Signs of Over-Training

18 07 2011

The signs of over-training

  • Your joints, bones, or limbs hurt.
  • You become sick easier and more often
  • You fail to complete you normal routine because of a lack of energy or physical power.
  • You have troubles sleeping or never seem to get enough sleep.
  • You have soreness in your muscles that last much longer or get muscle cramps very often.
  • You’re becoming less lean despites work-out more.

If you suspect you are overtraining, start with the following:

  • Get some Rest to fully recover: Reduce or stop exercise and allow yourself a few days of rest.
  • Keep Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids and alter your diet if necessary.
  • Sports Massage: This may help relax you mentally and physically.
  • Warm up before your workout. Proper warm-up can help prevent injuries.
  • Fuel up after exercise. Your body needs energy to recover and that comes from food. A combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat will give your body the energy it needs.
  • Stretch after you work-out to prevent cramps and muscle soreness.




How to Brake a Fitness Plateau

14 04 2011

Weight Training PlateauIt is easy to take your progress for granted. Steadily you have been losing weight, shedding inches, gaining muscle and then all of a sudden it just stops. This is called a plateau and occurs when your body becomes accustom to the resistance being placed upon it and no longer needs to work as hard. The body adapts very quickly and a plateau can occur in as little as four weeks if the muscles are not being constantly challenged.

1.  Interval training.  The science really supports this one.  Intervals done right are very painful (you’re training at 90% or more of your maximum ability) but they are short.  As with most exercise, more is not better (hgh, human growth hormone, works while you rest, remember?) but do try working in a couple of interval workouts a week.  20 minutes max is all you need.  And don’t tack them on to another workout.   Seriously.  Because then you won’t be able to give those intervals your all.  Bored of treadmill sprints (or they give you shin splints)? Try bike sprints.  Or rowing sprints.  Or, heaven help you because you will barf, swimming sprints.

2.  Mess around with your macronutrient ratios.  Recent research has shown that eating fat and protein for breakfast can give you a metabolic boost that will help you burn fat throughout the day and help you stay full longer.  I’m not saying cut out healthy carbs all together, just don’t fear the fat!  And don’t mess around with that Smart Balance stuff – go for the coconut oil, olive oil, heavy cream and whole eggs.

3.  Try a new type of exercise.  Always do step class?  Try martial arts.  Die-hard runner?  Try boot camp.  There are more ways to exercise than even I can blog about (not that I’m not trying, mind you) and change is good.  It shocks your body and will make you sore in places you didn’t know you could be sore!

4. Cut back on your cardio.  For many of us, the instinct to just do more – more classes, more miles, more laps – is strong.  If some is good, more is better right?  Not so with exercise.  And you know that I speak from experience here.  Too much cardio actually teaches your body to store fat, can increase your hunger or just convince you that since you ran 10 miles you can eat whatever you want, goldanggit.  Many of the leanest people I know do minimal cardio and focus mainly on the weights.  I’m not telling you not to do cardio, just to resist the impulse to do more of it.  If you want to run a marathon to prove to yourself you can do it or because you love to run or because racing gives you a thrill or even just because you think the finisher’s tee is adorable then you should totally do it!  But if you are running a marathon because you think it will make you lose 10 pounds, rethink that.

5.  Lift heavy stuff.  If you haven’t started lifting weights, do it.  Not just because adding muscle will increase your resting metabolism (not by a ton, but every little bit helps) or because muscle takes up less space than fat but because it is good for you in so many ways.  Increased bone mass.  Stronger heart.  Fewer varicose veins (unless you squat too heavy and then you can get hemorrhoids but that’s another post). Increased confidence.  And if you already lift weights, change it up: try lifting heavy with few reps, or light with many reps.  Try doing supersets.  Lots and lots of different programs out there.

6.  Eat more calories.  This may sound counterintuitive but I think by now we’ve all heard about how our metabolisms will head off into the Siberia of starvation mode if it thinks it’s not being sufficiently fed.  Cutting back on your calories only helps you lose weight to a point.  You may actually need to eat a bit more.  How to tell?  Do you feel tired, lethargic and/or more cold than usual?  Have you lost your sex drive?  Losing your hair?  Brittle or strangely ridged nails?

7.  Get your metabolism tested.  If you have health insurance and this isn’t too costly, this can be a good thing to do if nothing else is working.  Get your thyroid tested (especially if you are pregnant, recently were pregnant, are lactating or are female and over 50).  Get your vitamin and hormone levels checked.  It can’t hurt and who knows – it might turn up a health issue you need to know about!





Super Sets: for Muscle Growth!

13 04 2011

When you set up a strength training program, one of the first things you’ll decide is how to structure your workouts. There are any number of training methods to choose from depending on what you’re after. Most of us start out with straight set training: doing one exercise for several repetitions, resting and then doing another set of the same exercise. This is a great way to get started with strength training but there are other options.

Supersetting is just one method of training that can save time, add intensity and help you bust through weight loss plateaus.

It’s a good idea to change your strength workout every 4-6 weeks to avoid plateaus, and supersets offer a great way to completely change what you’re doing.

