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4 Powerful Tips to Build More Muscle

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Until I unleashed the explosive power that was within me, I never truly knew my full potential. What do I mean by that? Train for explosive strength. It is the neuromuscular system's ability to generate high-action velocities. This can be viewed as moving a heavy weight as fast as possible. One thing I see at the gym that people are lacking is their explosive power. Don’t get me wrong; concentrating on the muscle and going slow is a training method that I do weekly, but there is a time and place for each training method and exercise. If an athlete is going to excel at sports, he needs to be able to build strength and then convert strength to explosive power. Other athletes are powerful but lack explosive strength.

Let’s take a brief technical look at the neuromuscular system and how it is used for explosive power.

The rate of force development (RFD) determines explosive neuromuscular performance. RFD is a measure of explosive strength, or simply how fast an athlete can develop force. Electromechanical delay (EMD) is the time lag between onsets of muscle activation. Both will increase as you train for explosive power. Explosive power movements are movements that require a maximum or as close-to-maximum power output from the athlete in a short amount of time. The goal of explosive exercise training is to build enough power to ultimately move heavy weights very quickly. I have to be passionate about what I am doing to have optimal intense explosive power.

Mindset plays a big role in being explosive for me. Getting pumped mentally before a lift is very important. You can psych yourself down as easily as you can psych yourself up for a lift. I repeat “light weight!” in my mind as I am getting ready, thanks to Ronnie Coleman. Most athletic sports require explosive power to perform. I don't want anyone to throw a ton of weight on a bar and just start jerking it around; that's how someone will get injured.

Tudor Bompa, in the 1980s, believed that RFD changes over a season were influenced by training modalities and time. While we don’t have an answer of what is ideal, we need to be careful with speed athletes who tend to respond faster to adaptations to the nervous system than their tendons can handle.

Having and building strong athletic power is one of the most desired, if not the most desired, quality in athletic performance today. So the question is, how do we optimally train it?

Training for Explosive Strength and Power

The four training methods to increase overall explosive strength and power are:

Plyometric Training. Plyometrics are a very high neural recruitment modality, they recruit fast-twitch fibers and have the capability of enhancing lifts and will improve jumping measures. Plyometrics is a type of exercise training that uses speed and force of different movements to build muscle power.

I utilize plyometrics that combine multiple movements (for example, squat jumps with rotation) that can enhance transfer and specificity in how athletes actually move on the court or field. Plyometrics and the amount of jumps seen in a team sport will have an inverse relationship. Periods of more frequent practice, low quantity, but intense plyometrics are often the best recipe.

Resistance Training. I know heavy strength training offers a benefit from a perspective of motor recruitment; it would only make sense to utilize this work to increase the availability of the motor pool prior to phases of training with a greater power emphasis.

One problem with using heavy weight training is that over time it will “stiffen” the nervous system, which will decrease motor learning and coordination. Some coaches, such as Nelio Moura, have written that this occurs after as soon as seven weeks of sustained maximal strength work. 

A strategy I have used for training is three-week blocks followed up by plyometric-emphasized work.

Olympic Weightlifting. Use low reps, but vary in terms of density. In Olympic weightlifting for power and athletic performance, low reps are of the essence. Alternate the usage of low-density sets such as 6×4, with set and rep schemes such as EMOM sets.

EMOM or “every minute on the minute” workouts, challenge you to complete an exercise for a certain number of reps in less than 60 seconds. The remaining time within the minute serves as your recovery. The recovery time is crucial and you shouldn't skip it.

Ballistic Training. Also called power training, is a form of training that involves throwing weights and jumping with weights, in order to increase explosive power. Ballistic training has the highest specificity and is very sensitive to bar monitoring and power outputs. Adding overload with ballistic work, in terms of bar speed monitoring or timed sets, can be an effective strategy here. The intention in ballistic exercises is to maximize the acceleration phase of an object's movement and minimize the deceleration phase.

As I increase my ability level and training age, what “works” narrows and decision making on which movements to use becomes more selective. Very high-level athletes can get away with this, while lower and moderate-level athletes must utilize a greater spectrum of strength and special strength methods to force their nervous systems to higher outputs.

As I get older I find the explosive exercises I did 15 years ago might not be what I continue to do today. Weighted squat jumps, for example, are getting too hard on my knees at 37 years old. Where heavy strength training may help an athlete increase their specific power in early training years, it may not have good transfer later on. Training for explosive power, I have seen results in my overall growth in muscle size and my body fat is now in the single digits. Trust me – performing these quick bursts of explosive exercises will burn a ton of calories both during and after your workout.

