Make no mistake: Eating for muscle is just as important as lifting for muscle. The foods you grab in the morning on the way to work, the meals you pack for lunch and mid-afternoon, what you put into your body immediately following your workout, and your final meal of the day impact your results as much as, if not more than, the number of reps you squeeze out at the end of a set. But in reality, it can be tough to stick to a "clean" diet when you're busy. We know that adding another layer of complexity to life in the form of reading food labels and studying ingredient lists just isn't an option for most of us. Not to mention actually preparing all those healthy meals.
Because I don’t want you to have to waste all the years and money that I did (not to mention the surgeon’s bills), I came up with a method of training and eating specifically for skinny-fat, injury-prone hard-gainers: guys who historically can’t gain muscle doing the workouts they find in magazines or on blogs. It’s also perfect for all guys over age 35 who need to be smarter with their training as they age.
"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."
To do dips, place your hands at shoulder-width apart on a bench, with your body and feet stretched out in front of the bench. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down so that your butt nearly touches the floor. Lift back up with your arms to starting position; repeat, doing 3 x 8. If this isn't a high-intensity set for you, increase the resistance by lifting one foot off the floor.
Lie on your left side. Rest your head on your left arm. Bend your hips to approximately 45 degrees and bend your knees at 90 degrees. Make sure one hip is lying above the other so your knees are stacked perfectly and your feet are aligned with your back. Now, float the upper leg upwards while keeping your feet in contact with one another, then return. Repeat for required reps, then switch sides.
Of course, you know what it feels like to have a tight muscle. But tight hips aren't just uncomfortable—they can lead to all sorts of other aches and pains, especially in the lower back. "People focus on the hips and say their hips are tight, but we don't always think about the fact that the lower back connects to our legs at the hip," Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S., instructor at Soul Annex in New York City and creator of Le Stretch class, tells SELF. Tight hip flexors make it harder for your pelvis to rotate properly, which can cause your lower back to overcompensate, "and this can be a setup for lower-back injury," Teo Mendez, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at NY Orthopedics who focuses on operative and non-operative management of sports-related injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, and arthritis, tells SELF.
The harder an exercise is – both in terms of technicality and physical/mental demand – the more rest there should usually be. So exercises like squats and deadlifts should have more rest between sets than exercises like leg extensions and leg curls. And exercises like various bench presses, shoulder presses, rows and pull-ups should have more rest between sets than bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies and lateral raises.
In addition to the HIIT sessions, it’s always a good idea to go for a 30–60-minute walk as many days per week as you can. I recommend getting a minimum of 10,000 steps every day. Use a phone app to track them. If you’re into jogging, swimming, hiking, or some other form of long-duration, fairly low-intensity cardio, that is fine to do as well, and as often as you like.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to significantly increase levels through food alone. That’s where supplementation comes in. For instance, in one 12-week study of resistance-trained individuals, taking HMB in tandem with a high-intensity lifting routine significantly improved muscle strength and size compared to lifting alone. Plus, in the off-chance that you push yourself too hard, HMB helps prevent the effects of overtraining—including muscle loss.
This muscle sits partway under the gluteus maximus and connects the ilium (hip bone) to the side of the upper femur. It helps you externally rotate your leg when it’s extended behind you, and internally rotate your hip when your leg is flexed in front of you. Together with the gluteus minimus, this muscle abducts the hip (moves it outward). This is your chief “side stepping” muscle.
If you don’t know, muscles can hold more weight during the eccentric than the concentric. This means one should increase the weight on the way down. Again, this means one should not use the same amount of weight they used on the concentric for the eccentric. It’s a waste of time to use the concentric weight and just go slow with it to make it feel heavier. And trust me, I always say: make light weight feel heavy. But, if one actually did make light weight feel heavy, then everything would change. For example:
A: Depending upon your experience level, preference, recovery capacity, and time available, you’ll likely find that 3-5 strength training sessions per week is the sweet spot. If you’re just getting started with weight training, then you should stick with 3 days per week and work your way up. Novices and early intermediates can handle 4 days per week with a split such as an upper lower and seasoned intermediate lifters may be able to handle 5 sessions per week depending upon the programming, recovery, and nutrition strategies that are in place.
