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Recent Bodybuilding Articles

Building Muscle At Home

building muscle at home

Gyms are great for a lot of people. Some people like all the equipment available. The motivation provided by the people around them helps drive others. There are some people who use the gym as place to get away from everything and concentrate on gaining muscle mass. But that does not mean the gym is for everyone. There are a lot of people who aren't working out in gyms, for a variety of reasons; the cost may not be practical, you may not have the time, or you may not be comfortable working out in a fishbowl. No matter your reasons they can all be overcome while still gaining muscle mass at home.

One of the downsides of training at home is that you won't have all the equipment available at the gym. Don't let that bother you. People have gotten real results from home equipment. You can too. If you can afford all the equipment you need that is great. If you can't there are always alternatives. I have heard of coffee tables used as flat benches, and kitchen chairs as the place to do shoulder presses. The bottom line is there is almost always a way to work out. Remember though, no amount of muscle is worth an injury. If you can't do an exercise safely, then don't do it. Often times the safety issues can be addressed by having another person or even two there to spot for you and help lift weights into awkward starting positions.

One of the best ways to work out at home is using dumbbells. They can be easily dropped to your sides if you reach a fail point in your lifting. They are also a lot easier to get into a good starting position than a barbell.

Here are a few exercises that you can do to build muscle at home:
  • Push-ups - These are a stand-by of most home workout routines. They are perfect for building muscle. They can also be adjusted into an infinite amount of positions. In order to change the portion of the muscle that is being worked you can move your hands closer together or farther apart. You can also change the angle that you work from by elevating your feet on a chair, a step, or even a coffee table.
  • Curls - Hope fully you have dumbbells, if you do not you can use anything that can be held securely in your hand. Even a filled grocery bag. By keeping your elbows close to your side, you can curl from your hip up to a spot directly in front of your shoulder.
  • Tricep Press - Place a chair 3-4 feet in front of you and hold the top of the chair-back with both hands. Your body should be leaning at a 50°-60° angle with your arms against your chess. Press yourself up from the chair-back by straightening your arms. The intensity of this exercise can be adjusted by how far over you are leaning in order to reach the chair.
  • Lunges – You can use a set of dumbbells to do lunges in your house. You can either do them in place or if you have enough room like a hallway, you can do them walking. Hold the dumbbells down by your waist as you lunge in place or a walking lunge.
  • Calf raises - These are one of the easier exercises to do at home. Sitting in a chair, with your feet on a block, place your free weights on top of a board laid across your knees. You can now perform the calf raises against the weight that is resting on your legs.

There are limits to the amount of wweight training you can do at home. But the weight training you do at home is a lot more effective than anything else you choose to do at home. Until you are comfortable or able to go to a gym, building muscle at home is the best option. Remember that the same things apply at home that would apply at a gym. Always warm up and cool down. Never put yourself or others into danger with risky exercises.

What is a Keto Diet?

keto diet

The Ketogenic diet is based on ketogenesis, which is the process in which ketones are produced by the liver during the break down of fatty acids. When the body does not have adequate carbohydrates for energy it must turn to fats for energy, this prompts the liver to break fatty acids into ketones which are used for energy in place of the glucose.

The Ketogenic diet was used in the early 20th century as a treatment for epilepsy. The ketotic state causes an anticonvulsant effect reducing the severity and occurrence of seizures. With the advent of anti-seizure medications the ketogenic diet fell out of favor.

So, is the keto diet just another name for a low-carb diet?
Yes and no. The low carbohydrate diet popular today uses a moderate level of protein and fat to lower carbohydrate intake. The keto diet increases fat intake to replace carbohydrates and does not alter protein levels, keeping them at just what is needed for maintenance. The traditional keto diet uses a 4 to 1 ratio of fat to other nutrients. It uses just enough protein to maintain growth and repair and keeps overall caloric intake at a level sufficient to maintain the proper weight for height and age.

The theory behind the use of the keto diet for fat loss is that once the body is in a state of ketosis it will continue to burn fat for energy and when the fatty acids in the blood are used up the body will turn to fat stores. Carbohydrates are kept to a minimum to reduce their availability for energy. The body uses the available carbohydrates first for energy, which is usually used up in the digestion process, and then shifts to ketosis for the rest of the energy needs.

Many people who use this diet use some form of testing to make sure they are in a ketogenic state. There are test strips that use urinalysis to determine the amount of ketone bodies present. This serves a two part purpose. First, it tells the dieter whether they are in a state of ketosis. Second, it helps the dieter monitor overall ketone levels to avoid the metabolic condition, ketoacidosis. This is when the ketone bodies build up in the blood stream and decrease blood pH substantially, leading to many other medical issues. Although a severe condition, and it must be taken seriously, it is rare on a regular keto diet.

A keto diet can be enhanced by endurance training using long slow exercises like walking, jogging, biking, swimming, etc. The body kicks into ketosis when long term energy is needed. The body uses up the available glucose, and glycogen stores, fairly quickly and then must turn to fat for energy. If the body is already using its fat burning furnace it does not have to switch over for the long term needs of endurance training.

Some people use medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) on the keto diet due to their more ketogenic properties. Most food has long chain triglycerides (LCTs) but 30 to 60% of the total calories may be replaced with MCTs on an MCT Keto diet. MCTs can be bought in supplement form to add to the diet.

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Building Bigger Calf Muscles

Do you have trouble getting your calf muscles to grow? Calf muscles seem to be a more difficult muscle to build and require a different training philosophy than most muscles.

Tips to growing bigger calf muscles:
  • Make sure you have incorporated squats and deadlift into your routine.   These are great core exercises for the legs that also hit the calf muscles.
  • Lift heavy and hard. Make sure you are lifting heavy and getting at least 8 reps. Aim for 4 sets on each exercise.
  • Hit the calf from different angles. Make sure when doing calf raises that you vary the angle of your feet. Vary your toes inward and outward to hit different muscles in the calf.
  • Do 2-3 exercises directly hitting the calf muscles. Some good ideas of exercises include: standing calf raises, seated calf raises, donkey calf raises, and calf raises on the leg press machine.
  • Vary your routine from week to week. Change the exercises, reps, or weight from week to week.
  • Last but not least – make sure you are eating enough calories and protein to help your muscles grow!

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20 Simple Ways to Lose Fat and Live Healthier

lose fat
Here is a list I put together of 20 simple daily ways you can become more fit.

Feel free to leave a comment and add other ideas.
  1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  2. Always leave extra food on your plate when finished eating
  3. Don’t always park so close to a store entrance, leave a little walking distance
  4. Take you pet for a walk instead of letting them run free
  5. Eat 6 small meals instead of 3 large ones a day
  6. Do your own yard or housework
  7. Drink a glass of water before your meals
  8. Opt for mustard instead of mayo
  9. Choose wheat over white bread
  10. Eat pretzels instead of potato chips
  11. Hand wash your car every week
  12. Eat slow not fast
  13. Get up and walk around at work or home
  14. Get outside instead of watching tv
  15. Skip that one going out meal and eat at home
  16. Write down what you eat everyday
  17. Eat breakfast everyday
  18. Drink a glass of water instead of that soda
  19. Substitute whole milk for 2% or skim milk
  20. Write down your fitness goals on paper

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Weighted Dips - The Best Chest Exercise

So what is the best chest exercise? I am willing to bet most of you will think of bench press or flys when thinking of the best chest exercises.

Have you tired to dips lately? Dips really hit your chest muscles hard and it seems to stretch the muscle. If they seem too easy try doing weighted dips. There are a couple ways you can do weighted dips. The easiest way is to buy a dip belt and hang the width from the belt. You can also put a dumbbell in between your ankles while doing the dips. This will limit the amount you can add however.

