The first thing you need is a weight training program that signals the muscle building process to begin. Research has shown that a well designed program will generate this “signal” via a combination of progressive tension overload (as in, getting stronger over time), metabolic stress (as in, fatiguing the muscle and getting “the pump”), and muscular damage (as in, actual damage to the muscle tissue itself).
If you’ve been training longer than 6–12 months, you can split your workouts into upper- and lower-body days. The most common setup is to train upper body one day and lower the next so that each area gets trained twice in one week. If you train four days per week, you can train upper body on Monday, lower Tuesday, rest Wednesday, and then do upper body again on Thursday, lower body on Friday, and then rest on the weekend.
Yes, genetically some of us put on muscle faster than others, but even then it’s fractions of a degree, not DRASTIC sweeping differences. We tend to get this question from men or women who are so thin and have such fast metabolisms, they probably need to put on 40-50+ pounds of both fat and muscle, before they would ever even think to use the word “too bulky.”
The real problems begin, however, in poses requiring full extension (straightening) of the hip joint. These poses include backbends such as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward-Facing Bow Pose), where both hips are extended, and standing poses like Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I) and Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III), in which the legs open forward and backward (front leg hip flexed, back leg hip extended). In all these poses, tight hip flexors can cause painful compression in the lower back, a fairly common problem in backbends.
And not to drop a truth bomb but, most of us need to be doing glute exercises — and aren’t. “Lack of use is the biggest reason so many people tend to have weak glutes,” says Cassandra York, PhD, MS, RD, CSCS, best-selling fitness author and a professor at Central Connecticut State University. “We don’t walk as much as we used to. We don’t take the stairs. And when we do move, we tend to be quad dominant,” says York.
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.
Most problems with the hip flexors, however, don't originate in a lack of strength but in a lack of flexibility. To understand how these muscles lose their flexibility, imagine someone with a broken arm, her bent elbow encased in a plaster cast. When the cast is removed after six or eight weeks, the soft tissues around the elbow (muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even skin) will have shortened, and the elbow won't straighten out. It will take patient stretching over several weeks to restore the range of motion. Similarly, if the hip is constantly kept in a flexed position—like sitting—for hours every day, day after day, the hip flexors will shorten and shrink, limiting your ability to fully extend (straighten) the hip.
Note that this recommendation is for total weekly volume, which means it would need to be divided up based on how many times you’re training each muscle group per week. So, for example, someone training everything twice per week would do 30-70 reps for each bigger muscle group in each of those workouts, and 15-35 reps for each smaller muscle group in each of those workouts.
From a standing position on your left foot, hinge forward from your hips keeping your back flat and right leg in straight behind it, and core braced. Reach your right hand toward your left foot. Then, engage your glutes and hamstrings on your left leg to drive yourself back up to standing and swing your right knee up and through toward your chest. Stand as tall as possible and hold that end position for 2-3 seconds before repeating. This entire exercise is about “sticking” the knee drive hold at the end, so don’t rush through it. Repeat for required reps, then switch sides.
Of the three, protein will of course play the most important role in the muscle building process (like calories, it’s one our required “supplies”), although fat and carbs will still be important for other reasons which range from optimizing hormone production (e.g. testosterone, the muscle building hormone) to enhancing training performance and recovery.
Although muscle stimulation occurs in the gym (or home gym) when lifting weights, muscle growth occurs afterward during rest periods. Without adequate rest and sleep (6 to 8 hours), muscles do not have an opportunity to recover and grow. Additionally, many athletes find that a daytime nap further increases their body's ability to recover from training and build muscles. Some bodybuilders add a massage at the end of each workout to their routine as a method of recovering.
Bodybuilders do cardio training such as running and using a StairMaster StepMill to burn fat and make their muscles more visible. “Do cardio throughout the year at least three days a week for at least 30-40 minutes, whether it be first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or after a post-workout protein shake,” says Heath. “Cardio won’t kill your gains as much as you think, you’ll see how much muscle you really have.” Break a sweat to stay lean ’round the clock.
Working in the pelvic region is not easy for many therapists and clients. There are cautions and borders that need to be addressed and talked through before addressing these muscles. There are emotional and comfort aspects about working in the lower pelvic region. Some clients find this area too personal or private to allow the therapist's hands in this area. Other considerations are the internal organs such as the intestines, uterus, kidneys, and bladder. As the iliacus and psoas travel under the inguinal ligament and insert into the lesser trochanter of the femur, there is also the femoral triangle, which needs to be worked around. Body positioning can be useful to help access these muscles in a less invasive way while protecting the comfort of the client.
(5) Glycogen levels. Ever heard of Keto Diet? This diet focuses on little to no carbs. Why? Glycogen levels. Most people eat too much food and most of these foods are carb based. Which means most people have filled glycogen levels. Which means most people are having glucose spill over into being stored as fat. By dropping carbs, we stop carbs from being stored as fat. By dropping carbs, we allow glycogen to become depleted which allows another opportunity to treat carbs better. By dropping carbs, we drop our calories, which should help one enter into a calorie deficit and it’s this deficit that helps more than anything. Make sense?
While leg lifts, certain ab exercises, and even hula hooping can all help work the hips, the hip flexors can still be a tricky part of the body to stretch Kinetics of hula hooping: An inverse dynamics analysis. Cluff, T., Robertson, D.G., and Balasubramaniam, R. School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Human Movement Science, 2008 Aug; 27 (4): 622-35.. To get them even stronger and more flexible, try these five simple hip flexor stretches:
Jason Ferruggia is a highly sought after, world renowned strength & conditioning specialist and muscle building expert. Over the last 17 years he has personally trained more than 700 athletes from over 90 different NCAA, NFL, NHL and MLB organizations. He has also worked extensively with firefighters, police officers, military personnel, Hollywood stars and entertainers. Most importantly, Jason has helped over 53,000 skinny guys and hard gainers in 126 different countries build muscle and gain weight faster than they every thought possible.