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Supported Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Supported Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left hand on a bench in front of you, and assume a staggered stance, left foot forward. Hold your elbow in as you row the wight to the side of your torso. Do 10 reps, switch arms and leg positions, and repeat the movement.

Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

Dumbbell Triceps Kickback

Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend your knees and lean forward so your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Tuck your upper arms next to your sides, bend your elbows, and hold your forearms about parallel to the floor, palms facing up. Simultaneously extend your arms straight back and rotate the weight so your palms end up facing each other. Return to the starting position. Do 15 reps.

Dumbbell Hammer Curl and Press

Dumbbell Hammer Curl and Press

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a pair of dumbbells at arm's length by your sides, palms facing each other. Without moving your upper arms, curl the weights to your shoulders, and then press them overhead until your arms are straight. Reverse the move to return to the starting position. Do 10 reps.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Machine Weights vs. Free Weights

machine weights vs. free

Cybex. Nautilus. Life Fitness. Hammer Strength. These are just a few of the brands of strength training equipment made popular by their ubiquity in health clubs, and for good reason: they offer options for lifting a variety of large muscle groups, are relatively easy to use, and don’t take up too much space.

Just because they’re there, however, doesn’t mean they’re right for you. When selecting exercises for your strength routine, consider your desired results. Are you trying to put on mass? Lose weight and gain strength? Are you training for an endurance event like a triathlon? Also, are you recovering from a musculoskeletal injury? The answers to these questions will help dictate your choices in the weight room.

Who can Benefit from Using Machines?

While there’s no reason for anyone to use selectorized (pin-loaded) equipment or hybrid plate-loaded machines like Hammer Strength exclusively, certain exercisers can benefit from incorporating these into their routines:

Anyone trying to put on size. Though many bodybuilders prefer free weights, machines can be an excellent choice for those wanting to isolate particular muscle groups. Additionally, when performed using very high volumes of weight, some exercises require the stabilization a machine provides, such as the shoulder press.

Those recovering from injury. If you’ve ever suffered a shoulder or knee injury, you know that on returning to exercise you can’t simply pick up where you left off. You’ll need to carefully rebuild strength in the injured area, and this often means avoiding unstable movements, at least at first. For instance, you might start with lightweight leg presses before attempting squats. Your doctor or physical therapist will generally make specific recommendations as to which movements to avoid.

Beginners: Those new to the gym can find free weights overwhelming. They may also want to avoid injury by starting with exercises where the range of motion is controlled by a machine. This is completely acceptable at first, while trying to build a little strength and improve conditioning. Before long, however, beginners might want to consider hiring a trainer to show them how to perform movements safely and to recommend exercises that are appropriate to their goals.

Who can Benefit from Using Free Weights?

The answer: Everyone else. While you might still incorporate machine exercises, like pull-downs or the assisted chin for lats, those wanting to lose weight and/or gain strength, intermediate to advanced exercisers, and anyone training for a sport should absolutely include free-weight exercises in their workouts. Free weights as a category traditionally comprise dumbbells and barbells; for the purposes of this explanation we’ll put medicine balls, kettlebells, Body Bars, and bodyweight exercises, which often require holding these weights, under this umbrella.

The most well-known benefit of free-weight training is that you learn to stabilize movements with your own muscles, rather than rely on a machine to control the movement. This makes for better balance, coordination, and a stronger core. Additionally, these exercises can be performed through a greater range of motion---ranges of motion that can mimic movements you do in everyday life, such as shoveling snow or picking up a child. One of the greatest benefits of free weights, however, is that they better utilize your entire body---rather than sitting on a machine, you could be on your feet performing bent-over rows, deadlifts, or biceps curls. This means more calories burned in the course of your workout.

An Exception: the Cable Machine

One type of machine that can benefit all exercisers is the cable machine (also known as the cable column or cable cross). An excellent option for maximizing range of motion, cables are extremely versatile---an endless number of exercises can be performed just by changing the handle or the height of the pulley. They also can be adjusted to suit exercisers of all sizes, and can even accommodate a wheelchair. If you’re unsure of the many uses of this machine, ask your gym’s fitness staff for assistance.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Muscular Strength Versus Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is trained specifically and in more of an aerobic and oxygenated pathway, whereas muscular strength is trained in an anaerobic ATP-CP and Glycolytic pathway.

