The Complete Guide To Delts Training – Exercises Sets & Reps

The Complete Guide To Delts Training – Exercises Sets & Reps

The key to developing delts that have a round, three-dimensional look is to proportionally develop all three heads. That way your delts look full whether viewed from the front, rear, or side.

The most common mal-development pattern among trainers is having well developed front delts, moderately developed middle delts and seriously lagging rear delts.

This will typically manifest itself by significant internal rotation of the shoulder. Showing if your palms face more to the rear as opposed to your side when you’re standing relaxed.

This probably has to do with:

  • Love for the bench press and chest training in general.
  • Propensity for giving more love and attention to muscles you can see in the mirror.

On the other hand, there are people who shun direct anterior delt work while prioritising medial delt development to the point where the middle delts are thick while the anterior delts remain shallow and underdeveloped, especially when viewed from the side.

Assess Yourself

Before you start to develop well rounded delts, you’re going to have to figure out where you are currently in your delt development. That way you can prioritise accordingly.
Take pictures of yourself with your arms to your sides and palms facing your sides. Take additional pics from the front, rear and side.

Let’s say that when viewed from the front, your shoulders should have some roundness to them. In bodybuilding circles we call this having “capped” delts. If your shoulders aren’t capped, your shoulders will look narrow, regardless of your biacromial width.

If your shoulders have a narrow bone structure or you have a wide hip structure, capping your delts off nicely is what you need. You’d do this by emphasising your middle delts via lateral raise variations.

If, when viewed from the side (relaxed or in the side chest pose), the front of your shoulders lack fullness, then you’ll obviously want to focus on your anterior delts. You’ll do that primarily via front raise variations and overhead press variations.

Similarly, if it’s the rear aspect that lacks fullness, you’ll emphasize your posterior delts via shoulder extension and external rotation movements.

When assessing your posterior delts, that it’s typically a shorter muscle with a very different look than the anterior delt. As such, don’t expect them to look just like your anterior delts. To help you further assess you rear delts, use the rear double biceps pose.

Constructing A Plan

Let’s go over a few shoulder-training basics before diving into specifics.

I just want to point out that if your shoulders are lagging, don’t train them after chest. Instead, separate your chest and shoulder workouts by two or three days. That way you can begin your training day with shoulders while you’re fresh and full of energy substrates.

Additionally, while it’s certainly valid to train posterior deltoids on “shoulder day,” I think it makes more sense to train them with back. That’s because the rear delts function like a back muscle. They help pull your arms down and back.

So when you’re doing shoulder adduction (pull-ups), shoulder extension (dumbbell rows), horizontal abduction (overhand rows), or pretty much any combination, your rear delts are going to be heavily involved.

Exercises, Sets, & Reps

1. Posterior Delts

Three or four good work sets of one rear-delt isolating movement should suffice. Work sets are simply sets that aren’t warm up sets, they’re taken to concentric failure, or within a rep or two of concentric failure.

One direct exercise might not seem like much, but remember that one of the functions of the rear delts are to externally rotate the humerus. So, if you’re doing some sort of shoulder external rotation exercise each week, along with your back training, a few sets of one exercise will be enough.

However, if your rear delts are seriously lagging in development, then do two rear-delt isolation exercises. Keep each of them to just three sets. Here are three effective exercises to choose from:

  • Rear-delt cable extensions ( kickbacks).
  • Prone rear-delt kickbacks (on an incline bench).
  • Incline kickbacks with external rotation.

Be aware that these aren’t triceps kickbacks. These are more of a reverse flye movement where you don’t bend your elbow and you kick your arm back using only your rear delts.

  • Avoid retracting your shoulder blades so that you isolate the rear delt.
  • Keep in mind that the function of the rear delt is simply to move the humerus back, not bring the shoulder blades together.

Regardless of what exercises you do for your posterior delts, there are a few bio-mechanical principles to keep in mind. To maximise the work of the rear delt, train it in its optimal line of pull, which is with your shoulder abducted (away from your side), 30-45 degrees.

Likewise, the pinky side of your hand should lead the way. That lines up the posterior delt so that it’ll do the brunt of the work.

When isolating the rear delts, the challenge for most people is to actually isolate them and feel a good, strong contraction. Generally stay on the higher-rep side, 10-15 reps. Going heavier with fewer reps every once in awhile is certainly valid, but wait until your rear delt neuromuscular efficiency is really good before you go heavy.

2. Anterior Delts

It’s a good idea to nearly always do some variation of an overhead press in your shoulder workout. Pressing overhead is a fundamental movement pattern.

That overhead press should be a free-weight variation, whether done with barbell or dumbbells. Doing so will help keep your shoulder stabilisers working properly, which will help keep your shoulders healthy.

If your anterior delts are a strong point, then focus primarily on the overhead press, with the occasional front raise variation thrown in. This, combined with the stimulation they’ll receive in your chest training, should be all they need.

If you need to actually bring up your front delts, then you would generally want to do one front-raise exercise in addition to overhead pressing.

The two best overhead press exercises are the basic barbell press (seated or standing) and the basic dumbbell press, done seated or standing. While many overhead press set/rep schemes will work, it’s best to stay around 4 x 6-10, but 5 x 5 and 3 x 8-12 are also solid options that should be implemented fairly regularly.

When it comes to isolating the anterior delts via front raises, alternating dumbbell front raises are the way to go, but barbell front raises are an effective alternative.

Regardless of the front raise variation you choose, make sure to raise the bar to, 110 degrees, roughly level with the top of your forehead. That’s where peak contraction of the anterior deltoid occurs, not at 90 degrees, which is where a lot of people stop.

When doing one of these front raise variations, generally stay in the 3 x 10-12 range, occasionally going as heavy as 6-8 or as light as 12-15.

3. Middle Delts

If you want bodybuilder looking shoulders, you should always include a lateral raise variation to emphasise the middle delts, the most fundamental of which is the standing dumbbell lateral raise.

While a lot of people do lateral raises, most don’t do them correctly.

To optimise the line of pull of the middle delts, your palm should be facing down in the top, contracted position. Or, tilt the thumb side of the dumbbell down a few degrees so that the pinky side is up.

