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Recent Blog Entries tagged with: "strength"

 

Strength Training as at High Temperatures
Jul 12th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Health (0 comments)

For many athletes hot weather is a good reason to reduce the training volume or to completely refrain from intense workouts during this time. Even a regular strength training can suffer from heat, so here are a few tips and hints on how the training can be carried on continuously in spite of sultry and warm temperatures.

Drink a Lot

... an obviousness that is often neglected or simply underestimated. Even at normal temperatures you should drink one liter of water for each hour of training, which is is roughly the amount that is leaving the body through sweating an breathing.

In the summertime the gym interior can easily heat up to about 28-30 °C, which increases the sweating and therefore the fluid requirements can easily rise up to twice the amount.

Drink about approximately 1.5-2 liters of water per hour of intense weight training and increase the daily intake of water to about 4-5 liters, to prevent your body from dehydration and to stay powerful even in the heat.

Training Level and Training Breaks

The cyclic shift of training and rest in strength training has a certain advantage over the long-lasting, continuous loads such as in endurance training.

If necessary have longer rests between the sets to let the body cool down and thus prevent the cardiac system from overloading or your body from having a heat shock.

The training intensity itself can usually be maintained despite the heat, since, for the duration of one set, the body should be capable of performing on usual levels. External may even have a positive influence on the training level, since the muscles are more supple from the beginning on, while sweating my provide a certain amount of extra motivation.

Training Times

Adapt your training times. if possible, take advantage of the cool morning hours or go training in the evening train.

Endurance training under the direct exposure of the sun sun should generally be avoided in the hours around noontime. But even apart from the midday sun you should wear a hat that provides some shade to avoid a sunstroke, which manifests itself mostly by dizziness, nausea, or tinnitus.

Training Duration

Train just as short as necessary. This general recommendation (which applies also also on climate safe days) requires you to do only a small number of complex exercises. A training session on a hot day shouldn't take longer than 30-45 minutes.

Proper Clothing and Accessories

Special clothing directs the sweat quickly and effectively away from the skin and allows it to evaporate. Normal shirts and pants are less effective, but they also take on the sweat and keep most of it away from the training equipment and the people around you. Tight clothing, which reveals much skin, doesn't provide this kind of comfort.

A reasonably large towel to remove sweat should be part of your accessories as well as the mandatory water bottle.



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Pull-up & Chin-up Guide | How to do Pull-ups & Chin-ups
Apr 21st, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training (2 comments)

Without doubt, pull-ups and chin-ups are one of the most effective basic exercises to develop a muscular upper body. They work a large number of muscles simultaneously and, through different grip setups and techniques, offer many different training variations.
pull_ups_chin_ups_technique_01

Pull-up Benefits

StrengthPull-ups are a great exercise to strengthen almost all upper body and arm muscles, including the hand's gripping strength.
MusclesDoing Pull-ups on a regular basis can develop an impressive upper body.
BalancePull-ups help maintaining the upper body's muscular balance by compensating the popular pressing exercise for chest and front shoulders.
SimplicityPull-ups require nothing but a fixed horizontal bar or something similar to grasp. Once you're able to perform a few pull-ups, you can train virtually anywhere.
VersatilityA variety of grip setups and many training techniques make pull-ups a versatile and interesting exercise.

Basic Pull-up Instructions

  • Stand below pull-up bar and grasp it with wide overhand grip. Hang on bar.
  • Bend your knees and cross your lower legs.
  • Pull your body up until your upper chest reaches the bar. Look up and keep chest up, leading toward the bar.
  • Return with same speed. Keep the arms very slightly bent at the bottom of the motion to maintain the muscular activity. Simultaneously let your your shoulders be pulled up by the bodyweight.
  • Repeat.

The Difference Between Pull-ups and Chin-ups

While the basic pulling movement is the same, pull-ups and chin-ups differ in the hand's grip setup.

Pull-upsChin-ups
pull_up_01

chin_up_01

Palms facing away from you involves less arm flexor muscles and more back. It is harder. Palms facing you involves less back muscles and more arm flexors. It is easier.

