Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

To all who celebrate Christmas I wish you all alot of love, luck, health and happiness for the coming New Year.

Remember that Christmas is a time to spend with family and a time of giving, but it is also a time to reflect on the good you have achieved on the year past and look forward to the happiness and goodwill of the future.

Today Christmas has lost some of its sparkle because of commercialisation, but dont let this distract you from what Christmas is all about, remembering the Lord and opening your heart to show your love to those around you.

Christmas Quotes

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." ~ Attributed to a 7-year-old boy

"We hear the beating of wings over Bethlehem and a light that is not of the sun or of the stars shines in the midnight sky. Let the beauty of the story take away all narrowness, all thought of formal creeds. Let it be remembered as a story that has happened again and again, to men of many different races, that has been expressed through many religions, that has been called by many different names. Time and space and language lay no limitations upon human brotherhood." ~New York Times, 25 December 1937

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Weightlifting Gloves

Some people swear by weightlifting gloves while others feel they hinder rather than enhance their performance, one thing is for sure they certainly help some lifters on big lift such as the deadlift.

What are weightlifting gloves?

Weightlifting gloves are simply gloves that are specially designed to support a person who carries out weightlifting. They support by helping a weightlifter grip the bar because a sweaty palm can cause a persons grip to become compromised.

Weightlifting gloves also support by reducing, or almost removing the possibility of sores, blisters and most commonly calluses from the pressure of a heavy bar on the hands.

How do they work?

The gloves are made from neoprene, leather or nylon. The neoprene and leather allow the hands to breathe through the gloves where nylon does not; most gloves also have an open back to allow your hands to breathe more easily. The gloves also help soak up sweat making your hands less clammy and wet.

Most gloves are double stitched to reinforce the material, especially on stress points so they can take a lot of strain from the effort you exert when lifting. Weightlifting gloves tend to have an open back

A lot of gloves have special materials on the palm of the glove to add extra grip and strong elastic wrist wraps to give extra stability on the wrists while still allowing maximum movement.

Summary

When choosing a pair of weightlifting gloves it is important to refrain from going for aesthetic looks and rather go for comfort and support. Saying this many weightlifters tend to go for darker coloured weightlifting gloves because they hide dirt and sweat patches more easily than light coloured varieties.

While I personally do not like using weightlifting gloves many in the gyms I have used swear by them, this is because they feel the gloves really do support them in their training regimen.

Click on the link to find the best priced weightlifting gloves - Bodybuilding.com - Information. Motivation. Supplementation.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Setting Goals For 2010

Its that time of year where many people put on a few pies over the festive season and make a resolution to get fit and look good for 2010.

Its normal to see the number of members in gyms throughout the world increase its member numbers in January of a new year, but its just as normal for around ninety percent of these new members to give up and cancel their membership in the first eight weeks.

The issue with new gym members, especially those who join post New Year is that they set themselves unrealistic goals so get disheartened when they don’t achieve what they want. This is where learning how setting goals can help you stay motivated rather than make you feel down.

Setting goals for 2010

Firstly whether you are new to the gym or you have been going for a while and got into a bit of a rut, the easiest way to stay motivated and achieve your goals is to set small goals. The idea is that by setting smaller goals you are setting goals that are achievable in a shorter period of time so you should be hitting goals and staying motivated.

The logic is that each small goal achieved is a stepping stone to what you wish to achieve overall, a fitter, stronger, physically improved you!

I have been training for a long time but have just had three months off through injury. I have come back to training and lost some of what I had achieved so I set myself different weekly goals such as:

  • Adding an extra 2.5 kgs to the amount I lift on my main exercises each week (even if I only achieve one rep)
  • Adding an extra rep on my last sets where I don’t achieve 8 or more reps
  • Adding a few minutes to my running on the treadmill
These are simple but achievable goals, imagine you are lifting 60kg on the bench press and you set a target of 120kg, you could be waiting a long time to achieve it so start feeling down about your achievements. Instead of this you set small goals like “Next week Ill lift 62.5kg” so when next week comes and you manage it you feel good and have managed a step closer to your ultimate goal.

2010 can be the year for many people to achieve what they want by having confidence in themselves as well as training correctly and setting goals that are achievable and will keep them motivated.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Big Ass Triceps

Anyone who wishes to build big arms should have a great Triceps workout. While the Biceps are the vanity muscle of the arm they only make up about a third of the muscle in the upper arm while the rest is made up of the larger Triceps.

It seems that even though the Triceps make up a larger portion of the arm the Biceps always get the training while the Triceps languish at the rear of the arm where it is neglected.

The best training option for the Triceps is to carry out your training as part of your chest workout, this means training your chest primarily then moving to the Triceps as your secondary muscle group. The reason for this is that when lifting weights targetting the chest you are actually utilising the Triceps in many of the exercises as a secondary muscle group.

One of the best methods of improving the size and strength of your Triceps is to complete six to nine sets on the Triceps at the end of your chest workout.

I usually start by carrying out the close grip bench press, this is your standard bench press but with your hands extremely close together holding the bar, this moves the emphasis from your chest muscles to your Triceps.

After the close grip benchpress I like to move to Skull Crushers where you lay down with an EZ bar and keeping strict form bring it down towards your forhead by bending at the elbow and with an overhand grip.

Last exercise I like to carry out is the Triceps pushdowns, this I use to literally kill off my Triceps to ensure they have achieved the ultimate workout as part of my chest session.

If you can work just as hard on your Triceps as your Biceps you will end up with a well balanced arm that is both large in size and very strong.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Reasons Women Should Weight Train

When it comes to losing weight women choose diet or exercise, exercise usually consists of running or cardio machines in the gym. It seems that women generally neglect the idea of resistance training for fat loss even though there is scientific evidence to show this is the best form of training to lose fat.

How does this work?

When you complete resistance training your lean muscle mass will increase, this doesn’t mean you will suddenly look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, it just means that your body will carry a few extra pounds of lean muscle.

A female carrying out weight training will not gain the size a male does from lifting weight because women carry on average twenty times less hormones than males that cause muscle size increase.

Interestingly science has shown that on average a woman who carries out resistance training three times a week for a month will gain a pound of lean muscle but actually lose 1.75 pounds of fat.

What happens is that the body burns extra calories every day to carry out its normal functions for every extra pound of muscle a person weighs. The typical value of calories burned for every extra pound of muscle is roughly 35 to 60 calories per day.

This extra calorific usage is caused by your resting metabolic rate increasing as your lean muscle does.

One of the reasons women do get put off from weight lifting is because when they weigh themselves they are not losing that much weight, this is because if you lose 1.75 pounds of fat but gain 1 pound of lean muscle the scales will only show a loss of under a pound.

To combat this the best way to monitor your weight loss performance is to measure your body parts monthly, as long as your body is reducing in size your on the right track to achieve your goals.

Measuring your success

Get a tape measure and once a month (same date and roughly same time) measure the following:

Waist (Just below the belly button)
Chest (Measure under arm pits and over fullest part of bust)
Arms (Measure shoulder to elbow and use the halfway point)
Thigh (Measure hip to the knee and use the halfway point)

Keep a log of the measurements and you should see the measurements reduce in size and your clothes start to feel more baggy or even become too big!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Pull Up Power

We have all heard of the pull up yet how many of you use this great exercise in your training regimen? Not as many as you would think is the answer and this tends to be because a lot of people find the pull up hard and cant carry out many reps.

The pull up is a compound exercise that requires upper body strength to lift your own weight. The pull up comes in many forms but the most common is with a pronated grip (palms facing away from the body) and the hands just wider than shoulder width apart.

Pull ups primarily work the Latissimus Dorsi (lats) muscles in the back but use many upper body muscles for assistance.

The interesting thing about the pull up is that is takes a lot of power to carry out and can really help build strength and size in the body through using the exercise in a workout.

