Build Muscle Or Lose Fat First to Maximise Gains

A person would “bulk” when their primary goal is to build muscle. A person would “cut” when their primary goal is to lose fat.

To do this the right way and get the best results possible, the true goal while bulking is to build muscle while keeping fat gains to an absolute minimum. When cutting, the true goal is to lose fat while maintaining all of the muscle you’ve built. If you do it the wrong way, you’d gain too much excess body fat while bulking and/or lose too much lean muscle while cutting.

A person would then alternate between phases of bulking and cutting until they’re as lean and muscular as they desire.

Now after hearing all of this, there are always three questions that come to mind.

  • Which phase should I start with? Should I bulk or cut first?
  • How long should each phase last before switching to the other?
  • Why don’t we all just lose fat and build muscle at the same time?

Their answers are a little complicated and will take an entire article of their own to properly explain. But right here and now, it’s the first question that I want to focus on and answer.

Should I Build Muscle Or Lose Fat First?

If you’re asking this question, then there’s one safe assumption I can make, you currently have body fat you’d like to lose and muscle you’d like to gain.

But I mention it to make sure we understand that if you’re just fat and don’t really care much about building muscle, you wouldn’t be asking this question. You’d just lose fat first because that’s the primary (or only) goal you care about. The same goes for if you’re already pretty lean/skinny. In that case, you don’t care about losing any more fat, you just want to build muscle.

But if you’re asking this question, you just can’t figure out which to do first.

And in that case, while there are a few factors to consider when making this decision, there’s one that matters more than all of them:

What Is Your Current Body Fat Percentage?

The key to doing a “smart” bulk and ending up with something good to show for it in the end is to avoid gaining excess body fat while you build muscle.

Your diet and weight training routine are the key factors in optimising this muscle: fat gain ratio, but there’s actually something else in your control that plays a significant role in this area: your current body fat percentage. Why? Because…

The fatter you are and the higher your body fat percentage gets, the worse your calorie partitioning gets and the more likely your body is to start storing excess calories as fat instead of muscle.

Not to mention, the fatter you are when you start to bulk, the fatter you’re going to be when you end it. Aside from just giving yourself a longer job to do when you finally cut (which only increases the potential for muscle loss), this also means you’re going to spend a nice amount of time during the year unnecessarily looking uneven.

The ideal starting point for a muscle building phase is when you are at least somewhat lean. How lean exactly? Well, you don’t have to be super ripped with an 8 pack or anything like that. But, to a certain point, the leaner the better.

  • For men, this typically means 10-13% body fat (or less).
  • For women, 19-23% body fat (or less).

Starting higher than that can work of course, it’s just probably going to yield sub-optimal results.

Who Knows Their Body Fat Percentage

However, since most people have no idea what their body fat levels truly are and the typical methods for finding it (online calculators and digital body fat scales) don’t work, the average person won’t really know for sure if they are indeed at this “at least somewhat lean” status.

Take off some clothes and look in the mirror. Or, take some pictures. Do you look like someone whose goal right now should be losing fat or building muscle?

Use your best unbiased judgement here. Would you consider yourself “at least somewhat lean” and ready to start building some muscle, or would you consider yourself in too much of an already fat state to create a caloric surplus and gain the small amount of fat that will almost always accompany even the smartest of smart bulks?

Then, find your answer below:

I’m In An Already Fat State

If you do indeed consider yourself as being in too much of an already fat state, then the very best thing you can do now is cut first and lose that fat.

Once you’ve lost enough fat and reach “at least somewhat lean” status, that’s when you should start a full muscle building “bulk” phase and create the caloric surplus you need to build that new muscle.

That doesn’t mean you should hold off on (or stop) weight training until you reach that point of leanness. You should definitely still weight train the entire time. It will help a bit with the fat loss, and even more importantly, it’s the only way you will maintain the muscle and strength you currently have.

I’m At Least Somewhat Lean

In this case, while bulking might be the obvious decision, you can technically start off with whichever phase you want based on what’s most important to you right now.

For example, you might want to build more muscle. That might be your long term goal. But if you have some good reason or preference in the short term for getting even leaner than you currently are (some kind of event coming up, curious to see what a six pack looks like, want to start your bulk as lean as possible, etc.), then go for it and then start to bulk right after that.

But if you’re lean enough to start bulking and all you really care about is just building more muscle already, then let the bulk begin!

You can focus on getting extra lean later on when you actually have some muscle mass to uncover.

Right, Smart, Switch, Repeat

So, here’s how it works. Use your current body fat percentage to help you determine if you should bulk or cut first.

Whichever it is, make sure your diet and workout are designed as intelligently as possible so you don’t gain excess body fat while you bulk and you don’t lose any muscle mass while you cut. This step is key.

Then, after you’ve put in enough time, effort and consistency for progress to be made, switch on over to the other phase and do the same. Depending on exactly what your goals are and exactly how much muscle you want to build and how much fat you want/need to lose, you can repeat this process as many times as needed.

The Best Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Programs

Workout Routines Guide – The Best Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Programs

Once you’ve decided that you want to build muscle, lose fat, increase strength or improve your body in any way, the first subject that always comes up is weightlifting workout routines.

In order for you to get the best results as fast as possible, you must make sure your workout routine is designed specifically for you, your body, your experience level, and your exact goal. The problem is, there are a ton of different weightlifting factors to set up, and a ton of conflicting, confusing and all around horrible advice out there about how you should do it.

Seriously. Just spend a few minutes searching around online for workout routines and you’ll come across thousands of different weightlifting and bodybuilding programs, plans, schedules, splits and methods that your head could explode. I’ve been there before, so I know exactly how annoying it is.

That’s why I want to eliminate all of your confusion about workouts and programs right now by taking you through a FREE guide that will cover every major factor of weightlifting workouts and show you exactly how to create the workout routine that will work best for you.

The 6 Factors Of A Perfect Workout Routine

In order to put together the best program possible, there are 6 weightlifting factors that we need to set up effectively. They are:

  1. Frequency: How often should you work out?
  2. Weekly Split & Schedule: How should your program be organized throughout the week?
  3. Intensity: Should you lift heavy or light weight? High or low reps?
  4. Volume: How many sets and reps should you do?
  5. Exercises: Which are best for you?
  6. Progression: How, when and why should you progress?

To build muscle, lose fat or improve your body, you need to get each factor just right. Here’s how…

The Best Frequency

Workout frequency most often refers to how many total workouts you’ll do per week, and how many times you will train each muscle group over the course of that week (once, twice, three times?). Let’s figure out both.

How many workouts per week?

This answer is easy. The majority of the population should be doing 3 or 4 weightlifting workouts per week. Yes, it’s possible to get by with just 2, and it’s possible to still recover well enough to make 5 work. However, workout routines that consist of 3 or 4 total workouts per week are definitely most ideal and most often recommended for getting the best results possible.

How often should you train each muscle group per week?

On the other hand, this answer is a little more complicated. Luckily, I’ve already written an article that fully answers it: How Many Times Should You Work Out Each Muscle Group Per Week? Here now is a quick summary of what I explained works best:

  • Beginners with ANY goal should train each muscle group 3 times per week.
  • Intermediate or Advanced trainees whose #1 goal is building muscle, losing fat or just improving the way their body looks should train each muscle group about 2 times per week. Those mostly interested in JUST increasing strength or performance (rather than looks) should train each muscle group 2 or 3 times per week.

So, if you’re a beginner to weightlifting (training for less than 6-8 months correctly), stick with 3 times per week. If you are anyone else with pretty much ANY goal, training each muscle group about twice per week is what has been proven to work best in most cases.

Training each muscle group once per week is the LEAST EFFECTIVE weightlifting frequency of all. Workout routines built around this lowered frequency work well for bodybuilders with amazing genetics and tons of steroid use, and it works fine for just maintaining muscle (rather than actually building it), but it sucks for everything else. It can still work if done right, it’s just NOT what works best.

