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How to do it: Begin with your head, neck, and shoulders comfortably fixed against a stability or Swiss ball and both feet firmly planted on the ground, knees bent at 90°. (This is also known as table top position.) Either stretch your arms straight up above your chest with your hands clasped to maximize the balance and stability challenge, or down on either side in case you begin to slip or tip over. As with the other bridge motions, simply lower your hips toward the floor then drive them toward the ceiling. Lower and repeat.
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.
You can do this workout all on its own, or do a few sets of the moves before a run or your regular strength workout. "While form is important, having the correct muscles engaging and working is also key. Bodyweight moves like this done before other workouts can help us establish a mind-muscle connection and better recruit the correct muscles automatically," Lefkowith adds.
The ASISes are good indicators of the tilt of the pelvis. On the side of the pelvis with the extended hip (the back leg), the iliopsoas will try to pull the pelvis and lumbar spine down and forward into an anterior tilt. To counter this, use your fingers to show the ASISes how to lift up. Hold this posterior tilt as you bend the front knee, keeping the back knee straight and the back heel grounded. Feel the iliopsoas lengthen and visualize the spine lifting out of the pelvis.
As I mentioned earlier, the exercises that come first in your workout (aka primary compound exercises) should usually be done in the 5-8 rep range. Exercises in the middle (aka your secondary compound exercises) should usually be done in the 8-10 rep range. Exercises done at the end of your workout (which is typically where isolation exercises belong) should usually be done in the 10-15 rep range.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips to come into a bridge position. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it in front of you, keeping your pelvis level. Inhale as you slowly lower your hips toward the ground. Exhale as you drive your right heel into the ground and lift your hips. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides.
“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.)
Increase your caloric consumption. Keep a log of the number of calories you eat, and use the average of those numbers to estimate your daily caloric needs. Then, multiply that number by 1.1. Make sure your calories are coming from a variety of healthy, minimally processed foods to provide quality nutrients for muscle-building. Try to get 30% of your calories from proteins, 50% from carbohydrates, and 20% from fats.
"When placed around the tops of your shins as you move side to side, the miniband hits your hand-to-reach gluteus medius, a muscle that helps rotate your thigh inward and outward," says Nick Murtha, a trainer for Men's Health Thrive. Waking up this muscle allows you to use all your glute strength when performing moves like a heavy-loaded squat or lunge, he says.
I can’t predict what sort of results you’ll see in that first year, but it can be pretty epic if you attack it right! Muscle growth might happen slower than you want, but I expect something different will happen along the way – you’ll fall in love with this idea of building STRENGTH! In fact, getting hooked on progress, and strength training is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
You're aiming to kick start muscle hypertrophy, the cellular process that spurs growth. Researchers have found that the best way to initiate that process is by performing two or three sets of an exercise for six to 12 repetitions, with about 30 to 60 seconds' rest between sets. You're damaging the muscles with the work — then the protein you've been consuming will help build them back up even bigger.
Carbohydrates give my working muscles the energy to do their job. Without them, I would feel tired, and my gym sessions would definitely struggle as a result. Just like I approach my protein intake as a way to repair my muscles after training, I aim for the carb "sweet spot" where I can maximize energy and glycogen replenishment. And just like with protein, quality is crucial. My carbs come from high-fiber, high-nutrient foods. I include plenty of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and brown rice, among others.
2-4 Minutes Rest: Ideal for “tension exercises,” which includes most primary compound exercises. I personally take 3 minutes for the big stuff, sometimes going into the 3-4 minute range depending on exactly what I’m doing and what I feel like I need at the time. Since making strength gains is the main focus of these exercises, longer rest periods like this will be optimal for making it happen.
I’m going to cover this in detail in a bit, but for right now, just know this: it’s VERY possible (and common) to gain weight fast in the hopes of gaining muscle fast. The problem, however, is that the majority of the “weight” a person in this scenario will end up gaining will be body fat rather than muscle mass. This is something that needs to be avoided at all costs, and I’ll show you how a little later.
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.
