Struggling to beat your PBâs for squats yet running your friends into the ground on the treadmill? Well, it might be less to do with being weak and more to do with your genes, according to analysts from the University of Szczecin, Poland.
The authors of a study, published in the <Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research>, looked at DNA extracts from 100 power-specific athletes (i.e. power lifters) and 123 endurance athletes, all of whom competed at international level in their respective sports. Boffins also studied 344 non-athletes for comparison.
The tests, which looked at the genotype of the M235T polymorphism of the AGT gene, showed that 40% of power athletes had the 'CC' allele, compared to the 13% of endurance athletes and 18% of non-athletes.
âIdentifying genetic characteristics related to athletic excellence or individual predisposition to types of sports with different demands (power or endurance oriented) or even sport specialty may be decisive in recognising athletic talent and probably will allow for greater specificity in steering of sports training programmes," says author of the study, Dr Pawel CiÄszczyk.
As the number of fitness apps available for smartphones continues to grow, researchers from Kent State University, Ohio, claim smartphones may actually be preventing their owners from getting fit.
The team analysed over 300 students from the Midwest regarding their mobile phone use, with 49 students having their fitness levels and body make-up assessed. Results showed those who spent up to 14 hours per day on their phones were less fit compared to those who only used their phone for 90 minutes per day.
Students who used their phones constantly were less likely to take part in physical activities, instead preferring to spend their time on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram; plus, they were often distracted by their phone when exercising.
âInject a smartphone into a group of people, and they become less physically active; that little screen has become irresistible for some people,â Andrew Lepp, co-author of the study explains.Â
For all the latest fitness news, check out TRAIN magazine, in stores now!
Something many healthy eaters have pondered over the years is which is the most nutritional fruit, and now scientists from Yale University in New Haven may have finally found the answer.
Dr David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Center, and his team of researchers have created the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System. They award points to fruits for their nutritional strengths, and take them away for any weaknesses. Eventually the fruits are left with a score out of 100.
When Katz and his team ran an orange through the mill it scored 100 out of 100, while apples and bananas scored 96 and 91 respectively. Oranges had a much higher score due to having significant amounts of fibre, folate, calcium, vitamin C, bioflavanoids and carotenoids.
âIf you consider the concentration of a wide array of nutrients relative to calories, the orange is the most nutritious, followed by the apple, followed by bananas,â Dr Katz explains.
TRAIN Fact:Â Grown in Taiwan by Huang Ah-hsien, âThe Kingâ orange is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world, weighing 1.3lb and measuring 10.5cm in diameter.Â
Researchers from Iran have proven the usefulness of peppermint for athletes. The labcoats told 12 healthy male students to drink a 500ml bottle of water with 0.05ml of peppermint in it every day for 10 days. They were then tested using a treadmill-based exercise. The results showed that the peppermint increased exercise performance, respiratory rate and aided blood pressure.
A new study from the US Army suggests eating twice the recommended daily amount (RDA) of protein while dieting will help reduce muscle wastage.Â
Researchers reduced volunteersâ energy levels over a 31-day period, while giving one group the RDA of protein, the second group double it and the third group triple it. Group two performed best in keeping muscle and losing fat. Â Â
TRAIN tip: The protein RDA for males over 19 is 56g. As per the above, youâd need the equivalent of about 4Â˝ scoops of Reflex Instant Whey each day. Â
Check out Bodybuilding.com's online store for all your protein needs.
Boffins have discoveredÂ another benefit to allÂ the BCAA (branchedÂ chain amino acids)Â powder youâreÂ using for all of its fantastic muscle-building benefits. Â
Japanese researchers found that supplementing a diet with everyoneâs favourite muscle mass booster could also help fight off liver cancer.
A study published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found taking a daily dose of between 5.5â12g of BCAAs over a two-year period provided the aforementioned health benefit.Â
Starting in 2009, the scientists gave 299 participants with cirrhosis at several hospitals in Japan between 5.5g and 12g of BCAAs to consume per day or gave them none at all. Â
The observers revisited with 267 of them in 2011 and discovered 23% of those who didnât supplement had developed liver cancer, compared to only 11% of patients who consumed the BCAAs daily. The survival rate in the latter group was also increased as well.Â
Go to Bodybuilding.com's online store for a massive range of BCAA supplements.
