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Training Tips and Training for Endurance or Muscle - MonsterSupplements.com

Almost every individual who trains in a gym to enhance the shape and appearance of their physique will have better developed muscle groups than others. We all have some which grow faster than others. Sometimes genetics are all there is to know, nothing more can be said or done to explain why. That doesn’t mean that you cannot do something about your lazier muscle groups though in order to make them play catch up.

In a simple step by step plan we have outlined 3 key areas you can focus on immediately to accelerate the growth of muscle tissue within your weakest muscles groups whichever they may be.

1 – Mind To Muscle Connection
This is a term used frequently within muscle building circles and you should take heed. As you train a specific muscle you should be able to feel it move all the way through each rep. That’s the start, middle and finish. Each burn, each tare and each kilo of punishing tension placed on your muscle should be felt. If you cannot ‘’feel’’ the muscles working they probably are not, at least to their maximal capacity. To improve this practise flexing and tensing the weak muscle through a full range of motion as you would with weight. Visualise that muscle working in your mind, work on it! This is your foundation to growth as you are able to recruit more muscle fibres within that muscle, without it you will be chasing your tail forever more.

2 – Training Frequency
The next port of call to accelerate growth within less developed muscles is to train them more frequently! There is an overriding myth within the fitness industry that hitting a muscle group more than once a week is over training. It isn’t. Natural (not drug assisted) individuals experience an increase in muscle protein synthesis levels (which supports recovery and growth within a muscle) for 48 hours post-training. That means it returns to basal rate after this. Why wait another 5 days to train that muscle again? Train the weak muscle twice or even three times a week to force MPS levels to remain high. Remember, stimulation is the key to growth.

3 – More Reps
When people complain about certain muscles failing to grow they overlook the fact that they are training one way and one way only. Usually within the 8-12 rep range they never delve into new territories which might be the reason certain muscles don’t grow (especially quads, calves and deltoids in this instance due to their higher slow twitch muscle fibre population). Try going for 15-20 reps on occasions, sometimes 25-30.

Marrying all three points together creates a very comprehensive battle plan to force growth even within the most stubborn muscles.

West Wales in noted for its natural beauty and in particular it’s coastline. I was lucky enough to be born and brought up here, it is quite stunning in fact. One of the more famed areas is the ‘’blue lagoon’’ at Abereiddy beach which is an old quarry which has now filled up with water which has a very unique turquoise tint. Along with the towering walls which surround the lagoon it is quite airy. This weekend the Red Bull World Tour Professional Divers are here for the second year in a row. They are jumping off a specially assembled ramp near the top of the lagoon, from an eye watering height of 27 metres! To put that into perspective, Olympic divers jump from 10 meters! Not only do they dive, they perform radical acrobatics on the way down before getting into position (either head or feet first) into the icy water. They reach speeds of 55mph on the way down and come to a grinding Holt in just 4 metres once they hit the wall. They are only allowed 5 dives within 24 hours due to the stress it places on the body.

As I stood at the top of the grass littered cliffs looking at the Irish Sea from the hills of Wales I was simply taken away by these guys. They are athletes of the absolute highest calibre. Whatever the discipline or sport I always try and take something away from people like this, adding wisdom and experience to my mind-set.

With every jump having a very real ability to break a bone, their neck or even kill them the level of concentration required is simply immense. These aren’t just a group of adrenaline junkies who will do anything for a thrill. There is a great deal of skill involved and a large part of this mastering the mind and overcoming nerves. Any athlete can relate to this whether it is a rugby player taking a kick to win the match, a footballer steadying himself in a penalty shootout or an MMA fighter remaining calm before a championship fight. It sure goes to show that to be our very best we need to be complete masters of our mind. Food for thought there.

For me getting under a squat rack with twice my body weight weighing down on my shoulders makes me nervous because it has the potential to cause me damage if I don’t concentrate properly. Mental preparation is at the heart of everything, especially sport and exercise.

