Don’t get us wrong—cardio is important for keeping your body fat down and keeping your heart health in check. (Bonus points if you run or bike, since outdoor exercise is linked to better energy and improved mental health.) But when it comes to building muscle, hitting the treadmill won't help you much. “Every component of exercise, minus cardio, can help with muscle hypertrophy,” which is the scientific term for muscle building, says Michelle Lovitt, an exercise physiologist and trainer in Los Angeles. “Cardio tends to burn calories and puts your body in a deficit, which is great for leaning out, but not building mass.”
There are many potential reasons, but I am going to keep it simple and give you just two. The first and most common reason people suffer from underactive glutes or “glute amnesia” is due to lifestyle. Even when people train hard every day, if they spend the majority of the remainder of the day sitting down, then they are simply not using their glutes. And remember the old saying - if you don’t use it, you lose it. Unfortunately, this is just what happens with your glutes.
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
With the best of intentions, yoga students sometimes create a muscle imbalance between the hamstrings and the hip flexors that contributes to an anterior (forward) pelvic tilt. Most yoga practitioners work long and hard to improve their hamstring flexibility but spend much less time stretching their hip flexors. Eventually, the hamstrings lengthen significantly, while the hip flexors improve only slightly. The result: The relatively tighter hip flexors tip the pelvis forward because the relatively longer hamstrings no longer exert an equal counterpull on the sitting bones of the pelvis.
The real problems begin, however, in poses requiring full extension (straightening) of the hip joint. These poses include backbends such as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward-Facing Bow Pose), where both hips are extended, and standing poses like Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I) and Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III), in which the legs open forward and backward (front leg hip flexed, back leg hip extended). In all these poses, tight hip flexors can cause painful compression in the lower back, a fairly common problem in backbends.
(3) This is where I explain the parentheses: The liver and the muscles contain glucose storages. Glucose all chilling together hanging out stored is/are called glycogen. When these storages become full, then glucose will spill over and get stored in our fat cells just like fat does. Why? The glucose “needs to go somewhere”, it’s not just gonna chill circulating around the body. (I’ll explain “needs to go somewhere” in point 6) FAT does not mean looking like Santa, fat is stored energy. Carbs only lead to fat gain when there is a spillover. Fats only lead to fat gain when that fat isn’t used for energy. *keep reading
Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.
I was building up, bulking, going after the mass, which to me meant 230 pounds of sheer body weight. At that time, I didn’t care about my waist or anything else that would give me a symmetrical look. I just wanted to build a gigantic 250-pound body by handling a lot of weight and blasting my muscles. My mind was into looking huge, into being awesome and powerful. I saw it working. My muscles began bursting out all over. And I knew I was on my way.”
The hip flexors help balance the posterior pelvic muscles. Three key muscles often become tight and shortened as a result of activities of daily living. These are the iliacus, psoas major, and the rectus femoris. The iliacus and the psoas major are often referred to as the iliopsoas because they share the same insertion at the lesser trochanter of the femur. The psoas minor inserts on the superior ramus of the pubis bone and mainly supports the natural lordotic curvature of the spine, but is only found in about 40% of the population. The psoas major originates on the anterior surface of the lumbar vertebrae and runs over the pubis bone and inserts into the lesser trochanter of the femur. This muscle not only helps to flex the hip, but also has an effect on the lordotic curvature of the lumbar vertebrae. The rectus femoris has a proximal attachment at the acetabulum and inserts into the tibial tuberosity. This long muscle plays a role in both hip flexion and leg extension (Figure 9-4).
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.
Other muscles that can be recruited to assist with hip flexion include the tensor fascia latae (TFL), the pectineus, the adductors, the gracilis, and the anterior aspects of the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. The contribution of these secondary hip flexors largely depends on the position of the hip at the time at which movement is initiated.
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.
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A great analogy that I like is that the balance between training and recovery is like digging a hole. Each time you lift, you dig yourself deeper and make it harder to climb out of the hole. To get back out again, you have to fill in the hole to return to ground level, and the only way to fill it is with food and rest. If you overdo it in the gym by pushing too hard, you won’t be able to train as often or at a high capacity. Eventually, you’ll get injured.
“Reg Park’s theory was that first you have to build the mass and then chisel it down to get the quality; you work on your body the way a sculptor would work on a piece of clay or wood or steel. You rough it out””the more carefully, the more thoroughly, the better”” then you start to cut and define. You work it down gradually until it’s ready to be rubbed and polished. And that’s when you really know about the foundation. Then all the faults of poor early training stand out as hopeless, almost irreparable flaws. [..]
By that logic, a 160-pound man should consume around 160 grams of protein a day—the amount he'd get from an 8-ounce chicken breast, 1 cup of cottage cheese, a roast-beef sandwich, two eggs, a glass of milk, and 2 ounces of peanuts.) If you don't eat meat for ethical or religious reasons, don't worry — you can count on other sources, too. Soy, almonds, lentils, spinach, peas, and beans are packed with protein.