Name: Edwin Velez
Location: Albertville, Alabama
- Age: 26
- Weight: 310lb
- Body Fat: 48%
- Age: 27
- Weight: 160lb
- Body Fat: 9.4%
Why I decided to transform:
"After going on a cruise with friends and looking at pictures, I noticed my weight was out of control and something needed to be done. I challenged myself to lose weight and began my journey in December 2011. I know firsthand what being overweight does to you physically, mentally, and emotionally. I know how it feels to be unable to tie your shoes without holding your breath or being told you have to sit in a special seat on a roller coaster.My life is much different now, but I'm still adapting to the new me. I still catch myself looking for the wrong sizes when I shop and still do double takes in the mirror."
How I accomplished my goals:
"Single at age 26, I set a goal to drop 100 pounds between my return from the Bahamas in November 2011 and the next trip in March 2012. I had four months to reach my goal. I started walking 45 minutes per day until I could jog for the entire time.
"I started a high-protein, low-carb diet. Fish and chicken combined with fruits and vegetables became my best friends during the process. Coming from a Latin household, the food changes were extremely difficult to maintain, but I was determined. Going from eating rice and beans with fried chicken and fried plantains on a daily basis to grilled chicken and broccoli was extremely hard. I put away all sweets and soft drinks, which were my two favorites. I recall eating 10 mini chocolate bars during a work day.
"I didn't completely eliminate carbs because they're a major source of energy. I used the "little rule." If it was originally white in color, I removed it from my diet. These foods consisted of rice, pastas, breads, crackers, and tortillas. For carbs, I ate vegetables, fruit, and whole grain cereal. When I ate out, I ordered a salad completely dry. I stayed away from ketchup and mayonnaise. I completely removed sodas, juices, and anything that wasn't water.
"I permitted one cheat meal per week. When I went out to dinner with friends, I ate whatever I wanted, but stuck to water as my beverage."
For Edwin's full workout and diet, check out his full feature at Bodybuilding.com.
He might not be a household name (yet) or grace the front cover of magazines, but Mark Twight might just be the most important man in health and fitness. US military special operations have used his expertise to train troops, making him a valuable asset to national security, but this is often overshadowed by his crafting of the superhero Hollywood physiques such as Antje Traue, Eva Green, Russell Crowe, Henry Cavill and the cast of the 300 movies.
With the client-list to end all client-lists youâd imagine he gives some pupils special treatment: wrong. Regardless of your pay check everyone has to put in the hard yards. This is especially true when youâre training an entire cast, like he did most recently for 300: Rise of an Empire.
âThe training was customized to the extent possible with such a large group (40 trainees total), but the guidelines for all of them were similar,â explains Twight. âWe set a target for each actor and said, âOK, this is where we need to arrive â what do we need to do get to that point?â We adapted to the individuals and adjusted the training along the way while always keeping in mind the ultimate objective.â
Thatâs an example of excellent forward planning that everyone should apply to their training.
THE WINNING ATTITUDE
Mark is no nonsense about what needs to be done to get fit, so actors and athletes are told they better come prepared to commit.
âOur training philosophy is simple,â says Twight. âIt all comes down to: find the problem, fix the problem. We train a bunch of endurance athletes, and weâve got several NFL players who work with us in the off-season. And those are two different problems.â
It seems nobody is immune to his fiercely results-based training mantra because clients need to be committed to see results. âI need someone to pay attention 24/7,â he says. âI need them to be honest with us so we can fine tune on a daily basis what needs to be done according to the stress from work and whatâs going on: the fact they live in a hotel and that once shooting starts they work 12â16 hour days.
âWe have to fit the training into that while also dealing with the guy who needs to blow off steam and says, âHey, Iâm going to go drink a bottle of vodka.â To that I say, âOK, well weâll train tomorrow at two.ââ
Itâs that kind of adaptive response from Twight that solidifies his reputation for being the best at what he does: motivating, inspiring and delivering physical results. So you can expect to see more big things from him because the real hero is the man behind the muscle.
If you canât get to the mountain then bring the mountain to you, and thatâs how hypoxic training works â altitude training done at sea level.
The higher you train above sea level, the less oxygen there is. It works because when your kidneys sense there isnât enough oxygen in the blood to fuel your exercise they release a hormone that prompts the body to make more red blood cells. They begin to carry the small amounts of oxygen that youâre getting from your lungs into your muscles.
