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Tricep Builder : Parallel Dips

Grasp the handles with an overhand grip a little wider than shoulder width. Lower your body down with an upright torso and elbows close to your sides. When your elbow angle is near 90 degrees or less, (your comfort level will vary) press back up keeping the upright posture and flex your triceps. Repeat for reps.

Parallel Dips is an excellent compound move the dip is an easy station to use. No setting up of benches or special bars or dumbbells. It’s also a great display of upper body strength and shows true control of body weight. The dip also has real world application and can develop supportive, natural strength to assist bench work and joint stability. Adding a weighted belt or fixing a dumbbell between your feet can increase resistance quickly and easily.

parallel dips

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Are you growing enough muscle? (Part 2)

Bad Technique: You’re doing the right exercises, but are you doing them right? If you want to place the maximum amount of stress on the muscle, and prevent serious injuries, you have to execute every movement with good form. Don’t copy what others are doing in the gym, this is how bad habits spread. Here are a few general rules that apply to most exercises:

  • Keep your reps slow and controlled
  • Don’t use momentum to move weight (no swinging!)
  • Use a full range of motion
  • Don’t lock joints out at the top of movements

Wrong Exercises:  This goes hand in hand with a solid workout routine. Doing the wrong exercises is a common mistake made by new lifters. Usually, the lifter is either doing too many isolation exercises and not enough compounds, or only doing exercises they “like”. Big compound movements recruit the most muscle fibers and place the most stress on the body. These are your big muscle builders. A good compound to isolation ratio is 2-1, or 3-1. So for every 2-3 compound exercises you do, you do 1 isolation. This of course does not apply to arms, forearms, and calves where most exercises are isolation movements. Here are some big mass builders that you should be including in your routine:

  1. Squat
  2. Deadlift
  3. Wide grip pull up
  4. Chin up
  5. Rows
  6. Bench press (dumbbell and/or barbell)
  7. Dips
  8. Shoulder press (dumbbell or barbell)

Leg Training:  Want to increase your bench, increase your squat. Yeah, yeah, I know we all want big biceps and chests, but here’s 2 reasons why you should train your legs just as hard as the rest of your body. Firstly, think long term here. Do you want to get the ostrich look?! A big upper body on thin legs does not look good, in fact I’ve seen it in extremes, and it’s laughable! Secondly, exercises like squats have an impact on your whole body. Not only does it use most of your upper body muscles in the movement, but this exercise is so stressful that the body releases growth hormone to try and cope with the load. This effects the entire body.

Adequate Rest: Rest is just as important as training. Many people believe that muscle building takes place in the gym, but it’s actually the opposite. Weight training is actually creating millions of tears in the muscle tissue. In effect, you’re actually damaging the muscle. Your muscles get “pumped up” because of the swelling caused and increased blood flow to the area. The actual muscle building (repair and growth of new muscle tissue) takes place out of the gym, when you’re resting and sleeping. There are 2 ways you may not be getting enough rest. First, you are training too many days without taking as day off. Although you may not feel it, you body needs days of complete rest to recover from hard training sessions. It’s not just the muscles that need to recover, it’s your whole neurological system, tendons, joints, even your brain need rest. Secondly, and this comes back to your workout routine again, you may not be allowing muscle groups to fully recover between training sessions. If you do not allow enough recovery time, your muscles will not grow. It’s that simple. If your muscle group is still sore from the previous workout, don’t train it. For most muscle groups, one training session per week is adequate. Some smaller muscle groups like calves and abs may be trained twice, but still need at least 2 days of rest between sessions.