As a final note, these guys clearly value the use of warming up and warm downs. They are ultra-flexible, they take care of their bodies and do everything they can to keep them healthy. They have to due to the fact they are so close to the limits. However, more people should do this who train recreationally to avoid injuries from occurring.
Cliff diving isn’t for me (I hate heights!!) but it sure has taught me something valuable.

 

My physiotherapist once used the analogy of football to explain why even the ‘’small’’ muscles we don’t really see are of massive importance. The story went ‘’imagine Rooney is the one who scores all the goals, well that’s the big muscle lifting. However if Carrick wasn’t there supplying him with the passes then he wouldn’t be able to score as well. That’s the smaller supporting muscles working in conjunction with the big muscles.’’ It makes an awful lot of sense. As the saying goes, you cannot fire a cannon from a canoe.

With that said I am going to outline 3 exercises which I feel are essential to include for overall health and stability which in turn will allow for a bigger and stronger you.

1 – Standing Cable Face Pull

This exercise was introduced to me by an elite strength coach and I have used it at least twice a week ever since. This exercise is there to promote good posture and in turn better shoulder integrity. By building up your trap 3 muscles (lower portion of your traps) you are going to immediately relive the pressure usually places on the bicep tendon by having excessively tight anterior (front) deltoids. The primary concern here is to fully extend with each rep and then hold the resistance for 2 seconds having pulled the weight in towards your face. The weight used isn’t that important and we are looking for 12-15 reps per set here.

2 – Good Mornings

If anyone knows about back problems it’s me, my lower back (the left hand side) is like glass on times and can cause me immense amounts of pain and stress. Another great friend who is also a top strength and conditioning coach recommended this exercise to me. By doing this exercise we can improve hip mobility, strengthen the hamstrings/glutes and lower back. These are generally reasons that back injuries/pain occur. Again, the weight used on this is minimal, it is all about controlling the weight, making the hamstrings work and ‘’feeling’’ the movement. Look for 8-10 reps, twice a week is good.

3 – Weighted Pull Ups

On the same topic, in the interest of good posture, shoulder health and balance the same good friend as from point ‘’2’’ instructed me to get as strong on these as my bench press. Therefore if I am bench pressing 1.5 times my body weight for 1 rep I should be pulling the same on pull ups. This means using a dipping belt and adding the needed weight combined with my body weight to reach the 1.5 figure. It’s logical but true. Where there’s a balance in strength there is usually balance overall.

These 3 exercises will hold you in good stead to maintain a healthy posture and in turn shoulder joints and your lower back.

 

 

Beginners to the weight training world quickly become acquainted with the basics – bench press, military press, deadlifts and squats. At least they should. These are all fantastic foundation exercises to build your physique and strength from. However there comes a point where we need to get a bit more advanced and technical in order to keep things moving. Below we are paying special attention to more advanced exercises to help you increase strength on your bench press, military press and squat.

Get strong on these exercises and you will grow!

1 – Pin Press

You are familiar with the regular bench press, great. The pin press is performed within a power rack rather than a conventional bench. We want to set the safety pins approximately 4-5 inches away from your chest in order to shorten the range of motion on each rep performed. In doing so we can immediately increase the amount of weight you can load on the bar which is the point of this exercise. Increasing power and strength in a specific phase of the rep. As you lower the bar to the safety pins allow the pins to take all of the weight before pressing in order to increase the amount of muscle fibres required to get the bar moving again.

2 – Push Press

You are familiar with the military press, great. The push press is a variation of an overhead press with a more advanced technique. Whilst standing upright and in position ready to press the bar above your head you allow a slight bend in your knees to occur and ‘’push’’ up with your body as you press, creating additional momentum. In doing so we can increase the poundages you can handle on your overhead press. Be wary though, there is a fine line between push pressing and cheating!

3 – Partial Squats & Box Pause Squats

You are familiar with squats, great! Far too many people do not go to parallel when they squat which limits their progress immensely. However, on partial squats we are going to avoid going parallel to the floor and go approximately 2/3s of the way down. In doing so we can load the bar up with more weight and improve strength & power in the final part of your squat.

