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6 Ways to Increase Chest Muscle Growth And Prevent Injury

Bench Press Image

Over my 50-years in the Bodybuilding and fitness game, there has been one question that stands out from all the other questions I’m asked almost every day, it stands head and shoulders above all the others, and that’s… “How much weight can you bench press”. As a bodybuilder you shouldn’t get involved in this debate, because we are trying to build muscle mass and NOT strength.

But there is a debate to be had over using the correct technique and, which method, bar, dumbbells, wide grip, for example, one should or shouldn’t use. More important than that, there is a far wider debate to be had around ‘Why’ the bench press may possibly be one of the most prolific exercises to cause…INJURY?

‘Why‘ ham I writing about this, simple, I have had a tendon injury that was caused by the ‘Bench press’!

There’s no doubt about it, bad technique has a lot to do with injuries, but it goes way beyond just bad technique, it’s more to do with… PUSHING FAR TOO MUCH WEIGHT!

There are many different courses and types of injuries, far too many to give them any justice hear, so I will attempt to give you an overview, in the hope you will take this information aboard and decrease any possibility of you becoming injured yourself.

First off and unfortunately, the one method that’s causes the most injuries, is the one we all tend to do when starting at the gym, and that’s the flat bench press. This is, because the flat bench over isolates the Pectoral Minor and becomes ‘Overdeveloped’.

This over-development, can course an imbalance, which becomes more acute the longer you train without correcting the problem. This imbalance puts stress on muscles, tendons, and joints. These soft tissues where never meant to operate under these conditions and eventually may fail!

It’s further compounded when people insist on either lifting to heavier a weight, or become frustrated with their lack of progress and start to train their chest more than once a week.

Secondly, people rely on their training partners far too much? They also engage in the game of ‘You can lift it, I’ll lift more’. A partner is there for encouragement and safety. Competition is a good thing, but NOT inside the gym, it can lead to someone getting injured… Ego should always be left at the gym door before entering!

I’ve seen this happening a thousand times in the gym, I have even had training partners that go way  beyond encouragement, almost demanding you do more weight than you can handle. Also, even the best spotter in the world can’t grab the weight off you, until it’s too late. You fail to control your lift and in that millisecond, before your spotter can help, you have incurred an injury.

Ask yourself this one question, how often in the gym have you witnessed someone who has just finished their bench press, get up off the bench pulling their shoulders back, giving them a good stretch, well the chances are, they have incurred a ‘Micro-tear’, probably through pressing to heavy weight.

If you continue to incur micro-tears, they will become chronic in time, stopping your training for weeks, months, or may be for good. Types of injuries can range from, shoulder, small bicep tendon tears, to upper and lower Pectoral muscle separation.

Chest-Shoulder Muscle-Diagram

So ‘How’ can we avoid these injuries

  1. Warm-up. To most this would seem to be a no-brainier, but you would be surprised just how many people don’t, and go straight into their bench press routine. I believe this as something to do with the idea that, because you start off with a low weight, then it’s OK to dive straight in. But this is unfortunately, untrue, especially on a cold winter’s day. You should always warm-up your Pecs, because this helps to flood the area with blood and pre-stress the soft tissue such as the tendons and ligaments. I prefer to use dumbbells for this process. Also, in order to get the range of movement we have in our shoulder, nature had to give-up some stability, which leaves our shoulder join open to damage.
  2. Proper Technique. Technique not only helps to prevent injuries, but it helps to increase strength and muscle mass. It’s important never to catch your muscles out with jerky or, stop and go movements, try the keep your movement as smooth as possible. Your movement should also be delivered in a slow, controlled manner. When lowering the bar down, make the movement positive and slow, pursing at the bottom, just touching your chest, NOT bouncing off, and then accelerate the bar back to the top, try not to lock out your arms, this will keep the stress on the Pecs, helping to penetrate deeper into the muscle fibres.
  3. Use a Slightly Closer Grip. Something in-between a standard and close grip, this stops the chest from opening so wide, preventing possible damage, but still activating the muscle enough to trigger development.
  4. Try Lowering to The Clavicle. Most people will lower the bar down to their Solar-plexus before returning it back to the top of the movement. This puts a lot of stress on your shoulder muscles, apart from the joint; it affects the Deltoid muscles and the tendons that run from the centre of the Clavicle to the head of the small bicep muscle. So instead, try lowering the bar to the centre of the Clavicle where it joins the Sternum, you won’t be able to lift as much weight, but boy-oh-boy will it work your Pecs.
  5. And ‘Why’ Not Try Giving The Dumbbells a Go. They are much easier on the shoulder muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the joint. This is, because unlike the bar that restricts side lateral motion, the dumbbells don’t. This is a more natural movement, giving your Pec muscles more stretch, helping to breakdown more fibres, leading to more muscle growth and less injuries. Also, when using the dumbbells, the weaker-side has to work harder and can’t rely on the stronger muscle to compensate, helping to increase muscle growth and strength.
  6. What Is a Maximum Weight to Bench Press. A good question, people really don’t know ‘How’ to work out their heaviest weight to press. Put simply, your heaviest weight would be the weight that makes you work to failure on your 6th rep. Do 5 reps and it’s too heavy, do 7 reps and it’s to light. But remember it has to be to failure on your 6th rep, if you feel that you could have done another rep, then you didn’t work to failure and you won’t get the full benefit of growth and strength.

