As stated before, one of the primary hip flexor muscles is the psoas major. This muscle plays a role in core stabilization (something that is needed during running, squatting, and sitting) due to its attachment site at the spine. If there is a lack of core stability or poor movement patterns during these tasks then the hip flexor can become overworked/tired/fatigued (think what happens when your co workers or teammates don’t do their job, you have to pick up the slack and work harder, bringing you more stress and fatigue). It is when the hip flexor becomes fatigued that the sensation of tightness sets in. This is because the hip flexor has to “work harder” to compensate for other muscles not doing their job.
Those 5-pound dumbbells were a great place to start as a beginner, but if you've been lifting weights for a while, it's time to bump up the weight. “You can use both exercise machines and free weights,” explains Michele Olson, PhD, exercise physiologist, professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery, “but, if you are not lifting heavy enough weight, it doesn’t matter if you are primarily using free weights or machines.” In order to build muscle, you must break down muscle tissue using a weight that is challenging enough to cause micro-tears, which when repaired, form denser, stronger fibers.
I get it. Bodybuilding is a subjective sport with judges that determine who wins based on the judges opinions. In the other resistance training sports you win objectively by outperforming your competitors. Bodybuilders also tend to work out differently with little concern for the weight being lifted, so long as the end result is a better-looking body. This can make bodybuilding type training seem narcissistic and shallow. That’s too bad because hard core resistance training athletes can learn a LOT from bodybuilders and how they train.
"Your glutes are made up of three different muscles, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus," says Lefkowith. "They externally rotate your hip, abduct your hip, extend your hip, and even posteriorly tilt your pelvis." Because of this, it is important that you not only work one or two of these muscles, but rather, focus on showing all of them some love. "If you were only to do moves in one plane of motion, say a front lunge or squat, you wouldn't work your glutes to strengthen all of the joint actions they can perform."
Working on gluteal muscle strength (buttock muscles) can be beneficial to reduce hip flexor tightness. Working the glute muscles pulls the hip into extension (the opposite of flexion which is what the hip flexor does) and improves muscle balance at the hip. Increasing the strength of your gluteal muscles can help calm the hip flexor down and reduce the feeling of “tightness”.
Several muscles cross the front of the hip and create hip flexion, pulling the thigh and trunk toward each other, but probably the most important is the iliopsoas. It is actually composed of two muscles, the iliacus and the psoas, which lie deep in the back of the abdomen. If you looked at the front of a body with the internal organs removed, you would see the psoas lying alongside the spine, attached to the sides of the lumbar vertebrae. The iliacus originates on the inner bowl of the pelvis. Both muscles cross the floor of the pelvis, emerge at the outer edges of the pubic bones, and finally insert on the inner upper femur (thighbone). Because the muscles are buried so deep, we can't see or touch them, so it's easy to understand why there is much confusion about their location and action.
Tight hip flexors can also make it harder for your glutes to activate—since they're opposing muscle groups, when one is really tight the other becomes lengthened. When a muscle is more lengthened than it should be, it takes away some of its ability to contract. When your glutes are in this compromised position, it can cause other muscles to do more work than they should, making your workouts less efficient and sometimes, increasing your risk of injury.
As you've probably heard from any muscle-bound behemoth you've ever encountered, protein is the key to building muscle. Just because the shake-pounding meathead has become a trope, however, doesn't mean they're wrong; protein really is the fuel your muscles need to grow. That's real capital-S Science, not just bro-science manufactured by supplements companies.
Keto is for everyone. This has to do with fats. If someone has a high body fat percent, why would they do Keto? They already have enough fat to rely on. Someone with low body fat would benefit from constant fat as they don’t have enough stored fat to provide energy when needed. People with high body fat already contain the source of energy required for moments needed. People with low body fat have to outsource this energy through food with fats.
Progression – Throughout the course of your lifting career you should consistently strive for progress both mentally and physically. Initially, you may find that you’re incessantly focused on nutrition and training but as you progress in both maturity and muscular development, you should be focused on improving the balance between lifting and your life. It’s never about having an all or nothing mindset, balance must be incorporated in all aspects but this takes times to develop and occurs with progression over time.
Bodybuilders also train small muscles with a similar volume, frequency and intensity of their larger muscles. Strength athletes laugh at this. “Curls are a waste of time” is a common phrase you will hear hurled at a bodybuilder. This is SILLY. Although big compound movements should be most people’s resistance training priority, smaller muscle group focus work has some benefits for every athlete. Bicep tears are quite common among strength athletes, especially strong men and powerlifters. This happens because these competitors will lift tremendous weights with their backs, but their biceps are the weak link. Many of these injuries could be prevented with some good old-fashioned bodybuilder type isolation work. If you are only as strong as your weak link, doesn’t it make sense to make those weak links strong ones?
Rest your hip. Sore hip flexor muscles can benefit from rest. Avoid the activities that caused your pain. Ice your affected hip for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Keep the leg of your affected hip elevated as much as possible 48 hours from the first onset of pain. You can also take over-the-counter pain medications to help control pain.