When should you start adding weight to dips?
I would say once you are able to do 15-20 reps easily, then you should start adding weight.

How much weight should you add?
I like to start with 25 and workup to 45 then 90. Try to work you way up with the weights as your able to do more reps. Stick to about 8-10 reps.

So try doing some weighted dips today. You will be amazed how your chest feels after a few sets of them!!

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Examination Of Core Exercises

core exercises

In the repertoire of any bodybuilder should be several exercises known as core movements. These movements are most effectively used to directly stimulate all of the major muscle groups, i.e. arms, legs, chest, shoulders, and back, while providing indirect stimulation to the supportive muscle groups at the same time.

Core movements should make up the foundation of any training plan. These exercises, or variations of them, should be the basis on which you develop your daily workout routine. When used with proper form and appropriate weight, core exercises offer the bodybuilder diverse benefits, such as even or symmetric development, rapid strength gains, and both direct and indirect muscle stimulation.

Generally speaking core exercises target the largest clusters of muscle within the major muscle groups and stimulate them all at once. For instance, the pectoralis major is split into three sections, upper, mid and lower pectorals. While there are exercises that target each of those three pectoral sections individually, a core chest exercise will sufficiently stimulate all three zones in one movement. As a result more weight can be moved at one time, providing greater stimulation to the group as a whole, as well as the minor or supportive muscle groups surrounding the pectorals.

The same is true for every core exercise and major muscle group, thus the benefits of core movements are apparent. Below is an examination of some common core movements, pertaining to the five major muscle groups of the body.

Chest (Pectoralis Major (clavicular, middle and lower parts)) – Flat Bench Press


Remaining the most effective and popular core exercise for chest, flat barbell bench press is a highly effective movement allowing rapid strength gains, excellent incidental stimulation of supportive muscle groups and as most bodybuilders will attest, offers the only acceptable measure of a strong man’s true worth. The bottom line is if you want your chest to grow, flat bench press is the movement that will get you there.

Flat bench press is performed by lying back on a bench and pressing a weighted bar or dumbbells straight up over your chest.

Proper form for flat bench press requires an arc from beginning point (low point at chest, even with lower pectorals) to end point (arms extended with bar over face, directly above eyes). It is recommended to perform flat bench press with a free-weight barbell rather than dumbbells, until your pectoral and supportive muscle strength is capable of allowing proper form for flat bench dumbbell press at increased weight. It is also recommended to avoid the use of cable or mechanical bench press machines (when speaking of core exercises), because a great deal of the incidental benefit of the bench press movement will be lost to the range of motion restrictions offered by those apparatus.

When beginning this movement, be sure to place your hands just wider than shoulder width apart on the bar. Most will tell you that wider is better, though at the very least, once you place your hands any closer than shoulder width apart, you have effectively moved the stimulation focus from your pectorals to your triceps. So for most bodybuilders, your hands will be approximately two and one half feet apart. With few exceptions, most gyms use Olympic bars and benches for their free-weight areas; Olympic bars typically have a knurled surface with two smooth (non-knurled) rings at the approximate width of the typical bodybuilders grip location. Use those rings as a guide for where your grip should be, adjusting position slightly for individual comfort.

When performing flat bench press, do not arch your lower back off of the bench as you struggle to lift the weight. Doing so will eventually result in moderate to severe lower back injury. If you feel the need to arch your back, it may be because you are attempting to lift more weight than you can handle. Remember, good form may require some ego sacrifice until you are able to perform the movement properly. A tip for curbing back arch is to place both of your feet flat on the end of the bench as you perform the movement (instead of on the floor). Having your feet in this position with your knees bent will stop you from arching and in fact will help you to drive your pelvis into the bench. Just be careful not to press down with your feet, lifting your hips and lower back off of the bench. Also be aware that you will need to maintain balance of the bar while your feet are off of the floor.

Shoulders (Deltoideus (anterior, lateral and posterior), Trapezius (superior, middle and inferior)) – Military Press, Shrugs


Deltoideus or deltoids are typically a difficult muscle to stimulate directly; the nature and placement of the deltoid muscle make it highly versatile and in fact many people wrongly consider them to be a supportive muscle group for pectorals and various back muscles. The function of the deltoid is, of course, to raise and/or manipulate abduction (raising) of the arm. With the shoulder socket being articulated as it is, there are many movements that can be used to effectively stimulate one or two of the three deltoid muscle separations (anterior, lateral and posterior). The vast majority of those movements are intended to target the muscles in an assistive pushing or pulling movement, i.e. incline bench press or rows. In order to isolate and stimulate all three separations at once, while at the same time offering indirect stimulation to your back and clavicular pectorals, there is only one movement that will do: Military Press.

Similar to bench press, the military press is best performed with a barbell, until the supportive muscles around the deltoid are strong enough to accommodate dumbbells. Again, form is very important with the military press, especially so when you consider the fragile nature of the shoulder socket.

There are many variations of this movement, from standing presses, to seated dumbbell presses and even the clean and jerk, though as a core exercise, seated military presses are about as effective a movement as you’ll find for developing your deltoids.

There is some argument about the proper form for this movement; clearly is it important to maintain good straight posture throughout the movement, keeping your back laid flat against the backrest of the bench, though the argument comes in the proper position for the lower point or bottom of the movement. Many bodybuilders are strict in their interpretation of this exercise, demanding that the bar come to rest on or at the nape of the neck, behind your head; while others assert that it is safer for the shoulder joint if the bar is brought to the collarbone, in front of the head; while still others choose to alternate the movement, using both techniques in the same set. Whichever way you decide is better for your training, simply remember to focus on balancing the weight evenly and keeping your back straight. As with flat bench press, grip the bar at just more than shoulder width apart. Your grip width should be nearly identical to that of your flat bench press.

In addition to deltoids, the shoulder muscle group includes the trapezius muscles, or traps. Some bodybuilders prefer to think of the traps as a part of the back, since both the middle and inferior traps reside between the shoulder blades, part way down the middle of the back, but they are considered a part of the shoulder. Semantics aside, the trapezius is a very dense and strong muscle group. Their function is similar to a shock absorber in a car; they carry the weight of the arms, shoulders and back, and serve to stabilize the head in support of the neck muscles. Contrary to most other muscle groups, there really is only one way to properly stimulate the trapezius, though there is more than one way to go about doing it.

Shrugs are the one movement that will stimulate growth in your traps, and while shrugs can be done by way of an upright barbell row, a standing barbell or dumbbell shrug is going to give you the best results.

As with every other exercise form is important, and because the basis of this movement requires extra stress be put on the spine through the shoulders, straight posture is critical to avoiding injury.

Simply grip the dumbbells at your sides and lift your shoulders, keeping your arms straight at your sides (as though shrugging in response to a question you don’t know the answer to), then lower them back to the bottom position. Be sure to perform this movement slowly and with control of the weight. Do not jerk the weight or bend, lean or otherwise manipulate the weight up, as this will result in injury.

Some bodybuilders will perform this movement in a rotating fashion, moving the shoulders up in a hunched position and down with the shoulders pushed backward. Performing this movement with a rotation may provide some ancillary benefit, but can be damaging to the rotator cuff and shoulder cartilage. When done correctly this movement will offer not only direct stimulation to the trapezius, but will also indirectly stimulate the deltoids, lumbar, quads, biceps and forearm flexors.