Conclusion

After damaging my tendon doing bench press, not even pressing my maximum weight on the bar, I realized that there was the potential for others to do the same, In fact, over the 50-years I’ve been involved with bodybuilding, running my own gym, I have seen many injuries that could have been prevented, Just by having a little more understanding of the mechanism involved when bench pressing.  ‘How’ this movement, plus the shoulder joint lower stability, can stress the muscles, tendons, and joints, to the point of failure, and ‘Why’ it’s so crucial to use good technique and weights appropriate to you.

I hope that the above information presented here today, will help to prompt you into thinking about the potential injury you could sustain when bench pressing. I sincerely hope it will compel you to taking some action to help prevent any possible injuries to yourself.

Remember that an injury may prevent you from training for months, even forcing you to give-up? So ask yourself this question… “Is it really worth it”.

Strength and development comes through practicing good form over a consistent length of time.

By JudgeJ

I have written a book on ‘Building a Powerful Physique’, for more information click this link: Build a Powerful Phy

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The Consequence of NOT Training Your Transverse Abdominal Muscles

Man showing off his ripped abs

What Are Your Transverse Abdominal Muscles 

When people start out training their abdominal muscles, commonly known as a ‘Six Pack’, they get fixated on training their outer abs, known as the rectus abdominis, and the vertical abdominal muscles. But no-one ever considers, that’s even if they know about the third and more important abdominal muscle, which must be trained in conjunction with the rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscle, and that’s the Transverse Abdominal Muscles.

Diagram showing abdominal muscles

The transverse abdominal muscles are a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen, and the transverse abdominis muscle is the deepest ab muscle layer. It begins at the pubic bone and ends at the sternum. It’s a very important muscle that helps to stabilize the spine, and very often gets forgotten even by the most experienced trainer.

Unfortunately, even the trusted sit-up or crunches can’t touch these babies, but they are so important when it comes to supporting the back, and preventing injuries. A well exercised set of transverse abdominal muscles also supports the overlying rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscles, even helping to give that chiseled look to the abs.

The reason peBrad Pitts Absople neglect their transverse abdominal muscles and concentrate on the rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscles is, because you can’t see the transverse abdominal muscles, they lie underneath the abdominal muscles that show (See Image).

But exercising your abs shouldn’t be for aesthetic appearance alone, you should be exercising for core strength and neglecting your transverse abdominal muscles only weakens the overall effect, opening you up to injuries.

If you are into flattening or strengthening your central core muscles then you must seriously contemplate doing your transverse abdominal muscles.

The following exercises will help you to exercise your transverse abdominal muscles, helping to strengthen and flatten your tummy… Remember to warm up well, before you begin your training.

Pelvic Tilts

belly exercise

Lay flat on your back on a firm, flat surface, such as the floor or a bench and use a mat or towel to help cushion and protect your spine. Bend your knees, but make sure you keep your feet flat on the floor.
Make yourself comfortable and start by raising your pelvis, it’s important that you only raise your pelvis off  the floor, pause for a count of 3, pulling your belly button in  towards your spine  during the exercise.
Now lower your pelvis back to your starting position. Repeat this for 10 raps (equals 1 set) doing three sets in all. It’s extremely important that you maintain controlled throughout the movement, because you want this exercise to work your abdominal muscles, rather than your body’s momentum, to do the work on the exercise.

