Women’s National Health & Fitness Day

In honor of National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, we’re busting 4 popular fitness myths!

  1. “Lifting weights will make you bulky”

Wrong! Lifting weights doesn’t make you look bulky, in fact, it will actually help you to look even leaner as building muscle helps to elevate your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). An elevated RMR will cause you to burn more calories even at rest! Don’t worry about gaining too much muscle too quickly either. You won’t lift weights for a few months and then wake up looking like a bodybuilder overnight, despite what most male Instagram ads may show. The changes in your muscle mass will be gradual, and if you ever feel like you’re getting “too big” simply stop lifting for a while. It should be noted that hormonal differences between men and women will also make it even more difficult to become “bulky.” At the end of the day, any change that you make to your body will be gradual and you’re in control of how you look, so don’t be afraid of lifting!

2. “Doing tricep exercises will help burn fat behind your arms”

Nope! Spot reduction (the idea that you can target where fat burning occurs) is not real. While building muscle underneath the fat may help your appearance, tricep exercises won’t burn fat on the back of your arms just like crunches won’t burn extra fat in your abs! However as stated above, these exercises can lead to an increased RMR, allowing for more systemic fat loss.

3. “You should stretch before you workout”

Static stretching (the classic stretch and hold) will actually impede your muscle’s stretch reflex. Think of your muscle as a rubber band. Stretching the rubber band for an extended period of time will cause it to lose its elasticity, just as static stretching will cause you to lose your strength. Instead, save the static stretching for after your workout and focus on a more dynamic warm-up beforehand. Lightweight, banded, and body weight movements are all effective ways to warm-up in addition to foam rolling.

4. “Protein shakes have too many calories”

So do salads if you eat enough of them! Granted, you would have to eat a TON of salad. My point is that a protein shake will only cause you to gain weight if you’re taking in more calories than you are burning. What protein will do is help your muscles to recover and rebuild. Again, increases in muscle mass will increase your RMR. So, while you may have to drop some calories from elsewhere in your diet, the increases in muscle mass will be well worth it in the long run.

Thanks for Reading! Let us know what else you want to see in the comments below, and be sure to reach out on social media (@thefitexpo)!

Alex Gaynor

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TheFitExpo presents: Top 3 Tips for Bulking Season

With Summer officially ending this Friday, bulking season is just around the corner for most of us. Or maybe you cheated on your diet a little too much during vacation and just decided to use “an early start to bulking season” as an excuse to keep you from feeling like crap about yourself. Or maybe that’s just me. My weight gain was totally intentional, I’m just bulking okay?!? Besides we’re talking about you here. So before I get completely sidetracked realizing just how far off my diet I got on vacation, let’s move on to TheFitExpo’s Top 3 Tips for Bulking Season.

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  1. Carbs are your friend:

The primary goals of any bulk should be to add two things: size, and strength. Carbs have been shown to effectively help you reach both of these goals! In terms of size, it’s important to be in a caloric surplus when you bulk. This means eating more calories than you burn. As many of us have learned the hard way, carbs are an easy way to get in extra calories. While it’s true that one gram of fat (9 kcal/g) contains more calories than one gram of carbohydrate (4 kcal/g), carbs are also much more quickly digested. This allows you to eat more sooner, making it easier to get yourself in a caloric surplus! An increase in carbs will also help you to keep your muscle glycogen stores full, resulting in increases in both strength and endurance! This will allow you to work harder in the gym, resulting in more long-term gainz!

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Back to Gainz:

I know, I know, it’s not as much fun as chest or biceps. However, a serious back day is essential for anyone serious about building a complete physique. Not only is your back one of the most aesthetically important muscle groups, it’s also important to train back for overall health and posture. In fact, we have to do nearly twice the work on our back as we do on our front just to counteract the effects of all of the forward movements we do every day. Between driving, working on a computer, texting, and other movements we do every day, we are constantly rounded forwards. And that’s not even counting chest and shoulder workouts! Today we will set out to make that right; focusing on correcting your posture, strengthening your back, and building a better V-taper with lots of high-volume lat work. And with bulking season fast-approaching, it’s time to pack on some size! Without any further delay, let’s jump into this brutal back workout.

Exercises

Wide-grip Pull-ups

We will begin with a classic back exercise, the pull-up. Wide-grip pull-ups allow you to work on on the uppermost part of the lat, really helping to accentuate the V-taper. This will make help to make your back and shoulders look wider while making your waist look smaller. Everyone has done pull-ups at one point or another, but the rep scheme here is what makes this exercise really unique. We are going to do 100 straight reps in as few sets as possible. Once form starts to suffer, it’s time to break until the next set. As soon as you feel semi-recovered, jump back in. It’s brutal but effective. The exercise is also scalable to your fitness level. While advanced lifters may be able to get 100 reps, some may struggle to do a single pull-up. This workout will work for all fitness levels! Simply choose your fitness level below, and follow the prescribed rep scheme.