Back (Latissimus dorsi, Teres Major/Minor, Rhomboideus, and Lumbar) – Bent Over Rows


The human back is a complex and vast grouping of several strong and dense muscles, all working with or against each other to keep us erect and moving. Some of the back muscles are the largest muscles in the body and as such are capable of moving more weight than most others. Due to the number of muscles included in the back, there are an equally large number of movements or exercises used to stimulate the back muscles; from pull downs or pull ups, to dead lifts, to many variations of rows.

For the purposes of a core exercise, bent over rows (a.k.a. heavy rows) may be the way to go. The bent over row gives you the opportunity to stimulate nearly all of the back muscles directly at various points of the movement, as well as the quads, biceps and traps, while lifting more weight than possible through other exercises.

Though the movement is relatively simple, the prone position it requires exposes your spine to the possibility of severe injury if proper form is not observed. Contrary to instinct, it is not proper form to arch your back during this movement; doing so will stretch your lumbar muscles and put them in a position of over extension. Proper form for this exercise involves bent legs and a stiff straight back throughout the movement.

Bending at the waist with your knees bent beneath you, grip the bar at or just wider than shoulder width, and without extending your lower back (remain bent over), lift the weight from its bottom position to your chest. As you lift, squeeze the muscles of your back and try to avoid using your biceps to lift the weight. Do not bounce the weight at the top or bottom of the movement and avoid releasing or resting the weight on the floor between reps (maintain tension on the muscles through out the movement). You can also try close grip rows in the same fashion by moving your grip from shoulder width to the centre of the bar or T-bar, lifting the weight the same way.

Bent over rows can be done using an Olympic bar and plates, or a T-bar rack (as pictured). It is not appropriate to use dumbbells for this exercise as the independent movement of your arms will again open your up for severe injury. Dumbbells are more appropriate for single arm rows, with the use of a bench for stabilization.

Performing this exercise correctly will offer direct stimulation to your lats, rhomboids, middle and inferior traps and teres’, it will also offer indirect or isometric stimulation to your lumbar. As with flat bench press, experiment with grip width until you find a position that is both comfortable and effective.

Legs (Gluteus (maximus and medius), Quadriceps femoris, Adductors, Hamstrings, and Calves (Gastrocnemius and Soleus)) – Squats


Once again, given the articulate nature of the legs and the number of joints involved, there are many exercises available to stimulate the various muscles involved in the leg, though none, perhaps, are as effective as squats. Squats allow the use of much heavier weight than most other exercises, with the possible exception of seated leg press. Incidental to the muscles of the legs, squats also provide stimulation to the back and abdominal muscles, the shoulders and the arms.

Due to the nature of this movement and the amount of weight generally involved, safety and form are paramount to performing this exercise effectively. It is important to maintain good straight posture through the range of this movement. Place your feet shoulder width apart and bend deeply, keeping your knees straight and steady above your feet (do not bow your legs out when bending). Keep the weight balanced in a line above the knees for the duration of the movement without bending forward at the waist. Be careful not to dip past an 85 or 80 degree knee bend, and do not lock your knees at the top of the movement.

If this movement is executed properly, nearly all of the muscles of the leg will be stimulated directly, including the glutes, hamstrings and calves and you will have indirectly stimulated your shoulders, back, arms and even your chest.

Arms (Biceps brachii, Brachialis, Triceps brachii (lateral head, long head, and medial head), forearm extensor, forearm flexor) – Standing Barbell Curl, Close Grip Flat Bench Press


The muscles of the arm are some of the smallest muscles of the entire body; they aren’t particularly dense and have much smaller attachments to the bones than other muscles do. This means that typically the muscles in your arms will be weaker or less capable of lifting heavy weight than your other major muscle groups. The arms are used to stabilise and assist with virtually all other core movements and will receive a great deal of incidental stimulation from the rest of your workout. Some people find it difficult to adequately stimulate the muscles of the arm directly, though much like flat bench press, the bicep and tricep are known as the measure of a bodybuilder success.

As with most muscle groups, there are several exercises available to target the bicep, though the most effective for direct stimulation of the arms and indirect stimulation of the back, shoulders and legs (isometrically) throughout the entire movement would be standing barbell curls. This movement is quite simple, gripping the bar evenly with your palms facing away from you, at a point just wider than shoulder width and standing straight; lift the bar from the lowest point to the top of the movement so your arms are fully bent. It’s important to lift slowly and not to jerk or swing the weight to the top using your hips. Control the weight during the down movement or negative portion of the movement, again moving slowly and not letting the bar simply fall.

As with all other exercises, form and posture is important, and if done properly, standing barbell curls will be effective in stimulating all of the muscles in the front of the arm, including the forearm flexors, as well as the deltoids, traps, lumbar and pectorals.

The remaining arm muscles work in opposition to the bicep, acting to extend the arm rather than bend it. Many bodybuilders don’t realise that the tricep actually makes up more of the arm than the bicep. Hence there being two brachii for the bicep (bi = two) and three for the tricep (tri = three). For this reason many people will find (eventually) that their triceps are capable of moving more weight than the bicep.

As the biceps assist in pulling weight toward the body, the triceps assist in pushing weight away from the body. For this reason, probably the best core exercise for triceps is close grip flat bench press. Even with this simple movement there are several variations, from lying barbell raises to incorporated pullovers. For the purpose of core exercises, a straight close grip flat bench press is most appropriate.

As with standard flat bench press this movement is simple; raise the weighted barbell from your chest to a straight arm position above your face. The difference being that your grip is much closer together, as indicated by the movement name. As a result of the close grip it is advised that you use a shorter bent bar (preacher curl bar) for this movement, to make balancing the weight easier and to position your wrist joint for less stress.

When done properly, this movement will not only stimulate your tricep nicely, but will also provide indirect stimulation to your pectorals and shoulders as well.

When you think of your body as a collection of large muscle groups, rather than individual body parts, you recognise that each group will function to support and assist all the others. This provides you with an opportunity to take advantage of your natural make up and use your body the way it was intended.

As mentioned earlier, the key factor in any core movement is both the direct and indirect stimulation provided by heavy movements. The benefit of heavy core movements is to provide more stimulation than other more isolated exercises and in turn provide better and more even development. While there is a time and place for isolative movements, lower weights and more direct focus, populate your training plan with as many core movements as possible and you will experience fast gains in strength and size.

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Shoulders Make The Man

The first thing anyone notices when they see a bodybuilder for the first time is their shoulders. It doesn’t matter if it’s a face-to-face meeting or just a glimpse from across the gym. The shoulders cap the arms and frame the chest, they are the mark of power and ability and well developed shoulders command attention and admiration.

For some reason many bodybuilders don’t give their shoulders the attention they deserve. A great many bodybuilders get stuck in a pattern of focus on their chest and biceps, ending up with uneven and non-symmetrical development in their other major muscle groups.

One reason for that may be that some people think shoulders are difficult to stimulate properly. When with proper kinetic understanding, the shoulders can be developed to be a winning attribute of any physique.

Seated Military Shoulder Press

seated military shoulder press
Being a core movement and one of the only shoulder movements affording the skeletal position and leverage to lift large amounts of weight, Seated Military Shoulder Press is one of the most effective deltoid movements around. Performed properly, the military press will allow you to build powerful, round and well defined deltoids.

There is some argument about the proper form for military press; some demand that the bar be brought down to the nape of the neck, behind the head, stating that this is the proper bottom position of the movement. While other claim the correct bottom position is at the collarbone in front of the head. There may be advantage to both positions; the rear position afford a deep stretch to the muscles of the shoulder and puts the shoulder socket in a desirable position for providing ample stimulation to the anterior and lateral deltoids. The front position puts more focus on the anterior deltoid and offers indirect stimulation of the upper or clavicle pectoral, but it also offers a potentially safer position for the shoulder socket itself.

