The Benefits of Cheating

Cheating can be beneficial. I’m not talking about cheating on your significant other or cheating on a test. I’m not even talking about cheating on your diet (though we’ll discuss that in future articles). I’m talking about cheating on exercises in the gym. Though I have often been accused of being a “form Nazi,” even I see the benefits of strategically cheating and so should you!

I would first like to point out that I said strategically cheating! I’m not advocating half repping four plates on bench or ripping out a set of dumbbell curls that uses your lower back more than your arms. What I am advocating for is using a slight bit of momentum to assist you in the concentric portion of a movement (raising the weight), so that you can get more overload on the eccentric portion (lowering the weight). Let me explain:

Continue reading “The Benefits of Cheating”

Advertisements

5 Training Tips for the Biggest Traps in the Gym

  1. Volume:

Far too often, people hinder the growth of their traps by not hitting them with enough volume! You wouldn’t hit a “chest day” by doing three sets of bench and leaving, would you? However, far too often people do just a few sets of shrugs once a week and that’s it! You don’t need to have a “traps day” as your trapezius muscle is involved in several back and shoulder movements, but you’re lying to yourself if you think that doing three sets of ten is going to get the job done.

2. Weight:

        It seems that there are two distinct schools of thought when it comes to trap training: heavy weight or high reps. This has progressed to the point where guys are either doing 5 reps with the worst form possible, or 100 reps with a weight that isn’t even challenging. Like any muscle group, the key to developing your traps is progressive overload. If the weight is so heavy that you’re having to recruit other muscle groups, less overload is placed on your actual traps. Similarly, if the weight is too light to cause any overload, you will not see any progress. Keep good form and use a weight that is challenging. In order to see the best results, vary between high and low rep exercises in order to keep your traps from adapting and shock them into growth.

Continue reading “5 Training Tips for the Biggest Traps in the Gym”

Biggest Mistakes on Leg Day

Stop wasting your leg days! Check out the tips below to make sure you’re not making these common mistakes, and take your leg gains to the next level!

  1. Only Using Machines:

Machines are great for isolating specific muscles within the leg, however, they remove all stress from stability muscles. Without strong stability musculature, your legs will not be very functional outside of the gym. Your likelihood of injury also skyrockets due to this lack of stability. On top of this, you will likely see far worse results as you will only be targeting specific muscles in your legs, rather than working the entirety of your legs as many free-weight movements allow. I know you can get a great workout on the leg press, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a better workout by doing squats.

2. Not Going HEAVY Enough

Continue reading “Biggest Mistakes on Leg Day”

Carbs Are Not The Enemy

We’ve heard it time and time again. “Eat a low-carb diet and you’ll lose weight!” The #WarOnCarbs has taken over social media and news cycles alike, but is it correct? Not necessarily. I’ll explain below.

Why did the #WarOnCarbs begin?

Weight loss is a serious issue in the world today, and people want something to blame for it. Carbs became an easy target as soon as people realized that a reduction in carbs led to a significant weight loss in the short term. In the long term however, the results are nearly identical (1). This means that there are no significant differences in weight loss between a low or high carb diet long term.

Lowcarb VV conventional weight loss diets.pdf.png

Continue reading “Carbs Are Not The Enemy”

Trash Your Triceps: Arm Day Triceps Workout

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the first part of our arm day workout here: http://wp.me/p8zCm0-2K . Combine these two workouts for a perfect arm day program and get ready for some serious arm gains.

*Note: Be sure to start the workout off with your weaker muscle group in order to maximize the energy you are able to put into your weak point.

Alright, by this point you should have seen the brutal biceps workout we posted earlier. Now we’ll dive into the tricep workout. It wouldn’t be fair to take it easy on your triceps after beating up your biceps so badly now would it? Nope, so we’re going to launch an all-out assault on your triceps as well! Not only will we be using a mix of weights, reps, and rest times in order to force your triceps to grow, we’ll also be hitting them several different angles in order to cause growth in every area! Check out the exercise breakdown below.