Also, make sure to keep your upper body flat on the floor throughout the whole exercise.

Crunch-less Crunch

This second exercise is fairly simple, but some people can find it a bit difficult to start with. Basically, it entails you to pull-in your belly button towards your spine. At first you may find this difficult to do, because you are using muscles, which you may not have used before.
To start with, either lie on your stomach, or you can kneel if you wish. You might want to try both ways and see, which helps you feel the exercise better.
Relax your body as much as possible, now using only the lower abdominal draw in your belly button towards your spine as far as possible and hold for ten seconds. If you find this easy, try holding your stomach in for a longer period.
The goal here is to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominis. When you feel this, let the contraction out.

Scissor Kicks

This stomach exercise also requires you to lie flat on your back on a flat floor, use a towel to help cushion and protect your spine. Position your hands under your butt; this also helps to support the lower spine.
Keeping your back pressed against the floor, suck in your belly button and slowly raise one leg to a height of about ten inches, and then slowly lowering it back to the floor. As your lower one leg, raise the other.
Repeat this motion for an entire set (10 reps) each leg. As with the other exercises above its crucial that you maintain control throughout the movement, and not allowing momentum to get the better of you. Your upper body should remain flat on the floor at all times.

Plank

The plank abdominal exercise

As you can imagine from the name this exercise resembles the well-known abdominal plank exercise. First lie flat on your stomach, raise your upper body to allow your arms to be placed, elbows and Palm’s down on the ground. Now rise onto the toes of both feet, keeping your body rigid, vertical to the ground.
Now suck in your belly button and raise one leg off the ground as high as possible, hold for the count of 3 lowering back to the ground. As you lower your leg raise the opposite leg off the ground and hold for a count of 3, and then lower back to the ground.
Repeat this for 10 reps x 3 sets. This is a particularly difficult exercise to do and you may find that you can only do one set to begin with, that’s fine, increase as you find the exercise easier to do.

There are plenty of other exercises, which target the transverse abdominals, but these 4 above should be enough for you to get on with. Stomach exercises, like these above, are key to strengthening your core and obtaining a flat tummy, and they are especially good for pregnant and postpartum women.

Best of luck…John

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Exercise During Pregnancy

Should You Exercise During Your Pregnancy?

Pregnant Woman

Today almost everyone understands the need to exercise, because exercise is very good for your health. But does this stand true for those who are pregnant? There’s no doubt that exercise delivers many other benefits for anyone who trains hard.

The answer surprisingly turns out to be ‘Yes’.

But a word of warning, exercise should be light, especially during your first few weeks of pregnancy whilst your body adjusts to the many physical, hormonal levels, and mental changes, it’s going through during this stage.

Women that exercise with weights on a regular basis should tone down their workout regimens during pregnancy, because any type of heavy exercise can divert the blood flow from crucial areas.

Some gentler exercises for pregnant woman may be swimming, walking, and yoga, which are three of the more popular exercises followed by pregnant women today.

I’m not saying that weight training shouldn’t be done by women, just as long as it isn’t too strenuous. If you are training with weights then cut back a little, most professional trainers recommend exercising about 3 – 4 times a week, unless you have a medical condition that prevents it.

If however, you are ever in any doubt, as to whether you should be lifting weights, then consult your doctor or physician at the outset.

Listed below, are some very good reasons as to ‘Why’ you should consider doing any exercise during your pregnancy, first.

a. Believe it or not, but exercise can help to cut down on the length of time you are in labour and your recovery time too. Doing the right exercise routines will also increase your stamina, which will be needed throughout your delivery.

b. Exercise will help to improve your mental health. Exercise is great at lowering stress, a type of clinical depression often suffered after childbirth, exercising can therefore, help to improve your emotional health. This will help to make it a lot easier for you to get through the experience of becoming a mother.

c. Exercise will help you deal with any weight concerns during, and after your child is born. What concerns new mothers most, is the weight they may have to lose after pregnancy. So training during pregnancy, can make postpartum (depression) weight loss a lot easier to deal with.

d. Exercise helps to keep your body healthy, which is a bonus for both you and your unborn child. By exercising and keeping your body healthy, you are also looking out for your baby’s health too. But remember to keep your exercise routines light; don’t put your baby under stress, because you don’t feel you have done enough. Be smart and both of you will come out smiling.

e. Pregnancy affects your body in unexpected ways. Exercise can help to dramatically reduce side-effects such as fatigue, swelling, constipation, and headaches. Some studies carried out with pregnant women who exercised daily, showed a reduction in the occurrence of these symptoms

f. Exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of premature birth. Studies carried out have proven that exercising during pregnancy can dramatically improve the chances of premature birth by at least 50%.