The bones of the shoulder are relatively fragile on their own, but when coupled with the dense and encompassing deltoid muscles, it makes for a very well-built joint. However, when the joint is overextended backward (beyond the lateral plane of the body) it is at risk of separation, and the rear position of the military press brings that joint dangerously close to that overextended position.

Lateral Dumbbell Raises

lateral dumbbell raises
Many bodybuilders reserve lateral raises for the shaping phases of their training plans, to be used during periods of cutting where the goals is developing further definition in their muscles. As such lateral raises are often sold short as a method for developing size and strength in the deltoid.

At first, this movement may be difficult to perform with weight that is heavy enough to provide deep stimulation, but over a small amount of time and when done properly Lateral Dumbbell Raises are highly effective for providing good stimulation to the lateral and posterior deltoids.

As always, form is if paramount importance with this movement; it can be performed while standing or seated, it can be done single arm or with both arms at once. It can be done with dumbbells (as the name implies) or with the use of a cable crossover or cable row machine.

Whichever method is used, the basics of the movement are the same, starting with the weight at you hip, gripping the dumbbell normally with your palm facing in toward your body; raise the weight, straight out, away from your hip until your hand (and the dumbbell) is perpendicular to the floor and even with your shoulder. Do not raise the weight higher than the horizontal plane of your shoulder and be sure to control both the negative and positive parts of the movement.

Quite often it is helpful to perform this exercise in front of a mirror, so that you can monitor your form during the movement and identify if you are inadvertently swinging, tilting or otherwise helping the weight up rather than lifting it with strict form.

Upright Rows

upright rows
A familiar sight in most gyms, Upright Rows are an old stand-by for many bodybuilders, used as a good movement for stimulating not only the lateral and posterior deltoids, but also the trapezius major. This is a highly effective movement that is easy to perform and for most of us, is one that allows a good mix of heavy weight and strict form.

Upright rows can be performed using a barbell, dumbbells or cable machines, and the movement is quite simple. Begin with an over grip on the barbell, held at the waist; lift the bar straight up, holding the weight tight against your abdomen and chest. The top of the movement should have the bar resting just below your chin and your bent elbows extended above the horizontal plane of your shoulders.

Because of the pulling nature of this exercise, there is a tendency among beginners to improperly swing their upper back when lifting the weight. Proper form dictates that the body should be held rigid and straight throughout this movement, forcing the shoulders to carry the weight load. For this reason, it is likely more effective for beginners to use a barbell rather than dumbbells or a cable machine, as both of these other methods change the angle of the movement and lend to improper form.

Heavy Barbell Shrugs

heavy barbell shrugs
As previously mentioned, many bodybuilders will treat their traps (superior, middle and inferior) as a part of their back routine, though for reasons of scheduling and efficiency, it may be better to combine traps with the rest of your shoulder routine.

Perhaps the most effective exercise for developing large, sloping traps is heavy barbell shrugs. Due to the basic nature of the trapezius muscles, it is important to use relatively heavy weight to stimulate the muscle group.

Using an Olympic barbell and either a squatters rack, a smith rack or a standing barbell rack, grip the loaded bar with an overhand or alternate grip (one hand over, one hand under), stand straight up lifting the weight off of the rack and shrug the weight using your traps to lift.

Some people suggest that it’s desirable to rotate the shoulder forward through the movement, while others suggest it’s better to shrug straight up and down. It may be a simple matter of comfort and you should chose a method based on your own preferences, though it is important to note that rotating your shoulders through a heavy movement such as shrugs can put undue stress on the joint and cause cartilage problems if done incorrectly.

Ultimately, the shoulders are a key element of anyone’s physique and should be given a due amount of focus. The above are recommended movements that are highly effective for stimulating the muscles of the shoulders, though there are many variations of these exercises and even several movements that have not been discussed. It’s important, as with all other aspects of your training, to gain an understanding of all the available exercises and movements, to better populate your training plan with the most appropriate tools there are for your situation.

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The Practice Of Cycling Training

cycling training
The practice of cycling training intensity involves “down time” when no effort is made to produce new gains in muscular size and strength. There is some detraining because, by cutting back, you get a little weaker than your previous best, before pushing again to go into new (for you) poundage territory.

Taken to its extreme, i.e., if you cut back too much and for too long, cycling is a disaster. Do not abuse cycling. A 6-month “perfectly” organized stretch that brings you to a peak for just two new-ground workouts is a perversion of cycling. You need to train very hard for a darn sight more than a few weeks out of every 26 - for most of your workouts, in fact.

Some people see intensity cycling as a waste of time because they think that the more hard workouts they have, the better. They are so eager to get training flat-out, or very near to it, that they never develop the gaining momentum needed for long-term progress. Also, by dropping right into full-bore work, how are exercise form and mental concentration going to be learned or reviewed, and then perfected?

While you should push yourself to the limit for most of your workouts, “most” does not mean “all.” Learn not to push yourself to the limit during some periods. This is difficult to do if you have been locked into the “hard all the time” philosophy. Those who try to train full-bore all of the time have a built-in natural cycling format, whether they like it or not. Is there any typical working and family person who can train full-bore two or three times each week for 52 weeks of the year while being 100% healthy, 100% motivated for every single session, and not having work or family circumstances disrupt training? The disruptions and constraints of life force people to have ups and downs in their training, giving it a natural cycling format.

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Some Rules For Effective Cycling

effective cycling
When building back to your previous best weights, in readiness for the journey into new poundage territory, take an extra week, or two, or three. Build the springboard necessary for the big push into new poundage territory.

When adding poundage to the bar, use smaller rather than larger increments.

When you have made your last perfect rep and know there is only a partial rep left in you, keep it in and wait the extra workout or two until you can perform that rep perfectly. Do not drive yourself to exhaustion and stagnation by forcing out (with help) reps you cannot currently do. Save that energy and effort, and combine them with a bit more time and patience.

When in the final stages of a training cycle, get an extra hour of sleep each night.

Take an extra day or two between workouts when you do not feel 100% recovered.

Take more rest between sets, not less (unless you are experimenting with a faster pace of training).

When you are struggling to keep up with pre-determined poundage increments, delay the next planned increment and stay with the old weight until you have adapted to it.

Lots of little bits over half a year add up to far more than a couple of much bigger jumps over less than a month. This is especially true when, as so often happens, the latter is followed by stagnation, mental fatigue and physical injury, and having to start all over again.

Do not ruin the potential magic of abbreviated routines by adding poundage too quickly, in too large jumps, or by training too frequently.

Take more time to learn perfect form before piling on the weight.

Make time to study more about sensible training methods.

Find the time to develop a flexible body and then maintain it.

If in doubt, perform extra warmup work, but keep the reps low.

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Building Massive Chest Muscles

chest muscles
Are you looking for a massive chest like Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not hitting the chest muscle properly will leave you with underdeveloped pec muscles.

Here are some tips to build bigger chest muscles:

Focus on lifting heavy with volume

Lifts such as bench press and incline press allow you to lift more weight than other isolation exercises in the gym. Do not be afraid to stack a bunch of weight on the bar when doing bench press or other chest exercises. You need to stress the muscles as much as possible in order for them to repair and increase size. Ideally you should be shooting for 6-10 reps on bench press, while doing about 4 sets. You should be pushing yourself to almost failure on each set and it should not be easy. Do not go to low of reps or you will be working more on strength and not size.