Likewise, your wrist, elbow and shoulder should all be level at the top. Another way to think about it is that the pointed part of your elbow should be pointing straight backward, not down toward the ground.

People who have overactive upper traps also tend to shrug the dumbbells as they near the 90-degree finish position. To avoid this, think about pushing the dumbbell away from you, toward the sides.

Don’t worry about doing any other lateral raise variation until you’ve perfected your form on the basic dumbbell lateral raise. When you’re ready for some variations, try behind the back cable laterals, finishing in the same position mentioned above.

For more variation, you can change the point of maximum tension (and stimulus) by doing one of the following unilateral versions:

  • Lying on your side on an incline bench. Your stopping point is 90 degrees of shoulder abduction, where peak contraction of the middle delts occurs.
  • Leaning your torso to the side you’re working.

If you need to bring your middle delts up, typically do three sets of two different shoulder abduction (lateral raise) exercises. Do one with 3 sets of 8-12 and the other with 3 sets of 12-15. Go heavier or lighter every once in awhile.

Two Solid Workouts

Here are two fundamental, programs, each addressing a different shoulder weakness:

1. For lagging middle and posterior delts (but good anterior delts):

2. For lagging anterior delts (but good medial delts):

Bonus :

Natural Ways to Raise Bioavailable Testosterone in Athletes

Natural Ways to Raise Bioavailable Testosterone in Athletes

As you already probably know, testosterone is one of the most important muscle building hormones produced in the body. Most of the testosterone in the blood is bound to a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). The amount of testosterone that is not bound (“free” testosterone) can be actually used by the body for muscle building.

  1. How to naturally raise your testosterone levels

Add compound exercises which engage multiple muscle groups in your workout regimen. The best choices are deadliftssquats, bench press and overhead presses. Research has shown that utilizing these exercises plays a big role in raising testosterone levels. The biggest increase in testosterone levels in relation to training happens when using relatively heavier weights and a lower rep range of 1-6 reps.

Several studies have shown that the best weight to pick is 85% of your 1-rep-max. Also, you should consider buying a testosterone boosting supplement. The best choice is Tribulus Terrestris, which is a natural supplement and has been shown in several studies to possess the ability to raise LH (Luteinizing hormone) levels. One of the key functions of this hormone is to stimulate the production of testosterone in the testes.

2. How to prevent a decrease in testosterone levels?

2.1. Obesity. Based on the way in which testosterone and estrogen work together in the body, increased estrogen levels lead to decreased levels of testosterone circulating in your body.

Having excess fat triggers a greater production of estrogen because fat cells are the main manufacturers of estrogen. This means that the more fat tissue you have, the more estrogen you’ll have in your blood and less testosterone.

2.2. Alcohol and drug abuse. Alcohol can inhibit the ability to remove excess estrogen from your bloodstream by acting as a CNS (Central Nervous System) depressant, as well as by reducing zinc levels.

2.3. Stress. Increased stress raises the levels of corticosteroids in your bloodstream, causing testosterone levels to decrease.

2.4. Using various medications. Some meds, like estrogen and progesterone, reduce LH levels. LH, as we said, is the hormone in charge of production of steroid hormones, like testosterone.

2.5. Diabetes. Research suggests that there’s a relation between type 2 diabetes and decreased testosterone levels.

2.6. High cholesterol levels and hypertension. Both of these cause your arteries to harden, which reduces blood flow the organs in charge of releasing sex hormones. This logically leads to decreased sex hormone levels.

2.7. Aging. It’s been proven that after turning 40 testosterone levels decrease by approximately 1% per year. There’s not much we can do about that. Time doesn’t stop for anyone. But, we can try to tweak our test levels in any way we come up with.

2.8. A low-fat diet. A reduced consumption of fat increases the SHGB (Sex hormone-binding globulin), which leads to a decreased amount of free testosterone. It’s been shown that monounsaturated fats have a very big role in increasing test levels and bioavailability.

2.9. Overtraining also contributes to up to 40% decrease in test levels.

This is why it’s very important to notice the symptoms of overtraining early on and give your body one to two weeks of much-needed rest.

2.10. Lack of sleep. If you’re not getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, your body will not recover well, which leads to decreased testosterone and increased corticosteroid levels. Corticosteroids actually have the same effect as cortisol in that they are catabolic hormones, which means that they utilize your hard-earned muscle tissue to feed the brain and your heart with energy.

2.11. Vitamin C. This vitamin inhibits the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol reduces test levels. So, less cortisol means more testosterone.

3. Block SHBG’s testosterone-binding effects.

Nettle root which is a very highly concentrated extract has been shown to be quite effective at binding to SHBG, thus allowing more free testosterone to be in circulation. It’s also known to act as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. That’s the enzyme in charge of converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which is a more potent form of testosterone, causing enlargement of the prostate and in the end, prostate cancer. The methanolic extract of nettle root also has the potential to drastically reduce SHBG levels, thus increasing free testosterone levels in your bloodstream.

Pygeum is also another potent herb, known for inhibiting SHBG’s testosterone-binding effects. Pygeum and nettle root extracts have a positive impact on the prostate gland in that it serves as a prevention against benign prostatic hyperplasia, by blocking the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Avena sativa is another extract from the straw of oats. This extract has slightly different properties. It helps you free the bound testosterone molecules, increasing the amount of circulating free testosterone.

4. Reducing aromatase levels

The mineral zinc is known to inhibit the aromatization process by which testosterone is converted into estrogen. The generally recommended dose for inhibiting the aromatase enzyme behind this process if around 80mg a day. But, you need to ensure that the combined amount of zinc from all the daily supplements you consume does not exceed this dose.

Another natural inhibitor of aromatase is chrysin. Chrysin is a bioflavonoid which is not absorbed in your system optimally. However, it’s been found that when consumed with piperine, it has a lot better absorption. Supplementing with these two compounds together may have a positive effect on decreasing aromatase levels.

How can we apply the advice above to natural bodybuilding?