Quality Sleep: Sleeping is you body’s time to recharge. For you, the weight trainer, it’s your body’s time to repair damaged muscle tissue, and grow more muscle. As I discussed in the previous point, no rest, no muscle. Aim to get around 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night. Here’s some tips on how to get a good night’s rest:

  • Only sleep when you’re tired. There’s no point it trying to when you’re not.
  • Develop sleeping rituals, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
  • Refrain from stressful activities for 1-2 hours before bed
  • Don’t take stimulates within 4-6 hours before bed time
  • Have a light snack before bed

Post Workout Nutrition:  Your post workout shake/meal is arguably the most important meal of the day. When you finish your workout, your muscles are crying out for nutrients that were lost during training. Your protein levels are down, creatine levels are down, and glycogen is depleted. Most people think that a simple whey protein shake is all that’s needed after your workout. This is not true. While a protein shake is better than nothing, it still falls well short of a good post workout shake. Here’s what would be better:

Shake containing the following:

  1. 30-40g of whey protein powder
  2. 5g of creatine
  3. 60-70g of dextrose

1 hour later: A well rounded meal containing protein, complex carbs and fats.


Pre Workout Nutrition: Carbohydrates are the key to having adequate fuel in your tank for a hard workout. There are 2 types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates (like dextrose mentioned above) are quickly converted into energy for use in the body. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and process, but provide you with long lasting energy. Complex carbohydrates are your primary fuel source for your workouts. What you eat throughout the day, and 1.5-3 hours before your workout is going to affect how much energy you have. Like I mentioned at the start of this article, you need to space your meals out evenly throughout the day. If you eat a big breakfast, a big lunch, then train after work, you’re probably going to feel tired and sluggish. What would be better a better approach would be to eat a small breakfast, mid morning meal, smaller lunch, afternoon meal, then train after work. This gives you about 2 hours between your last meal and training, which is ideal. So what should you have in your pre workout meal? This meal should be well rounded, containing protein, complex carbohydrate and fats. The amount of calories in the meal depends on your personal diet plan. Try and keep the protein/carbs/fats (PCF) ratio to around 30/50/20. Here is some examples of quality sources of complex carbohydrates:

  • Brown rice
  • Potatoes
  • Brown bread
  • Pasta
  • Oats
  • Pita bread


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Are you growing enough muscle? (Part 1)

Calories: Calorie consumption is the solution to about 90% of the complaints lifters have about not being about to get bigger and/or stronger. Your body requires a certain number of calories to maintain your current weight. This figure is known as basal metabolic rate (BMR), and varies from person to person depending on your weight, muscle mass, activity level, age etc. If your calorie intake is lower than BMR, you will lose weight. This is known as a calorie deficit. If your daily calorie intake is higher than your BMR, you will gain weight. This is known as a calorie surplus.

The Correct Foods: If you’re eating excess calories every day and training with a decent workout you’ll grow. But, if you’re not eating the right foods, the chances are that you’ll be limiting your potential, putting on excess body fat, and not growing enough lean muscle. The best way to plan your muscle building diet is to split it up into protein/carbohydrate/fat (P/C/F) ratios. Arguably the best ratio of muscle growth is 30/50/20. This mean you’re getting 30% of your total calories from protein, 50% from carbohydrates and 20% from fats.

Eating Enough: When you eat is just as important as what you eat. The days of eating “3 square meals” are long gone. Research has shown that eating more smaller meals is not only great for promoting a fast metabolism, but helps maintain, lose, and gain weight. Think of your body like a log fire. If you put too much wood on at once, the fire burns slow and sluggish. But if you gradually add more wood as the fire gets bigger, it burns more efficiently and gets bigger. You should be aiming for a minimum for 6 meals spread at even intervals throughout the day. You want to make these meals as even as possible, but it’s OK to eat a bit more at breakfast/lunch/dinner if you don’t have time during the other breaks. So you’re probably thinking, “I don’t have time to eat all those meals”. If I had a pound coin for every time I heard that I could retire. The truth is you can, it just requires a bit for forward planning. There are endless ways you can cook and store food for meals throughout the day. Spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon cooking up your lunches and snacks for the week. Use your imagination.

