Best Training Routines for Bodybuilding and Fitness

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  • [blog post]: 7 Powerful Muscle Building Tips & methods

    Muscle building is a way to modify your body by performing intensive muscle exercises but sometimes bodybuilders are not able to acquire the form that they are aspiring for. muscle building tips serve as useful guide for performing intensive muscular exercises. They are simple and easy to follow and have been proven to work perfectly. These muscle building tips can be implemented without modifying much of your usual muscle building routine:

    1.

    Basic movements are your reliable aids in building a powerful body. You can rely on these basic arsenals whose usefulness have been tested by time, like the bench, squat and deadlift. You can also add the basic barbell curls and the military press. 

  • I Finally Reached My Goal, Now What?

    You set a goal. You created the plan. You worked hard until you were so entrenched in achieving your goals that your every thought and action deepened your commitment and determination. Ultimately you reached that goal, exceeded it even, and are on top of the world.

    NOW WHAT??

    Whether it was for a competition, an upcoming event, the summer season, or some personal fitness journey, your devoted yourself to the pursuit of a goal and once that goal is reached, do you have a plan for what comes next? Having a plan for what comes after reaching your goal can prove very beneficial for many reasons.

    Typically, when you are so focused on reaching that goal every ounce of your being is fully concentrated and doing everything possible to attain that goal. When it comes to a fitness goal – this pursuit already involves your entire lifestyle. You choose what to eat and when based on achieving a goal. You may need to prepare meals ahead of time in order to stay on track each day. Your workouts are planned out and scheduled each week. If you are planning to compete, then you must factor in time for posing, tanning, and all the little details that go along with getting to the stage. However once your moment arrives – whether it be fitting in to a certain size of clothes or swimsuit, or reaching a new healthy weight, or lifting a new personal best – the next moments, days and weeks can be a very rough time without a plan. What do you do? Do you stop doing what you were doing because you reached your goal? Do you cut back in order to maintain your goal? Do you take some time off? The possibilities are endless and often scary. Let’s face it, you have conditioned yourself and stuck to such a disciplined schedule and routine for a purpose, and now that purpose has been removed.

    It is not uncommon to feel a range of emotions and have many thoughts after achieving your goals. Depression, feelings of being lost, and even feeling of guilt are not abnormal. You have been focused on accomplishing something for yourself, not on what you will do after it.

    Remember fitness is a lifestyle and not a snapshot type of thing.

    It is a continuous journey. Reaching your peak simply means that you now have a better perspective and experience base from which to draw from to go farther. Yes I said it – there can still be more to do, further to go and more to achieve. But it requires more work and a new plan.

    After a competition the first thing I do, almost as soon as I walk off stage for the night is to reflect upon my experience. What were my goals before I started preparing for this contest? Did I reach my goals? What worked well? What could be improved upon next time around? How do I get there? Am I content with what I accomplished to this point? Where do I go from here? Reflecting on your experience is a great place to start and also helps to eliminate the feeling of nothingness that can occur after reaching your goal. Write things down- thoughts, pros, cons, improvements. Give the reflection process time. It is not necessarily a 10 minute activity. It is a process that may occur over a week, or a few weeks .

    Out of the reflection process will come some honest insights, both positive and negative, but honest. It may also leave you with more questions. Do you want to continue the journey? Do you have the mental and emotional strength to do this again? Is there a way to maintain what you have achieved? If you decide to go further, when will you start? All of these things take time and understanding that it is a process is therapeutic in itself. You don’t need to get angry or frustrated with yourself because you don’t have all the answers and you’re not as regimented as you were a few days or weeks ago. All of these things will take care of themselves in due time.

    The point of the reflection process is to gain a clearer perspective of what you have done and also have some honest conversations with yourself to reveal where you want to go next. The next logical step, would be to set some new goals. In setting goals, create both short and long term goals that are in line with the answers to questions and insights gained during the reflection process.

    With new goals set, the momentum and fire within begin to build and you must next create a new plan of action. The more detailed you can make the plan, the better you will feel and more direction you will have. And with that complete, your journey continues. Much like an ocean wave coming ashore, you have gathered energy and motion, peaked, and then slowly retreated a bit as you found your way again with renewed energy and momentum to peak again.