The Best Weekly Split & Schedule

Now that you know what weightlifting frequency will work best for you, you need to pick a weekly split and schedule that allows that ideal frequency to be reached. At the same time, it also needs to allow for optimal recovery and fit your own personal schedule. Here are some recommendations…

The 3 Day Full Body Split

Monday: Full Body Workout
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: Full Body Workout
Thursday: off
Friday: Full Body Workout
Saturday: off
Sunday: off

Literally all of the most highly proven and often recommended weightlifting workout routines for beginners with ANY goal use this 3 day full body split. It allows each muscle group (or key exercise) to be trained 3 times per week, which allows beginners to build muscle and increase strength at the fastest rate possible. For this same reason, it’s also ideal for people past the beginners stage whose #1 goal is increasing strength.

The 4 Day Upper/Lower Split

Monday: Upper Body
Tuesday: Lower Body
Wednesday: off
Thursday: Upper Body
Friday: Lower Body
Saturday: off
Sunday: off

And here is the workout schedule that I personally use and most often recommend to pretty much EVERYONE besides beginners. It allows for each muscle group to be trained twice per week, which is what has been proven to work best for intermediate and advanced trainees. Many of the most effective workout routines on the planet use this split.

A 3 day version of this upper/lower split is also possible and equally effective, which is ideal for people who can only manage to work out 3 days per week or would just prefer a slightly reduced weightlifting frequency. You’d just do upper, lower, upper one week, and then lower, upper, lower the next and keep alternating like that (with 1 day off between workouts and 2 days off at the end).

The Push/Pull/Legs Split

Monday: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Tuesday: Back, Biceps
Wednesday: off
Thursday: Legs
Friday: off
Saturday: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Sunday: Back, Biceps
Monday: off
Tuesday: Legs
Wednesday: off

And here is one of the only true “body part splits” that I actually like. Most body part splits used in typical bodybuilding programs train each muscle group once per week. As I explained earlier, this is the least effective weightlifting frequency. However, this split avoids that. It’s slightly less frequent than the 4 day upper/lower split above, but still more frequent than once per week.

The only problem with workout routines using this schedule is that the days the workouts fall on will vary from week to week, which could be a problem for people whose personal schedules aren’t that flexible (which is a big part of why I usually recommend upper/lower). Still, while there are a few other ways to make the push/pull/legs split work, this is probably the best of them all.

My Recommendations

For beginners with any goal, the full body split is definitely my only recommendation. For everyone else, the 3 or 4 day upper/lower split is what I recommend most, with the push/pull/legs split being another great option if your schedule can make it work. For additional details on these splits as well as a few other variations, check out my article about workout plans and weight training splits.

As for the typical once-per-week body part splits, leave them for the bodybuilders on every drug known to man. Us regular people with average genetics do best with these.

The Best Intensity

As far as weightlifting workout routines go, intensity can have a few different meanings. In most cases (including this one), we’re talking about how heavy or light the weight you are lifting is. The heavier it is, the higher your intensity is and the less reps you’ll be able to do. The lighter it is, the lower your intensity is and the more reps you’ll be able to do. The question is…

How many reps should you do per set?

Honestly, anywhere between 1-20 reps per set can serve some type of purpose in weightlifting. However, this could definitely be narrowed down quite a bit based on your specific goal:

  • Doing 1-6 reps per set is best for increasing strength.
  • Doing 5-12 reps per set is best for building muscle.
  • Doing 10-20 reps per set is best for improving muscular endurance.

Which means, for the majority of the people reading this, you’re most likely going to want to do between 5-12 reps per set. This is the rep range used in nearly all of the workout routines aimed at building muscle or improving the way your body looks.

And for anyone wondering why I didn’t mention that higher reps were best for getting toned, it’s because they’re not. As I explain in my article about How To Get Toned & Defined, it’s pure bullshit.

The Best Volume

Volume refers to the amount of work being done (sets, reps, exercises) in your workouts. This could mean total volume per workout, or per week, or per exercise, or per muscle group. Each is important, but the one we need to care about the most is total volume per muscle group. Why? Because this is a crucial part of ensuring we’re doing enough to get results, but not too much to hurt recovery. So…

How many sets should you do for each muscle group?

Of all of the weightlifting factors we’re looking at in this guide, volume is the hardest one to pin down to an exact number that’s best for everyone. Goals, experience level, and individual ability to recover play big roles in this answer. However, here is an amount that tends to be just right for most people.

  • 8-15 sets per bigger muscle group per week (chest, back, quads and hamstrings).
  • 0-8 sets per smaller muscle group per week (shoulders, biceps, triceps).

Now, the key words there are “per week.” Meaning, the same weekly frequency isn’t being used in all workout routines. Some people will train each muscle group once, twice or three times per week. Depending on that frequency, you’d need to divide that volume up among your workouts. For example…

  • If you’re training each muscle group 3 times per week (which I recommend to all beginners), you should do between 3-5 sets per bigger muscle group per workout, and half that for smaller muscle groups.
  • If you’re training each muscle group 2 times per week (which I recommend to intermediate and advanced trainees), you should do between 4-8 sets per bigger muscle group per workout, and half that for smaller muscle groups.
  • If you’re training each muscle group 1 time per week (which I rarely recommend to anyone), you should do 8-15 sets per bigger muscle group per workout, and half that for smaller muscle groups.

The most effective workout routines on the planet generally follow these recommendations. Oh, and most people will do best sticking towards the middle of these ranges, not the high end.

The Best Exercises

Now that you have a pretty good idea of how much volume to do, you need to figure out which exercises you’re actually going to do in your workouts to get that volume. There are hundreds of different weightlifting exercises to choose from, and each one can serve a different purpose and be more or less ideal for certain people’s bodies, goals and experience levels than others.

In general however, the majority of the workout routines that people create should be based around the following exercises:

  • Bench Press (flat, incline, decline, barbell or dumbbell)
  • Rows (barbell, dumbbell, cable, chest supported or machine)
  • Overhead Press (barbell, dumbbell, seated or standing)
  • Pull Ups (various grips, chin ups or lat pull downs)
  • Squats (back, front, split squats, lunges)
  • Deadlifts (conventional, Romanian)

There are definitely some exceptions, but for the most part, some variation from each group of compound exercises listed above should be included in virtually ALL workout programs and get most (or sometimes even all) of your attention. Beyond those, isolation exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, leg curls, etc. can be fine secondary additions to your program if they support your goal or preferences.

My articles about choosing the true best exercises for you and the differences between free weights vs machines and compound vs isolation will help explain all of this in much better detail.

The Best Progression

While those are the main components that go into creating workout routines, there’s one final component that matters more than all of them. It’s the only weightlifting component that MUST be in place in order for your workout to actually work and produce positive results.

I’m talking about the absolutely required concept of progression.

As I explain in my muscle building article, there is no aspect of your workout routine that is more important than progression. You can set up everything else just right, but it will always fail to work if there is no progression taking place over time.

What I mean is, your body will not improve unless you increase the demands you are placing on it. So, if you keep lifting the same weights for the same number of reps on the same exercises over and over again, your body will NOT improve. You must gradually attempt to do more reps with the same weight or do the same number of reps with a heavier weight, or some combination of the two.

For example, if you can lift 100lbs on an exercise for 8 reps, you need to try to do 9 reps the next time you perform that exercise. Once you can, you need to try to do 10 reps. From there, you can increase the weight to 105lbs and do 8 reps. Then try for 9, then 10, then 110lbs for 8… and so on.

This is a common example of weightlifting progression, and your workout routine MUST be built around making this happen as often as realistically possible. If it isn’t, then you’re just wasting your time.

Progression is always the key to getting results from your workout. Make sure it’s always your #1 focus.

Brazilian Butt Workout Complete With 6 Exercises

Who doesn’t want a perfectly shaped gravity defying butt?

