Adequate hydration is essential to muscle building, yet few people get enough water, even without daily exercise. So in addition to the daily 8 to 10 glasses of water recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Karas suggests an additional 12 to 16 ounces before working out. He then recommends another 8 to 10 ounces for every 15 minutes of vigorous exercise.
This is a great, functional exercise, and one I have written about in the past. The basic glute bridge is simple, just lay on your back with your knees bent, lifting your hips in the air. This is an excellent starting point, but most of you will quickly need to move on to more challenging variations to really get your glutes fired up. Check out my two favorites:
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.
Too much sitting: You probably know it can contribute to serious health problems like obesity and osteoporosis. But did you know it also contributes significantly to back woes, including lower back pain in yoga poses? Fortunately, you can use your yoga practice to offset the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, relieve associated back pain, and set the stage for safe practice of intermediate poses like backbends.
The three players that make up your glutes are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The maximus is pretty much the M.V.P. It creates the shape of your butt and works anytime you raise your thigh to the side, rotate your leg, or thrust your hips forward. 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!)
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"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."
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.
I learned from this to focus on the body weight exercises. I never understood why I could lift a lot of weight, but felt weak when it came to dips, pull ups, push ups etc. Normally I spend 2 hours in a gym: 20 min jogging, 80 min lifting, 20 min jogging, 5 days a week. After reading this I’m excited to incorporate HIIT training in addition to mobility training on my off days, because I think I was wasting a lot of time and effort. I can push way harder on lifting days without the jog beforehand, so I’ll also be able to make the most of 60 minutes…
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.
If you’ve been training longer than 6–12 months, you can split your workouts into upper- and lower-body days. The most common setup is to train upper body one day and lower the next so that each area gets trained twice in one week. If you train four days per week, you can train upper body on Monday, lower Tuesday, rest Wednesday, and then do upper body again on Thursday, lower body on Friday, and then rest on the weekend.
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.
How to do it: Lie flat on your back with your feet firmly planted on the floor, knees bent, as if you’re doing a standard bridge. Keeping one foot fixed to the ground, lift the other up, keeping the bend in your knee. Drive your hips up toward the ceiling, driving through your planted leg and using the raised leg to keep your pelvis even and balanced. Don’t let your non-working leg/side drop, Reames advises, and keep emphasizing the heel plant. Lower toward the ground, then repeat.
And not to drop a truth bomb but, most of us need to be doing glute exercises — and aren’t. “Lack of use is the biggest reason so many people tend to have weak glutes,” says Cassandra York, PhD, MS, RD, CSCS, best-selling fitness author and a professor at Central Connecticut State University. “We don’t walk as much as we used to. We don’t take the stairs. And when we do move, we tend to be quad dominant,” says York.
It’s not just about lifting—it’s about lifting safely and correctly. And if you’re not performing exercises properly, it’s impossible to make any progress. “When someone is just starting to work out, it can help to work closely with a knowledgeable personal trainer in order to learn proper form,” says Ingram. But that goes for experienced lifters, too. If you aren’t sure about a movement, it’s better to ask. “If you’re not working the correct muscles, you can’t expect them to grow,” explains Ingram.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your feet planted firmly on the floor, knees bent. If you’re just starting and using your bodyweight, reach your arms straight up over your chest and clasp your hands. If you’re using dumbbells, place the weight (plate, kettlebell, dumbbells) comfortably on your pelvis and hold it steady. To really activate your glutes, thrust your hips up toward the ceiling, driving with your legs, and dig your heels into the floor. Lower your hips until they’re hovering right above the floor level, then repeat.
Chin-Ups. The chin-up is the easiest way to determine someone’s relative strength. If you can knock out sets of bench with your bodyweight but can’t perform at least 5 bodyweight chin-ups then it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. Chin-ups are an excellent mass builder for the lats, biceps, and upper back so they should take the place of machine variations like lat pulldowns whenever possible.
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.
The good news is that there are plenty of good hip stretches out there that you can do to relieve discomfort, decrease tightness, and increase mobility in your hips. Since your hips are involved in so many of the movements you make (both inside and outside of the gym) stretching them is a great way to keep them feeling good and ready to work for you. Add some of the 12 hip stretches Atkins demos below to the end of your workout, or spend 10 minutes each day just doing a few of them, to improve mobility in your hips.