Water: Water is nature’s wonder supplement, it’s essential for a whole host of bodily functions. Many lifters underestimate the importance of being hydrated well before they step into the gym. If you feel dehydrated just before you’re about to train, it’s too late, you won’t be able to rehydrate yourself time. Keeping yourself hydrated should be a priority from the moment you get out of bed. Dehydration is a serious problem, and in extreme cases can lead to death. Here are some signs of dehydration you should look out for:

  • Feeling thirsty (obviously)
  • Fatigue. Feeling tired for no apparent reason.
  • Dry mouth and possible sore throat
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine with strong odor

Drinking an adequate amount of water is easy, and there’s no excuse why you cannot do it. Just take a bottle wherever you go and keep sipping out of it throughout the day.

The Workout Routine: Choosing the right routine to suit your body type, training experience and goal is vital. Many new lifters get their workout routines from magazines and articles written by professional bodybuilders. These workouts are not designed for beginners, and will only lead to a lot of wasted time, energy and frustration.

A good workout routine needs the following:

  1. Training days arranged to allow for adequate rest
  2. Muscle groups arranged so overtraining does not occur
  3. Muscle groups arranged so that each muscle can be worked to maximum effect
  4. A good selection of compound and isolation exercises
  5. Good warm up and cool down

Varying Your Workout:  Building muscle is simply the process of the body reacting to increased stress. You put stress on your muscles in the gym, and they grow bigger to cope with the stress. The body is very quick to adapt to any changes, this includes your workout. Once your body adapts to your workout routine, it will not see the need to build more muscle or get stronger. You have to change. As a general rule you should change your workout when you stop getting stronger or heavier, or after about 8-10 weeks. If you’ve been doing your workout for 12 weeks and you’re still growing, don’t change it, everyone is different – if you’re still growing, stick to it.

Progress: Progression builds muscle, without it you won’t grow. Progression is the constant increase of weight, stress and intensity required to tell your body that it needs to grow more muscle. You should aim to improve at least one aspect of your workout every week. It could be increasing the weight, it could be your increase the reps, but it has to be something. This is where a training log becomes so important. Before every workout you should look back at what you did the previous week, exact weights and reps. Choose the areas you want to improve, and get in the gym and do it.


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Compound Exercises vs Isolation Exercises

A compound exercise is any exercise that involves the use of more than one major muscle group at a time. Typically, there is one larger muscle group that ends up doing the majority of the work, and then one or more smaller muscle groups that are recruited secondarily.

Here’s a list of the most common compound exercises along with the primary and secondary muscle groups each one targets:

  • Flat, Incline or Decline Bench Press (barbell, dumbbell or machine)
    Primary Muscle Group: Chest
    Secondary Muscle Groups: Shoulders, Triceps
  • Overhead Shoulder Press (barbell, dumbbell or machine)
    Primary Muscle Group: Shoulders
    Secondary Muscle Group: Triceps
  • Dips (on parallel bars with slight forward lean)
    Primary Muscle Group: Chest
    Secondary Muscle Groups: Triceps, Shoulders
  • Dips (on parallel bars with no forward lean)
    Primary Muscle Group: Triceps
    Secondary Muscle Groups: Shoulders, Chest
  • Rows (barbell, dumbbell, or machine)
    Primary Muscle Group: Back
    Secondary Muscle Group: Biceps
  • Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Lat Pull-Downs (any type of grip)
    Primary Muscle Group: Back
    Secondary Muscle Group: Biceps
  • Deadlifts (many variations)
    Primary Muscle Group: Posterior Chain (Hamstrings, Glutes, Back, etc.)
    Secondary Muscle Groups: Much Of Lower Body, Much Of Upper Body
  • Squats (many variations)
    Primary Muscle Group: Quads
    Secondary Muscle Groups: Most Of Lower Body (Glutes/Hamstrings), Lower Back

Basically, if an exercise involves pushing, pulling, squatting or deadlifting, it’s usually training more than one major muscle group, and that makes it a compound exercise.