Also during your exercise make sure you drink plenty of fluids, as exercising will increase dehydration. Avoid at all costs over exertion and also follow a nutritious diet. It’s important to always listen to your body and should you feel dizzy, anxious, sick, or fatigued, then stop and seek out the advice of a physician.

Apart from physical exercise, it’s important, for you to rest as much as possible. This combination of exercising followed by rest will make it a lot easier for you to deliver your unborn baby when the time comes. Women, on the other hand, who don’t exercise, find their experience in the delivery room much harder when the time comes to giving birth.

Exercising during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your unborn baby. Remember to always think about safety first when you are pregnant woman who exerciseexercising in the gym, or out on the road.

As long as you use your common sense and pay attention to your environment around you, you will do a power of good for you and your unborn baby. Best of luck with your exercise routines, and joy to you both, when your unborn baby eventually ventures into this world.

By Judge.J

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7 Reasons ‘Why’ You Should Exercise

‘Why’ Should You Exercise

We are tolled almost everyday that we should go to the gym to follow an exercise program in order to maintain a healthy, healthy body, but ‘Why’? The sad fact is many never make it to the starting block to begin with. Unfortunately, this is  simple to understand, because they have failed to understand the basic benefits to exercising.

Below, you’ll find several good reasons why you should start following an exercise routine… right now.

1. Contributes to fat loss

Scientific research from all over the world, as proven without a shadow of a doubt, that physical exercise ‘Does’ contribute to weight loss. The equation is simple; if you consume more calories than you are able to burn through daily activity and exercise… you’ll put on weight. During exercise, it’s possible to burn off more calories than if you don’t. It’s really simple… the more you exercise, the more weight or fat you’ll lose.

2. Prevent disease

There have been several studies now, researching whether or not, exercise as any real impact upon reducing the chances of developing several various diseases. The results have proven that regular training does indeed decrease developing such diseases. Diseases include: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke.
Each year 4 out of 5 deaths are caused by heart disease, cancer, and are linked to factors such as stress and lack of exercise.
We are well educated today and know that diabetes increases the chance for heart attacks and strokes.
The research as clearly shown, that many of these risk factors and diseases, have a better chance of developing to damage your health when not exercising, when exercising these risk factors are greatly reduced.
So to help reduce these risks… Start exercising.

3. Improving disease

Many minor and severe diseases can be improved, or even healed, through frequent exercise, including those listed above. By following a regular plan of exercise, you can also dramatically reduce HDL cholesterol levels, decrease triglyceride levels, and decrease your blood pressure as well.

There is also some evidence to suggest that regular exercises can also reduce your risk factor of developing prostate cancer in men, breast and uterine cancer for women.
There is now a ton of scientific proven studies that prove that exercises can reduce these by changing diseases, which is why you should start exercising today.

4. Enhance your state of mind

It’s well understood today, that when you exercise your body produces a high level of endorphin’s into the body. Endorphin’s help to fight depression and make you feel happier and more alive after your training session. Endorphin’s are released into the bloodstream after only 12 minutes of exercise.
There is however, another chemical that’s released into the bloodstream during and, after a workout, known as Serotonin. Serotonin acts upon the central nervous system and is linked to the feelings of well-being, leading to a decrease in any mental depression symptoms. Serotonin also helps you get a better night’s sleep, and as we now, during deep sleep we produce growth hormone, which helps to repair muscle, bones, and tissues, and also increases muscle mass.

5. Enhance your wellness

If you have been training, or trained for any length of time, you will know that regular exercise will increase your energy levels and improve your overall mood.
This leads to an enhanced level of wellness, because you have stretched yourself beyond what you thought was possible, and the possibility of continuing to stretch yourself further, in the future

6. Persistence

Exercising on a regular basis not only gives you more energy, but will improve your productivity at home, at work, help to energize your activities, holidays, and hobbies.
Exercising will help you to focus on new goals. Exercising can help spur your new goals, a higher sense of purpose, and give you something, to focus on and aim for.
Exercise is a great way to help you increase your persistence and prevent you from going off track while you aim for your new goals.