Superset Basics
Supersetting is an advanced training method in which you do two exercises, one after the other, with no rest in between. The exercises can be for the same muscle group or two different muscle groups, depending on your goals. The idea is to do one exercise and, instead of resting and doing another set, doing a different exercise and alternating those exercises for your desired number of sets The Benefits of Supersets

Supersets help you:

  • Save time. Going from one exercise to another without rest will make your workouts shorter and more efficient.
  • Increase intensity. If you choose supersets that work the same muscle, but with different exercises, you’re adding to the intensity of your workout.
  • Overload your muscles. By working the same muscle with one exercise right after another, you can overload your muscles without using heavy weights. This is great if you don’t have a spotter or don’t want to lift very heavy weights.
  • Make things interesting. If you’ve been doing straight sets forever, supersetting can make weight training more interesting and definitely more challenging.
  • Easily set up a workout. All you do is pick two exercises, either for the same muscle or by using some of the other ideas listed below, do them one after the other. Rest and repeat!
  • Incorporate more variety into your workouts. You don’t have to do exercises for the same muscle group. You can do opposing muscle groups or even two complete different parts of the body.

 Types of Supersets

You may be surprised at how many options you have when it comes to supersetting.

Some of the basic supersetting training methods include:

  • Pre-Exhaustion Supersets: This involves two exercises for the same muscle group. The first exercise is an isolation move, which targets one muscle group, and the second is a compound movement, which targets multiple muscles. Example: Leg extensions, which target the quads, followed by squats. The quads are tired, but the other muscles used in squats (glutes, hamstrings and inner thighs) are fresh.
  • Post-Exhaustion Supersets: This is the opposite of pre-exhaustion. You start with the compound movement and follow that with the isolation exercise. Example: Bench press followed by dumbbell flies.
  • Compound Superset. This is a tough way of training since you’re putting together two compound exercises, requiring more energy and strength. Remember, compound exercises are those that work several muscle groups at a time. Example: Squats followed by lunges.
  • Isolation Supersets. In this type of training, combine two isolation exercises. Example: Dumbbells flies followed by a cable crossover.
  • Opposing Muscle Groups. When you do two exercises that target opposing muscle groups, one muscle gets to rest while the opposite muscle works. You can pair back and chest, biceps and triceps, hamstrings and quadriceps, etc. Example: Biceps curls followed by triceps kickbacks.
  • Staggered Supersets: In staggering, you do an exercise for a different muscle between sets. For example, during a straight set of chest presses, you could throw in a set of calf raises or crunches while you rest your chest muscles. This saves time, allowing you to work smaller muscle groups while the bigger ones rest.
 




Drop Sets : Muscle Mass and Strength

30 03 2011

In weight training language drop sets is a technique for continuing an exercise with a lighter weight once muscle failure has been achieved at a heavier weight. It is just as effective for both genders.

How to do drop sets or extended sets to build more muscle:

  • You start off with a certain amount of weight and let’s say for example you start off with 200 pounds in the bench press and…
  • Let’s say the most reps you can do with 200 pounds on the bench press before your muscles get tired is 5 reps but instead of stopping at 5 reps…
  • You would DROP or lower the weight down to 180 pounds and then do as many reps as you could with 180 pounds and you’ll probably end up doing 5-to-10 more reps with 180 pounds and once you’ve done as many reps as you can with 180 pounds…
  • You would drop the weight again (maybe down to 160 pounds) and do as many reps as you can with 160 pounds so basically…

A drop set helps you build more muscle  while getting stronger. Making you do more reps in a set – drop sets are so intense!

You should only do 1-to-2 drop sets at the end of your workouts so for example…

  • Let’s say you do a bench press workout where you bench press 200 pounds for 5 sets of 5 reps then…
  • Only on your 5th set is where you would do the drop set of something like…
    • Bench pressing 200 pounds for only 5 times and then you would drop the weight and…
    • You would bench press 180 pounds for 5-to-10 times and then you would drop the weight again and…
    • You would probably bench press 160 pounds about 10-to-15 times and…

What to do :

  1. The goal of a drop set is to fatigue the muscle to the fullest extent, so the first thing you are going to do is decide what weight to start with. For example, if you normally do bicep dumbbell curls with 35-lb. weights, I suggest your first set start at 40 lbs. instead. WITHOUT ANY REST BETWEEN SETS.
  2. Set up your weights in a manner that is convenient for you to use one right after the other without any rest (or as little as possible) when going from one weight level to another. Only “drop” by 5 lbs. between sets.
  3. Perform 6 to 8 curls at the highest weight, then drop to the next weight and do the same, and finish with lightest weight (you may be very surprised how “heavy” this light weight may be during drop sets!). DO NOT rest between weight set changes. The goal of drop sets is fatigue. You will need to rest after you complete the full drop set.
  4. Give your 100% in each rep!

Benefits:

1. Boost intensity

The major advantage of making use of drop sets when working out is that they enable users to utilize most of their muscle fibers in a workout, thereby enhancing the workout’s intensity. Actually, performing drop sets is a great method of making your workout even more challenging. Higher workout intensity is believed to offer more muscular benefits.

