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.
This is a great, functional exercise, and one I have written about in the past. The basic glute bridge is simple, just lay on your back with your knees bent, lifting your hips in the air. This is an excellent starting point, but most of you will quickly need to move on to more challenging variations to really get your glutes fired up. Check out my two favorites:
“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.)
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.
Most typical bodybuilding programs have way too many sets and reps and use the wrong exercises. However, if you lower the total volume, go heavier, and use compound movements as I’ve outlined above, there is nothing wrong with a body-part split for advanced lifters. In fact, it’s often less stressful to the joints than your average upper/lower split.
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.
A flat, atrophied butt doesn't just look bad in jeans or swimsuits—it’s also likely contributing to your tight hips and back problems. If not, it soon will be. That’s because a flat butt is a symptom of tight hips and hamstrings, the result of poor glutes activation. In an ideal world, they all work together to stabilize the pelvis and produce many years of fluid movement.
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.
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?
If you're looking to add muscle mass to your frame, hitting the weights hard is a given. Quality time in the gym begins a cascade of changes that will stimulate your muscles to grow bigger in response to the challenges you throw their way. It's tempting to think that's all it takes to add muscle to your body. After all, you can actually feel your biceps growing after an intense set of curls.
I'm 6'1" 175 pounds 27 years old. I would like to increase my general muscle mass and reduce my stomach fat. I would consider myself and ectomorph (hard gainer) as I have never really developed much muscle while I've always been very active in sports and periodic weight training. Over the past year I lost about 30 pounds (nearly all fat) by reducing my caloric intake effectively and regular whole body exercises. I was on my way to my ideal body composition until I became a bike courier. I've been a bike messenger for 9 months and recently my stomach fat has started to return. I'm riding 50+ miles each weekday riding for 9 hours a day. How many calories should I be eating? I've tried everywhere between 2400-3,500 cal/day. Is it possible for me to be eating too few calories while still accumulating stomach fat? Is it realistic for me to be able to maintain or even build muscle mass in this scenario? Please help, thanks.
How to do it: Begin with one foot firmly planted in front of you with your other leg extended back. Keep balance by putting your weight in the ball of your front foot and the back heel of your back foot. Hold a dumbbell in either hand, arms at your sides. Or, place a resistance band under the foot of your working leg, up, and around the same shoulder. Stand tall and bend your front working leg to approximately 90 degrees, keeping your knee directly over your ankle so it doesn’t over-extend. Return to the start position and repeat. Do both sides.