    The journey we take in living a healthy and fit lifestyle is continuous and constantly changing. Reaching one goal, as lofty as it may have been to achieve, will eventually become a stepping stone as we use it to climb higher, go farther, and do more than we once thought we were capable.

  • Training Splits and My Overall Philosophy

    Over the years I have used a variety of workout splits. I have used 4 day programs and 3 day programs where every bodypart is worked over 3 or 4 workouts in a one week period. I wouldn’t do more than 2 workouts in a row and most of the time there was an off day or cardio day in between.

    For the past several years we have been training the entire body over 3 workouts in a weeks. Not only has this split been great for us in the gym, but 3 workouts in a week tends to be a bit easier to schedule and maintain given the rest of our obligations and lives.

    Plus our style of lifting is more of a Blood and Guts approach via Dorian Yates and the rest days are beneficial. The premise of getting in the gym is simple – lift as hard as you can and then go home and recuperate, eat, and grow.

    My workouts themselves last only an hour or slightly less and they follow the same pattern. We warm up on a treadmill or bike for 3-5 minutes just to raise the body temperature and get ready for a workout. Next we will head to our first exercise and begin to warm up. This warm up will start with very light weights or just the bar and also involve a series of stretches for the about to be worked muscle groups. Slowly we will increase the warm up weights and continue the stretches until we are ready to lift.

    Once warmed up the workout begins and as those of you know who have read my posted training programs they are extremely concise but incredibly intense. There are typically only 3-5 sets total for a larger muscle group and 1-4 sets for smaller muscle groups. Whether we are lifting for higher reps (10-12) or lower reps (4-6) or anywhere in between the goal is the same – lift a weight that will be an all out fight to move into the right rep range and lift it with good form and control. When the reps are repeatedly in the range it is time to increase the weight. To be honest, once we find the right weight, a 5-10 pound increase over the course of that program is a good gain.

    My workout programs last anywhere from 3 – 5 weeks and the time frame is determined by listening to our bodies and knowing when we have reached the peak of the program both mentally and physically.

    For cardio, I have been doing 3 days a week over the course of the past year. I will add more cardio session during contest prep time just to burn more calories, but I try to balance it out so that I am not sacrificing muscle. This comes from a delicate balance of counting calories and watching the changes of my physique.

    The things I do for cardio vary. My staple has always been the treadmill. Last year I began using the elliptical and it has become my new favorite. I have jumped rope as part of HIIT cardio sessions. I also use a few of cardio dvds from the P90x program. On occasion I will take my cardio outdoors to walk and run in the park with my dog. I am not much of a runner and can do much better on a treadmill than I could ever do outdoors for some reason. Bottom line, I like to mix it up and keep cardio fresh.

    My cardio sessions last anywhere form 45-65 minutes depending on my goals. I also have started using HIIT cardio on the elliptical machine which I am beginning to love but kicks my butt every time.

  • 6 Ways To Be More Efficient In The Gym

    Are you pressed for time in the gym?

    We never spend more than an hour in the gym total. We get in, do our business, and get out. Clean, simple and effective.

    If you’re spending hours in the gym and or not seeing results, it’s possible that you are not making the most of the time you have set aside for exercise.

    Here are 6 ways of the most common things that are slowing you down in the gym.

    • Socializing too much:We love our gym buddies as much as anyone else, but when it comes to gym time, make sure you and your buddy are on the same workout wavelength. That means she should be just as dedicated to an effective workout as you so you can both get in and get out (and then catch up!).

     

    • Going slow and steady:Not every workout has to be a sweaty grind, but if your usual workout involves reading a magazine on the treadmill — or, even worse, talking on your phone — you’re wasting your time. Speed it up with intervals so you can push your potential — and your calorie burn.

     

    • Not having a plan:If you’ve gotten to the gym but you’re not sure what to do, trying to decide on the right exercise can be a major waste of time. Before you go to the gym, take a few moments to plan how you should be working out. If you can’t come up with a plan, hire a personal trainer for a few sessions.

     

    • Taking too many breaks: Keeping your heart rate up is key to your workout success, so if your workout is full of breaks and water-fountain trips, it’s time to cut a few out of your routine. Limit breaks between intense intervals and circuits (by doing supersets) to reap your workout’s cardio and calorie-burning benefits in a shorter amount of time.

