You have to fuel your body with high-quality, real, wholesome food. Eating pizza, burgers, ice cream, and fast food just because it’s high in calories is a really bad plan. You’ll feel terrible, and while the extra calories will help muscle gains to an extent, most of them will turn to fat. It’s not worth it. Your recovery will be slower and you will be riddled with inflammation.
"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.
Just because your hip flexor region feels sore doesn’t necessarily mean the muscles there are tight — in fact, they might need strengthening. This is where that sports science debate we mentioned earlier comes into play. It’s important to identify whether you’re tight or if the muscles are weak. Again, the Thomas Test will help you identify if you’re maybe stretching something that actually needs strengthening.
Hopefully I didn’t put a big damper on your Captain-America fueled dreams! I just want to set proper expectations so you don’t get discouraged with slow progress, and instead get SUPER encouraged with any progress. Getting strong should be freakin’ fun! Weirdly enough, once I stopped trying to get there quickly is when I started to actually make permanent progress.
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.
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.
Weight training aims to build muscle by prompting two different types of hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy leads to larger muscles and so is favored by bodybuilders more than myofibrillar hypertrophy, which builds athletic strength. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is triggered by increasing repetitions, whereas myofibrillar hypertrophy is triggered by lifting heavier weight. In either case, there is an increase in both size and strength of the muscles (compared to what happens if that same individual does not lift weights at all), however, the emphasis is different.
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But, what about fats? Well, our body fat is the home for fats. Whatever fats not used for energy will be stored as fat. That’s the point of fat. This doesn’t mean fats make us fat, sure fats lead to direct fat gain, but this doesn’t mean weight gain. Fat vs weight gain is different. Fat gain can only lead to weight gain if you eat in a calorie surplus. Even if carbs to stored as fat, if you aren’t in a surplus…this fat will be used, so it doesn’t matter this is got stored as fat. Just stop filling up your glycogen levels unless you are always depleting then. Same with fats, just because they increase fat doesn’t mean they make us fat. INCREASED FAT VS INCREASED WEIGHT is different. If we eat fat we store fat. If we eat carbs we store carbs. If we store fat, that fat will only remain their and contribute to weight gain IF it’s not used for energy. If it’s used for energy then we are in a deficit unless we eat out way back to a surplus.
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.)
The main work of your hip flexors is to bring your knee toward your chest and to bend at the waist. Symptoms associated with a hip flexor strain can range from mild to severe and can impact your mobility. If you don’t rest and seek treatment, your hip flexor strain symptoms could get worse. But there are many at-home activities and remedies that can help reduce hip flexor strain symptoms.
I always recommend starting on the low end of the scale. Only increase volume when you absolutely need to. So, if you’re training chest, you could do 6 work sets of dumbbell bench presses to start out, breaking down to two sets per workout for three sessions per week. You can gradually add sets from there, experimenting with different training splits that will allow you to get in more volume without overtraining (we’ll discuss training splits next).
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.
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.
When it comes to building lean muscle, size bodybuilders are king. That’s their ultimate goal. Sure, Crossfit, powerlifting and all the other modalities will build muscle, but that’s not their focus. They want performance and any muscle they build is a side effect. Not so with bodybuilding where muscle size and shape are the priorities. Learning how to build muscle for the sake of building muscle has some benefits to the performance athlete. It allows for ais less injury prone. Its also a fact that bigger muscle contract harder regardless of technique or form, so it’s a good strategy to throw in some bodybuilder muscle building sessions here and there to give yourself stronger muscles to then train for performance. Build the muscle bigger, then train it to perform better.
While leg lifts, certain ab exercises, and even hula hooping can all help work the hips, the hip flexors can still be a tricky part of the body to stretch Kinetics of hula hooping: An inverse dynamics analysis. Cluff, T., Robertson, D.G., and Balasubramaniam, R. School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Human Movement Science, 2008 Aug; 27 (4): 622-35.. To get them even stronger and more flexible, try these five simple hip flexor stretches:
If you’ve been training longer than 6–12 months, you can split your workouts into upper- and lower-body days. The most common setup is to train upper body one day and lower the next so that each area gets trained twice in one week. If you train four days per week, you can train upper body on Monday, lower Tuesday, rest Wednesday, and then do upper body again on Thursday, lower body on Friday, and then rest on the weekend.
Progression – Throughout the course of your lifting career you should consistently strive for progress both mentally and physically. Initially, you may find that you’re incessantly focused on nutrition and training but as you progress in both maturity and muscular development, you should be focused on improving the balance between lifting and your life. It’s never about having an all or nothing mindset, balance must be incorporated in all aspects but this takes times to develop and occurs with progression over time.
Sure, using a more effective workout routine or diet plan will work better/faster than a less effective one. However, even when you’re doing everything just right and you’ve optimized every single major and minor factor to work as quickly and effectively as possible (which I’m going to show you how to do), the simple fact is that you’re still not going to build muscle “fast.”