7. Social capabilities

Exercising on a regular basis will also give you a boost in your self-esteem; this in turn will give you a better outlook on life, looking better, and being more comfortable in your surroundings.
Exercise is also a great way of meeting new people, forging new friendships, helping to free you from the feeling of any isolation you may be experiencing in your life.
Exercise can also increase your interest in sex, hoping to improve your marriage, relationships, or forging new ones.

Now you have an idea of what exactly exercise can do for you, don’t sit there leaving it to another day. Get to the gym and start your training regime, you can exercise at home or go out and join a gym, Kick-starting a healthier, more active lifestyle. Not only will you feel better, you will also look fitter, more radiant, sexier, and healthier.

Not only will you feel better physically, and mentally, but exercise can help to improve your well-being and self esteem, and just as importantly, will give you a positive outlook on life, including setting some personal goals.

Exercise as some truly positive benefits, all you have to do is take a little bit of time out of your daily life and start exercising – you know down deep you should… go on you deserve it.

Author… J.J

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How Do Myths Get Started

Do the Correct Movement

Muscle building or strengthening ‘Myths’ are plentiful in the world of bodybuilding, power-lifting, and even weightlifting. They appear almost from out of the air, where they are first accepted as mere information, but as time goes by, and they get past around, they take on a life of their own… they become gospel. Many, find it difficult to recall their original source, regardless of whether they are beginners, or advanced trainers.

I can understand this behaviour from beginners who are easily fooled by what others say, but surely the longer one is in the iron game you should apply the experience, wisdom, suspicion, you’ve gained over time to investigate all that comes your way… but this isn’t what you find.

At the very least, and a no-brainier, you should do your best to find out ‘Where’ this information originated, and of course by ‘Whom’, because your very progress depends upon it.

Stuppid Exercise

Gaining any real muscle size, or strength, is hard enough, without spending time doing some fanciful exercise that has no real origins, history, or guarantees.

Below are 5 main sources that rely on myths to increase their popularity…

Magazines1. Magazines: editors have a duty to increase their magazine sales, in order to achieve their goals, offer their subscribers new routines and exercises each month, but many have no real foundation and very often, oppose what they wrote the month before.

 

 

 

Testosterone

2. The “Wow What a Boost” Syndrome: this myth affects ‘how’ we view supplements, exercise and routines… “This exercise as never done anything for me, but this one really does work”.”This supplement really gave me an energy boost“. “I have gained more pounds (strength), with this program”. Every bodybuilder, weightlifter, or fitness trainee, are individuals, and one of the biggest mistakes that people make in the gym is to follow others. You should train using the basic exercises and only move to advanced exercises when you have made progress. And train to fit your body-type requirements, not others. What’s good for me…isn’t necessarily good for you.

 

Strong3. The “Big Guy, Strong Guy” Syndrome: instead of being told that they got bigger/or stronger, because of the years of hard training, good genetics, or drug use, they sprout some tale about ‘How’ scientific their routines are, followed by a piece of insignificant advice.

 

 

 

Clod pressed flaxseed oil4. Supplement Companies: In order to give their customers exactly what they want, and get ahead of their competition, they sell supplements with lower levels of ingredients, to keep down their manufacturing costs. Neither do they offer any real scientific evidence, or studies.

 

 

 

Gym_equipment5. Gym Equipment: Rarely will you find a machine, or a piece of equipment correctly designed to enhance any real bio-mechanics specifications that will help boost performance or muscle growth gains. They concentrate on flashy designs, bells and whistles, or huge pieces of overbuilt expensive whatever’s to sell their equipment. Their machines very often look good, supported by some scientific dribble, they look as if they can do the job, but in reality they could never contribute to any real gains.

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The Best 7 Fitness Tips to Fitness

Seven Fitness Tips: Improving the Quality of Your Life

The seven fitness tipsPhysical fitness refers to the human body’s ability to return to normal heart beat, function, within a given time frame without too much fatigue

Demonstrating the fact that there is enough energy stored within your muscle tissues to enable you to do leisure activities as well as overcome physical stresses with alertness and vigour. General alertness, muscular endurance, strength, and cardio vascular reliability are the obvious signs that you are physically fit.

Normally, physical fitness is measured according to expected functions of the body associated with endurance, strength, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Also, stress testing can help ascertain the body’s ability to sustain a powerful stimulus, exercise, which should also be part of analyzing fitness.