Pull-up Techniques

Especially for beginners pull-ups a are a major challenge. Not only do they require a good relation of strength and bodyweight, but also a very specific muscular coordination that can only be improved by doing it.

Don't stick to Lat Pull-downs for too long. Even if you're strong enough to sit and pull down about your bodyweight, it doesn't mean you're able to do a single correct pull-up, because you're not accustomed to the specific technique. Any great performance on the pull-up bar comes from hard and consistent training.

Beginner's Techniques

Lat Pull-downs
front_pulldown_01

  • Introduction to the basic movement patterns of arm and shoulder joints.
  • Adjustable training weight.
  • Different grip attachments.
Assisted Pull-ups, Machine
assited_pull_ups_01

  • Closely related to free pull-ups.
  • Bodyweight is supported by training weight.
  • Usually allows wide and neutral grip setup.
  • Two separate handles allow an upright posture.
Assisted Pull-ups, Elastic Band
elastic_band_pull_ups_01

  • Free pull-up technique.
  • Bodyweight is supported by an elastic band you either kneel or stand on.
  • Adjustable training level by selecting from different elastic bands.
Assisted Pull-ups, Training Partner
assisted_pull_up_02

  • Free pull-up technique.
  • Requires a certain level of basic strength.
  • Bodyweight is supported by the training partner, at least during the pull-up movement.
Negative Pull-ups
negative_pull_up_01

  • Free pull-up technique.
  • Requires a certain level of basic strength.
  • No external support.
  • Grasp pull-up bar while standing on elevation and, as slowly as possible, perform only the negative movement.
Partial Repetitions
partial_pull_ups_01

  • Free pull-up technique.
  • Requires a certain level of basic strength.
  • No external support
  • Grasp pull-up bar and pull body about half way up.

Advanced Techniques

Weighted Pull-ups
weighted_pull_ups_01

  • If you can do 10 or more pull-ups, you may want to use a weight belt/chain to add some weight. Alternatively use a rucksack with weight plates (or books, ...) in it or hold a dumbbell between your feet.
Slow Negatives
slow_negative_part_pull_ups_01

  • Putting the emphasis on the negative part of the motion will activate a maximum number of muscle fibers.
  • Pull you body up as usual and take about 4-5 seconds to return to the starting position.

Pull-up Variations

Wide Overhand Grip
pull_up_01

  • Choose a more than shoulder-wide grip distance. You elbows should be bent about right-angled at top of motion. A too wide grip distance will limit the range of motion.
Close Overhand Grip
pull_up_close_grip_01

  • A shoulder-wide or even closer grip distance requires your arms to be bent almost completely, resulting in a higher demand of the arm muscles.
Neutral Grip
pull_up_neutral_grip_01

  • Usually the neutral grip is setup slightly wider than shoulder-wide apart. It allows a comfortable hand position and an even training of back and arms.
Close Neutral Grip
pull_up_close_neutral_grip_01

  • The close neutral grip distance trains more arms, less back.
Reverse Grip
chin_up_01

  • As mentioned above, reverse grip pull-ups are also called chin-ups. They put more emphasis the arm flexors, less back.
Wide Reverse Grip
chin_up_wide_01

  • To involve more back when doing chin-ups, choose a wide reverse grip, provided your wrists tolerate this setup pain-free.
Mixed Grip
pull_up_mixed_grip_01

  • Mixed grip is a combination of neutral and overhand or underhand grip. Remember to train both sides evenly.
One Arm Reverse Grip
chin_up_one_arm_01

  • If you're strong enough, you can do one arm chin-ups. It requires an excellent relation of strength and bodyweight. Because of its high demand one arm chin-ups usually aren't part of a normal training routine.

Common Mistakes

  • Straight Arms. Extending the arms completely disables all major muscular activity for a moment, which may result in overstressed passive structures, such as tendons and ligaments.
  • Swinging. Try to keep hips and legs as stable as possible. Don't kick legs and don't swing back and forth.