Lefkowith put together a bodyweight workout, below, that does just that. While weights and resistance bands are great tools for building strength, she says that sometimes it's easier to focus on contracting the right muscles when there's no equipment involved. "You aren't concerned about the numbers you can lift or the reps you can do but what you actually feel working," Lefkowith says.
Bodybuilding developed in the late 19th century, promoted in England by German Eugen Sandow, now considered as the "Father of Bodybuilding". He allowed audiences to enjoy viewing his physique in "muscle display performances". Although audiences were thrilled to see a well-developed physique, the men simply displayed their bodies as part of strength demonstrations or wrestling matches. Sandow had a stage show built around these displays through his manager, Florenz Ziegfeld. The Oscar-winning 1936 musical film The Great Ziegfeld depicts the beginning of modern bodybuilding, when Sandow began to display his body for carnivals.
I aim to take in 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day and divide that total number by the number of meals I'm going to eat. For me, that means I eat approximately 360 grams of protein each day. I spread this across 6 meals, which turns out to be approximately 60 grams of protein per meal, depending on the day. The reason I eat protein frequently throughout the day is that muscles are built outside the gym. I may spend an hour or two training each day, but it's the other 22 hours or so when I earn my results.
This phase continues to employ a four-day split, but bodyparts are paired differently—namely, chest and back are trained on the same day (Day 1), as are biceps and triceps (Day 4). This is little more than a means of changing things up, giving your muscles a slightly different stimulus to spark new muscle growth. Each workout includes drop sets to increase intensity, but for only one set per bodypart, so as to avoid overtraining and muscle catabolism.
Muscle imbalances are quite common among strength athletes and are arguably the most common cause of their injuries. Many times this is due to a “weak link” in the kinetic chain of muscles that activate during their activity. Identifying the “weak” muscle and being able to feel, isolate and contract that “weak” muscle makes correctional exercise and rehab much easier. Bodybuilding training, with its focus on “feel” rather than movement, helps to train and develop the mind to muscle connection. This comes in handy when you need to train a muscle imbalance with correctional exercise and, in the case of injury, for rehab.
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.
Eating the right carbs is important too. Carbohydrate is stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen in the muscles is an important fuel reserve during intense physical exercise or in times of energy restriction – protein sparing. It is best to restrict or to keep away from junk carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, and biscuits, and stick to foods like porridge, pasta (wholemeal), rice (brown), bread (wholegrain), and cereals (try to choose the versions with low or reduced sugar and salt). For more on carbohydrate and the effect of sugar on the body, click here.
(3) Protein - this is a very important nutrient (macro) as the body doesn’t really store protein. It recycles protein as we are mainly protein, so it makes sense for protein metabolism/catabolism to be equally constant…which means we should make sure to be consuming protein via food or supplements (food over supplements) to keep up with this process. If we aren’t consuming protein, then the body will be forced to mostly use it own protein (muscle) for energy. Sure, amino acids help via BCAA vs EAA, but whole protein (complete) combines every amino acid. Certain foods are complete, while some are lightly complete. So strive to eat foods that collectively create whole protein (complete). I also suggest no less then 100g of protein just to play things safe and then manipulate (adjust amount) upon determination.
How can the muscle progress just because you held a weight for awhile when you could of held a heavier weight for less time? It won’t. It won’t grow because it’s not receiving new tension. Extending the rep by going slower is great, yes, but this slow must be the actual bar speed and not just slow because you can make it slow. You create actual bar speed by making light weight feel heavy. So lift light weight so that the fibers have to switch when it starts to feel heavy. This will increase your strength compared to just lifting heavier right away or all the time. This will help create an actual tempo with actual weights. Remember my example above about how the overall weight after making light weights feel heavy? This is because your muscles have sensed a level of tension that altered its force production so now you have to lift less, yet work harder. Read that again :) this is growth. This is how muscles sense it needs to grow. If you keep the same weight and never increase the weight, then you keep the same tension. This same tension is not enough to create new tension. Remember when I talked about failure? Well, the point where the fatigue of failure comes into play alters as well. It takes less time. That’s the point. Not much time is needed for growth, just break down the muscle as much as it can to a healthy level and do it again. Keep doing it and keep trying to increase the weight.