There does seem to be a relationship between muscular strength and muscular endurance. However if a person only trains to improve strength then that person is not improving his muscular endurance that much.

The definition of muscular strength is: the ability of your body's muscle to generate force in a short period of time. This type of activity relies on anaerobic energy--allowing you the short burst of energy you need to lift a heavy weight. When you increase your strength, you're often also increasing the size of your muscles as well as strengthening your connective tissues.

On the other hand the definition of muscular endurance is: the ability to sustain muscle contraction over a period of time without undue fatigue.

By looking at these definitions we can see that muscular strength involves using heavier weights for a shorter period of time, and muscular endurance involves using a moderate weight for a longer period of time. The pathways utilized are different for each. For muscular strength the pathway utilized would be more ATP-CP and some glycolysis, and muscular endurance would utilize more of glycolysis and oxygen pathways.

muscular strength
The physiology of a muscle is that each muscle contains muscle fibers. Each fiber is innervated by a single axon; a motor neuron may have a hundred or more axons. A single motor neuron, with all the fibers it controls, is a motor unit. As the brain's signal for contraction increases, it both recruits more motor units and increases the "firing frequency" of those units already recruited. Even during a "maximal voluntary contraction", it is unlikely that all the motor units are activated. All joints, however, are set up as lever systems: the fulcrum where two bones meet, one force produced by the muscle, and the other by a load. Strength is not just muscle force, but muscle force as modified by the mechanical advantage of the joint. To complicate matters further, this mechanical advantage usually varies with joint rotation, as does the muscle force. The net result is strength that varies with joint angle and may be somewhat decoupled from muscle force. Joint strength can be increased with exercise.

Muscular endurance activities would include activities such as: martial arts, jogging, triathalon, swimming, wrestling, tennis, circuit training.

Muscular strength activities would include activities such as: weight lifting, power lifting, gymnastics.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Muscle Mass Prevents Sarcopenia

If one were to lose all muscle mass (starvation) he would surely die, yet other less severe complications can arise from sarcopenia. With limited amounts of muscle mass reserve, individuals do not respond well to stress. In various studies it was noted that lung-cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy showed that the recurrence of cancer was predicted by levels of body protein; there is a clear link between diminished muscle mass and cardiac failure; and the survival from severe burns was lowest among individuals with reduced muscle mass.

muscle mass
In 2005 the Mediterranean Intensive Oxidant Study determined there was a direct link between skeletal muscle mass, bone density and mineral content while studying osteoporosis in men. Force exerted on the skeletal system in proportion to the strength and thickness of the surrounding muscles through exercise and normal activities produces stronger and denser bones. A man with a full reserve of muscle mass will enjoy stronger bone, greater strength and ample dexterity.

Muscle mass or the lack thereof has also been linked to common diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The results of a study published in Circulation, a scientific periodical, in 2006 connect sarcopenia to insulin resistance, elevated lipid levels in the blood, and increased body fat, especially visceral adipose tissue.

Research also concluded that long-term adaptation to resistance training lowers cortical response to acute stress; increases total energy expenditure; relieves anxiety, depression, and insomnia; and demonstrates beneficial effects on bone density, arthritis, hypertension, lipid profiles, and exercise tolerance in coronary artery disease subjects. The good news is that these studies are in the infinitesimal stages and, it is believed, with more research will come more evidence of the relationship between muscle mass and disease states.

A study conducted about a decade ago at East Tennessee State University revealed some interesting facts about cardiovascular exercise and its lack to contribution to the development of muscle mass. Forty-three healthy subjects 55 and older were studied. Twenty-three of the individuals did only aerobic activities, treadmill, bike and elliptical, for 30 minutes 3 times per week for 4 months. The remaining 20 individuals split their time doing 15 minutes of aerobic activity and the remaining time lifting weights using machines. There was a significant increase in bone density and muscle mass in the split-routine group while the aerobic group showed no gains in muscle mass or bone density.