Ultra-advanced

100 Reps Weighted

Advanced

100 Reps

Intermediate

50-75 Reps

Beginner

100 Lat Pulldowns with 50-100 lbs less than your bodyweight, OR 100 assisted Pull-ups

Continue reading “Back to Gainz:”

Chest Day is the Best Day! A Killer Chest Workout From TheFitExpo

Whether it be Monday (a.k.a. #InternationalChestDay) or any other day of the week, everyone loves a good chest day. Get ready for the best chest day of your life! We’ll be mixing in some low rep sets with some high rep killers in order to destroy your chest. Not only will this workout get you stronger, it will also give you an absolutely insane chest pump! Let’s jump into the workout below.

Make sure you get in your warm-ups before starting as a heavy bench press can lead to a lot of injuries if you don’t warm-up properly first. A few sets of pass-throughs with a band or a PVC pipe are a great way to warm up your entire shoulder joint. Some rotator cuff work with a light dumbbell or light cables may also help if your rotator cuffs cause you issues. Next, do 2 sets of 20-30 band pull-aparts or cable face pulls to help set your shoulders before benching. Before you jump on the flat bench, go ahead and warm up your triceps with 2 sets of 20-30 light tricep pushdowns using a band or a cable machine. Now you’re ready to bench! I know this seems like a lot of warming up, but the protection that it will provide your shoulders and elbows is more than worth it.

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Bench Press:

Start by doing 50 reps with the bar just to get your pecs firing and your movement pattern feeling good. This should be an easy warm-up. If it’s tough, do fewer reps! Now begin your working sets with a heavy pyramid with the rep scheme 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. As you work up in weight the sets should be difficult, but are they strength-focused so give yourself time to rest between sets! Begin lowering the weight after your set of 2, taking less time to rest and focusing on pushing yourself near failure. NOTE: Always stop 1-2 reps shy of failure if you do not have a spotter! It’s not worth the injury risk.

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Eat Fat to Lose Fat?: The Truth About Ketogenic Diets

Ketogenic diets have been around for years, but have seen a huge boost in popularity recently. With so many diet trends coming and going, why has keto stuck around so long? And why has it become so much more popular recently?

Let’s begin by addressing what a “Keto Diet” is. In its simplest form, a ketogenic diet involves cutting out carbs, but there’s a lot more to a proper ketogenic diet that just not eating carbs. A general recommendation for a ketogenic diet is to eat 70% of your calories from fat and 30% from protein, eating as few non-fibrous carbs as possible (fibrous carbs are not digestible so eat your veggies. They’re an essential part of this diet). How is this possible? Surprisingly, carbs are not essential in your body. There are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, but carbohydrates are not needed for your body to function. It’s true that glucose is your body’s preferred energy source, however, in the absence of glucose, your body will adapt in one of two ways. One option is for your body to undergo a process called gluconeogenesis in which excess protein is converted to glucose to be used for energy. As you may have guessed, protein being converted to glucose is not exactly optimal for gains. The other option is for excess fat to be converted into a chemical called ketones, which themselves can be used for energy. This is why it is ESSENTIAL to make sure you’re eating excess fat when doing a ketogenic diet, otherwise, your body will begin to burn through protein that could otherwise be used to build muscle. However, if you are eating enough fat, this will not be an issue. Ketone supplements may also be able to help put you in a state of ketosis even in the presence of carbs, however, I need to do more research before I comment on any of these claims. By now we’ve established that people can get away with not eating any carbs, but why would anyone want to cut out carbs?

Recently, people are joining the #WarOnCarbs (a term coined by world-renowned powerlifter Mark Bell) primarily as a way to lose body fat. The keto diet does allow for a tremendous amount of weight loss in a short time, but before we praise it as the new “miracle diet,” let’s take a look at how this weight loss actually occurs. A primary driving factor of fat loss from the ketogenic diet is the caloric restriction that occurs naturally from cutting carbs. This concept of calories in versus calories out (thermodynamics) is universal to all diets, meaning that keto does not hold an edge in this regard. However, it does have several other benefits outside of its direct impact on weight loss! Many keto-lovers are people who will binge on sugar uncontrollably as soon as they have a taste of carbs. With a ketogenic diet, these carbs are eliminated, making the diet easier to adhere to. Ketones themselves also have several other fat-burning benefits such as their ability to help suppress hunger, making it easier to eat fewer calories. Since the brain operates extremely efficiently on ketones you may also be more focused during your workouts! Their ability to help lower insulin levels will also provide more balanced energy, preventing the energy crash that you may sometimes feel after eating carbs. In terms of general health, ketones may also help to fight seizures and Alzheimer’s due to a potential increase in mitochondria in the brain. Diabetics may also do well on a ketogenic diet because the absence of carbs lessens the body’s reliability on insulin. Cancer patients may be the ones to benefit most from a ketogenic diet, however, as the cancer cells thrive in the presence of glucose. Because of this, the removal of carbs essentially “starves” the cancer cells.

