If you’re new to training, then check out some of the options found on the site and run them exactly as the author intended them to be executed. Too many young guns want to alter every training variable rather than running the program as written and focusing on getting stronger. No, you don’t need an entire day dedicated to arms when you can’t even complete a single chin-up.
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.
We’ll define the “bigger muscle groups” as being chest, back, quads and hamstrings, and the “smaller muscle groups” as being biceps, triceps and maybe abs. Shoulders are really somewhere in the middle, though I tend to lean more toward the “smaller” guidelines. Calves, while technically small, are another muscle group that is somewhere in the middle, and I can really go either way depending on the needs of the person.
When a muscle contracts, it shortens. Take the biceps for example. Without getting too technical, the biceps are attached at the forearm and shoulder. When your biceps contract, they shorten and bring those two points closer together. When you rest, the muscle returns to its normal length, and the two points move farther away. Constantly contracting your biceps over a long period of time would cause them to get shorter, even at rest.
Don’t take sets to the point of failure—where you absolutely can’t perform another rep. You should never get to where you’re turning purple and screaming like you’re getting interviewed by “Mean” Gene Okerlund before WrestleMania. Most of the time, you want to end your sets two reps before total failure. Not sure when that is? The moment your form breaks down, or you’re pretty sure it’s going to break down, end the set.
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.
The gluteus medius muscle originates on the outer surface of the ilium between the iliac crest and the posterior gluteal line above, and the anterior gluteal line below; the gluteus medius also originates from the gluteal aponeurosis that covers its outer surface. The fibers of the muscle converge into a strong flattened tendon that inserts on the lateral surface of the greater trochanter. More specifically, the muscle's tendon inserts into an oblique ridge that runs downward and forward on the lateral surface of the greater trochanter.
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.
You see, there is only so much muscle that the human body is capable of building in a given period of time. So, if you supply your body with MORE calories than it’s actually capable of putting towards the process of building new muscle… it’s not going to magically lead to additional muscle being built. It’s just going to lead to additional fat being gained.
“Exercises such as single leg squats, regular squats, deadlifts, monster walks, side laying leg lifts, step-ups and reverse planks are some of the exercises that can strengthen the muscles," says Schulz. "You can also try a challenging lunge circuit, split squats, and deadlifts for some major toning." (And of course, if you need any further ideas, check out our roundup of the 17 best glute exercises out there.)
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips to come into a bridge position with a neutral spine. Tuck your chin into your chest. Dig your elbows into the ground. Press the bottoms of your feet together and move your heels as close to your butt as possible. Inhale as you lower your hips toward the ground. Exhale as you lift your hips. Do 15 reps.
When a muscle contracts, it shortens. Take the biceps for example. Without getting too technical, the biceps are attached at the forearm and shoulder. When your biceps contract, they shorten and bring those two points closer together. When you rest, the muscle returns to its normal length, and the two points move farther away. Constantly contracting your biceps over a long period of time would cause them to get shorter, even at rest.
Pick a few key exercises that together train the whole body. Presses, chinups, rows, and squat and deadlift variations are the best choices (more on these in Rules #2 and #3). Write down how much weight you can currently do for 5–10 reps on each of them, and, over the next few months, work your way up to where you can either add 10–20 pounds to each of those lifts or do 3–5 more reps with the same weight. That’s how you force your body to grow.
Most people require around 20 calories per pound (or 44 kcal / kg) of bodyweight to gain muscle mass. Using a 180-pound (82kg) male as an example, the required daily calorie intake is 3600 calories (20 kcal x 180 lb = 3600 kcal). When it comes to gaining weight, it is likely that you may put on a few pounds of fat along the way, but if you do find your body fat increasing, either increase the amount of aerobic exercise (moderate intensity) you are doing or slightly reduce the total number of calories you are consuming. Remember you can’t force feed muscle gain!
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.
Protein do not have a home really. They do have a pool on which amino acids are stored, but this isn’t much. Proteins home is actually our muscles. You know how we eat meat for protein? Well if we ate human meat, it would be protein. Muscle is protein. We eat protein to build muscle and other shit. Protein during a calorie surplus will get stored in our fat cells more than go towards building muscle or the pool. Anything eaten in a calorie surplus will be stored as fat.
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.

Muscle imbalances are quite common among strength athletes and are arguably the most common cause of their injuries. Many times this is due to a “weak link” in the kinetic chain of muscles that activate during their activity. Identifying the “weak” muscle and being able to feel, isolate and contract that “weak” muscle makes correctional exercise and rehab much easier. Bodybuilding training, with its focus on “feel” rather than movement, helps to train and develop the mind to muscle connection. This comes in handy when you need to train a muscle imbalance with correctional exercise and, in the case of injury, for rehab.


