The Best Six-Pack Ab Exercises
At first glance, the best and most effective six-pack ab exercise won´t be recognized as abdominal-specific, because it isn´t the classic and very popular exercise like crunches, leg raises or sit-ups that I´m talking about. Obviously, even crunches don´t offer a really functional core training, hence there are much smarter ways to train and shape the center of your body.
Mar 2nd, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training
Six-pack Abs RequirementsTo get six-pack abs, you have to meet two essential requirements:
|Muscles||Strong core muscles are the basis, not just for good-looking abs, that is nothing more than a pleasant side-effect, but for a pain-free back, a good posture and an outstanding training performance, which requires the core muscles to be as strong as possible.|
|Body Fat||Men need to have a body fat percentage of 10% or lower to show a six-pack ab. Otherwise they remain hidden below a layer of body fat. That, however, means no functional disadvantages at all, you simply don´t have visible abs.|
Complex Training vs. Isolation TrainingCurrently, the most popular ab exercises are isolation exercise that involve certain rolling-in movements of the upper body, which is no functional way to train your abs. The main purpose of all core muscles is to stabilize the trunk against external forces. Beside stabilization, the obliques serve as torso rotator. Let me summarize:
Isolated core training through upper body roll-ins or side-bends is a meaningful act, but does not provide a functional and natural way of core strengthening.
Also the percentage of body fat, as the second important pillar for a six-pack abs, can be influenced more effectively by doing functional and complex exercises, since you activate a large number of muscles simultaneously. This leads to an increased hormone secretion and increased fat burning. A reduction in body fat requires a certain amount of active muscle and an adequate diet, which leads to insight number two:
The more muscles you activate simultaneously during an exercise and the more muscle mass you own, the higher your potential for burning body fat. Therefore you have to do complex exercises, requiring a signficant and functional participation of your core muscles.
The List: The Best Six-pack Ab ExercisesI will divide this list into two categories:
- Ab Exercises whose target muscles are mainly abs.
- Non-Ab Exercises that activate a large number of muscles and put high demand on your core muscles.
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How to Do Shoulder Dislocations
Shoulder Dislocations are a great dynamic flexibility exercise to stretch your chest and front shoulder muscles, to correct the posture of the upper torso, to prevent you from shoulder pain from working out and to improve the flexibility of your shoulder articulations, which is increasing your overall upper body training performance.
Mar 1st, 2010 - written by Stephan in Flexibility
Why You Should Do Shoulder DislocationsIf you spent plenty of time in seated position, whether it is in the car or at the desk, your upper back will sooner or later have the tendency to develop a hyper-kyphosis, caused by shortened chest and shoulder muscles weakened upper back muscles. The same is true for almost anyone who is doing a regular strength training for chest and front shoulders. Non-balanced shoulder joints are one of the main sources of shoulder pain.
|Reason||Incorrect Seated Posture|
|Examples||Pushing Compound Exercises||Pushing Isolation Exercises|
How to Do Shoulder DislocationsShoulder Dislocation Equipment. You need one of the following things. The use of flexible equipment like towel or belt allows more convenient wrist angles. However, if you want to use a rigid stick, go for a wooden broomstick or PVC stick.
- Grip Distance. It is important to begin with a wide grip and to gradually decrease the grip distance as your shoulder joints become more flexible.
- Straight Arms. Keep your arms as straight as possible throughout the complete motion.
- Chest and Back Muscles. Squeeze your back muscles and pull your shoulders together. Keep your chest muscles relaxed.
- Tense Your Core and Hip Muscles. Tense your abdominal muscles and your glutes to prevent your lower back from hyper-extending.
- Range of Motion. Choose an adequate grip distance. If you can´t perform the full motion, widen your grip.
- Overall Posture. Don´t hyper-extend your lower back. Tense abdominals and glutes to keep your torso as upright as possible.
- Execution Speed. Don´t go too fast. Concentrate and on an error-free movement.
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Bench Press Video Tutorial | Training Technique | Tips and Tricks
Finally I had the opportunity to create a Youtube video out of the Bench Press Tutorial video files. Have a look!
Feb 27th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training
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Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #2: Increased Metabolism
Feb 19th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health
The Metabolism in Top FormThe secret of a slim and attractive body lies in the very personal metabolism of every human being. Those who are gaining weight from a (suspected) lettuce can assume that their metabolism is not running at high levels, meaning all body processes slow down and their physical energy and performance are low. A high metabolism causes a high basal metabolic rate, which means the daily energy need of the body increases.