We already assume you’re someone who trains regularly and doesn’t want to take exogenous anabolic steroids. This puts you in the category of natural bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts who want to keep their natural test levels in a healthy range, prioritize good overall health and quality muscle gain. If you want to achieve all of this, here’s what you need to do:

1. If you carry even a slight amount of excess fat you should consider starting a diet immediately accompanied by a training regimen, suited for fat loss and maintaining muscle mass.
2. You should also consider reducing your alcohol consumption to the absolute minimum if you plan on keeping your test levels high.
3. Start practicing some form of self-control techniques, like meditation. These will help you reduce your stress levels.
4. Take the medications that are absolutely essential for your health and your doctor prescribed. Discuss with your physician to find out about possible natural alternatives to the medications you’re taking and if he would recommend taking them for a specific health issue.‌
5. Always keep your serum cholesterol and blood pressure in check.
6. Consume enough healthy fats. Healthy means monounsaturated and omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.
7. Look for signs of overtraining and rest properly. Sleep at least 8 hours per night for an optimal recovery. Symptoms of overtraining are overall irritability and tiredness, loss of appetite, lack of motivation, lack of mental focus, prolonged periods of recovery etc.
8. Base your training routine on basic compound movements. Train using a low number of reps. 5-8 reps mean you’re in the range that promotes increased testosterone levels.
9. Try adding these natural supplements in your diet and experience the full benefits of having high test levels: piperine-chrysin mix, nettle root and pygeum extract, Avena Sativa extract and Tribulus terestris. You can look for them in your local health food store. Take the recommended dosages.
10. Also, you shouldn’t consider working out without taking enough vitamin C, which is at least one gram per day and zinc, about 15 mg a day. Take vitamin C along with your multi-vitamin drink after you’ve had breakfast and immediately after training with your whey protein shake. Your multi-vitamin brand should contain zinc, but generally, that’s not enough. Take zinc along with magnesium. You can do this by taking ZMA right before going to bed on an empty stomach.

4 Guaranteed Ways to Get a Bigger and Stronger Back

4 Guaranteed Ways to Get a Bigger and Stronger Back

You can not have a well balanced upper body without having a well developed back to go along with your chest, shoulders and arms. Your back is the largest muscle group on your body. To train your back correctly you need to use big, compound, heavy movements that will stimulate the largest area of muscle possible.

This article is going to give you methods that are guaranteed to get your back growing wider and thicker.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when you are training your back is to squeeze every rep. You want to really feel the muscles contracting. You can not see your back when you are training it so you must go by how the exercises feel. Try holding the contraction of every back lift for 2 to 3 seconds. If you are using good form this will allow you to feel the muscle being worked.

If you are training you back with heavy lifts like bent barbell rows and dead lifts you need to make sure that your body is not swinging too much or at all with the weight. If it is, then you are using too much weight. Check your ego at the door, and stimulate the muscle with the proper amount of weight. Who cares what anyone thinks. You cannot take a chance when it comes to your back. A back injury can be devastating, and will take a long time to come back from. Avoid back pain at all costs.

Improving your forearm, and bicep strength will help you improve the performance of your back exercises as well. These 2 muscles aid the lats,and your traps in the big lifts. Having additional strength in them will help you have more stamina and will keep the back muscles working longer. This will ensure that the muscle is being totally worked.

Use straps. A lot of people will tell you that they do not like to use straps, but to be honest, if you are lacking in grip strength then you are going to need them. You have got to hold onto the bar for as long as it takes to work your back, and there is a good chance that your grip will give out before your back does.

8 Reasons Your Biceps Are Still Flat And Loose

8 Reasons Your Biceps Are Still Flat And Loose

Women tend to get attracted to men who are muscular particularly with arms that look strong. While some men who are exercise freaks workout regularly and achieve the required shape successfully, there are others who do not get the desired results despite going to the gym and working out regularly. Such men do not really understand the reason for not getting strong arms and bulged biceps despite doing everything right in the suggested manner. We list here the 8 blunders that every man makes in the initial stages of work outs. Make use of these tips and build your biceps making them attractive.

Check your protein consumption

Protien plays a crucial role in building up muscles. If you are working out your muscles regularly and still feel they are not getting groomed, probably it is time to check your protein intake. Measure your height in a measuring scale in centimeters and subtract 100 from it. The result you see is what you need to actually weigh. For instance, if your height was 167 centimeters and you subtract 100 from it, 67 is the number you will get which is the typical weight you must be for your height. Check if you are overweight or underweight. Reaching this weight must be your foremost objective.

Overworking the biceps

Check if your biceps are probably getting overworked. Muscles in our body undergo wear and tear every time we do something that works them out. Be it doing our day to day chores or working out specific muscles in a gym, muscles need to be given time to buck up for the wear and tear that has happened. It takes a minimum of 36 to 48 hours for the muscles to reach their normal health. In this gap ensure you eat food items that are high in protein. This will help the muscles to recover quickly, in fact, stronger than earlier. This concept of muscles getting stronger than earlier is referred to as Super compensation. Since the hands are smaller in size than legs, the time taken by these muscles to super compensate may be longer.

Attend to your legs 

One common mistake that every person who wants to strengthen his biceps do is to focus on working out the Biceps without working out the legs. Remember looking proportional top to bottom is important. Working out the legs muscles boosts a hormone named Testosterone which enhances all body growth. This, in turn, acts as a blessing in disguise to the biceps muscles also. Ensure you include exercises that are capable of increasing the anabolic hormone production. Some such exercises are Deadlifts, lunges, and Squats.

Focussing on easy movements

Check if you have not attempted difficult exercises if you have been working out for a long time but is not satisfied with the results pertaining to biceps, Probably you have been doing exercises that are simple in nature without giving that extra pressure to achieve what you desire Remember, reverse grip barbell rows helps you get those power packed Biceps. Weighted dips, overhead press and Close grip bench presses help you get your desired Triceps.

Not working out Triceps

Giving the required attention to core areas solves most of the issues. Biceps and Triceps are so closely related to each other that when you focus heavily in developing your Triceps, your Biceps automatically develop. Without knowing this fact, many people who desire for a strong attractive Biceps perform exercises that target only on Biceps. Remember, Triceps help the upper arms look big in size.