  1. Close Grip Bench Press

We’re starting off heavy once again, working on strength while your energy is highest. While you want to limit the involvement of your chest and shoulders as much as possible, they play an integral role in this exercise. The close grip bench press allows you to overload the triceps by placing them under greater weight than they can withstand alone. Though your chest and shoulders will come into play to some degree as you press, your triceps will bear almost all of the weight on the lowering (eccentric) portion of the movement. Perform 4 sets of 6-8 reps, taking 3-5 secs to lower the weight on each rep. Keep your hands just slightly in past shoulder-width as seen above. Placing your hands closer together will result in wrist pain, without causing any additional stress on the triceps.

Continue reading “Trash Your Triceps: Arm Day Triceps Workout”

Blast Your Biceps: Arm Day Biceps Workout

 

It’s arm day, and you’re looking to add some serious size to your biceps. You enter the gym wanting not only to get stronger, but to get a crazy pump at the same time. Tired of the same old arm workout and lack of results, you scour the internet looking for a new routine hoping that it will give you the results you’re after. Well, look no further because this is it.

Below are each arm exercise explaining not only the technique of each movement, but what to focus on. We’ll utilize a variety of weights, rep ranges, and techniques in order to truly shock your biceps. Like you should with most workouts, we’ll start off heavy, increasing volume and decreasing weight as we go. Push yourself hard, stick to the given rest times, and get ready to see some crazy results.

 

Barbell Cheat Curls

biceps2

We’re going to start off with the heaviest exercise of the workout. I know I’m not the only one who has seen people cheating so hard on their curls that they’re using their hips more than their biceps, but that’s not what we’re doing here. Proper cheat curls involve using a weight that is just slightly higher than you would be able to do normally. With just a slight swing of your hips to get the barbell moving, use your biceps to curl the weight to the top. This is where things get challenging. Use your biceps to control the weight on the way down (also known as the “eccentric” portion of the movement), taking about 3-5 secs to lower the weight. Perform 4 sets of 6-8 reps HEAVY, but don’t be afraid to lower the weight if you’re having to use more than just a slight swing of your hips.

Continue reading “Blast Your Biceps: Arm Day Biceps Workout”

Ditch the Treadmill and Drop Weight! 3 Untraditional Fat-burning Cardio Routines

  1. Tabata Training:

Tabata training is a very underused, yet effective way to burn fat. Beware! This is not easy! On the plus side, it’s only 4 minutes long. Tabata training involves going all out on an exercise for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. The original study performed on Tabata training showed it to be significantly more effective than 1 hour of moderate intensity cardio! While the moderate intensity group worked out 6 days a week for one hour a day, the Tabata group performed just 4 minutes of Tabata training and showed a significantly greater aerobic improvement along with a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity!1 On top of this, Tabata training has been shown to be more muscle sparing than regular steady state cardio, meaning you won’t lose those hard earned gains!2 Perhaps the best part of Tabata training is its versatility. Though the original study was performed on a bike, Tabata training can be performed with any cardiovascular activity. Try using ball slams, burpees, battle ropes, squats, push-ups, or any other exercise you can think of! If you’d rather kill your workout quick and be done, give Tabata training a try for your next cardio session.

Continue reading “Ditch the Treadmill and Drop Weight! 3 Untraditional Fat-burning Cardio Routines”

Coping with Depression Through Exercise: World Health Day 2017

It’s World Health Day!

The theme of World Health Day 2017 is Depression: Let’s talk. So, let’s do just that: talk. Talk of depression has seen a massive increase in recent years, and the disease now affects more than 15 million Americans each year (1). That doesn’t even account for related mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders, phobias, PTSD, or other related illnesses. Even though it has become a common topic of discussion as of late, depression didn’t just appear overnight. Depression used to be a taboo subject that was avoided in all conversation. Today, it is still a topic that is rarely discussed on a personal level until the effects are too overwhelming to ignore. Depression is so rarely discussed that few people know anything about treating it.

shutterstock_242964955

Continue reading “Coping with Depression Through Exercise: World Health Day 2017”

What Exactly is in Whey Protein?