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.
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.
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.)
Those micro-tears that are such a key factor for muscle-building need rest to rebuild themselves and grow stronger. When do they do that? When you’re asleep! “You have to rest and feed your muscles between workouts or you will tear them down and they will become weaker,” says Olson. “Over time, you run the risk of over-training, which can result in injury, and possibly even more sleep troubles.”
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:
How to do it: In general, your feet should be shoulder-width or slightly wider apart (if you’ve got a bigger frame go wider; if you’re smaller, go closer together), and your feet planted firmly on the floor, driving and emphasizing that heel drive. Stand tall. Depending on your preference or what’s available, hold a dumbbell in each hand (arms down at your sides); position yourself under a barbell with the bar against your traps for a back squat, and just over your chest for a front squat; hold a kettbell or dumbbell at your chest for goblet squats; wrap resistance bands under your feet and around your shoulders; or, use just your bodyweight to perform a basic squat.
Yes, you can pack on size while only doing bodyweight exercises – I did it while traveling the world – and gymnasts train mostly with bodyweight movements. However, this can feel like playing Halo on Legendary difficulty. It can be done, but damn it can be challenging – especially for lower body movements. If your sole goal is to get bigger as fast as possible, access to a barbell for squats and deadlift is almost a requirement.
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.
An upper/lower split can last you forever. A lot of massive, strong powerlifters stick with that throughout their entire lifting careers. However, if you’re older and/or have some trouble recovering, you may prefer a push/pull/legs split that has you training everything directly once per week. This is how most famous bodybuilders have trained in the past and many still do.
Adequate hydration is essential to muscle building, yet few people get enough water, even without daily exercise. So in addition to the daily 8 to 10 glasses of water recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Karas suggests an additional 12 to 16 ounces before working out. He then recommends another 8 to 10 ounces for every 15 minutes of vigorous exercise.
Located deep in the front of the hip and connecting the leg, pelvis, and abdomen, the hip flexors— surprise, surprise— flex the hip. But despite being some of the most powerful muscles in our bodies (with a clearly important role), it’s easy to neglect our poor hip flexors— often without even knowing it. It turns out just working at a desk all day (guilty!) can really weaken hip flexors since they tend to shorten up while in a seated position. This tightness disrupts good posture and is a common cause of lower back pain. Weakened hip flexors can also increase the risk of foot, ankle, and knee injuries (especially among runners) Hip muscle weakness and overuse injuries in recreational runners. Niemuth, P.E., Johnson, R.J., Myers, M.J., et al. Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, VT. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 2005 Jan; 15 (1): 14-21.. So be sure to get up, stand up every hour or so! And giving the hip flexors some extra attention is not just about injury prevention. Adding power to workouts, working toward greater flexibility, and getting speedier while running is also, as they say, all in the hips The effect of walking speed on muscle function and mechanical energetics. Neptune, R.R., Sasaki, K., and Kautz, S.A. Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas, Austin, TX. Gait & Posture, 2008 Jul; 28 (1): 135-43..
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.
(5) Glycogen levels. Ever heard of Keto Diet? This diet focuses on little to no carbs. Why? Glycogen levels. Most people eat too much food and most of these foods are carb based. Which means most people have filled glycogen levels. Which means most people are having glucose spill over into being stored as fat. By dropping carbs, we stop carbs from being stored as fat. By dropping carbs, we allow glycogen to become depleted which allows another opportunity to treat carbs better. By dropping carbs, we drop our calories, which should help one enter into a calorie deficit and it’s this deficit that helps more than anything. Make sense?
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.
Another common reason I see glutes that aren’t working properly is due to injury. Often an injury happens that changes the mechanics and motor programming of a person’s body. This can lead to some muscle groups becoming overactive, while others become underactive (think: compensation). This can alter things for a long time without the person even knowing it.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips to come into a bridge position. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it in front of you, keeping your pelvis level. Inhale as you slowly lower your hips toward the ground. Exhale as you drive your right heel into the ground and lift your hips. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides.
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Stand lunge-length in front of a bench making sure your knee does not extend past your toes. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest the top of your left foot on the bench behind you. Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then push through the heel of your front foot to return to standing, keeping the back foot on the bench. Repeat for required reps then switch legs.
But as I said earlier, the amount of protein you eat is a secondary concern. Quality comes first, so think "what" before "how much." For me, the "what" is lean and not fried. If you adhere to eating lean, non-fried sources of protein, you maximize your chances of gaining maximum amounts of muscle with minimal increases in body fat. My favorite sources of lean protein are standard: egg whites, chicken breast, 98 percent or leaner ground beef, turkey, fish, and quality protein supplements like Lean Pro8.