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Hot Eats: 5 Foods For Sexual Health

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People who suffer from a low libido can find a world of reasons to blame for it: stress, a busy work schedule, kids and family responsibilities, and that occasional, unavoidable dark cloud called “not in the mood.” Knowing what's behind your losing streak doesn't make it any easier to bear.

It's easy to laugh at aphrodisiacs and other seemingly simple solutions to reignite the spark, but who can blame someone for eyeing them if the only other solutions are things like “get a new job” or “drop 30 pounds?” As every successful fitness professional and bodybuilder can attest, food is one of the things you can control. Feeling like you're in control, well, that's sexy.

With modern science's ever-deepening understanding of food and nutrition, we've been able to learn which foods have the most potential to boost your libido.  

1. Watermelon
Watermelon made big headlines a few years back when a study determined it's potential to treat erectile dysfunction due to its ability to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow. The key, researchers said, is the fruit's high levels of the amino acid citrulline, which when converted to arginine in the human body, can boost nitric oxide synthesis and vasodilation.[1]

If some of those aminos sound familiar, it's probably because you read similar claims on the label of your favorite pre-workout supplement. Most of them contain both citrulline and arginine in one form or another to help you chase the pump. But it can help with other things, too, according to a 2011 study at the University of Foggia, in Italy, which found that 24 out of 24 middle-aged male patients improved their “erection hardness score” after supplementing with citrulline for a month.[2] 

Before you run to the nearest fruit stand, there's a small catch. Most of its citrulline is located in the rind of a watermelon. Now what? Well, you can eat the white inner portion of the rind. It doesn't taste that bad, after all. Or you could juice the flesh and rind together into a sexy watermelon concoction. 

If you don't have a juicer and don't want to gnaw on watermelon rinds in front of your sweetheart, but still covet the benefits of citrulline and arginine, consider purchasing them as supplements.

2. Oysters
You've no doubt heard by now that adding seafood to your diet on a regular basis is a great way to ensure you get adequate protein and healthy omega fats.

Oysters may not look much like salmon or tilapia, but to people who have a taste for the mollusks, they offer fish-like benefits along with high levels of vitamins A, B12, D, iron, calcium, selenium, copper, and zinc.

Deficiencies in vitamins D, B12, and zinc in particular can decimate energy levels in everyone, testosterone levels in men, and negatively impact blood flow.

A study from Turkey in 2000 found that zinc and selenium both had the potential to help restore nitric oxide activity, um, “down south” in men.[3] That means more blood where you want it, when you want it.

Oysters' zinc content, along with their reputed resemblance to certain sexy parts, has fueled the shellfish's reputation as an aphrodisiac for centuries. Some researchers have even theorized that our ancestors were chronically zinc deficient, in which case a blast from an oyster could theoretically boost their sexual health.

3. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is probably the most famous, and exhaustively researched, of the reputed aphrodisiac foods. Researchers have known since the 1990s that dark chocolate in particular can increase serotonin levels in the human brain in a way that can mimic the effects of marijuana, and the ensuing years of research have only added to chocolate's list of potential health benefits.

In 2006, a group of researchers took more direct aim at the idea of chocolate as an aphrodisiac when they measured daily chocolate intake against markers of sexual health in women. They found two things: first, women who ate chocolate daily tended toward higher sexual functionality, and second, older women were both less sexually functional, and less prone to eating chocolate daily.[4] As academics, they were hesitant to draw any grand conclusions—after all, to be young is to be frisky. 

In recent years, a number of studies have chipped away at chocolate's sexy powers. Others have placed the benefits of chocolate more squarely on its high levels of the antioxidants known as flavonols, which, like the citrulline in watermelons, can boost nitric oxide levels and blood flow. Unfortunately, these are often destroyed when raw cocoa is converted to chocolate, and they can be blocked by milk and other foods.

The lesson here is clear: Don't gorge on chocolate out of desperation. Track down one of the flavonoid-rich bars for a special date and enjoy it sensually, like a fine wine. Get that serotonin flowing!

4. Fruit
Fruits are colorful and sweet and you can feed them to your amour with your fingers. What more do you need to know? Packed with vitamins that help support a variety of important bodily functions, many kinds of fruit can support a healthy libido.

One of the best things about fruits: They require little preparation in order to be ready to eat.

5. Anything Out Of The Norm
In general, science is unkind to supposed aphrodisiacs. We can sit here and say “eat this, and so-and-so vitamin will supposedly do that,” but the truth is that arousal isn't a math problem.

Want to know how to make food sexy? It's easy enough.