Vary your chest exercises

Do not be one of the persons that is always doing flat bench every week to look cool. You need to be hitting incline, decline, and flys. Also, make sure you switch from barbells to dumbbells from time to time. Change the order or your chest exercises for a given day as well.

Incorporate Weighted Dips

Many people ignore this really effective chest exercise. It actually works your chest really well along with your triceps. Be sure to add weight to dips for added effectiveness. I never thought dips worked well until I started adding weight. Start with 25 pounds and keep working your way up. You will need a dip belt once you start doing more than about 50 pounds with a dumbbell. Weighted dips are definitely one of the best chest exercises.

Focus on proper form

Make sure your form is correct on all of your exercises. Not only cold you cause yourself injury, but you could be limiting your progress. Leave your ego behind and focus on technique rather than how much weight you can stack up.
Soon you will start seeing added size to your pectoral muscles by following these simple tips.

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How To Choose The Right Weight Gainer

weight gainer

Weight gain supplements are so common they have found their way into the mainstream through television, movies, and advertisements. A trip to the grocery store may reveal them lurking on the shelves. As with any supplement, the more popularity they gain, the more supplement companies jump on board with their own versions. How does a person wade through this confusing market and find the right weight gainer?

First it is important to note that counterfeiting in the weight gain market is uncommon, unlike other supplement areas. A weight gain formula simply needs extra calories to work and this is fairly cheap to accomplish. Most supplement manufacturers would not waste their time, or risk their reputation, on fake weight gain formulas. When trying to find a good weight gain formula it is important to remember that the goal is to gain muscle. To accomplish this a weight gain formula must have the right nutrients in a good ratio to add muscle and not just fat.

A few key points will help in the quest for the right weight gainer. Number one, flavor is not everything. Flavor comes at the expense of added sugar, and sugar does not build muscle. Actually, sugar can cause an insulin spike that opens up receptors on the fat cells and shuffles the excess calories there instead of the muscles. Some sugar (no more than 5 to 10 grams per serving) may be okay to make the drink palatable, but no more. Other carbohydrates in the formula should be complex carbohydrates, with at least a little fiber thrown in to enhance digestion.

The second point involves protein. It is important to remember that muscles are made up of mostly protein and water. Since the muscles require protein (more specifically amino acids) to repair damaged fibers and build new ones, protein becomes an essential piece of the weight gainer puzzle. Depending on how the weight gainer will be used, the amount of protein needed may vary. If the weight gainer is used to replace a meal then you will want one with a higher protein content. If it is simply an in-between meal supplement to add extra calories, and your regular meals are high in protein then the protein content does not need to be as high. Protein and carbohydrate content should be close to even, and protein should be at least double the sugar content.

Ease of mixing is the third key point. A good weight gainer is one you can throw in your car and mix on the road if needed. This provides muscle-feeding calories where ever, and when ever, they are needed. While on the road you can grab a container of milk (or water) from the store and mix the weight gainer on the spot. This comes in handy when you would otherwise have to skip a meal due to being away from home. It should not be a regular occurrence, but serves well in an emergency.

Look for a gainer with adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. This will help ensure overall health. A strong, efficient system is important for solid gains. Some formulas add specific amino acids, chromium, creatine and metabolic activators to enhance the formula. This can be a convenient way to get these other nutrients, but if you already take them separately it may not be necessary. Some companies will throw some of the cheaper extras in and hype the enhanced quality, but the extras really have no added benefit. This allows them to increase the price. Avoid these ones, they are more hype than benefit.

A good weight gainer should be low in sugar with some good quality complex carbohydrates. It should have good quality proteins almost equal to the carbohydrate content. A few additional components added to it, such as creatine, glutamine or vitamins and minerals, can be beneficial, as well. All of this in an easy to mix formula makes for a good weight gainer that will help pack on solid weight when accompanied by a solid training program. This is the essential piece, a weight gainer will not add muscle without a stimulus to use those calories for good. Extra calories without intense workouts leads to added fat stores and no added muscle. Lastly, don’’t rely on the name on the bucket to tell you if it is a good product. Research a little. Ask fellow lifters or check out a few online forums. Read the label, and not just the nutritional panel, but also the ingredients list. A good weight gainer can supply those muscle-feeding calories and nutrients to put you over the edge, when coupled with intense, muscle expanding workouts.

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All About The Chicken

One of the main staples of any bodybuilder’s diet is chicken…and lots of it. Eating so much poultry can be a challenge unto itself, it can be expensive, time consuming to prepare and potentially hazardous to your health if not looked after properly. Below are some tips and guidelines to help streamline this portion of your bodybuilding diet and make the largest element of your daily meals a joy to work with.

Chicken or poultry is one of the most versatile and simple meats available; it is available in many forms, reasonably priced and can be cooked in so many different ways, offering so many various flavours, it really is the best source of protein a bodybuilder can add to his diet.

Staring along the meat cooler and butcher counter at you local supermarket will give you some idea of the numerous cuts of poultry that are available; whole chickens, legs, wings, breasts, necks and many other assortments of chicken parts. You can choose from simple cuts of light or dark meat areas, whole cut legs with the bone and skin left intact, or even skinless / boneless breasts and legs. Speaking strictly about taste and pure culinary enjoyment, an outdoor grilled chicken leg with the skin and bone left in, basted with a mild jerk sauce and served with sweet bread, might just be the best dish on earth, though from a health and nutrition standpoint may not be the best choice.

It is widely accepted that skinless boneless chicken breasts are the way to go for a high protein bodybuilding diet; three to four breasts a day fits the bill quite nicely. If you’re buying your chicken in line with your regular grocery trip from the supermarket, you and you wallet may be cringing at the thought of consuming three to four chicken breasts a day, but there are easier and less expensive ways to shop.

With some possible exceptions, most cities have available wholesale butchers and poultry production factories that will likely offer walk-in sales to non-wholesale buyers through factory outlets. Quite often these factory outlets offer sales and discounts beyond what your grocery store mark up will allow, not mentioning the overall price advantage of buying straight from the factory. Typically the product offered through these wholesalers is pre-packaged boxes of standard poultry cuts, including skinless boneless breasts. These boxes, ranging anywhere from 3-8kgs, can contain enough chicken to sustain your diet for a two week period, reaching only nearly half what it might cost through the supermarket. All you need to do beyond that is make sure there’s enough freezer space to hold all that meat, well, nearly all.

So once you’ve found a deal on “bulk” chicken and cleared enough space in your icebox, what next? Unless you plan to eat the entire box of breasts in one sitting, at least a portion of it needs to be frozen before cooking. If you can avoid exposing the meat to the air during freezing, you can usually reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of freezer burn it will suffer; leaving the box sealed until you need it is of course your best option. Never, never, thaw chicken and refreeze it, if you must thaw the chicken, cook it and simply refrigerate the uneaten portion.

chicken bodybuilding
Let’s talk briefly about Salmonella bacteria or food poisoning; Salmonella is a bacteria that is found naturally in the intestines of animals, birds, reptiles, some pets and even humans; but is also found in the environment. People who eat food contaminated by or are exposed to Salmonella can become ill with salmonellosis, also commonly referred to as food poisoning. Chicken and pork are the two most likely sources of food borne salmonella bacteria in the home, and both meats if handled improperly can spread the bacteria to cooking surfaces, utensils and to other food through direct or indirect contact. The process of cooking the meat (heating it to the appropriate temperature for the prescribed amount of time), will destroy any bacteria already present within the flesh, though transfer of the bacteria can occur as the meat comes into contact with other food stuffs, and cookware etc prior to cooking. Always be sure to keep your food preparation area clean and use clean utensils and cookware for preparing your chicken. It’s a good idea to rinse or wash your thawed chicken breast in water prior to beginning your preparations; be sure to wash your hands with soap and hot water after handling raw chicken.