2. Enhance muscle growth

Aside from an improved muscular endurance, drop sets also aid in promoting hypertrophy. The term hypertrophy refers to the process through which muscles are built, making them bigger. If your desire is to build muscles quickly, then you should consider starting to use drop sets.

3. Highly effective

Because performing weight training using drop sets involves lowering the weights once you become fatigued, it is highly effective and it also accommodates beginners. You can lower the weight with time until you become comfortable. However, experts usually recommend performing only three drop sets for more gains.

4. Workout suitability

Drop sets can be utilized when performing numerous exercises. Dumbbells and resistance machines are the most suitable when doing drop sets. This is because the weight reduction during the workout requires being achieved quickly.

The use of drop sets in weight training also has certain drawbacks apart from the many advantages. For instance, since this particular training system extends the set further than the normal termination point, muscles are overworked and this could lead to severe muscle pain.





Muscles & Exercises

22 02 2011

Shoulders, chest and triceps: Used to push objects away from you and used to push yourself away from objects.


Shoulders, upper back muscles and biceps:Used to pull objects towards you, and used to pull yourself towards objects.


Abdominals and side muscles:Used to rotate and flex your spine, and also stabilises your spine.


Lower back muscles:Used to extend your spine backwards and assists in bending, rotating and stabilising your spine.


Buttocks:Used to stretch your hip joint, extend your leg backwards and rotate your thigh outwards.


Upper thigh muscle:Used to flex hip joint forward and to extend your knee joint to straighten your leg.


Hamstring muscle:Used to bend your knee, moving your heel towards your buttocks.


Calf muscle:Used to flex your foot downward and bend your knee joint.


Shin muscle:Flexes your foot upward and inward, and supports the arch of your foot when running or walking.






Fat Spot Reduction – MYTH

31 01 2011

Spot reduction is simply the idea that if you work a specific muscle group you will decrease the amount of fat in that area. The most common example of this is people focus on abdominal exercises in an effort to lose weight in their stomach area.

The truth is, how and where we lose fat depends on: genetics, hormones and age. If you want to lose fat around the thighs or belly, you have to create a calorie deficit (through exercise and diet), lose body fat and see how your body responds. What you’ll find is that, wherever you store excess fat is that last place you’ll lose it. For women, that’s often the hips, thighs and lower belly and for men it’s often the belly and waist.

Sit-ups, for example, will definitely strengthen your abdominal muscles, but sit-ups alone will not get rid of the layer of fat that is covering the muscles. To lose fat anywhere on your body you need to burn calories by following a program that involves both cardiovascular training and weight training. In doing so, you will decrease fat stores throughout your entire body, including the problem areas

How to Reduce Fat

Adopting a healthy diet is by far the best way to lose excess weight.

It is a Golden Rule that 80% of weight loss comes from diet while only 20% is a result of exercise.

 





Tone your Body

31 01 2011

What’s ‘Toning’

The word tone simply describes the state of your muscles. When at rest, your muscles are in a constant state of partial contraction in order to be ready for action. The ‘tone’ of your muscles is involuntary, so you can’t change it by lifting weights a certain way.

People take the word ‘tone’ and redefined it to mean how lean we are & how defined our muscles appear. In fact, it’s even a gender specific word. Women go to the gym to ‘tone up’ while men go to the gym to lift weights and build muscle but, the truth is, they are the exact same things. Becoming lean and building muscle requires lifting weights; the difference is in how much you lift.

While you can lift weights to change your body, you’re limited as to what you can really change about your muscles. This is what your muscles can do:

1. Grow larger and/or stronger
2. Shrink smaller and/or get weaker

You can’t make a muscle longer (without surgery) and you can’t etch it into a certain shape or look. If your goal is to see your muscles, your goal isn’t toning, it’s losing body fat. Whether you’re a man or woman, wanting to bulk up or slim down, you’ll do the same kinds of exercises and training methods. The difference lies in the weights, reps and sets you’ll do, as well as how many calories you take in (more if you’re building muscle, less if you’re trying to lose fat).

Whatever your goal or gender, don’t be afraid of heavy weights. It takes a lot of hard work to bulk up–even men can find it difficult, never mind women (who don’t have enough testosterone to get huge muscles).

Toning doesn’t exist but know what strength training will do for you:

  • You’ll build muscle, which helps with fat loss in the long-term. A pound of muscle can burn about 20-30 calories a day. A pound of fat burns about 5 calories a day. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn all day.
  • You’ll strengthen muscles and connective tissue which helps you perform better (whether in daily activities or physical activities) and reduces risk of injury.
  • You’ll preserve muscle mass as you age. We naturally lose muscle over time, unless we lift weights.
  • You’ll build stronger bones.
  • You’ll improve your flexibility, stability and balance.
  • You’ll feel better about yourself.

Getting More Definition

After all you’ve read here, you may be wondering exactly what to do to get more definition in your body. The answer is simple: Lose body fat. To lose body fat you need 3 key elements: Regular cardio exercise, consistent strength training for all your muscle groups and a healthy low-calorie diet.








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