And, as you can see from the list above:

  • All chest pushing/pressing exercises also use the shoulders and triceps.
  • All shoulder pushing/pressing exercises also use the triceps.
  • All back pulling/rowing exercises also use the biceps.
  • Deadlifts and squats (and split squats, lunges, step ups, leg presses) also use a variety of lower body muscles and, in some cases, the lower and/or upper back.

How Compound Exercises Can Affect Your Planned Frequency, Recovery & Volume

Now, you may be wondering why you should care about what secondary muscle groups get trained during compound exercises. Here’s why.

You’re using a workout schedule that will allow you to train each muscle group with an optimal frequency, right?

Well, based on the information I just told you, can you see how easy it would be to unknowingly train certain muscle groups more often than you’re aiming to as a result of their secondary use during exercises that primarily target other muscles?

Plus, there’s also the issue of recovery. For example, you might train chest one day and triceps the next. In reality, you’ve trained triceps 2 days in a row (because of their secondary usage during chest exercises).

A similar issue can easily arise with pretty much every muscle group there is if you don’t plan carefully enough. This is another reason why I consider these the best workout schedules. Each one pairs muscle groups up in a way that avoids any potential problems with frequency/recovery as a result of secondary usage during compound exercises.

The same potential problem can exist for your planned volume per muscle group too. This goes back to what I’ve mentioned before about smaller muscle groups (like biceps and triceps) needing less direct volume due to how much indirect volume they get during compound exercises.

This is all stuff that needs to be taken into account when creating your workout routine. Luckily, if you’ve been following along from the beginning, it’s all stuff that has already been taken into account.


An isolation exercise is any exercise in which only one major muscle group is trained by itself. Typically, the movement is done in such a way where usage of all other muscle groups is avoided, which leaves one muscle group isolated and able to do all of the work.

Here’s a list of the most common isolation exercises along with the muscle it isolates/trains:

  • Flat, Incline or Decline Flyes (dumbbell, cable or machine)
    Muscle Group Trained: Chest
  • Lateral Raises or Front Raises (dumbbell, cable or machine)
    Muscle Group Trained: Shoulders
  • Biceps Curls (barbell, dumbbell, cable or machine)
    Muscle Group Trained: Biceps
  • Triceps Extensions (barbell, dumbbell, cable or machine)
    Muscle Group Trained: Triceps
  • Leg Extensions
    Muscle Group Trained: Quads
  • Leg Curls
    Muscle Group Trained: Hamstrings
  • Calf Raises
    Muscle Group Trained: Calves

Basically, if an exercise involves raising, curling or extending, it’s usually training just one major muscle group, and that makes it an isolation exercise.

So, what’s best for you?

  • If your primary goal is performance related (increasing strength, improving performance, etc.), then compound exercises should comprise the majority of your workout routine. Isolation exercises should be greatly limited or possibly avoided completely.
  • If your primary goal is looks related (building muscle, losing fat, getting “toned,” etc.), then compound exercises should comprise the majority of your workout routine and get your primary focus. However, a secondary focus on isolation exercises is fine and in some cases, maybe even ideal.
  • If you are a beginner with ANY goal, then compound exercises should comprise the majority of your workout routine. Isolation exercises should be kept to a minimum or possibly avoided completely.




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How to Do the Wrist Curl

Start out by placing two dumbbells on the floor in front of a flat bench. Sit down on the edge of the flat bench with your legs at about shoulder width apart. Make sure to keep your feet on the floor. Use your arms to grab both of the dumbbells and bring them up so that your forearms are resting against your thighs with the palms of the hands facing up. Your wrists should be hanging over the edge of your thighs.