After a few sessions this does lead to performance improvements, especially when you train at sea level because youâll have more red blood cells floating in your blood. And they carry additional energy-yielding oxygen to your muscles.
But is this the exclusive pursuit of endurance aficionados or can everyone benefit?Â
Read on to find out everything you need to get a chokehold on improving your performance.Â
How long does it last?Â
Training with your head in the clouds doesnât give never-ending endurance because the advantage only lasts for 10 to 15 days, found research in Journal of Applied Physiology. Thatâs because your body will eventually have to return to normal. This is why endurance athletes often live in high altitudes and compete at sea level.Â
The difference between hypoxicÂ and altitude training
Hypoxic is altitude training at sea level, but living at high altitudes means there is no escape to normal levels of O2. Which is better?
Well, research in High Altitude Medicine and Biology compared altitude and hypoxic training and found that living in high altitudes rather than training at low altitudes improves VO2max by 13% (a benchmarkÂ for aerobic fitness) and can boost long to medium distance running times (events lasting more than 20 minutes).
Not everyone has a mountain-top gym so just make the best of what you have available.Â
Will it improve strength athletes?Â
This type of training is a well-known plaything of endurance athletes but it can also improve the size of your guns.
Research in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that it actually boosts anaerobic performance and might help you build more muscle and strength than training in normal environments.
There is some controversy to this because each person is likely to respond differently, so trial and error might be the best approach to see if it works for you.Â
Burn more calories
Doing your fat burning in a hypoxic chamber might deliver a leaner stomach.Â
Construction workers who worked at high altitudes reduced their body fat by 10.2% within one month of moving from a sea level site, found a study at the Research Center for High Altitude Medicine.
Itâs thought this happens because high altitudes reduce your appetite while your body begins to rely more on stored carbs and fats for energy rather than just the food you eat.
Perhaps more than any other meal, breakfast is at the mercy of our daily routine â or lack thereof. Even those of us (which is probably all of us) who have heard that itâs âthe most important meal of the dayâ can sometimes be found skipping it while we weâre rushing to get out the door.
Or weâll dip donuts into coffee and assume itâs better than nothing. Or weâll pack in large servings of whole-grains in the hope theyâll give us âlong-lasting energy throughout the day.â
BREAKFAST CAN STRATEGICALLY ASSIST YOUR GOALS
Well, Iâm here to tell you that the aura surrounding breakfast is well deserved, and that skipping it is bad news. Studies have found that people who donât eat breakfast tend to overeat during the rest of the day and have more body fat overall.
In addition, research has shown that what you eat at breakfast determines how well your metabolism functions for the remainder of the day â for better and worse.
As you might expect, then, breakfast can also be geared strategically to your goals. Since your goals include losing fat, building muscle and achieving a healthy body composition, letâs dig into the perfect macros for the morning.
PROTEIN: GET ENOUGH!
As you might expect, anabolism (protein synthesis) is at its lowest and catabolism (muscle breakdown) is greatest after an overnight fast. This is significant, because Americans typically consume most of their protein at lunch and dinner, with only insignificant amounts at breakfast.
Research has found a threshold amount of protein, 30â40g, that must be consumed to trigger muscle protein synthesis. This amount is far above what youâll get from a typical Western breakfast of a bagel, cream cheese and orange juice. Eat like that and you set yourself up to remain in a catabolic state.
Aside from the anabolic benefits of protein, research has shown that consuming higher-protein breakfasts makes individuals feel fuller throughout the day, all while burning more fat than with lower amounts of protein. Accordingly, I recommend 30â40g of high-quality protein at the first meal of the day.
CARBOHYDRATES: SPEED KILLS
The quality of the carbs you eat at breakfast seems to matter as much, or perhaps more than the quantity, within reason. Your choices? Fast-digesting carbs in the form of sugars, starches and flours, or slow-digesting fibrous carbs like oatmeal.
In a study conducted by a Dr EJ Stevenson, subjects who ate a slow-digesting breakfast three hours before performing exercise appeared to burn fat two to three times faster than those who were given a fast-digesting morning meal.
In addition, high-fiber, low-glycemic breakfasts can contribute to satiety over the course of the day. Fast-digesting carbs, as their name implies, tend to leave you hankering for more of the same junk food far too soon.