Physical fitness levels are influenced by systematic and regular exercise. Moderate activity can only keep a person at a certain level, just enough to deal with ordinary stress. Improving levels of fitness needs more intensive exercises, which promotes changes and challenge physiological systems.

Below are seven fitness tips

They will help you to improve the quality of your life and improve your fitness levels:

1. Daily exercise.
Every day you need to perform some movements that can elevate the rate of your heart. It can simply be walking, but it should be done at a quick walking pace. Doing household chores, like mowing lawns, cleaning and polishing the car, taking a dog for a walk, take up a hobby like horse riding, or join a sports centre, etc.

2. Eat more greens, veggies.
This should be a no-brainer, vegetables and fruits will keep you energized and healthy. Plants in their natural state contain lots of fibres and nutrients. Organic fruits and vegetables must be preferred if possible since they are mainly free from any chemical contamination.

3. Weight training.
Unfortunately, as we get older, our muscles begin to weaken due to age. Doing resistance training will help to create hypertrophy. This in turn will help you look younger, adding more beneficial quality into your life.

4. Circuit training.
Circuit training is a form of weight training, but unlike weight training, you continually move from one workout to another. Following this practice can improve your heart rate during the whole workout doubling your cardio session.

5. Train functionally.
Incorporate some movements into your daily exercise which benefit or mimic your practiced movements in the actual world. Sports are good for functional training, because the body is required to move in an efficient way, forwards, backwards, up and down, speed forward, backward, and vigorous jumping motions. Functional training can keep your body balanced making it more resistant to illnesses and injuries.

6. Stretching your body to help you warm up.
Muscle contraction is achieved through resistance training making it tighter and smaller. Similar to all types of cardio, simple resistance training is also great. Warming up the body through stretching is fully recommended after exercises too.

7. Hydrate.
The human body contains about 60% of water, as you would expect when exercising, your body is consuming a larger rate of water. But, this is not the only time your body can become dehydrated, drinking too much coffee, soda, alcohol, and even tea, can put you at risk of dehydration.

Whether you are training or not, you should attempt to drink as much water as possible. But during training you should always continuously sip a consume water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Once you feel thirsty it’s too late, you are dehydrated.

seven fitness tipsTip:

There has been a myth circulating round for many years now, misleading people to believe you need to drink eight glasses of water a day. You need to understand that despite continuous research, nobody has ever found out where this myth came from, who put this idea forward, or what the evidence or research is based on?

What is really important is this, during your training you should continuously sip away and consume small amounts of water. If you become thirsty, then your bodies telling you that you are dehydrated, it’s very important not to reach this stage, has your body can’t function under these conditions.

These are simple strategies that will help you raise your body’s fitness levels. Most people tend to fail to reach their goals, because they don’t believe in themselves enough, looking for excuses to stop training. Any increased level of fitness, regardless of how small, will bring about tremendous life changing benefits, which will be beneficial to both you and your loved ones.

So, this is now your decision, the ball is in your court, exercise or excuse, which one will become your priority.

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Why Over trainingWorkouts Are The BIGGEST …” Killer of Bodybuilders”

you have got to train hard but don't over train

There is a subconscious trait that we All need to overcome when we first hit the gym and one we must beat before we can Build Muscle or make any real progress in the gym. It can set you back months, even years, resulting in dead dreams, and relegating  your memories to…what could have been.

This human treat is probably one of the primary triggers, which can lead the majority of people down the road to failure in the gym. Although there are several other good reasons for why many people labour to make any progress in the gym, one of the most common problems is… over-trainingWorkouts?

We humans have this insatiable ability to take opposite actions to those that may lead to good health and a great life, drugs or smoking for example.  In the gym people get sucked into the belief that the longer you train the better will be the results. But this unfortunately, couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to bodybuilding and aiming to ‘Increase Muscle Size’ workouts should be structured so that over-training is alienated from you program.

You need to understand that over training occurs when the amount of stress you place on your body is more than it can handle. Couple this with any mental stress plus the physical stress of exercise, can put you in an over-trained state.

So what as ‘Stress’ got to do with decreased muscle growth

Let’s keep this simple.  Anabolic steroids are muscle building, but Cortisol, known as the ‘Stress’ hormone, is a muscle wasting hormone, it eats tissue that’s been broken down during normal living. It does this so that new tissue can be built in its place. And ‘Yes’ what do you do when you train hard…brake down muscle tissues.