When carrying out the pull up correctly you will start with your body hanging with straight arms and then pull yourself up till your head is above the bar and the bar approaches your chest. The pull up is carried out without using any jerking movements such as your legs etc to push your way up. Once you have achieved this you return to the hanging position.

I always finish a back workout with two or three sets of pull ups, carrying out the maximum reps I can on each set to give my back muscles that final push to fatigue.

If you carry out the pull up exercise on a regular basis as part of your training you are sure to see benefits after just a short amount of weeks. By carrying out the exercise at the end of the back workout, like me, and trying as many reps as you can you will see how well you improve.

Don’t be put off if you can only carry out one or two reps initially, the idea is to keep motivated and build up over time until you can carry out three sets of ten or more reps.

A mixture of pull up exercises

Sunday, 6 December 2009

HIT Training – High Intensity Training

Some of you may have heard the word HIT training banded around the gym by some of the big muscled types, but have you ever wondered what they mean by HIT training?

HIT training is an abbreviation for High Intensity Training and was the brain child of Authur Jones, the man who launched Nautilus training equipment on to the market in the 1970’s.

The ethos behind High Intensity Training is basically that you train to a very high intensity; this is achieved through the following:

  • Reducing rest times between reps and sets
  • Using the maximum weight you can lift for your reps/sets
  • Train using basic compound movements
A typical HIT training session consists of 4 to 6 exercises of around 3 to 4 sets on each for major muscle groups such as the chest and 2 to 3 exercises of around 3 to 4 sets each on smaller muscles such as the triceps. If you’re new to HIT training we suggest you start on the low of these volumes and build yourself up.

An example workout is below:

Chest

Barbell Bench press – 4 sets x 6 to 8 reps
Dumbbell Bench press – 4 sets x 6 to 8 reps
Incline Barbell Bench Press – 4 sets x 6 to 8 reps
Dumbbell incline flies – 4 sets x 6 to 8 reps

Triceps

Skullcrushers – 4 sets x 6 to 10 reps
Triceps Extensions – 4 sets x 6 to 10 reps

By carrying out sessions with heavy weights with low resting times you will fatigue the muscle, which is the desired outcome of your workout as your body will repair your muscles bigger and stronger.

You could say that the HIT training method is a similar training method to the 5x5 workout; the difference is that HIT training tends to be used by bodybuilders rather than powerlifters and weight lifters.

The High Intensity Training is a great tool to use to boost your performance in the gym. The HIT training method does however need to be used with caution because you will need longer resting periods between sessions (of the same muscle group) and increased mental strength as this training can be grueling to the uninitiated.

Note: With any high intensity workout there needs to be a period of low intensity or total rest every now and again, a good way of achieving this is by taking a week break from the gym after 12 weeks of training (every 3 months).

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The Muscle Building Process

The muscle building process is complex and scientific but for those who want a basic run down on the muscle building process and how they can use it to their advantage to increase muscle gains it can be explained simply.

The muscle building process when combined actually fit into three simple phases; these are stimulation, recuperation and growth.

So now you know that the body has three phases in muscle building, but how do these phases work?

Stimulation

The stimulation phase is your training, when you lift weights you are stimulating the muscles of the body to act on the actions you are asking it to undertake.

The harder the action, the more stimulated your muscles become, an example is carrying out 5 sets of 5 reps on the bench press on the heaviest weight you can complete the reps/sets is going to stimulate your muscles more than lifting the yellow pages three or four times.

Recuperation

The recuperation phase is the time post workout where your body recovers from the stimulation of your workout. This means giving the muscle group trained time to recover from the workout session before training again so the muscles are refueled and replenished, ready for action.

Growth

After recuperation your muscles will over time starts increasing in size and strength, this is the bodies natural reaction to the amount of stimulation it has undergone so the bodies muscles can carry out what is being requested of it more easily.

During both the recuperation and growth stages the body, and importantly the muscles, need sustenance such as proteins, complex carbs and essential fatty acids EFA’s so it has the fuel and nutrients required to recover, repair and increase ready for the next workout.

Summary

Training doesn’t always have to be a scientific event, all you simply need to understand is the process your body goes through during and after training so you can make the most out of your workouts and feel the best inside.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

N.O.-XPLODE Pre Training Supplement

N.O.-XPLODE is an award winning supplement that many people believe is one of the best pre-training supplements on the market.

It is said that from the very first time you take NO-XPLODE you will feel an increase in physical and mental energy that results in a huge improvement in strength and stamina.

The idea behind taking N.O.-XPLODE is that by taking it before training the elevation in physical and mental strength will result in one of the most intense workouts you have ever had.

N.O.-XPLODE works by having a special blend of amino acids, Creatine, vitamins and minerals coupled with other ingredients that are top secret and only known by the maker BSN.

Part of N.O.-XPLODE working formula is that it helps increase the oxygen through blood flow to the muscles allowing for increased muscle pump, a key to muscle growth.

N.O.-XPLODE also supports the body by Glycerol Hydrating Polymers and electrolytes to keep your muscle hydrated to the optimum level while training.

The added mental focus is found through the Caffeine and Vinca Alkaloids and the Creatine supports the increase in ATP production.

This is one overall great training supplement that will support your training with added focus and strength while also giving the body many nutrients it needs for post workout recovery.

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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Training like a Spartan Warrior

We have all heard of the 300 workout that the actors of the film 300 in which 300 Spartan warriors held off the army of Xerxes I of Persia at the Battle of Thermopylae but how many people truly know the strength training of the real Spartan warrior.

Two thousand years ago the Spartan warriors of Sparta in Greece were well disciplined warriors who could fight with strength and speed two thousand years ago, today Ill tell you some of their strength training techniques.

Heavy Urn

The heavy urn is what you could say is the present day front squat. This involved having a heavy urn about waist height in size in front of you and squatting down to pick it up then bringing back to the ground.

Running Laden

One of the great techniques for building strength and endurance was a Spartan warrior running with a man on their back. This builds the legs primarily but also the upper body as well.

Bags of Grain

This involved having a piece of rope with a bag of grain tied at each end. The rope was put over the top of the back with the bags hanging just above knee height either side, the Spartan warrior would then move their body down from side to side as if you are training your Obliques. With the extra weight this is great for the upper body.

Rock Throwing

Yes, one great way to improve strength and endurance in the muscles of the arms and upper body was to literally pick up big rocks and throw them continuously at a tree. This also improved hand eye coordination for battle.

So why am I talking about this?

Well many people say they don’t have the time or money to visit a gym but the truth is that there are so many ways to build strength and endurance with no money as long as you have some space to train.

The Spartan warriors were among the best of their time and all they used to train and build strength were the everyday items they found around them.

Today is the day you can decide to take action and start using exercises, such as those used by the Spartans above, to get yourself fitter and stronger without costing any money and little time.

Why not get two old rucksacks and fill them with stone to use instead of the bags of grain that Spartans used. You can also use one of these rucksacks full of stone in place of the man on your back while running. For the urn you could replace this with a trash can filled with stone to a weight your comfortable with.

As you can see a little thought can produce some great alternatives to weight lifting in the gym.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Slow Training

Well its been three months since I ruptured a disc in my back and I have only managed 4 trips to the gym in just over two weeks. On top of this I have tried running on three occassions, the first was a wash out as I couldnt run, the second I managed around 800 metres before suffering with my back...the last time (today) I managed around one mile (1.5 kilometres) before I was knackered!

Thats right, in three months its amazing how unfit you can become and how quick your gains can be lost. I have found after three months that I have lost my fitness, lost some strength and loads of endurance in my muscles and of course lost some muscle mass (around 5 kg I think).

I am seeing the consultant on Tuesday and am hoping that I can get the all clear to start back in the gym properly and get running properly again. I need to get my strength and fitness up as it is depressing me.

I have a plan in mind on how to get my strength and fitness back, the strength part is easy as Ill just hit the gym on a large scale carrying out pyramid training, its the fitness part that bothers me. I think that Ill start by running three times a week until I can run around 3 to 4 kilometres with ease and will then start Fartlek training.

Fartlek training is a way of building speed and stamina and is carried out by mixing your running session up into different speeds and gradients, an example of my version is below.

  • Warm up: gentle jog for 5 minutes or so
  • Steady to hard run at speed for 1.5 km
  • Fast walking or light jog for about 5 minutes
  • Sprinting up hill then running down around five time (See pic of my hill)
  • Running at a quick pace for 5 minutes
  • Fast walking or light jog for about 5 minutes to warm down
So now I have my plan of attack I just need to see my consultant on Tuesday to get the okay to really build my strength and endurance back up.

I currently weigh in at 95kg, although I have gained a little on the stomach over the past three months from not training and hardly doing any walking because of the ruptured disc in my back.

Fingers crossed for Tuesday!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Build Great Traps

Many people don’t know what traps are, that is until they see a man who looks like he has two sets of shoulders.

As you can see from the picture, the traps (actually called the Trapezius) are two muscles found in the back. The traps start at the lumbar region of the back and finishes at the top of the neck just below the start of the skull where the cerebellum region of the brain is situated. The muscles then reach out across the back to the shoulders.

The name Trapezius comes from the fact that the two muscles together looks like a trapezium.

When exercised and increased in size the traps help give the back overall size (not width) and also give a statement of power as they give size around the neck and shoulder region when accompanied with well trained shoulders.

Many people don’t realise that the traps are actually used in so many exercises by supporting and assisting the main muscles involved.

So how do you build big strong traps?

Try incorporating the shrug exercise into your workout. The best way to carry out the shrug exercise is to sit with dumbbells in either hand and literally shrug your shoulders up (straight don’t roll your shoulders) as best you can and hold it for 2 secs before moving back to your starting position.

Another great exercise is the upright row. This exercise is used by many in the shoulder workout yet it also works the traps too!

The seated row, this is my favourite resistance machine (I don’t like using resistance machines as Im a free weight lover). The seated row will work your traps to a good level as well as other muscles in your back so is another great exercise to incorporate into your workout.

The traps only take a short period of time to grow in size and with a good shoulder workout will support your goal of a great and powerful physique.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Muscles Neglected

There are quite a few areas of the body where people neglect the muscles when weight training, the interesting thing about this is that these are muscles that can really support other muscles in growth and strength.

I regularly see that people seem to neglect their legs, forearms, wrists, grip, core muscles and lower back. Looking at this list there are quite a few muscles that are forgotten about, some of which don’t require much attention for improvement.

Legs

Ah the legs, that one group of muscles neglected by most; it seems that while people have the intention of working on their leg muscles when it comes to it they are very often forgotten about. The legs are important as they carry your weight and help you move from A to B, not rocket science…the reason why they get neglected is that they don’t really fit most peoples idea of vanity (chest, biceps and the like).

Forearms, Wrists and Grip

From the forearms down people don’t realise or don’t think to train these smaller muscles but they are very important for one reason more than any other. By working on these muscles you will improve the strength for holding onto a free weight bar, especially when it comes to deadlifts and similar exercises that require lifting extremely heavy weight.

Have you ever tried lifting a free weight bar on exercises like the deadlift or shrugs only to find you cannot complete so many reps because you start losing the strength of your grip?

Core Muscles

The core muscles are those of the trunk of the body, to many this is the abdominals only but there are a number of other muscles that are just as important yet never get trained such as the Obliques.

The trunk of the body, or should I say the core muscles, are extremely important and support your body in everything you do. With nearly every weight lifting exercise requiring you to engage your core muscles it is important to train them.

Lower Back

The lower back, also known as the Spinae erector is the muscles located at the bottom of the back above the gluteus maximus (bum to you and me). This muscle is important for big lifts such as the deadlift as well as supporting the weight of the body and your spine.

Many people work the muscles of the upper back but neglect this muscle.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Training Update

So as mentioned yesterday I went to the gym today after around six weeks off and still with my back injury in tow, so whats the verdict.

Mixed emotions really, it was great to get in and see the lads....quite a few came up to see how I am. It was also great to lift some weights BUT...as always there is a but...I couldnt complete a normal workout so there were no huge weights and hardly any free weights used.

I started off with the seated bench press resistance machine and did ten sets before moving on to the shoulders carrying out three isolation exercises. Not much of a workout really but its a start, as long as my back holds up and doesnt hurt tomorrow Ill go back in Tuesday night to lift more sets and a little heavier weight.

On a side note my mother in law thinks Im crazy to train with the injury I have, Id rather call it dedication.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Injury Update

Well its been around six weeks since I last trained because of the prolapsed disc in my back and this has been dragging me down a little. I thought that without training I would pile on the pounds but I have actually found that I dont eat as much, well my stomach wont let me so I cant!

What I am seeing is that my shoulders, chest and triceps seem to be getting smaller from the lack of training, I know it wont take much to get it back but its a nightmare....every night I look in the mirror at my withering Mr. Burns body and cry (its not that bad but you get the picture).

Tomorrow I am going to the gym for the first time, Im not going to do any heavy freeweight stuff because although the pain in my back has subsided I can still feel the problem and dont want to make it worse. My idea tomorrow is to just carry out seated resistance machine weights on my chest, triceps and shoulders to make myself feel better mentally and to try and get a little size back.

Ill post tomorrow about what I did and how I feel, hopefully this might be a way of doing some light weight training until I see the consultant and find out the next steps to recovery.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Importance of Stretching

All too often people visit a gym, go hell for leather on the weights, then leave without the slightest form of stretching pre or post workout. There are so many reasons to train that it is surprising many people don’t bother, especially when they should know the importance of stretching.

Stretching prior to your workout

Stretching prior to your workout will warm up your muscles and joints, making them loose and warm so they are ready to undertake the extreme stress of lifting weights you are about to put them through.

By stretching before you workout you are preparing your body for the challenges ahead, this means that when you start that first set on the first exercise your muscles and joints won’t feel tight and you will be able to lift more comfortably.

It is a long held subject that stretching prior to workout will actually reduce the chance of injury but interestingly some medical authorities say that there is no evidence that this is correct. This does not mean that it’s fine to miss your pre workout stretch though as its not been medically confirmed either wat.

Stretching post workout

Stretching post workout is just as important as before your workout as it ensures your muscles don’t contract and become too tight, it also serves as a way of reducing DOM (delayed onset muscle soreness) you are likely to receive.

Other forms of stretching

It is most commonly thought that to get the most out of stretching to improve flexibility and overall performance in sports (including weightlifting) a person should carry out stretching exercises daily. By stretching daily you will maintain and improve the flexibility of your muscles and tendons giving you more support in your training regime.

Whether you like stretching or not there is a great importance of stretching before and after your workout so why not start supporting your body through stretching as well as weight lifting.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Common Sense of a Safe Workout

There is one important aspect of weight training that is often overlooked; this is mainly because this aspect does not build muscle or burn fat, this aspect is safety.

This week USC tailback Stafon Johnson had a near tragic accident in the gym where a barbell he was lifting slipped from his grasp and landed on his throat. Although the injury was found not to be life threatening it did require seven hours of surgery (it would have involved multiple surgeries for people less fit) and caused the reconstruction of Johnsons voice box. From what new sites are saying Johnson is likely to be out of action for the whole of this season at least.

This story backs up the importance of a safe workout, one where you have all bases covered so you don’t end up injuring yourself.

There are three main points when weight lifting that all should take heed of as they can really ensure you have a safe workout.

Concentration

Concentration is the key to lifting correctly and safely while also giving you the best possible opportunity of lifting the heaviest weight for the most reps you can.