Vary the volume

Take the help of a workout expert for doing this. Science says that every muscle group has what is called a fast twitch muscle fiber and slow twitch muscle fiber. Spend at least a couple of days in building one set of muscles and then move on to the other. Increase the number of sets and reps you do every time so you witness strong biceps quickly.

Add more stimuli

While working out for Biceps, the initial training that people start off with are cables, Barbells, and Dumbbells. While these are absolutely right exercises to start off with, adding more stimuli to your training regime will help you build strong Biceps quickly. Doing the Bicep curls with additional movement in bottom portion than the top half and using bands, thick handles will help build attractive Biceps. Fat grips can be used in case thicker handle grips are not available. If nothing is available, just wrap a thick towel around your hands while doing these workouts

Strengthen the grip

The tighter your grip when you shake hands, the stronger the person you are. This logic applies to workouts too. While your focus is on strengthening the Biceps making them look attractive, probably you need to focus on another thing too – your grip. Practice working out with proper grip right from the initial stages so when you go in for heavy weights this will be of a big help. This will make you look attractive by sculpting your forearms.

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle – How Bodybuilders Do It

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle – How Bodybuilders Do It

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle

There are several techniques and tips on how to lift weights to build muscle that all the successful bodybuilders and fitness models make use of. They know the importance of right techniques and how that can help them skyrocket their result.

You see, when you know the right way on how to lift weights to build muscle, you will do everything that is related to reaching your goals and when you perform the exercises the correct way, you will not only build more effective muscle mass, you will also avoid injuries that can keep you away from your goals.

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle – Techniques

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle – Chest Workouts
There several techniques on how to lift weights to build mass when you focus on your chest area. The first thing is to push your shoulder blades towards each other. This way you will make use of your chest muscles as the main force and thereby avoid injuries to the shoulders.

You can also switch up between wide grip and shorter grip on how to lift weights to build muscle with the different chest exercises to have a variety.

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle – Back and Leg Exercises
It is also essential to know how to lift weights to build muscle when focusing on the back and leg muscles. In exercises like the dead lift and the squat, it is important that you keep your back as straight as possible and pull your abdominals inwards. By following this tip on the back and leg muscle exercises, you will reap the benefits from each exercise and avoid any nagging injuries.

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle – Triceps and Biceps
If you want optimal muscle mass in your triceps and biceps, you need to know the right techniques on how to lift weights to build muscle in those areas. Whether you work on your triceps or biceps, an important thing to have in mind is to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.

This technique about how to lift weights to build muscle will give guarantee muscle growth, as you only make use of the right muscles and not support from every other.

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle – The Grand Slam

How to Lift Weights to Build Muscle – Breathing
Breathing is one of the most important tips on how to lift weights to build muscle and can make your workouts so much better. Let’s take the bench press as an example; when you pull the bar down, inhale and when you push it upwards, exhale.

You will be surprised to notice how this technique on how to lift weights to build muscle can make an epic difference in all your workouts.

Follow the above tips on how to lift weights to build muscle and you will take your workouts to another level.

8 High Protein Snacks You Can Eat Instead Of Junk Food

8 High Protein Snacks You Can Eat Instead Of Junk Food

Whether you are a bodybuilder or a fitness athlete you know how important protein is for building muscle and burning fat. And If you are like me, working long hours, you probably already found out that sometimes, having a descent meal seems impossible. This is where high protein snacks come in handy. Eating healthy high protein snacks can provide you with energy throughout the day and help you consume more protein so you can maintain the hard earned muscle.

Here are some healthy snacks that are easy to make, that will fit in your gym bag or purse, and of course are high in protein content:

Cottage cheese

At the top of the high protein snacks list is the cottage cheese. This healthy snack has long been considered a dieter’s staple. A cup of cottage cheese has about 20-30 g of protein and about 5-10 grams of fat. Add some fresh fruit to the cheese and you already have a high protein – high fiber healthy snack. If you need to gain weight you can substitute the cottage cheese with some hard cheese that has higher content of fat.

Beef jerky

With its high protein content and low fat content, beef jerky is the perfect high protein food. Only 50 grams of beef jerky can contain up to 18 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and 4 grams of carbohydrates. Look for beef jerky that is sold in health stores because of the lower content of salt in it.

Nuts and seeds

Almonds, peanuts and other nuts all have high protein content and make a good, healthy snack. Besides protein, nuts contain good fats that have a great impact on your health. You can eat a handful of nuts before or after your training session for a protein boost, Seeds, such as those from sunflowers and pumpkins, are also rich in protein.

Whole eggs

Eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids so they are considered a complete protein. It’s a good idea to include whole eggs into your daily diet as a snack or a complete meal. Hard boiled eggs make a great snack, and 3-4 scrambled eggs mixed with some vegetables make a great meal on-the-go.

Peanut butter and fruit

Peanut butter contains about 5g of protein per tablespoon, 8 grams of fat and 3 grams of carbs, making it a good high protein snack. Some people like to eat peanut butter spread on a slice of bread, but personally I like it more with fruit. This way you are also adding some fiber to your protein snack.

Tuna

With about 20g of protein per can and high content of essential fatty acids, tuna makes ? great low fat high protein snack. You can spread it on a toasted slice of bread , or have a tuna sandwich. For quick appetizer style snacks, top small slices of bread with tuna, diced tomatoes and cheese and bake until cheese is melted.

Oatmeal

Oats contain about 12g of protein per 100g serving. Adding a cup of yogurt to your bowl of oatmeal will add another 8-10 grams of protein to your snack.  Serve warm oatmeal with a bit of maple syrup or cinnamon on top.

If you don’t want to carry any food with you there are always the replacements you can use.

Protein powders and high protein bars

They are a great source of protein and a great option for high protein snacks. A 30g serving can have anywhere from 15-25 grams of protein, depending on the protein type and brand. Adding a glass of milk will add another 8 grams of protein to the mix. Protein shakes are easy to consume immediately after a workout or between meals as a snack.