First: Make it at home. This is the single best reason there is to finally learn how to cook. You've heard the saying that the fastest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't love walking into a house that smells like a warm, savory meal cooked just for her. Citrulline and other nutrients may increase her blood flow, but they're not going to stimulate her hunger, then satisfy it, all while making her feel special and loved.

Second: Make it unique. Lose the skinless chicken breasts and stinky broccoli and opt for something unexpected and full of flavor. Let them peek into the pot while it's cooking for a quick sniff and a single tantalizing taste. Serve small, flavorful portions that leave them wanting more—but also make sure there's enough! Don't count the calories, and don't feel bad about it. If you can't justify a cheat meal for your loved one, then you need to loosen up.

Third: Make it sensory. You may remember a recent study from the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago that said men responded more viscerally to the scent of baked cinnamon buns than to high-end perfumes, and that women like banana nut bread.

This doesn't mean you should gorge on baked goods on Valentine's Day, but rather just that our non-taste senses have a mysterious power over us. They bring back old memories and put us at ease in stressful times. Use these to your advantage. Sex is best when it is a blissful vacation from everyday life.

References
Munglue, P., Kupittayanant, S., & Kupittayanant, P. (2014). Effect of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) flesh extract on sexual behavior of male rats. Chiang Mai University Journal of Natural Sciences, 13(1), 519.
Cormio, L., De Siati, M., Lorusso, F., Selvaggio, O., Mirabella, L., Sanguedolce, F., & Carrieri, G. (2011). Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology, 77(1), 119-122.
Göçmen, C., Kumcu, E. K., Seçilmiş, A., Uçar, P., Dikmen, A., & Baysal, F. (2000). Restorative effects of zinc and selenium on nitrergic relaxations impaired by cadmium in the mouse corpus cavernosum. Toxicology Letters, 111(3), 229-234.
Salonia, A., Fabbri, F., Zanni, G., Scavini, M., Fantini, G. V., Briganti, A., … & Montorsi, F. (2006). Chocolate and Women's Sexual Health: An Intriguing Correlation. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 3(3), 476-482.

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Daily Deliberate Practice

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Anders Ericsson has written an excellent book PEAK: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Ericsson’s research contributed to the common recited 10,000 rule.

If you’re not familiar with it, Malcolm Gladwell interpreted Ericsson’s research and suggested people need to accumulate 10,000 hours to become an expert.

Ericsson, however, says,

“[T]he key thing that people have misinterpreted is that it’s not just a matter of accumulating hours. If you’re doing your job, and you’re just doing more and more of the same, you’re not actually going to get better.” (source)

Ericsson instead says the missed element is something he calls “deliberate practice.” As fitness experts, this idea should resonate with you.

Imagine a client who wanted to get healthy and strong, but they kept repeating the same exercises done incorrectly. If they reached 10,000 hours without hurting themselves, would they really have improved? They may even be in a worse position long term.

Ericsson says, “Purposeful practice is all about putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal” (p. 15).

An Interview with Anders Ericsson

Check out this interview with Ericsson below:

6 Tips for Incorporating Deliberate Practice Into Your Business

As you think about how deliberate practice might apply to your business, we wanted to share a few tips:

Incorporate practice into daily work life – The first step in applying deliberate practice into your business is to schedule it into your daily work life. You’ll never make progress if you don’t set aside regular time. Get out of your comfort zone – If you only practice what you’ve always practiced, you’ll never grow. That’s true when you exercise and it’s true in your business. If one of your clients only wanted to exercise their biceps, you’d firmly explain that’s not a smart way to exercise. Seek immediate feedback – A core component of deliberate practice is seeking immediate feedback. That might mean seeking out a business mentor or taking an online course where you have access to an expert for a new business tactic. Don’t keep practice something that you can’t get feedback on and don’t know if you’re doing correctly. Learn from others, particularly experts – The best way to become an expert is to learn from one. That might mean reading a book like PEAK: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, taking a seminar, going to a conference, or seeking a new certification. Our digital world provides us hundreds of ways we can learn from experts. Build mental representations – “A mental representation is a mental structure that corresponds to an object, an idea, a collection of information, or anything else, concrete or abstract, that the brain is thinking about.” (source). Many people use this form of learning in school but stopped using it as they transitioned into the business world. It can be a tremendous tool in your deliberate practice. Focus – Deliberate practice requires your full attention, so set aside a specific amount of time and remove distractions. If you’re new to this idea, read more about the Pomodoro Technique.

We’d love to talk more and provide more tangible tips on how to grow your fitness business. Enter your info below to schedule a demo with our expert team!