This is because as you concentrate solely on what you are lifting your body can ensure the correct form, your mind can prepare itself for the amount you are going to lift and finally you are less likely to make any mistakes.

Knowing your limits

Sounds silly I know but it is very common for people to try harder than they physically are able and find they cannot lift the weight. This poses the problem that they could pull a muscle or worse find the weight fall because they cannot hold on to it.

Training Partner

There are just some exercises you should never carry out without a training partner; an example is that I would never ever try to lift close to my max weight on the bench press without a spotter. Imagine I load up the bar with more than I weight and without a spotter come under difficulty with this huge weight above me, it’s a recipe for disaster.

A spotter ensures that should a lifter get into difficulty there is someone there to support the bar and help get it back to its resting position.

Some people may feel that this article is all about common sense but you would be surprised to find many people do not heed these warnings.

Compilation of gym accidents

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Core Muscles

When you hear someone saying they are about to train their abdominals, it always conjures up the feeling that the person who said it does not understand training quite as much as they think. If you ask any ardent gym goer they will say they are training their core muscles, but just what are the core muscles and why are they called this?

The muscles of the core are situated between the Pelvis and Thorax and are made up of the following:

The Obliques

The Obliques are made up of two muscles, these are the obliques externus and obliques internus (external and internal obliques).

The Obliques are found on the lower eight ribs, they look like fingers that curve down and forward towards the top of what is known today as the “Six Pack”.

The Transversus Abdominis

The Transversus Abdominis is a muscle with horizontal muscle fibres that is flat and triangular in shape. The muscle can be found under the oblique on the lateral side of the body and runs down to the bottom of the Rectus Abdominis, this means that it is the muscles on the outside of your “Six pack muscles” that forms the outside of your core muscles.

The Rectus Abdominis
The main reason people wish to train their core; these muscles are what are colloquially referred to as the “Six pack”. These muscles are paired muscles that run vertically from just under the rib cage down to the pelvic area. The muscles are situated in the centre of the front of the human body.

As you can see when training the core you are training more than simple the six pack abs that everyone dreams of. The core muscles are very important as they are the trunk of the body and near enough support all exercises you carry out whilst also protecting your core area. The core muscles also play an important role in posture and other functions.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

MRI Black Powder

I have been hearing great things about the MRI NO Black Powder supplement from friends hitting the gym. They say that this pre workout supplement is making them feel pumped, strong and ready to lift weights they would never normally dream of lifting…does it work or is it a placebo effect?

What is MRI Black Powder?

Well the MRI NO Black Powder is a supplement featuring Creatine and Arginine but also has Taurine, Beta Alanine, Caffeine and Green Tea among other workout kick ass supplements. This powerful mix gives you a physical and mental kick that is sure to boost your workout.

The MRI Black Powder supplement is a pre workout supplement that you take not long before training. Once you have kicked in your training regime you will find an amazing increase in energy and strength.

Some people believe that after training they can feel their muscles start to recover; in fact some people have said that they felt ready to hit the gym three hours after their previous gym session. While we have no confirmation that this is correct and would never suggest holding a training session three hours after the first the MRI Black Powder is getting rave reviews across the weight lifting world.

Summary

If your looking to improve your performance in the gym then its definately worth trying Black Powder as it is relatively low in cost and could improve your workout no end.

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Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Injury of Injuries

My last journal post told about an old sciatic nerve problem rearing its ugly head but unfortunately its alot worse than I thought.

I have been for an MRI scan and found out that I do not have a simple sciatica problem, I actually have a large prolapse of my L1 spinal disc (first disc in the Lumbar region of the lower back).

This is of great concern for me, not because of the injury as I know it will get resolved by the spinal consultant I will be seeing, but more because I will not be able to train for a long period of time and I am worried about what impact this will have on my training moving forward.

Im hoping that the issue will be resolved sooner rather than later as I can already start to see a loss of muscle since it started three or four weeks ago.

As I know more Ill let you all know!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Building Muscle in Older Age

Building muscle is relatively when in your younger years if you know how to do it correctly, but as you grow older building muscle in older age becomes alot more difficult.

It seems that as men and women age they find it increasingly difficult to retain their muscle mass even when training, what is it that causes this?

A team of researchers in Nottingham, England have been looking into the issue of building and retaining muscle as people age and have come up with a scientific reason as to why it gets harder the older you become.

The results show two reasons why building muscle in older age becomes harder, although one reason has a bigger impact than the other.

The first reason, and the one which has less of an impact is that the blood flow to the muscles reduces in age, especially as someone ages over sixty.

The second reason is that as people age their body reduces the use of insulin to stop the muscle breakdown that occurs between meals.

This means two things, the first is that the body of an older person finds it harder to build muscle in the first place and also finds it hard to retain muscle mass once it has got it.

The Science

As we eat our body releases insulin that stops the muscle breakdown that occurs at periods of time between eating and when sleeping. As we age our body is unable to use its insulin hormone so well and is not able stop the muscle breakdown occuring in the body as much.

This information relates mainly to those who are wishing to build muscle in more senior years of around sixty years plus.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

How Much Do You Deadlift

The poll results finished almost a month ago yet I have not posted the results so I thought that today I would get the results and share them all with you.

So the results for how much you deadlift are:


Now the first thing that jumps off the graph to me is the data that shows the higher percentage of lifters are actually lifting a larger amount of weight, is this true? Do I have heavier lifters frequenting my site?

I would personally have expected the higher percentage of people to be in the under 80 kg to 100 - 120kg brackets but then this does depend greatly on my readership and their training.

The two highest percentage brackets for lifting are 180+ kg with 12.5% of the results (one in eight people) and the 140 to 160kg bracket with 8.93% of the results.

There are three results in joint third and these are 80 to 100kg, 120 to 140kg and 160 to 180kg all receiving 5.36% of the results. Under 80kg came fourth and last but one with 3.57% of the results and 100 to 120kg came last with 1.79% of the results.

Those that have said they lift more than 180kg I would like to say this is an amazing weight to lift and well done!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Resting Up

I have had a great quarter for training, this last twelve week cycle as seen some great gains with 20 kg added to my bench press and 15 kg added to my shoulder press. While this is great it has come at a price though.

This past week has been an uncomfortable and unfortunate one as my Sciatica is playing up. For those that dont know there is a nerve called the Sciatic nerve located in the lumber region of the back (lower back), when this nerve is trapped or pressed on it gives pain in the back, bottom and down the leg of the side affected.

I am affected on my right side and this problem has been an issue on and off for a long time but give it a week Ill be back in action.

One of the problems I see with this is a psychologvial one. I always take a one week break after every twelve week cycle which is great for recovery but this injury has caused me to have only trained once last week doing shoulders and I havent trained this week yet. Ill probably leave it to the weekend then go and do some light training to keep myself going and to put my mind at rest.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Strength Does Not Equal Size

There is a common myth with weight training that the stronger you are the bigger your muscles will be, this is not totally true and is not the case.

While building strength will see your muscles grow because you are building muscle tissue, you will not see the muscle hypertrophy you may want to achieve just by lifting the heaviest weights for lower reps.

Strength is in part related to muscle hypertrophy but only in a small way, strength is actually more related to genetics of tendon length and thickness as well as muscle power.

It is this important factor that causes many of us to visit the gym and see big bodybuilders lifting smaller weight because they know size is not all about strength, so whats the secret they know and we dont?

Truth be told the "Secret" which isnt much of a secret is that to gain big muscles through hypertrophy you need to lift lighter weights for more repeititions as this gets the blood flowing into the muscle.

This lighter workload carried out for a longer time causes sarcoplasmic hypertrophy that sees muscle mass increase at a faster rate than myofibrillated hypertrophy that strenth training causes.

So whats the difference?