Exercise Guide Links to Pull-ups & Chin-ups

Pull-up
Pull-up, Assisted
Pull-up, Behind Neck
Pull-up, Close Grip
[linkexercise]bodyweight_v_grip_pull_up[/linkexercise]
Chin-up

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tags: pull up |  chin up |  strength |  muscles |  exercises |  technique |  strength training | 





10 Simple Strategie For Gaining Muscle Mass
Mar 18th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training (0 comments)

1. Increased Muscular Tension


The conscious flexion of the working muscles over the entire range of motion causes an increased muscular stimulation. This technique particularly suits isolation exercises.

Thus, for example when doing Arm Curls, an extra tightening of the arm flexing muscles at the end of the concentric phase will increase the stimulus to the biceps.

In general, the eccentric part of a movement should be done slowly and deliberately under high muscular tension, which in turn leads to a higher training level, a more intense workout and an improved development of strength and muscle mass.

2. Final Contractions

Final contractions can lead to up to 30% increased muscular stimulation. Simply do 3-5 partial repetitions with almost extended joint positions after finishing a set.

For example, after the last repetition of the lat pull-down exercise, before dropping the weight, do a few repetitions in the upper part of the movement. You can apply this technique to almost any strength exercise.

3. Train Complex

A high and complex effort, and thus progressively higher workload is critical to muscular development.

You can move the highest weights during basic compound exercises that stimulate many muscles simultaneously and that involve functional movements.

Complex Exercises For The Upper BodyComplex Exercises For The Lower Body

4. Train Standing

Try to do as many exercises as possible in standing position, because it requires and triggers the development of a larger number of stabilizing muscles, especially core muscles.

It is important to keep up a correct training technique and to avoid any swinging. This is particularly suitable for the training of the shoulders and arms, for example, Shoulder Presses with Barbell or Dumbbells, Lateral Raises, Arm Curls and Triceps Extension.

3. Variation: Heavy - Light - Heavy

To build muscles, it is important to use heavy weights and to train a the range of 5-8 repetitions.

However, muscles need some training variety to constantly develop and to grow.

Switch between heavy load training on the one hand and training with lighter weights on the other. Performing many repetitions with relatively light weights leads to better blood circulation within the affected muscles, resulting in an improved oxygen and results nutrient supply and thus promotes muscle growth.

A very simple and effective method is a permanent heavy weight training in combination with a once per weekly high-rep workout for all major muscle groups.

5. Effective Resting

In order to complete the necessary training volume in minimum time you may want to take advantage of the breaks between sets.

Here you either train the corresponding antagonist or any weaknesses, such as Calves or Abdominal Muscles.

Short and intense workouts cause a higher production of hormones that are involved in muscle building.

6. Eat More

To gain weight, you need to take in more energy than you consume. Therefore you need to eat more and you need to eat the right food.

To maximize the calorie intake eat mainly foods with a high energy density. Foremost amongst these are healthy fats such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts and peanut butter.

In addition, a sufficient supply of proteins is important. If you cannot meet the daily requirements through diet, it makes sense to resort to supplements, such as protein shakes.

If you are not able to take in large enough amounts of calories through solid food, you need to drink more energy-dense fluids. Drink plenty of milk, preferably whole milk, since the combination of protein and a little more fat leads to a longer digestion time in the stomach, and thus provides more energy of a longer time. Otherwise, high-calorie juices and self-made smoothies, such as milk with oatmeal and fruits, prepared in mixer, are an excellent source of energy.

7. Drink More

Muscles consist to 65% of water. Your muscles won´t grow without a sufficient water supply.

The complete protein and fat metabolism is based on an adequate fluid intake. To effectively build muscle mass, you need to dink 1 liter of water per day per 20 kg of body weight.

8. Rest More

Reduce the calorie consumption besides the strength training to a minimum. Avoid long cardio units.

Train hard and be lazy for the rest of the day. To ensure a good recovery and muscle growth you need to sleep about 8 hours per night.