Now you’re ready to get cooking, but have you thought of the method you’re going to use to turn that hunk of raw poultry into a tasty and nutritious meal? While there are many ways to cook that breast, some are less healthy and efficient than others and it’s important to find a method that lets you retain the natural benefits of the meat, while remaining appetizing and not adding too much bad fat or extra carbohydrate to your diet. Let’s look at the three most popular and simple ways to cook your chicken; boiling, broiling and grilling.

The simplest and perhaps best way to preserve all of the natural amino acids and enzymes in the meat is to boil the chicken in water, otherwise known as poaching. Since there is no searing or charring involved and no actual hot surface is touching the flesh of the chicken, nothing is lost during the process of cooking and thus the finished product is pure and unaltered; in addition, boiling the chicken adds nothing to the meat such as fats or carbohydrates from sauces etc.

Different spices and seasonings are available to add flavour, which is carried into the meat through the boiling process, but essentially, boiling is the best way to ensure your chicken is just that…pure chicken. The only drawback to poached chicken is that the flavour can be somewhat distilled and faint, so for those who prefer a more flavourful chicken experience, broiling may be the way to go.

Broiling chicken involves placing the meat in the oven at high temperature for specific amounts of time, usually basted and/or pre-marinated in sauces, rubs and various spices. This type of cooking can be time consuming, though it would be possible to cook several breasts at once, depending on the size of your cookware. You will find that broiling chicken results in a much more flavourful and tender finished dish, the heat and length of time help to draw the flavours and oils from the basting sauces etc into the meat, essentially permeating the entire breast with foreign substances. Obviously, adding sauces to your chicken is not only going to change the flavour of the meat, but it will also add fats, oils and carbohydrates to the chicken, as well as alter some of the amino acid chains naturally found in the meat. The effect of the change could be insignificant, depending on the types of sauces (i.e. low fat products etc), or it could result in a fattening, cholesterol rich meal that would ultimately be detrimental to the goal of your diet.

Lastly, and perhaps finally (to the backyard grill masters out there), there is grilling. Virtually every restaurant you could go to offers some variety of grilled chicken, usually a skinless boneless chicken breast, grilled with a light oil basting, served with some form of pasta or rice, and you might be hard pressed to find a person who has not at some point tried similar recipes and dishes at home. Whether you plan to grill your chicken on an indoor electric grill or outdoors on a charcoal or gas grill, the process is virtually the same. As with boiling, grilling can be done to add nothing extra to your chicken, simply placing an unseasoned, plain breast on the grill can provide you with a nicely cooked and pure source of protein, though it would be less than tasty. There are many hundreds of barbeque sauces available and even some decent low fat, low cholesterol choices; marinating and basting your breast in one, or a combination of sauces is a good way to flavorize the meat, though, as with broiling you end up adding fats and carbohydrates to the meal. The difference might be, at least with open grilling, that a good deal of the oils and fats are burned off in the fire, leaving most of the flavours and less of the undesired contaminants; and again, the process of grilling leaves the chicken slightly altered, as far as it’s amino acid content, though the change is negligible and not enough to drastically alter the quality of the meat.

Any way you slice it, chicken is a tasty and effective way to increase the amount of protein in your diet, while not sacrificing taste and satisfaction from your meals. Make wise choices and you will be rewarded with an effective and wholesome diet that will support your bodybuilding goals.

See below for some quick and easy recipes for tasty and healthy chicken dishes.

EASY GRILLED CHICKEN
Ingredients
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup fat free Italian-style dressing
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini (substitute fresh mushrooms is desired)
Directions
1. Place washed chicken breasts in large sealable bag. Add 1 cup fat-free Italian dressing and close. Let marinate for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Cut up peppers into big chunks, and zucchini into big slices. Put into another sealable bag. Coat with leftover dressing.
3. Grill chicken and veggies over medium heat.

PANSEARED CAESAR CHICKEN
Ingredients
  • 2 - Large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 - Cup light (low fat / low cholesterol) Caesar salad dressing
  • Pinch - Seasoning salt or poultry seasoning
Directions
1. Place breasts in a low flat dish and pour dressing over breasts (be sure to cover breasts in sauce) and mix in seasoning, let marinate for 5-10 minutes
2. Preheat frying pan to medium heat
3. Place breasts in pan and pour dressing mixture on top, fry in pan until done
Tip – baste a small amount of the cooked dressing on the breasts after removing them from the pan for a small bit of added flavour

POACHED LEMON CHICKEN
Ingredients
  • 6 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 lg. onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 peppercorns
  • Salt to taste
  • Water to cover
Directions
1. Place chicken breasts in a layer in large skillet.
2. Top with onion, lemon juice, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt.
3. Pour over enough water to cover.
4. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium/low and cook 10-15 minutes or until chicken is tender.
5. Remove from heat and allow to cool in its liquid.

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Easy Ways To Increase Muscle Gains

For some of us it might be enough to simply go through the motions; to lift without attention and focus. Though, for most of us, gaining muscle will require a great deal of concentration, focus and adaptive training. For the most part, bodybuilding is a difficult endeavor to be successful with. What follows are some simple tips to maximize the growth of your muscles.

Many beginner bodybuilders will enjoy some fairly rapid gains within their first six months of training. Their body is being assaulted from every angle; it’s being forced to adapt to a new set of physical requirements and hopefully that beginner’s diet is sufficient enough to sustain that adaptation on an ongoing basis, thus allowing significant lean muscle mass gains.

What about beyond that first six months though? Your gains start to slow down, you notice reduced muscle soreness between workouts, maybe you sweat less during your workouts, and you feel less tired in general. Well, the fitness guru would tell you that you achieved your goals; you are now on a healthier path. Your heart is stronger (hence feeling less tired), your cardiovascular system on the whole is operating much more efficiently (the reduced sweating), your muscles are far more efficient at repairing damage due to strenuous exercise (lack of soreness), and your body is adapting well to the rigors of regular strenuous exercise (the reduced gains). This, however, is obviously counterproductive to your actual goals as a bodybuilder.

What you have reached is your first training plateau. Beyond this point is where you will have to commit the resources of your greatest muscle to this endeavor...your brain. If you were to continue to train as you have been, you wouldn’t necessarily do yourself any harm, but you would certain experience some greatly reduced gains. The human body is a marvel of adaptability; it will find a balance between energy out put and energy intake, and will adapt itself to fit those levels, all in an effort to maintain the status quo. In order to make continuous and efficient muscle gains, you must continually push your body to its limits.

We’ve all heard the colorful and memorable idiom, 'go heavy or go home'; and while often misunderstood as a male bravado excuse to grunt loudly and impress women, it is actually an intelligent gem of advice. The only way muscle will be gained is by stimulating the muscle group in question through increasing resistance training (essentially tearing the muscle fibers with each movement and causing the body to repair those muscles, in turn making them bigger). The problem lies in the adaptability of your body. Over time, your muscles will become accustom to the demands of your regular workout; your muscles will grow to be strong enough to handle the normal amount of weight you train with and will no longer need to repair themselves afterward. To counteract this is to continually lift heavier weights and rearrange your daily regime. You will find that most bodybuilders have no difficulty with the concept, though a great many do not understand why. The rate of adaptability you experience will be unique to you, so therefore the rate at which your weights increase will also be unique to you. As stated previously, bodybuilding is a sport in which you compete only against yourself (even on stage in actual competition, which we will discuss later). This is why it’s important to maintain a log book of your daily workout routine. Marking the reps, sets and weights lifted for each exercise will allow you to review your training history and determine if you have been increasing your weights at regular intervals and correlate those figures to your muscle gains.

