Don’t make the mistake of trying to bulk up when you should be on a diet. While you might have muscle on your mind, most people need to get leaner first. If you’re fat and you start eating for size, you’re only going to get fatter. Get rid of the excess blubber first, to the point where you can see some abs, and then worry about getting big. You should be as low as 12% body fat before you change your diet up to focus on mass gain. That will ensure that your insulin sensitivity is high. When it is, you can eat more carbs and your body won’t store them as fat.
The majority of your workouts should be comprised of compound exercises. Common examples include squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, rows, pull-ups, lat pull-downs, overhead presses, and so on. Isolation exercises should definitely also be a part of your program, just a smaller part in comparison. Common examples include bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies, lateral raises, leg curls, leg extensions, calf raises, and so on.
When it comes to training, I prefer to stick with the basics. People think they need 10 different exercises to fashion a fine pair of cheeks, but that's not what it takes. When it comes to toning your glutes, you only need two things: drive and dedication—and I mean real dedication. You must train your glutes hard and diligently to get a great response. If you stop every time it gets difficult or whenever it burns, you're not going to get anywhere.
(10) Exercising - you talk about building muscle - this comes from breaking down the muscle and building it back up with protein. A surplus is not needed for muscle growth, protein is. I always say stick with 100g minimum so you’re consistent. 100g is 400 calories. Muscles need glucose to perform, so I would eat enough carbs to fill your glycogen levels to prepare for your next training. Then eat fats to cover the rest of the calories whether it’s a surplus or deficit. You can build muscle and lose weight in the same day, just not at the same time (I’ll explain in point 10). Building muscle = breaking down the muscle and rebuilding it with protein. Losing weight = a deficit. Tell me why this can’t happen? Some fear muscle loss during deficits. No. Eat protein. Eat a little more. Some think surpluses are needed to build muscle. No. A surplus leads to fat gain. Even if the excess calories come from protein. Everything has a number. Figure out what fits for you. This is why point 9 is important.
SOURCES: Debbie Siebers, certified personal trainer; developer of fitness video/DVD programs. Sue Carver, physical therapist; owner, A World of Difference Therapy Services, Little Rock, Ark. WebMD Live Event transcript: "Staying Fit -- Rich Weil, MEd, CDE," Feb. 25, 2004. WebMD Live Event transcript: "Fall Into Fitness Richard Weil, MEd, CDE," Sept. 2, 2003.
Holding a kettlebell in your left hand, stand on your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground.. Keeping your weight in your midfoot to heel, inhale as you hinge at your hips and slightly bend your knee to push your butt backward. Keep your shin vertical and hips squared forward. Exhale as you drive through your heel to return to standing. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides.
In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.
How to do it: Start by stepping forward into a lunge with your left foot. Place your right forearm to the ground and your left elbow to the inside of your left foot, and hold the stretch for two seconds. Then place your left hand outside of your foot and push your hips up, pointing your front toes up. Return to standing position and repeat by stepping out with your right foot. Continue alternating sides.
Apply the above concept to your hips. When you sit, your hips are in a "flexed" position. Therefore, the muscles that flex your hips are in a shortened state. You probably spend at least a third of your day sitting down. Think about how much time those hip flexor muscles stay shortened. A lot. Over time, they become tighter and tighter until you look like the old man in the picture. So unless you want to look like that, perform the stretches shown below.
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.
"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.
To begin, place the top of one foot on a weight bench (or a chair) and step forward with the other foot out in front of you, similar to a lunge position. Make sure that the front foot is positioned at least at shoulder width and it is far enough away from your body that your knee will not come over your toes when you perform the squat. Put your hands in front of your body (or overhead to make it harder). Perform a “single leg squat” by bending the front leg. The knee of the leg that is up on the bench will go towards the floor. Get it as close to the floor as you can. Do not let the heel of the front foot come up off of the floor. Keeping your heel down will ensure that you engage your glutes and hamstrings in this exercise. You should feel the tension in the hip flexor of the leg that is on the bench when you perform this exercise (you will also feel the muscles of the front leg working). It is important to keep your torso upright throughout the full range of motion. As you go down into the squat, the hip of the back leg is going into extension, which will stretch the hip flexor as well as strengthen it as it stabilizes the hip throughout the range of motion.
Include cardio training. Good cardiovascular health improves blood flow, a requirement for muscle growth. Doing cardio also improves your cardiovascular fitness, which allows you to use your muscle gains for various sports and activities. The standard recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio, or an equivalent combination of the two. A good place to start would be doing 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular activity every other day or 3 times a week. Examples of cardio include running, biking, swimming, and any sport that involves constant movement.
Take a step back and think about where you spend most of your day. If you're a young athlete, you probably spend most of your time at school or maybe work or practice and even a little time at home, if you're lucky. Now think about what position your body is in during those periods. I would bet that you spend most of your day sitting down. You may walk to class or run in practice, but the majority of your day is spent in a seated position.
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.
Your standard lunge does a nice job of making your derriere stronger, but to get glutes that function at their best, you need to start moving sideways, too. You see, when you do a side lunge or skaters, for example, you strengthen muscles in your outer hips. And strong outer hips can help you steer clear knee injuries. Plus, the sideways moves engage glute muscles so they can reap all the benefits of lower-body exercises. Not sure where to start? These exercises will help inspire you to work your glutes at a new angle.
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.
Stand on your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Inhale as you step your left foot backward into a lunge, so that your left knee hovers above the ground. Exhale as you drive through your right heel to rise to a single-leg stance, bringing your left leg forward and up to hip height. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides. Optional: Load this move by holding a kettlebell at your chest or a dumbbell in each hand.
Eating the right carbs is important too. Carbohydrate is stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen in the muscles is an important fuel reserve during intense physical exercise or in times of energy restriction – protein sparing. It is best to restrict or to keep away from junk carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, and biscuits, and stick to foods like porridge, pasta (wholemeal), rice (brown), bread (wholegrain), and cereals (try to choose the versions with low or reduced sugar and salt). For more on carbohydrate and the effect of sugar on the body, click here.
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.
“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.
1-3 Minutes Rest: Ideal for “tension and fatigue exercises,” which include most secondary compound exercises. This range is sort of the midpoint between being ideal for strength and being ideal for generating fatigue. So while it’s not entirely what’s best for either, it is what’s perfect for achieving an equal combination of the two… which is exactly what we want from these exercises.