Box pause squats are next on the agenda. Using a bench as a marker, squat down until your backside touches it and then pause for 2 seconds before exploding up to the top as fast as you can. This will help develop speed and power at the lower half of your squat. Work with 50-55% of your 1RM here and make sure you are explosive on the way up!

Get stronger, get bigger, get leaner!

 

 

With back pain affecting 80% of the population at some stage of their life and 49% of the UK population experiencing back pain that lasted for at least 24 hours at some point in the year the need for better understanding and treatment of back pain is essential (1, 2).  Between 2003-2004 nearly 5 million working days were lost as a result of back pain which equated to 1% of the working population on any one day took sickness leave due to a back problem (5).  This places back pain as the number 2 reason for long term sickness in the UK (6).

It is interesting to note that in 85% of back pain sufferers that no clear pathology could be identified (4).  However, certain factors are commonly associated with back pain including:

•    Having back pain in the past (2)
•    Obesity (2)
•    Smoking (2)
•    Physical work such as frequent bending, twisting, lifting, pulling, pushing, repetitive work, posture and vibrations (3)
•    Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, depression and mental stress (2, 4)

Therefore building a strong and healthy back is essential for reducing pain in both sedentary and exercise environments. By keeping good mobility through the lower extremities, hips and upper body will help to avoid using compensations such as overly flexing and extending the spine. This will help to reduce the tissue loads and muscle challenge.  By also activating and strengthening muscles which are commonly under active and weak can help to improve posture and to move more efficiently.

The beginner and intermediate mobility and activation programs below will help to increase range of motion and reduce muscle compensation.  This will ensure more effective training by recruiting the correct muscles and when used with a balanced training program should help to prevent future back problems.

Beginner

Every Session:

A.    Foam Roll:
Upper Back
Glutes
Quadriceps/Hip Flexors
Hamstrings

B.    Mobility:
Cat Camel Stretch x 8
Thoracic Extensions x 8
Seated Glute Stretch (90:90) x 60 seconds each side
Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch x 60 seconds each side

Week 1 & 2:
Session A    Session B
A1. Glute Bridge
3 x 12 reps
Flatten back to floor, brace abdominals and squeeze glutes.    A1. Single leg Hip Extension From knees
3 x 12 reps each side
From all-fours extend leg back and up whilst maintaining bend at knee.
A2. Bird Dog with Leg Point
3 x 6 reps each leg
From all-fours extend one leg at a time whilst keeping torso square to floor.    A2. McGill Curl Up with Elbows Down
3 x 8 reps
Keep neck from bending by looking up to ceiling. Brace abdominals when pausing at top of movement.
A3. Scapular Push Ups from knees
3 x 12 reps
From all-fours draw shoulder blades together and then pull wide apart across back, keep arms straight.    A3. Band Pull Apart
3 x 15 reps
Pull band apart until contact made with mid chest. Don’t allow ribs to flare.

Week 3 & 4:
Session A    Session B
A1. Glute Bridge Shoulders Elevated
3 x 12 reps
Extend hips until level with knees and shoulders.    A1. Side Lying Clams
3 x 15 each side
Keep feet clamped together, emphasise control.
A2. Bird Dog with Arm/Leg Point Hold
3 x 15 seconds each side
From all-fours extend opposite arm and leg until horizontal, emphasis is on slow and controlled movement.    A2. McGill Curl Up with Elbows Up
3 x 8 reps with pause at top
Keep neck from bending by looking up to ceiling. Brace abdominals when pausing at top of movement.
A3. Seated Retraction and Row with Band
3 x 15 reps
Draw shoulder blades together and lead the pulling movement with elbows whilst keeping proud chest.    A3. Band Face Pull
3 x 15 reps
Retract shoulder blades and lead pulling movement with elbows.

