1. Are you tracking calories? Doesn't have to be religiously but one should have a general idea of where they're at if the goal is mass gain and things have stalled. I'm not talking about weighing every gram of food you put in your mouth and meticulously logging your life on MyFitnessPal. As long as you're aware (within 100-200 calories) of what's going in, you should have an idea of what to adjust.
That pump is tangible, real-time biofeedback to let you know that blood is flowing to your muscle cells, beginning a chain of events that stimulates protein synthesis. Maybe that's why it's easy to overlook how important good nutrition is in the mass-building equation. When you choose to eat, say, chicken instead of ice cream, there's no immediate muscle gratification -- no pump to keep you motivated.
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.
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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:
Begin in a standing position with one leg planted firmly on a slightly elevated surface – like a step. Raise the opposite hip and pelvis by hiking your hip towards the sky. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Slowly lower your hip and pelvis down towards the floor. Repeat this exercise as many times as you can until you feel fatigue (1-2min), then switch sides. Ensure the standing leg is straight and do not sway your shoulders side to side.
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.”
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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.
Why less volume for the smaller muscle groups, you ask? Partially because they are smaller, but mostly because they get a ton of indirect volume while training the bigger muscle groups (e.g. your biceps get hit pretty hard while training back, triceps get hit pretty hard while training chest and shoulders, shoulders get hit pretty hard while training chest, etc.).
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.
Information is the best approach. This makes me think of another question I recently answered: “how do I motivate myself to get in shape”. My answer simply was to read. I feel reading helps motivate us. Which can lead into a habit. It can be tough to become motivated to learn and read, but we need to take this action. I’m motivated to write this because I enjoy explaining things so it helps people understand better. One can practice turning motivation into habits by “waking up”. It can be tough to wake up in the morning (even worse at a certain/different time than one is use to). If one can accomplish waking up when tired, this to me, seems to help accomplishments by that energy being rolled onto other “goals”. It’s hard again because one is use to waking up when they have been usually waking up. Since they “usually” wake up at a certain time, this means they have repeatedly did something over and over. It’s time to try and do some else over and over.
In the 1970s, bodybuilding had major publicity thanks to the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, and others in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron. By this time, the IFBB dominated the competitive bodybuilding landscape and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) took a back seat. The National Physique Committee (NPC) was formed in 1981 by Jim Manion, who had just stepped down as chairman of the AAU Physique Committee. The NPC has gone on to become the most successful bodybuilding organization in America and is the amateur division of the IFBB. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the decline of AAU-sponsored bodybuilding contests. In 1999, the AAU voted to discontinue its bodybuilding events.
How to do it: Balance on your right foot, keeping your midsection tight and shoulders back and down. Bend at the waist with both of your hands out to the sides and extend your left leg back as you fire the left glute. Your shoulder and heel should move together, forming a straight line. Return to starting position and switch legs, performing a set of 10 on each leg.
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.