Most people require around 20 calories per pound (or 44 kcal / kg) of bodyweight to gain muscle mass. Using a 180-pound (82kg) male as an example, the required daily calorie intake is 3600 calories (20 kcal x 180 lb = 3600 kcal). When it comes to gaining weight, it is likely that you may put on a few pounds of fat along the way, but if you do find your body fat increasing, either increase the amount of aerobic exercise (moderate intensity) you are doing or slightly reduce the total number of calories you are consuming. Remember you can’t force feed muscle gain!
SOURCES: Debbie Siebers, certified personal trainer; developer of fitness video/DVD programs. Sue Carver, physical therapist; owner, A World of Difference Therapy Services, Little Rock, Ark. WebMD Live Event transcript: "Staying Fit -- Rich Weil, MEd, CDE," Feb. 25, 2004. WebMD Live Event transcript: "Fall Into Fitness Richard Weil, MEd, CDE," Sept. 2, 2003.
For the sake of mental focus, it’s best to keep any carbs you eat low during the day when you’re working and active and get the lion’s share of them at night with dinner. A typical breakfast could include eggs, yogurt, and fruit, or a shake, and lunch could be meat or fish and steamed veggies. For dinner, have meat or fish again, along with sweet potatoes or rice, and vegetables.
If you are standing, the hip flexors lift your leg when you step up on a stool. If you are lying flat on your back, the hip flexors can either lift your leg or lift your torso into a sit-up. In yoga, Navasana (Boat Pose) is especially good at strengthening the iliopsoas because it demands that the muscle isometrically contract to hold up the weight of the legs and torso.
Heath says to consume 1.25-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight for growth and he never exceeds a 1:1 meals to protein shake ratio, meaning if he has 3 shakes, he’ll have 3 meals. He suggests if you’re going to drink protein shakes, drink two and have four meals. Also, increase your protein consumption and decrease carbs to look lean. “Once I got to a certain size, I wanted to get leaner so I got to 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% protein.”
Want to know one of the top reasons runners end up hurt? Look at your backside. Underutilized gluteal muscles are to blame for a large percentage of injuries, says Nirav Pandya, M.D., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. And it’s a weakness that often occurs because runners are hyperfocused on building strong quads and hamstrings.
As a parting thought, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of consistency and staying focused. Your workouts shouldn’t be two-hour affairs—each visit to the gym needs to be fast-paced and intense. With that as your guide and following the heavy-duty blueprint laid out here, we can’t promise it’ll be easy, but the results should be worth every drop of sweat. Just think, 10 more muscular pounds may be a mere month away.
K. Aleisha Fetters, M.S., C.S.C.S., is a Chicago-based personal and online trainer. She has a graduate degree in health and science reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and regularly contributes to Men's Health, Women's Health, USNews.com, TIME, and SHAPE. When she's not lifting something heavy, she's usually guzzling coffee and writing about the health benefits of doing so.
Are you tired of stretching or rolling out tight hip flexors with no improvements? If you are a runner, weight lifter, or team sport athlete, chances are you have heard a teammate or friend complain about having “tight hip flexors”. Either that or you yourself have had to deal with the problem. The problem with these tight hip flexors is that people will stretch, stretch, and ……..stretch some more (until the cows come home) and get NO RELIEF. This keeps people in a perpetual cycle of ALWAYS stretching their tight hip flexor with no real permanent relief. The cycle looks something like this:
^ Burd, Nicholas A.; Yang, Yifan; Moore, Daniel R.; Tang, Jason E.; Tarnopolsky, Mark A.; Phillips, Stuart M. (2012). "Greater stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis with ingestion of whey protein isolate v. Micellar casein at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men". British Journal of Nutrition. 108 (6): 958–62. doi:10.1017/S0007114511006271. PMID 22289570.
The best way to know the real progress you’re making is by recording it on video or taking photos. “Photos mean everything because if you can take them in the same areas and in the same poses, you’ll see your strengths and weaknesses clearly,” says Heath. “Revise your training and diet programs to eliminate weaknesses.” Keep a file of your progress to see just how far you can take your fitness.
Place a band around your ankles. Shift your weight into your right foot and place the toes of your left foot on the ground about an inch behind your right foot, so there is tension in the band. Exhale as you kick your left leg back about six inches. Avoid arching your back and keep your knees straight. Inhale as you return your left foot to the starting position. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides.