Advanced

Every Session:

A.    Foam Roll:
Upper Back
Quadriceps/Hip Flexors
Hamstrings
Piriformis release with hard ball

B.    Mobility:
Cat Camel Stretch x 8
Lying Glute Stretch (90:90) x 60 seconds each side
Spiderman Lunges x 8 each side
Side Lying Windmills x 8 each side
Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch x 60 seconds each side

Week 1 & 2:
Session A    Session B
A1. Single Leg Glute Bridge
3 x 12 each leg
Be careful not to hyper-extend during the exercise and arch into lower back.    A1. Side Lying Clam with Band
3 x 15 each side
Keep feet clamped together, emphasise control.
A2. Side Plank
3 x 30 seconds each side
Ensure elbow is directly under shoulder. Squeeze glutes.    A2. Bird Dog with Elbow/Knee Touches
3 x 6 each side
From all-fours extend opposite arm and leg until horizontal, then draw elbow and knee towards each other, touch and extend again.
A3. Band Resisted Wall Angel
3 x 15 reps
Pull shoulder blades back and down whilst drawing elbows into sides.    A3. Prone I Cobra (arms by sides)
3 x 8 reps
Focus on squeezing glutes, pinching shoulder blades together whilst lifting chest off floor. Feet remain in contact with floor.

Week 3 & 4:
Session A    Session B
A1. Single Leg Bridge with Leg Extended
3 x 12 each leg
Non bridging leg must be extended, brace core as hips lifted.    A1. Monster Walks
3 x 15 shuffles each way
Maintain slight bend at hips and knees. Emphasis should be on controlled movement.
A2. Side Plank with Oblique Twist
3 x 6 each side
Focus on rotating the hips towards the floor.    A2. Dead Bugs
3 x 6 each side
Focus on engaging abdominals by keeping lower back pressed into floor.
A3. Prone T Cobra
3 x 8 reps
Focus on squeezing glutes, pinching shoulder blades together whilst lifting chest off floor. Feet remain in contact with floor.    A3. Supine Band External Rotation
3 x 15 reps
Ensure lower back and elbows remain in contact with ground.

REFERENCES

1.    Palmer KT, Walsh K, et al. Back pain in Britain: comparison of two prevalence surveys at an interval of 10 years BMJ 2000;320:1577-1578.
2.    Burton AK, Balague F, et al. European guidelines for prevention in low back pain. Eur Spine J 2006:15(suppl 2):S136- S168
3.    Andersson GBJ. The epidemiology of spinal disorders. In: Frymoyer JW (eds) The adult spine: Principles and practice.
4.    Philadelphia: Liipincott-Raven, 1997.
5.    Neck and back pain: The scientific evidence of causes, diagnosis and treatment. Philadelphia: Lippencott, Williams & Wilkins, 2000.
6.    Van Tulder M. Chapter 1: Introduction. Eur Spine J 2006;15(suppl 2):S134-S135.

Written by Luke Thornton

Music…Taking Training to the Next Level!

Have you ever been in a car or at home and listened to a song and just gone….well, a bit crazy? Well you are not alone!… Music can have a HUGE impact on our training, whether that is with weights or cardiovascular training.
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So What are Some of the Benefits?
By listening to upbeat, fast paced music at a decent volume (which won’t damage your hearing of course) you can significantly increase the productivity of your workouts.

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Music eliminates many sound related distractions such as banging weights, conversations and gym endorsed adverts letting you know about their latest and greatest “product” or some horrendously lame music (some gyms to be fair have decent music, but you get the point)……It keeps your mind in a controlled environment – free from distractions that you cannot otherwise avoid.
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Music Psyches you up!
It has been shown by so many studies that music (fast paced) can dramatically improve an athletes performance, particular during cardiovascular exercise when you can “sync” your speed to the speed of the music…additionally the music can mask the mental pain you can experience when you really push yourself…and in turn you can push yourself even more. Certain parts of the brain are activated which allow you to do this which are not stimulated without music.
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Music Passes the Time and Increases Consistency
For many people, cardio is the “necessary evil” and I completely understand that…Hell, some people don’t even do cardio EVER and say that they “don’t need to”…when really they just don’t do it because they don’t want to, cardio is great for overall health and wellbeing, there is no debate.