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11 Exercises for Your Best Back Workout

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Many people focus on building their “mirror muscles” (think: chest, shoulders, arms, and abs). But to create a well-rounded physique, you don’t want to skimp on back workouts to sculpt the other side of your body, too.

Whether you’re wearing a bathing suit, a tank top, or a backless dress, a well-built back shows the world you’ve got it where it counts. Physically and aesthetically, there’s no substitute for a strong, muscular back, which is why you should include back workouts into your regularly scheduled routine. To help you get started, here are some of the best back exercises found on Beachbody On Demand.

The Back Muscles

Across the rugged topography of your back are over a dozen different muscles. Some of them — like the trees minor — stabilize movement at your shoulder girdle; others — including the erector spine — extend your spine, helping to keep you upright.

But the primary focus of back workouts are usually the two largest muscle groups in your back: the trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles.

Trapezius Anatomy

This is a kite-shaped muscle which extends from the back of your neck, to your shoulder blades, and down to your mid-back. Your traps are responsible for moving your shoulder blades upwards (as in a shrugging movement) and inwards (as in a rowing movement). When they’re well developed, the traps keep your posture in check and give your mid-back depth and detail.

Many people, guys especially, focus exclusively on the upper portion of this muscle — the bands of muscle that give gymnasts and football players that thick-necked look. But that can be a mistake, says Beachbody fitness expert Cody Braun. “When improperly trained, the traps can round your shoulders, which causes a postural dysfunction and a higher likelihood of injury.” Solve the problem by focusing on mid-and-lower trap exercises instead, using movements that emphasize retracting the shoulder blades.

Latissimus Dorsi Anatomy

Often shortened to “lats,” this fan-shaped muscle originates at your mid and lower back and attaches to your upper arms. It pulls your arms downwards and behind your body, (as in a pull-up movement), and directly backward (as in a rowing movement). The lats are your primary “pulling” muscles, and when they’re developed, they give you that unmistakeable “V” shape when your visible from behind.

The lats, Braun explains, are often underdeveloped and tight. Strengthening and stretching the muscle is key for good posture and full mobility — particularly in the shoulder joint, he says.

How do you exercise your back?

Most back movements are variations on rowing (pulling your own bodyweight or an object toward your torso), or chinning (pulling your bodyweight upward and over a bar or other stationary object). That’s the case with the 11 back exercises below, all culled from Beachbody On Demand’s huge selection of fitness programs. Together, they’ll work all the back muscles — large and small — to ensure complete functional and athletic back development. And the best part is that you can do them all at home! All you need is some dumbbells, a resistance band, and a pull-up bar (or a door attachment).

11 of the Best Exercises for Back Workouts

 

1. Balance row pistol squat

Appears in: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel – Chisel Balance

Benefits: This move is an intense, total-body challenge. It works the traps, lats, and scapular retractors in the upper body, and the glutes, hamstrings, and quads in the lower body, all while testing your balance.

Stand holding two medium-weight dumbbells at your sides. Lift your right foot slightly off the floor. Keeping your back flat and your shoulders pulled back, hinge forward extending your right leg behind you. Let your arms hang straight down. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring the weights up to the outside of your ribs while keeping your elbows close to your sides. Lower the weights back down and return to the standing position. Try not to let your right foot touch the ground. Keeping your knees close together, extend your right leg forward. Bending at your hip and knee, squat as deeply as possible on your left leg. Return to standing and repeat. Do equal reps on both sides.

2. Dumbbell reverse grip row

Appears in: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel – Total Body Chisel

Benefits: This move can help improve posture by challenging the upper and lower back simultaneously.

• Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding two medium to heavy dumbbells in front of your body, palms facing forward.

• With your shoulder blades pulled back, hinge forward at the hips until your upper body forms about a 45 degree angle to the floor.

• Keeping your palms turned forward, squeeze your shoulder blades together and bend your elbows, pulling the weights up toward your ribcage.

• Reverse the move and repeat.

3. Renegade Row

Appears in: SHIFT SHOP – Strength :25

Benefits: Challenge your upper back and lats while you also work your core and shoulder stabilizers.

• Assume a push-up position with your hands just outside your shoulder-width, gripping two light dumbbells. Your feet should be in line with your hands.

• Lift the dumbbell in your right hand off the floor, bringing your hand to the outside of your ribs while keeping your right elbow close to your side. Resist rotation of the body.

• Lower the right dumbbell to the floor and repeat with your left arm, alternating sides.

4. Alternating row and lunge

Appears in: Autumn’s BOD Exclusives – Kill Cupcake

Benefits: This move works multiple parts of the upper back (lats, traps, and scapular retractors) with light weights, challenging the muscle fibers responsible for endurance.