Symptoms of Low Metabolism
- increased need for sleep
- decreased energy
- often cold hands and feet
Very seldom it is "bad genes" that have a negative effect on the metabolism. Rather, the behavior and habits of everyone figure it. Building muscles and therefore burning excess body fat is directly linked to a good metabolism. Any kind of sufficiently intense physical but also mental activity has a positive influence on it. Besides physical activity there are a few other factors playing an important role in this game. Here are the most successful strategies on the way to a good metabolism.
Strategy 1: Physical Activity | Fitness and Everyday LifeDaily exercise is the best way to control your own body weight. A good combination of targeted and non-targeted exercise is the most effective way to increase your metabolism.
|Targeted Exercise (Training)||Non-targeted Exercise|
|Training Frequency| Metabolic Trend||Explanation|
|Very punctual (although long) training session, e.g. only on weekends, with several days of rest have only little positive effect on the metabolism, it is stagnating.|
|Regular workouts of 30-60 minutes a significant increase of the metabolism. Have a strength training on at least two non-consecutive days.|
Strategy 2: Calorie Intake | NutritionOne of the most successful strategies to increase the basal metabolic rate is a smart diet. It is by no means about counting calories or living very ascetically. On the contrary, a sensible and intelligent handling of this issue creates enormous scope for culinary delights.
Basically, there are the following three options:
- Losing body weight, caused by energy deficiency,
- Keeping body weight, caused by energy balance,
- Gaining body weight, caused by energy surplus,
|Calory Intake | Metabolic Trend||Explanation|
|Energy Balance: To keep up your body weight, it is enough to adjust the average energy intake and consumption. This, of course, should of course happen at a high level.|
|Energy Surplus: An increased energy supply causes a higher metabolism. If this generates an energy surplus, the body weight increases, which is highly desirable at least for building muscles.|
|Energy Deficiency: A reduced caloric intake provides an energy deficiency, to which the metabolism adapts quite rapidly. First, the body weight decreases, followed by the basal metabolic rate, until you again reach a point of energy balance or surplus. That is why no diets will ever work without strength training.|
|Weekly Energy Balance: To occasionally surprise and stimulate your metabolism, get your weekly energy in balance, meaning that you can vary between daily energy surpluses and deficiencies. Consequently your metabolism increases along with the chance for regular days where you will have an energy deficiency. A very enjoyable way of keeping or even losing body weight.|
Strategy 3: The Right Timing of MealsSince the body needs energy on a regular basis, it should also be supplied this way. You body will reward a constant energy supply by an autonomous reduction of body fat. On the other hand, skipping meals for long periods of time leads to a decreased metabolism as it prepares itself for further possible shortages. At the same time you body increases readiness to store any energy supplied as fat. It just does not know better... A constant supply of energy is as important for weight loss as for the increase of body mass. To not produce the exactly unwanted results by mistake, you have to comply with the following rules:
- Never Fill up Completely, unless you want to gain weight. It doesn´t make sense and may even be counterproductive to eat large quantities at once, because you will have to have a meal every 3-4 hours.
- Eat Slowly and With Intention. Food eaten too fast is not digested correctly. A lack of concentration leads to unconscious food intake, and inadequate self-control.
- Drink a Lot. Drink about two to three liters of water per day to maintain the body´s metabolism and detoxification capabilities. Add another liter per hour of exercise.
- Prefer Whole Foods. If you are unsure what exactly to eat, remember to keep it as simple as possible. Avoid any industrially processed food. Instead, eat fresh, natural foods, and prepare your own meals from them.