Brazilian butt workouts are strength training exercises that focus on the area surrounding your glutes. These muscles include the large gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, which is on the outside of the hip /pelvic area and the gluteus minimus which is a fan shaped muscle that sits just underneath the gluteus medius.

Movements performed by Brazilian butt workouts focus on strengthening these muscles, which leads to more definition and a leaner look

The butt is a muscle that can be targeted, worked and made shapelier. To firm, shape, lift and tone your glutes do the following exercises at least 2 times a week (on non-consecutive days) in addition to your legs workout.

SETS, REPS AND FREQUENCY

Beginners should aim for two sets of ten to 15 repetitions. Advanced do two sets of 20 repetitions.

1. Kneeling Glute Lift With Pulses

EXERCISE:

  • Kneel on all fours.
  • Lift your left knee off the floor and flex your left foot (this is the starting position).
  • Raise your left knee several inches higher, then lower it in a controlled movement back to the  starting position.
  • Complete one set of pulses and then hold the top position for several seconds.
  • Perform your second set.
  • Repeat with the right leg.

TIP: Don’t hyper-extend (over arch) your lower back.


2. Single Leg Bridge

EXERCISE:

  • Lie on your back, bend your left leg and place your  foot on the floor.
  • Extend your right leg at a 45º angle and keep your knees together.
  • Lift your bottom up off the floor.
  • Lower your bottom back down towards the ground, don’t let it touch the floor.
  • Repeat one set on the left, then switch over to the right.

 TIP: Make sure you keep your hips level.

3. Resistance Band Crab Walk

EXERCISE:

  • Stand with both feet on top of  an exercise band.
  • Cross the resistance band in front of your legs and hold the ends of the band.
  • With your back straight and your shoulders back, take one step sideways, whilst keeping your legs straight.
  • Bring your feet back together, then step towards the other side.

TIP: Use controlled movements and always keep tension in the exercise band.


4. Squat With Kickback

EXERCISE:

  • Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Move into a squat position and put your weight on your heels
  • Lift up your right leg straight behind you, while keeping your hips pointing forward (don’t twist them to the side) and extending arms forward.
  • Return to starting position and switch sides.

 TIP: Keep your back straight and look straight ahead throughout the range of motion


5. Standing Side Kicks

EXERCISE:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • With your hands on your hips, bend forward slightly for balance and lift your right leg off the floor.
  • Bend the lifted leg and then extend your leg out to your side.
  • Aim to do a full set before lowing your leg.
  • Then switch sides.

TIP: If you struggle to keep your balance, hold onto a fixed object for stability.


6. Explosive Lunges

EXERCISE:

  • Stand with your feet apart and your hands resting on your hips.
  • Take a step (lunge) forward with your right leg.
  • Your front knee should be bent at a 90 degree angle and be align over your ankle.
  • Jump and switch legs in midair. You should land with your left leg in a forward lunge.

TIP: Keep your upper body tall.

Releve Plié

Setup: Grasp a chair (or barre) for balance. With feet spread approximately hip width, lightly angle toes outward. Rise up onto the balls of your feet.

Move: While staying up on your toes, bend your knees in the direction of the toes as you descend into a squat position. Using your lower-body muscle, rise to extended position. Drop onto your heels and then repeat the entire sequence.

Make it harder! Try lowering into your squat position without holding onto a chair for support.

Bench Barbell Squat

Setup: Stand at the end of a bench with your toes forward and balance a barbell across your upper back and traps. Draw your shoulders back and tighten your abs.

Move: Kick your hips back and squat down until you’re sitting lightly on the bench. Plant your heels and push hard to stand back up, keeping your back straight and your shoulders back.

Tip: Focusing on the “up” portion of this move is where you really get the glute recruitment, so really press through your heels and squeeze hard on the way up.

Dumbbell Hip Thrust

Setup: Position your upper back and shoulders across the broad side of a flat bench and space your feet about shoulder-width apart on the floor, knees bent. Hold a dumbbell in the crook of your hips and steady it with both hands.

Move: Press your hips up toward the ceiling, driving through your heels and keeping your back straight. When your hips come level with your knees and shoulders, squeeze hard before lowering again.

Tip: Want to make your glutes work extra hard? Try using a small resistance band loop for your bridges and hip thrusts. Wrap it around your thighs just above the knee and press outward with your legs to create tension in your outer hip. Maintain this tension as you do the exercise, thereby targeting the gluteus medius and burning about 10 reps in.

Single-Legged Deadlift/Split-Squat Combo

Setup: Stand in front of a flat bench and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides, shoulders down and back. Extend one leg behind you and place it laces down on the bench.

Move: Hinge at the hips and maintain a flat back as you fold forward and reach the weights toward the floor. When your torso is parallel to the ground, reverse the move and return to the start. You also can bend your standing knee and squat down as low as you can without your heel peeling off the floor, then extend your leg and return to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Tip: To help maintain balance, focus on something several feet in front of you on the floor and square your shoulders.

Lateral Bench Step-Up

Setup: Stand next to a flat bench and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides, shoulders down and back, and abs tight.

Move: Step up onto the bench with the foot that is closest, then extend your leg to stand up on top of it. Reverse the move to return to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Tip: Don’t rush this move; be slow and controlled on the way up as well as on the way down.

Glute Bridge

Setup: Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms along your sides and lift your chin off your chest.

Move: Press your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your knees in line with your toes. When your body makes a straight line from your hips to your knees, squeeze your glutes and lower almost back to the start, then go right into the next rep.

Tip: Play with the position of your feet to change the emphasis on the glutes. Set One: Place them wide apart. Set Two: Move them in close. Set Three: Place them close together.

12 HEALTHY & CHEAP FOODS TO GAIN WEIGHT

TWELVE GREAT FOOD IDEAS TO PUT ON SOME POUNDS

In our body image conscious society, it’s rare to actually wantto gain weight. But if you’re anything like me, stuck with a high metabolism and lanky frame, it’s really tough to put on any amount of weight.

Food is the obvious solution, but what should we be eating? You don’t want to fall into the trap of junk food: those empty calories won’t help. Finding healthy and cheap foods to gain weight is essential.

You need to find something that you like, that you can afford, and something that’s good for you. No pressure, right?

Here are a handful of healthy food choices for putting on weight. Add a few of these to your diet and eat regularly, and you’ll see amazing things happen.

DID YOU KNOW: The average man needs about 2000 to 3000 calories per day. A woman needs about 1600 to 2400 calories. To gain any weight, you need to exceed that amount, probably to the tune of 500 calories per day.

Let’s start with making sure you’re eating a complete meal. If you want to gain weight by eating healthy foods, you’ll also want to ensure a balanced diet.

Each meal should contain at least one carb, a protein source and a veggie of some kind.


RICE: A LOW COST FOOD TO GAIN WEIGHT QUICKLY

Rice is one of the most popular grains in the world, and it’s packed with a ridiculously high amount of energy. 100 grams of rice contains about 130 calories, and it’s a very inexpensive food to buy.

Simply adding a generous portion of rice to your meal can add hundreds of extra calories. What’s more, it’s a very digestible grain with none of the gluten issues faced with wheat.

Rice contains many essential vitamins, such as thiamin and niacin. It’s easy and quick to prepare, particularly if you have a rice maker.

Meal tip: a rice and bean burrito is an energy packed, protein rich, healthy and delicious way to enjoy this grain.

GRANOLA:  HEALTHY, TASTY, ONE OF THE BEST FOODS FOR GAINING WEIGHT

Granola is a great choice. It’s not only a tasty breakfast cereal, it’s also loaded with energy, protein and fibre, as well as calories. One  cup of granola contains over 450 calories, and that’s without adding milk! A granola bar contains a similar amount.

Another key advantage to granola is it’s quite healthy. As long as it’s not too sugar filled (and some types really are), you can eat it all day long.

Add a bowl or bar several times a day, and you’ll see some healthy weight gain happening in no time.


PEANUT BUTTER: CALORIE & PROTEIN RICH

 

You’ll find peanut butter on a lot of these lists, and it’s there for good reason.