Prison food isn’t as bad as people think. Prisoners often get three meals a day. Meals need to meet a certain amount of calories. You don’t need that much protein to build muscle, but prisoners can buy protein powder (and also extra food like oatmeal). Prisoners aren’t underfed in most western countries. The diet may not be optimal, but it’s sufficient to build muscle.
Foundational supplements are often overlooked for building muscle, because they work behind the scenes. In actuality, foundational supplements are important to take for building muscle, because they assist with overall health and wellness and contribute to the effectiveness of other muscle building supplements.* Some of the top foundational supplements are:
Other muscles that can be recruited to assist with hip flexion include the tensor fascia latae (TFL), the pectineus, the adductors, the gracilis, and the anterior aspects of the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. The contribution of these secondary hip flexors largely depends on the position of the hip at the time at which movement is initiated.
Bodybuilders often split their food intake for the day into 5 to 7 meals of roughly equal nutritional content and attempt to eat at regular intervals (e.g. every 2 to 3 hours). This method can serve two purposes: to limit overindulging in the cutting phase, and to physically allow for the consumption of large volumes of food during the bulking phase. Contrary to popular belief, eating more frequently does not increase basal metabolic rate when compared to the traditional 3 meals a day. While food does have a metabolic cost to digest, absorb, and store, called the thermic effect of food, it depends on the quantity and type of food, not how the food is spread across the meals of the day. Well-controlled studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly labeled water have demonstrated that there is no metabolic advantage to eating more frequently.
The real problems begin, however, in poses requiring full extension (straightening) of the hip joint. These poses include backbends such as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward-Facing Bow Pose), where both hips are extended, and standing poses like Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I) and Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III), in which the legs open forward and backward (front leg hip flexed, back leg hip extended). In all these poses, tight hip flexors can cause painful compression in the lower back, a fairly common problem in backbends.
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.
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.
Do Belgian squats (or "single leg squats") with a dumbbell. Hold out in front of your chest a dumbbell using both hands. Standing in front of a bench, lift your right leg back so that it's parallel to the floor and resting comfortably on the bench. Bend into a squat using the left leg, so that the right knee almost hits the floor. Lift and repeat 3 x 8. Repeat using opposite leg.
How to do it: Sit comfortably into the leg press machine, pressing your back against the seat and your feet firmly planted to the platform. Lift off and press, straightening your legs so your knees assume a neutral position (not straight or severely bent). Continue lowering the platform until your knees create 90° angles, then return to the neutral starting position and repeat.
In recent years, the related areas of fitness and figure competition have increased in popularity, surpassing that of female bodybuilding, and have provided an alternative for women who choose not to develop the level of muscularity necessary for bodybuilding. McLish would closely resemble what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competitor, instead of what is now considered a female bodybuilder. Fitness competitions also have a gymnastic element to them. A study by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that female bodybuilders who are taking anabolic steroids are more likely to have qualified for substance dependence disorder, to have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, or to have a history of sexual abuse.
I’m going to cover this in detail in a bit, but for right now, just know this: it’s VERY possible (and common) to gain weight fast in the hopes of gaining muscle fast. The problem, however, is that the majority of the “weight” a person in this scenario will end up gaining will be body fat rather than muscle mass. This is something that needs to be avoided at all costs, and I’ll show you how a little later.
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.
However, not all proteins are created equal in the muscle building stakes. Always remember the better the quality (biological value) of protein consumed, the more of it will be used for muscle building. To maximise muscle growth, stick to high-quality proteins, such as whey, milk, eggs, fish or lean meats. However, combining lower quality or incomplete protein from plant-based sources, such as nuts and beans, can still be a valuable protein source for muscle building.
It has been argued that purposely overtraining for a brief period can be beneficial. One article published by Muscle & Fitness magazine stated that you can "Overtrain for Big Gains". It suggested that if one is planning a restful holiday and does not wish to inhibit their bodybuilding lifestyle too much, they should overtrain before taking the holiday, so the body can recuperate and grow during the prolonged rest period. Overtraining can be used advantageously, as when a bodybuilder is purposely overtrained for a brief period of time to super compensate during a regeneration phase. These are known as "shock micro-cycles" and were a key training technique used by Soviet athletes.