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Music can make cardio far more enjoyable, you can put some of your favourite tracks on and let the time pass by. After 4-5 songs that’s it! You’re done! (If you do short, intense sessions of course)….personally I play the same songs over and over again so that I learn to associate that song with performance, a form of mental trigger used by many peak performance coaches which I have incorporated into my own training and have seen results from.

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I use music for weight training also, I know exactly when a song is about to kick in and so I can really prepare myself to start my set JUST when the song goes….BOOM! I personally am motivated by fast paced rock and certain modern tracks which have a steady start and kick in at around 30 seconds…giving me time to approach the weights, pick them up and go when the beat get’s going…slow music is certainly not going to help push you, however it is great for stretching/ relaxing which is another essential part of the healthy lifestyle we can enjoy.
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Make sure to follow my journey on Facebook “Click Here Now” . If you have ideas for future articles here on FitMag, supplement advice from the huge range available on MonsterSupplements.com or general tips, just ask on my page wall or private message.

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Train Hard. Train INTENSE!

Luke

Approximately 33% of your upper arm development comes from your biceps. Almost every man who picks up a muscle magazine and starts lifting weights desires bulging biceps – let’s be honest, they look great! Unlike a lot of cases where people neglect muscles in the gym and therefore lack development we cannot say the same for this one – it isn’t often you come across people who aren’t eager to bash their biceps up in the gym! They just do it wrong a lot of the time.

If this sounds like you – all effort and no reward, then read through the 5 bicep building tips below and learn how they will make a difference to the size of your arms!

1 – Function & Action
What is the main function of your bicep? To make your palm pace the ceiling essentially! Try it now and see if you instantly feel added tension on your bicep – you should! With that said this tells us that turning your wrist towards your forearm as you bicep curl doesn’t make sense that becomes more of a forearm builder. Next time you curl focus on cocking your wrist back! Feel the difference.

2 – Shoulder Movement
Sit and watch most guys in the gym curl heavy and you will almost certainly notice that as they lift the weight (curl) they will bring their upper arm forward. This is achieved by engaging the anterior deltoid (front of your shoulders). This means that there will be more emphasis and stress on this muscle rather than the bicep. This is a fast way to achieve very little growth within your biceps! Learn to isolate the biceps even if it means lifting less!

3- Range of Motion
Again, observe average Joe do his bicep curls. Most will only go half, maybe two thirds of the way down before lifting again. Why? Because if they used a full range of motion they wouldn’t be able to lift the weights they are using and don’t want to upset their ego. Full range of motion on bicep training is imperative for growth!

4 – Posture
A lot of people kind of scrunch themselves up when they curl forcing their traps (upper back/shoulder muscles) to become tight and their posture goes all funny. As a result the exercise becomes more about the back than biceps. Not good. Remember, isolate for growth!

5 – Frequency
If you are ‘’smashing’’ your biceps up once a week to no avail try hitting them twice, maybe three times even a week. You only need 3-5 working sets a time as they will do a lot of work on pulling movements anyway. This is in aid of stimulating muscle protein synthesis levels within the muscle more frequently!

If you haven’t had much luck on this front we hope these points will change that very soon! Train smart, train hard.

 

 

A lot of ‘’young guns’’ focus too much on what is in front of them in the mirror and not enough on what’s behind them such as their back for example! Having big pecs and the back of an 11 year old school girl just looks silly and what’s more it will ultimately create big issues for you in the future in regards to posture and shoulder issues. With that said we need to do something about this trend and intervene! Lads, if you are hitting the bench press and building up your chest muscles then do exactly the same for the rest of your body, especially your back! Here is how.

The best way to start back development (and overall upper body size and strength) is to get good at pull ups. Both wide grip chin ups and reverse grip pull ups are fantastic ways to add bulk and width to your back! Even if you can only manage 1,2 or 3 at the moment make a conscious effort to add 1 rep to that number every other week! From here work towards being able to start your back workouts with 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps. From here, you will see major developments!!

The next movement you want to get good at and perhaps more importantly strong at are bent over barbell rows! Anyone with back width and size worth looking at rows big, simple! Get strong in the 6-8 rep range with controlled form.