There are 90 calories, 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrates in a tablespoon, and it’s not hard to love.

It does contain a bit of saturated fat, so don’t go too crazy on this one, but it’s a healthy weight gain food to add to your routine.

Peanut butter also happens to go really well with the next item on this list.

 

BANANAS: AN ENERGY DENSE SNACK ON THE GO

Bananas have the benefit of being affordable, convenient and really tasty! The average banana is a great food for putting on weight because it has about 100 calories.

Bananas also have some fibre and a good helping of potassium, an essential vitamin in your diet.

Bananas have a lot of sugar. For that reason, I recommend them as a post-workout snack when your body is after that easy energy. I also recommend you don’t pound six of them in one go, even if they are delicious.

TUNA: A RICH PROTEIN WITH HEALTHY FATS

Because it’s a fish, tuna is an extremely healthy protein that contains many of the essential oils that your body needs to operate smoothly.

Tuna is also really easy to prepare (if you go canned), and it works in a lot of different dishes, so it’s an easy addition to your meal plans.

Have you tried seared tuna steak before? It’s amazingly delicious!

Tuna is a healthy and inexpensive food for gaining weight quickly, it’s a very good protein source, and I recommend adding more to your diet.

 

WHOLE MILK / SOY MILK: QUICK, CHEAP AND CONVENIENT WEIGHT GAIN ON THE FLY

A tall glass of milk is just about one of the most convenient sources of quick energy.

A glass of whole milk contains nearly 150 calories, as well as 8 grams of protein! It’s such an easy thing to add to your diet, it’s a no brainer.

If you’re lactose intolerant, soy or almond milk make a fantastic alternative. Soy is almost as energy dense with 130 calories per glass, and about equal in the protein department.

Both milk and soy milk contain a bit of fat, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Would I recommend drinking gallons per day? No, but a couple of glasses will certainly make a big difference.


AVOCADO: A NATURAL CALORIE MACHINE, PERFECT FOR ADDING ON POUNDS

The avocado provides a shocking amount of calories and fats to your diet, making it a dieter’s nightmare and a skinny person’s best friend.

It’s odd to think of a fruit like this being good for weight gain, but it’s surprisingly energy packed.

There are approximately 320 calories in a standard sized avocado, with a stunning 29 grams of fat. Some of that is saturated fat, so it’s not wise to go too crazy on these delicious fruits.

I like to add avocado to a salad to give it a bit more energy density, or use it as a spread on a sandwich if it’s a bit on the riper side.

And don’t forget guacamole!

EGGS: A HIGH CALORIE FOOD FOR PUTTING ON WEIGHT QUICKLY

Maybe you’ve seen the Rocky movies where he’s chugging raw eggs as part of his workout. Let’s be clear, that’s not what I have in mind!

Eggs are super nutritional, and there’s a reason that they’re a popular breakfast food: they provide your body with essential energy and nutrients to get through the day.

Eggs are a great and healthy food for gaining mass because they’re inexpensive, readily available, and they give you a ton of cooking options so it doesn’t get stale.

One egg has about 75 calories, along with 5 grams of fat and about 6 grams of protein, as well as essentials like vitamin B-12.

I wouldn’t eat too many of them in a single day because of the cholesterol, but enjoying eggs several times a week is a good practice, and it’ll certainly help with your weight gain goals.

NUTS: AN EXTREMELY GOOD, CALORIE RICH FOOD SOURCE

Nuts have one of the highest amounts of energy for their weight of any kind of food, and they’re certainly one of the healthiest of the calorie dense food groups out there.

A 100 gram serving of macadamia nuts, for example, has over 700 calories! They’re a healthy snack rich in calcium and fibre.

They’re an extremely great food choice for gaining weight quickly because they’re easy to pack and delicious.

The downside? They tend to be expensive, and they have a high fat content.

That being said, I’d definitely look into nuts and seeds as great, portable energy sources on the go. Try to get them dry roasted and unsalted.

DARK CHOCOLATE: AN ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOOD FOR PUTTING ON POUNDS AND FEELING AMAZING

Yes, I’m not kidding! In moderation, dark chocolate is a great choice as a treat food for gaining mass. A 100 gram bar of chocolate has over 500 calories, and it’s loaded with antioxidants and enzymes that improve your mood.

There’s also sugar and loads of saturated fat (which is part of why it tastes so good) so this isn’t an ‘every day’ kind of food supplement to gain weight. However, a few pieces every day certainly won’t hurt you, and every extra little bit of caloric intake helps increase your mass.

It’s a treat, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and it’s a lot better than many types of candy and junk food out there.

CHEESE: WHAT WOULD LIFE BE WITHOUT IT?

 

I’m a huge fan of cheese, and it happens to be an amazing supplement food to put on extra weight. It’s calorie rich and full of good stuff like calcium. It’s a viable protein source for you vegetarians out there, and it’s easy to add to most dishes by means of shredding or sprinkling.

Like all other fatty foods, it’s definitely something to enjoy with a bit of moderation.

Cheddar cheese, for example, has 400 calories in a 100 gram serving, and that includes 100% of your daily recommended intake of saturated fat; fantastic energy density per serving, but not the best thing to binge on!

It is, however, delicious, nutritious, easy to add to any recipe and relatively inexpensive, so it’s a weight gain supplement food that you should definitely add to your repertoire.

SOYBEANS: A CALORIE DENSE PROTEIN SOURCE THAT’S A CHEAP WEIGHT GAIN FOOD IDEA

Soybeans are a staple of mine because they’re healthy, inexpensive and full of nutrition. There’s a lot going on in that unassuming little green pod.

A 100 gram serving of soybeans has 400 calories. That includes very little in the way of fat, and an astounding 36 grams of protein! By weight it’s a better protein source than red meat. Did I mention it’s also a significant source of magnesium, iron and calcium?

I can’t think of many downsides to it. My favourite form is edamame, or boiled whole soybean pods. It takes about 4 minutes to prepare and it’s amazing as a snack or a supplement to a main.

I’d definitely encourage you to incorporate soybeans into your diet.

OTHER TIPS:

  • Try to get yourself some sort of eating schedule. The downfall of many skinny people is just not eating enough. A schedule or meal plan is a huge help in packing on some weight by intentionally adding extra meals in.
  • Your body will take time to adjust to a more consistent meal schedule, and more frequent snacking. That’s normal. Try to stick with it even if you’re not super hungry.
  • Drinking lots of water is important when you eat more. Water helps move the nutrients around your body, and will provide a bit of supplementary mass in the form of water weight. Be sure to keep hydrated.

Pull Ups Workout Routine for Muscle Growth

If you’re ready to build strength and a toned upper body, the the pull up is perfect. Pull-ups are performed by lifting your body up to a bar and lowering yourself back down. This bodyweight exercise is not the simplest exercises to perform, but it has major benefits.

By learning and performing pull-ups correctly, it will assist you with completing multi joint, or compound exercises. This is because these require you to use more than one muscle group and more than one joint. The exercises require a maximal amount of muscle fibres and they can help you gain mass efficiently.

Pull-ups are one of these exercises and they recruit:

  • Latissimus dorsi.
  • Rhomboids.
  • Trapezius.
  • Deltoids.
  • Pectoralis.
  • Brachialis.
  • Triceps.
  • Biceps.

Building strength and form with pull-ups can make weight training exercises including pull-downs, rows and curls. By regularly practising the execution of pull-ups, it will assist you with performing these exercises with ease.

Focusing on mastering pull-ups first will also increase any arm workout, this is due to the strength build up and form technique,as pull-ups rely mainly on arm control to execute the exercise.

People tend to start with advanced bodybuilding exercises to focus on certain parts of the biceps. They isolate upper body exercises and forget to build systematic strength in the entire upper body. This then hinders surrounding muscles to strengthen and develop.

The pull-up, performed with a neutral or supinated grip, is the foundation for building biceps, lats and upper back.

Pull-Ups For Pure Muscle Growth:

There are two problems with most pull-up programmes:

  1. They’re usually focused at helping you increase the number of pulls you can do, not increase muscle mass.
  2. They often require you to change your regular training programme and reduce your training volume or load.

This programme is designed for hypertrophy: Unadulterated muscle growth. Secondly, this can be incorporated to your already designed workout.

The Neutral Grip:

Palms face each other, as used when you do pull-ups with a V-bar attachment or parallel chinning bars.

This will place more emphasis on the brachialis. This is an underlying muscle that pushes the biceps up and increases your upper arm.

If your brachialis has been neglected, introducing pull-ups will result in size increases, even up to an inch in upper arm size.

The Supinated Grip:

Palms facing you, overloads the elbow flexors and incorporates more muscles, compared to the wide-grip pull-up, plus it maximises a cross sectional area of the muscle.

As a bonus, grip strength is correlated with arm size. Now you have an inch of new upper-arm muscle mass just waiting to be built.

The Programme:

Phase 1:

Time: Four Weeks

Method: Volume

Every day you’re going to do several sets of pull-ups. Never go to failure on any set and separate each set by an hour or more.

For example:

  • Perform some pull-ups after breakfast.
  • A set before you train.
  • Some after you train.
  • A set in the afternoon or evening, etc.

Use anything that can utilise or replicate a bar.

You’re going to accumulate hundreds of extra pull-ups over a 4-week period. Some days you’ll achieve 10 or 20 and other days you’ll reach 40 or 50. Each week aim for more total pulls than the previous week.

Challenge Day:

Once a week, you’ll need to set a timer for 5 minutes and perform as many pull-ups as you can with good form. Add this number to your weekly total and take the next day off.

Reps:

If you can already do 12 to 15 good pull-ups, then choose 10 as your target number per set. If you can’t do at least 12 pull-ups, then you will need to practice until you become stronger and then come back to this programme.

Grip Position:

First Two Weeks: Neutral or semi-supinated grip (palms facing one another)
Last Two Weeks: Supinated (palms toward your face)

Off Day:

Once a week, the day after Challenge Day, make sure you rest as your body needs to recover, this is so your muscles can grow but importantly, you reduce injury.

Here’s an example of what your routine can look like:

Week 1:

Monday: 10, 10
Tuesday: 10, 10, 10
Wednesday: 10
Thursday: 10, 10, 10
Friday: 10, 10, 10
Saturday (Challenge Day): 40 in 5 minutes
Sunday: Off
TOTAL: 160 reps

Week 2:

Monday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Tuesday: 10, 10
Wednesday: 10, 10, 10
Thursday: 10, 10, 10
Friday: 10, 10, 10
Saturday (Challenge Day): 45 in 5 minutes
Sunday: Off
TOTAL: 195

Week 3:

Monday: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Tuesday: 10, 10, 10
Wednesday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Thursday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Friday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Saturday (Challenge Day): 50 in 5 minutes
Sunday: Off
TOTAL: 250

Week 4:

Monday: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Tuesday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Wednesday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Thursday: 10, 10, 10, 10
Friday: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Saturday (Challenge Day): 52 in 5 minutes
Sunday: Off
TOTAL: 282

FINAL TOTAL FOR PHASE I: 887 pull-ups in 4 weeks.

Phase 2:

Time frame: Four Weeks
Method: Heavy Reps

After four weeks, switch to a strength-focused pull-up programme. For the next month, perform the following:

  • Step 1: Establish your 6 rep max on the weighted pull-up. Add weight with a dip belt, weighted vest, or by holding a dumbbell or plate between your legs.
  • Step 2: Perform 25 total reps per workout, using several sets with that 6 rep max weight. It doesn’t matter how many sets it takes, and it’s fine if you’re down to doing doubles or singles at the end.

Your 25 total reps may look like this:

Set 1: 6 reps
Set 2: 6 reps
Set 3: 5 reps
Set 4: 4 reps
Set 5: 2 reps
Set 6: 2 reps

Everyone will be a little different here. Just get 25 total reps with your 6-rep max, taking as many sets as you need. Rest as needed between sets.

When you can easily get more than 6 reps on the first set, add weight.

Step 3: Perform weighted pull-ups in this manner 3 times per week on nonconsecutive days for the next four weeks:

  • Monday.
  • Wednesday.
  • Friday.

Vary the grip between neutral and supinated. Grip width can also be varied to prevent any overuse issues. If three times per week is too rough on your elbows, perform twice per week for 6 weeks.

Superset Chest Workout – The Best 5 Supersets To Build A Bigger Chest

Did you know that starting your week with a chest session, is extremely beneficial. This is because your muscles are rested over the weekend, and the stimulation will encourage growth and strength.
Also by starting your week with a chest superset, not only will you save time but you will boost your workout with high intensity.

Supersets have been around for a long time. They have multiple benefits for an athlete, but there’s one issue that typically comes with them, that is they aren’t performed correctly.

First, supersets can provide a metabolic benefit. When superset training you get a higher total energy expenditure.  Another benefit to supersets is a benefit in power output, you can increase it by 4.7%.

Every superset is composed of two movements: a push and a fly movement. You’ll also notice that the majority of times, the push and pull are rotated in the superset. This is to keep the muscles confused and in shock.

When you start working out, you’re at the peak of your strength, but when you get tired you still need to keep your intensity and focus high. You won’t have any rest between the two exercises that make the superset, and you’ll have only a minute of rest between the supersets.

Firstly, you will need to warm up, you will also need to focus. When you’re doing chest day, remember that you will also need to include your triceps, shoulders, elbows and pecs. Warm them up too so you can start to build muscle, you will need to make sure all of your muscles are ready, especially those you want to activate during the workout.

Superset 1 – Incline Barbell Press and Incline Dumbbell Fly:

Start your workout with incline exercises paired in a superset. Performing these exercises when you are most energetic and fully rested is extremely beneficial.

Barbell presses go first because you’ll be able to handle more volume. When you complete the presses, take a pair of dumbbells and do the incline flyes.

As you do fewer and fewer repetitions, your weight should increase. Remember to adjust these numbers to keep yourself injury-free because when you train with more intensity like this, you might not always be strong enough to do them combined.

Do three rounds of this superset with 10, 8 and 6 repetitions of each of the two exercises.

Superset 2 – Flat Dumbbell Fly and Flat Dumbbell Press:

After the incline angles, we are now going to do some flat angle pairings. Take a pair of dumbbells and go to the bench. Do the flyes so you can stretch at the bottom and get your pectoral muscles ready for when you do the presses.

When you’ve completed 10 repetitions of the flyes, start doing presses without changing anything. Make sure you contract your chest muscles when you get to the top of the press, but don’t lock out your elbows.

Do two sets like this and for the third one, take them to complete muscle failure. If you do more than 10 reps that is really good, but if you push out more than 15, increase the weight.

When you reach muscle failure with your dumbbell flyes, do as many presses as you can.

Superset 3 – Standing Plate Press and Body Suspension Fly:

This superset is different from all the other supersets for two reasons. You’re going to count time under tension instead of reps, so the length of a set is made up of seconds instead of reps also, you’re going to do this set with non-traditional exercises.

The first of these exercises is the standing plate press, take two very light plates and hold them together. These should be 5’s or 10’s, never anything heavier unless you’re really developed and strong. Stand with these plates squeezed together between your hands and press your hands out straight in front of you.

Make sure to contract your chest muscles as you perform this part of the exercise, then bring the plates back towards your chest. Do this for 30 seconds, you don’t even need to count repetitions! When you’re finished, take some body suspension training bands and do bodyweight flyes with them.

Use a resistance band if you don’t have suspension bands, with some standing flyes for now. You don’t need to count reps with this exercise either, just do it for 30 seconds and your superset is over. Do three supersets of 30 seconds for each exercise.

Superset 4 – Pec Deck and Seated Chest Press:

At this point of your workout, weight and strength aren’t that important to you because the goal is now to keep ripping your muscle fibres. This means that you can now switch to machine exercises, which will help you isolate your muscles and develop them.

You can now use the pec deck since it’s a great exercise for this point in your workout. Concentrate on your chest instead of making sure you bring your hands together. When completed, approach a machine press, if possible one with a seat.

Doing horizontal presses will save your shoulders all the trouble of a vertical press, but make sure that your shoulder blades are squeezed together and your chest is stuck out as far as it will go. Do three supersets of 12 reps for each exercise here and you will see awesome results!

Superset 5 – Cable Crossover and Push-Ups:

This is the last superset. This superset has a really big advantage as well, you can do both exercises in a really small space, preferably at a cable crossover station, the transition from one exercise to the other is barely any effort at all.

Doing cable crossovers will benefit your lower pectoral muscles, and the cables will do this because you will keep the tension on your chest all the way through your set.

This is because the weight on the pin won’t be able to rest on whatever remainder of the stack you’re not lifting. When you’re done with the cable crossovers, get on the floor and do some push ups. Once you become unable to do a single push up in correct form, do some partials or put your knees down and keep going.

Keep pushing yourself as far as you can go and you will see the results soon enough, and they will be the most beneficial results, those that make you grow strength and size.

Muscle Mass And Strength Increase- 10 Simple Tips For Great Results

Featured in this article are 10 tips to really increase leaving the plateau behind, and increasing muscle mass.

When training you reach the point where completing 3 sets of 10, and traditional straight sets, become maintenance as opposed to growth. Also, no matter what supplements, how many times you train or for how long, you are just stuck at the same point.

Those big lifts and muscle gains now become, what feels like, an impossible target to reach!

Don’t worry because here at gymguider we are going to help you understand why, and also give you a few tips that will help you overcome those annoying sticking points.

By following these, you will find you can gain mass and strength, also it will boost confidence and determination to obtain your overall goal.

To tear through this plateau, you need to think unconventional. Many of the tips I’m about to share with you go against everything you’ve read before and some are opposite to what once worked for us at gymguider. But that’s how we know hey can impact and work.

Only incorporate 1 or 2 of them for now and see how your body responds. It is not necessary to implement more than two of these tips at once. Use these tips when the original ones lose effectiveness.

Learn how to maximise muscle gain by stimulating your body with the perfect nutrition and workout. Experiment with what it will take for you to push through your plateau and start making size and strength gains.

Here are 10 tips you can choose from to help you through your sticking point and start growing again.

1. Change Your Programme:

Most of us get stuck in the same routine with our workouts, usually beginning the week with chest, then back or arms next, and so on. For one week, switch it around. Start the week with something you normally finish with and vice versa.

For example, if you train chest on Monday and arms on Friday, swap it around. Often a simple switch such as the order is enough to shock the muscles and get them reacting how you want them to, with either growth, strength or both.

2. Sets And Reps:

Are you finding yourself typically doing 4 sets of 8 reps? Why not change it to, 8 sets of 4 reps.

The weight will have to be adjusted accordingly, but you will notice the difference this small adaption of this technique can do for you. One week at this, then go back to your normal rep and set scheme.

3. Focus On Whole Food:

Gymguider are not here to tell you that supplements aren’t having positive effects on your workouts. There’s a good chance that if you’re using the correct supplements, they are in fact making your workouts more effective.

But, we want to let you know that come off the supplements entirely for one week. Force your body to do it with only the intake of quality food. It’s easy to rely on supplement intake and forget what a proper diet is.

This will make you start paying attention. Food is the most anabolic substance there is, so try to rely on a good clean diet opposed to supplements.

4. New Bed Time:

Sleep is a key factor of when you really grow, so you must maximise this time. For one week, try to work around your lifestyle, and go to bed two hours earlier. In return, get up two hours earlier.

Ironically you’ll see just how much more you can accomplish during the day as well as the influence this will have on your ability to build more muscle.

5. The 50-Rep Set Technique:

For every exercise you do in your workout this week, add one set of fifty reps at the very end. This will help you to adapt the habit of pushing yourself to capacity.

This technique is very exhaustive on the system, so at the same time be sure you’re eating and sleeping enough. Don’t forget to lower the weight when using this method. The goal is to get to the fifty reps, regardless of what you’re lifting.

6. Pre-Exhaust The Muscles:

Alternatively to the 50-rep set principle, try some pre-exhaust work. Begin each exercise in your workout with a set of 75 reps using 50% of your max weight.

Take 10 seconds rest after each block of reps until you reach a total of 75 reps. Use an isolation exercise. After doing this for a week, when you return back to straight lifting, your strength will be increased dramatically.

7. Set A ‘Must-Eat-Diet’:

If you don’t take in enough calories, you will not start to grow. For one week, set a food intake that must be achieved each day and then try and add other foods you can to increase portions.

For this week, aim for 12 eggs, 2 gallons of milk, and 2 large chicken breasts every day. Try to eat more calories in a clean manor and start growing.

8. Train To Failure:

You’ve no doubt read articles telling you to avoid failure as it’s the short-track to over training. This is true, but when you’re always going to direct failure with each lift you do. For this week, forget about reps.

Lift until you can’t lift any more. Then rest and do it again for your next exercise. You might not be able to finish your pre-set workout. Don’t worry about it for this week.

Failure:
That point in an exercise at which you have so fully fatigued your working muscles that they can no longer complete an additional repetition of a movement with strict biomechanics.

9. Run Before Your Workouts:

Typically you want to save cardio until after your weight lifting. For one week, try doing a ten minute hard run right before your weights.

This will boost your metabolism and cause your appetite to increase and mentally put you into an intense mode to carry through the rest of the workout. Try this technique along with the Must-Eat-Diet technique for best results.

10. Start Yoga:

Yoga is a great way to boost your muscle building potential, and isn’t just for women!

Yoga increases circulation, enhances range of motion, and will help to reduce stress. All factors that go into building muscle. Try it for one week and see if you don’t notice a difference.

Conclusion:

Don’t wait for results to happen. You have to do something, kick-start the body, and get those results for yourself. Remember, the definition of insanity is expecting a different result without doing anything different!

Taking action will achieve growth, so don’t be that person on the sideline who’s at the gym day in and day out but never has anything to show for it.

Workout & Training Plan To Build Towering Traps

The Benefit Of Building Bigger Traps:

One of the most important and beneficial reasons to build your traps is that, properly developed traps will help to stabilise and move the spine whenever movement is performed. This could be everyday activities or most importantly, whilst training.

Whenever the spinal column is required to not only support heavy loads, but move them, the traps, acting on the scapulae, are engaged to provide support. Functionally speaking, big, strong traps enable us to push and pull heavy weights.

The descending, upper region trapezius, is also engaged when the biceps and triceps are targeted. If you have a weak trapezius it may limit the amount of weight lifted for each of these key muscle groups and, may also limit muscle growth in these areas.

Well developed trapezius muscles, do benefit strength and posture but also promote mass appeal. So if you want a well balanced, round shapely upper half, include trap workouts to proportion and compliment your:

  • Back.
  • Biceps.
  • Triceps.
  • Chest.
  • Shoulders.

This article is here to provide ideas on how best to build the traps, and how essential it is for complete muscular development. But never over develop them, as you need to build to full capacity if a proportionate, symmetrical physique is the aim.

Building Traps Correctly:

Whenever you train the back, the traps (which are part of the back complex), don’t always receive the specific stimulus needed to fully grow. This is because our larger, stronger muscles are engaged, but the traps must be prioritised with movements suited to their full recruitment.

The traps are part of the back complex, and do not work exclusively in isolation. Neither can the separate trapezius areas be strictly isolated with specific movements, but, there are ways we can emphasise the recruitment of the upper, middle and lower traps to reveal as much detail as possible in each.

Firstly, keep lifting heavy, basic movements such as:

  • The bent over barbell row.
  • Deadlift.
  • Weighted chin-up.

These exercises are just a few that incorporate the entire trapezius and are essential for complete traps development. Though effective, a solid regime of mass building movements will define and build the traps only so much.

Top 4 Trapezius Exercises:

Dumbbell Shrugs:

How To Do: Dumbbell Shrugs

Probably the best traps movement of all time, when performed properly it targets the entire traps. Be sure to keep the elbows behind the body, rather than to the front, this will work all three sections of the trapezius.

  • Stand straight with a dumbbell on each hand (palms facing your torso), arms extended on the sides.
  • Lift the dumbbells by elevating the shoulders as high as possible while you exhale.
  • Hold the contraction at the top for a second. Tip: The arms should remain extended at all times. Refrain from using the biceps to help lift the dumbbells. Only the shoulders should be moving up and down.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the original position.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Behind The Back Barbell Shrugs:

An excellent all-round trap builder, this movement builds complete trapezius size and shape.

  • Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width as you hold a barbell with both hands behind your back using a pronated grip (palms facing back). Tip: Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder width apart. You can use wrist wraps for this exercise for better grip.
  • Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go as you breathe out and hold the contraction for a second. Tip: Refrain from trying to lift the barbell by using your biceps. The arms should remain stretched out at all times.
  • Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Close Grip Barbell Upright Rows:

This movement hits the upper traps and the hard to reach frontal trap area above the clavicle region.

  • Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip that is slightly less than shoulder width. The bar should be resting on the top of your thighs with your arms extended and a slight bend in your elbows. Your back should also be straight.
  • Now exhale and use the sides of your shoulders to lift the bar, raising your elbows up and to the side. Keep the bar close to your body as you raise it.
  • Continue to lift the bar until it nearly touches your chin. Tip: Your elbows should drive the motion, and should always be higher than your forearms. Remember to keep your torso stationary and pause for a second at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the bar back down slowly to the starting position. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Dumbbell Upright Rows:

Another upper trap builder, this movement allows for a greater range of motion on the upward phase.

  • Grasp a dumbbell in each hand with a pronated (palms forward) grip that is slightly less than shoulder width. The dumbbells should be resting on top of your thighs. Your arms should be extended with a slight bend at the elbows and your back should be straight.
  • Use your side shoulders to lift the dumbbells as you exhale. The dumbbells should be close to the body as you move it up and the elbows should drive the motion.
  • Continue to lift them until they nearly touch your chin. Tip: Your elbows should drive the motion. As you lift the dumbbells, your elbows should always be higher than your forearms. Also, keep your torso stationary and pause for a second at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

With all traps movements, you need to maintain the momentum, in a controlled way, from the beginning of the set to the end. No swinging and no resting at the bottom of the movement. If the weight you are using forces you to rest at the bottom, drop down to a lighter weight and continue the set until the prescribed rep range is achieved.

12 Week Trap Building Programme:

Trapezius training features in both shoulder and back training sessions. Because the traps are part of the back, they should be trained alongside the back workout to avoid potentially over training this area: (if we work traps with shoulders and train shoulders and back twice weekly, our traps are effectively trained 4 times per week. Also, by training traps with back you may lift heavier on all traps movements, and avoid injury, because the spinal area will be better lubricated and adequately warmed from the preceding back work.

For the purposes of the specialised traps training programme to follow, the traps will be worked once a week with back and additionally in their own separate workout.

s/w = super set with

Monday: Back & Traps

Train traps first in this workout and pick a back training workout of your choosing (if possible, be sure to include deadlifts and chins ups, as these work all major back muscles as well as significantly targeting the traps).

  • Dumbbell Shrugs  s/w Wide Grip Barbell Rows – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Behind the Back Barbell Shrugs – 3 sets x 8-12 reps

Tuesday: Arms

  • Biceps/Triceps/Forearms – Exercises of choice to complete a workout.

Wednesday: Chest & Shoulders

  • Exercises of choice to complete a workout.

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Traps

  • Behind the Back Barbell Shrugs s/w Dumbbell Upright Rows – 4 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Shrugs – 3 Drop Sets x 8-12 reps
  • Wide Grip Upright Rows – 3 sets x 8-12 reps

Saturday: Legs

  • Exercises of choice to complete a workout

Sunday: Rest

Isometric Contraction Training Method

Relatively few people are aware of isometrics or give incorporate it in their training programmes. The isometrics have many benefits when it comes to gaining strength, mass and making you more healthy.

Also athletes tend to lack isometric and eccentric strength relatively to their concentric strength.

Even if your goal is to build muscle mass, different approaches activate stimulate muscle growth. Once the body adapts to a type of stimulus it can become more difficult to build added mass.

The isometric methods in this article will allow you to break through growth plateaus easily, but it isn’t going to be pain free. That said, this is one of the most beneficial aspects to incorporate for muscle mass and lean definition.

What Are Isometrics?

Isometrics are exercises implemented, where the muscles are producing force without movement. This is achieved by either pushing or pulling against an immovable resistance.

You can also hold a weight in a certain position for as long as possible, this will also give the desired outcome. In both cases, the intent is different but the external outcome is equal.

When trying to move a resistance that is static, it is called overcoming isometrics. This means you are trying to overcome the resistance, when holding a weight in place and preventing it from dropping is called yielding isometrics.

Although similar looking, they have a slight difference in training effects. Overcoming isometrics have more transfer to concentric strength, this makes them more neurologically demanding.

They are best used for short, very intense exercises and have a greater impact on strength opposed to size.

Yielding isometrics have more transfer to eccentric strength and are less neurologically demanding. These can be performed and be done for longer, they work best to increase size opposed to strength with lifts.

Factor Affecting Strength:

Displaying a high level of force in a specific movement is dependant on many factors:

  • The amount of muscle mass you have, the more muscle can help you with a greater strength potential.
  • Capacity to recruit muscle fibres, also making the recruited fibres twitch faster. The more they twitch, the more force they produce.
  • Co-ordinate recruited fibres. Making the various muscles involved in a lift work more efficiently together, they prevent you from using all the strength you have so you can perform more reps and sets.

You may find yourself having other, more specific issues that lead to sub-optimal performance on a lift.

For example: You may find yourself weaker at a specific point in the range of motion for a lift or be inefficient at recruiting a specific muscle involved in the lift. This could lead to a less efficient motor pattern.

Different isometric methods are going to be extremely effective at improving these factors.

Stimulating Muscle Growth:

There are plenty of factors that affect strength, but there are many factors to stimulating hypertrophy.

One of these factors is the activation of mTor. MTor is the mediator and protein synthesis or muscle-building is the factor. When mTor is activated, protein synthesis is increased. The more it activates, the higher the rate of protein synthesis.

Releasing of local growth factors, specifically mechanical growth factor (MGF), this is a variant of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). MGF has a direct impact on making a specific muscle grow.

This is released through muscle damage caused by resistance training, this is when a combined with an accumulation of lactate inside a trained muscle and transient oxygen deprivation of that same muscle.

The last two elements (lactate accumulation and lack of oxygen) are maximised when blood flow to a working muscle is reduced or prevented altogether.

Another way of stimulating muscle growth is by achieving muscle fibre fatigue. The muscle growth stimulated stays the same regardless of how much weight is used This indicates that maximum muscle fibre fatigue is a powerful growth stimulus.

The ability to use all three factors contributes to maximally recruiting or contracting a specific muscle. If you are not efficient at contracting a specific muscle hard during an exercise, you will not optimise any of the three factors mentioned above.

If a muscle is not contracting hard, you are not recruiting a maximum number of fibres including the most growth-prone fast-twitch fibres. Because you can’t fatigue fibres that were not recruited, and a fibre that is not fatigued is not being stimulated, the impact on growth will be limited.

To release local growth factors you need to be able to cause a restriction in blood flow inside a muscle that is contracting long enough to result in a hypoxic state and an accumulation of lactic acid.