High protein bars are made to be perfect high protein snacks. They are easy to take to work, school, gym or anywhere you need to be during your busy lifestyle. A good protein bar can contain 22-30 grams of protein, 18-20 grams of carbohydrates and 1-5 grams of fat.

So there you go, there is always a way to eat healthy instead of junk foods. Use these snacks high in protein to fuel up for your workouts, work day or just as a food replacement when you don’t have time to cook a decent meal.

5 Minutes Flexibility and Stretching Home Workout

So why stretch? What’s the purpose? Listed below are just a few of the major benefits that stretching and increasing flexibility provide:

1. Prevent injury and relieve pain. By stretching you increase your full range of motion. This takes and pressure off of and away from your joints, doing this allows a steady flow of movement during exercises. This results in helping to prevent injury and any pain that can be incurred with any lifestyle.

2. Circulation improvement. When you stretch you improve the circulation and increase blood flow to the muscles. This helps by removing waste byproducts in muscle tissue allowing your body to recover faster.

3. It is a great way to relieve stress. When you become anxious or worried and even run down and fatigued, it will place strain on your body. By performing stretches you allow the tension to unwind and relieve any stress felt in the body.

Understanding muscle tissue and nervous system control:

When you perform a stretch, the muscle fibres and tendons elongate.

Constantly stretching will not create a sustained lengthening of the muscles or fibres. This is because the muscle tissue attaches at fixed points in the bone, meaning it is not possible for the entire muscle complex to become permanently longer. Also it is not beneficial to allow the muscle to become permanently stretched out, as this decreases in elasticity.

I guess you’re wondering, ”if muscle fibre doesn’t get longer then how does stretching increase people’s flexibility?”

This is because of the nervous system, nerve endings are dispersed throughout the muscle and tendon. If a stretch doesn’t feel comfortable for the muscle, the nerves will register pain and create resistance.

But by repeating poses and stretches, you are retraining the nervous system to allow the movement at deeper levels of a stretch, also known as stretch tolerance.

After a while you will notice passive stretches may not be the most effective way of increasing flexibility. Trying proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), where you extend your muscles and then try to contract them from a lengthened position, could be a great way to control your nervous system and gain better momentum.

Taking all what has been mentioned above, why not try this 5-minute cool-down, your muscles will already be warmed up from training and you can get a feel for new movements.

Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, repeat all five stretches 2-3 times.

Downward Dog:

Benefits:

  • Improves flexibility in calves, hamstrings and shoulders.
  • Relieves pain in the low back
  • Elongates cervical spine, which relieves tension in the body and head.

How to do it:

  • Come onto your hands and knees with hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips.
  • Spread your fingers wide and tuck your toes under.
  • Inhale and lift your knees off the floor, pressing your hips up toward the ceiling.
  • Draw your heels down to the floor or keep a slight bend in your knees.
  • Press your hands firmly into the mat and draw your shoulder blades down.
  • Keep the head between the arms (don’t let it hang).
  • Take deep breaths the entire time.

Low Lunge:

Benefits:

  • Improves flexibility in the hips and quadriceps.
  • Releases the psoas, which is part of a group of muscles called the hip flexors.

How to do it: 

  • Come onto both knees and step your right foot forward.
  • Make sure to keep your right knee over your heel and your left knee directly under your hip.
  • Reach your left hand up toward the ceiling.
  • Make sure to keep both hips facing forward and glutes engaged.
  • Take deep breaths the entire time.

Lying Piriformis Stretch:

Benefits:

  • Improves flexibility in the hips and glutes.
  • Helps keep hip and knee joints properly aligned during activity and helps prevent sudden twisting.
  • Allows for easy external rotation of the hips.

How to do it: 

  • Lie on your back, bend both knees, and bring your left ankle over your right thigh.
  • Lift your right foot off the ground, bringing your leg up to a 90-degree angle.
  • Loop your hands in between your legs and slowly draw your right knee in toward your chest.
  • Keep your head and neck relaxed on the ground.
  • Take deep breaths the entire time.

Lying Spinal Twist:

Benefits:

  • Lengthens and realigns the spine.
  • Increases flexibility in the hips and low back.
  • Stimulates the digestive system.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back and bring both knees in toward your chest.
  • Bring your hands out to your sides and draw your knees up and over to your left side.
  • Keeping your shoulder blades on the ground, rest your knees on top of one another.
  • Take deep breaths the entire time.
  • When changing sides (after holding for 30 seconds), make sure to use your core muscles to bring your legs back to centre.

Posterior Capsular Stretch:

Benefits:

  • Reduce the risk of shoulder injury by improving flexibility in the rotator cuff and posterior capsule.
  • Improve range of motion in the shoulder.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your right side with knees bent.
  • Bring your right arm to a 90-degree position out from your body.
  • Use your top arm to slowly draw your right hand toward the floor.
  • Make sure to apply a small amount of pressure to the arm, do not force range of motion.
  • It’s common to roll backward onto the shoulder blade, so make sure you stay directly on the shoulder.
  • Take deep breaths the entire time.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Building The Perfect Body Together | Partner Workouts

Building The Perfect Body Together | Partner Workouts

Although training is great when on your own, every now and then we need a spotter, support or even just to have company. Either way training with someone can be more beneficial than you realise.

Not all partner workouts have to consist of the above mentioned! In this article, we at gymguider are going to give you a unique look at what we mean by ”partner workout.”

We are going to use our partner as the piece of equipment by, pulling, pushed, climbing and lifting. This may sound crazy but it is a great way to have fun and build gains at the same time.

This hands-on partner approach is the perfect way to really improve and build on your calisthenic training.

The exercises used incorporate many movement patterns that are used in everyday life, such as twisting, bending and squatting.

The difference is you’ll use the resistance of your partners body to complete the exercises, and each getting a chance to be the initiator.

The workout alternates these partner exercises with individual movements in the form of light plyometrics, ground work and mobility drills.

In this workout you are going to follow: Chill time arrives at a 3:1 work–rest ratio, which means for every 90 seconds of work, you get a mere 30 seconds of rest.