The short story here is...lift as heavy as you can as often as you can; though that's not the whole story.

If your gains have slowed over a period of time, adapt your plan to not only increase your weights, but also change the specific movements and the order of the movements in your daily routine. Your body will adapt so well that staying with the same exercise order and workout schedule will also begin to reduce your gains. A general rule of thumb is to change your routine every three weeks to six weeks. You don’t need to make drastic changes, and in fact you can simply rearrange the order in which you perform exercises on each day. The level of change necessary will depend on how drastically you need to increase your gains.

By now you know what a rep is and a set is. A rep (repetition) being the unit of measure for each exercise movement (each time you lift the weight), and a set being the grouping of total reps for that exercise. A typical exercise will be comprised of three sets of eight to ten reps. More advanced bodybuilders will play with these numbers in an effort to customize their training for their specific circumstances in any given week or day, but generally 3 sets for 8-10 reps is normal for most bodybuilders.

A typical exercise will begin with a warm up (a very important beginning set at a lower weight), which is not usually counted as one of the three planned sets. Then the first set will normally be ten reps at an easily manageable weight (meaning that ten reps can be managed with little strain, but not much more), and then the remaining sets will be of incrementally greater weight, with the third and final set being of a weight that can only just be managed for between eight and ten reps (or as low as 6 reps for more advanced bodybuilders).

The terms failure and pump are often used to describe the feeling within the muscle at the completion of that third set. Often these terms are confused among each other, though each term describes its own distinct characteristics.

Before outlining those characteristics, understand that training without a spotter is dangerous and not recommended. (A person capable of lifting the weight you are using, who stands ready to assist in the event that you are unable to lift or become injured during the movement) Always use a capable and trusted spotter to prevent injuries and to assist with your form for each movement.

These terms describe the end result for a given exercise. For instance, performing three sets of incrementally greater weight on a particular exercise, ensuring that the cumulative effect of those sets is that you are unable to lift the weight even one more time without assistance would be known as 'working to failure’. Pump or tightness describes the size of the muscle following the movement, speaking to the volume of blood that can be 'pumped’ into the muscle through stimulation.

Many bodybuilders argue the validity of working to pump or failure for maximum muscle gain, with groups advocating either one or the other. Technically speaking, training to failure would be the most advantageous for the person most interested in gaining raw lean muscle mass, and working to pump is best reserved for times when shaping and trimming muscle groups is needed.

The general tone in this is simple, lift as heavy as you can while remaining safe and you will experience gains. When you’ve reached a plateau and feel like you aren’t making gains in muscle mass or in weights, use an experienced spotter and increase your weights deliberately beyond your failure threshold, to be certain you are stimulating the muscle group deeply enough to push past the plateau.

Now, the term 'form’ was used earlier and likely many were hoping to avoid another lecture on maintaining good form in your movements, but you have no such luck today. One of the most important factors for safety and effectiveness in weight training is form. The next time you're watching some He-Man at your gym lifting a ridiculous amount of weight on flat bench or push downs or even preacher curls, take a look at how he's getting the weight up. Is he moving slowly, in a controlled fashion and deliberately pushing or pulling the weight in a specific arc or direction? Or is he squirming, bending and manipulating the weight to its top point? The former would quite obviously be the safest and most effective method, but when looking around your gym, take note of the numbers of people employing the latter technique.

Form is important for two reasons; first of all, safety. Controlling the movement is the best way to be sure that weight goes where you want it to, translating to a safe movement. If you squirm and wiggle under the weight (or over it), you create opportunities for your joints and muscles to move in unnatural or dangerous ways in response to the stress. Most commonly, bodybuilders will suffer back, knee and shoulder injuries as a result of poor form combined with heavy weight.

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The second reason is effectiveness. Every movement you will perform is targeted to stimulate one muscle or group of muscles, employing poor form in those movements will not only take the focus away from the intended muscle group, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the movement; but in doing so, it will put that focus on other muscle groups, some of which are not capable of withstanding that kind of strain. When trying new movements or even movements you believe you have a full understanding of, be sure to research the proper form of the movement and practice that form with every lift.

Paying attention to form is one of the most effective ways of maximizing your gains. Another highly effective aspect of training to focus on for increased gains is the type of movements you perform. In the world of bodybuilding, there are many hundreds of exercises, movements and combinations of movements at your disposal, and likely you have chosen some of the more popular ones for your training arsenal. In order to maximize your gains, it's important to ensure that your movements or exercises are core focused, or core exercises. As stated previously, every movement targets a specific muscle or muscle group, but it does no good to focus your training on developing smaller, or incidental muscle groups when you could be focusing on the larger groups that are more capable of advanced growth.

For example; one would not expect enviable gains from a training plan whose exercises focus on quadricep adductors only. The adductors are capable of lifting only small amounts of weight in a very specific movement and would provide very little incidental benefit to the rest of your quad in the process. Why not focus your leg routine on the quad itself, which is capable of lifting far more weight and through its movements, will provide ample incidental stimulation to the adductor and the other muscles of the leg. Whenever possible, which should be most of the time, use core movements such as: flat bench press, shoulder press, squats or leg press, deadlifts, rows, dips and pull ups (or downs) to provide appropriate stimulation to the major muscle groups, as well as good incidental stimulation to smaller, supportive muscle groups.

Core movements can be identified as those exercises in which you can lift heavier weights, and should be the focus of your training per body part each day. Augment core exercises with isometric movements and get good overall stimulation.

Beyond training there are other ways to optimize your muscle gains, not the least of which is ensuring that your diet is engineered appropriately for your lifestyle, size and body type (See article on Creating a Diet Plan); but also drinking enough water through out the day and making sure you get enough rest.

The one possible element of your overall bodybuilding plan that may be more important than training or protein intake is rest. Muscle grows when your body is at rest...it's as simple as that.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was once quoted as saying “If you don't have to run, walk; if you don't have to walk, stand; if you don't have to stand, sit; if you don't have to sit, lie; and if you don't have to be awake, sleep.” While possibly not practical for the non-professional bodybuilder / movie star, his words are poignant. If you plan to work hard, train hard and play hard, when do you plan to grow?

These are seven of the easiest and most commonly used (or misused) bodybuilding concepts for maximizing lean muscle mass gain in your training plan. Lift heavy using core exercises and good form; eat well, drink lots of water and get lots of rest; and when ever you feel that your gains are slowing down, change things up.

There is nothing random or lucky about large muscle gains, it is a very scientific process that can be controlled, documented, and adapted to meet your own personal requirements. The number one element in every training plan that will lead to either failure or success is easy...it's you. Believe in yourself, be dedicated and smart and you'll make all the gains you're looking for.

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Most Effective Exercises for Building Leg Muscles

In order to get the kind of muscle mass results you are looking for you are going to have to lift rigorously, several times a week. Because it is likely that you will break your routine into upper body and lower body, we have separated our articles the same way.

The following exercises can all be done together and are great for adding muscle mass to your legs.

Deadlift

deadlift

Positioning - Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. The weights should be resting on the ground with the bar crossing over the balls of your feet. Squat down, keeping your eyes forward and your back straight. Grasp the bar just slightly wider than your feet.

The Lift - Keeping your back rigid and arms straight and unbent, raise the bar by extending the knees and hips. The power from this exercise should come from your legs not from your back. Bending your back can lead to herniated discs. Once you have reached the upright position complete the lift by raising your shoulders.