DONâT FORGET THE FAT
Do you think cutting back on trashy carbs in the morning means you skimp on fat too? Well, let me tell you now, it doesnât.
Researchers from the University of Alabama in Birmingham performed a series of experiments where subjects were fed either a high-fat breakfast (45:35:20 fat, carbs and protein), or a high-carb, low-fat breakfast (10:70:20). The high-fat breakfast was followed by eight hours of high-carb eating (10:70:20) while the high-carb breakfast was followed by eight hours of high-fat eating (45:35:20). This continued for 12 weeks.
Astoundingly, even though the total macros were similar between groups, subjects who ate a high-fat breakfast burned more fat throughout the day, and they were leaner than the high-carb breakfast eaters!
The takeaway is that breakfast programs your metabolism for the rest of the day. A high-carb breakfast will cause you to rely primarily on carbohydrates for energy the rest of the day, whereas a higher-fat, lower-carbohydrate breakfast will program your metabolism to run on fat.
On June 28, 2005, Michael Murphy was deployed in Afghanistan to look for the commander of insurgents known as the Mountain Tigers. But it was in the remote mountains of Kunar provinve that he and three of his fellow SEALs became drastically outnumbered by the Taliban.
After several hours of battle and with his radio out of commission, he left his position of cover to make his way with a satellite phone to a clearing so he could get a reception and call for reinforcements while bullets rained down around him.
Sadly, he took a fatal hit, but showed immense bravery and courage by still making the call for reinforcements and continuing to fight for his team.
He put his life directly in harmâs way to save his comrades and protect his country with pride. Itâs for this reason that his legend resonates so powerfully and spawned a Hollywood recreation in his honor.
A HERO FROM EARLY ON
This wasnât an isolated heroic incident because he earned his nickname âThe Protectorâ after getting suspended in school for fighting bullies who were picking on a special needs child, and then for intervening when people were picking on a homeless man.
He also wasnât someone without options because he graduated from Pennsylvania State University with honors and dual degrees in political science and psychology, but wanted to serve his country and so enlisted with the Navy.
After his death he was awarded the Medal of Honor, Americaâs highest military decoration, for his actions on that day and became the first member of the Navy to receive that award since the Vietnam War.
The workout below was named as a homage to âMurphâ in recognition of the courage and grit he showed during battle and throughout his life. Do this session with pride and youâll pay Murphy and your physique a fitting tribute.Â
Complete this WOD named in honor of Navy SEAL lieutenant Michael Murphy as fast as you can
Step 1:Â One-mile run
Step 2: Pull-up
Muscles: Back, biceps, abs, forearmsÂ
A) Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip thatâs shoulder width apart. If youâre advanced then attach a lifting belt around your waist and hang weights off it, or use a weighted vest.Â
Hang at armâs length so your elbows are completely extended.Â
B) Bend your elbows to pull yourself up until your chin crosses the plane of the bar. Pause then slowly lower yourself to the starting position without allowing your body to sway.
Step 3: Push-up
Muscles: Shoulders, chest, triceps, abs
A) Lie face-down on the ground. Support your body with the balls of your feet and place your hands shoulder width apart. Keep your arms straight but not locked.Â
B) Bend your elbows, keeping them tucked to your sides, to lower yourself to the floor. When your chest touches the floor straighten your elbows to push back up the start.
Step 4: Bodyweight squat
Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, abs
A) Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.Â
B) Bend your hips and knees simultaneously to lower yourself toward the ground. Stop when the bottoms of your thighs become parallel to the floor but go deeper if this feels comfortable. Keep your back straight and knees in line with your feet. Rise to the start position along the same path by straightening your knees.Â
Step 5: One-mile run
If youâre a gym newbie, choosing the right exercises can be a minefield, so here are TRAINâs top weight-room tips to achieve the perfect physique.
If you read lots of strength training articles intended for intermediate and advanced guys â and youâre still a beginner â you might find yourself disappointed with the lack of basic information. There may be tons of talk on sets, reps, progression schemes and the like, but the authors often assume you already have a basic idea of the exercises youâre going to use.
That assumption is fine for lifters whoâve already put in a few years in the weight-room, but what about you?
While exercise selection isnât as complicated â or even as critical â as some gurus make it out to be, any beginner needs to understand the basic movements that work for his or her body.