Example Daily Schedule
Time Meal Recommendations 06:00 am 1. Breakfast In the morning you should eat particularly easily digestible carbohydrates from foods such as cereals, bread, fruit or fruit juice spritzer. That will wake you up and saves the coffee. As source of proteins choose little sausage, fish or dairy products. In general: do not eat too much and too heavy, because that will promote fatigue and will make it difficult unnecessarily to start the day. In the morning it is particularly important to drink a lot of water, because it will support the still ongoing detoxification processes of the night. 09:00 am 2. Breakfast or Snack As with each snack you should avoid hard to digest and fatty foods. Otherwise, there are no limits. Dairy products such as yogurt and some fruits and vegetables are a good choice. Again, remember to drink some water. 12:00 Uhr Lunch For most people lunch is the largest meal. Avoid high concentrations of fats and abandon the idea that lunch has to be a warm meal. Heat kills most vitamins, enzymes and takes away all vitality. Of course, some foods need to be cooked or fried to be made edible, but overcooked vegetables only suit as lifeless stomach filler. Drink a glass of water before and after lunch. 15:30 Uhr Snack In the afternoon most people use to have coffee and cake or other sweets with plenty of sugar for desserts. A great idea if your intention is to feel tired and weak as soon as the blood sugar level returns to normal values. Again prefer fruits, nuts and a healthy source of protein, and drink some water. 19:00 Uhr Supper Except on training days, avoid significant amounts of carbohydrates in the evening. Instead eat combinations of vegetables, e.g. as a salad, or fish and meat. It is perfectly okay to eat a little more of that in the evening, because hunger has a negative impact on sleep quality. Drink enough fluid. 22:00 Uhr Late Snack Whoever goes to bed very late or wants to build muscle mass, should have a late snack that in best case is content-wise related to the supper.
Under the condition of maintaining the distance of about 3-4 hours between meals, the times listed here must be adjusted to the individual possibilities and requirements.
Also read part 1: Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #1: The Basics
Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #1: The Basics
The long-term goal of effective muscle-building and fat loss is to get your own body weight in a desirable area and to keep it there, which requires a daily confrontation with your actions and habits. There are really no secret tricks or weapons on the way to the body you want to have. Any success is based on your personal behavior and the understanding of the functioning of your body and your metabolism.
Feb 16th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health
Why Should I Lose Weight?Normalizing your body fat level entails very significant benefits for both, your body and your feeling of well-being:
|Improved Cardiovascular Performance||Obese people suffer from a permanently overstressed cardiovascular system, because the extra body fat needs to be supplied with blood and to be carried around. Each pound of body fat has about 8.5 miles of capillaries, which are the smallest of the body´s blood vessels. The consequences are high blood pressure, many of cardiovascular and other lifestyle diseases and premature death. In particular, the excessive intake of animal fat leads to a high concentration of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, one of the main causes of strokes. Reducing body fat by a healthy diet and activity leads to a significant improvement in physical performance.|
|Relief of the Musculoskeletal System||Excess of body fat is a major burden for the body´s passive structures such as bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Consequently the untrained muscles and tendons cannot withstand the load, which ultimately leads to joint pain as another reason to not move at all.|
|Decreased Risk of Diabetes||The risk of developing diabetes increases with each pound of excess body fat. Studies have shown that the number of diabetes patients in a country is directly linked to the number of overweight people.|
|Decreased Risk of Premature Death||Common sense alone is enough to know from that obesity and healthy living even in older age very seldom go hand in hand. The average life expectancy of overweight people is about 8-15 years below the normal levels. In addition to that it results in an enormous loss of quality of living, especially in the last third of life, when the overall physical performance declines and excess body fat becomes an even higher burden.|
The Ideal Body Weight via the BMIThe Body Mass Index (BMI) is a tool to decide, whether the average adults relation of body weight and body size is in an acceptable range.
Calculating the BMI
|Metric System||American System||British System|
|BMI = weight (kg) / height² (m²)||BMI = 703*weight (lb) / height² (in²)||BMI = 6,35*weight (stone) / height² (m²)|
Calculating the Body Mass Index does not meet the requirements of athletes, because it does not consider the body composition, e.g. an increased level of muscle mass. It is generally preferable to have a look at the body fat percentage.
The Body Fat PercentageThe body fat percentage is expressed as a percentage, indicating how many shares of the body are consisting of body fat. The following figures are averages. For athletes the normal range can be lowered by up to 5%.
Nominal Body FatBased on the percentage of body fat one can calculate nominal amount of body fat as follows.
- Weight Body Fat(lb) = Body Fat Percentage(%) * Bodyweight(lb).