The Partner Workout:

  • Set an alarm for 30-second intervals. There’s no predetermined set or rep scheme; partners set the pace during each 30-second window.
  • Perform each partner drill for 30 seconds. When your timer beeps, reverse roles. When it beeps again, perform the corresponding Ground Drill for 30 seconds, both of you working at the same time. Then, rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next pairing.
  • A single eight-minute round of the four exercise pairs will be enough for beginners, but “two to three rounds is where you are aiming for.
  • Aim to provide an appropriate amount of resistance for your partner, based on their strength and fitness level. Go easy to start and build intensity as you build mutual confidence, making good form a priority.
  • Tip: Create a dynamic warm-up by combining the Ground Drill movements. Perform each move for 10 reps or 30 seconds, whichever comes first, then dig into the full workout.

Power Tower:

  • Facing one another with your arms extended in front of you, wrap your hands around your partner’s fists.
  • Bracing your core, attempt to push your partner backward.
  • Both of you should maintain a straight line with your arms.
  • Make sure you have plenty of space, and push in a straight line.
  • Keep your shoulders drawn down and back to activate more muscles and provide a solid foundation from which to push and resist.

Partner Pistol Squats:

  • Facing one another, grab hold of your partner’s wrists or hands and lift your right foot an inch or two off the floor.
  • Slowly and with control, bend your left knee and lower your butt toward the ground, going as low as you comfortably can while maintaining a neutral spine.
  • The left knee will track in the same direction as your left toes.
  • As you squat down, your right leg will extend in front of you; it should not touch the floor.
  • Squeeze your glutes to return to start; your partner can help by pulling up during the ascension phase, but just enough to facilitate the movement.
  • Alternate legs each rep.

Supine Pull-Ups:

  • Lying on your back with your legs stretched out straight, extend your arms overhead so your partner can grab hold of your wrists (your partner will be sitting a couple of feet from the top of your head).
  • Your partner will then secure his or her feet on your upper traps muscles for stability.
  • Begin to bend your arms, aiming to pull your elbows toward your hipbones to simulate a pull-up.
  • Only your arms should move – engage your core, glutes and legs to avoid sliding around on the floor.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and keep your elbows close to your sides.
  • After each rep, reset yourself by extending your arms straight overhead and then pull again.

Hero Carry:

  • The goal is to hold your partner for time.
  • Squat down and, without rounding or hyper extending your back, gently rotate to scoop your partner into a carry position, holding your partner around the upper back and under the knees.
  • Brace your core and press through your legs to stand up. (Alternatively, your partner can jump into your arms to assist the initial lift and wrap his or her arm around the back of your shoulders to help secure the position.)
  • Squeeze your glutes and abs to maintain proper form; don’t lean backward to support your partner’s weight.
  • Your partner can extend his or her legs to make the drill harder or bend them to make it easier.

Partner Drill: The Angry Hug:

  • From a modified “hug” position (where your upper bodies are in contact but your lower bodies are not), try to push your partner backward while they resist being pushed.
  • Stay low and avoid driving your shoulder up or down — aim through their waist for best results.
  • Make sure you have plenty of space to avoid obvious tripping hazards, and push in a straight line.
  • Reset your positions as needed.

Circus Press:

  • One partner lies on their back, arms extended straight upward, hands closed in fists and shoulders drawn down and back in a solid position.
  • Standing on the ground several feet above their head, facing them, the other person grasps their partner’s fists and steps back into the top of a push-up position.
  • If both partners feel strong and stable, the top person can try partial or full-range push-ups.
  • Or, simply hold the position.

People Push-up;

  • One partner assumes the top of a push-up position — head in a neutral position, body straight from head to heel, with thighs, knees, and ankles pressed together.
  • Brace the core tightly.
  • The other partner stands a few feet to one side, facing them.
  • Positioning both her hands on the horizontal partner’s hip and upper back in a manner that’s comfortable and solid for both people, the standing partner will step into the top of a push-up position.
  • If the top partner is able to, they can perform push-ups, while the bottom partner remains stable.
  • Otherwise, both partners simply hold their positions.
  • To make the exercise more difficult for the base, the top person can play with the positioning of their hands or perform the push-ups explosively to provide additional load and a shock to the system.
  • Switch sides each round so your core gets a balanced challenge.

Resisted Glute Bridge:

  • One person will lie on their back, knees bent, thighs together, and feet on the ground.
  • Driving through the heels and squeezing their glutes together, they will lift their hips up high, until their body is straight from shoulders to knees.
  • Standing off to one side, the partner providing the resistance will then place their open palms on the bridging partner’s hipbones and apply some portion of their body weight to the down partner’s hips.
  • This is a very strong position for the bridge.
  • Apply plenty of your body weight, but make sure you are applying it symmetrically.

6 Techniques to Increase Your Testosterone Levels Naturally

6 Techniques to Increase Your Testosterone Levels Naturally

Low testosterone is a very common problem among men over the age of 30. In fact, every one in four guys above 30 suffers from low testosterone levels. This should not be taken lightly, as lack of testosterone doesn’t only affect your muscle growth. It can also trigger a shoal of other health related problems, and affect your lifestyle.

Some of the more usual issues resulting from low testosterone levels are: lack of sex drive, weak bones, erectile dysfunctions, and obesity.

However, this problem is not irreversible. There are thing or two you can do in order to bring your T-levels back to normal. Even more, some of these testosterone boosting techniques are in fact completely ordinary things that any man should do anyway.

But before we start treating the problem, there’s one thing that we should learn. How to identify the low testosterone problem? Fatigue, low energy levels, irritability, mood swings, increased body fat are some of the common symptoms of low testosterone. Remember that having one of them doesn’t necessarily mean that you too fall into this lot. However, the presence of two or more of these symptoms should ring your alarm bell.

Before rushing to the doctor’s office and turning to your medicine cabinet, we advise you to try some of these natural ways for boosting your testosterone levels. Yet, if the problem persists even after you’ve tried these remedies, you should seek medical advice.