Seated cable rows, T-bar rows and single arm dumbbell rows are all fantastic additions to a routine designed for optimal back growth.We would always recommend at least one unilateral exercise (single handed) in order to ensure one side doesn’t take over (which is a common issue).

As you get more advanced, stronger and confident adding deadlifts are a fantastic way to really pack on mass to your back. This is possibly the ultimate mass gaining exercise our there but approach with caution! Form must be perfect and you MUST ensure you are flexible within your lower back and hips or you will get injured.

As a final takeaway top tip back training is always complimented best with focus and exaggeration on the isometric contraction after the lift. This is more commonly referred to as the ‘’squeeze’’ at which point you do exactly that to the target muscles (back muscles in this instance) at the static point once you have lifted the weight. This helps maximise muscle fibre recruitment and in turn growth! Simple.

With all of those things pointed out building a strong, thick and wide back should be no issue at all!

Some people will never find it within themselves to follow regimented eating plans and strict training protocols on a daily basis, week in week out. That’s fine, after all we are all different and our lifestyles often make it easier for some than others to do so. In this instance we can focus on habits rather than rules. Things which you just get into the ‘’habit’’ of doing frequently, if not daily. We can divide these new found habits down the middle – training and eating. Today we will cover training habits.

So following a weekly training split isn’t for you, nor is timing your cardio sessions at specific times of the i.e. before breakfast, going for a fast walk for 25 minutes. That’s fine, instead try and incorporate some of these habits into your day to day life and watch the body fat fall!

1 – Basic Cardio
Get moving more is the initial message here. This means getting out for brisk walks with the family, dog or even by yourself. At least a handful of times per week get out in the great outdoors, walk fast, clear your mind and help the body torch some fat.

2 – Getting Intense
Once you can tick the above box some people might find that getting out of their comfort zone once every 7-14 days is something they like to do! For the duration it will probably feel like a bad idea but all the science tells us is that a small amount of high intensity cardio work burns fat like nothing else!! This might mean getting a quick sprint workout in one morning. As we said, once every 7-14 days is more than adequate. Try 15 seconds all out, resting for 45-60 seconds and repeat for 10-15 minutes. That’s a fat burning habit to get into!

3 – Add Resistance
We can’t tell you train on specific days because that isn’t your forte; it won’t work for you and will ultimately lead to meltdown! Instead what we can do is outline some of the benefits of using resistance training and encourage you to use a few of these habits!

Resistance training helps us burn more fat around the clock than regular CV work (cardiovascular). With that said we think 2-3 full body circuits in the gym are ideal for you! That’s 45-60 minutes, hitting all the major muscle groups with exercises like squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, bench press and the likes of. Use a rep range of 8-10 per set, rest for no more than 45-60 seconds between sets and make sure you really control each rep! You will notice the difference within weeks rather than months!

There you have 3 fantastic habits to get into in regards to the exercise you currently do!

 

Following on from my PARTIAL BOULDER DEVELOPMENT article this is another alternative approach to shoulder development. This is keeping the triceps fresh so we can work them separately.

A. Prone Rear Delt Swings (This is lying face down on an incline bench, these are swings with no squeeze of the upper back so we keep the load in the posterior delts. The weight will only come up to about 45 degrees)

4 sets 20-30 Reps 1111 Tempo, tension is kept continuous. 60 s rest.

Superset

B1. Heavy Partial Side Laterals with a hook at the top of the lift. (The weight is taken from the sides standing, raised only about 10-12″ to the sides then at the top the elbows are driven in a trajectory towards the ears)

4 sets 25 Reps 1111 Temp

B2. High leaning cable lateral raises. (The cable is brought to 45 degrees about the shoulder so HIGH)

4 sets 25 Reps 1111 Temp Rest 60-75s then repeat.

C. Partial Rep Machine press 4/1 Reps (4 partial reps followed by a full rep, 5 sequences so 25 total reps, set the machine so the handles are well below the line of the shoulders BIG stretch at the bottom)

4 sets 25 Reps 1111 Temp

Shoulders done…….triceps should you wish.

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