- 20 lb < body fat in pounds < 30 lb,
Somatic IntelligenceRegular and consciously executed training does not only improve your physical performance, but is especially increasing the awareness of dealing with your own body, which is an intelligent and perfect system, but that is only capable to respond to actions and circumstances according to its possibilities.
|An excessive food and thus energy supply.||Growth of the body's energy stores, the fat cells.|
|Consuming unhealthy food and dead calories.||Poisoning and weakening of the body. Reduced performance.|
|Too little fluid intake.||Decreased metabolic functions and poisoning of the body.|
|Lack of physical activity and sport.||Loss of muscle mass, growth of fat cells and decreased metabolism.|
The reasons for being overweight, underweight, sickly or not having enough energy can ver rarely be excused with bad genetics or "heavy bones". Our body is nothing but a mirror of our own expectations for ourselves Train and move (use ) it regularly, befriend with it and your body begins to tell you what it is doing well and what does not.
Self AwarenessIt is important to have an exact picture of yourself, but don´t take it too seriously or compare with others. Realize your strengths and weaknesses, without apologizing for it, it makes it easier to give life a new direction. You are overweight? Great! Accept it as a result of your recent actions and ways of thinking and change it. You are not motivated and do not feel strong enough to do so? Get up and move you. The more energy your body and mind demand, the more they get. Open the windows, take a deep breath and do 20 squats, take a brisk walk around the block once and drink a liter of cold water. (and then please continue reading...)
FocusingHow does a piece of coal happen to become a valuable diamond? It is two crucial things: pressure and time.
Transforming your body also needs regular pressure (training) a lot of time (patience). Time is especially important because the organism has to adapt to the new situation. Rapid changes, as the media often praises them to get you to buy useless products, are medically questionable and the results usually are not long-lasting. It is unrealistic to expect the perfect body within a few weeks of training. That´s one of the main reasons why so many people fail: they give up, because their expectations do not fit into the concept of their present life.
Expect a lot, but do not expect a convenient way!
Also read part 2: Effective Muscle Building and Fat Loss #2: The Metabolism
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How Magnesium Can Prevent Muscle Cramps
Almost any athlete is familiar with cramps within the active muscles during physical exercise. It usually affects runners, but also other intense physical activities such as swimming, squash or ball sports can lead to these painful muscular contractions. However, with the right diet you can prevent cramps.
Feb 10th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health
What causes Muscle CrampsMainly an insufficient concentration of magnesium in the blood is responsible for cramps. Magnesium itself is a vital mineral that we take in by the food we consume. A deficiency can occur due to low supply or through an intensive excretion of magnesium, such as sweating, which results in a more spontaneous responsiveness of the nerves that are responsible for the contractions of the muscle, especially within calf and thigh muscles. If cramps happen very regularly, put your diet to a test. Eat more foods that contain large amounts of magnesium.
Magnesium Rich FoodsThe daily need of magnesium is about 300-600 mg. The following table shows foods that are very good magnesium suppliers.
|Food||Magnesium content per 100 g|
|Whole wheat bread||82 mg|
|Whole grain pasta||52 mg|
|Brown rice||68 mg|
|Sunflower seeds||420 mg|
|Pumpkin seeds||168 mg|
|Sesame seeds||340 mg|
|Mineral water||10 mg|
A balanced diet is a great prevention of muscle cramps. Compensating the fluid balance during or after physical activities with magnesium-rich mineral water is decreasing the risk of suffering from magnesium deficiency even more. Remember to drink one liter of water per hour of exercise.
Magnesium Tablets and LiquidsAnother way to increase the magnesium intake is to consume magnesium tablets as a dietary supplement. These are usually available as an effervescent tablet to dissolve in a glass of water. A look at the packaging reveals the amount of magnesium per tablet; usually it is about 200-400 mg. In addition to that, you can get magnesium in liquid form in a special ampule. They provide magnesium ready to eat and usually contain 25 ml of liquid with about 300 mg of magnesium.
Further Action against Muscle Cramps
StretchingIf a cramps occurs, stop the the current activity o be stopped to stretch the particular muscle. There are two options:
- Active stretching by flexing the antagonist.
- Passive or static stretching by applying external forces.
|Stretching exercises for the leg muscles:||Calves|
MassagesThen have a slight relaxation massages to relax the muscles even more. Here it is important to act cautiously and gently, because strong external forces can lead to further muscular contractions.
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Training Motivation: Obstacles, And How to Overcome Them
Regular training is the foundation for a successful development of one's body and one's skills in any area. Since there will always be reasons and excuses to interrupt this important routine, or even to not begin at all, you´ll now learn how to deal with the most popular obstacles and how to overcome them.