The prescription for muscle mass enhancement and the accompanying benefits according to Wolfe, Kraemer, Chodzko-Zajko, and other experts is to work at or above 70 percent of your maximum perceived effort. This produces cellular and metabolic changes that forge stronger, thicker muscles and associated health benefits. The principle of strength training is to progressively overload the muscle(s) and allow for recovery.

When muscles are worked to the point of momentary failure microscopic tears are produced in the myofibrils, the contractile units of the muscle cells. The body reacts to these tears by sending protein cells to the site of the damage to bond with the muscle increasing strength.

To complete this miraculous process you must feed your body properly for recovery. Protein produces the building blocks for the body. Professor Wolfe contends in his study, "The Underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease," that we need 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound.

"Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." - Frank Herbert

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Natural Way to Gain Muscle

One of the most well known physiological principles that govern physical training is the SAID acronym. The acronym stands for “Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands”. It means that as the body is physiologically stressed, the systems of the body will adapt and change to meet the specific demands of the stressors. This works for all systems of the body including the cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular, and musculoskeletal.

When muscle tissue is stressed beyond what its normal capacity to respond to work is, the muscle tissue will undergo specific physiological changes. These physiological changes include an increase in the size of the myofibril (muscle fiber) resulting in an increase in both the size of the muscle and its capacity to contract (increase in strength).

Resistance Training Protocols for Different Results

Different protocols of training can achieve different types of results. Individuals can choose a protocol that will achieve an increase in strength, an increase in endurance, an increase in power, or an increase in muscle size. The factors that are manipulated to achieve the specific results include the amount of resistance lifted (weight), number of sets, number of repetitions, and the speed of the movement.

Research has long supported the fact that an increase in muscle size can be achieved through a protocol of high intensity resistance training. High intensity resistance training can be achieved in several different ways including lifting at a high percentage of the individual’s maximum lift (i.e., 70% of 1 maximum repetition), lifting sets to fatigue, as well as complex pyramid protocols in which individuals lift specific loads for high numbers of sets and repetitions.

Research Supports Muscle Gains Through Resistance Training

gain nuscle - natural way
In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (December, 2003), Abe, T., Kojima, K., Hearns, C., Yohena, H., and Fukuda, J., studied the distribution of muscle hypertrophy after 16 weeks of resistance training. The subjects performed resistance training three days a week. They performed one warm-up set followed by three sets to failure of 8-12 repetitions. The resistance was increased when the subjects could lift more than 12 repetitions during a set.

The authors used a full-body MRI to measure the total body muscle size distribution along with the cross sectional size of individual muscles. The researchers reported that their subjects had a 4.2kg increase in fat free mass after the 16 weeks. Although this was a higher gain than the average in the literature, their results did support the literature of a 5%-10% increase in lower extremity muscle size and a 15%-30% increase in upper body muscle after 12-16 weeks of resistance training.

Abe, T., et al reported greater changes in muscle hypertrophy (increase in size) for the shoulder, chest, and upper arms (+25%-40%) compared to the waist, hip, thigh, forearm, and lower leg (+10-20%). Of interest is that the hypertrophic changes were not consistent throughout the body.

This study utilized male subjects. It is important to note that hypertophic changes in muscle are not consistent between men and women after resistance training. Men have a higher level of the hormone testosterone naturally in their bodies. This hormone enhances the hypertrophy of muscles after resistance training. It is also important to note that testosterone levels vary in both men and women (to a much smaller extent) so that resistance training results are unique to each individual.

Safety Principles for Resistance Training

The literature supports that muscle gains can be achieved naturally through high intensity resistance training. Basic principles in strength training should be followed to prevent injury including:
  • Proper instruction on how to safely use equipment
  • Proper lifting technique emphasizing a tight core and full range of motion of extremities
  • Proper attire for lifting
  • Proper spotting techniques

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weight Training Program

Exercisers just starting a weight training program may have questions about which workout method is best – free weights or machines. Both of these forms of strength training have their pros and cons.

Strength Training With Free Weights

weight training program
Free weights include both dumbbells and barbells. Many veteran exercisers consider free weights to be the "gold standard" of strength training.

