity should not participate in inversion exercises.

Skinny Guys Can Build Muscles Too

Build Muscles

A guy passes by with ripped muscles and the confidence shines all over him; his smile, his walk and his attitude. Then you look down at yourself and you wonder “What happened?” You’re as thin as a stick; no dimension – even though you’ve been hitting the gym and eating your proteins. Don’t worry. There’s hope for you. Chances are you’re not doing the correct things aimed at building muscles. It’s all hidden under there, somewhere.

 

Below is a list of tips to help you turn that skinny frame into rock hard muscles:

  • The key to building your size and strength is training more regularly. This means that you practice today, tomorrow the day after and so on. Getting the lean physique that you envision won’t come by in a day’s worth of exercise; it takes practice, endurance and discipline. Train several days per week instead of one. Training your body in turn trains your mind which then sends a message to your body that it’s time for a change. It’s a process and you have to follow through with your exercise regime to get the desired results you’ve been aiming for.
  • Many men aim to lift more pounds and therefore increase the weight on the barbells when working out at the gym. This does help to get them stronger and bigger. But what you don’t realize is that this method cheats you out of building your strength. You’re still able to eat all the junk food and do barbell exercises and get thick but you’re really just adding fat to your body. You’re unable to keep track of your fat levels when you limit yourself to one exercise. It is important to do body-weight exercises, like push-ups and inverted rows, to strengthen your body.
  • Muscle fiber types can be categorized into two groups; fast twitch and slow twitch. Fast twitch muscle fibers are found in fast paced athletes, like sprinters, who quickly generate speed and strength, but get exhausted easily. On the other hand, slow twitch muscle fibers can be found in athletes like cyclists. It takes a while for them to exert energy and it also takes a long time for them to get tired. You can change your fiber type by training either more intensively or slower. However, in this situation where you’re trying to build muscle, it would be advisable to do exercises like the one arm dumbbell snatch, clean and press two to three days a week.
  • Using heavy carriers in your workout is another way of helping you build muscles. These form an essential part of increasing your body strength in a way that no other exercise can. Kettlebells and dumbbells, or any other heavy equipment, can be used while doing the Farmer’s Walk. This technique can be done for approximately 5 minutes after every workout. Some other positions that can be done are the kettlebell rack position and the bottoms up position. These exercises help you build abs, and muscles in your calves and arms.

Although you have personal goals and deadlines to get ripped, you must not overwork your body. There is something such as “over-training” and this can quickly lead you to feeling fatigued and injuring yourself.  It’s important that you pace yourself and think of exercising as practice instead of a sprint race to the finish-line. The muscles won’t come overnight and remember your aim is to create and maintain muscles.

Building a Bigger Back with the Right Workout

Bigger Back

Back workouts can be complicated because of it being such a large body part. It has to be targeted from a number of angles in order to maximize growth and muscle mass. There are specific exercises which can be designed to cater to your workout needs and lead to that ‘bigger’ back. It will emphasize the different areas and look to work them hard. Everyone has a diverse approach ranging from barbells to free weights. This piece will discuss some of these exercises and how they target your back.

Dead Lifts

This should be on top of your list for back exercises.  This is a serious exercise and one that requires a lot of grit and determination. You have to ‘perfect’ the technique before progressing forward with heavy weights.

It is suggested to do dead lifts every so often and not lift to failure. If you do lift to failure, the chances of being able to do anything else for your back that day is minimal. Deadlifts take a lot out of you and should be targeted in a manner that is safe. This type of powerlifting can be intense.

Pull Ups

This is a simple solution to achieving those desired wider lats. Technique is important here as you want to keep the focus on the back. Many fitness enthusiasts will do pull ups that place more emphasis on the arms. Look to bring your chin above the bar at the top and be fully stretched at the bottom. The elbow should drive in towards the back, leading the shoulder blades to almost touch.

Pulls ups are an excellent tool to begin with at the start of a workout.  Look to throw in a few sets at the start to get the muscles loosened. If you are looking to add mass, toss in some weights and do weighted pull ups with a dip belt.

Back Extensions

To round out a workout, it is important to pinpoint a lower back exercise. Many individuals will forget to emphasize the lower back in the bid to get a V-shape look. Yet, the lower back is critical in maintaining balance and making your shape more aesthetic in nature.

