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.
Carbohydrates give my working muscles the energy to do their job. Without them, I would feel tired, and my gym sessions would definitely struggle as a result. Just like I approach my protein intake as a way to repair my muscles after training, I aim for the carb "sweet spot" where I can maximize energy and glycogen replenishment. And just like with protein, quality is crucial. My carbs come from high-fiber, high-nutrient foods. I include plenty of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and brown rice, among others.
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.
Partial range of motions train partial ranges while full range train full range. Simple as that. They both help each other. Isometrics are great. I do them all the time. I add them in however I can. Holding it on the bottom. Holding it on the top. Or just in the middle. Constant tension vs time under tension are one in the same. When constant tension cannot be applied, it’s okay because one can just keep holding the weight so time can apply tension. Either way, Tension is caused until the weight is dropped. Will their be enough tension for growth? You tell me?
Sandow was so successful at flexing and posing his physique that he later created several businesses around his fame, and was among the first to market products branded with his name. He was credited with inventing and selling the first exercise equipment for the masses: machined dumbbells, spring pulleys, and tension bands. Even his image was sold by the thousands in "cabinet cards" and other prints. Sandow was a perfect "Gracilian", a standard of ideal body proportions close to those of ancient Greek and Roman statues. Men's physiques were then judged by how closely they matched these proportions.
When these muscles are under constant tension because of ergonomics and habitual postural positioning, they may become tight and shortened. This can result in pulling forward on the lumbar vertebrae, creating hyperlordosis and causing the pelvis to tilt anteriorly. This is commonly seen in people who maintain a seated position for a prolonged period such as office workers, computer programmers, and others who find themselves sitting at a desk for hours every day. It is important to provide education on proper ergonomics, movement, and self-care to these individuals.
If you’re someone who’s got a good stretching routine down, both before and after a HIIT workout, bike ride or run, odds are the discomfort you feel indicates that there are grounds for more strengthening exercises. It’s important to add that many yogis with extremely flexible hips run into overstretching injuries like hip flexor strains. But, these injuries aren’t just limited to the uber-flexible. Runners, cyclists, and Stairmaster lovers might strain these muscles due to frequent overuse. We’ll share a hip flexor workout below but, first up, some stretches.
Simply put, glute activation is waking up your glutes. It makes the connection from your brain to your muscle and gets the muscle fired up and ready to do some work. Glute activation should be done prior to your workout, but it can also be done as an active rest between sets. And trust me when I say that doing some glute activation prior to your squats, lunges, and deadlifts will result in an excellent glute workout!
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.
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.
Heath suggests incorporating dropsets into your training routine by immediately decreasing the weight and repping out again to failure. “Dropsets overload the muscle with shorter rest periods and increasing volume which you need to grow,” says Heath. “That overload improves your body’s abilities to utilize more nutrients, natural growth hormone, and natural testosterone into those areas and makes the supplements you take more effective.” Heath’s favorite way to do dropsets is on a pin-loaded machine since it’s faster to switch weights.
In addition to the proper amount of sleep, do not overdo your training regimen. While you might be tempted to think that "more is better," in fact the opposite is true. You can reach a point known as "over-training", in which you'll lose the ability to "pump" (engorge the muscles with oxygen-rich blood) your muscles, and this can even lead to muscle wasting—exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Here are some symptoms to be aware of if you think you may be falling into the over-training zone: