When it comes to improving overall strength, building muscle, and increasing range of motion, most fitness experts will agree that free weights are superior to machines. But, there's a lot of disagreement about which type of free weight (barbells or dumbbells) is better. If you're not sure where you stand on the dumbbells vs. barbells debate, keep reading. Explained below are some of the pros and cons of each, along with tips to help you decide which method is best for you. Pros and Cons of Training with Dumbbells Training primarily with dumbbells works very well for some people, but it's not ideal for others. Dumbbell Pros There are a few primary benefits that come with using dumbbells over barbells during your workouts First, when you lift dumbbells, you achieve a greater amount of muscle activation than you do when you lift barbells. For example, one study found that people who performed a dumbbell chest press consistently saw better activation in the pectoralis major (chest muscle) than those who strictly performed a barbell bench press. The reason you experience better muscle activation during dumbbell lifts is that you are typically able to achieve a greater range of motion. The greater your range of motion, the more your total muscle is activated and worked during an exercise. This, in turn, can lead to greater muscle growth. You can also move the weight in a more natural pattern when using dumbbells, which further improves muscle activation. It also helps you avoid injuries. The second benefit of using dumbbells over barbells is that dumbbells make it easier for you to prevent and correct muscle imbalances. When you use barbells, it's easy to let your strong side take over. Sometimes, you don't even notice it's happening. You'll notice right away if one side is weaker than the other when using dumbbells, though. Finally, dumbbells are safer and more convenient than barbells. It's easier to get set up for a workout using dumbbells, and you can move them around much more easily than you can a bench or squat rack. Dumbbell Cons Of course, there are also downsides to using dumbbells instead of barbells. When you're using dumbbells, it can be harder to challenge yourself and lift heavier weights. A squat rack or bench is all set up so that you can easily use the bar and load weight onto it. With dumbbells, though, you have to first make sure you can lift them off the rack or floor. Dumbbells, in general, are considered to be safer than barbells. But, when it comes to lifting very heavy weights or working on progressive overload, barbells are often superior. Who Should Use Dumbbells? For beginners, dumbbells are typically safer than barbells. They're also easier to use and less intimidating than a barbell. Dumbbell training is also ideal for people who want to work on correcting muscle imbalances. If you're in a hurry and don't have a lot of time to exercise, dumbbells might be a better fit. They're easier to pick up and put away, and you don't have to waste time scoping out a squat rack of setting up a bench. Pros and Cons of Training with Barbells Dumbbells are great in some situations, but that doesn't mean that barbells are totally worthless. Like dumbbells, there are both benefits and drawbacks to using barbells, too. Pros When it comes to growing muscle, you need to put an emphasis on mechanical tension. One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating barbell exercises into your workout routine. You can lift more weight with barbells than you can with dumbbells. This allows you to increase mechanical tension during your workouts. Barbells also increase mechanical tension because they make it easier for you to progressively overload your muscles. You can increase weight more gradually with a barbell than with dumbbells. With barbells, you can add as little as 2.5 pounds to each side of the bar. With dumbbells, you usually have to increase by increments of 5 pounds. You don't have to work very hard to add weight to a barbell, which means you have more energy to put toward the actual lift. Cons When it comes to safety, barbells are generally safer than dumbbells when it comes to increasing weight and progressive overload. But, for people who are just getting started, there's a greater chance of injury when using a barbell than when using dumbbells. Barbells are also less convenient and can be hard to set up initially. Some people find that barbell exercises put too much pressure on their joints, too. This is especially common when they take up lifting with barbells too soon or put too much weight on the bar. If you have bad mechanics, noticeable muscle imbalances, or are recovering from an injury, you should probably stick to dumbbell work until you've fully healed. Who Should Use Barbells? Intermediate and advanced lifters can see significant improvements by utilizing barbells during their workouts. People who want to work on big compound lifts -- bench press, squats, rows, deadlifts, etc. -- should also make it a point to work with barbells on a consistent basis. Of course, if you fall into one of these categories, that doesn't mean you should exclusively train with barbells. By using both dumbbells and barbells, you can challenge more muscle groups and increase activation for better results. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you're strength training consistently and putting safety first. Final Thoughts on Dumbbells vs. Barbells As you can see, there's not one clear winner in the dumbbells vs barbells debate. If you are focused on stability and correcting muscle imbalances, dumbbells appear to be better. If you want to lift more weight and push yourself to gain strength, barbells seem to be superior. Once you figure out your specific training goals, you can tailor your workouts -- and the type of equipment you use -- to support them. Want to learn more about seeing the best results from your workouts? Be sure to check out our blog for all kinds of helpful information on training, supplementation, and more.
Did you know that magnesium represents a key mineral for optimal health? Yet, it remains one of the most common deficiencies in the United States with about half the population lacking in this essential nutrient? From lowering your chances of diabetes to heart disease, the benefits of magnesium supplements abound. In fact, getting enough magnesium can offset your risks of developing: Fatigue Migraines Insulin resistance High blood pressure And more For athletes, it also proves crucial to proper muscle development and function. Read on to learn more about magnesium, one of the true super supplements, and how it can help you crush your workouts. Magnesium 101 An essential building block of the body, magnesium provides the stimuli for more than 300 enzyme reactions. Bodily functions reliant on magnesium include: Protein synthesis Fat synthesis Nucleic acids synthesis Nerve function Blood pressure regulation Cardiac activity Hormonal interactions Bone health Muscle contracting Muscle relaxation Metabolizing nutrients Turning nutrients into energy And the list doesn't stop there. Clearly, getting the recommended daily amount of magnesium proves crucial to your health. What's more, for athletes, it can mean the difference between stellar performance and a total fail. In normal sedentary adults, lack of magnesium can lead to altered cardiovascular function. It can incite symptoms such as: Impaired carbohydrate metabolism Electrocardiographic abnormalities High blood pressure Insulin resistance Decreased insulin secretion When left untreated, this deficiency can evolve into many of the diseases plaguing Americans today. Just take a look at all of the ailments attributed to a lack of magnesium: Obesity Coronary heart disease Kidney diseases Asthma Migraines Neuromuscular disorders Premenstrual syndrome Pre-eclampsia Eclampsia Menopausal bone problems Clearly, this is not a deficiency that you want to play around with. Yet, despite all of the scary conditions associated with depleted magnesium levels, the American diet contains less of this precious mineral than ever before. Even athletes--who tend to show more care about their diet and nutrient levels--prove dangerously low in this key nutrient. Several studies have demonstrated that athletes only consume about 70 percent of their daily recommended needs. What's more, female runners fare the worst, only consuming about 59 percent of the recommended daily value. Magnesium & the Human Body If this essential nutrient proves important to sedentary Americans, it's needed in far greater quantities by athletes. You see, magnesium plays a huge role in both aerobic and anaerobic energy production. How? Magnesium proves essential to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It activates the enzymes, known as ATPases, responsible for the production of ATP, and without ATP your muscles don't have the energy they need to power through your workout. So, what happens after magnesium activates ATPases, and ATP gets produced? ATP fuels your metabolic process as it is broken down by the body and your muscles utilize its released energy. Of course, the more active you are, the more ATP you need to fuel your workouts. This leads to faster depletion of your magnesium reserves. But the depletion doesn't stop there. During exercise, you sweat out magnesium and excrete it every time you urinate. As you increase the intensity of your exercise routines, something else happens. The magnesium ions found in your blood plasma migrate to your red blood cells. They do this to make up for the loss of energy associated with decreased oxygen levels during exercise. As you can see, magnesium depletion comes in many forms during a workout. For athletes, a magnesium deficiency can translate into problems with how your muscles function which can lead to muscle cramping. It can also result in low energy levels and poor overall performance. Magnesium Deficiency & Athletic Performance Predictably, the longer you participate in intense exercise, the more magnesium moves to your red blood cells. This phenomenon also proves true for those that exercise in hot and humid weather. Left untreated, magnesium deficiency can lead to: Weakening of the bones Osteoporosis Anemia Irregular heartbeats Mental health problems Physical symptoms associated with exercise-induced magnesium deficiency prove not only disruptive to your exercise regime but downright dangerous. Athletes' Daily Magnesium Needs How much magnesium should athletes get a day? According to experts, even sedentary individuals probably need 600 mg daily from diet and supplementation combined. Athletes would do well to consume 2,000 mg daily. Athletes need more magnesium to sustain energy. They also need it to maintain strong bones and offset the stress placed on those bones during workouts. Finally, magnesium supplementation replenishes the nutrients lost through sweat and urine. Numerous studies indicate that when magnesium gets restricted, athletes suffer. More specifically, they experience: Total net oxygen utilization Peak oxygen uptake Increases in heart rate What's more, the ratio of these increases correlates directly to the level of magnesium restriction. Of course, it almost goes without saying that reduced metabolic efficiency, increased heart rate, and ramped up oxygen consumption all drastically impact athletic performance. It's time to get serious about supplements. Magnesium Supplements for Athletes Does this make magnesium the new wonder supplement for athletes? Yes and no. Let's take a look at the findings... According to numerous studies, supplementation will improve your athletic performance if you prove deficient. In fact, one study found that male athletes who made magnesium supplementation a regular part of their routine for a month saw improved total work output and peak oxygen uptake. Other research points to reductions in: carbon dioxide production oxygen uptake heart rate ventilation The reduction in these factors translates into greater endurance, better overall performance, and quicker recovery time for athletes. Clearly, if you're low in this essential mineral, then supplementation will help you see happy gains. But for those whose magnesium levels prove normal, supplementation will have little to no effect on their performance. That said, your odds of lacking magnesium prove extremely high if you're an athlete eating a Western diet. Signs You're Suffering from Insufficient Magnesium Levels The symptoms of low magnesium levels include: Restless legs upon laying down at night Pre-menstrual bloating Frequent bouts of irritability Feelings of lethargy Mood swings Depression Regular and/or extreme fatigue Muscles cramps Muscle tremors Muscle twitches Eating habits also represent great predictors of magnesium shortfalls. Some dietary habits that lead to problems include: Eating white flour products Lacking green leafy vegetables in your diet Lacking nuts and seeds in your diet Eating few beans or lentils Consuming sugar and sugary foods Drinking alcohol regularly Sticking to a calorie-restricted diet Following a low-carbohydrate diet Restricting yourself to a high-protein diet Fortunately, simple changes, like upping your consumption of magnesium-rich foods, can have a big impact on your health and athletic performance. Testing for Deficiency A handful of tests exist for testing magnesium levels including: 1) total blood magnesium (TMg) and 2) ion-selective electrode (ISE) technology. But these tests vary in terms of accuracy. The most widely used test remains the total blood magnesium (TMg) test. The least invasive, it also proves fairly inaccurate and insensitive to the movement of magnesium resulting from exercise. ISE technology determines the concentrations of various ions in solutions. So, it enables scientists to measure ionic magnesium, which is the only form of magnesium that's physiologically active. Unfortunately, ionic magnesium levels fluctuate significantly over the course of a day, which can also lead to inaccuracies, too. Researchers believe these magnesium changes represent one facet of the body's natural circadian rhythm. But this subject remains poorly understood. For best results from the ISE, your doctor may tell you to fast, avoid exercise, and take the test early in the morning. Natural Sources of Magnesium The American diet has seen a steady decline in magnesium content for the past century. Why? The Western diet contains many processed foods, which prove low in the mineral. If you're looking to increase your body's supply, eat more: Whole grain cereals (e.g. oats) Green leafy vegetables (e.g. raw spinach) Peas Beans Lentils Broccoli Whole grain brown rice Wholemeal bread Nuts (e.g. almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, cashews) Seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds) Besides processed foods, meat, fish, and fruit offer little magnesium, except for bananas. Athletes should incorporate magnesium-rich foods into their diet to support their performance and training needs. Other factors can affect your supply of magnesium, too. For example, soil content can impact the magnesium present in vegetables. While farmers fertilize their fields heavily, magnesium doesn't make the cut. How you prepare foods can also decrease the magnesium content because it's a soluble mineral. Boiling vegetables can significantly cut levels. What's more, since magnesium tends to concentrate in the germ and bran of bread, white bread proves an insufficient source. As a result, supplementation remains your best bet to keep magnesium levels high and consistent. Magnesium Supplements Many of the best magnesium supplements prove affordable. They remain an excellent way to ensure you're giving your body all the tools that it needs for optimum performance. Since magnesium's non-toxic, you don't need to worry about taking too much although it can cause diarrhea in high doses. So many modern aspects of our lives deplete normal magnesium levels. From sugary foods to alcohol to dieting, we're disrupting our body's ability to perform without even knowing it. Supplementation can reverse this scary trend. Shoot for 400 mg per day. Just remember it gets best absorbed in small doses. So, instead of taking it all at once, spread it out over the course of your day. When taking a magnesium supplement, you may experience diarrhea or nausea. Magnesium can alkalize the acid in your stomach making it more difficult to digest food. To prevent this, take it with a full glass of water on an empty stomach. If you're taking other medications, always speak with your doctor before adding a new supplement. Find out if any contraindications exist for magnesium based on those medicines. Magnesium for Sleep As you naturally up your magnesium rich food sources and supplement your diet, you may notice a happy side effect--improved sleep. In fact, magnesium promotes sweet dreams and gets used by many as an effective non-habiting forming sleep aid. Besides encouraging sleep, it helps you get a better quality of deep, restorative shut-eye. How does it work? As your day winds down, your brain makes you feel relaxed and tired in order to promote sleep. Magnesium plays a huge role in this natural wind-down by interacting with your nervous system and melatonin levels. In fact, magnesium regulates both melatonin and your neurotransmitters, which prove crucial to a good night's snooze. After all, melatonin determines your sleep-wake cycles, and neurotransmitters send appropriate relaxation messages to your nervous system and brain. But magnesium's benefits don't stop there. It also helps calm your nervous system preparing it for repose. It does so by binding with GABA receptors, which prove crucial to fostering a sense of tranquility. What's more, when you don't have enough magnesium in your body, the results can prove disastrous to your beauty sleep. You'll awaken more frequently and experience disturbed sleep. Magnesium deficiency can even lead to insomnia. Benefits of Magnesium Supplements As you can see, magnesium supplementation comes with many exciting benefits for athletes. Not only can it increase your endurance and performance but it also promotes muscle recovery and improved sleep patterns. What's more, it's a natural safeguard against many diseases plaguing Americans from diabetes to coronary heart disease to obesity. In fact, hospitals actually add magnesium to their IV bags to promote a healthy heart rhythm. Including as many magnesium-rich food sources in your diet will help you up your levels of this miracle mineral. What's more, these unprocessed, whole foods provide many other great nutrients to your diet as well. They represent the basis of a healthy diet. Start adding raw spinach, whole-meal bread, pumpkin seeds, and oats to your favorite recipes. In fact, one cup of cooked oats contains a whopping 57.6 mg of magnesium. Supplementation also promotes falling asleep and staying there longer. What's more, it remains an affordable, practical way to maintain your nutrient levels. That way, you avoid dangerous fluctuations that could impact your heart and other vital functions. We're Here to Help Interested in learning more about the benefits of magnesium supplements? Or, maybe you have questions about other products that can ramp up your athletic performance? We've got you covered. From how well certain weight loss supplements works to the ultimate supplements schedule for maximum muscle building, we've got the information you need to achieve your fitness goals. Check out our full line of supplements now.
Do you want to build muscle, but aren't sure how to do it without the classic whey protein shakes, plain chicken, scrambled eggs, and gallons of cow milk? Mainstream workout plans and information might lead you to believe it's impossible to build muscle without animal products, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. While vegan bodybuilders might have it a bit tougher than non-vegan, natural bodybuilders, it is possible to get jacked without eating meat, eggs, and other animal products. If you're not sure where to start, then keep reading. We've made this guide of six tips to become a vegan bodybuilder and get the body you've been dreaming of. 1. Learn as Much as You Can When you made the switch to veganism, we bet that you did your research. You needed to know what foods you had to cut out of your diet, which brands of food are vegan-friendly, what restaurants you can go to, etc. The same is true for starting a vegan bodybuilding diet. You need to know exactly what foods you should be eating, how much of those foods you should be eating, tips on macros, and more. You're already off to a great start by reading this article. Continue that learning momentum by reading books on vegan diets and building muscle, watching vegan bodybuilders like Brian Turner on YouTube, following vegan bodybuilders on Instagram, and more. Whatever you can do to learn as much as possible will help you succeed. 2. Get Your Protein! Ask any vegan a question they're tired of hearing and chances are it will be the classic, "But where do you get your protein?" Any informed vegan knows there are plenty of places to get protein so you'll maintain proper protein levels to be healthy. However, when you're trying to build muscle, you typically want to eat a higher amount of protein every day. This can be somewhat difficult, especially since many vegan protein sources are lower in calories but high in volume. It can be hard to eat a lot of protein and get enough to build muscle. Let's look at some of the best protein sources a vegan bodybuilder can eat to build muscle: Vegan protein powder Seitan (25 grams of protein per 100 grams) Chickpeas (15 grams of protein per cup) Lentils (18 grams of protein per cup) Peas (9 grams of protein per cup) Ezekiel Bread (4 grams of protein per slice) Of course, there are other high protein plant foods like other types of beans, spinach, tofu, etc. The key with protein sources is knowing how much protein you need and choosing high protein foods like the ones we listed. 3. Eat Enough Calories Besides getting enough protein, you need to make sure that you're eating enough overall calories to build muscle. To build muscle and gain mass, you usually need to be in a caloric surplus. That means you need to be eating more than your daily calorie requirement each day. For example, if you usually need 2000 calories to maintain your current weight, you would need to eat more than that every day in order to gain weight/muscle. On a vegan diet, some people find this challenging. Like we said before, many vegan foods are lower in calories compared to non-vegan options. Make sure you eat enough calories every day, including a variety of carbs, fats, and protein. 4. Limit Cardio Cardiovascular workouts are great for improving heart health, weight loss, boosting feel-good endorphins, and reducing your risk of disease. And by no means do we suggest that you should cut cardio out completely. But you might have already noticed the key problem with cardio when it comes to bodybuilding: weight loss. Too much cardio will burn many of your hard earned calories and make it harder for you to put on muscle. Keep your cardio workouts short and light to get the health benefits of them without risking your bodybuilding progress. 5. Reduce Processed Food Intake Processed foods might feel like an easy (and, let's face it, delicious) way to get in some extra calories. And while indulging on an Impossible burger or Gardein "chicken" tenders once in a while is OK, try not to rely on processed foods for the majority of your calories. These foods can make you feel sluggish and bloated, which will hurt your workouts. They're also high in unhealthy fat, which will take up a lot of your daily calories that could be replaced with healthy fats, protein, or energy-boosting carbs. 6. Don't Be Afraid of Supplements We're sure you've met some of the "hardcore" vegans that insist that a healthy and varied vegan diet can and will give you all of the macro and micronutrients you need to be healthy. And this is mostly true, except it's almost universally accepted that you must supplement a vegan diet with vitamin B12. Just because you can get everything you need from a vegan diet doesn't mean you necessarily will, or that it's bad to supplement your diet. When you have certain goals in mind, certain supplements can make it a lot easier on you and will take pressure off of getting everything from your food. Besides vitamin B12, we recommend supplementing your vegan bodybuilding diet with creatine, omega-3 fatty acids, and a fat burner. Creatine helps with muscle building and fat burning. A fat burner helps your body burn fat more easily (as you might've guessed). And omega-3s (vegan versions exist!) are an excellent source of healthy fats that help improve metabolic function. 6 Tips for Vegan Bodybuilders: Wrapping Up Vegan athletes exist all over the athletic spectrum: from football players to endurance runners to bodybuilders. As with any diet or workout goal, vegan bodybuilders have to follow certain meal plans and workouts to achieve their goals. These 6 tips will help you succeed if your goal is building muscle while on a vegan diet. Check out our article on the best fat burners you can use to get cracking on tip number six.
According to a recent study, the obesity epidemic in the United States now affects a whopping 93.3 million people. This is "largely" related to the overconsumption of food and lack of focus on nutrition. If Americans focused more on weight loss meal plans, this would not be so much of an issue. There is so much misinformation on the web about weight loss meal plans. Consumers receive so many mixed messages about what to eat, how much, and when. It's no wonder people get confused, and cannot seem to lose weight! Then in comes the $20 billion weight loss industry, telling you that there is some kind of magic pill that can help you. News flash, there are no magic pills. A proper meal plan focuses on well-balanced nutrition as the whole picture. Below are the top 7 weight loss meal plans that are backed by science, we did all the research for you. Let's jump into it! How to Get Ultimate Results from Your Meal Plan Whether you want to learn how to eat better or have a meal plan for extreme weight loss, there are some key factors that you need to follow in order to have success. Get Moving and Get Sleeping The most important compliments to any meal plan success are to exercise and get sleep. You can have the most perfect diet, but if you are not moving your body, or getting adequate sleep, you can kiss the fat loss benefits goodbye! The basic law of fat loss (thermodynamics) is calories in VS calories out, which means as long as you are expending more calories than you are taking in, you are in the fat-loss zone. One pound of fat equals 3500 calories, so Focus on the quality of sleep, exercise at least 30 minutes per day, 5-6 days per week. Stay on track with your meal plan and you will notice incredible results from your meal plans! Weight Loss Boosters The number one most important key to fat loss is drinking adequate amounts of water. Water flushes toxins out of the body, keeps you hydrated, and helps to flush fat as well. Most of the time we confuse hunger with thirst, therefore consuming extra calories when all we need is a glass of water! There are a lot of incredible studies relating the consumption of clenbuterol with fat loss and the increase in muscle mass. Nothing better than losing fat while gaining more muscle! 1. Low Carb or Keto Diet Plan The low carb or keto diet plan is the perfect meal plan for extreme weight loss. This meal plan focuses on higher fat, moderate protein, with very limited to zero carbohydrate intake. The keto diet links to many health benefits such as lowered triglycerides, abdominal fat, increased good cholesterol, and lower blood sugar and insulin responses. This is due to being in a state of ketosis, which is when your carbohydrate sources are so low that your body turns to burn fat instead. How cool is that? The number of carbohydrates that your body needs is dependant on your insulin tolerance, sex, and of course, your activity levels. Using a keto calculator will help you figure out where you need to be in terms of carbohydrate levels. A typical keto plan focuses more on foods such as: Seafood Eggs Poultry Meat Full-Fat Diary Nuts and seeds Green, leafy, low-carb vegetables berries And avoids foods such as: Corn Flour Bread Pasta Sugar Nonfat or light milk Beans Rice A typical day with the keto diet would look something like: Breakfast Mushroom omelet with coffee or tea Lunch Cobb salad with bacon, avocado, and olive oil dressing. Dinner Pork chops and green beans Snacks Almonds, small portions of meat, boiled eggs, or keto protein bars. 2. Intermittent Fasting- It's Not Starving! Intermittent fasting has been reaping in so much more than just fat loss results. It has other physiological benefits such as improving memory, cognitive function, higher metabolic rate, and reducing oxidative stress. Basically, how to lose weight fast for men on this plan would be to fast for 16 hours per day, and women for 14-15 hours. A daily meal plan for intermittent fasting would look like this; 0800- Wake up and drink two big glasses of water (with lemon if desired) 0900- Drink twice the amount of water as earlier, plus a greens supplement, and green tea for added energy. 1000-1200 Drink green tea as needed. 1200 Workout, drink BCAA'S for added energy and staying anabolic (preserving muscle tissue) 1300- First and largest meal of the day; Large 4 egg omelet with vegetables, 1/2 cup refried beans, and oatmeal with peanut butter and added protein powder. 1630- Second, medium-sized meal; This can be a 14-16 oz steak with fried sweet potatoes in coconut oil, and a large portion of steamed vegetables. 2030- Third, medium-sized meal. 8 oz of fish or chicken, in a stir-fry with 2 cups of vegetables and 1 cup of wild or brown rice. Repeat this daily with exercise and you are on your way to quick weight loss! 3. Mediterranian Diet Welcome the Mediterranean diet, the most delicious of all weight loss meal plans! The core concept of this meal plan is to eat like the people who live in the Mediterranean region of the world. This plan is full of real, whole foods, and of course, the occasional glass of red wine! Breakfast 1/2 cup of oatmeal with berries, cinnamon, and 1 tbsp of chopped nuts of your choice. Top with skim milk or almond milk for a delicious whole breakfast. Snack 2 boiled eggs, eat one whole, and the whites of the other. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Or hummus and pita. Lunch Large, multi-vegetable salad with either roasted chickpeas, or hummus and pita bread. The dressing is simple: 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Snack 1 medium apple, or 1 cup of berries. Dinner Fish with cooked vegetables and either brown rice or couscous. Fry 5 oz of fish in frying pan with olive oil. Add 1 cup diced zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and serve with 1 cup of carbohydrate of choice. 4. Paleo (Hunter-Gatherer) Meal Plan The Paleo meal plan gets you in touch with how our ancestors ate, which was anything they could hunt and gather back in the caveman days. Research on the Paleo diet has shown massive amounts of fat loss in both men and women if followed correctly. Paleo meal plans avoid anything that our ancestors could not get their hands (and mouths) on. This includes all sugars and grains, as the agricultural evolution happened post-caveman era. You should also stay away from; Artificial sweeteners Trans fats and hydrogenated oils Vegetable oils All dairy, except for full-fat butter and cheese. Anything processed or factory made. Basically, if it did not swim, crawl, run, fly, or grow in a garden (excluding grains), do not eat it! Breakfast Bacon and eggs fried in coconut oil. Add vegetables if desired, with 1 piece of fruit. Snacks A small handful of almonds, cut vegetables, or leftover meat, or a paleo-friendly protein bar of choice. Lunch Lettuce wrap sandwiches with lots of vegetables and 4-6 oz of meat. Dinner Stir fry with ground meat of choice, 2 cups of vegetables and cauliflower rice. Snack 1 cup of fresh berries with coconut milk if desired. 5. Vegan Diet Some people choose vegan for ethical reasons, others choose it for health reasons. Either way, it works very well for fat loss and feeling optimal. Giving up all animal related products is very hard, but does get easier if you change gradually. A typical vegan meal plan looks like this; Breakfast Vegan toast with smashed avocado on top, and grilled tomatoes with spinach. Snacks 1 apple and a small handful of almonds Lunch Quinoa with a tomato-based pasta sauce, sauteed green leafy vegetables, and black beans. Dinner Tempeh burger on a bed of lettuce with baked sweet potato fries and steamed kale with sauteed mushrooms. Going vegan seems to be one of the most popular diet plans for women, nonetheless, it works well for everyone. You have to make sure you are taking B-vitamins and getting enough protein from plant-based sources. 6. Gluten-Free Diet The gluten-free diet began once as a dietary need, due to increased sensitivity and allergies to gluten and wheat products. Now, people everywhere are eating a gluten-free diet for its incredible fat loss benefits. Some gluten-free items that you can eat are corn tortillas, brown rice wraps, rice cakes, rice, buckwheat, basically anything that has a label that says 'Gluten Free". A sample day with a gluten-free meal plan would look something like; Breakfast 1 corn tortilla with 2 scrambled eggs, 1/4 avocado, and fried tomatoes. Or smashed avocado on gluten-free toast with a soft poached egg. Snacks 1 medium apple and 1 tbsp peanut butter, chopped carrots, or 1/2 cup of berries Lunch Chicken Cobb salad with chicken, bacon, blue cheese, egg, lettuce, tomato, with a gluten-free vinegarette dressing. Or chicken tacos with salsa verde, and sauteed vegetables. Dinner Beef stir fry with 4-6 oz beef, gluten-free soya sauce, broccoli, pineapples, and 1/2 cup brown rice. As tempting as they are, make sure you stay away from most of the gluten-free snacks and treats. One of the biggest mistakes that someone on a gluten-free meal plan can make is eating everything in the gluten-free aisle in a grocery store. You cannot lose weight when you are eating cookies, crackers, bread, etc. whether they are gluten-free or not! 7. Macro Counting, AKA Flexible Eating Counting macros has swept the nation with not only incredible fat loss results. It is also providing a more knowledgeable approach to what people are putting into their bodies. It goes a bit deeper than the typical calorie-counting weight loss meal plans, as you are also now counting your protein, carbohydrates and fat. This is all according to your bodyweight and lean muscle mass. A typical macronutrient breakdown is 45-65% calories from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fats, and 10-35% from proteins. The awesome part about this meal plan is that you can eat whatever you want, as long as you stay within your calculated macros! Keep in mind though, that you cannot lose weight and build muscles from ice cream and cookies, so keep the micronutrients and health in mind while you follow this plan A sample day with the macro counting meal plan looks like; Breakfast Spinach and onion 3-egg omelet, with a side of fruit. Snacks 1 medium apple with 1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. Add cinnamon and stevia for a sweet tooth. Lunch Tuna salad with 1 can of tuna, lots of vegetables, and a dressing with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Snack Protein shake with chocolate protein, half a banana, scoop of peanut butter, water and ice. Dinner Greek spiced chicken breast with baked sweet potato, and 15 asparagus spears. Learn More About Weight Loss Meal Plans Now you have the top 7 weight loss meal plans which are completely backed by science. Stick to one of these plans and you are set up for incredible weight loss results like you have never seen before. For best results, combine your meal plan of choice with a fat-loss supplement such as fat burners or a pre-workout for an extra energy boost. This can really come in handy when you are feeling low energy until you get used to consuming low carbohydrates. Everyone loves getting great deals, that's why we send out notifications of recent sales and promotions. Sign up for our notifications so you will never miss a sale!