To occlude blood flow naturally you need to contract a muscle hard, the harder a muscle is contracting, the more blood flow inside that muscle is reduced. You also need to sustain that contraction throughout the whole set, the moment you release the tension, blood rushes back into the muscle and makes it a lot harder to maximise growth factors.

If you struggle at contracting a muscle hard and maintaining that contraction while moving the weight around, it will be hard to maximise growth factors.

MTor activation is maximised both by accentuating the eccentric portion and by reaching a stretched position while the muscle is contracting. You cannot optimise the process if you are not efficient at creating tension in a specific muscle.

Accentuating the eccentric means flexing the muscle hard, whilst performing the contraction hard throughout all movements of an exercise. If you are not efficient at flexing and contracting a muscle, you can’t maximise growth stimulation.

Movement And Recruitment Patterns:

Performing correctly in an exercise is a function of: Movement pattern and Recruitment pattern.

What’s the difference?

A movement pattern is the execution of a movement or exercise:

  • How well you are moving?
  • Are you in the correct position at all times?
  • Are your joints changing angles with the proper coordination?

Recruitment patterns are the order and magnitude of the contraction of the muscles involved in the exercise. For example:

Two people could have the same technical execution of a lift, but they may use a different recruitment strategy. One may use the quads to do a squat, whilst the other may rely more on glutes. Although the technique of the exercise will still look the same.

Movement patterns are more easy to change than recruitment patterns. It is much easier to correct your posture than to change the contribution of each muscle.

Isometrics are best implemented to work on changing the recruitment pattern or strategy being used during the execution of a movement pattern.

Isometrics To Increase Strength:

Isometric exercises have interesting properties to build strength:

  • You can recruit up to 10% more muscle fibres during a maximal isometric action than during a maximal concentric or eccentric action. Because fibre recruitment is one of the key neural factors affecting strength, frequent isometric training can programme your nervous system to become more efficient at recruiting more fibres.
  • The firing rate of the recruited muscle fibres is higher during a maximal isometric action than during a maximal eccentric action, it may also be higher than during maximal concentric actions. Over a certain length of time, by using maximal isometric actions, you can train your neuromuscular system to produce a higher firing rate during all types of muscle actions.
  • During isometric exercises, strength is gained mostly at the trained joint angle. There is a carryover of about 15 degrees both sides, but the further away you are from the trained angle, the lesser the strength gains. This can be beneficial as it allows you to target a specific portion of the range of motion.
  • A certain form of isometrics can be used to desensitise your body’s protective mechanisms: functional isometrics. This is a short range partial lift (around 2 inches of movement) followed by a static hold for around 6-9 seconds. By picking a strong point in the range of motion you can use 20-50% more than your full lift strength. Overtime it will desensitise your protective mechanisms, allowing you to use more of your strength potential.

Tips Fitness – How to Get Rid of Loose Skin After Weight Loss

Losing weight is a momentous achievement and ought to be celebrated for sure, but for some having to contend with loose skin as a result of losing a great deal of weight can be disappointing. You may feel like you’ve won in one area and lost in another, but this is not necessarily the case.

In fact, there are some natural ways that you can increase your skin’s elasticity and tighten the areas in need over a matter of time. Your results, of course, will depend on how much weight you’ve actually lost, the length of time your skin was stretched out, and your age.

Here are some valuable tips on how you can tighten your skin after weight loss:

1. Monitor your weight loss. It may be time to curb your weight loss just for a bit to allow your skin to get adjusted to the loss. As you maintain your weight, your skin has more of a tendency to shrink to your new size. If you continue to lose weight rapidly, your skin will continue to lose elasticity.

2. Increase your water intake. Drinking a lot of water not only improves your overall health, it also will help your skin to become tighter, smoother, and look more radiant. Be sure to drink at least 6 glasses of water per day. If you can drink more than that, even better. Hydration is wonderful for your skin and certainly helps with the elasticity of such.

3. Participate in weight resistance training. According to Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, strength training strengthens muscles as it creates a layer of muscle underneath the skin.

As a result, your skin will become tighter. It is recommended that you perform strength training three times per week every other day in order to really benefit your muscles and skin. Weight training is especially important if you have dropped your caloric intake significantly, as when you lose fat, you often lose muscle as well. Rebuilding your muscles will help tighten the skin.

4. Moisturize your skin. Use a moisturizer that has vitamin E in it, so that your skin will stay moist, as this allows for new skin cells to grow. Moisturizing also helps with minimizing wrinkles.

You can even use coconut oil on your skin. Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer and has antibacterial properties to soothe the skin. It is often used in commercial and DIY body lotions, but it can be used on its own as well. You can find here more fantastic everyday uses for coconut oil, or read about these fruit oils for skin care.

5. Belly Toning Exercises. Chances are your belly has some stretched skin if you’ve lost a lot of weight. Tightening the tummy area is much more possible if you take time a few times per week to exercise that area. Commit to belly toning exercises such as crunches, air bike, leg raises, sit ups, side bridges, and pelvic thrusts. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on these exercises either.

Simply spending 15 to 20 minutes three to five days per week will help tighten your tummy area. You can find here 8 simple exercises to get a flat tummy, and if you have loose skin on your arms, check these 6 simple exercises to get rid of jiggly arms.

6. Get massages. Who doesn’t love a massage? Head to your favorite masseuse to get weekly or biweekly massages, as they are known to help increase blood circulation that is helpful to your skin. As nice as they are, you don’t necessarily need a massage therapist to massage your skin, as you can do it yourself or have your partner do this for you.

You can add to the massage your favorite essential oils diluted in a carrier oil and inhale them to reach new levels of calmness. If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy. This book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.

7. Limit your sun exposure. Too much time in the sun will have a negative effect on your skin’s elasticity, so limit your time sun bathing. This goes for tanning beds as well, as the rays can dry out your skin and damage the skin cells at the same time (you can also watch this video to see what the sun really does to your skin).

Also, limit your time swimming in chlorinated water, as the chlorine can dry out and damage skin cells. Spending a short amount of time sun bathing and swimming is alright; just be sure to shower afterwards and apply a natural moisturizer that has vitamins and aloe vera included.

8. Sea salt scrubs. There are some researchers asserting that sea salt scrubs will help with blood flow to the skin and help tighten the skin over time. There are a number of sea salt and mineral scrubs available on the market to choose from. Simply use them in the shower each day as you wash and see how your skin looks and feels after a couple of weeks. Read my article how to use sea salt for your skin, including sea salt body scrub.

9. Visualize tight skin. Visualization is a super interesting tool to use to get your desires to come true. No, it’s not like magic, but there is power in envisioning your desires manifesting. Even some professional athletes use visualization to help improve their games and performances.

The way it works is that when you mentally see something, you tend to take more actions toward making your desires come true. When you see your skin tight, you’re more apt to do things like exercise, eat healthy, and follow through with other helpful tips. You have full permission to daydream and take some time each day and visualize yourself with tight skin.

10. Be patient. When dealing with stretched, loose skin, it is important to be patient as your body adapts to your new size. Additionally, keep in mind that depending on how much weight you’ve lost, your skin may not be able to return to its original elasticity. Make a decision to accept this now just in case and affirm that you are pretty awesome even with some loose skin.

It is understandable to become frustrated when you’ve lost a lot of weight and now have to be concerned about loose skin. Fortunately, others that have gone before you have tried all sorts of methods to tighten their skin and happily pass that information on. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for you. You can try various ways to tighten your skin and see what is helpful for you.

Additionally, understand that elasticity reacts differently at different ages and stages in life. For the young mom who just gave birth and is contending with loose skin, it may only take a little bit of effort to tighten up the skin and keep it moving. For the 50 year old who has just dropped 75 pounds in a short amount of time, it may take a bit longer for the skin to tighten and it may not get back to its original state due to age.

It is important to realize this and accept it wholeheartedly. Reward yourself for losing the weight and accept your skin’s condition in the process of tightening it.