Get ready: Attach an ankle collar to a cable pulley at the lowest setting. Wrap the strap around one ankle, then step about three feet away from the pole. Lie facedown on a stability ball so your stomach and upper thighs rest on it, then place the toes of your non-working foot on the floor behind you and your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor in front of you. 
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.
Expert tip: “Optimum form and range of motion for the squat is very dependent on your physicality, structure, joint integrity, limb length, strength, flexibility, and current condition,” Reames says. Your range of motion is 90° max at the knee. Some guys will be able to go lower than this, but not everyone will squat to parallel, he says. And that’s totally okay. “Stick to form and the appropriate resistance levels for you; the squat is still one of the best and simplest moves for overall strength, building lower-body muscle, core strength, and athletic performance. 

The G-med and G-min perform similar functions, depending on the position of the knee and hip joints. With the knee extended, they abduct the thigh (out to the side away from the opposite leg). When running, they stabilize the leg during the single-support phase. With the hips flexed, they internally rotate the thigh. With the hips extended, they externally rotate the thigh.

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.
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.
Why it works: The RDL, as it's known, is primarily a hamstrings move, but it’s also effective in building strength in your glutes, lower back, and upper back. Be sure to feel the "squeeze" in your hamstrings and glutes as you raise and lower the bar. For an even tougher variation that'll also increase your grip strength, try doing tempo RDLs—count a few seconds on your way up, and on your way down.
However, if you increase the demands you are placing on your body by increasing the weight being lifted, lifting the same weight for additional reps, or just doing something that increases the demands that your body needs to meet, then your body will have no other choice but to make the changes and improvements necessary for it to adapt to this environment and remain capable of performing these tasks.
Stand tall with your hips square and bend your right knee, bringing your foot towards your bum. Grab the right foot with your right hand and actively pull the foot closer to your glutes. As you do this, send the right knee down towards the ground and keep both knees together. squeeze your butt to promote a posterior pelvic tilt and hold — then switch sides.
See what I mean? Notice, how I said the “fatigue of failure”. This is because one must interpret their fatigue properly. (1) Some go past failure thinking something magical is going to happen, when only damage will occur. (2) Some feel slight fatigue, aren’t close to failure, and should keep going to enter in the actual sensation that matters: failure. (3) Some are very close to reaching fatigue, but misinterpret the sensation as failure and stop, when they were only moments away from feeling something they never felt before.
Build an effective exercise routine. A good diet is required for your body to be able to maximize your potential, but there's no potential at all until you start the process of tearing down your old muscles and rebuilding them bigger, bulkier, and stronger. The best way to do that is to start at the beginning. If you're not sure where to begin, find a solid workout program online and try it out for a while. Don't immediately jump from one program to the next - you'll end up keeping yourself from making steady progress.
And how much should you work out? According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, beginners should do at least two days per week of any type of strength-training exercise. Your workout should consist of 8 to 12 repetitions each of 8 to 10 different exercises working all the major muscle groups -- chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals, and legs. (A repetition is how many times you lift the weight, pull the rubber tubing, do a pushup, or whatever.)
Gains will differ from one individual to another depending on body size and level of experience in the gym. To make sure you'’re gaining muscle, not fat, don'’t just consider your scale weight. Instead, rely on what you see in the mirror and use a tape measure twice a month to keep track of your waist and hips (you don't want to gain there)— as well as your biceps, chest and quads. Also, don'’t think that you have to gain a set amount of weight each and every week. "Your mass gain doesn'’t have to be uniform,"” Aceto explains. That means you can gain 1/2 pound one week and 1 1/2 the next, perhaps none the third week and still remain on course. "“Expecting uniform gains ignores the intricate makeup of the body and the way it gains mass -— or loses fat - which is by no means in linear fashion," adds Aceto.