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy means that sarcoplasmic fluid builds up in the muscle giving added size but without the added strength, this is what bodybuilders aspire to achieve.

Myofibrillated hypertrophy means that the myosin and actin fillaments in the muscle increase in number giving the muscle more power and a little extra size.

So you can see a bodybuilder can increase in size quite dramatically with smaller strength gains while someone strength training will see their strength increase dramatically without so much gain in muscle size thus strength does not equal size.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Optimum Hydration

When training I see a lot of people neglecting to drink water which is a huge issue as it can impact your training and possible cause dehydration.

Previous posts have gone over the need to drink water and stay hydrated but I have never really gone into talking about drinking while training.

While training your body is perspiring at a greater rate than when you are resting, this means your body is losing water at a faster rate than normal as you sweat and breathe out H2O. To counter this problem you need to drink more water than normal to ensure your water hydration levels are balanced.

But how much water is needed?

The rule of thumb is that when training you should drink about 250ml of water for every 15 minutes of training so this is around 1 litre of water per hour. This may sound like a lot to some people as normally a person would only expect to drink 2 litres of water in a whole day, trust me when I say its not a lot.

When training always keep a bottle of water with you and ensure you take regular sips of water to keep hydrated. By taking regular sips rather than large amounts less often you will find your need for the toilet will not occur so often.

If you do not drink enough water while training you could find yourself starting to become dehydrated and feeling drained of energy, unable to lift your usual amounts, legs feeling like lead and general tiredness.

Dehydration is not healthy as a vast amount of your body is made up of water so it is one of the most important yet simple structures your body requires. If your someone who doesnt take water with you while training make sure you do next time and you could find yourself feeling better.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Reasons for Weightlifting

The latest poll finished last week and didnt achieve the amount of results as I would like although the results for reasons for weightlifting did put a smile on my face as they were very interesting.

The results:


As you can see us men are alot more vain than we give ourselves credit for! nearly one in three who answered said that vanity sis the reason they go to the gym and pound the weights. I shouldnt really be surprised but I couldnt help being a little surprised.

The three that came joint second were Powerlifting, Bodybuilding and General Fitness with 18.18% of the results each. Personally I was surprised (and happy) that Powerlifting reached the same level as general fitness and bodybuilding as its not such a well known branch of the weightlifing world as bodybuilding and general fitness, well that encompasses so much.

Third place was other sports, now weightlifting is used for varying reasons in other sports such as football, rugby, American football and the like as a way. weightlifting in other sports is for conditioning and increasing strength so this was not too much of a surprise.

Olympic lifting came fourth with only4.55% of the votes, to me there is no surprise there as Olympic lifting is not a sport carried out much any more in the west.

Lest was the beach with zero results, this was potentially because of the vanity choice which in a sense is the same thing.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Diet and Nutrition

I thought it time to talk about my own training in my journal as its been a short while.

Today I wish to talk about my training and my nutrition, firstly though its the nutrition. I had a long chat with a friend who is a bodybuilder a few days ago and he was talking about his nutrition and that he cant understand why I eat the way I do...so whats the difference between us?

We both eat 5 to 6 times a day, we both try to get as much protein in our diet as possible every day to ensure we hit our daily amounts, the difference is the foods we eat.

My friend is a puritan, a real bodybuilder who will not intoxicate his body with fatty foods where I am a powerlifter and do have a little "Dirty food" in my diet as I feel I need some enjoyment from my food and also it helps give me the energy to push harder. I would like to mention that everyones body is different and my body does require me to eat alot because my metabolism is quite good.

So what do I eat.....well to be honest what ever I feel like. Today for example I had two slices of wholemeal bread with lutenizta and chicken for breakfast then I trained at the gym and had a chocolate tea cake when I got back. Since then I have had a lucozade sport and Ackee and saltfish with rice and kidney beans.

I plan on chicken in the afternoon with rice then beef in the evening...probably with potatoes or again rice (I like rice!)

Now to training, how is my training coming along....below is my current workouts utilising the heaviest weight possible for each exercise:

Chest and Triceps

Flat Barbell Bench Press - 4 x 6-8
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press - 3 x 6-8
Incline Dumbbell Flies - 3 x 6-8
Close grip Bench press - 3 x 6-8
Skull Crushers - 3 x 6-8
Tricep dips - 3 x 6-8
Tricep extensions - 3 x 6-8
Dumbbell Wristies - 2 x 6-8
7.5 minute run

Shoulders

Dumbbell Shoulder Press - 4 x 6-8
Barbell Military Press - 3 x 6-8
Rear Delt Flies - 3 x 8-10
Lateral Flies - 3 x 8-10
Shoulder Shrugs - 3 x 6-8
Wide Grip Pull Ups - 3 x 6-8
Dumbbell Wristies - 2 x 6-8
7.5 minute run

Back

Wide Grip Seated Row - 4 x 6-8
Dumbbell Row - 3 x 6-8
Barbell Row - 3 x 6-8
Close Grip Pull Ups - 3 x 6-8
Dumbbell Biceps Curls - 3 x 6-8
Barbell Biceps Curls - 3 x 6-8
Dumbbell Wristies - 1 x 6-8
Crucifix - 1 x for time (min one minute)
Rowing Machine - 1km

Legs

Squats - 4 x 10
Bulgarian Split Squats - 3 x 6-8
Calf Raises - 3 x 6-8
Deadlift - 4 x 4-5

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Nick Uhlin Interview

Today we have an interview with Nick Uhlin a Strongman from Sweden.

As many of you will probably know strongmen seem to come in abundance from the Scandinavian countries and Nick Uhlin is certainly a great addition to this with his brute strength and enjoyment in lifting heavy weights.

To see just how Nick trains why not watch his video below.



I am really happy to have been able to interview Nick and believe you will truly enjoy todays interview.

Interview:

What made you start out in Strongman training and how old were you?

After years of ordinary bodybuilding training I got tired of it and looked for another way to train.

I started powerlifting training at first but started going more and more over to pure strongman training. I started to train at 25 and Im 42 today, so I have lifted heavy stuff for a long time and hope that I can do that for many years to come. I like strongman training becuse it taxes your body in every way you can think of.

What is your favourite weight training exercise?

Deadlift and stonelifting/walking.

What are your personal bests in?

Weight - 102kg (224lbs)

PR Year 2009 (I was stronger in squat and deadlift when I was younger)
Shoulder Press - 100kg / 2 reps
Crucifix I train with 10kg (timehold)
Squat - 220kg (484lbs)
Deadlift - 200kg (440lbs)

How often do you train?

4-5 times/week

What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

Basic stuff in the gym. Squat, deadlift, benchpress.

Strongman training at my home with a lots of homemade equipment. I also train my grip one time per week.

What do you see as the big difference between strongman and other weightlifting sports?

In competions there is more show in strongman and you need better cardio for strongman. But the best is the fun of lifting heavy and odd things, you cant beat that :)

Why are the scandinavians so good in the strongman and dominate the competitions?

Today you can find good strongman atletes in every country. Strongman grows every year with more people training and doing competitions. But Magnus Samuelsson and Svend Karlsen was great strongmans.

Where do you see your future in strongman?

My goal is to start compete next year 2010 and I will take it from there. I see bright on the future as a strongman.

Do you have any words of motivation for our readers?

The most important is to have fun and train hard.

To find out more about Nick Uhlin you can visit his Youtube channel or his new website rawmusclepower.com

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Squat Form: Leaning Forward

One of the most common mistakes for those new to lifting the squat is that they lean forward towards the bottom of the lift. This may be a genuine mistake in that they think they are squatting deeper but the truth is they could be causing themselves harm.

Leaning forward in the squat almost makes the lift into a good morning, this change in exercise half way through the lift, especially if using heavy weights, can be damaging for the following three reasons:

  • Added stress to the lower back
  • Higher risk of not keeping your back straight
  • Less usage of the hip muscles
The two main reasons that people end up leaning forward in the squat are that they either raise their hips quicker than their shoulders or do not bring the Glutes into play when carrying out the lift.

Either way the outcome is the same….bad form and a bad lift.

To combat this problem you can try lowering the weight you’re lifting and concentrating on your form. If you still have problems with the standard squat and you still lean forward with low weight why not try lifting with the front squat as its difficult to lean forward so much as you will lose balance.

Another little gem of information is that practice makes perfect, if you still have issues just take an empty bar and keep practicing….its all about perseverance.

The squat is probably the most important exercise for the legs so spending time getting the squat correct early on will ensure you get the most gains out of your leg workouts while keeping you safe from injury.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Training Negatives: Muscle and Strength

Training negatives is one of those training techniques that I never see people do when in the gym; this however is something I don’t understand as trainings negatives is a big positive.

What is negatives training?

For those that don’t know, when you lift there are three areas of the lift and these are:

  • Positive: Contracting the muscle, as in curling a barbell to the top of a biceps curl.
  • Static: Not moving, holding the weight in one position.
  • Negative: Extending the muscle, as in lowering the barbell down.
So training the negative is not lifting the weight to the top but just carrying out the part of controlling the weight down to the bottom of the lift. This is done by using a training partner who will lift the weight to the top for you.

Why should we train the negative section of the lift?

Well the body has a defense mechanism whereby it is always stronger on the negative than on the positive. Imagine that you could lift something up but didn’t have the strength to put it down that would cause us to sustain all sorts of injuries.

The key to why negative training works is the fact that because of the above you can lift more on the negative than you can on the positive. In essence if you can biceps curl 35 kg normally then with someone lifting the weight for you and you just controlling the negative you will probably be able to handle 40kg to 45kg in weight. It is this key reason that you will find your overall strength increase as your body gets used to lifting a bigger loan on the negative.

It is important to note that with negative training you should not complete this week in and week out as its taxing on the body. The suggestion is to use it in 6 to 8 week cycles with a good break in between and only using one exercise of three sets per muscle group workout.

Below is an example of the negative biceps curl.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Keeping Strict Form

One of the most important issues to keep a note of when in the gym is keeping strict form. We have all fallen fowl to getting tired and slipping out of form on some exercises, but truth be told you may as well not carry out that last rep if it is not carried out correctly.

There are many ways people neglect their form and try to lift heavier than they can, the most common of which are below

1) Deadlift

People are noted for rounding the back and not using their legs enough when carrying out the deadlift which is a prime candidate for showing that they are not lifting with good form, most likely because they are lifting too heavy. This not only moves the emphasis of the lift to other muscles but is also very dangerous and can be damaging to the lower back.

2) Bicep Curls

There are three ways people neglect their form in this exercise, in fact this is the exercise where you see the worst form out of all the gym exercises. The first reason people lose form is because they do not keep their elbows in by the sides, the second is they throw the weight up and use their shoulders to take the strain of the weight and finally they rock their pelvis and hips using momentum to help lift the weight.

3) All Exercises

One of the most interesting and most used ways of neglecting form on all exercises is stopping short. By stopping short this means not completing the full range of movement. I have seen it very frequently where people use a heavy weight but only carry out half the movement required for a full rep. An example is someone using dumbbells too heavy for them on the shoulder press so they don't bring the dumbbells down far enough in the movement.

4) Holding Your Breath

Very frequently people hold their breath while lifting and this is actually very bad for the body. When lifting your blood pressure raises quickly to a high level. By holding your breath you will cause your blood pressure to raise even higher then crash quite dramatically, this can make you pass out and is hard on the heart.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

How Much Do You Bench?

The poll on "How much do you bench" is in and the results are great. This time we got a good commitment with 56 people giving their data to give us a good volume of results.

So heres the graph...


I was not surprised by the results of this poll, well maybe a little about the amount of people who say they bench more than 150 kg but Ill explain why further on in the post.

So looking at the results we can clearly see that the majority of people bench press between 70 and 90 kilograms, this is actually the weight group I expected to see the highest amount of results given the average amount I see people lifting.

Two choices came joint second and these are those either side of the 70 to 90 kilogram option. These two choices are the 50 to 70 kg and the 90 to 110 kg group. Again this is not surprising as you would expect the results in second place to be close to the top choice with the option before or after dependant on a persons training schedule and years of training.

Other than these results we see that 5 people choice the under 50kg option which I believe would represent those that have not been training for a long period as this is usually about the starting point for someone new to weightlifting.

The results that did surprise me were those for the top end of the poll, the choice for 110 to 130kg received 4 counts while 130 to 150kg received 5 and 150kg plus received 6. I would honestly have expected the results to have been reversed with a decline in numbers as the weight lifted grew but this was not to be.

I feel this was an interesting poll and probably my favourite of all polls to date.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Big Biceps Workout

Many men in this world wish to build the vanity muscles that are the Biceps as the Biceps can draw female attention, gain respect from fellow man and also improve ones confidence. so how do you build bulging big Biceps?

Well heres a simple Biceps workout that is sure to test your strength and resolve, this workout has been compiled to ensure you get the best possible chance of building those Biceps that you have always wanted.

If you carry out the below workout once a week you are sure to see a huge increase in the size of your Biceps in a short period of time.

The Big Biceps Workout

Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3 x 8



Dumbbell Biceps Curls 3 x 8



Biceps Negative Curls 3 x 8



Biceps 21's 3 x 21

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Achieving Muscle Gains Without Supplements

I used to be big into taking supplements like weight gainer and protein shakes but have found that you do not need to take these to achieve muscle gains.

I am now stronger than I have ever been yet I have only taken two protein shakes this year!

Granted if you are someone who is always on the go then a protein shake or weight gain shake can be helpful to either ensuring you achieve your daily intake of protein or act as a meal replacement on the odd occasion.

If you are someone who doesn't have that much money spare to be spending on high quality protein supplements then I suggest that you don't as there are many foods out there you can use as an alternative.

Now this post isn't saying that protein supplements are bad or even that you shouldn't take them, far from it. For some people they really do support what they want to achieve in muscle building but for people like me they are not needed and natural food achieves what I want.

So how does it work?

Well if you don't want to take supplements for what ever reason I suggest having five to six meals a day and aim for a minimum thirty grams of protein in each meal. An easy way of achieving this in snacks is by using tuna as one tin of tuna carries around 31 grams of protein (differs depending on the make and type). tuna is also very versatile and works well in sandwiches, salads, jacket potatoes and much more.

For larger meals use turkey, chicken or red meat and you are sure to achieve forty grams of protein in these meals.

The hardest meal to achieve your protein requirements is breakfast as its normally the meal where there is not much protein, this is seen in cereals etc. For breakfast you can supplement you cereal with eggs, kippers or sardines on toast.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Training Has Never Been Better

My training has never been going so well, this past couple of months with my new training partner has seen both me and my training partner make some amazing gains in all areas.

We have achieved this with a gruelling training schedule and mixing in loads of new assistance exercises to build our supporting muscles for some added assistance in our lifts.

We are currently carrying out crucifix exercises, wrist and forearm exercises to build our muscles for supporting the bigger lifts. Further to this we have given ourselves some huge stretching targets to achieve in a small period of time that we are definately on course to achieve.

One of the big factors in our improvements is also the constant changes in exercises used to keep our body from hitting a plateau. Rather than just changing every 6 weeks we are actually setting targets to achieve and once we have hit them, then moving on to new exercises or variations of the exercise.

As well as the change in weights and lifting we are also carrying out CV work at the end of every weight lifting workout, this is running after all workouts except our back workout where we finish with rowing.