Feb 9th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Psychology
Street's disciples. Image credit by Laurent Filoche
TimeTime is the only thing in the world that really unites all human beings. Everyone has every day of his life exactly 24 hours at his disposal, regardless of age, wealth, place of residence and all other circumstances, it is to the second exactly 24 hours. The key questions are:
- How do I spend my time? Meaningful or meaningless?
- Why are a lot of very busy and successful people able to keep themselves physically fit, while many others who have only a fraction of the workload do not have time for that?
Time ManagementKnowing how to use the given time is an important reason for success or failure. I´m not talking about completely well planned days, because you still need room for spontaneous decisions. However, specific (training)goals can only be achieved with good time management..
- Plan your days and weeks in advance. Things like training at the gym, running, squash, or other physical activities need fixed times in the calendar. Everyone, even the busiest people, are able to find a free hour for physical activity for 2-3 times a week. If it is not anchored in the course of a day, there is an almost 100% chance that something comes in between.
- Use even small opportunities for physical activity. A short training during the lunch break is a perfect mental relaxation and, if properly done, provides new energy for the rest of the day. Use stairs instead of the elevator. Spend delays with short stretches.
- Do things simultaneously. We live in a world today, where it is necessary for us to handle more and more activities at the same time. Therefore for most people it is quite simple to connect certain processes of everyday life with a bit of fitness. You can walk or cycle short to medium distances. Carrying heavy shopping bags even increases the training effect. Park the car spontaneously in a free car park a little further away and walk to your destination. Studies have shown that this actually saves time, because it spares the later search for a parking place. Get on a home trainer during long phone calls, while watching TV or while organizing the following week.
- Train at home. If you can´t make it to the gym, you can exercise at home anytime. Even short workouts of 10-15 Minuit are better than doing nothing. A few dumbbells, an elastic band, a mat and an exercise bike is the perfect basic home gym and offers countless training options.
- Sleep less. Most people spend way too much time in bed. An adult needs about 6-7 hours of sleep per day, whatever goes beyond that is a waste of life time. Also, if you sleep longer, you usually feel tire afterwards, because your metabolism decreases way too far. You even increase your risk for a heart attack by sleeping too long.
MotivationMotivation is a key requirement to stay on the track. Without a motive, which is a good reason, even small goals will be difficult to achieve. The following strategies are very effective motivational tools.
- Set realistic goals. You need to have a long-term goal, such as fat loss, muscle-building, relief from back pain, etc., which has to be split up into medium-and short-term goals. Considered even achieving these smaller goals, such as running a new circuit, the increase of the current training weights or the next pound more or less on the scale, as great success and reward yourself.
- Create enjoyable circumstances. Find out what kind of training you like most. There are endless possibilities. However, it should match your current training goal. If you want to reduce excess body fat, you need to do some strength training, whether you like it or not. You also have to revise your dietary habits.
- Find a training partner. Fixed appointments for a joint training provide extra drive. He or she should, however, have about the same goals and basic conditions, otherwise you risk own under- or overload. It is important not to totally depend on your training partner. Train, even if he or she cannot make it.
- Join a training group. There are training groups for almost any sport, where you'll meet people with same interests and where you receive helpful information about your favorite sport and finally your training and your level of motivation receive some extra momentum.
- Adjust your training routine. Monotony is the most effective motivation killer. Regular changes of the training exercises and reps at the gym, new running routes or trying completely different sports are a new stimulus for your body and mind and offer new motivation.
- Motivational media. Listen to (loud) music while exercising, no matter if you´re in the gym or on a forest path. It is okay as long as it pushes you forward and motivates you. Read professional magazines and books about your favorite sport. That usually generates new ideas and motivation.
- Motivational affirmations. If you don´t receive external motivation, for example from a trainer, you have to motivate yourself. Create your own motivational slogan or rhyme that you keep repeating again and again while running or lifting weights. Shout it out loud, or at least do it in your mind.
FrustrationFrustration often results in lethargy. And lethargy in turn creates more frustration. Avoid this vicious circle. Be realistic, but ambitious, when it comes to your goals. Any progress takes some time. Concentrate on the long-term goal, do the necessary steps but don´t get used to it. Once a strategy is not working, update your knowledge and ideas and change it. And whatever happens, stay in motion.
