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.
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.
Note that this recommendation is for total weekly volume, which means it would need to be divided up based on how many times you’re training each muscle group per week. So, for example, someone training everything twice per week would do 30-70 reps for each bigger muscle group in each of those workouts, and 15-35 reps for each smaller muscle group in each of those workouts.
Make no mistake: Eating for muscle is just as important as lifting for muscle. The foods you grab in the morning on the way to work, the meals you pack for lunch and mid-afternoon, what you put into your body immediately following your workout, and your final meal of the day impact your results as much as, if not more than, the number of reps you squeeze out at the end of a set. But in reality, it can be tough to stick to a "clean" diet when you're busy. We know that adding another layer of complexity to life in the form of reading food labels and studying ingredient lists just isn't an option for most of us. Not to mention actually preparing all those healthy meals.
While it's okay to chow down on the occasional fast-food choice for convenience, a mass-gain program isn't an excuse to gorge on pizza and chocolate sundaes. "Rebuilding muscle tissue broken down by training requires energy - in other words, calories," says bodybuilding nutritional guru Chris Aceto. "But many people, including many nutritionists, overestimate the energy needs for gaining mass, encouraging extreme high-calorie intakes. This often leads to an increase in bodyfat, making you bigger, for sure, but also leaving you fat." In general, aim for 300-500 more calories every day than your body burns through exercise and normal functioning (multiply bodyweight by 17). And that's divided among six meals a day.
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.
Lie on your left side. Rest your head on your left arm. Bend your hips to approximately 45 degrees and bend your knees at 90 degrees. Make sure one hip is lying above the other so your knees are stacked perfectly and your feet are aligned with your back. Now, float the upper leg upwards while keeping your feet in contact with one another, then return. Repeat for required reps, then switch sides.
(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.
Achy knees are often written off as an inevitable side effect of getting older. And while it’s true knee pain has many age-related causes (namely, arthritis), chances are weak glutes are a big part of the problem, Kline says. If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, strengthening your glutes can at least help offset some of the pain you might experience, she says.
Generally, you should consume about 20 grams of protein with some carbs shortly after a workout. During the post-workout anabolic window, you’ll also want to limit fats, which can slow the absorption of protein. While there is some recent research that suggests the window may actually extend up to several hours following exercise, there’s no harm in getting nutrients in early as long as you’re sticking to your overall caloric and macronutrient goals.
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.
So, who cares right? Wrong. Everyone has seen that little old man walking with a cane, hunched over almost to the point of staring at the ground. Do you think he always walked like that? I'd bet you he didn't. Maybe he had an injury that never healed properly, or maybe after spending years and years in a similar position, his body became tighter and tighter until eventually he ended up bent over.
The sartorius originates at the ASIS and proceeds to traverse obliquely and laterally down the thigh to eventually insert at the anterior surface of the tibia, just inferomedial to the tibial tuberosity, as part of the pes anserinus. In addition to flexing the hip and knee, the sartorius aids in the abduction of the hip. It is innervated by the femoral nerve (i.e., the posterior division of L2 and L3).
There is no simple orthosis for the management of isolated paralysis of the hip flexor muscles. While the hip guidance and reciprocating gait orthoses mechanically assist hip flexion (see p. 115), neither is prescribed solely for this purpose. Rather they are prescribed for patients with extensive bilateral lower limb paralysis who also require orthotic support around the knees and ankles.
Aim to eat roughly 250 to 500 extra calories per day. To make sure that any weight gained is from muscle, Fitzgerald recommends that the bulk of those calories come from protein. In a 2014 Pennington Biomedical Research Center study, people who ate a high-calorie diet rich in protein stored about 45 percent of those calories as muscle, while those following a low-protein diet with the same number of calories stored 95 percent of those calories as fat.
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.)
Overtraining occurs when a bodybuilder has trained to the point where his workload exceeds his recovery capacity. There are many reasons why overtraining occurs, including lack of adequate nutrition, lack of recovery time between workouts, insufficient sleep, and training at a high intensity for too long (a lack of splitting apart workouts). Training at a high intensity too frequently also stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) and can result in a hyperadrenergic state that interferes with sleep patterns. To avoid overtraining, intense frequent training must be met with at least an equal amount of purposeful recovery. Timely provision of carbohydrates, proteins, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, even nutritional supplements are acutely critical. A mental disorder informally called “bigorexia” (by analogy with anorexia) may be held accountable of some people overtraining. Sufferers feel as if they are never big enough or muscular enough, which forces them to overtrain in order to try and reach their goal physique.
When it comes to finding the right meal plan, you have to start somewhere. Start with writing down what you eat in a food diary, calculate the calories you’re consuming daily (ex: 3,000 without protein shakes), and break those up into six meals (ex: 500 calories each), says Heath. Then, choose a macronutrient ratio. For example, the 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat ratio is what Heath used to get bigger when he first started bodybuilding. “Buy a food scale, learn how to use it, and you may even have to learn to use the metric system, like grams instead of ounces,” Heath says. “You need to train your body to process food quickly, so eat every three hours.”