  1. Perform Compound Lifts

Lifting heavy is possibly the best remedy for getting your testosterone levels back in line. And nothing does the trick like the good old compound lifts: squats, deadlifts, bench press etc.. These exercises activate large muscle groups, thus stimulating the testosterone production process.

The mechanics behind this trick is fairly simple. By activating larger muscle group they increase the stress on the muscle tissue. This releases a greater amount of testosterone that is used by your body.

  1. Increase Fats and Cholesterol Intake

For some of you this may come as a surprise, but it’s been scientifically proven that you need fats for proper functioning of your body.  For beginning, cholesterol triggers the testosterone production. Not to mention that it’s crucial for maintaining your brain healthy and improving your cognitive functions. Although this does not mean that we should go on stuffing ourselves with cholesterol and fats, more and more studies have linked them with proper testosterone production.
So, instead on cutting down the fats intake by eating cereals and bagels for breakfast, you can eat a slice of bacon and some eggs. And if you are more for some meat-free source of healthy cholesterol you can try getting it from nuts or avocados.

  1. Balance Your Vitamin and Mineral Intake

Vitamin and mineral imbalance is often a cause for low testosterone levels.  This is especially caused by lack of vitamin D, magnesium and zinc. Each of these micronutrients can be found in different food sources, except for the vitamin D, which primary source is direct sunlight exposure.

However, sometimes this is still not enough, especially when it comes to the vitamin D3, which is crucial for the testosterone production.

As all three micronutrients are extremely important for your testosterone production, you can try solving this problem by taking a multivitamin or some supplement that offers enough of them. You should especially pay attention to supplementing vitamin D3 if you’re not getting enough direct sun exposure.

  1. Sleep More

Although this might sound strange, getting enough sleep will help your body keep those testosterone levels up and running. Think of sleep as cortisol defence mechanism. One of the deadliest enemies of testosterone is cortisol, which inhibits your body from fully utilizing the produced testosterone.

Two factors can be identified as the main culprits for increasing your cortisol production. The first one is stress, the other is insufficient sleep. If you’re not getting at least six hours of sleep every night, you are exposing yourself to this problem. So try to relax, and get some more sleep. According to most researchers, eight hours of quality night sleep is what your body requires to function properly.

  1. Increase BCAAs Intake

There is a two-fold reason for finding the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in many of the pre-workout supplements. First of all, they are known to directly trigger the testosterone production, thus helping you in improving your lifting performances. On top of that, they continue to boost the testosterone production when you are lifting extra.

The BCCAs are not only available in supplements. You can also get them from cheese.

  1. Reduce Sugar Intake

Greater than normal quantities of sugar wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels leading to increased insulin production. And insulin is absolutely deadly for your testosterone. It has been proven than eating sugar can cause a significant drop of your T-levels just after two hours. Another negative effect of sugar is that it increases your body fat levels, which has also been identified as a reason for low testosterone levels.

Most Effective Chest Exercises (According To Science)

Most Effective Chest Exercises (According To Science)

If you’re trying to build strong and well-defined chest without having any clue about the science behind chest exercises, as well as chest anatomy and function, good luck with that. Though you should be prepared to go through plenty of ineffective workouts and hit more training walls than you thought possible!

It’s no secret that the biceps and the chest are the two ‘favorite’ body parts of bodybuilding enthusiasts all over the world, often seen like the definitive symbols of masculinity and physical power. Let’s be honest – the average lifter will gladly neglect his calves, quads and posterior chain muscles to focus on building a gigantic chest! Although this is kind of wrong, it happens all the time and we get it.

But if you’re a proud chest freak, you should at least learn how to train your chest in the most effective way by optimally activating all areas of it. Read all about it in the text below!

The Basics

To make noticeable gains, you need to get a clear picture of which movements involve the chest and how, so that you can choose the right exercises for complete chest growth. Here are the two major types of movements that involve your chest muscles and should be a staple of your chest training:

  • Presses
    Pressing movements are the backbone of any decent chest routine, since they allow you to hit your chest fibers from all angles possible. Compound presses include all the movements where you’re pushing a heavy load away from your upper body.
  • Flies
    Flies involve horizontal adduction, a fancy term for drawing the arm across the body, which is a movement that targets the entire pectoralis major to a significant degree. As you separate your arms and extend them away from the body during the fly motion, your chest fibers are elongating and then contracting at the top of the motion as you bring your arms back in.

All of your chest muscles and how to target them

Your chest is a part of a larger group of “pushing muscles” found in your upper body, and as such it enables you to perform a variety of daily activities and functional movements at the gym. To fully develop this muscle group, you need to target it with relatively heavy weights and wisely chosen exercises. In the text below we’ll discuss each part of your chest and how to properly exercise it to inspire substantial growth.

1. PECTORALIS MAJOR

Being the chest muscle that most guys are mostly interested in developing, the pectoralis major is a celebrity muscle in its own right. This large, fan-shaped muscle originates at the clavicle, ribs and sternum, and inserts into the upper portion of your humerus (upper arm bone from elbow to shoulder), and its main job is to help flex the shoulder joint and move your arm toward and across your chest.

The pectoralis major is composed of three segments – the clavicular head, the sternal head and the abdominal head – which require different motions to be fully activated.

As a whole (all heads working together), the pectoralis major assists adduction (lowering upper arm from side raise position to the midline of the body), medial rotation (rotating upper arm forward or inward to the midline of the body) and horizontal flexion (moving the upper arm from a side raise position to the front of the body).

Clavicular Head

The clavicular head is located in the upper region of the chest and runs from the clavicle down and across the upper part of the chest before inserting at the humerus. In other words, it’s what bro’s at the gym refer to as the “upper pecs” – when properly developed, the clavicular head promotes optimal chest fullness and roundness.

Unfortunately, this portion of the chest is the most underdeveloped and most bodybuilders find it very difficult to make it grow. Still, since the clavicular head originates from the clavicle, it is possible to effectively isolate it while the neighboring sternal head, which originates from the sternum, remains muted. Being close to the deltoid muscle, the clavicular head significantly contributes to flexion, horizontal adduction and inward rotation of the humerus, and is best engaged with exercises which involve shoulder flexion and movements that end with your elbows above your clavicle.

