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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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Best Weight Training Strategies

Some aspects of weight training, such as ideal resting time between sets, will vary based on your fitness goals, whereas others, such as order of exercises, breathing techniques and warm-up strategies, will be the same for all exercisers.

Rests in Between Sets

How long you should rest in between sets depends on your fitness goals. If you are weight training to become more toned and streamlined, then you only need 1 or 2 minutes of rest between sets. If you are trying to build muscle bulk, then you should rest for at least 3 minutes between sets to give your muscles sufficient time to recover so that you can manage heavier weights.

Sets and Repetitions

weight training strategies
Most studies indicate that one set per exercise produces the same benefits as three for muscle building. The ideal number of repetitions will vary based on whether you are trying to lose weight and increase endurance or build muscle bulk.

Building muscle bulk requires doing a smaller number of repetitions (6-8) at the highest amount of weight you can lift and increasing the weight by approximately 20% when you can do 8-10 repetitions easily.

To streamline and tone your body, you should do more repetitions (10-15) at a slightly lower weight, and choose a heavier weight when you can do 15 repetitions easily. Those who are weight training for weight loss and endurance may wish to do more than one set per exercise.

Order of Exercises

It is best to work the larger, central muscles in the back, torso, thighs, chest and shoulders first, and then gradually progress to smaller peripheral muscles such as the biceps and calves, and finish with small-muscle exercises such as wrist curls. It will be difficult to effectively work the larger muscles if the smaller supporting ones are fatigued first.

Workout Length

Your strength training workout should be at least 20-30 minutes, not counting stretching and warm-up. Workouts of this duration will generate benefits for most people. However, those who want to gain muscle or lose weight more rapidly and advanced weight trainers will need to spend longer at the gym.

Workout Intensity

It is a good idea to vary the intensity of your workouts. Don’t do the same set of exercises at each workout. If you alternate between intense and moderate workouts and vary your exercises so that you are working each muscle group in different ways on different days, you will progress faster.


Don’t hold your breath when you are exercising, as this increases blood pressure and can even cause fainting. Ideally, you should exhale when lifting, pressing or pulling the weight and inhale when bringing it back to your starting position.


It is important to do a warm-up before you begin your exercises in order to prevent injury. This can be a general cardiovascular exercise such as jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running. Alternatively, you can do a specific, targeted warm-up by doing weight training exercises that are the same as those you will do in your main workout but using much lighter weights.


Stretches should be done after your workout because although they are beneficial for flexibility and preventing muscle injury and soreness, they decrease muscle strength for a brief time. Also, because your muscles will be warm from the workout, it is easier to build flexibility.

Cool Down

Weight training should not require a cool down as the exercise isn’t continuous. However, because blood is shunted to your muscles and skin during intense training, it is not a good idea to have a hot shower or spend time in a hot tub for at least 5-10 minutes after finishing your workout.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

How to Squat With Better Form

The squat, when correctly performed, is one of the best general weightlifting exercises. The squat is most frequently performed by powerlifters, but is also popular with bodybuilders and athletes training for sports where core strength is important.

A squat performed with poor form can be damaging to the athlete's back and knees. For this reason, it is advisable to practice squatting with low weight to begin with, and gradually increase the weight as the movement becomes more familiar.

powerlifting squat

How to Improve Squat Form

The two most common errors when performing the squat are leaning forward instead of remaining upright, and squatting to an incorrect depth. Most athletes use a small range of motion on their squats, but some do squat too deep.

Leaning forward on a squat can cause the athlete’s lower back to become rounded. It places a lot of stress on the lower back, and removes the emphasis on the hip muscles and glutes. Squatting to an incorrect depth can increase the stress that the movement puts on the knees.

How to Stop Leaning Forward on Squats

To reduce the tendency to lean forward on a squat, the athlete should make a conscious effort to look forward (not up or down) while squatting. This encourages the body to come up at the same rate as the legs. The drive upwards should come from the heels, and push up – not forwards.

Some athletes find that pointing their toes upwards can help to emphasise the upwards heel pushing part of the motion.

How to Squat to the Correct Depth

The correct depth for a powerlifting squat is just slightly below parallel. The squat is considered to be parallel when the crease of the hip is in line with the knee. For a squat to be considered legal in powerlifting, the crease of the hip should be at a point slightly lower than the top of the knee.

A lot of people fail to achieve this depth when squatting. In many cases, this is because of balance issues, or a lack of flexibility.

To make it easier to squat to the correct depth, the athlete should ensure that they are starting the squat with their legs at a suitable distance apart. For most people, the correct distance is slightly wider than shoulder width apart. The athlete’s feet can be pointed slightly outwards.

The athlete should descend to the correct depth, but avoid going too deep. The correct depth can be hard to judge without a spotter or a coach offering guidance for the first few attempts; however, the athlete should be able to tell when the movement reaches a point where any further attempt to descend causes the torso to move forward, instead of the legs moving down. At that point, the squat is too deep.

Regular practice should make it possible for the athlete to judge their own squat depth.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

How to Begin Weight Training

weight training
Weight training builds muscle mass, which, contrary to what many women believe, does not necessarily mean bulking up. Most women do not have the body type to attain large, bulky muscles, even if they weight train excessively.

