So, who cares right? Wrong. Everyone has seen that little old man walking with a cane, hunched over almost to the point of staring at the ground. Do you think he always walked like that? I'd bet you he didn't. Maybe he had an injury that never healed properly, or maybe after spending years and years in a similar position, his body became tighter and tighter until eventually he ended up bent over.
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.
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.
This test measures a participant's ability to stand up from a seated position as many times as possible in a thirty-second period of time. Testing the number of times a person can stand up in a thirty-second period helps assess strength, flexibility, pain, and endurance, which can help determine how far along a person is in rehabilitation, or how much work is still to be done.
The general strategy adopted by most present-day competitive bodybuilders is to make muscle gains for most of the year (known as the "off-season") and, approximately 12–14 weeks from competition, lose a maximum of body fat (referred to as "cutting") while preserving as much muscular mass as possible. The bulking phase entails remaining in a net positive energy balance (calorie surplus). The amount of a surplus in which a person remains is based on the person's goals, as a bigger surplus and longer bulking phase will create more fat tissue. The surplus of calories relative to one's energy balance will ensure that muscles remain in a state of anabolism.
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.
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.
"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.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles in the front of the hip that act to lift the knee and bring the thigh towards the abdomen. The major muscles making up the hip flexors that we will focus on are the iliacus and the psoas, or the iliopsoas and the rectus femoris. The rectus femoris is a “two joint muscle” because it crosses both the hip and knee joints. As a group, the hip flexors have attachments on the lumbar spine, the pelvis, and the femur. In addition to their major function of flexing the hip, their attachment on the spine makes them an important part of the core muscles and spinal stabilizers.
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.
Objective: Are you getting stronger? Increasing either weight or reps? If you're measuring individual markers on a daily basis like vertical jump, grip strength, or resting heart rate then what sort of trends are you noticing in these variables? If they're staying the same while your strength is increasing, then you're recovering well. If they're decreasing and you find yourself weaker over time then you're not recovering well.
It’s true—your genes can play a role when it comes to building muscle. In general, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type I, which are slow twitch, and Type II, which are fast twitch. Depending on which you have more of, you may have an easier or harder time gaining muscle. “Fast twitch muscle fibers are two times as thick as slow twitch muscle fibers, lending to the overall thickness of the muscle without any activity,” explains Lovitt. “Those people with a genetic predisposition of a high percentage of these fibers can increase muscle size very easily while the people with a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers have to work really hard to put on mass.” It’s the reason why a world-class sprinter genetically has more fast twitch muscle fibers than a world-class marathoner—it comes down to what we’re born with.
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!
Many people eat two or three meals a day and the occasional protein shake (when they remember), and then wonder why they're not putting on weight. To increase muscle mass, you have to have excess energy (calories and protein) in your system - supplied by regular small meals throughout the day. Most people have no idea how many calories they need. Do you? You may find that eating until you're full is not enough, especially if you're eating the wrong sort of calories (i.e. all carbs and no protein!). Protein is the priority followed by carbs then fat, but all are important and play a part in building mass and size.
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.
"Your glutes are made up of three different muscles, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus," says Lefkowith. "They externally rotate your hip, abduct your hip, extend your hip, and even posteriorly tilt your pelvis." Because of this, it is important that you not only work one or two of these muscles, but rather, focus on showing all of them some love. "If you were only to do moves in one plane of motion, say a front lunge or squat, you wouldn't work your glutes to strengthen all of the joint actions they can perform."
We don't allow self-promotional posts. Don't post about athletes outside of the bodybuilding realm. Check the rules to see if your post would belong in one of our bot-automated threads rather than as a separate post. Do not ask for advice on how to rehab an injury or how to deal with any medical condition. Don't post about supplements. If you haven't been training as a bodybuilder for at least a few years, your questions probably belong in the weekly Newbie Tuesdays thread.
Yes, genetically some of us put on muscle faster than others, but even then it’s fractions of a degree, not DRASTIC sweeping differences. We tend to get this question from men or women who are so thin and have such fast metabolisms, they probably need to put on 40-50+ pounds of both fat and muscle, before they would ever even think to use the word “too bulky.”
The other two, the medius and minimus, work together to aid your gluteus maximus in raising your leg to the side. Plus, those smaller glute muscles help rotate your thigh outwards when your leg is straight, and inwards when your hips are bent. Talk about a dream team! (To learn more about the workings of your glutes, check out The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises!)