     

    • Goofing off in the locker room:If you’re not focused, a quick locker-room trip can turn into 20 minutes of trying to find your socks or being distracted by your phone. Keep your gym bag organized, and try to go to the gym at off-peak times if possible in order to make the locker-room stop quicker.

     

    • Only using the machines:Strength-training machines can help you work certain muscles, but do not use them exclusively. Using the machines at the gym means you become less engaged with your workout and are also only spot-training muscle groups — both of which are prime time-wasters. Cut your time on muscle-isolating gym machines, and use that time instead for total-body strength-training moves, like this full-body circuit workout with weights.

     

    • Not knowing what you’re doing:If you’re new to the gym, going in without any advice or instruction can mean a haphazard gym trip; even worse, your gym newbie status can lead you to perform moves improperly for an ineffective workout. Instead, take advantage of the free training consultation many gyms provide; you’ll be able to learn more about essential strength-training moves and the gym floor setup. You should also take beginner-level fitness classes so you can follow along and learn instead of trying to figure it out yourself; being part of a class can make the gym feel less intimidating when you’re new.

     

    Time shouldn’t be an excuse for not getting in a workout!

  • 1 Word That Will Eliminate Your Excuses

    I’m too stinking busy!!

    Seriously, that’s just where my life is right now, and there’s no way around it.

    Know the feeling?

    You’re too busy to count calories or grams of salt or fat. You’re too busy to get to the gym on a regular basis. Many days you collapse into bed at night barely able to remember where the day went.

    Being busy is an excuse (although a good one) for not taking care of yourself. For many people it takes a health scare or other life event before they wake up and start taking care of their body. But that doesn’t have to be you!

    The word that will transform your diet and exercise habits is:

    SIMPLIFY

    In my 20 years of experience I’ve come to believe that simplicity is the only way to live healthy when you are really busy.

    Sounds simple, right?  It may be simple, but most people don’t get it. Here are strategies I use to take control of my time and to simplify as many aspects of my life as possible.

    Learn to Simplify Your Life

    • Simplify my eating.Forget being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, instead I think of my diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness.  I focus on finding foods I love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. I own several great cookbooks that contain recipes using 5 ingredients or less.
    • In conjunction with simplifying my eating, I also learned to simplify my grocery shopping.Each week I plan out 7 days worth of meals. From that plan I write up my grocery list. I arrange my grocery list so that all the items I need are in order based on the path I take around the store. I bring a pen to the store and check off each item as I go. This saves me time since I don’t have to back track in the store to get forgotten items, it saves me money since I don’t buy things I don’t need, and it reduces the chances I’ll buy junk food (since it’s not on my list). I’m in and out of the grocery store quickly and I have everything I need for the week, which also saves me time not having to back to the store for forgotten items.
    • Simplify my workouts.Before I get to the gym I know exactly what exercises, sets, and reps I will be doing that night. I keep my gym bag packed with my membership card, weight belt and other accessories, my journal, and my iPod in my car so I never forget it. In the gym I don’t waste time talking to other people or watching TV or texting. I’m focused and keep distractions to a minimum. If someone is taking too long on a piece of equipment I need, I simply ask (politely), if I can work in with them. I don’t sit and wait forever for a piece of equipment to become available. My workouts last an hour or less, no exceptions.
    • Simplify my cardio.For me, simplifying cardio means getting it in any way possible. It might mean taking the stairs all day at work, walking the parking lot at lunch time, going for a bike ride with the kids, or whatever else I can fit in. It’s rare that I can get to the gym for cardio, so I do what I can when I can. Many nights it’s just a walk or run around my block (several times) before dinner. I don’t need a treadmill or elliptical machine to get a good cardio workout.
    • Simplify my time.I use Google Calendar and an old fashioned paper calendar to keep track of everything. They are my time bible. I schedule appointments, tasks, projects, and reminders for anything I need to do. I’ve trained myself to enter things in my calendar as soon as I become aware of them. This simple system saves me a ton of time by keeping my day organized, but it also saves time by not missing things and having to make them up later. I get a lot of satisfaction from crossing things off my to do list every day.
    • Simplify my activities.I spent many years believing I could do everything I wanted, but ultimately finding that I could do many things poorly, or a few things well. I’ve defined what is most important to me (my kids, my health, my career) and I base all my decisions around that. Having a clear understanding of my priorities makes other decisions simple. For example, if I’m supposed to work out tonight but my daughter has a lacrosse game, I reschedule my workout because family is my number one priority. The choice is very easy and adjusting my schedule is fairly painless. Simplifying may mean giving up a few round of golf or a late night at the office, but once you define what’s most important to you, those decisions become much easier.
    • General simplicity.I’m always looking for ways to simplify things I encounter. I like to combine activities like vacuuming while the kids are waiting for the bus or cleaning the house while the football game is on in the background. Most recently I’ve begun getting rid of things in my house and environment that create clutter. It’s amazing how many items take up cupboard or shelf space yet are never touched or used.