Free weights "simulate real-life lifting situations and promote whole-body stabilization," according to Dr. Edward Laskowski, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

In addition, free weights tend to work several muscles at the same time within a given exercise. By contrast, a machine exercise is more likely to isolate one specific muscle.

However, free weights also have drawbacks. When lifting a barbell or dumbbell, the amount of resistance on the muscle remains constant throughout the exercise.

During a joint's range of motion, there are points where the muscle is weaker than at other points. As a result, the amount of overall weight that can be lifted in a free-weight exercise is limited by the muscle's strength at its weakest point.

Also, unlike machines – which guide and restrict the range of the exercise – free weight exercises allow for a free range of movement. Using poor lifting techniques or failing to use a spotter during difficult exercises can lead to both minor and serious injuries.

Strength Training With Machines

Weight machines operate on a system of cables, pulleys, straps, pin-loaded weight stacks and fixed-lever arms. Examples include Nautilus and Cybex machines.

One of the biggest advantages of machines is that they are easier to use. Machines are designed to guide the exerciser through the proper motion. In this sense, machines may be "safer," particularly for beginners, because they are built to encourage proper technique.

Weight machines also vary the resistance throughout the range of motion in the exercise. So, machines eliminate a major drawback of free weights – that the amount of weight lifted is limited by the muscle's weakest point in a joint's range of motion.

However, weight machines also have disadvantages. Some people find their body type is not well-suited to the design of a given machine. They may be too short or too tall to comfortably use that pullover machine as part of their workout.

Also, an improperly maintained machine can lead to snapped cable or other breakdown that results in serious injury.

Which Weight Training Method is Better?

So, which method is better? For beginners, machines are usually the better choice. They are both easier to use than free weights and less likely to result in injury.

After mastering machines, many who pursue more ambitious fitness training goals will want to move on to free weights, which may offer the opportunity for increased strength gains and greater workout flexibility.

However, exercisers who simply want their muscles to get bigger and stronger will find benefits in using either machines or free weights.

As Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Jeffrey McBride states, "The important factor is to provide sufficient overload to the muscle by lifting heavy weights." In other words, make sure to lift enough weight to give those muscles a good workout.

Laskowski and others also emphasize that when it comes to strength training, using proper technique is far more important than the choice of method or equipment.

For this reason, it is best to consult a personal trainer or other expert before beginning any weight training program.


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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fundamentals of Weight Training

The body's primary advantage is its ability to adapt to its environment. When related to lifting weights, progressively increasing resistance equates to large muscles with striated definition.

Benefits of Resistance Training

Anaerobic exercise, weight lifting, is the best way to lose weight. Its fat-burning and metabolism-raising effects put it on a completely different level than cardiovascular exercise.

The muscle-building benefits which result from weight training extend beyond metabolism.

New-found size and muscular definition tends to produce a desirable physique, and can therefore lead to higher confidence levels. Whether or not it's politically correct, people view somebody who is fit differently from those who are not.

Resistance training increases energy levels, and the endorphins released by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus help manage pain while increasing morale.

Bone density and muscle mass, which typically decrease with age, are better retained when a person lifts weights. The short-term benefits of sex-appeal couple with long-term vitality to make resistance training a worthwhile life strategy.

Weightlifting Routines

Almost anything can be used as weights; however, free weights and barbells help to maintain correct form and avoid injury. Machines are often specifically designed around proper form and muscle isolation.

Free weights, such as dumbbells and kettlebells, allow for a much wider range of motion and therefore help in developing supportive tissues. Barbells have an advantage in that they generally utilize both hemispheres of the body at once.

To build muscle fast, two sets of eight reps should be performed. Two sets of 15-25 reps, at a lower weight, can be used for toning the body and extending endurance.

When starting a routine, using compound exercises is the best practice because it calls upon many muscle groups at once. This leads to faster fatigue, a good thing, and it raises the body's metabolism faster.

Once a comfortable level is reached, specific muscles can be exercised to bring out a muscle group's character. Along with regularly rotating the order in which muscle groups are worked, isolation exercises can be used to break through plateaus.

Many people who lift weights supplement with protein and creatine. These two supplements in particular can dramatically increase the rate at which muscle growth occurs.