Plus, youâve got to understand how you should go about substituting some exercises for others when youâre hurt, youâre fatigued or a given movement just doesnât feel right for your body type.
Here are a few basic considerations that will help you plan out your routine.
Building Muscle & Maximal Strength
Whether youâre an aspiring bodybuilder, a soon-to-be powerlifter or even just a newbie gym rat who wants to look better, your goals are basically the same â build muscle and strength. To that end, youâll need to choose a few bread-and-butter movements to form the cornerstone of your workouts. Unless youâre permanently injured or missing body parts, these are going to be the squat, press and pull.
When it comes to squatting, nothing beats the barbell back squat, but even then there are different variations to choose from. You can place the bar high or low on your back, you can vary your foot placement from ultra-wide to ultra-narrow, and while I always want to see lifters squatting at least to parallel, your flexibility may allow you to nearly touch your ass to the floor.
Rather than focusing on working specific muscle groups, though, just pick the form which allows you to use the most weight and progress the fastest. For most guys, a moderately wide foot placement, a low bar position and just-below-parallel depth are going to be ideal â but donât be afraid to play around with it!
For pressing, I like the flat barbell bench press for anyone with healthy shoulders. If youâre beginning your training with pre-existing shoulder issues, however, or if the flat bench just doesnât feel right, feel free to swap it for incline presses or decline presses at a slight angle.
Stick with the barbell, though! Advanced guys may need to worry about the extra âstretchâ and pec recruitment they get from dumbbell presses, but when youâre first starting out, you donât want to rely on exercises that limit the weight you can use.
In addition to some form of benching, you should try your hardest to find some form of overhead pressing that doesnât aggravate your shoulders. Again, I like the most basic move, the standing, strict military press, but not everyone can do it without shoulder pain. If thatâs you, the seated dumbbell overhead press is a fine substitution.
Whatever you do, though, donât substitute the seated barbell press for the military press just because you donât want to stand up and sacrifice some weight on the bar. Lift heavy, but donât let your ego get in the way of proper program design!
Finally, just about everyoneâs mainstay pulling exercise should be the conventional deadlift. Guys with football backgrounds may favor the clean, but I find that itâs far too technical to allow for constant progression, and youâll never even approach the kinds of weights youâll be able to lift on the deadlift.
If you canât do the conventional deadlift without aggravating your spring â even with a neutral back and great form â swap it for the wider-stance sumo deadlift. Sumo isnât as great for building overall strength and mass, but itâs far better than not deadlifting at all!
Those four movements â the squat, flat press, overhead press, and pull â will pack on more mass and develop more overall strength than anything else, and just about every beginner should spend half of their gym time or more on just those exercises.
However, there are still plenty of other exercises that can help fill in the gaps and produce a well-rounded physique.
First and foremost youâll need to pick a few movements for your lats, traps and upper back. These muscle groups will make you look wide, thick and powerful, and theyâre crucial for stabilizing your entire body when performing any heavy upper-body or lower-body lift.
In general, youâll want to pick some sort of row, some kind of pull-up, and if youâve got some energy left over, some kind of shrug.
Opt for free weights over machines â at least until youâve put in some time with the basics â and make sure youâre progressing in weight and reps just as you should be with your main exercises.
Next youâll want to pick some accessory pressing movements. While you wonât need a ton of extra pressing volume on top of your benching and military pressing, you will want a little extra work for your chest, shoulders and triceps.
I really love dips myself, and I think anyone with healthy shoulders should do them religiously. As far as other free-weight movements are concerned, Iâd go with a couple of different dumbbell presses. You can pick between flat, decline, incline, overhead and all angles in between â just make sure youâre consistent with your setup, and as always, strive for more weight or reps every session.
Finally, youâll probably want to include some extra work for the âshowâ muscles â the biceps, triceps, calves and abs. For biceps and triceps, there is no need to take the advanced bodybuilder route and try out 100 different variations of curls and extensions.
Most guys have success with basic dumbbell or barbell curls, as well as some hammer curls and reverse curls for forearms.
For triceps, stick mainly to cable extensions with various attachments. Theyâll allow you to go decently heavy without trashing your elbows.
For calves, the choice is obvious â calf raises! One seated and one standing variation are more than enough, and thereâs no need to fuss over different machines, angles and the like.