Currently I am weighing in at 94 kilograms,. I jumped on the scales this morning and was very pleased to see the needle waver around the 94 to 95 kilogram mark before settling on 94 kilograms, this shows that I am making the right progress towards my 100 kilo target.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Grip and Wrist Strength

As your body gets stronger there is one part of your body that gets neglected that you will start to notice, this is your hands and wrists.

As you gain strength and start to go heavy on exercises like the shoulder shrugs or the deadlift you may start to find your grip on the bar failing you. Its annoying when this happens because you know your body has the strength to carry out many reps but you just dont have the strength in your grip to hold the bar!

Another issue is your wrists, many people feel pains in their wrists from biceps and triceps training, they feel they have an injury but the truth is its your wrists being weak and not having the strength for the weight your lifting.

Now we come to the part where I mention the importance of training your grip and wrists. To improve your grip simply grab a barbell with heavy weights and hold it as you would at the top of a deadlift for as long as possible. Another method is to get up on a chin up bar and hang at arms length for as long as possible.

To improve your wrist strength try holding a weight plate or dumbbell in your hand with your forearm resting on your leg (hand inside your leg) and bringing your wrist up towards your forearm before returning to its normal position and repeating.

For some this may seem like a trivial post but for others it will help improve your overall weightlifting greatly as a result of something as simple as improving your write and wrist strength.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Length of Time Weightlifting

This time round the research poll didn't get many results, well thirteen to be exact but we still have some data so here goes with the results of the length of time people have been weightlifting.


As you can see most people have been training for 3 years or under with under one year receiving 3 votes, one to two years receiving 4 votes and two to three years receiving three votes. This means that 76.92% of people who responded have been training for three years or under.

We did have 2 people say they have been training for three to four years and one person who has been training for over five years.

What did interest me in the results is that the average length of time people have been weightlifting from those who responded is exactly two and a half years. This figure surprises me as most people only train for a year or so as a maximum before giving up, its only the die hards that carry on past this point.

If you think about how many people do go to the gym lifting weights and the time they have been doing so you can understand what my point is.

I suppose the low response doesn't give too much credit to the data but it is interesting none the less.

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Difference in Weighlifting Sports

There are four well known variations of different types of weight lifting, some of which people understand and some of which alot of people fail to know of. Today I have decided to write about the differences in these sports for all to bear witness to.

This post comes straight from a question asked on the newly built forum about the different types of weightlifting.

Powerlifting

Powerlifting is a sport that is gauged on pure strength. In powerlifting tournaments a lifter will carry out three exercises, the deadlift, the bench press and the squat for one rep on the heaviest weight they can carry out one rep with. The total weight they can lift over all exercises combined is their score for the tournament.

In the tournament there are different weight classes to ensure the competition is fair for all.

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is all about looking good, a bodybuilder works hard on sculpting their muscles in size and definition to create an aesthetically pleasing and proportional body. In competitions bodybuilders complete many poses to show off their muscles and a panel judge them on the poses and their body to crown one the champion.

Olympic Lifting

Olympic lifting is a test of power rather than strength (yes these are different) unlike the powerlifting sport and uses different exercises. The idea is to use explosive power and speed to push the wieght up to the required position using correct form.

The Olympic Lifting sport carries out two exercises called the clean and jerk and the snatch. The winner is the person who can lift the most weight and gains the most points from the judges on form.

As with the powerlifting sport Olympic Lifting works on weight categories.

Weightlifting

Weightlifting can refer to Olympic Lifting but is generally used as a non sport term for someone who trains in the gym with weights. The term weightlifting can also be called weight training.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Ahmed Abukhater Interview

Today is a great and happy day for me as I have just finished interviewing another of my favourite Powerlifters. I am so happy and know you will be to when you read this great interview with Ahmed Abukhater the Palestinian Powerlifting Champion.

In such a short period of time Ahmed Abukhater has achieved so much and I feel he is such an inspiration to others for his achievements in both the powerlifting and academic world.

Please join me in the enjoyment of my latest interview.

What made you start out in Powerlifting and how old were you?

I was 14 when I started weightlifting with my younger brother, Mustafah, and we both gradually got into powerlifting. My idle in powerlifting (and a whole bunch of other things) is my father who introduced me to weightlifting at a very young age. The first Palestinian uprising was in full swing then and he knew I had tremendous academic potential that could easily be lost to the political violence enveloping them at the time.

Weightlifting gave me a physical release, but also helped focus my mind. However, I do not train continuously due to other obligations, so it’s pretty much touch and go. Since then, I have been proactively involved in training myself and others.

How did you become professional?

Well, my first real competition was in 2003, after which point I competed at the national level in 2004, where I placed first. Since then, I have competed in many championships and held many regional, national and world titles, and set national and world records. In 2006, I was the first power lifter to represent Palestine in the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL) World Championship. I benched 452 lbs in the 2007 and 2008 World Championships, which won the division and set a new Palestinian national record.

Most recently, I set a new Palestinian record with a 502lb bench press. I was almost speechless when I saw the Palestinian flag displayed proudly and clearly among the flags of other nations in a fair athletic competition. It was indeed a dream come true. Now, I serve as the Chairman of the State of Texas WABDL (World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters) and established my own powerlifting team (Texas professional powerlifting team). We are very small yet selective group of lifters.

What is your favorite exercise in the gym?

Generally, it is bench press (surprise!). Yeah, I pretty much like all exercises that involve heavy lifting. My favorite exercise does not stay the same. It is rather a moving target depending on my level of training, and it is unusually the one that I hate the most that becomes my favorite. This is because the exercise that you hate (which means that you are not good at) is usually your weakest point and the one that you need to focus on more to improve your overall strength – a little wise advice from my father.

What are your personal bests and your weight:

Your Weight: 198lbs
Squat: 630lbs
Bench Press: 610lbs
Deadlift: 705lbs

What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

If and when I have time, I usually train three days a week (1-2 hours each), alternating focus on different body parts. For example, one day I may train for chest and biceps, the other for shoulders, back and triceps, and the other is for legs. During times of preparation for an upcoming championship, my training changes slightly, in that it focuses more on heavy lifting. For example, before a bench press meet I follow the following bench press training program (or something similar to that):

1- Max effort day (without shirt): work up to 1 or 3 reps with supplemental triceps, lats, and delts exercise with high volume.
2- Dynamic Bench Training: this includes a variety of exercises
3- Max effort bench training (with shirt): this day is exclusively dedicated to heavy bench press including:

- two warm-up sets (135lbs)
- one set/ 15 reps (225lbs)
- one set/ 3-5 reps (315lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ 3-5 reps (405lbs)
- one set (shirted – touch)/ 3-5 reps (405lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ 3-5 reps (500lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ one rep (max weight)
- one set (shirted – touch)/ one rep (max weight)

I rest during the last week prior to the meet to let my muscles recoup.

Where do you see your future as you have already achieved so much?

I will definitely continue to compete and up my records, while managing a career and a family life at the same time. As I already started my own team, I look forward to imparting my experience in powerlifting to others who really want to learn and become professional in this sport. Having my own gym is a long term goal of mine that I would really like to attain at some point in my life. Being able to give the opportunity that I had to train and compete on a world scale to other young athletes in Palestine and other disenfranchised regions is an ultimate goal of mine.

With my PhD and experience that focus on a topic about which I am most passionate – water allocation equity in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, another prominent goal is near and dear to my heart, which is to promote “a vision of peace through equitable allocation of disputed natural resources.”

My family is the most important thing to me. I have a loving wife and two beautiful sons who I adore and dearly enjoy spending time with. I would not trade my time with them for anything, except of course powerlifting … just kidding ;)

Do you have any words of motivation for our readers?

Stay on target. With persistence, you can do anything you put your mind to. The three key ingredients for a successful powerlifting training experience is (1) setting a training goal; (2) having a training program; and (3) being consistent with your training and diet (very pivotal to gaining strength). Make up time to train and do not let your busy life (no matter how busy it is) deter you from achieving your training goals. You can always find time to train.