- Track your progress. Take regular control of body weight and body fat percentage. Measure important body circumferences / sizes like hips, waist, chest / back, upper arms, thigh, etc. at about every 2 months. If you don´t make any progress, adjust your program, preferably under supervision of a trainer.
- Track your performance. A training diary is part of a targeted training, as well as regular fitness tests. If there is any stagnation or even regression, change your strategy.
- Distractions. Always keep the long-term goal in mind, regardless of external circumstances. Life changes constantly, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. These completely normal processes are no acceptable excuses or reasons for the loss of motivation, because that ultimately causes an even more negative development.
- Fatigue. A physically active body usually knows exactly what it needs and it tells you so. Often it´s just a lack of time or interest, why people don´t listen to their body. If you feel weak and exhausted, try the following:
- Steadiness. Usually training should preferably take place at the same time of the day. Your body adapts to it and can then carry out better performances. Also one's own sleep patterns and the timing of meals should remain relatively constant.
- Enough sleep. For most adults 6-7 hours of sleep are enough. Whoever gets much less than 6 hours of sleep over a long period, risks health problems, a lack of regeneration and performance issues. A short nap of 20-25 minutes provides a very good balance for short nights.
- Avoid over-training. If your performance level drops, it usually is a sign of over-training. In that case you have to reduce the training volume or rest or a few days. Alternatively do some active recreation, including aerobic endurance training, stretching exercises and gentle fitness exercises.
- Eat light.Consuming hard digestible foods may also be a cause of fatigue. Eat light and energy-rich foods such as fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, light cereals, vegetable fats and, very important, drink a lot of water. Eat small portions or snacks and don´t eat anything for 1-2 hours before training. After training you have to take in adequate amounts of carbohydrates and protein for an adequate recovery.
Work and StressThe best and most effective antidote to stress is physical activity. It brings body and mind back in balance, increases metabolism and oxygen supply and stimulates creativity, effectiveness and self-confidence. The challenge is to unify work, everyday life and exercise under one roof.
- Effective time management. If possible, you should train either directly before or after work. Once you get home and on the couch, it is very hard to get out of it again. As mentioned, schedule your training times as a kind of important meeting with yourself, which must not be disturbed by anyone.
- Exercising before work provides many benefits. Get up an hour earlier to go for a run or to the gym before you can even think about ridiculous excuses such as bad weather or darkness. Your training or running-clothes should already be ready, which increases own motivation and provides some extra time. After training, as the rest of the world begins to wake up, you already accomplished your first challenges, you are lively, balanced and motivated and you can fill the rest of the day with work and leisure.
- Train during working breaks. Many companies today have very flexible working hours policies, some even have their own fitness area. Take training clothes with you and work out while your colleagues consume greasy cafeteria food or have a cigarette break. You can go for a short run or a training session at the gym. A tight walk is another great workout; it even saves the otherwise necessary time for showering and changing clothes.
- Evening workout. Most people train in the evening. As mentioned, this should happen right after work to not let the body rest until you worked out.
FamilyOften the closest relatives keep us from training. It does not happen in bad faith. It is their lack of training experience, and thus the understanding of such activities. Now communication become important.
- Avoid misunderstandings. Announce timing and duration of your training, if possible, bring it into line with family responsibilities.
- Share your goals. To clarify the importance of your training, you have to share your own goals with your family. Not all of them will meet sympathy, but the family´s willingness to support you will increase.
Holiday and TravelDuring vacations or business trips, it is almost impossible to follow the usual training routine. Here are some tips for an active yet relaxing holiday.
- Available training opportunities. Inform beforehand about training possibilities at the destination. Book hotels with its own fitness club, pool, etc., or ask for a gym in the area.
- Bodyweight and free exercises. Maybe take some small weights, elastic bands or a skipping rope with you. In any case, you should know a few basic bodyweight exercises that you can do almost anytime and anywhere.
- Be curious. Explore the new environment while running or cycling.
- Be creative. The stairwells of large hotels are the ideal training area for a tough cardiovascular training, independent of darkness, weather or local knowledge.
WeatherThere is no bad weather, only the wrong clothes or the wrong attitude. It is virtually impossible to become a good athlete in a comfortable way.
- Use functional clothing while running or cycling. Depending on the weather proper shoes, pants, underwear, hats, gloves or sunglasses are essential companions.
- Bypass extreme weather like heat, cold or rain bypassed with an adequate indoor workout.
- Accept bad weather as an exciting challenge, as a struggle against the forces of nature.
- The body adjusts to unusual weather conditions of other climatic zones and is able to perform at comparable level as at home after a few days.
Nutrition 101: How much Protein per Day
The recommended amount of protein per day is a hot topic, especially among strength training athletes, that is steadily revived by confusing recommendations in so-called professional journals and other media.
Meanwhile, there are studies, one I will look at here in detail, that support my personal experience in terms of training, nutrition and muscle-building. But before that, let me clarify a few terms and issues around the subject of protein.
Feb 4th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Nutrition
Ei. Image credit by mac.black
What is Protein?Proteins are usually denoted as the building blocks of life. They are composed of amino acids, which in turn are the basic building block of all cells in the body. In addition to the structure building tasks, amino acids are responsible for a variety of other bodily functions such as oxygen and iron transport in the blood, the formation of antibodies and the secretion of hormones. In short, no life without proteins. The continuous cell degradation and recovery processes in the body demand the daily intake of a certain amount of protein through diet. Even physically inactive people have to cover a basic need for protein.
The Daily RequirementAs the level of physical activity increases, through an intense strength or endurance training for example, the demand for protein is growing equally, since the related metabolic processes of regeneration and adaptation of the body to the higher level of physical activity ask for more amino acids. But the disproportionately large amounts of protein, which are particularly recommended by many athletes, professional journals and the nutritional supplement industry, cannot be justified by that.
The "How much protein should I eat per day" table:
|Type of Physical Activity||Daily Amount of Protein per Pound Body Weight|
|Endurance Training||0,75 gram|
|Strength Training||1 gram|
These numbers cover the daily need. The significant and deliberate exaggeration of the recommended amounts of protein for the particular activity level as well the amount of protein served per meal offer, according to a study mentioned on www.medicalnewstoday.com the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, no significant benefits and even generate some unwanted side effects. “Most of the excess is oxidized and could end up as glucose or fat.”
The Right Timing and the Right AmountTests during this study have shown that the intake about 30 grams of protein per meal provides an ideal supply with amino acids to make sure the muscle synthesis. Among the volunteers who have taken up to 90 grams of protein per meal, no further increase in muscle protein could be demonstrated. Consequently the daily amount of protein has to be distributed fairly evenly among several meals throughout the day. Again, the researchers from Texas offer some interesting insights. Thus, the recommendation is to take in the first 30 grams of protein as early as breakfast and to cut the amount somewhat in the evening, as the synthesis of muscles functions most effectively during the day, while at night no significant amounts of protein can be processed.
ConclusionTherefore the uncontrolled intake of large amounts of protein, especially in the field of strength training and bodybuilding, is just a curiosity. Replaced it by an intelligent handling of the own food and potential supplements. My own experiences has shown that an intensive weight training, which primarily targets developing strength and muscle density and not large muscular volume, is agreeable with a long-term protein intake on the level of an endurance athlete, that is below the mentioned 1 gram per pound body weight. Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/168876.php
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Training 101: Machines or Free Weights?
Jan 27th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training
IntroductionBasically strength training is done either with free weights, mostly dumbbells, barbells and several variations of the barbell, or with machines. A balanced training routine offers enough room for both, free weights and machines. However, for an effective muscle growth or strength training you should prefer the use of free weights. Here´s why?
MachinesMachines are designed to offer a pre-defined training direction and sometimes even range of motion. Stabilizing the training weight and the own body weight and is mostly taken by the machines. Consequently you train only the necessary muscles. This type of training is very specific; it is simple to do and bears only low potential for error and injury. The major disadvantage is the limited complexity and thus effectiveness. What does that mean? The degree of complexity of an exercise, in large part, determines the training effect. The more muscles you involve in a movement, directly or indirectly, the higher the overall training stimulus will be. Here three terms come into play:
|Target Muscle||the major group of muscles involved in an exercise|
|Synergists||they support the movement directly|
|Stabilizers||contracting muscles with no significant movement to fixate joints or to maintain a certain posture|
While training on machines, you usually involve only agonists and synergists, stabilizers play only a small role.
Free WeightsUnlike when using free weights. Here, too, in principle, each exercise follows a defined movement, but it is solely the responsibility of the athlete to do a correct technique, to fixate the body in an ideal position and to stabilize the training weight. Free weight training improves the co-ordination skills and body awareness, and represents a great physical challenge in its complexity in the interplay between directly and indirectly involved muscle groups, with greater potential for development.
ConclusionAs initially mentioned, the use of machines offers an entirely adequate training. However, when it comes to the basic development of strength and co-ordination or a balanced growth of muscle mass, the use of free weights is the smarter choice.
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How to Squat in a Correct Way
Jan 22nd, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training
IntroductionOf all compound strength training exercises squats are probably most the effective way to strengthen legs as well as almost the entire body. Therefore everyone following an ambitious strength training routine should include squats regularly.
Squats are also one of the hardest-to-learn exercises. A proper technique is important to exercise safely and effectively and to protect the body from injury.
Besides the classic barbell squat, which I will explain more in detail below, there are several other squat variations that rely on the basic training technique.
|Full Body Strength||Squats require the use of the entire body, especially when using relatively heavy weights. Leg and hip muscles experience a high dynamic impact while almost all other muscles serve as stabilizers.|
|Muscle Building||The simultaneous workout of many muscle groups leads to increased testosterone level in the body, which ultimately leads to increased muscle mass, not only in the legs.|
|Stabilization||Provided a correct training technique, squats are very well suited to stabilize the knee joints, because the high level of muscular activity and co-ordination is strengthening all surrounding muscles and passive structures. Also squats are one of the most effective exercises for strengthening and stabilizing the trunk.|
|Flexibility||Proper squats require a high degree of mobility of the ankle and hip articulations. If the lowering of the hips in a correct fashion is not possible, I recommend have a regular stretching to improve the joints mobility beforehand.|
|Safety||For heavy squats you have to use squat rack, a.k.a. power rack, which enables the positioning of the barbell at a proper height. In addition, most racks provide a lower dumbbell stack to catch the barbell in case of failure in the lowest point.|
Here´s one of the few Youtube videos showing a very good squat technique. Just perfect.
|Barbell||Place the barbell on the muscles of the upper back and rear shoulders.|
|Stance||Position your feet about shoulder-wide apart while you turn your toes slightly outward, pointing toward the knees.|
|Grip Distance||The grip distance may vary. The closer the distance, the better the tightening of the upper back.|
|Wrists||Keep your wrists as straight as possible. The back carries the weight while hands just stabilize the position.|
|Elbows||Let the elbows point down behind to keep up a tight upper back.|
|Head & Neck||While squatting you have to permanently look ahead or slightly up to keep your back straight.|
|Upper Back||Keep all upper back muscles tight to provided a solid and safe base for the barbell.|
|Chest||When tightening your upper back, your chest move up. Keep it up to avoid any rounding of the back.|
|Trunk||Tense all muscles to maintain a lower straight back.|
|Balance||During squats move your body weight on your heels. You should be able to (in theory) permanently curl your toes off the floor.|
Squat VariationsThere is a variety of squat variations to intensify or to simplify this exercise, or to demand certain muscles in a different way.
|Barbell Squat, Full ROM||Full Squat|
|Barbell Front Squat||Squat, Front|
|Barbell Front Squat, Full ROM||Full Squat, Front|
|Barbell Squat, wide Stance||Squat, Wide Stance|
|Squat, Smith Press||Smith Squat|
|One Leg Squat||Squat, One Leg|
|Overhead Squat||Squat, Overhead|
|Goblet Squat||Goblet Squat|
|Bending the Torso||Keep your torso as upright as possible. It is important to push your hips up in a calm and focused way to avoid a delayed raising of the upper body.|
|Looking Down||That leads to a rounding and instability in the back. Always look straight forward or slightly upward keep your back remains.|
|Raising Heels||The weight is shifted to the heels. Prevent them from lifting off. Shortened calf and thigh muscles can make it difficult to do the desired range of motion.|
|Knees beyond toe tips||Imagine sitting down on a chair. While lowering the hips move backwards. When squatting up, move your hips straight into upright position. Avoid any forward motion.|
|Extended Knees||Never lock the knees in the upper position. Locked knees shift much of the workload from the muscles right into the knees, causing an intermittent muscular tension and high pressure inside the knee articulations, which can lead to knee pain.|
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