    Finding simplicity is mostly about looking for opportunities and being open to new ways of doing things. It’s easy to say ‘I’m too busy’ and plop yourself down on the couch to watch another episode of American Idol, but if you look around and really ask yourself where you can save some time, you begin to see where small changes can add up and you can ultimately find time to fit healthy living into your life.

  • How Much Weight Should You Be Lifting?

    When you are in the gym, how much weight is too much, or how much is too little?

    Determining how much weight you should be lifting in the gym is a common concern for many folks, especially beginners. The answer is fairly simple, but it will require a little experimentation on your part. Let me explain.

    First and foremost, remember that lifting weights is a means to stimulate your muscles. Achieving the correct amount of stimulus is a balancing act between using enough weight to do the job, but not so much that you will cause injury or over training.How Much Should I Lift

    So how do you pick the right amount of weight?

    As a rule of thumb, we like to chose a weight that we can lift 10 times (10 repetitions), where the 10th repetition is moderately difficult. (NOTE: You want to use good form when lifting. Using bad form to get to 10 repetitions is not what we’re after here.)

    It will take you some experimenting to find the proper weight, but start a little light and work your way towards it. When performing each repetition you will want to have the positive (pushing) part of the repetition take about 2 seconds, and the negative (resisting) part of the repetition take about 3 seconds.

    But that’s not the end of it! Your body will adjust, and soon you will be able to do more than 10 repetitions. To compensate you will need to increase the amount of weight you lift, sometimes by as little as 2 pounds.

    As a side note, if you are going long periods without being able to increase the amount of weight you are lifting, or doing more repetitions, something is wrong and you need to figure out what’s going on. You may be over-trained and need a rest. Maybe your form is off. Maybe you need to switch exercises for a little while.

    Weight lifting is progressive resistance training, and you should be seeing your body acclimate to a certain weight, then you need to adjust (increase) it. If that cycle is not happening you need to figure out why and fix it.

    Remember that good form is essential, as is progressively increasing your weights. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new exercises and weights to obtain maximum results.

  • 6 Things Not To Do After You’ve Gained Weight

    Your jeans are a little to snug or there’s a little jiggle on the back of your arms. Maybe your muffin top has returned.

    It happens!!

    Almost everyone goes through periods of weight gain, but how you handle it helps determine if it’s a bump in the road or a major setback. Do not fall into the trap of believing that all is lost if you gain weight. Far too often we see people give up completely after gaining fairly small amounts of weight. We want to help you keep a molehill from becoming a mountain.Weight Gain

    So, take a deep breath, relax, and read through the following six tips to help you stop your weight gain from destroying all your hard work.

