4. Just swing it. For the front-to-back hip swing stretch, lie on the left side with hips stacked, propped up on the left elbow. Bend the left leg to a 90-degree angle and raise the right leg to hip level with toes pointed. Keep abs tight and swing the right leg all the way in front, then swing it all the way to the back, squeezing the booty along the way. Switch sides.
Beach muscles and Olympic lifts draw more attention. But the many little stabilizer muscles around your shoulders, hips, and midsection — collectively the core — provide a strong foundation. Challenging the stability and mobility of these key muscles with medicine balls, physioballs, mini-bands, and rotational movements (lifting, chopping) pays huge dividends.
How to do it: Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand, arms to your sides. Put some slack in your knees so they’re in a neutral position, slightly bent. Extend one leg back; this non-weight-bearing leg should extend straight back until it’s parallel to the floor, while your planted leg remains engaged and planted firmly to the floor. Your weight-bearing knee should be neutral to just slightly bent to avoid hyperextension. Sink your arms toward the floor when you draw your elevated leg back, moving with the flow of gravity. Use your glutes to pull yourself back to the upright position.
This muscle sits partway under the gluteus maximus and connects the ilium (hip bone) to the side of the upper femur. It helps you externally rotate your leg when it’s extended behind you, and internally rotate your hip when your leg is flexed in front of you. Together with the gluteus minimus, this muscle abducts the hip (moves it outward). This is your chief “side stepping” muscle.
Dips. You should be able to manipulate your bodyweight in space against the influence of gravity. If you can’t perform simple movements such as pushups, dips, and chin-ups then you need to work on your relative strength. That being said, dips are an excellent muscle builder for the chest, triceps, and shoulders if they are progressively overloaded with weight.
Most problems with the hip flexors, however, don't originate in a lack of strength but in a lack of flexibility. To understand how these muscles lose their flexibility, imagine someone with a broken arm, her bent elbow encased in a plaster cast. When the cast is removed after six or eight weeks, the soft tissues around the elbow (muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even skin) will have shortened, and the elbow won't straighten out. It will take patient stretching over several weeks to restore the range of motion. Similarly, if the hip is constantly kept in a flexed position—like sitting—for hours every day, day after day, the hip flexors will shorten and shrink, limiting your ability to fully extend (straighten) the hip.
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:
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.
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.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to having weak and tight hip flexors as they are always in the shortened position. Tight hip flexors can lead to a limited range of motion, poor posture, lower back, and hip pain, and even injuries. These muscles need to get a workout when you are standing and doing movements such as raising your leg to climb stairs, run, or ride a bicycle.
You may hear a clicking noise when you move your hip, but that sound is not necessarily a hip flexor issue. Siegrist says the clicking isn't generally the hip flexor alone and often comes from a moving part, like the joint. "Maybe there is a loose body in the joint or loose cartilage at the edge of the hip joint that is mechanically getting irritated,” she says.
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.
Eat 0.4–0.5 grams of fat per pound of your body weight. Fat is essential for hormone optimization, brain function, and joint health. Now, if you’re following a ketogenic diet (or modified keto diet), or you just feel better with more fat in your diet, you can certainly add more fat and lower your protein and carb intake to accommodate it. The 0.4–0.5 grams per pound recommendation just represents a starting point and a minimum so that you don’t eat too little fat, either out of fear that it will make you fat or damage your heart (both untrue). For more about ketogenic diets, see Onnit’s guide HERE.
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.
If you're a beginner, just about any workout will be intense enough to increase protein synthesis. But if you've been lifting for a while, you'll build the most muscle quickest if you focus on the large muscle groups, like the chest, back, and legs. Add compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, pullups, bent-over rows, bench presses, dips, and military presses to your workout to work them the most efficiently.
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
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.