You don't need to design a fresh plan every three weeks. Scaling up weight and modifying reps are obviously both important for progression, but playing with different set styles will shock your body and keep things interesting. Remember, bodybuilding isn't meant to feel like a chore. Below, we explain eight different types of sets to help you build muscle more efficiently during bodybuilding training.
Dynamic stretching (stretching while in motion), is the most efficient way to lengthen and strengthen the hip flexor muscles. An exercise that you can do that will engage the core and all of the lower extremity muscles while focusing on the hip flexors is called the Single Leg Split Squat. Remember that the rectus femoris crosses the hip and knee joint. This exercise involves both the hip and knee joint, making it an appropriate exercise to train the rectus femoris as well as the iliacus.
Ever hear of TIME UNDER TENSION? Well, people have this concept so upside down. People think that if we hold a weight longer that we will get bigger. Okay, then how long does a weight need to be held? They say going slow on the eccentric will help. Okay, but at what weight? I say this because someone cannot just lift a light weight slow on the eccentric and think they will progress further then what I’m about to say:
This test measures a participant's ability to stand up from a seated position as many times as possible in a thirty-second period of time. Testing the number of times a person can stand up in a thirty-second period helps assess strength, flexibility, pain, and endurance, which can help determine how far along a person is in rehabilitation, or how much work is still to be done.
Lefkowith put together a bodyweight workout, below, that does just that. While weights and resistance bands are great tools for building strength, she says that sometimes it's easier to focus on contracting the right muscles when there's no equipment involved. "You aren't concerned about the numbers you can lift or the reps you can do but what you actually feel working," Lefkowith says.
The second half of the program is all about maximizing size with slightly higher reps and an emphasis on intensity. Rep ranges move up to 10-12 for most exercises, which is ideal for promoting muscle hypertrophy (growth). Overall volume increases slightly during these two weeks, mainly due to the addition of isolation exercises that you’ll perform before compound movements for your chest, back, shoulders and legs. Called pre-exhaustion, this technique dramatically increases workout intensity. You fatigue the main target muscle with an isolation exercise, then hit it in this fatigued state with a compound move, which if done right will lead to your main muscle failing before assistance muscles give out. (For example, for chest the dumbbell flye hits the pecs directly, so your triceps shouldn’t end up being the weak link and cause the termination of the set during the bench press).
Of the three, protein will of course play the most important role in the muscle building process (like calories, it’s one our required “supplies”), although fat and carbs will still be important for other reasons which range from optimizing hormone production (e.g. testosterone, the muscle building hormone) to enhancing training performance and recovery.
Most folks work a 9 to 5 position but if you’re not in the corporate world yet then odds are you’re a student with classes scattered throughout the day and it takes up the vast portion of your free time. That being said, you’re likely going to have to work out in the morning or the evening in order to fit in your session amidst the hectic commitments in your everyday life. Here are a few things to consider in regards to each time period:
Tight hip flexors can also make it harder for your glutes to activate—since they're opposing muscle groups, when one is really tight the other becomes lengthened. When a muscle is more lengthened than it should be, it takes away some of its ability to contract. When your glutes are in this compromised position, it can cause other muscles to do more work than they should, making your workouts less efficient and sometimes, increasing your risk of injury.
One of the biggest glutes-toning mistakes people make is relying on weight machines to tone their butts, says Metzl. Instead, try functional bodyweight training exercises like those squats and bridges we mentioned before. These moves are more effective at strengthening the layers of muscle in your glutes, he says—weight machines, on the other hand, isolate a single layer.
5. Feel free as a bird. Open up those hips with yoga’s pigeon pose! Start on all fours with hands below the shoulders and knees below the hips. Bring the right knee forward until it touches the right hand and place the leg flat on the ground across the body (the right foot is now on the left side of the body, parallel to the front of the mat). Drop left leg to the ground, and extend it back with toes turned under. Keep the hips level, inhale, and walk hands forward. Exhale, and fold the torso over, lowering elbows to the floor. Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths before coming back up to switch sides.
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.
The ASISes are good indicators of the tilt of the pelvis. On the side of the pelvis with the extended hip (the back leg), the iliopsoas will try to pull the pelvis and lumbar spine down and forward into an anterior tilt. To counter this, use your fingers to show the ASISes how to lift up. Hold this posterior tilt as you bend the front knee, keeping the back knee straight and the back heel grounded. Feel the iliopsoas lengthen and visualize the spine lifting out of the pelvis.
As you've probably heard from any muscle-bound behemoth you've ever encountered, protein is the key to building muscle. Just because the shake-pounding meathead has become a trope, however, doesn't mean they're wrong; protein really is the fuel your muscles need to grow. That's real capital-S Science, not just bro-science manufactured by supplements companies.
Want to get strong, but don’t have time for a gym? Strength training is key for increasing flexibility, reducing injury risk and maintaining an overall healthy body. The best part is that it doesn’t have to take long. Here we’ll teach you a simple nine-minute-long strength training program that you can complete in your own home. All you need is a set of dumbbells (or another type of weight), a clock and the goal of building a stronger body.