For many people, appearance is the top priority when it comes to their posterior. But yoga practitioners also know that the glute muscles can do so much more than look great in jeans: They’re the primary players in many of the movements that make it possible to do yoga. The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus—along with many other smaller, supporting muscles—act as a base of support for the pelvis and hips. What’s more, these hard-working muscles stabilize your femur (thighbone) in your hip socket, rotate your femur internally and externally, and draw your leg back. And yes, all of these actions also help us stand and walk, and even support us when we sit.
She describes how to change oneAEs mindset, including psychology-related misconceptions about getting results, why itAEs important to not rush the process, and how to embrace sustainable methods, as well as accepting mistakes and being around supportive people; nutrition aspects, including the basics, guidelines, and moderation; movement patterns of strength training, as well as cardio and glute circuits; and building a better body and gauging and monitoring progress to become oneAEs own lifelong coach.
Now, if you are somebody that is more of the “do-it-yourself” type, check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy. The Academy has 20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles so you know when you to level up your routine, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.
In addition to adequate protein, you need more calories (your protein intake contributes to your total caloric intake, so these two go hand in hand). Use the following formula to calculate the number you need to take in daily to gain one pound a week, and break down your diet using the macro guidelines listed above. (Give yourself two weeks for results to show up on the scale. If you haven't gained by then, increase your calories by 500 a day.)
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:
One of the biggest glutes-toning mistakes people make is relying on weight machines to tone their butts, says Metzl. Instead, try functional bodyweight training exercises like those squats and bridges we mentioned before. These moves are more effective at strengthening the layers of muscle in your glutes, he says—weight machines, on the other hand, isolate a single layer.
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.
Insulin is a fat storage hormone. This isn’t true and makes people fear carbs because we know carbs signal insulin. Insulin will only store carbs as fat when there is no more room in the liver and muscle for glycogen. So unless there is a spillover there is no need to be transported somewhere else. Insulin isn’t a fat hormone, it’s a sugar storing hormone unless you don’t take care of it. Fat doesn’t need insulin to be stored as fat. It can store itself there because it owns those areas. Body fat is the home for dietary fat. Also, protein spikes insulin and it’s tough to gain fat or weight when eating protein. But, high protein mixed with high carbs/high fats/high both together will outweigh the fact that protein is tough to add fat/weight. If one doesn’t realize this then they blame protein for their issues.
Build an effective exercise routine. A good diet is required for your body to be able to maximize your potential, but there's no potential at all until you start the process of tearing down your old muscles and rebuilding them bigger, bulkier, and stronger. The best way to do that is to start at the beginning. If you're not sure where to begin, find a solid workout program online and try it out for a while. Don't immediately jump from one program to the next - you'll end up keeping yourself from making steady progress.
To make that motion more natural, glute-building exercises are key. Ones that require hip motion or balancing on one leg, like these from John Henwood, running coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, are best: They fire the glutes to help you stabilize and stay upright. Do one set of 15 to 20 reps, two or three days per week, and say hello to a stronger stride.
Stretch your hips. Stretching your hips can help alleviate hip flexor pain and keep it from re-occurring. Perform a standing hip flexor stretch. Stand up straight with your feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be straight but not locked. Stand beside a table or chair for support. Slowly lift the knee of the affected leg off the ground and as high in the air as you can comfortably go. Keep your back straight and tighten your hip muscles as you perform this stretch. Hold this position for a count of 2 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times, twice a day.
Want to get strong, but don’t have time for a gym? Strength training is key for increasing flexibility, reducing injury risk and maintaining an overall healthy body. The best part is that it doesn’t have to take long. Here we’ll teach you a simple nine-minute-long strength training program that you can complete in your own home. All you need is a set of dumbbells (or another type of weight), a clock and the goal of building a stronger body.
Reaching failure matters because tension matters. Failure is when the muscle cannot generate anymore force. Which means one applied (worked out) enough tension through the muscle to just want to give up. And guess what? Carrying groceries can do this for some. Why? We are all at different strength levels. So don’t worry about other people and what they can or cannot lift. I say this because FAILURE can be achieved with either light weights or heavy weights.
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