Weight training injuries are on the rise. Nearly one million Americans have wound up in the emergency room due to one. You don't want to find yourself in the same predicament, right? We have ten lifting safety tips when you are at the gym. Follow these steps. You'll take preventative measures to stay safe while flexing and building your muscles. Want to learn more? Keep reading to determine how you can avoid the emergency room! Lifting Safety is Your Priority at the Gym It's important to know the proper form and correct posture when lifting a weight. The whole reason you want to lift is, so you get stronger and feel better, right? You don't want to dash your efforts away by hurting yourself. A bodybuilder's worst enemy is an injury. If you get injured, you will be in discomfort and pain, but also unable to the gym for a couple of days. Something to consider is purchasing a supplement that you take before your workout. This will help you achieve the best result during and after your workout. Bodybuilders want to avoid injuries at all cost. Consider these ten tips. Even if you are the most advanced weightlifter, you're sure to learn some more tips on how to avoid wounds. 1. Choose Appropriate Workout Clothing This tip may sound simple, but it holds a lot of weight. You want to wear clothing that will allow your body to have a full range of motion. If you wear restrictive or tight clothing, you could risk injury or loss of balance when trying to squat. Choosing comfortable athletic footwear is critical. Check that your shoes are tied, so you don't trip. Clothing and footwear should be a top priority before you enter a gym. Make sure you wear the proper gym attire, and you won't have to worry about hurting yourself. 2. Ask for Help If You Are Unsure Be careful when operating certain machinery at the gym. If you're uncertain about how to use it, ask for help. People who work at the gym are experts and would be able to show you the proper way to use it. Another option is inviting a friend to go to the gym with you who is knowledgeable about lifting. It may be more comfortable to ask a friend to show you than a stranger. Remember, your safety is a priority. Don't let embarrassment keep you from reaching out to someone. It is better to ask for help then go ahead and end up hurting yourself. If you are shy, consider purchasing a book that will teach you about correct postures. You can read this in the comfort of your home. 3. Before Executing a Lift, Make Sure All Weight Plates Are Secure When lifting weights, use collars to hold them in place. An Olympic Bar is one of the spots where you should be extra careful. Situations have arisen when the weights on one end slide and fall off. This creates an imbalance of weight, and the trainee can drop the other side. This type of exercise not only can hurt you but also those nearby. Make sure you secure your weights, and you won't have to worry. 4. Make Sure to Warm-Up Before Moving on to Heavier Weights It's never a good idea to try and bench press 225 pounds without warming up or ramping up. You could pull a muscle, or worse, lose grip and hurt yourself and others. Before using the bench press, make sure you do a couple of light sets beforehand. This will help your body warm up before you choose the weight you want to work with. Ramping up is a different technique to consider. You do a specific number of sets. With each set, you decrease in the rep but increase the load. By doing this before your real sets, you will prep your body for the workout. Ramp-ups also help with strength and not fizzling out. Ramp-ups help stimulate joint lubrication. Joints and tissues in your body will become lubricated when you move them. This fluid helps to reduce friction in the joint area. Your movements will be more efficient and smoother. When you move, this fluid will bathe your articular cartilage and joints. Once lubricated, your risk of injuries decreases. Another benefit of ramping up is the increase of blood flow to local tissue. It also increases core temperature. When muscles create heat, your body will regulate this increased heat through thermoregulation. When a muscle or soft tissue is active, blood will move to the tissue and hold a metabolic balance. Choosing these types of warm-ups will help you get prepared for your actual workout set. Lifting heavy will help you build lean muscles. Finally, ramping helps active neuromuscular stabilization and coordination. You set yourself up for success when you increase the weight of each set. The next time you want to squat with 400 pounds for 6 reps, try this routine instead. Choose to ramp-up with 200 pounds first for 6-8 reps, then 350 pounds, and finally 400 pounds. Use lower reps and slowly increase the weight. 5. Practice Perfect Form and Try to Let Go of Ego Instead of choosing a weight that is unattainable, choose one that you can control. If you use a heavier weight that you aren't ready for, your bones and joints will absorb the stress. You could injure yourself, and your form won't be correct. When you select the right form and use a lower weight, you can stress the muscles and not your joints. You will achieve your desired results faster this way because your muscles are doing the work. It is essential to limit the number of sets and repetitions you do when lifting heavy loads. Focus on proper breathing. This will help reduce the stress your body is going through. If you are always feeling dizzy or lightheaded after workouts, it may be time to speak to your doctor. You will also be taking preventative measures and not incur any injuries. Instead of trying to power lift, choose safe bodybuilding. Choose the right form, and you will get stronger over time. 6. Avoid Using Momentum and Use a Safe Speed For the best results, it is crucial to perform an exercise in a controlled movement. If you bounce or jerk weights, this will take away from the purpose of the exercise. Your muscles won't become stressed. Instead, your joints will push and pull, leading to injury. If you aren't sure, use a speed of two seconds when lifting weight and three seconds when lowering the weight. Try and drop the weight a bit slower than raising it. To get the timing right, you may need to count in your head at first. It will become second nature, and you will perfect your lifting and lowering speed. If someone is benching a weight that is too heavy, they will need to generate momentum to get going. This isn't good form. You want to make sure you are controlling the weight, and the specific joints are doing the work. For example, if you are using your knees or hips to curl a barbell, you aren't doing the right thing. Don't use momentum to get started. Use the right weight and speed. Your body will thank you for this afterward. You always want to be careful and try to prevent an injury at the gym. This leads to our next topic which is about being aware of who is around you. 7. Be Conscious of Your Surroundings Sometimes at the gym, people lose their sense of awareness. They may be squatting on the squat rack and unaware that someone is loading up a smith machine. Gyms shouldn't have equipment super close to each other. But sometimes they are, and you could bump into someone by accident. If you are loading the bar or performing an exercise, look around first to check who is nearby. Also, something to consider is checking that the floor isn't slippery. It's a rare occurrence, but sometimes a leak can occur in the ceiling causing the floor to become a bit dangerous. Tell a staff member immediately if you see this. 8. If You Are Feeling Faint or Dizzy Stop What You Are Doing This may seem self-explanatory, but it is important to remember. No matter how advanced you get and confident you feel, if you are dizzy, take a break. Sit down and rest for a few minutes. You don't want to pass out and hurt yourself and those around you. When you strength train, you're putting a lot of stress on your body. Heavyweights can cause you to strain more than usual. This can affect your heart rate and blood pressure. It is normal to feel dizzy when working out but not chronic dizziness. When you are working out, that lightheaded feeling should pass within a few seconds. Once your heart has recovered, it pumps oxygen and blood through your body. If you are always feeling lightheaded, you might have an underlying condition. Some conditions flare up when you strain and lift weights. Cardiomyopathy and arrhythmia are conditions where the heart pumps insufficient amounts of blood. If you suffer from these conditions, talk to your doctor before a regimen. Make sure you don't hold your breath. Try and learn about proper breathing techniques. If you lift weights that cause you to strain, make sure you breathe deep throughout the movement. This will help with the dizziness and help your heart. Finally, if your sweat is cold, then you need to stop because your body is going into shock. Sometimes this happens in a hot environment. Let's look at the next tip that goes hand in hand with this one. 9. Train in the Morning When the Temperature is Comfortable If Working out in Garage Garages can be stuffy and hot. Be careful not to exercise in a place that is over 100 degrees. You could get heat stroke. If you decide to train in your garage during the summer months, wake up earlier to train. The temperature in the mornings will be more manageable. Listen to your body and stay hydrated. If you need to rest between sets because it is hot, do so. 10. Don't Bend Your Back or Twist When Lifting When you are about to lift, bend your hips and knees a bit. Do not flex your back, hips or knees. In other words, don't squat. Try not to bend your back while lifting. If your legs begin to straighten before you raise your load, you may feel like arching your back. Be careful. Another thing to avoid doing is twisting your back or leaning sideways. Make sure your shoulders are level and are in the same direction as your hips. Turn by moving your feet rather than lifting and twisting at the same time. Make sure you are able to move your feet during the lift. You want to maintain a stable posture. This is why it is crucial to wear comfortable and suitable clothing. Hold the weight close to your body, if possible. This will allow you to have a solid grip. All ten tips will help you with lifting safely. If you can prevent it with knowledge, you may be able to prevent a future injury. Before beginning a workout, try and take a moment to be mindful. Check your posture and your grip. Make sure you are breathing deep and are aware of who is around you. If you follow these tips, you will make the gym a safer place for others as well. Contact Us Today We hope you found these lifting safety tips helpful. Make sure to stick to an exercise routine that allows you to practice safe posture and balance. You don't want to hurt yourself during a routine because it could have long-lasting effects. Are you interested in learning more about choosing the right supplement? Contact us today! We would love to talk more.
