In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing body and balanced physique. In prejudging, competitors do a series of mandatory poses: the front lat spread, rear lat spread, front double biceps, back double biceps, side chest, side triceps, Most Muscular (men only), abdominals and thighs. Each competitor also performs a personal choregraphed routine to display their physique. A posedown is usually held at the end of a posing round, while judges are finishing their scoring. Bodybuilders usually spend a lot of time practising their posing in front of mirrors or under the guidance of their coach.
The iliopsoas muscle is the prime hip flexor and shortening may affect the lower back, pelvis, and/or hip joint. Caution should be taken during this release due to the sensitive area in which the therapist's hand pushes, i.e. proximity to the appendix, possible abdominal aortic abnormalities, potential tissue weaknesses predisposing to inguinal hernias, ovarian conditions, or general irritation/inflammation of the gastrointestinal system; hence, this release may occasionally be replaced by the regular therapeutic stretch presented in Chapter 7 (see Fig. 7.14).
Unfortunately, there are a number of ways we jeopardize the health of this important muscle group. For starters, our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are leading to what experts call “gluteal amnesia,” in which the butt muscles become overstretched and underused (read: weak). On the flip side, it’s also possible to overuse and overexert these muscles—whether we’re excessively clenching the tush in certain asanas, such as Warrior II or Wheel Pose, or pushing too hard while running or hiking. Not only do under- or overworked glutes affect range of motion in the hips and sacrum, but strength imbalances can also lead to instability or pain when we’re on our mats.
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.
Let's get one thing clear: It's all about the bum. Sure, built biceps fill out a shirt and six-pack abs are the prize of every beachgoer, but the back is where it's at. A bodacious booty is essential to a good physique—and not just for stage-bound fitness contestants. Everyone seems to want a great bum. Photos of posteriors flood the Internet and are often the most viewed—and "liked"—body part on social media. There's just something magical about a beautiful butt!
First off, every single resistance-training athlete in the world should be very thankful for bodybuilding training. It was bodybuilding that brought weight training to the mainstream. The bottom line is that the average gym goer is MORE interested in how they look vs. how they perform. 99% of every client I ever trained had an aesthetic goal as their primary goal. In my 20 plus years as a trainer I can count maybe 10 clients who said, “My goal is to be able to bench press or squat or lift more weight.” It was the aesthetic focus of bodybuilding that opened the doors for all other resistance training pursuits to enter into the mainstream.
For the bench press, start with a weight that you can lift comfortably. If you are a beginner, try lifting the bar along with 5lbs or 10lbs on each side. With arms at shoulder-width apart, grab onto the bar and slowly lower the bar until it's at nipple level; push up until your arms are fully extended upwards. Do 8–10 repetitions (reps) like this for three sets (3 x 8), adding additional weight each set. Once you have a few months of practice, slowly increase weight and go down to 6–8 reps per set, aiming to reach muscle failure at the end of the third set.
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.
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Are you sitting right now? Squeeze your buttocks, then release them: You should feel them tighten, then slacken. While slack muscles aren’t necessarily a bad thing—all of our muscles shouldn’t be firing at all times, after all—resting all of your body weight on your slack glute muscles (as you do when you sit) creates a lengthening of the fascial tissues within and surrounding the glutes, which weakens the gluteals’ natural tension. When the buttocks are excessively weak, the quadriceps and hip flexors have to work harder to compensate, and these muscular imbalances often sneakily follow us onto our mats to cause problems and pain. Want help? Try these poses:
This muscle is the largest of the gluteal group. Its origin is the posterior line of the upper ilium, the posterior surface of the lower sacrum, and the side of the coccyx. Its insertion is two-fold: First, the lower and larger portion of the gluteus maximus end with a thick tendon that passes through the greater trochanter (hip) into the iliotibial band. And there is also the gluteal tuberosity between the vastus lateralis (a quadriceps muscle) and adductor magnus.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width with a kettlebell about a foot in front of you. With your weight in your heels, hinge at your hips while lowering your hands to the kettlebell handle. Grab the kettlebell with an overhand grip, “Hike” the kettlebell back between your legs, catching the force of the moving kettlebell with your hips. Exhale as you swing the kettlebell forward by thrusting your hips, straightening your legs, and squeezing your glutes and abs. Once the kettlebell reaches chest height, inhale as you allow it to fall, and guide it back to the “hiked” position.
I loved football and football culture. But bodybuilding is more than a culture—it's a lifestyle. You can't do it sloppily and succeed, especially if you have high-level competitive ambitions like I do. Your results speak for themselves, and your hard work pays off in ways that you can see, feel, and measure. There's nothing like the feeling when it all comes together.
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.