Start out by curling your wrist upwards and exhaling. Slowly lower your wrists back down to the starting position while inhaling. Make sure to inhale during this part of the exercise. Your forearms should be stationary as your wrist is the only movement needed to perform this exercise. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Wrist Curls

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Common Failures During The Off-Season

1 Not Eating Enough
First off, I have to say that women tend to fall victim to this mistake a lot more than men. The reason behind this is that women hate putting on weight and after looking so good on stage the last thing that they want to do is put on Fat. So they continue to eat like they are still dieting. The result is they don’t have the energy to make any new gains or improvements to their body and, in many cases, lose muscle mass.
The off-season is the time of year a person makes 95% of their improvements to their physique. Without the energy and the fuel, via a surplus of healthy clean food, you can not make the improvements you need.
Make sure that you are eating enough calories to enable you to make those improvements and show up better next time you step on stage. Though you might put on a little (note I said a little) body fat, the body fat will come off once you diet down for your next show.

2 Not Eating Enough Healthy Clean Foods
What is the first thing you do after you step off the stage with all of your trophies (let’s be optimistic)? You go directly to your favorite restaurant, or fast food place, and EAT. Granted, it is fine to indulge in good food after the show is over. You earned it. However, don’t let a fast food frenzy spill into your off-season diet.
Now, above I talked about taking in enough calories so you can put on good size in the off-season. You might say, “fast food and junk food are calorie dense so why not have them once or twice a day so I can bump up my overall calories?”
While you want to have excess calories while bulking, the majority of those calories should be from clean healthy foods: lean cuts of meat, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. The off-season is the time to put on size but the majority of it should be muscle, not fat. A diet riddled with junk food will result in little muscle gain and plenty of fat storage. Clean it up and you beef it up!

3 Staying Away From Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are a very important part of the off-season diet and a great energy source, if used properly throughout the day. Simple carbohydrates (i.e., fast digesting) are great to have post-workout because they spike your insulin level and drive the glycogen into your muscles.
They also help to drive the amino acids from your protein shake, that you should have post-workout, with that simple carbohydrate to aid in protein synthesis (i.e., muscle building). Complex carbohydrates provide a more prolonged energy source and are great to have for breakfast or later in the day.
Examples of complex carbohydrates are oats, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Examples of simple carbohydrates are sugars, white bread and pasta.

4 No Cardio
This is a huge mistake that I see all the time and 99% of the time men fall victim to the no cardio approach in the off-season. They justify it by saying “I don’t want to lose any size.” Well, I am here to tell you that three 30 minute cardio sessions a week will do wonders for your bulking phase.
By incorporating a cardio routine into your workout program, your appetite will go through the roof, which will make it a lot easier to eat clean healthy food. You also will improve your cardiovascular system, which is critical when lifting heavy.
I have seen countless guys fail to reach their desired rep range because their cardiovascular system failed on them. They were strong enough to get those extra 2 reps but were too out of breath and had to rack the weight. Sooner or later you will start losing muscle if you don’t reach your desired rep range. If you want to put on that size start, then start doing some cardio.

5 Too Much Cardio
Ladies, this is where many of you slip up. You don’t want to put on those couple of extra pounds so you stick to your contest prep cardio program. Your body cannot make improvements in muscle size and shape if you are expending too much energy with cardio.
Most people (guys and girls) should stick to a moderate cardio program like 3-4 low intensity 20-30 minute sessions a week. This will keep both your metabolism humming and your appetite up and, most importantly you will be working the heart, which is the most important muscle of all.

6 Too Much Machine Use
Too many trainers rely too heavily on machine use in their workout programs. With all the new fancy machines out now, who can blame them? They are comfortable, smooth and easy to use. But I have the motto:
These machines do have benefits, when used properly and are great to supplement your program (I like to use them at the end of the workout, if I use them at all) but nothing works better than free weight basics.
Free weight basics, with barbells and dumbbells, like squats, deadlifts, rows, bench etc., should be the bread and butter of all of your workouts off-season and pre-contest. They recruit the most muscle fiber use which will lead to maximum growth and improvement.
Only after you have exhausted maximum energy with the free weight basics, should you think about using machines or cables. Remember, the harder you work, the better the results and nothing is harder than free weights.