Many people who work out every day still fail to see the results that they desire. That's because many choose to work hard instead of work smart. A carefully designed workout regime can produce great results. A sloppy one can prevent proper physical growth despite hours and hours of work put in. A big part of designing a proper workout regime is knowing when you need to introduce heavier weights. While increasing reps can improve your conditioning, only weight increases can help to build body mass and produce the results you want. But how do you know when you're ready to increase the weight your lifting? Read on and we'll cover 4 telltale signs. 1. No Pain, No Gain If your workouts aren't causing you too much physical struggle, you might not be setting the bar high enough for yourself. Breezing through a workout is the number one easiest sign that you need to increase the weight of what you're lifting. Strength training is meant to be a challenge, as the whole purpose is to "overload" your muscles so that they are forced to grow. If you've been lifting the same weights for a period of time and the struggle has dissipated, this is a big sign. The good news is that your muscles have grown-- but you'll need to increase weight to continue to challenge them. 2. No Signs of Fatigue Similar to the above, you should keep an eye out for muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue is a natural reaction to overloading your muscles. Within 15 reps, you should hit a moment where you simply can't lift anymore. If you never hit this moment, then you are not challenging your muscles enough to begin with. An increase in weight should eventually lead to this sense of eventual fatigue returning. 3. Progress Has Slowed Or Stopped You hit the gym every week because you want to see your body change and reach your physical fitness goals. If your progress on this mission has begun to slow or stop completely, it's a clear sign of problems in your workout regime. Failure to increase the weight your lifting is a common cause of this slowdown. Without continuing to challenge your muscles, they won't grow. Your body will fail to gain more lean mass and you won't see any visual changes as a result. 4. You've Never Changed Your Weights Lifting the same weights since the beginning of your weight lifting regime is a mistake. If you've never increased your weight amount over the months you've been working out, it's best to start now. Even if you still feel some sense of struggle or fatigue, if you've been lifting the exact same amount for months, it's past time to challenge yourself further. Increasing the weights you lift is the only way to reach the body that you want and deserve. It's Time To Increase The Weight You're Lifting Running a proper workout regime means keeping in close communication with your body. If any of the above signs are apparent, it's time to increase weight and progress your fitness journey forward. Check out our blog for muscle building tips, advice, and tricks.
As any gym regular will know, it's not hard to spot the men and women who only focus on working out certain muscles. Women tend to concentrate on building their glutes and toning their abs. While men often dedicate more time to their upper bodies. And for both male and female bodybuilders, leg day usually revolves around bulking up the quads. It can be easy to make smaller muscles like your calves an afterthought. But, not only does training your calves give you shapelier legs, it's also key to avoiding injury and gaining explosive leg propulsion. Read on to find out the ten best exercises for defined calf muscles and optimum leg strength. The Importance of Calf Muscle Exercises The muscles in your calves help to propel you up and forward in explosive, high-impact movements. This makes having strong calves useful for sprinting and plyometric exercises. The same goes for any activity which requires leg propulsion, including running, cycling, basketball, and volleyball. Failing to train and stretch out your calf muscle leads to tight leg muscles and calf pain. This limits ankle mobility and can increase the possibility of injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splits, and Achilles tendonitis. And, even if your gym goals are mainly aesthetic, neglecting to work the muscles in your calves is a mistake. Make a point of complementing leg exercises which focus on the quads and hamstrings with workouts designed to strengthen the calf muscle. As a result, your ankles will appear slimmer and your legs will look stronger and more toned. Calf Muscle Anatomy The two main muscles that you work when doing calf exercises are the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The gastrocnemius is the main calf muscle you see when looking at someone's calves. In contrast, the soleus isn't visible from the outside. This muscle is deep beneath the gastrocnemius. While only the gastrocnemius plays a role in knee flexing, both the two muscles work together when you flex your foot. Although the gastrocnemius is the muscle that most affects the appearance of your calves, you should engage both muscles as they have unique and equally important functions. The gastrocnemius also contributes to impressive displays of explosive speed and power, helping you jump and accelerate better. But, the soleus contributes to exercise endurance, which is important for activities such as walking and running. This is because the soleus has a high density of Type I muscles fibers. These muscle fibers have a high resistance to fatigue and slow contraction times. This ensures that your legs are strong enough to bear the effort of carrying your body from one place to another all day. How Genetics Affects Calf Development You may know someone who rarely exercises yet has shapely calves with defined muscles. Meanwhile, you might have been working hard on your calves to achieve only minimal results. That's because muscle development depends on several different factors, including diet, hormone regulation, and of course, genetics. In terms of muscle growth, the allocation of Type I and Type II muscle fibers can make a big difference. Although Type I fibers are more resistant to fatigue, Type II muscle fibers have a much bigger growth potential. And, we all have a different percentage of Type I and Type II muscle fibers. This means someone whose muscle fibers are more Type II dominant has muscles with a greater growth potential when compared to someone else with a genetic predisposition to Type I fibers. But, genetic predisposition doesn't mean that you can't have shapely calves. It just means that you might need to work harder to achieve stronger, more defined calves. And, by incorporating the best calf exercises into your workout routine, you too can build stronger, more athletic calves. The 10 Best Calf Exercises Here are some of the most effective moves to help strengthen and tone your calves. And, not only are they all simple to perform, you can even do them at home. All you need is some dumbbells, a bench or chair, a block, and a jump rope. As a general guide, you should try incorporating a selection of these calf exercises into your workouts around twice a week. That said, if you combine bodybuilding with an intense cardio regime, such as long-distance running, you may need more time to rest your muscles to prevent injury. If your muscles do feel tight or strained, focus on stretching exercises which aim to elongate your muscles for better flexibility such as the downward dog and the standing wall stretch. 1. Elevated Standing Single Calf Raise For bodybuilders who do focus on training their calves, this is probably one of the top go-to calf muscle exercise. And with good reason. Elevated standing calf raises are great for stretching and strengthening the calves through a full range of motion. In particular, this move focuses on the gastrocnemius to build the calf muscle's outer appearance. You can perform this exercise with or without added weights. If you are just starting out, try the move without weights at first. When you feel more confident, add a dumbbell. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand Stand with the ball of your left foot on an elevated surface (such as a block or barbell plate) Stand with your heel hanging off the back of the block and the toes of your right foot resting on the back of your left outer ankle Engage your core and raise your left heel as high as possible Slowly lower your left heel down to the floor, until you feel your calf muscle stretch Repeat, then complete equal reps on both legs 2. Tiptoe Farmer's Walk This exercise is a twist on the traditional farmer's walk, a great all-around exercise for increasing strength and growing muscle. This calf-focused variation is excellent for functional calf strengthening and improving balance. It's also perfect as a finisher as a way to exhaust the muscles in your calves. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand Drop your shoulders and keep your core engaged Lift your heels so that you're standing on your tiptoes Remaining on your tiptoes, walk forward 3. Wall Sit Plie Calf Raise As well as targeting and strengthening your calves, wall sit plie calf raises work your inner and outer thighs, quads, hamstrings and glutes. This exercise also engages your core and lower back, helping to keep your body steady and balanced. Stand with your back against the wall and drop down to a wide-stance sumo squat position. Your legs should be wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet should be pointing outwards Engage your core and stretch your arms out in front of you Lift and drop your heels in a slow, controlled motion 4. Seated Calf Raise Seated calf raises are great for isolating the soleus muscle, working to improve muscle resistance and endurance. Sit up straight on a bench or chair with your feet flat on the ground Hold two heavy dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing each other) on top of your knees While engaging your core, lift your heels off the ground as high as possible In a slow and controlled motion, lower your heels back to the ground and repeat And, to work your muscles even more and increase your range of motion, use a block to elevate the balls of your feet while performing this exercise. 5. Knee Taps Also known as high knees or knee lifts, this plyometric exercise helps to improve balance while strengthening the muscles in your calves. In particular, high knees target the gastrocnemius and improve explosiveness. Stand up straight with your knees hip-width apart With your shoulders down and your chest out, place your upper arms against your body and extend your forearms with your palms facing down Engage your core and lift up your knees in a fast, alternating motion 6. Jump Rope Add a quick session of jump rope to the end of a workout as a finisher for fat-burning and muscle exhaustion. It's also an excellent endurance exercise for your calves, and it helps to improve coordination. Hold the handles of a jump rope in each hand As you turn the rope, jump with both feet Remember to keep your core engaged and your shoulders down as you jump 7. Dumbbell Jump Squat Another plyometric exercise, the dumbbell jump squat uses the muscles in your calves to propel you upwards. They also play a part in stabilizing you as you land. With a dumbbell in each hand, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back and lower down into a squat position When your thighs are parallel with the ground, push yourself up in an explosive movement, straightening your legs and jumping off the ground Bend your knees as you drop back down to land softly Lower your body back into the squat position and repeat 8. Straight Leg Calf Stretch This stretching exercise targets your gastrocnemius while also helping to improve ankle flexibility. Stand arm-distance away from a wall Step one foot back behind you and bend your front knee slightly Lean forward to push your hands against the wall Press your back heel down into the ground for a deep stretch, making sure that your back leg remains straight Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs To isolate the soleus, perform this same stretch with the back knee slightly bent. 9. Standing Wall Calf Stretch Another variation on the wall stretch, this exercise targets your gastrocnemius after a calf workout to help visible calf muscle growth. Stretching your calves in this way also helps the plantar fascia, a common cause of heel pain. And, it relieves tension in your Achilles tendon. Stand with your body close to a wall Put one foot forward so that the ball of your foot is against the wall and your heel is on the ground Place your palms flat on the wall and slowly straighten your front leg Lean forward until you feel a deep stretch in your calf muscle Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs 10. Downward-Facing Dog This classic yoga pose is great for stretching out your calves and avoiding calf pain after a heavy leg workout. Start in a table top position with your hands on the floor under your shoulders, and your knees below your hips Putting your weight onto your palms, tuck your toes in and lift your knees off the ground Slowly extend your hips up and face down with your head between your arms Being careful not to lock your knees, straighten your legs until your body forms a triangle shape Engage your core at all times as you continue to lengthen your spine and lift your hips as high as possible For a deeper stretch, bend one knee at a time to work your heels towards the floor, alternating between them How to Achieve Stronger Calves As well as performing these calf-strengthening exercises, you also need to make sure to incorporate daily habits that are focused towards your goal to gain strength and muscle. Make a point of stretching your calves every morning. Point out your toes and then bring them back in towards your knees. Repeat this movement as part of a dynamic stretching routine before each workout as a way to activate the muscles in your calves. And after a workout, perform static stretches to help with muscle recovery, and as a way to improve ankle mobility, balance and strength. You also need to ensure that your diet is conducive to your goals. This means a focus on high-quality protein to help muscle growth, as well as carbs to provide energy. And, following an effective supplement schedule will also help you maximize your calf-building results. The Best Exercises for Defined Calf Muscles Now you know the best exercises for achieving stronger, more defined calves, it's time to start incorporating these moves into your workouts. Just as with any muscle growth, you won't see results overnight. But, with dedication and commitment, as you gain more strength in your calf muscles, visible improvement will soon follow. And remember, it's important to combine these calf-building exercises with leading workout supplements to ensure the best results!
Whether you're dreaming of a toned, muscular body or just want to start living healthier, weightlifting is a great way to get there. But weightlifting is a sport, and like any sport, it takes practice and skills to master. One essential skill is proper lifting form. Without it, you could be putting your body at risk, and you won't reach your lifting goals. If you're wondering whether you have the right lifting form down, keep reading for 7 signs that something may be wrong. 1. Your Breath is Erratic If you feel as though you've just sprinted a marathon in the middle of your lifting session, something is wrong. While lifting is a workout and can leave you feeling a bit out of breath, you should never be huffing and puffing to get that barbel up and down. Instead, your breathing should be even and carefully times to each lift. While it's a good idea to have an expert watch your breathing and make adjustments, a good general rule is to breathe out when the lift is the hardest. 2. Your Joints Hurt Weightlifting will certainly leave you sore. But an experienced weight lifter knows that pain in your joints is a sure sign of poor form. 3. The Barbell Bounces on Your Chest With Each Lift If the barbell makes contact with your chest during each lift, your form is definitely off. Not only is this bad form, but it's also dangerous. It means that you don't have control of the weight. While a light bounce might not feel dangerous, on your next lift you could lose even more control and end up bruising your chest or worse. With proper weightlifting form, the barbell should lightly touch your chest before you raise it back up and away from your body. 4. The Bottoms of Your Feet Don't Stay on the Ground One simple way to check your form? Make sure that your entire foot is flat on the floor throughout each bench press. 5. Your Elbows Flare Outward This sign of poor weightlifting form can be tough to notice on your own, and even tougher to fix. But not aligning your shoulders properly can make it hard to control the weight and could cause you to bounce the barbell hard on your chest. It could also cause injuries to your rotator cuffs or shoulders. Having your elbows pulled too tight towards your body is wrong as well, and can also lead to injuries. Ideally, your elbows should be at a 45 to 75-degree angle, depending on your own body and strength. 6. Your Shoulders Ache Before Your Chest If you're lifting properly, all of your muscles should ache more or less evenly, so long as you don't already have overdeveloped muscles in one area. If you notice your shoulders hurting before your chest or more than your chest, your form is likely to blame. 7. You've Stopped Gaining Muscle Gaining muscle takes time and proper nutrition and supplements. While you may build muscle quickly at first, progress will slow down with time. But if you've stopped gaining at all, it could be because your form needs adjustment. Improving Your Lifting Form Poor lifting form isn't the only way that you might be compromising your health and sabotaging your fitness goals. If you want to make sure you're not putting your body in danger, check out these 10 other unhealthy and dangerous ways to burn fat.