If you are somebody that is tired of not getting results, wants to avoid trial-and-error, or you just want to be told exactly what to do to reach your goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 coaching program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself and program your workouts and nutrition strategy for you.
To do dips, place your hands at shoulder-width apart on a bench, with your body and feet stretched out in front of the bench. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down so that your butt nearly touches the floor. Lift back up with your arms to starting position; repeat, doing 3 x 8. If this isn't a high-intensity set for you, increase the resistance by lifting one foot off the floor.
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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..
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Secure a flat resistance band just above your ankles and stand with your feet at about hip width, keeping feet forward. Keeping your weight in your heels, step your right foot laterally, maintaining the tension in the band. Keep the band taut as you step your left foot slightly to the right. Continue stepping sideways to your right for about 5 steps. Then step to your left to return to the starting position. Repeat three times.
K. Aleisha Fetters, M.S., C.S.C.S., is a Chicago-based personal and online trainer. She has a graduate degree in health and science reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and regularly contributes to Men's Health, Women's Health, USNews.com, TIME, and SHAPE. When she's not lifting something heavy, she's usually guzzling coffee and writing about the health benefits of doing so.
This exercise is challenging and will certainly be beneficial even without weights. If you can execute perfect form with your body weight, you can make the exercise harder by adding weights to your hands, by stepping on an unstable surface with your front foot (balance disc, foam pad), or you can place your rear leg on an unstable surface such as a physioball. You should be able to comfortably perform 2-3 sets of 10 reps on each leg before advancing this exercise.
Imagine not being able to climb stairs, bend over, or even walk Changes in hip joint muscle-tendon lengths with mode of locomotion. Riley, P.O., Franz, J., Dicharry, J., et al. Center for Applied Biomechanics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Gait & Posture, 2010 Feb; 31 (2): 279-83.. All pretty essential if you ask us! But that’s what our bodies would be like without our hip flexor muscles. Never heard of ‘em? It’s about time we share why they’re so important, how your desk job might be making them weaker (ah!), and the best ways to stretch them out.
Are you sitting right now? Squeeze your buttocks, then release them: You should feel them tighten, then slacken. While slack muscles aren’t necessarily a bad thing—all of our muscles shouldn’t be firing at all times, after all—resting all of your body weight on your slack glute muscles (as you do when you sit) creates a lengthening of the fascial tissues within and surrounding the glutes, which weakens the gluteals’ natural tension. When the buttocks are excessively weak, the quadriceps and hip flexors have to work harder to compensate, and these muscular imbalances often sneakily follow us onto our mats to cause problems and pain. Want help? Try these poses:
I fortunately remember the nutrition label for many foods. If it doesn’t have a label, I remember what I’ve studied. It just sticks mentally and saves me time as I don’t have to input my calories via tracking. I use to track calories (started like 5yrs ago) which did help me get a better understanding (started to remember within 6m) of which foods had what and at what amount.
I say make the 5th rep hard, but when I lift heavy, I like to stick with 4–5 reps. I feel if something is truly heavy, we won’t be able to hold onto it for as long, therefore, 4–5reps is my time frame for failure when lifting heavy. Again, if I need to keep doing reps to reach failure, then it’s too light. When I lift light, my time frame for failure is around 12–15 reps. If I need to do more reps to feel the fatigue of failure, then it’s way too light.
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.).
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips to come into a bridge position with a neutral spine. Tuck your chin into your chest. Dig your elbows into the ground. Press the bottoms of your feet together and move your heels as close to your butt as possible. Inhale as you lower your hips toward the ground. Exhale as you lift your hips. Do 15 reps.
The primary hip flexors are the rectus femoris, iliacus, psoas, iliocapsularis, and sartorius muscles. The rectus femoris muscle has two distinct origins proximally: the direct head and the reflected head. They originate at the AIIS and the anterior acetabular rim (in close proximity to the anterior hip capsule), respectively. The tendinous fibers of the rectus femoris coalesce distally and become confluent with the other quadriceps musculature in the thigh. The quadriceps consists of four distinct muscles: 1) the vastus intermedius; 2) the vastus lateralis; 3) the vastus medialis; and 4) the rectus femoris. The rectus femoris is the only quadriceps muscle that traverses both the hip and the knee joint. The rectus femoris is a powerful hip flexor, but it is largely dependent on the position of the knee and hip to assert its influence. It is most powerful when the knee is flexed, whereas significant power is lost when the knee is extended. The rectus femoris is innervated by the femoral nerve (i.e., the posterior division of L2 to L4).
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It’s a lofty goal: Gain 10 pounds of muscle in just one month. While such results are aggressive and can’t continue at the same torrid rate indefinitely, we’ve seen firsthand individuals who’ve followed our mass-gaining programs and reached double digits in four short weeks, averaging gains of 2-3 pounds a week. Trust us, it can be done. But if there’s one thing such a bold goal needs, it’s an ambitious training and nutrition strategy. In regard to nutrition, don’t even think about taking that aspect lightly. You can work out all you want, but if you don’t ingest adequate calories and macronutrients, you won’t build muscle. What and when you eat is paramount to your results, and you’ll find all you need to know about gaining mass in a short amount of time in our bulking diet meal plan.
Running with a sway to one side or experiencing muscle spasms? If your gait is off, it could be a sign of weak glutes. “A stiff hip joint would usually cause a more severe or obvious altered gait. If there is hip stiffness/poor mobility in the hip joint, it will lead to abnormal movement in all of the hip stabilizer muscles, including the glutes, and eventually pain and weakness,” Bayes explains.
I say make the 5th rep hard, but when I lift heavy, I like to stick with 4–5 reps. I feel if something is truly heavy, we won’t be able to hold onto it for as long, therefore, 4–5reps is my time frame for failure when lifting heavy. Again, if I need to keep doing reps to reach failure, then it’s too light. When I lift light, my time frame for failure is around 12–15 reps. If I need to do more reps to feel the fatigue of failure, then it’s way too light.

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The exercises that allow you to use the greatest amount of weight are the ones that help you build muscle the fastest. These also happen to be the lifts that allow for the greatest percentage of increases in loading. We’re talking compound (multi-joint) exercises here, done with free weights. You’re not going to grow at nearly the same rate with a workout comprising machine exercises and isolation movements.
Choosing the right size stability ball matters—if you’re using one that’s too big or small, your body positioning could be wonky, making the move less effective, says Henwood. For the V-Lift and Bulgarian Split Squat in this workout, choose a ball that naturally has your legs at a 90-degree angle when you sit on it (your hips should be at the same height as your knees). You may need a smaller option for the Hamstring Press—opt for one that you can comfortably hold between your legs so it stays put for every rep.
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