7 Not Enough Rest/Recovery Time
In the off-season, your major goal is to put on lean muscle mass. Many novice trainers don’t realize that you do all your growing outside the gym. Even some experienced lifters find it hard to stay away from the gym in the off-season. They do everything right: eat clean, workout out hard, but forget to give their body’s enough rest and recovery time between workouts so gains are negligible.
You break down the muscle tissue in the gym, given that you fuel your body with nutritious food. The final piece of the puzzle is time. You need to give your body time to recover. Without adequate time to recover, you will break down already broken down muscle tissue caused by overtraining.
There is a lot of debate over how long a muscle needs to rest/recover from a workout before you should work it out again. I am a big believer in 72 hours, or 3 days of recovery time. If the muscle still seems to be sore, give it another day of rest. The last thing you want to do is to injure yourself.

8 Scales
Worrying about the scales has caused a lot of men to put on fat in the off-season. Men love stating how much they weigh, if the number is above 200 lbs. So in their pursuit to put on as much weight as possible, most of these ego driven males end up putting on a substantial amount of body fat.
Your body cannot continue to add pounds of lean muscle mass each week, so if your weight continues to increase every week, you are probably putting on too much body fat. I tell my clients to focus on what they look like, not on what the scale says.
Women are the complete opposite once they see their weight go up; they either stop eating as much or do a lot of cardio. This shift is driven by the pursuit to keep in contest shape. However, this practice will make it extremely difficult to make improvements.

9 Lack Of A Goal
This issue is for my competing athletes and starts immediately after your contest is over. You should talk to the judges about your presentation to help you understand where you can improve and what your strong points are. Then, in the next week or so, sit down with your personal trainer and discuss how you are going to approach the off-season and make the improvements to your physique.
I see many competitors, pros and amateurs alike, who show up every year looking the same. These individuals don’t improve and also don’t win.
So in the beginning of the off-season, make some short and long term goals for yourself; this will help keep you focused on the improvements that you need to make between competitions.

10 Skipping Meals
This is a common mistake made by the hard gainers. They are not hungry so they either push back the meal by an hour, or worse, just skip it all together. This is a big mistake. Your body needs protein every 2.5-3 hours so your muscles can have a steady stream of available amino acids.
You need to keep your body in a positive nitrogen balance. When your body doesn’t have enough amino acids, it goes to your muscles to find them.
Your body will begin to eat away at your hard-earned muscle for fuel, a result you must avoid. This is referred to as a catabolic state (i.e., muscle wasting). You want to be in a positive nitrogen balance as much as possible, which is referred to as the anabolic state (i.e. muscle gaining). If you can’t stomach a full meal, then try to suck down a whey shake. This will give you enough amino acids until you eat your next meal.
The off-season is a time to make improvements to your physique. Use this time as productively as possible by avoiding any of the mistakes discussed above.
Wasted time is wasted growth so if you find yourself falling into any of these pitfalls, then make a quick correction in your diet and/or workout programs. If you can do this, you will be well on your way to adding that desired inch to your physique.

muscle eating

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Tips On Improving Your Back Exercises

Squeeze: The most important thing to do on every rep of every set of every back workout is to squeeze it. Most of the time the reason you can’t grow your back is because you can’t feel it. Hold the contracted position of each back lift for one second and if you still can’t feel your back working you are probably still performing the movement incorrectly. If you are doing pulldowns hold the bar at your chest and pull from your elbows to hold it down. If you are doing rows (cable or barbell rows) pull the bar to your midsection and hold it there pulling your shoulder blades together as hard as you can. That pump you get after a full set is your back muscles working.

Use Straps: There is one time that I have felt that straps can help, though, and that is when you are having a hard time targeting your back muscles. A lot of the time when you can’t feel your back working it’s because of the fact that your forearms and biceps muscles are giving out and getting fatigues much earlier than your back muscles are. This happens a lot more as beginners, and it can be a huge pain. When you start to use them you won’t have to worry about your forearms and biceps anymore and your back can take the brunt of the work.