Most people go through cycles of bulking and cutting in the gym. They set a few months aside to work on building their strength and getting bigger, then they move into toning their body and losing a bit of weight. But, imagine being able to do both things at once! This is possible if you know how to discipline yourself and work your body correctly. Such a goal that asks a lot of you as you progress toward becoming stronger and leaner all at once. Still, the results are totally worth it when you realize how well your body takes to this transformation. If you want to learn how to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time, use the 7 tips below to help yourself out. 1. Start off Strong Here's the thing about combining strength gain and fat loss: it works best when done by someone who has never worked out before or who has taken some serious time off from the gym. This kind of workout plan isn't meant for the people who already have a regular lifting schedule. It's ideal for those who need something to kickstart their long-term weight training goals. Introducing lifting to an overweight body helps the heart become stronger and the muscles adjust to what lifting is like. Adding cardio to the mix only enhances the process and supports a person's weight loss efforts as their muscles get stronger. 2. Use Low Weights at First As nice as it is to teach your body what it's like to make lifting part of your lifestyle, you can't dive into it all at once. The key to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time is to start with low-intensity weights at high reps. You should be lifting 50-60% of your max weight and doing rep counts as high as 12-15, or even up to 20 reps per set. The weight shouldn't feel like much of a challenge in the first 5 or 6 reps, but you'll feel the burn once you get to the top of your count. Low-intensity weights at high reps keep your body working. You don't need as much time as you would like with a high-weight/low rep routine. This means your working heart rate increases, which is key to losing weight. Meanwhile, you're still challenging your muscles to build their strength and become more powerful. 3. Keep Increasing the Intensity Speaking of building your working heart rate, you should always be aiming to push this just a little further. One of the most effective ways to build muscle and lose weight is to do HIIT - High-Intensity Interval Training. HIIT routines are done at a fast pace with low resting time in between each set. They're like supersets on steroids. You do a sequence of motions repetitively without resting until one set is complete. One set can be anything from 5-10 sprinting and walking intervals to a round of various weightlifting movements completed at a fast pace. The weights can focus on one area of the body (arms/legs/back/abs) or be set up as a full-body workout. 4. Do Plenty of Cardio The magic of HIIT is that it does a great job of mixing weight training with cardio. If you prefer to focus on weights then do your cardio after, that's fine, but you can't skip cardio altogether. This is an essential part of losing weight. Cardio works up your heart rate and allows you to sweat out all your toxins. It's also great for joint health and overall muscle strength/recovery. 5. Include Days for Active Rest Another thing to keep in mind is the body's need for rest. Even when you combine weight loss and strength building efforts, you still need a day or two out of the week to stay out of the gym altogether. But, try not to spend these days eating potato chips on the couch. Get outside and create an active rest day by taking your dog on a longer walk than usual or paddleboarding in the sun. These activities may not seem like much, but they greatly contribute to your overall fitness progress. 6. Eat Right, and Eat Often Keep in mind that what you do in the gym has a direct relationship to what you eat throughout the day. You can't expect your weight loss and muscle gain efforts to go anywhere if you're still eating a bunch of junk food, or worse, severely restricting your calories. You have to find the balance between overeating and not eating enough. Not to mention, you need to focus on eating clean, nutrition-packed foods. Eating more than 3 meals a day helps, too. The secret to eating 5-6 meals is to make all of your regular meals a little lighter than normal. Instead of putting all your calories/macros into breakfast, lunch, and dinner, divvy them up into your snacks, pre-workout, and post-workout meals as well. This supports a healthy, fast-acting metabolism and it ensures your muscles have everything they need to recover. Such results are crucial to lose weight and gain muscle. 7. Fix Your Sleep Schedule Last but not least, fix your sleep schedule. As good as it is to push yourself in the gym and reach new limits, you still need to rest if you want to go beyond your limits. Rest helps the body recharge in all kinds of ways. It supports emotional balance, muscle recovery, and gives you the energy you need to take on the next day and its workout. Don't underestimate the value of good sleep when you start hitting the gym; it's more important than you might think. Lose Weight and Gain Muscle with the Right Fitness Supplements Here's one more tip to help you lose weight and gain muscle: get your hands on the best workout supplements! It's worth researching what things like pre-workout and creatine and glutamine can do for your fitness efforts. But, the best way to understand their benefits is to actually take them yourself. To get a better understanding of why supplements are so important, click here.
When looking to strengthen and define your legs, are you spending time working on your quads? You should be. Stong, well-defined quads are the envy of many, but their primary purpose serves the bending and lengthening of the leg and the hips. They also help stabilize the kneecap. When your quads are weak, your entire legs, hips, or kneecaps could be injured more easily. If you're looking for ways to beef up your quads (for men or women!), read on to find the best quad exercises to incorporate in your routine. Parts of The Quadriceps The quad muscles are the muscles in the front of the legs. Hence the nickname, 'quads', they're made of four parts: Rectus Femoris Vastus Lateralis Vastus Medialis Vastus Intermedius The rectus attaches to the hip and goes across the hip. The other three muscles attach at the thighbone and shinbone. 10 Quad Exercises For Quad Envy Ready to bulk up those quads? Here are 10 of the best exercises to increase strength and tone in your quadriceps. Remember to warm up by stretching first to avoid injury. Whether you're doing these exercises at home or at the gym, be sure to put safety first, especially when weights are involved. Squats There are so many variations of squats, making this one of the most popular exercises to strengthen quads. For a simple squat, stand with feet hips width apart. Lower your bottom as close to the ground as if you're sitting in a chair, keeping your knees steady. Come up and repeat. Weighted Jump Squats Similar to the simple squat, but instead of pressing through your heels to come up, you jump, and then land back into a squat position. This exercise includes holding weights that are challenging but comfortable. Walking Lunges For this exercises, place one foot in front of you, with the other in the back. Squat down into a lunge position, and then bring the back foot forward and 'walk' into another lunge position. You can do this with or without weights. Leg Press Practice this exercise on a leg press machine at the gym. Make sure your legs are aligned with your hips to avoid injury and back pain. Wall Sit Start with your back leaning against the wall and slowly bend into a seating position, keeping your back on the wall the entire time. Sprints Begin by leaning forwards and take off in a sprint, taking care to land on the balls of your feet. Box Jump Squat in front of a sturdy box that's 12 inches by 16 inches Swing your arms and jump on the top of the box. Jump down and repeat. Lateral Lunges Stand and step out one leg to one side. Lunge to that side and use your opposite leg to push through in a lunge on the other side. To protect your knee, do not let your knee go past your foot. Lunge to Step Up Facing a bench with weights in both hands, move into a lunge position. Bring your back leg forward onto the bench as you step up onto the bench. Leg Extensions Use a leg extension machine to perform this exercise. Be aware that you don't kick up your legs, but lift them. You can practice this at home in a chair. Quads on Fire Defined, strong quadriceps are important to overall leg health. These quad exercises should be a great starting point to bulk them up for stronger, healthier legs. Looking for more information on exercise and supplements? Visit us today to learn everything you need to know.