With so many different supplements out there, it can get very difficult to choose the right one for you. Even choosing a whey protein powder has become more complicated in recent years.

WebWhey protein comes in three main different forms: whey concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. Each of these forms have undergone different filtration processes, with concentrate being the least filtered and hydrolysate being the most. Being more or less filtered doesn’t necessarily mean any one form is better than the other. Factors such as timing, purity, allergies, and cost should all be taken into account in order to give you the best results with the least amount of damage to your wallet.

Check out the infographic below for more information in order to make sure you get the most out of your whey!

Continue reading “What Exactly is in Whey Protein?”

Healthy Snacks to Keep You Feeling Full All Day Long

 

A common issue in the quest to lose weight is snacking. Before most people begins a diet, they typically snack throughout the day. This becomes a habitual behavior that is very difficult to cut out. Not only are dieters hungry, they are also disrupting their typical schedule which throws them off further. This deviation in schedule often causes energy crashes and irritability and can often lead to binging on junk food later, putting you right back where you started (if not worse). So, perhaps cutting out snacking all together isn’t the solution. Indulging in some healthy snacking can actually make it easier to stay on track! So what makes a snack healthy? Well, it depends on the rest of your diet. Some people may require more protein in their snacks while others may require more fats or carbs depending on the contents of their actual meals. In general, the key to weightloss is simple. You must burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight. Following this logic, the easiest way to limit calories from snacking is to eat snacks that will leave you feeling fuller longer! This way, there isn’t a constant struggle to keep yourself from eating more. You’re already full! So, how do we reduce hunger while still keeping calories relatively low? Let’s take a look at that below.

 

Volume:

When we eat foods that take up more space in our stomach, we feel more full.1 Makes sense right? So when looking for a healthy snack, look for the biggest sized snack that contains the fewest calories. It should be noted that this is only an immediate response, meaning you will become hungry again as the food is digested. However, this immediate feeling of fullness will cause you to stop eating, automatically reducing calories! While eating salads may not be all that fun, you can eat 2 full cups of salad for only 20 calories!2 That huge 20 calorie salad isn’t sounding so bad compared to a tiny 250 calorie candy bar huh?

shutterstock_593801975Bottom line: Look for snacks that take up the most space with the fewest calories in order to make yourself feel full immediately after eating.

Digestion Speed:

Alright so we’ve covered how to make yourself feel full right after eating, but how do you make yourself feel full all day long? Well, as mentioned above we only feel full until the food we ate is digested. So, if we eat food that will be digested more slowly, this will cause us to feel fuller longer! Fats and proteins are digested much more slowly than carbohydrates, so look for lots of healthy fats and protein in order to keep yourself full! This is not to say that carbs are bad, however fats and proteins help to slow down the digestive process as a whole. Limit saturated and trans fats where possible and look to get a majority of your fats as MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) and PUFA (poly unsaturated fatty acids). Snacks like avocados, nuts, and even peanut butter are full of healthy fats that will keep you feeling fuller longer. Protein will also help to keep you full as it too will slow the digestive process. Many of us looking to gain muscle (or simply retain it while losing bodyfat) need more protein in our diets and adding some protein to our snacks is a great way to do it. Lean meat, beef jerky (look for low-fat, low-sodium options), nuts, and nut butters are all great options. If you’re looking for something more convenient, low-carb protein bars and protein shakes are great options as well.

shutterstock_263066297

Bottom line: Snacks high in “healthy fats” (MUFA and PUFA) and protein will digest more slowly, keeping you feeling full for hours after eating!

 

Variety:

One final factor to consider when looking for a healthy snack is variety. A variety of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) will cause you to feel less hungry.3 With a few exceptions, most micronutrients are very brightly colored. An easy way to make sure you’re getting a variety of them is to make sure to eat a lot of colors. This will also help you to stay full! Salads, trail mix (without candy), and mixed fruits are all great options.

shutterstock_246090658

Bottom line: Eating a variety of colors will ensure you’re eating a variety of micronutrients, helping you to stay full.

Continue reading “Healthy Snacks to Keep You Feeling Full All Day Long”