Iâve found that every guy with great calves fits into one of two categories: he was blessed with genetically huge calves and never even has to train them, or he brought them up from nothing with some of the most intensely painful, calf-burning workouts imaginable. When it comes to these stubborn muscles, your intensity and pain tolerance matter far more than your exercise selection!
Finally, you should train your abs the way you train any other muscle â with heavy weight! Unless you just really enjoy the satisfaction of a stomach-torching ab workout, stick to heavy sit-ups and side-bends. Other than losing body fat, thatâs the only thing thatâs going to make your abs âpopâ a little bit more, and the heavy work will actually make your core stronger for squats, deadlifts and other heavy movements that require full-body stabilization.
Bringing Up Your Weak Points
Now you know all the basic exercises you need to start building mass and strength â but what about your weak points? To put it bluntly, if youâre enough of a beginner to need this article, you donât have weak points â everything on you is weak!
You shouldnât feel down about that since youâre just starting out, but itâs the straight truth.
Even if you begin with disproportionate strength levels between your upper and lower body, between your squat and deadlift, etc., you canât really tell whatâs weak until youâve trained for a period of time.
Only once you get to the intermediate level will you start to see real weak areas in your lifts and in your physique. But you canât possibly develop or recognize these kinds of weak points until youâve spent a couple of years squatting, pressing, pulling and building a base of muscle mass. So for now, treat everything like itâs weak, and leave no stone unturned in your quest for the perfect physique!
If you were asked to name the top 10 sports in which athletes need killer cardio levels, you probably wouldn't have placed ice hockey near the top. But you'd be mistaken!
Just think about it: ice hockey stars, like the Boston Bruins' captain Zdeno Chara, are constantly involved in high-intensity plays that last on average between 45 and 90 seconds! That doesn't sound like much, until you compare it to the NFL where plays last on average just eight seconds.
And if you're still not convinced, think about this: Chara regularly takes his bicycle on vacation so he can complete some of the toughest mountain stages of Â the 3,000-mile Tour de France course â just for kicks!
If you've got your heart, body and mind set on completing a killer cardio session then you have to warm up properly beforehand.
And the reason is: 75 to 80% of your body is water, and it's the water in your bloodstream that delivers all those vital nutrients to your muscles, so not getting the heart pumped up can lead to strains. Plus, you'll avoid those niggling knee and shoulder injuries because completing a good warm-up will lubricate your joints.
So just try out this simple program, which includes four simple movements that will target your hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors. All four are done on the treadmill. But don't put it on an incline and don't take the speed above 2mph.
ALTERNATING ONE-LEGGED HURDLE
Simply walk on the treadmill and lift one leg at a time as though you were stepping over a hurdle. This is to warm up the hip flexors.
ALTERNATING ONE-LEGGED BUTT KICK BACKS
This motion has lots of names you can generally see women doing it on the stair stepper. Basically, all you are doing is kicking your leg back and curling it, which squeezes the glutes.
This is a really simple one. Just do a lunge as you would on the ground, but this time, of course, the floor is moving under you. Make sure you have the treadmill on a very slow speed.
Simply walk along on the treadmill, as with the three other exercises, and give your abs a good squeeze while lifting up your knee to your chest. This is a great warm-up exercise for your core.
Do one warm-up exercise for 30 seconds and then walk for another 30 seconds before moving on to the next movement. Generally, between five and 10 minutes should be sufficient to get the blood pumping enough.
Whether youâre sports performance-minded, or simply interested in improving your physique, you surely wouldnât turn your nose up at bigger, stronger legs that last. And certainly not if getting there meant leg days were more about a blaze of glory rather than tedious repetition, right?
Then take a tip from cross-country skiers. By balancing their ski training with either explosive speed-based movements or heavy-weight-based power work, they build leg strength to make most gym flies jealous.
How? When ski training intensity is high, they focus on speed in the weights room; and when itâs low, they focus on heavy lifting. Since adding the power training to her schedule, cross-country ski Olympian Caitlin Gregg has set multiple PBs and has now set her sights on qualifying for Februaryâs 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The strength training focuses on the major movements, as thereâs no need to wear her out with volume. Squats, clean and jerk, snatches, deadlifts and body-weight exercises make up the majority of the drills.