    • Stop weighing yourself every hour. Weighing yourself constantly only reminds you of a negative. Losing weight is a process that takes time, losing two pounds per week is considered the safe standard. To make matters worse, you can weight can vary during the course of the day due to hormones, water retention, or even the time of day. If you must weigh yourself, only do so once in the morning (or at night) each day. Use your daily weigh in as one measure of your progress, not your only measure. How your clothes fit, how you look in the mirror, and how you feel should also be considered.
    • Don’t jump from diet to diet. Studies show that the most effective diet is the one you will follow faithfully. Surprisingly there was little difference between diet plans (South Beach, Paleo, etc), but the biggest factor in success or failure was people just sticking with it. So don’t worry about which diet plan is best, figure out which one best fits your lifestyle and go with it.
    • Don’t buy a new wardrobe. You may have to buy a few new clothes so that you can feel comfortable, but by no means should you take all your clothes out in the front yard and have a bonfire. Keep those skinny jeans or that favorite top around as a reminder of where you are headed. Try them on from time to time so that you can feel the progress you are making towards fitting into them again.
    • Don’t beat yourself up. You gained weight. It’s done. Unfortunately beating yourself up doesn’t count as exercise. Calling yourself names or engaging in negative self-talk will doom your efforts to lose the weight. Research shows that people who practice self compassion are more likely to change their behavior, and changing your behavior is really what needs to happen if you are to lose the weight. Accept your weight gain, then turn your attention to all the positive things you are doing to lose the weight.
    • Keep exercising. Do not give up exercise! A reasonable cardio program coupled with a strength training program will help you lose the weight faster and help build habits to keep it off. Do not overdo it! Killing yourself in the gym will increase your chances for injury, and it will likely burn you out leaving you further behind than when you started.
    • Don’t skip meals or start fasting. Fasting is generally bad no matter what. Skipping meals is also bad. If your body thinks it is being starved crazy things start happening. Eating at leas 3 good meals per day will help keep you from getting hungry and it will keep your blood sugar levels constant. Skipping meals causes your blood sugar to drop and increases the odds that you will go looking for large quantities of crappy foods. As odd as it sounds, starvation or fasting is the worst way to lose weight. Your body needs good fuel to burn fat and maintain healthy body functions.

    Gaining weight is not the end of the world, even if it feels that way at first. The quickest way to get back on track is to relax and figure out a sensible plan. Jumping on the scale every hour, fasting, or burning your skinny jeans in the driveway will not help. Getting some exercise, eating properly, and being compassionate with yourself are far better ways to get back on track.

  • What’s in Your Gym Bag?

    Have you ever gotten to the gym and realized you forgot your iPod or your weight belt? How frustrating is that!!

    The best way to keep organized and to ensure that you have everything you need for your workout every time you hit the gym is to keep everything in a gym bag. You don’t want it to become a cluttered garbage pit, but you certainly want everything you need in one place. Here is a list of the items we would consider essential for any gym bag.

    • Training Log– an absolute must in my opinion. Keeping a log, whether it be in a notebook, a sheet of paper, a card, or even a phone app, is an invaluable tool in the gym. Use it to track your workouts and progress from week to week. However you set it up, be sure to include the date, each exercise, the number of sets and reps you did, as well as the weight used. It takes the guess work out of trying to remember what you did the previous workout, and gives you a clear focus for what you want to accomplish this workout. It may be one more rep, or adding 5 more pounds, but it gives you an in your face visual of what you did and what you want to do!

    What’s in Your Gym Bag

    • Dipping Chain/Belt– there are commercial versions you can buy, or make your own, like I did. The dipping belt is a way to add weight to exercises like dips and pull ups where you are able to handle your bodyweight and want to add more weight.
    • iPod/mp3 Player– I put this on the list simply as an extra. For some people, myself included, using an mp3 player is a great way to block out any distractions in the gym and focus on your own workout. It doesn’t need to be turned up full blast so you are blowing out your eardrums, but loud enough to block out the surrounding noises in the gym. Plus load it with your own playlist and it can provide extra focus for whatever workout you do.
    • Lifting Gloves– we don’t use them, but obviously they belong in your gym bag if you chose to use them
    • Membership Card – you won’t make it past the front door without it!

    **The following 3 tools should only be used for your heaviest work. On your lighter sets let your muscles bear the brunt of the weight and help strengthen overall areas. For example, not using straps for every set will help strengthen your grip. Using straps on your heaviest set only will enable you to squeak out another rep or two where your grip would otherwise fail first.

    • Weight Belt– this is a tool, not a fashion accessory. You have probably seen people who wear their weight belt for an entire workout, but this is not the purpose of the belt. A weight belt should be used only during your heaviest sets to aid in supporting your core muscles.
    • Lifting Straps– these are used to aid in holding on to the bar, or dumbbell, on exercises where your grip may give out before the working muscle group. Straps are great to use with back exercises such as rows (barbell, dumbbell, pulley), lat pull downs, shrugs (barbell and dumbbell) and dead lifts.
    • Knee Wraps– some people will use these on their heaviest sets of squats and leg presses. It is not uncommon to see powerlifters and strongmen using knee wraps.
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