Go Light: If you are training your back and swinging your body on every rep with horrible form then you are using way to much weight with your exercises. If your back is rounded on deadlifts, rows, or any of the lifts for your back then lower the weight. If you have to throw your entire body into each lift then you are using too much weight. I know that once you hit a certain weight with things, like barbell rows, you can’t help but swing a little but keep it too a minimum.

Pre-Exhaust: Pre-exhausting is a technique that has been around for a very long time and works very well when you are having a hard time feeling a certain muscle being worked. When you work out your back you are using the big exercises like rows and pull ups as the core of your back training. It can sometimes be very hard to work your back on compound exercises like these when so many other muscles can be working also. Add in an isolation exercise for high reps before you do your compound movements and you will have a much easier time feeling your back work during those compound movements. A good exercise that I use if I’m having trouble feeling my back work is a straight arm pulldown which is when you take a cable machine set on the highest positions, and grab it palms down. You keep your arms straight (as described in the name) and pull it down to your thighs all the while keeping your arms straight. At the bottom position, by your thighs, squeeze your lats. Do this exercise for 12 – 15 reps and then go onto your compound movement and feel your lats work like never before.

Improve Arm Strength: You use your forearms and biceps in every single back movement. The problem is that your biceps and forearms are a whole lot weaker than your back. Bring these body parts up, especially your forearms. Train grip exercises more than anything if your main goal is to aid your back training. By training your grip you can hold onto the bar longer therefore making your back work longer. Improve all of your forearm numbers and bicep numbers and I promise that they will translate to better back exercises.


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Key Hamstring Exercises

The hamstrings are not one single muscle, but a group of muscles with multiple functions. Their most important function is hip extension, which is vital for explosiveness, sprinting, jumping, and even low-back health. If you have been neglecting your hamstrings in the gym below is a list of exercises you should add to your next training session!

Clean Deadlift: The deadlift is, not surprisingly, our champion. The “clean” version of the setup is slightly different from your conventional deadlift, placing more tension on the hamstrings (as opposed to the low back). Your butt will tend to be a little lower and your hands a little bit wider. In a clean deadlift, which simulates the positions needed in the first phase of a clean, your shoulders will be a little in front of the bar, your shoulder blades retracted, and you will have to use your lats to keep the bar close to the body. You may use a little less weight in this setup than your regular barbell deadlift, but it is great for training the posterior chain.

Romanian Deadlift from Deficit: While called a Romanian deadlift, this is actually a stiff-legged deadlift. The knees should be slightly bent and then stay that way. When you “bend over,” your hips will move back only a little bit. Bend around the hips, letting the shoulders go forward. Some people will intentionally round their backs on this movement to train their erectors; just as rounded-back good mornings are used. I would save this technique for advanced lifters who know what they’re doing.

Kettlebell One-Legged Deadlift: A unilateral approach to the hip hinge allows us to reduce the load on the back while still fully recruiting the hamstrings. The biggest mistake on this movement is rounding of the spine. Remember: the entire upper body should be rigid, rotating around the hip.
Power Snatch: While the snatch is a full body movement, upward acceleration of the bar relies heavily on the power of the hamstrings. A full snatch is difficult to learn, but most can probably learn a power snatch, where you receive the bar above a full squat (or even standing). The reason this movement is so good for hamstrings is that the first two phases of it are essentially a deficit deadlift and a Romanian deadlift, both of which are huge hammy killers.
Hang Snatch: The hang snatch is similar to the power snatch, but it eliminates the initial pull from the ground to the knees. I recommend beginning standing upright with the bar hanging, and then pushing your butt back until you are in pulling position (as opposed to just starting in your pulling position). If the first part of this movement feels very much like a Romanian deadlift, then you are doing it right.
Floor Glute-Ham Raise: The poor man’s version of the glute-ham raise is significantly harder than the original. You can’t quite get all the benefits of the full version off of the floor, but this will be the hardest knee flexion exercise you can do. Most people won’t be able to do this movement at first, so I recommend using a band, a training partner, or using a push-off to bring the difficulty down a notch.
Lying Leg Curls: The leg curl is a classic bodybuilding movement to isolate the hamstrings from the rest of the posterior chain. Unless your machine has a cam on it, your leverage usually improves making the movement easier during peak contraction. If this is the case, I typically will put a band around the rollers so that tension will increase through the range of motion.
Romanian Deadlift: The key in the Romanian deadlift is to move your butt back. Think of it as a horizontal movement, as opposed to a vertical movement like our other deadlifts. In this style, our butts move back with the knees slightly bent. Done correctly, even with no weight, by the time your hands reach the knees, your hamstrings should feel like they are going to rip off. If you can touch your toes, you are doing it wrong. Keep your head up, trying to create as much distance between your chin and your butt as you can.
Sumo Deadlift: The very wide stance of the sumo deadlift takes some of the load from the back and transfers it to the hips. The setup makes it easier to maintain proper position, and it is fantastic for developing hamstrings and glutes.