Here are some key exercises for clavicular head development:

Incline Dumbbell/Barbell Bench Press

The bench press is the classic chest exercise for prompting massive chest growth and choosing to make it a key component of your routine is the first step towards success. However, in order to make the most out of it, you need to perform different versions of the bench press with proper form and technique, thus allowing for optimal muscle fiber recruitment and overload. The incline bench press, for example, is one of the best ways to increase clavicular head activation.

Furthermore, replacing your beloved barbell with a pair of dumbbells from time to time will unlock a whole new level of growth potential. The dumbbell press will make each side do equal work and develop equally, increase your range of motion and help you keep more concentrated tension on your chest muscles for a longer period of time, thereby maximizing your results.

Incline Guillotine Dumbbell Chest Flies

The main differences between regular chest flies and guillotine chest flies is the angle of the bench and the direction the palms face during the movement. This variant is performed on an incline bench and with your palms facing forward as if you were going to perform a bench press. From this position, lower the weight like you would during a normal chest fly, but keep your palms facing forward all through the movement. This position of the palms enables greater stimulation of the upper portion of the chest than the typical, neutral one.

Sternal Head

The sternal head runs from your sternum, goes across your chest and inserts at your humerus, so it’s a quite larger than the clavicular head and represents the lower portion of the pectoralis major muscle. While the clavicular head assists in shoulder flexion, the sternal head assist in shoulder extension.

Since extension of the arm by the sternal head can only occur if the arm is flexed, the sternal head cannot hyperextend the arm. Its second function is to flex and adduct the upper arm when the upper arm is slightly parallel to the ground. To target the sternal head, you need to perform decline versions of chest exercises.

Here are two great moves:

Decline Bench Press

During a decline bench press, your body lies on a slope and your legs are higher than your head so you need to be very cautious if you go heavy on this one – it’s best to use a spotter to prevent the weight from dropping on you. Take an overhand grip on the bar with your hands a little bit wider than shoulder width apart. The decline bench press also works your triceps and anterior deltoid muscles.

High Pulley Cable Crossovers

As long as you use proper form, full range of motion and weight you can handle, cable crossovers will give you a great pec workout. The constant tension provided by the cables creates a completely different stimulus than the tension produced by free weights, and you should take advantage of this in your routine.

Using high pulley machines will allow you to train your lower chest more effectively, while the clavicular head and the pectoralis minor will assist the movement. To activate your sternal head even better, make sure to turn your palms upward (supination) at the end of the movement.

Abdominal Head

This is the most overlooked part of the pectoralis major and most chest training articles don’t even mention it. It originates at the external fascia of the external oblique muscle, called the rectus sheath, runs up and across the bottom portion of the chest and inserts at the humerus.

Although from a technical standpoint it’s the abdominal head that makes up the lower portion of the pectoralis major, from an outside view it looks like both the sternal and abdominal heads cover the lower chest region, which the much larger sternal head extending up to the middle region of the chest. This head can be ridiculously hard to optimally contract and elongate, even though most exercises for the sternal head will work it to some degree.

Still, there is one exercise that will help you effectively target the abdominal head:

Dumbbell Pullovers

Years ago, dumbbell pullovers were known as the most important exercise for developing a deep chest. Today they’re largely forgotten, thanks to slightly paranoid exercise scientists who declared them as the ultimate shoulder killers, but their ability to help you build a full, majestic chest remains intact. Dumbbell pullovers primarily train your abdominal head, serratus anterior and latissimus dorsi.

To begin, lie crossways on a flat bench with only your shoulders sitting on the bench while your hips are below it. Your legs should be bent with feet firmly placed on the floor. Grasp a relatively light dumbbell with both of your hands and hold it straight over your chest at arm length with arms fully extended, while both of your palms should be pressing against the underside of one of the sides of the dumbbell. In the correct stance, one side of the dumbbell will be pointing towards your chest and the other end directly away from your chest.

Keeping your arms straight, slowly lower the weight in an arc behind your head, focusing on the muscles you feel stretching throughout the upper body. Go as far as comfortable while maintaining almost-locked arms, then bring the dumbbell back to the starting position above your chest.

2. PECTORALIS MINOR

This is a small, triangular muscle that lies deep underneath the pectoralis major. It originates from the anterior surface of the 3-5 ribs and inserts on the coracoid process of the scapula; its main functions are depression and downward rotation of the scapula. Luckily, you don’t need to perform any specific exercises to develop the pectoralis minor – most regular chest exercises will adequately stimulate it.

3. SERRATUS ANTERIOR

The serratus anterior is a group of muscles that originates on the upper eight or nine ribs and inserts on the anterior part of the medial border of the scapula and some of its many functions include abduction and elevation of the scapula. Although it’s a very underrated muscle (some don’t even consider it a part of the chest area) and you’ll rarely hear someone say “I’m looking to isolate my serratus anterior”, adding a couple of exercises that emphasize this muscle group to your routine will work wonders for your aesthetics and shoulder health.

You can best target it with push-up variants and pullovers.

Weighted Push-ups

Regular push-ups engage the serratus anterior, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids and triceps brachii, so there’s a lot to be gained from performing them regularly. But to achieve greater overload on the chest muscles and thus stimulate more growth, you need to go for the weighted variant (assuming you’ve already mastered the regular push-up). Begin with a weight plate, sandbag or weighted vest that equals 10% of your body weight, then as you progress you can continue adding weight in increments of 5 to 10%.

Optimal Rep Range

According to scientific studies, muscle fiber composition of the chest is 60% fast-twitch and 40% slow-twitch fibers. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are used in explosive bursts of power, for example when working with heavy loads or during sprinting, while slow-twitch fibers enable long endurance feats such as high-rep sets with light loads or distance running.

Therefore, in order to achieve maximum gains, you need to utilize different rep ranges that will activate both types of muscle fibers: use heavy-load, low-rep training as your primary style but also throw in a couple of sets with lighter loads for more reps.

Finally, don’t forget to train smart, then train hard. Good luck!