Clearly, there are a ton of benefits to this diet. However, in terms of actual fat loss, almost every “benefit” relates to helping you to control your calories. While a ketogenic diet may all of for these calories to be easier to control, ketosis is far from necessary to achieve being in a caloric deficit. On top of this, much of the “weight loss” that occurs immediately is simply water weight. Your muscles store carbs as glycogen, a molecule that will be used for energy when you move. However, in the absence of carbs, theses glycogen stores will become almost completely depleted. Each gram of glycogen stored also carries 3 grams of water with it. This water is stored in the muscles so it will not make you look bloated, however, when you deplete your glycogen stores, you also lose the water that was previously stored within the muscle. This lost water weight accounts for much of the “weight loss” that many people initially see on ketogenic diets. I want to point out that this is alright as your body learns to run off ketones rather than carbs, however, this lost weight has nothing to do with fat loss.

There are also some negatives to a ketogenic diet that may discourage you from trying it. One of the biggest issues with a ketogenic diet is adherence. There’s no doubt that this issue exists throughout all diets, however, it is even more pronounced in the ketogenic diet. If you eat just enough carbs to take yourself out of ketosis, you will be left with no significant amount of ketones or carbs to use as energy, leaving you exhausted. Even if you remain in ketosis your performance may suffer due to the depleted glycogen stores that were mentioned earlier, which would greatly reduce recovery rates. It can also be difficult to get enough protein on a ketogenic diet. It would be nearly impossible to eat the 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight that the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) recommends without going over your daily calorie allowance.

With a ketogenic diet relying primarily on the creation of a caloric deficit, it is far from a “miracle diet” for fat loss as many people claim, it could still very well be the best diet for you. In the end, I am not arguing for or against a ketogenic diet. I’m saying that you should adhere to the diet that works best for you! What makes you feel good? What is most convenient for you? What allows you to train harder? What allows you to recover best? What gives you results? All of these are questions that you should know the answer to in order to make sure you’re getting the most out of your diet. Look at these answers and decide if the keto diet works best for you! If you’re interested in switching to a ketogenic diet, do some more research and try it out! Just note that my basic explanation of the diet was just to give you an idea of what this diet is all about. Do some more research on exactly what you should be eating before starting. It is also a good idea to check with your doctor before making any big changes to your diet. To make this simple, the diet that is best for you is the diet that makes you feel great and is easy to follow. Find that diet and stick to it!

Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or reach out on social media (@thefitexpo) and let us know what you want to see in the future!

Alex Gaynor (@alexgaynor_)

What to Expect at TheFitExpo

If you’re about to attend your first fit expo, get excited! It’s a blast! Many people have some common questions before attending their first expo, so we’re here to answer them!

Planning Your Trip

First thing’s first, you have to plan your trip. If you’re from out of town, check out thefitexpo.com for a  discount on local hotels for a limited time. Before you go, be sure to check out our website to make a list of the celebrities and companies that you want to see! Also be sure to check out our schedule of events. This way you won’t miss out on what’s important to you! Again, all of this information can be found at thefitexpo.com . If you’re planning on competing in any of the competitions that are offered such as powerlifting, bodybuilding, Max Reps,etc., check our website to see how to sign up!

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Lift Weight to Lose Weight

Lifting weight to lose weight may sound crazy to you at first, and you’re not alone. To many people, common sense says that cardio is the only way to burn fat while lifting weights makes you bulky. By the end of this article, you’ll come to see that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, cardio does burn calories, but lifting weights may have even more benefits in regards to weight loss!

First, let’s dismiss a common myth. Lifting weights will not make you bulky! You won’t go to bed looking like Spongebob one day and wake up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger the next! If lifting weights really made you instantly gain weight, don’t you think that every guy in your local gym would look a lot bigger and have to work a lot less hard? Gaining muscle is a painfully slow process, and if you ever do feel “too big” it’s a pretty simple fix! Just stop lifting for a while! Stressing about accidentally getting “too big” is like stressing about accidentally winning the Olympics. It only happens with years of dedication and training, not by accident.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into fat loss. Fat loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume, creating a caloric deficit. This deficit can be made greater by decreasing the amount of calories eaten, or by increasing the amount of calories burned. This is where cardio comes into play as it is a simple way to increase the amount of calories burned. Many look to cardio as the best way to burn excess calories due to the fact that a specific time of cardio will likely burn more calories than lifting for that same amount of time would. Logically, this makes sense. In 20 mins of jogging, you’re moving constantly; whereas 20 minutes of lifting is broken up into several sets and rest periods so that actual exercise occurs during a fairly small amount of that 20-minute time span. However, the main benefits of lifting don’t actually occur during exercise!