9. Eat Directly After Training

After each intense workout, the muscles are hungry for glycogen and amino acids. Fulfill these needs promptly.

To make the most of the time window of about 15 minutes, you should either have a full meal, or alternatively drink a whey protein shake together with with rapidly digestible carbohydrates.

10. Think BIG

Ultimately, it is important to be convinced of your own performance and muscle growth.

Imagine to already own the desired muscles. Visualize it every day. The right mental cinema provides the necessary motivation.

Set the right priorities in terms of muscle building and developing a certain unwillingness to compromise, that is do everything necessary to reach your goal and to avoid any actions that prevent you from growing muscles.

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tags: muscles |  advice |  strength training | 





The Best Six-Pack Ab Exercises
Mar 2nd, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training (1 comment)

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.

Six-pack Abs Requirements

To get six-pack abs, you have to meet two essential requirements:

MusclesStrong 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 FatMen 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.
Therefore you have to keep your body fat as low and core muscles as strong as possible.

Complex Training vs. Isolation Training

Currently, 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 Exercises

I 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.

Ab Exercises

Exercise NameImage and LinkComments
Crunches, Seated
seated_crunch_115x115

It is a very effective crunch variation. You can easily adjust the training resistance to even hard levels. The advantage over crunches is the nonexistent external pressure on the vertebral bodies.
Plank
plank_115x115

Plank is an easy-to-do stabilizing exercise. Beware to keep your abs tensed and to avoid any hyper-extension of the lower back.
Side Plank
side_plank_115x115

Side planks train you obliques. It relates to planks and involves many other muscles to keep up the position.
Russian Twist, Seated
russian_twist_weightplate_115x115

It is a great exercise for obliques while abdominals serves as stabilizer. Remember to avoid any lower back hyper-extension throughout the motion.
Mountain Climbers, Floor Sprint
mountain_climbers_115x115

Das eigentlich Anziehen der Beine wird allein von der Hüftbeugemuskulatur realisiert, die einseitigen Lastwechsel und das Beugen des Oberkörpers aktivieren jedoch sehr stark die schrägen und geraden Bauchmuskeln. Die Liegestützposition erfordert eine Anspannung beinahe aller Muskeln der Körpervorderseite.
Reverse Crunch
Reverse_Crunches_115x115

The upper back fixation combined with the hip pull up results in a significant abdominal workout while relieving the lower back.

Non-Ab Exercises

Exercise NameImage and LinkComments
Front Squat
barbell_full_front_squat_115x115

Front Squats are a fantastic leg workout that requires your torso to be kept as upright as possible, which on the other hand implies high stabilizing effort of your abdominal muscles. The large number of participating muscles makes front squats one of the most effective exercises ever.
Suitcase Squat
suitcase_squat_115x115

It is a squat variation that, depending on the level of resistance, will train your complete muscles, especially obliques.
Overhead Squat
overhead_squat_115x115

Holding the barbell above your head is a real challenge for your upper body muscles, while the lifted center of gravity put more emphasis on stabilizing the trunk. Like front squats, it is one of the most effective exercises.
Renegade Row
renegade_row_115x115

Balancing the side-to-side load changes really train all core muscles, especially obliques. At the same time the dumbbell pull-up movement and push-up position hit all back, chest and arm muscles, which makes it an extremely demanding exercise.
Barbell Deadlift
barbell_deadlift_115x115

Deadlift, as one of the classic power lifting and strength training exercises, focuses on training your thighs, lower back and traps. Thus, it is one the best six-pack ab exercises, because he use of relatively high workload enforces a very complex muscular activity

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tags: six pack |  exercises |  advice |  strength training | 





Training 101: Machines or Free Weights?
Jan 27th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Strength Training (0 comments)

Introduction

Basically 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?
machines_vs_free_weights

Machines

Machines 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 Musclethe major group of muscles involved in an exercise
Synergiststhey support the movement directly
Stabilizerscontracting 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 Weights

Unlike 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.

Conclusion

As 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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tags: machines |  free weights |  strength training |  muscles |