Eat healthy fats. That's right—not only does it make food taste good, fat is good for you, as long as you are eating the right kinds and amounts of fat! Saturated fats—the fat you'll find in a stick of butter, a bag of chips, or bacon—should be limited to about 20g or less. That's the bad news. The good news is that unsaturated fats are actually beneficial, even necessary. Fat is necessary for the proper distribution of vitamins A, D, E, and K, helps promote better eyesight, and healthy skin. Fats are also important for the synthesis of hormones, so maintaining an adequate intake of them will speed up muscle-building and recovery.
When you don't spend enough time strengthening your butt, your other muscles can pay the price, says Metzl. See, when your butt isn't strong enough to support you during activities the way it should, you put more loading force on your hamstrings, which can injure them or other muscles, joints, and ligaments that your hamstrings come in contact with—like your calves or knees. Metzl says that when a patient comes in to see him about an injury, weak glutes are often part of the problem.
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(1) Water - I drink this all the time. Mainly in the morning. Doesn’t it make sense to hydrate upon waking up? I use to get nauseous, but that was because of a poor “diet”/food choices. Now, it’s like a filtering fluid at this time of day (morning). I drink it all day, but I have like 1 water bottle every hour. It’s easy to remember and to do (well, for me). We should aim for around 100oz of water, consuming all this in one time would suck. So “timing” water (which is a nutrient) is considered “nutrient timing”.
If your fitness goals are to get strong and build hard, visible muscle, then you’re going to want to train in three phases according to Heath. Strength, conditioning, and a blend of the two that works for you. “If you can get to the gym 4-5 days a week, that would be perfect,” he says. “You can still do chest/tri’s, back/bi’s, legs, shoulders, and make the fifth day a cleanup day, meaning focus on body parts you may be weaker in.” Check out Heath’s guide to finding your best muscle-building routine.
Having a strong butt will get you far—literally. Our glutes are responsible for powering us through everything from long runs to tough strength workouts to a simple jaunt up a flight of stairs. Strong glutes that can take on the brunt of the work can help us avoid overcompensating with smaller muscles during lower-body exercises. Plus, beyond just helping us move, the glutes play an important role in "stabilizing our entire lumbo-pelvic-hip complex," says Cori Lefkowith, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Redefining Strength in Costa Mesa, California. That translates to better form, more efficient movement, and a reduced risk of straining your lower back and hips.
Athletes with relative shortening of the hip flexors and accompanying weakness of hip extensors will exhibit decreased hip extension at terminal stance phase or “toe off.” Athletes who lack hip extension may also exhibit related limitation in great toe extension. Often these athletes will show decreased wear under the great toe aspect of their shoe sole and relative increased wear under the more lateral toes. These athletes may also demonstrate increased hip flexion at initial contact or “heel strike” in an effort to make up for the shorter stride length caused by limited hip extension. In patients with knee instability this will contribute to hyperextension or “giving way” of the knee.13
Stand on your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Inhale as you step your left foot backward into a lunge, so that your left knee hovers above the ground. Exhale as you drive through your right heel to rise to a single-leg stance, bringing your left leg forward and up to hip height. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides. Optional: Load this move by holding a kettlebell at your chest or a dumbbell in each hand.
Eat 0.4–0.5 grams of fat per pound of your body weight. Fat is essential for hormone optimization, brain function, and joint health. Now, if you’re following a ketogenic diet (or modified keto diet), or you just feel better with more fat in your diet, you can certainly add more fat and lower your protein and carb intake to accommodate it. The 0.4–0.5 grams per pound recommendation just represents a starting point and a minimum so that you don’t eat too little fat, either out of fear that it will make you fat or damage your heart (both untrue). For more about ketogenic diets, see Onnit’s guide HERE.
The two workouts listed above are completely free and highly recommended. If, however, you’re looking for additional workouts, my book – Superior Muscle Growth – contains ALL of the muscle building routines that I’ve personally used and designed for others (11 different workouts, 40+ different versions). Feel free to check it out to learn more about what’s included.
Why it works: The RDL, as it's known, is primarily a hamstrings move, but it’s also effective in building strength in your glutes, lower back, and upper back. Be sure to feel the "squeeze" in your hamstrings and glutes as you raise and lower the bar. For an even tougher variation that'll also increase your grip strength, try doing tempo RDLs—count a few seconds on your way up, and on your way down.
A: If your goal is the largest accrual of muscle mass possible then there may be some benefit to ingesting nutrients with a period of 30-60 minutes after your workout. Does this have to be a protein shake? No, but ideally it should be a meal lower in fat to enhance the digest rate of nutrients within the gastrointestinal tract. However, if you have just eaten a mixed macronutrient meal pre-workout then you should keep in mind that that meal is still likely digesting so there’s no need to throw down the weights after your last set and rush to your locker to slam a protein shake.