• Stand holding two medium to light dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in toward your body.

• Take a big step forward with your left leg, bending it to assume a deep lunge position, keeping your right leg straight.

• Bend forward at your hip, attempting to lay your torso on top of your left thigh. Let your arms hang straight down to the sides of your left leg.

• Bring the dumbbell in your right hand up to the outside of your ribs while keeping your elbow close to your side.

• Reverse the move and repeat with your left arm, alternating sides.

5. EZ bar row

Appears in: Body Beast – Build: Back/Bis

Benefits: This move challenges the large muscles of the upper back to move a heavy load, while the lower back stabilizes and protects the spine.

• Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding an EZ bar in front of your body with a wide grip, palms facing forward.

• Keeping your lower back in its natural arch and your shoulder blades pulled back, hinge forward at the hips until your upper body forms about a 45 degree angle to the floor, and the bar is near your knees.

• Squeeze your shoulder blades together and bend your elbows, pulling the bar up until it contacts your lower abdomen.

• Reverse the move and repeat.

6. Chin-up

Appears in: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel – Iso Speed Hammer

Benefits: This classic move is great to way to widen and shape your lats, creating that wide V-shape in your upper back.

• Take an underhand grip on a pull-up bar.

• Pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight as you pull yourself up.

• Lower yourself until your arms straight, and repeat.

• Too tough? Use a chin-up assist band to make it easier.

7. Core crunch chin-up

Appears in: P90X2 – Chest, Back, and Balance

Benefits: After you’ve master the classic chin-up, try this variation to strengthen and shape your lats, while also challenging your abs and hip flexors.

• Take an underhand grip on a pull-up bar with about 12 inches between your hands.

• Pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight, simultaneously pulling your knees up to the bar.

• Lower your knees, straighten your arms, and repeat.

• Too tough? Use a chin-up assist band to make it easier.

8. Track star pull-up

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps – Deluxe Resistance

Benefits: This variation of a standard pull-up widens and shapes the lats, creating a V-taper in your back, while also challenging your abs and obliques.

• Take an overhand grip on a pull-up bar.

• Pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight as you pull yourself up.

• Lower yourself until your arms straight.

• Keeping your left leg straight, lift your right knee as high as possible as you twist your hips to the left.

• Repeat with your left leg. That’s one rep.

• Too tough? Use a pull-up assist band to make it easier.

9. Close-grip oblique twist

Appears in: INSANITY: THE ASYLUM Volume 2 – Back & 6 Pack

Benefits: This move widens and shapes the lats and it adds an isometric challenge for the upper back and a challenge to obliques and core.

• Take an overhand on a pull-up bar.

• Pull yourself upward until your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight as you pull yourself up.

• Holding the top position of the pullup, lift your knees toward your chest as high as possible.

• Keeping your knees drawn up and squeezed together, contract the obliques on your right side, as if trying to touch the outside of your right hip to your right elbow.

• Repeat on your left side.

• Lower your knees, straighten your arms, return to the starting position, and repeat.

10. Lunge twist pull

Appears in: 22 Minute Hard Corps – Resistance 2 (as “Punch Pull”)

Benefits: This move works your lats and upper traps in conjunction with your lateral and rear deltoids. The lunge movement also fires up the muscles in your lower body.

• Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a medium-weight dumbbell in your right hand at shoulder height.

• Pivot to the left on the balls of your feet, bend both knees into a lunge, and punch toward your left foot on the floor with your right hand.

• As you return to the standing position, place your left hand on the dumbbell and forcefully drive your right elbow backward, pivoting and rotating your torso to the right.

• Repeat on your left side, and do equal reps on both sides.

11. Superman lat pull

Appears in: THE 20s – Megan: Pyreshape

Benefits: Using a resistance band, this move strengthens your entire back, from your waistline to the back of your neck.

• Holding a light resistance band, lie on your stomach with your arms extended overhead, chest and arms lifted off the floor, and palms facing down. This is your starting position.

• Keeping both arms straight, trace a half-circle with your right arm, extending it directly out to the side and down toward your right thigh. Your left arm should remain straight overhead.

• Reverse the move, slowly returning to the starting position.

• Repeat with your left arm, and do equal reps on both sides.

How do you build a better back?

To ensure that you get the most out of your back workouts, it’s essential to consider not just what you do in the gym, but what you do outside of it as well. That includes stress management, sleep, stretching, and diet. When you’re doing challenging back workouts (or any strength workouts), you need to keep an eye on your protein and calorie intake, making sure you eat enough to help your muscles grow and repair. For more information on pre- and post-workout supplements, the Beachbody Performance line is a great place to start.

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