So as you can see flooding the body with cortisol simply eats muscle. It unfortunately, also makes blood pressure and blood sugar levels raise to… a double whammy.

Although scientists can now determine if you are crossing the line into over training by measuring markers in your blood that’s produced by the damage, which occurs when you train, rendering yourself to blood tests every few weeks could become irritating and expensive!

However, there are a few easier ways to tell if you’re over training, these include…

  1. Excess fatigue or tiredness
  2. Changes in your mood
  3. Muscle and joint pain (does not include the mild soreness you feel after a hard workout)
  4. A loss of appetite
  5. And difficulty in concentrating at work

One of the most common signs of over training workouts is the destructive effect it as on your zest to train.

So what’s going on, well in a nutshell during training your body is attempting to repair the damage you are inflicting upon your muscle. But the body is so run down, it can’t. You have in affect upset the natural balance that exists between training and recovery. This will result in an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, and no progress can take place.

Here are 3 simple steps you can take to correct this imbalance, and ensure you’re doing everything possible to maximize your progress in the gym.

  • Take a rest…

If you’re concerned for any reason that you may be over trained, take a break from exercise. A week off won’t make any difference in the great scheme of things, but could make a huge difference to your physical and mental well-being and help to recharge your batteries.

  • Change your routine…

Simply by modifying or varying the type of program you follow is enough to help you break out of a training rut. For example, change from heavy weight to lighter weights and higher reps (visa-versa), decrease the time between sets, pre-exhaust your muscle first, do your last exercise first, take out one exercise and replace it with a new exercise, change your routine around every week.

  • Get your sleep…

If the stress of training or your lifestyle is interfering or playing havoc with your sleep pattens then you need to address this matter…now! Because you’re losing out big time.  When we achieve deep sleep we produce ‘Human Growth Hormone’ (HGH), which is responsible for repairing damaged tissues. This combination of over training and lack of sleep will outstrip your natural ability to recover and grow!

You should aim to train for no more than 45 minutes. Don’t think this is enough time to train…well think again. Because your body will start to shut down within 45 minutes whether you like it or not.  

This may not be what you want to hear or use to doing in the gym, maybe you normally train for 1.5hurs, because you feel that’s you need this amount of time to fully train your muscles. But unfortunately, you are not in control of your normal bodily functions and training 5 minutes over this time frame could well put you into an over-trained state.

I have seen members of a gym who had been training longer than some of the other big bodybuilders, I can’t take it away from them they trained hard, but never gain much in the way of  Muscle mass’, simply because they over-trained their muscle groups for far too long.

In reality muscle can only grow when it’s fully repaired. So if you end up over training your muscles every time you train the muscle can never repair the end result isno growth.

Apart from over-training there could be an other possibility…

There are times when over training could be put down to nothing more than poor nutrition…it’s very important to feed your body with the nutrients it needs to recover. Maybe you need to rethink your diet and nutrition intake or include a supplement that helps with recovery.

There are two that spring to mine…

One of the best and well tested products is…Glutamine

Glutamine is one of the most abundance amino acids in the body and is required for optimal performance. Training can sometimes deplete your own natural stores, leaving very little for muscle recovery. Glutamine is also well known for its ability to prevent muscle breakdown.

The other is…Creatine

Creatine is naturally found stored in the muscles, but again training hard depletes your stores leaving it short for repairing muscle tissue. Creating is also great for improving both the volume and strength of muscle tissues.   

Some interesting facts, which have shown that you will build more muscle and recover quicker, if you take a protein/carbohydrate supplement within 30 minutes of finishing your training.  When you train hard the body starts to repair the trained muscle from the moment you do your first rep.

During this time a single is sent to your brain demanding more proteins to help repair the damaged muscle.  In fact you can take in as much protein as you like as the body will use it ALL and wont store any as fat.

Remember, weights are only tools that help to breakdown muscle tissue, it’s when you are at rest that muscles can repair and grow…you don’t grow in the gym!

When you begin to train you have a fixed level of hormones flowing through your body. After about an hour of INTENSE training your testosterone levels have dropped significantly.

In terms of body parts, stick to training each body part only once a week for 45 minutes, this is not hard providing you train right.

Break this rule and you won’t…Grow!

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