You see, there is only so much muscle that the human body is capable of building in a given period of time. So, if you supply your body with MORE calories than it’s actually capable of putting towards the process of building new muscle… it’s not going to magically lead to additional muscle being built. It’s just going to lead to additional fat being gained.
“Exercises such as single leg squats, regular squats, deadlifts, monster walks, side laying leg lifts, step-ups and reverse planks are some of the exercises that can strengthen the muscles," says Schulz. "You can also try a challenging lunge circuit, split squats, and deadlifts for some major toning." (And of course, if you need any further ideas, check out our roundup of the 17 best glute exercises out there.)
The slider reverse lunge is simple to perform and doesn’t need much in the way of instructions. Simply grab a Valslide, or a similar tool that will allow you to move smoothly across the ground. Put the slide under one foot, and use that foot to slide into a reverse lunge, and then return to standing. Try doing this exercise after one of the ones above, and just wait until you feel the burn!
Let’s say your concentric is 30lbs and you don’t take my advice and keep the 30lbs for your eccentric. Let’s say, I assume you can do 50lbs on the eccentric, but choose to keep it at 30lbs. If you actually started off making light weight feel heavy, that 30lbs would of been around 10–20lbs and my assumption would of been 30lbs. My first assumption was a heavier weight. Your concentric was a heavier weight. What changed? Why did the overall weight become lighter after making light weight feel heavy?
The sartorius originates at the ASIS and proceeds to traverse obliquely and laterally down the thigh to eventually insert at the anterior surface of the tibia, just inferomedial to the tibial tuberosity, as part of the pes anserinus. In addition to flexing the hip and knee, the sartorius aids in the abduction of the hip. It is innervated by the femoral nerve (i.e., the posterior division of L2 and L3).
There are nutrients within these fat sources which decrease inflammation, improve mental function, improve eyesight, and give you healthier skin, hair, and nails. When I'm crushing the iron in the gym each day, my goal is to be strong and big, but also healthy and mobile. To get that way, I eat all of these generously on a regular basis, and I also take omega-3 supplements daily, in the form of fish oil or krill oil.
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If you tend to stand with a "swayback," developing awareness of the opening at the front of your hips is especially important. In Tadasana (Mountain Pose), practice lifting the ASISes, moving the tailbone down, and lifting the lumbar spine. Putting a belt around your waist, as you did in Warrior I, may help you increase your awareness of your pelvic alignment in this pose too.
Located deep in the front of the hip and connecting the leg, pelvis, and abdomen, the hip flexors— surprise, surprise— flex the hip. But despite being some of the most powerful muscles in our bodies (with a clearly important role), it’s easy to neglect our poor hip flexors— often without even knowing it. It turns out just working at a desk all day (guilty!) can really weaken hip flexors since they tend to shorten up while in a seated position. This tightness disrupts good posture and is a common cause of lower back pain. Weakened hip flexors can also increase the risk of foot, ankle, and knee injuries (especially among runners) Hip muscle weakness and overuse injuries in recreational runners. Niemuth, P.E., Johnson, R.J., Myers, M.J., et al. Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, VT. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 2005 Jan; 15 (1): 14-21.. So be sure to get up, stand up every hour or so! And giving the hip flexors some extra attention is not just about injury prevention. Adding power to workouts, working toward greater flexibility, and getting speedier while running is also, as they say, all in the hips The effect of walking speed on muscle function and mechanical energetics. Neptune, R.R., Sasaki, K., and Kautz, S.A. Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas, Austin, TX. Gait & Posture, 2008 Jul; 28 (1): 135-43..
Creating a workout playlist of high-energy tunes you love will not make your workout feel easier, but it may cause you to exercise harder without even realizing it. Best of all, you need only one or two great tunes to get you through this workout. If you are willing to try something a bit different, make your own music as you exercise. Sing, hum, clap your hands, whatever you can do to jam along to your playlist. It may give you an extra boost to finish strong.
It has been argued that purposely overtraining for a brief period can be beneficial. One article published by Muscle & Fitness magazine stated that you can "Overtrain for Big Gains". It suggested that if one is planning a restful holiday and does not wish to inhibit their bodybuilding lifestyle too much, they should overtrain before taking the holiday, so the body can recuperate and grow during the prolonged rest period. Overtraining can be used advantageously, as when a bodybuilder is purposely overtrained for a brief period of time to super compensate during a regeneration phase. These are known as "shock micro-cycles" and were a key training technique used by Soviet athletes.