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The Perfect Split

What is the perfect workout split? This age old debate between lifters has raged on for centuries, with no foreseeable end in sight. Truthfully, there is no “best” training split overall. However, there is absolutely a best training split for you based on your goals, previous experiences, training preferences, and schedule. I’ve broken down the most common workout splits below to help you choose the perfect training split for your goals.

Terms to Know:

  • Frequency: # of training sessions per week
  • Volume: total amount of work (sets and reps) done in each training session
  • Intensity: Amount of physical power exerted
  • Hypertrophy: Muscle Growth

 

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“The Bro Split”

No, I’m not talking about the “curl bro” split of bench, biceps, and nothing else (definitely not legs). I’m talking about a true bodybuilding style bro split, in which one trains four days per week, training different muscle groups each day. Though some argue that hitting each muscle group once per week is too little frequency, this is not necessarily the case. It’s important to remember that any rowing exercise is hitting your biceps along with your back, and bench press will work your triceps and front delts at the same time as your chest. Therefore, while each muscle group will only be isolated once per week, they will be involved many times throughout the week given proper exercise selection. For example, deadlifting on back day allows you to work your legs twice during the week while keeping the focus of that day on your back. This increased frequency will hinder recovery slightly, but with only one day of intense work per muscle group per week, recovery should not be a significant issue. The Bro Split has two main options:

  • Bro Split A:
    • Chest/Triceps
    • Back/Biceps
    • Legs
    • Shoulders
  • Bro Split B:
    • Chest/Biceps
    • Back/Triceps
    • Legs
    • Shoulders

In order to decide between these, it is important to note your weak points. If you are looking to work on your back more than your biceps, I’d recommend bro split as it allows you to train your back to exhaustion, before your biceps have been isolated that week. However, if you are trying to catch your biceps up to your back, isolating them when they are at full strength may be the most beneficial. The order of the days can be mixed up as well. If you’re struggling with your squats, you should probably hit them before you deadlift, moving leg day before back day. Your schedule can also come into play as some will train a bro split Monday-Thursday, while others will split their 4 days throughout the week. The bro split is a great choice for those chasing gains, that allows for adequate rest and personalization.

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First Gympressions: A Judgement-Free Gym

No one is judging you. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Of course, everyone must be judging you, you’re the newbie in the gym and they can all sense that right? Wrong. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but that was my own honest thought process when I first started working out. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, and there wasn’t an ounce of muscle on me. How could anyone not judge me? Well, the truth of the matter is that 99% of people are too worried about their own workouts to even pay attention to you. The other one percent are just insecure people who are so worried about judging others that they’ll never make any progress of their own. Pay no attention to them, because you’ll pass them up within the year anyway.

You may feel like you don’t belong near some of the ripped, muscular beasts in your gym, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Anyone who has made that much progress relates to you more than you’d expect. You see, even these people who have been working out for quite a while remember their first day in the gym better than you may think. To reach that level of fitness requires absolute determination and a crazy level of consistency. In order to remain this consistent, there must be a deeply personal and meaningful source of motivation for them. Be it feeling like they needed to gain muscle or lose weight, there was likely a point in time when they hated the way that they looked and felt. This need for self-improvement still lives in them to some extent or else they wouldn’t still be in the gym. What I’m trying to say is that they still think of themselves as someone looking to improve, and they still remember being completely unhappy with how they looked and felt about themselves. Knowing all of this, how could they possibly be judging you? They’re not judging because they were in your shoes not too long ago, and they likely picture that memory every single time they workout as motivation to keep progressing.

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You Might Be a Gym-Bro If…

1. You own more Tank Tops than t-shirts.

It’s okay bro, just try and aim for that 50/50 ratio.

2. You refer to days by the body part you’re training rather than their actual name.

Just call Monday, “Monday.” We all know it’s International Chest Day too.

3. Your wardrobe is mostly made up of free giveaway shirts that you got from Bodybuilding.com orders and expos.

Honestly… same. They’re free.

4. You’d rather die than miss a workout.

I support this wholeheartedly. Respect the dedication.

5. You know everyone who works at the gym’s front desk by name.

Yeah, you might spend too much time there, but look at all of the friends you made!

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