More information can be found at:

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_Abukhater
(2) http://www.imeu.net/news/article006168.shtml
(3) http://www.dailytexanonline.com/sports/world-class-weightlifter-chases-phd-at-texas-1.961097
(4) http://www.utexas.edu/ogs/gradlife/excellence/abukhater.html
http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=AASB&p_theme=aasb&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=116C683E9AFF4528&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM
(5) http://www.wrmea.com/archives/November_2006/0611069.html
(6) http://utexaspowerlifting.weebly.com/index.html

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Crucifix Weightlifting Exercise

The Crucifix exercise is one that I have never seen anyone carry out in the gym unless they happen to be training with me, to me this is surprising as its such a great exercise.

Many of you who follow strongman competitions will know the Crucifix as its one of the competition lifts. The Crucifix involves lifting a weight in each hand until your arms are out stretched so your in the crucifix position and then standing in this position as long as you can, needless to say its a killer!

Crucifix Exercise

Equipment - Dumbbells or Kettlebells of desired weight

Preparation - Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart and the weights by your side.

Movement - Lift the weights until your arms are straight out to the side with your hands slightly higher than shoulder height and your hands are facing palm up. Stay with your hands and arms in this position for as long as possible.

Note - Remember to start light as this is extremely hard and many people try to lift heavier than they physically can. There is no point cheating by bending your arms at the elbows or letting your arms/hands drop lower than the position they are meant to be in so keep your arms high and straight.

Reps/Sets Try to hold the weights for two minutes at one set only.

Crucifix Exercise

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Pendlay Rows

The Pendlay row is a variation to the Barbell row and was designed by Glenn Pendlay who the exercise is named after. Glenn Pendlay is a weightlifting coach in the US.

The difference between the Pendlay row and the Barbell row is that the Pendlay row is strict in its form compared to the Barbell row, this means you are sure you are building your back in the correct way.

Pendlay Row

Equipment - Barbell of desired weight

Preparation - Bend over with your back straight and legs bent then grip the barbell with your hands in an overhand grip and shoulder width apart.

Keep your form strict for the whole movement, dont let your legs/hips move at all in the lift and make sure your back stays straight.

Movement - Keeping your back straight and legs rigid (dont let them move...yes Ive mentioned this twice but its important) pull the bar up towards your upp abs. Return the weight to the floor then lift again, unlike other exercises you are meant to bring the bar back to the floor before starting the next rep.

Note - Remember to start with an empty bar and build weight gradually to ensure you have correct form and do not try to lift heavier than you can. This is very important so you do not cause yourself an injury.

Reps/Sets 5 to 12 reps for 4 sets

Pendlay Row

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Favourite Muscle Groups

The poll on favourite muscle groups has finished and there are interesting results to talk about so lets get down to business.

Firstly lets look at the results in a graph showing the total results by muscle type.


Straight away you can see that the favourite muscle group by a large margin is the chest, this actually didn't surprise me much as its a strong muscle group and also one that offers a lot aesthetically.

What did surprise is the second favourite muscle group. There are two in joint second, one is the shoulders which again I wasn't surprised about but the other was legs. Now I know a high percentage of those that train in the gym neglect to train their legs and it is for this reason I am surprised to see that legs was joint second choice for favourite muscle group.

The third favourite choice is the back, a great big muscle group full of strength and giving great width from behind so not surprising it is high in the table.

Joint fourth is the Biceps and Triceps, the Triceps being fourth was not too surprising but I expected the Biceps to rank more highly. The Biceps, also lovingly known as the guns, are one of mans favourite vanity muscles so I would have thought many people would have favoured this muscle group more.

The final and fifth muscle group is the abs, now the fact that abs came last may be debated by many. The abs are a vanity muscle in the sense of many men aspiring to achieve a six pack so is highly favoured in this manner but the problem is that the abs workouts are not as interesting as others and it takes a massive amount of work to achieve a six pack. It is for the latter reasons I think it finished last.

The full breakdown of the results by percentage is below.

Chest - 32.56%
Legs - 16.28%
Shoulders - 16.28%
Back - 11.63%
Triceps - 9.30%
Biceps - 9.30%
Abs - 4.65%

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Weightlifting and Boxing

There is a mantra in the boxing world that says one should not carry out any weightlifting using weights if training to be a boxer. The mantra is that all weightlifting should be completed through calisthenic exercises utilising a persons own body weight, but is this correct?

The rationale behind this is that weightlifting will increase your muscle mass making you bulky which will cause you to become slow and less flexible in the ring while calisthenics will keep the flexibility and add some strength without slowing you down.

It is important to mention that Calisthnics is a great way to improve muscle endurance while increase a persons strength but it has its limits, namely you cannot lift more than you weigh.

I personally believe that many boxing trainers automatically think of bodybuilding style weightlifting when telling budding boxers not to weight train. Bodybuilding style lifting is all about building bulky muscle so yes they are correct in this regard but I feel they have never understood or they have overlooked two other types of weight training, strength training and power training.

Strength training

For strength training you need to lift the 5x5 workout which will improve overall strength without building huge bulky muscles.

This involves lifting 5 sets of 5 reps on the heaviest weight you can lift for 5 sets and reps using any compound movement (movement where you use more than one joint such as the deadlift, benchpress or squat).

Power training

For power training you need to carry out explosive reps, other wise known as speed training. What you need to do is lift a weight you can comfortably carry out 8 reps but instead of lifting them normally you will push the weight out as quick as possible making it an explosive move....great for improving your speed.

An example is when I carry this out for the bench press using the smith machine I push so hard that the weight jumps out of my hands at the top and lands back in my hands before bringing the weight back down (this is a purposeful act but dont do this unless you comfortable to do so).

Summary

With strength training and powertraining you will improve your strength and power/ speed which will aid your boxing. Its important to use this as an aid to your boxing training and not let it take over any of your boxing regimes.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Changing Exercises Regularly

Many people who visit the gym have a workout plan they use week in and week out which is great but is also a hindrance to their potential to increase strength and mass.

Changing exercises regularly is one way to enough you dont hit a plateau and continue to see your strength and muscle mass increase month on month. The reason that changing exercises regularly is important can be broken down in to multiple benefits as shown below.

Shock and awe

Your muscles over time will get used to the movements of the exercises you are using in your workouts, this means that the improvments in strength and muscle mass will reduce, or even plateau.

By changing exercises regularly you are shocking your muscles as they do not get time to become comfortable with the movement of one exercise before you are then changing it to another.

This change keeps strength and muscle mass improvments at the optimum level as your muscles continue to work hard to lift different exercises they are not accustomed to lifting on a regular basis.

Different angles of attack

Another great reason for changing exercises regularly is to try all angles of movement through various exercises to build your muscles. It seems simple yet alot of people dont try all exercises for each muscle group to ensure that each muscle gets a complete workout from each angle of attack.

An example is the back, you can use the lat pulldown, seated rows, barbell rows, single arm dumbbell rows, supine rows, single arm pulldowns....each of this has the benefit of using different angles of attack on your back muscles.

Mental Stimulation

Another great reason to keep changing exercises is to keep your mental stimulation of wanting to workout.

It can be quite monotonous to carry out the same exercsies in the same routine lifting the same amount of weight week in and week out. By changing the exercises and the placement of them in your routine it will also keep your mind stimulated as you try new things.

Summary

You should try changing one or more of your exercises in all workout routines every 8 to 12 weeks to ensure you get the most out of your training. My personal preference is to keep a base compound lift as my main lift in my training (this never changes) then place other exercises around this, it is these other exercises that I change regularly.

An example of this would be that for chest I always use the standard barbell bench press but change other exercises in the routine every 2 or 3 months to keep the strength gains on my chest on an incline.