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5 Excercises For Your Abs

PLANK (2-3 sets of 30-60 second holds)

The plank is great for working your entire core, and it can stimulate up to 130 percent more ab activity than the crunch. To make it more difficult, widen your feet and reach forward with your hands—that’ll give your core an even bigger challenge. When you reach forward, try not to tilt from your hips. If reaching forward isn’t quite hard enough, or you want to do more oblique work, bring your knees up and toward your elbows.


SIDE PLANK (2-3 sets of 30-60 second holds)

The side plank can target each side of your body, allowing you to address weaknesses and correct imbalances. This move hits more than your abs—your abductors, abductors, quads, hamstrings, glutes, upper body, and lower back all get a workout. Your ankle, hip, and shoulder should be in one line, and your chin should remain off your chest. If you need a greater challenge, raise your top leg to parallel with the ground. You can also grab a dumbbell and “sweep” the weight from under your body. You should end with your arm straight up.


BICYCLE CRUNCH (2-3 sets of 20-30 reps)

This movement can stimulate nearly 190 percent more activity than the regular crunch. The key is to fully extend one leg at a time and think about bringing your shoulder, rather than your elbow, up to touch your opposite knee. Visualize that contraction. To make this harder, use a medicine ball and crunch up as you weave the ball in a figure-eight pattern in and out of your legs.


REVERSE CRUNCH (2-3 sets of 12-20 reps)

Tuck your hands under your butt and bring your knees to your chest. Concentrate on your pelvis as you tuck it up. You should feel your lower abs kicking in as you roll your pelvis up and forward. This exercise should activate 140 percent more of your abs than a regular crunch.


VERTICAL CHAIR KNEE RAISE (2-3 sets of 12-20 reps)

This exercise should stimulate 200 percent or more abdominal activation than a regular crunch. Amazing! Make sure your shoulders and back are posture-perfect. Raise your knees past your waistline; if you don’t move your hips far enough, your hip flexors will do all the work. For a higher degree of difficulty, do straight-leg raises or alternate legs. You can also hold a dumbbell between your legs for added extra resistance.


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Fat Loss

Fat loss should not be rushed. It takes time, and plenty of it. Aim to lose no more than two pounds of fat per week, and preferably closer to a rate of 1-1.5 pounds. This ensures that muscle loss is minimized. Muscle tissue consumes calories all the time. You don’t want to cannibalize this metabolically critical tissue.

Another part of being patient is learning to make minor changes to the diet rather than massive cuts. As soon as you make a change, whether it be cutting carbs or increasing cardio, your body will immediately begin adapting to the change. Every change you make to increase fat loss is a tool in your kit. Do not use all of your tools in the first few weeks.

If fat loss stalls and you cannot cut calories any lower and already do hours of cardio per day, you’re stuck. For personal tailored diet plans, feel free to contact me at Krunch Gym on or 01992 764433.

Neale Cranwell


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