How do you target the lower back? It is good to begin with back extensions using respectable weight. The goal here should be to go for a high number of reps because the exercise is generally less taxing.

Roman dead lifts are another option and one that can be beneficial. As with anything, technique is more important than extra weight.

Choosing a Belt: A Weightlifting Belt Size Guide

Belt Size

Wearing a well-fitted belt during lifting can help reduce the risk of injury to the spinal column. Belts help by increasing your intra-abdominal pressure, resulting in a tighter core. The intra-abdominal pressure supports your spine and reduces the risk of compression from vertical lifting, slipped disks, and various other injuries that can occur during a weightlifting session.

Step 1

Choose a material. Belts are constructed out of leather or nylon. Either material has its own benefits. Leather is sturdier, offering a stronger cinch suitable for heavier lifting. Nylon is a bit more flexible and will put less pressure on your hips.

 

Step 2

Put on your usual workout clothes. It’s important to take measurements while wearing what you will normally be wearing under the belt. This will provide accurate measurements and will aid in choosing the most comfortable belt.

 

Step 3

Wrap a tape measure around your waist, going over your navel. Do not “suck in”, or breathe deeply into your belly. Do not squeeze the tape measure too around your waist. Make sure it is secure, not drooping but also not too tight.

 

Step 4

Search for belts that meet your waist measurement and are constructed of the desired material.

 

Step 5

Try it on. Cinch the belt snuggly. Perform a few shadow lifts while wearing the belt to ensure it offers proper structural support. A well-fitted belt should offer support without cutting into your ribs or being uncomfortable.

 

Step 6

Break it in. A new belt will be extremely stiff. Rolling the belt is a good way to loosen up the stiffness and allow it to mold to the shape of your back. You could roll it up and leave it tucked under your bed or somewhere that will apply pressure.

 

 

 

 

Foam Roller Exercises for Myofascial Release

Foam Roller

What Is a Foam Roller?

A foam roller is a cylindrical-shaped tube made of firm, dense foam. They come in various sizes, firmness and densities to suit anyone’s sensitivities and body type. It is a tool used for self-massage and as a workout aid to alter routines and make them more challenging. Foam rollers are most helpful when used for myofascial release, which is a loosening of tight muscles throughout the body. Knots in the body caused by stress or injury can be “rolled out” using a foam roller.

 

How to Release Tension in the Glutes

The glutes tend to hold a lot of tension. Here are a few steps to induce myofascial release.

 

Step 1

Stand with the foam horizontally positioned in between your hands.

 

Step 2

Place it on the ground at your feet.

 

Step 3

Carefully sit in the middle of the foam roller.

 

Step 4

Extend your legs and roll your glutes along the foam roller using your heels.

 

Step 5

When you find a tight spot, hold your position for 30 seconds.

 

Step 6

Come off the spot for 15 seconds.

 

Step 7

Find the spot again and hold for another 30 seconds.

 

It’s important to repeat steps 5 through 7 until you’re unable to relocate the tender area. These exercises may include minor pain at first but will greatly reduce those everyday muscular aches and pains.

 

How to Release Tension in the Lower and Upper Back

Other great spots to hit are the lower and upper back. As we all know, the back carries a majority of the tension in the body. Over time, stress causes painful knots.

 

Step 1

Sit on the ground.

 

Step 2

Place the foam roller horizontally behind you.

 

Step 3

Lean back onto the middle of the foam roller, lifting your bottom and bending your knees.

 

Step 4

Use your feet to roll yourself up the foam roller.

 

Step 5

Stop when you reach a tender area and hold for 30 seconds.

 

Step 6

Come off the area for 15 seconds.

 

Step 7

Roll back to the tense area and hold for another 30 seconds.

 

Apart from what was mentioned above, revolve your foam roller 90-degrees and stretch out so that it makes an upright line down your spine. Turn your knees, placing your feet leveled on the ground. Position your arms on the floor next to your body. Allocate your shoulder blades to descend toward the floor to open up the muscles in the front of your torso. Embrace this position, and do not turn over. Conclude with an upper back support stretch.

Again, it is always important to repeat steps 5 through 7 until the tension has been release and the area is no longer tender.