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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.

The post 4 Powerful Tips to Build More Muscle appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

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Your Sports Health Questions, Answered: “I’m experiencing knee pain. What can I do?”

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Life Time has partnered with the sports health experts at NYU Langone Health to provide insights into the common health issues that have the potential to prevent you from moving freely and functioning at your best.

Meet the Experts

  • Kirk Campbell, MD, NYU Langone Health
  • Sheena Lance-Nold, NASM CPT/CES, Master Life Time Academy Instructor

Q: I’ve tried to stay active during the pandemic by getting outside more, but I’m also sitting a lot more than usual. And now my knees hurt. What should I do?

A: “When gyms and health clubs closed down, a lot of people tried to re-create their workouts at home, or they decided they wanted to be runners or start biking,” says Kirk Campbell, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone and assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

Unfortunately, many folks who took up new fitness activities did so without also focusing on the balance, strength, and mobility needed to perform those activities safely.

“Suddenly they’re preparing for a half-marathon without appropriate training, which includes strength training,” Dr. Campbell says. This can result in injuries or muscle imbalances that manifest in knee pain. “You have to have good balance and well-toned muscles, including core muscles and glutes.”

Further, when an injury isn’t well rehabilitated — say you have shin splints and go back to running too soon — you may end up with overuse injuries such as anterior-based knee pain, tendonitis, or IT band syndrome. “People who’ve had a small injury that’s not appropriately rehabilitated are more prone to having another injury,” Dr. Campbell notes.

Of course, injuries and muscle imbalances aren’t limited to newly minted runners, and knee pain affects athletes and nonathletes alike.

“Knee pain is incredibly common,” explains Sheena Lance-Nold, NASM CPT/CES, a rehabilitative exercise specialist and Master Life Time Academy instructor. She notes that habitual patterns such as prolonged sitting or performing certain repetitive movements can cause muscle imbalances that affect the knees.

Imbalances can also be caused by inflammation, tissue trauma, muscle spasms, and adhesions elsewhere in the body. This can initiate a succession of reactions called the cumulative injury cycle.

“The tricky thing is that these imbalances affect and are affected by the entire kinetic chain,” Lance-Nold says. “You can’t just single out the knee. You have to look at what’s going on at the ankle joint, the hip joint, the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, and the shoulders.”

Troubleshooting Knee Pain

If you suspect an injury, apply the “RICE” technique (rest, ice, compression, elevation), and back off the activity that may have led to the pain, suggests Dr. Campbell. If the pain continues, see a specialist.

Lance-Nold concurs. When fitness clients come to her with knee pain, she refers them first to a clinician to diagnose what’s going on. Once a client is cleared for exercise, she puts together a plan that addresses any imbalances that may have caused the injury and pain to begin with.

In terms of everyday things you can do to alleviate or prevent knee pain, our experts keep their advice simple:

1. Keep moving. Stand up, stretch your hamstrings and calves, walk up and down the stairs, bend your knees. “Keep your joints lubricated by moving your body throughout the day,” Lance-Nold says.

2. Maintain your gear. Check your bike’s seat height and make sure your running or walking shoes aren’t unevenly worn, suggests Dr. Campbell.

3. Sit tall. Slouching forward increases the tightness in the hip flexors, which are typically already overactive, Lance-Nold says.

4. Drink water. “If your body is dehydrated, you’re going to feel more aches and pains,” says Lance-Nold.

5. Strive for a healthy weight. Each pound of body weight translates to 4 pounds of force on your knees, says Dr. Campbell.

At NYU Langone, their Sports Health experts have the multi-specialty expertise to provide coordinated, comprehensive care for all types of athletes. As an official healthcare partner, Life Time members receive exclusive concierge access to their world-class orthopedic specialists and performance experts, who can help you meet your fitness goals. To schedule an in-person appointment or video visit with a Sports Health expert, visit nyulangone.org/lifetime.

The post Your Sports Health Questions, Answered: “I’m experiencing knee pain. What can I do?” appeared first on Experience Life.

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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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