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.
How to do it: Firmly plant your feet on the platform of a Power Plate machine, and turn it on to the vibration setting you’re comfortable with. Exercise your full range of motion as you “pulse” by bending your knees slightly at 80-90° in a squat position. “Vibration training uses time under tension, so complete squat pulses for 30-60 seconds,” Reames says. This is one set. Because the Power Plate works by vibrating across three planes: vertical, horizontal, and up and down, your body is forced to make microadjustments, which can improve your strength, power, flexibility, balance, and muscle tone.
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.
The function of the gluteus maximus is primarily upper leg (thigh) extension, such as moving the upper leg backward—think rising from a squat position. Another way of thinking about this is bringing the torso upright after being hinged forward. Think of a kettlebell swing and you’ll get a good visual for the major action of the gluteus maximus muscle.
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.
In addition to the proper amount of sleep, do not overdo your training regimen. While you might be tempted to think that "more is better," in fact the opposite is true. You can reach a point known as "over-training", in which you'll lose the ability to "pump" (engorge the muscles with oxygen-rich blood) your muscles, and this can even lead to muscle wasting—exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Here are some symptoms to be aware of if you think you may be falling into the over-training zone:
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.
Protein, you may have heard, is what your muscles are made of. Well, not quite. The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of muscle, and your body needs—not wants, needs—these substances during and after training for repair and recovery. It breaks down the protein into the respective aminos, uses them for their various functions, and then you convert what doesn't get used. I break down a lot of tissue in my daily workouts, so balancing it out with adequate amounts of protein throughout the day is important.
All of the gluteals must work to perform this movement—the “deep six” external rotators keep each side of the pelvis stable in spite of the different actions in each hip, and the larger gluteals add additional support for the hips. This move forces your buttock muscles to shore up their connection from the thighs through to the lower back to keep the hips and spine stable.
Go: Keeping your feet flat on the floor, squat down so the ball rolls up your back, until your quads are just past parallel to the floor. Hold for a count, then lift just your toes into the air to push through your heels as you rise back to the starting position, rotating your glutes and hams inward. Lower your toes back to the floor before starting the next rep.
How to do it: Lie on your back with both feet planted firmly against the flat base of a Bosu ball, knees bent. Stabilize your body. If you’re feeling a bit wobbly, your arms can hover on either side of you in case you fall in one direction. If you feel balanced, raise your arms straight up above your chest, hands clasped to challenge and work your stability. Drive your hips toward the ceiling, then lower and repeat.
The spine has a natural curvature in it in order to function correctly. With their attachment on the spine and pelvis, tight hip flexors can cause an unnatural curve of the spine called hyperlordosis. Hyperlordosis affects the way forces are distributed in the spine and can cause pain and soreness in the lower back. Other common problems that are associated with hyperlordosis are weak abdominal muscles, weak hamstrings, tight low back muscles, as well as tight hip flexors. This can lead to hip flexor and groin strains and hamstring strains…..an all around mess!
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.
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.
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.
However, not all proteins are created equal in the muscle building stakes. Always remember the better the quality (biological value) of protein consumed, the more of it will be used for muscle building. To maximise muscle growth, stick to high-quality proteins, such as whey, milk, eggs, fish or lean meats. However, combining lower quality or incomplete protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts and beans, can still be a valuable protein source for muscle building.
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I say make the 5th rep hard, but when I lift heavy, I like to stick with 4–5 reps. I feel if something is truly heavy, we won’t be able to hold onto it for as long, therefore, 4–5reps is my time frame for failure when lifting heavy. Again, if I need to keep doing reps to reach failure, then it’s too light. When I lift light, my time frame for failure is around 12–15 reps. If I need to do more reps to feel the fatigue of failure, then it’s way too light.
We’ve broken down the nine exercises into three sets of three. Before you begin each set, set a timer (or workout near a watch with a second hand.) If you are just starting to work out, do each exercise as hard as you can for one minute, followed by the next, until you complete the first set. Then, take a one minute break before moving on to set two, in which the exercises should also be performed for one minute each.
When it comes to building muscle, your body only knows or cares about the tension, fatigue and damage an exercise is generating… not the type of equipment you were using when performing that exercise. It really couldn’t give the slightest crap about that. For this reason, ALL types of exercises and ALL types of equipment are capable of stimulating muscle growth.