Down Phase - With the same pacing and control you used to lift the bar, return it to the starting position by lowering your body from the knees and hips.

Squats

squats

Positioning - The bar should be should rest on the rack 3 inches lower than the top of the trapezius muscle. You should stand backed up to the bar. Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width. Hands should be placed evenly on the bar.

Down Phase - Stand up into the bar, holding it steady across the trapezius. Slowly lower your body be bending at the knees and hips. You should always keep your eyes forward and your torso rigid. The tendency to look the direction you are moving can lead to falling, either forward or backward while lifting.

The Press - Once you have reached the bottom of your knee bend, extend your hips and knees and rise to the fully erect position. Exhale throughout this portion of the movement. Make sure that you maintain control of the bar as you reach the end of your motion.

Lunges

lunges

Positioning - Stand with one foot forward and the other back. The distance between the two should be a little longer than your natural stride. Make sure that the position of your front knee is directly above your front foot. In order to get great muscle mass gains you should have a dumbbell in each hand.

Down Phase - Slowly lower your rear knee to the floor by bending your front knee. Keep your Head up and your eyes forward. This will prevent leaning forward.

Recovery - Squeeze you buttocks tightly and rise by straightening both legs. Use your abdominals and lower back to maintain your upper body's position.

Leg Press

leg press

Positioning - This is done on a machine. Sit flat against the chair back, placing your feet firmly on the footpad. Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width. In the starting position your legs should be bent just past 90°.

The Press - Using your heels as the pressure point (not the balls of your feet), extend your legs to the point just before they lock.

Down Phase - Lower the weight at a controlled pace until you are back to your original starting position.

Calf Raises

calf raises

Positioning - Place your feet firmly on either the base of a calf raise machine or place your toes on the edge of your calf raise block. If you are using a machine then place your shoulders against the pads of the machine. If you are using dumbells make sure that you have them secure in each hand.

The Raise - The only motion should be at the ankle. By pressing down on the balls of your feet you can extend your entire body upwards. Do not bend you knee.

Down Phase - Lower yourself at a controlled pace until the heels of your feet are slightly off the ground.

Leg Extension

leg extension

Positioning - This is done on a leg curl machine. Seated on the chair of the machine your legs go over the top padded bar. This bar should rest behind your knees. Your feet then tuck in behind a lower padded bar. This bar will cross in front of your ankles. Make sure that this pad is just above where your shin meets your foot. The higher that this pad is the shorter you are moving the weight, cheating yourself out muscle mass.

The Extension - Raise the bar by extending your leg in a kicking motion The lift should continue until your calves are parallel to the floor but not so far that you lock your knees.

Down Phase - Lower the weight at a controlled pace until your knees are again bent to the original 90 degree position.

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Five Effective Exercises For Building Bigger Guns

The amount of lifting that is required for serious muscle mass requires a good schedule. As part of that schedule you’ll likely be breaking your routine up into sections. There just isn’t a way to work your entire body to exhaustion all in the same session. A good start is upper body and lower body. The upper body though can be broken down even more. Separating the upper body into chest in one session, and arms in another will allow you to get even bigger muscle mass gains.

The following are some of the best arm exercises for getting bigger and gaining serious muscle mass.

Bicep Curls

bicep curls
Positioning - This can be done many different ways, but one of the best is to use a curl bar. Sections of the bar are angled so that your hands rest at an angle. Simply by grabbing the bars outside grips, underhanded you know that you are in the right position. Your arms should be nearly extended with the bar resting against your thighs.

The Curl - Squeezing the muscle tightly bring the bar up to your chest. Make sure that your elbows remain in the same position throughout the entire curl. Do no let them move back and cheat you out of muscle mass gains.

The Down Phase - From its position at chest level return the bar to it’s starting spot by moving back on the same path that it traveled on the curl. Do not let it go down vertically. The resistance provided when you control the weight on the down phase can add significant muscle gains.

Tricep Extensions

tricep extensions
Positioning - Place your knee on a flat bench. Your other foot should be flat on the ground and your body should be parallel to the bench and directly above it. Place the hand that is opposite the knee (i.e. right knee, left hand) flat on the bench. Use the other hand to grab the dumbbell from the ground, it should be on the side opposite of your foot. Lift the dumbbell so that your elbow is bent at 90° the upper portion of your arm is parallel to the ground.

The Extension - In a smooth motion extend the dumbbell back until your arm is straight. Squeezing your tricep from start to finish will help increase muscle mass.

The Down Phase - Make sure that your upper arm stays parallel to the floor by maintaining a steady pace for the weight. The controlled descent back to the 90° position will help with muscle gains as well.

Hammer Curls

hammer curls
Positioning - This exercise is done with dumbbells. With one in each hand, your arms should hang down at your sides. You palms should be facing in toward the center. This should leave the dumbbells parallel to each other.

The Curl - Squeezing the muscle tightly bring one dumbbell up to your shoulder by bending your elbow. Your elbows may move more than they did on the bicep cur but make sure you are lifting the weights not swinging them. Also do not cheat your muscle mass gains by using the down swing momentum of one hand to fuel the up swing momentum of the other. Pause between each motion and make sure you get the most out of your routine.

The Down Phase - From its position at shoulder level return the dumbbell to it’s starting spot by moving itback on the same path that it moved upwards. Do not let it go down vertically. The resistance provided when you control the weight on the down phase can add significant muscle gains. Throughout this motion, both up and down, the weight should stay in the same alignment, do not rotate or turn it through the motion.

Rope Pulldown

rope pulldown
Positioning - This exercise is done on a cable machine, with a rope-handled attachment. Place your feet shoulder width apart and face the machine. The rope should be set so that when it is at rest your elbows can be tucked against your sides.

The Pulldown - Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, grab the rope handles and pull down. The only movement should be the extension of your forearms downward. When you start the motion your hands should be next to each other. They should expand out increasing the angle of the rope handle throughout the downward motion. Make sure to keep your torso straight up and down. Do not lean over your hands, you will end up pushing down and cheating yourself out of muscle mass gains.

The Up Phase - The weight on the rope will return it to the starting position as quickly as you let it. Resisting the return is one of the ways to see improvement in your muscle growth. Most exercises for gaining mass are done with free weights but this exercises impact makes the machine a good bet.

French Curl

french curl
Positioning - This exercise uses a curl bar. Sections of the bar are angled so that your hands rest at an angle. Simply by grabbing the bars inside grips, overhanded you know that you are in the right position. Your arms should be nearly extended with the bar resting against your thighs. This can be done on a curl bench, or standing with your feet shoulder width apart.

The Curl - Squeezing the muscle tightly, bring the bar up to your chest. Make sure that your elbows remain tight against your sides throughout the entire curl. By keeping them in one spot you are targeting the muscles individually.

The Down Phase - From its position at chest level return the bar to it’s starting spot by moving back on the same arc that it followed upward. Do not let it go down vertically. The resistance provided when you control the weight on the down phase can add significant muscle gains.

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Lift Lighter, Build More Muscles

Tired of waiting around in the gym for the right weights to be free? New research form the US means you can make gym queues like this a thing of the past, as it proves that you can build muscle just as fast using lighter weights. Traditional exercise wisdom says that the quickest way to build big muscles is to lift as heavy as possible. However, the new study shows you can get equally impressive results from going lighter but performing more repetitions. The only condition is that you must do all your sets to failure. So, next time your preferred dumbbells are taken, just switch down and up your reps. You'll be out of the gym that much quicker and still see the growth you're looking for.

 
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