The bulk of the gluteal muscle mass contributes only partially to shape of the buttocks. The other major contributing factor is that of the panniculus adiposus of the buttocks, which is very well developed in this area, and gives the buttock its characteristic rounded shape. The gluteal muscle bulk and tone can be improved with exercise. However, it is predominantly the disposition of the overlying panniculus adiposus which may cause sagging in this region of the body. Exercise in general (not only of the gluteal muscles but of the body in general) which can contribute to fat loss can lead to reduction of mass in subcutaneal fat storage locations on the body which includes the panniculus, so for leaner and more active individuals, the glutes will more predominantly contribute to the shape than someone less active with a fattier composition. The degree of body fat stored in various locations such as the panniculus is dictated by genetic and hormonal profiles.
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.
Working on gluteal muscle strength (buttock muscles) can be beneficial to reduce hip flexor tightness. Working the glute muscles pulls the hip into extension (the opposite of flexion which is what the hip flexor does) and improves muscle balance at the hip. Increasing the strength of your gluteal muscles can help calm the hip flexor down and reduce the feeling of “tightness”.
But how do you actually know if you have weak glutes? A good way to test them is to do a single leg squat as low as you can go, says Brian Schulz, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, CA. “Knee flexion to 90 degrees is a good sign that the gluteal muscles are strong enough,” he says.
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.
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!
After all, if you’re doing more reps in a set, the weight would obviously be lighter and the intensity level lower. If you’re doing fewer reps in a set, the weight is obviously heavier and the intensity is higher. In addition, how close you come to reaching failure – aka the point in a set when you are unable to complete a rep – also plays a role here.
“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.)
(3) Fats make you fat - yes, dietary fats get stored as fat. This is there place to go. Fat from a meal that isn’t used for energy will be stored. But, that doesn’t mean fats make you fat. The only way fats can make one “fat” is if the fat stored from meals STAYS stored. Otherwise, knows as a calorie surplus. In a surplus, there is no time for fat to be used for energy. In a deficit, fat will be used because you “aren’t eating enough” So yes, fats get stored as fat, but only make you fat if you keep them stored.
(6) “Needs to go somewhere” This is where I explain the end of point 3. Insulin is not a fat storage hormone. Insulin simply transports, nutrients, into cells for energy and then stores the nutrients. Protein is not stored, they are recycled, this is why it’s wise to be consistent with protein. Fats are stored as fat. Carbs are stored as glycogen. IF GLYCOGEN is full then insulin will transport the excess glucose to body fat as the glucose needs to go somewhere. It’s not just gonna sit in the blood. If so, this calls for chaos. People that are insulin resistant usually have this chaotic issue.
2. What's your training like? Are you crushing 25 sets for chest like the average juiced out bodybuilder? If so, there's a pretty good chance you might be working above your MRV (maximal recoverable volume) and as such any physiological adaptation which could have taken place is going to be minimal given the cellular environment which occurs in a state of functional overreaching.
Mini bands are becoming more popular and with good reason. They are a great way to get the glutes geared up for a workout. The best way to do them? Put the mini band around your feet – yes, your feet - and walk laterally, trying to move your upper body as little as possible. This is usually a pretty fail-safe way of getting a burn in that pocket muscle.
Athletes with relative shortening of the hip flexors and accompanying weakness of hip extensors will exhibit decreased hip extension at terminal stance phase or “toe off.” Athletes who lack hip extension may also exhibit related limitation in great toe extension. Often these athletes will show decreased wear under the great toe aspect of their shoe sole and relative increased wear under the more lateral toes. These athletes may also demonstrate increased hip flexion at initial contact or “heel strike” in an effort to make up for the shorter stride length caused by limited hip extension. In patients with knee instability this will contribute to hyperextension or “giving way” of the knee.13
Even if you have a schedule that allows for a 5-day workout split, many people (I’d even call it the majority) simply don’t have the recovery capacity needed to make that work. This could be due to genetics, age, injury history, various lifestyle factors (sleep, stress, etc.) and more. In these cases, better results would be seen with 3-4 workouts per week instead.
With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, lay on your right side with your arm extended along the mat and your head relaxed on your arm. Bend both knees and draw them forward slightly to bring your feet in line with your glutes, ensuring that your hips are stacked and that you maintain a small gap between your waist and the floor. This is your starting position.
Elsa Pataky's trainer, Fernando Sartorius, says that focusing on squeezing your glutes while performing a booty-blasting exercise allows you to activate the muscle group to their maximum potential. Cameron Diaz's trainer, Teddy Bass, founder of the trademarked booty-sculpting program called Rock Bottom Body, says you should get into a bridge position and memorize what it feels like to really engage your buns—and then try to feel that burn every time you work your butt. The point: Thinking about squeezing your glutes (and actually squeezing them) while strength-training helps you work the muscles in your butt harder.
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.
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.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles in the front of the hip that act to lift the knee and bring the thigh towards the abdomen. The major muscles making up the hip flexors that we will focus on are the iliacus and the psoas, or the iliopsoas and the rectus femoris. The rectus femoris is a “two joint muscle” because it crosses both the hip and knee joints. As a group, the hip flexors have attachments on the lumbar spine, the pelvis, and the femur. In addition to their major function of flexing the hip, their attachment on the spine makes them an important part of the core muscles and spinal stabilizers.