Weightlifting Safety

Muscles require rest in order to grow. This may seem obvious, but many people overwork their body and then fall victim to injury. If a muscle is worked after it is injured, long-term dehabilitation can occur. It's easier, better for the body, and more effective for muscle growth when a group is only exercised a few times per week.

Warm-up and cool-down routines also help keep the body in peak condition. Stretching, light weights, and cardiovascular exercise fill this role nicely.

Lifting enough weights to slightly damage the muscle is essential to maximizing growth, but lifting more weight than the body is ready for will throw off form. Overexertion and improper form are two of the most common causes of injury.

Changing the body's composition takes time, but it is well-worth the effort. As well as potentially prolonging a person's lifespan, it can maintain youthful levels in their quality of life.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Best Leg Exercises

leg exercises
When designing a workout regime for body transformation, there are a number of factors to contemplate. What are your goals, your age, your current fitness level, do you have any orthopedic challenges, how much time will you devote to your regime, etc. Once you have answered those questions you’re ready to begin.

I would like to devote the next few articles to exercise selection, more specifically, the most effective exercises for each muscle group. Let’s start with the legs. So, what are the best exercises for leg development? But, before I answer that I would like to point out that for reasons unknown (actually I do know) most people neglect their legs during workouts. Remember your workout should include exercises for all major muscle groups and you legs are a major muscle group.

For men working your legs can be the catalyst for an overall bigger stronger body. For women, the legs are an area where adipose tissue (fat) usually accumulates. Either way, working your legs will contribute to an overall better workout and, of course a better body!
The exercises:

The squat:

  1. The squat is performed with a weight bar resting on the back across the trapezoid muscles just below the neck. The bar should not rest on the neck as this could cause injury.
  2. Hold the bar with both hands; feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed slightly outward.
  3. Lean slightly forward as you descend lowering hips until thigh are parallel to floor while keeping back straight. Keep head tilted slightly upward to prevent rounding of back.
  4. As you ascend keep back straight until you reach starting position.
  5. Repeat for desired number of repetions.
Squats can be performed while holding dumb bells as well.

The lunge:

  1. Start with feet together.
  2. Step forward touching heel of front foot to floor.
  3. Lower hips while bending both front and back leg, both legs should be bent to 90°
  4. Stand and repeat for desired number of repetions.
  5. Repeat sequence, stepping forward with opposite leg for desired number of repetions.
This exercise can be done while holding dumb-bells or with the bar resting across trapezoid muscles just below the neck. The bar should not rest on the neck as this could cause injury. Walking lunges can be performed to increase intensity of this exercise. Be sure to maintain proper posture.

Calf raises:

You can use a basic calf raise machine for this exercise, but if one is not available, calf raises can be performed by doing the following.
  1. Hold a dumb bell in the hand of the leg you are working.
  2. Stand with the front 1/3 of your foot elevated on a weight plate (25 or more).
  3. Raise up on your toes as high as you can go.
  4. Lower heel to the floor and repeat for desired number of repetions.
  5. Switch dumb bell to other hand and perform movements on opposite leg for desired number of repetions.
There are of course a number of leg exercises that can be performed but these are the most effective exercises for targeting all muscles of the legs. I do recommend adding other leg exercises to your routine from time to time to keep your routine fresh and interesting but sure to keep the afore mentioned exercises the foundation for your leg workout.

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.” –Franklin Lloyd Wright
 

Ultimate 30's Workout

Increase the amount of testosterone and growth hormone your body produces by working multiple muscle groups and keeping rest periods short. For cardio, your lactate threshold can still be increased throughout your thirties, so intervals are king to counter any loss of lung power.


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Ultimate 40's Workout

Short, sharp shocks are the way to fire up your body in your middle years - which means you can forget long-winded weights workouts. Vary exercises, intensity and timings to keep your muscles guessing.



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Ultimate 50's Workout

You may not be able to lift the heaviest weight, but that's okay. Instead, stretching and yoga should be part of your training, and body-weight moves can replace heavy workouts. Do three sets of 10 reps of the following exercises to protect your joints and maintain muscle mass and testosterone.

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