What a strength training program can do is create lean muscles, which helps not only with strength but also with overall fitness. Muscles also give you stability and better balance, and having more muscle means that you burn more calories when at rest.

How to Begin Your Weight Lifting Program

Remember: You don't need fancy strength training equipment. Start lifting weights with a simple set of dumbbells. Exercises that use your own body weight, such as pushups and squats, are also effective.
  • Start by weight lifting a maximum of three times per week. Muscles need rest periods between each workout because it's during rest time that they repair and grow.
  • You have a couple of options for your training program: you can alternate muscle groups each time so that each group has time to recover. For example, do biceps and triceps one day, chest and back the following workout and legs on the final one. Or for a great calorie burn, do each muscle group in quick succession in the same workout so your heart rate stays up while you're working your muscles.
  • Do three sets of each weight and no more than 10 to 12 reps in a set. If you can easily do 12 reps, it's time to increase the weight.

How to Complement Your Strength Workouts

You can't lift weights and do nothing else and expect top results. Here are some extra ideas to help you get the most out of your weight training.
  • Start each workout with some cardiovascular exercise. This will get your heart rate up and warm up your muscles.
  • Stretch after each workout. Flexibility is an important part of fitness that can help keep you from injury.
  • If you're cutting your calorie intake to lose weight, make sure you continue to eat enough protein. Muscles need protein to grow. Try including a small portion of low-fat protein, such as fish or chicken, with every meal and snack.
  • For best results, combine your weight training with a low-fat diet. This will help you lose fat that is covering your growing muscles. Reduce your consumption of high-fat baked goods, red meat and dairy products. Choose low-fat dairy, leaner meat and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. This type of diet will not only help you lose weight but also give you the energy for your workouts.
Adding strength training to your workout routine help you lose weight even as you gain muscle. You'll benefit from being stronger, reducing your body fat and fitting into those smaller jeans.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lifting With Standard VS Olympic Benches, Bars, and Weights

There are basic differences between Standard as opposed to Olympic weight sets that anyone aspiring to get into weight lifting ought to be aware of. As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for," and this is reflected in the strengths and weaknesses of standard vs. Olympic benches, bars, and weights.

Standard vs. Olympic Benches, Bars, and Weights: Physical Properties

There are a number of physical differences between Standard vs. Olympic benches, bars, and weights which are important to consider before making any purchase.

The first issue is pure strength. Olympic bars can handle more, and correspondingly, so can their benches. Olympic bars can handle hundreds of pounds safely, with some being rated at well over one thousand pounds. Standard bars, on the other hand, usually start bending at somewhere over two hundred.

Standard VS Olympic Bars
The next issue is stability. Standard bars, when loaded with unbalanced weight, retain the dangerous possibility of their tipping over due to the imbalance. Olympic bars, on the other hand, are heavier and thicker on the ends, and are much harder to tip over by imbalance. Ends can be either hollow or solid, with solid ones obviously adding additional weight.

Third comes torque. The revolving ends of Olympic bars combat the problem of added torque when doing certain exercises. Curls and snatches are examples of exercises helped by Olympic bars. Less torque means less eventual bar warping, as well as lessening the possibility of hand slippage.

The last issue considered here is width. The width of the ends of a Standard vs. an Olympic bar, as well as the total length of the bar, are not the only measurements which differ between them. The width of the middle of the bar also differs. The thickness of the middle length of a standard bar is usually one inch. On Olympic bars, it's usually an inch and 1/16th or 1/8th. The increased thickness of the Olympic bar makes it easier to grip. Though the difference doesn't sound like much, it can affect how much you are ultimately able to lift.

Note that the difference between Standard vs. Olympic weights is that Standard weights have a one-inch hole diameter, and Olympic weights have a two-inch diameter to accommodate Olympic bars with bigger ends.

Standard vs. Olympic Benches, Bars, and Weights: Conveniences

The following differences between Standard vs. Olympic benches, bars, and weights can also be classified as physical, but are likely somewhat less important that the main distinctions.

One issue is rack compatibility. Power and bench racks are usually built to take bars six feet long or over. Standard bars are only five feet long, so could not be used on such equipment. As for gym and competitive venues, Olympic benches, bars, and weights are the only kind used. Another issue is deadlift assistance. Some Olympic weights are larger in their diameter than Standard ones. The consequence of this is that Olympic weights make deadlifts easier because the bar is lifted farther off the floor when starting.

Standard vs. Olympic Benches, Bars, and Weights: Price

Standard weight benches can be found for as little as $100 or less at places like Target or Wal-Mart. Olympic benches will cost more, usually at least $200 to $300 and up, depending on brand, features, and options. Often, weight benches are not offered with bars or weights, so pay attention to this while browsing. Length, material, and solidity will all affect the price of bars, while weight, material, and hole diameter will affect the price of weights. On the whole, one can set themselves up quite cheaply going the Standard vs. Olympic route, but Olympic bargains are there to be found, especially for used equipment such as is often offered on Craigslist.

There is definitely a trade-off made when opting for typically less-expensive Standard weight equipment. Olympic benches, bars, and weights are meant to withstand more, offering abilities and conveniences geared toward the serious weight lifter. Standard sets are a fine way to start out for the novice, but for anyone who is serious about establishing a regimen, life will be made easier by investing time and money in a quality set of Olympic gear.

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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

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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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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.

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.

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.