Take note to see if the thigh rests down parallel to the ground (Picture 2) or if it stays up in the air (Picture 1) (You will need someone to be nearby to see what your leg does). Perform on both sides and compare. If the thigh does not stay raised up in the air then there is no true hip flexor tightness and stretching does not need to be performed. If one of the thigh/legs stays up noticeably higher than the other, then stretching will need to be performed. If your leg is able to hang down comfortably parallel to the ground or lower then you passed the test!
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.
How to do it: From your hands and knees, move your hands out from under your shoulders so your arms are extended at roughly a 45° angle. Tuck your toes under your feet. As you exhale, straighten your legs and lift your butt and midsection toward the ceiling. Your knees should be slightly bent, and you should be up on your toes. Now drop your head between your arms, straighten your arms and legs, and push back on your feet. Press your heels into the floor, or as far as you can go. Hold for two seconds.
How to do it: Stand with feet just outside the shoulders and hands behind your head. Squat, keeping your knees behind your toes and squeezing your glutes. After holding this position for two seconds, jump vertically. Pull the toes to your shins in midair to prepare for landing. Land in the starting squat position, hold three seconds and repeat for 10 reps. Be sure to land softly, with the hips back and down.
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.
A 2001 study at the University of Texas found that lifters who drank a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates before working out increased their protein synthesis more than lifters who drank the same shake after exercising. The shake contained 6 grams of essential amino acids — the muscle-building blocks of protein — and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
Healthy sources of fat include: cold water oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), extra-virgin olive oil, peanuts (unsalted), avocado, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or flaxseed. Nuts (any sort, just make sure they are unsalted) are a great food to snack on if you're having trouble gaining weight, as they are not only high in calories, but they contain monounsaturated fats, a good source of protein, fibre and contain a number of essential minerals that are needed for health. For those not consuming any oily fish, you may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement, such as cod liver oil or flaxseeds.
I always recommend starting on the low end of the scale. Only increase volume when you absolutely need to. So, if you’re training chest, you could do 6 work sets of dumbbell bench presses to start out, breaking down to two sets per workout for three sessions per week. You can gradually add sets from there, experimenting with different training splits that will allow you to get in more volume without overtraining (we’ll discuss training splits next).
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.
If you have blisters and other foot issues, it could be related to weak glutes. “A new blister could indicate a change in the gait of the runner, and it could be a sign of poor gait/biomechanics from glute weakness such as altered foot striker pattern,” says Bayes. (It’s worth mentioning, however, that this could also just be a sign of a sneaker problem, and you might just need to buy a better-fitting pair of shoes.)
How can the muscle progress just because you held a weight for awhile when you could of held a heavier weight for less time? It won’t. It won’t grow because it’s not receiving new tension. Extending the rep by going slower is great, yes, but this slow must be the actual bar speed and not just slow because you can make it slow. You create actual bar speed by making light weight feel heavy. So lift light weight so that the fibers have to switch when it starts to feel heavy. This will increase your strength compared to just lifting heavier right away or all the time. This will help create an actual tempo with actual weights. Remember my example above about how the overall weight after making light weights feel heavy? This is because your muscles have sensed a level of tension that altered its force production so now you have to lift less, yet work harder. Read that again :) this is growth. This is how muscles sense it needs to grow. If you keep the same weight and never increase the weight, then you keep the same tension. This same tension is not enough to create new tension. Remember when I talked about failure? Well, the point where the fatigue of failure comes into play alters as well. It takes less time. That’s the point. Not much time is needed for growth, just break down the muscle as much as it can to a healthy level and do it again. Keep doing it and keep trying to increase the weight.
Bodybuilders also train small muscles with a similar volume, frequency and intensity of their larger muscles. Strength athletes laugh at this. “Curls are a waste of time” is a common phrase you will hear hurled at a bodybuilder. This is SILLY. Although big compound movements should be most people’s resistance training priority, smaller muscle group focus work has some benefits for every athlete. Bicep tears are quite common among strength athletes, especially strong men and powerlifters. This happens because these competitors will lift tremendous weights with their backs, but their biceps are the weak link. Many of these injuries could be prevented with some good old-fashioned bodybuilder type isolation work. If you are only as strong as your weak link, doesn’t it make sense to make those weak links strong ones?