And we broke the training down into two lifting days per week. Day one was lower-body strength, and day two was explosion. We never work above five reps and keep sets for each lift between three and five.
The speed training focuses around jumping and short-burst sprinting. Itâs about building power and moving as fast as possible. We work different box jump and long jump variations in addition to our short-burst sprinting â the majority of the sprints are between 10 and 30 yards (the longest sprints in the program are 80 yards).
We incorporated that speed training in with the strength workouts, hitting both twice a week.Â
INCREASE YOUR SETS
Adding more sets per exercise will increase the load capacity of your muscles. So, if you normally do three sets at 6-8 reps, start doing five sets at 6-8 reps. You're training your muscle to endure a heavy load of weight for a longer period of time. Doing this for a few weeks will increase your muscle endurance capacity. When you return to your regular three sets of 6-8 reps, the amount of weight you can lift will increase.
There are two parts to any lift: cocentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering).Â The cocentric is considered the weakest part of a lift. The eccentric contraction is the strongest stage. With that in mind, a great way to break past a plateau is by killing the strongest part of your lift with negative, meaning lift the weight and count five seconds as you slowly bring it down. Doing this will increase the strength in your overall lift.
ONE-REP MAX IMMEDIATELY TO 80%
My favorite ways to push past my plateaus, but you may need a spotter. After youâve finished warming-up for your workout, put on an amount of weight youâve never done before â over your oneârep max. Do one rep out then rest for two minutes. Repeat. Once completed, unload to the weight youâve always maxed out at. Youâll see how much easier it will be to lift, since youâve fooled/trained you body into feeling a heavier weight.
The inaugural issue of TRAIN, the health and fitness magazine the industry had been crying out for, came out of the gates flying with a world exclusive interview with muscle-bound movie star Chris Hemsworth in its very first issue.
In the article, Hemsworth reveals how he managed to cut 30lb of pure beef after playing larger-than-life superhero Thor in the 2012 summer blockbuster,Â The Avengers, to star as the womanizing and drug-abusing Formula 1 racing legend James Hunt in Ron Howardâs Rush and then stack the brawn back on again to once more wield the mighty hammer of his superhero alter-ego for the 2013 box-office smash Thor: The Dark World â all in just 12 months.
During the interview, Hemsworth details the incredible struggle he endured cutting the weight and the strict high-protein diet that helped him pack the muscle back on, saying: âIt was pretty brutal, man.
âThe first thing Ron Howard said to me when I got the Rush job was, âI donât know if Thor is going to fit into a race car.â
âI was filming The Avengers when I got his call, so I went from 215lb, which is how much I weigh when Iâm playing Thor, down to about 185lb, and that was all in about four months.
âI immediately went from weightlifting into cardio training to shed that extra 30lb, which was a pretty nasty thing to do. Iâd rather put on weight any time. I was basically under fed and over trained for a number of months.
âI had to mainly get rid of the muscle because I didnât really have much body fat on me after The Avengers either.â
But once filming for Rush had finished, Hemsworth had to bulk straight back up to play the Norse god once more.
He says: âI bulked up for about eight weeks and then slowly cut down for maybe a month or so. I had to be pretty strategic with food: eat for value.
âI spent a lot of time in the gym. I had to work out for an hour or two every day and eat ridiculous amounts of protein. And closer to the shoot I was pretty much carb-free.
âI did do a lot of functional training. I would do circuits and bodyweight exercises for more functional strength: stuff like chin-ups and pull-ups and box jumps, and even some CrossFit stuff. I also worked with kettlebells. Man, thatâs intense.â
But if Hemsworth thought that was intense, he was in for a real shock because things were about to get a lot tougher as the first day of filming for The Avengers approached.
Thor's upper-body hammer workout
Using the weight of his hammer, Mjolnir, hereâs a workout that even a Norse god could use to stay in shapeâŚ
PROGRAM: Perform six to eight reps for as many sets as you can on each drill for up to six minutes. Rest for one minute and then repeat for another two rounds.
TRAIN Tip: Perfect your techniques before increasing weight as thereâs a lot of rotational movement involved in the workout.
1. OVERHEAD TWO-HANDED SLAMS
Hit a big tire while holding a heavy hammer in both hands. Great for all-over conditioning, it will also improve the rotational strength in your shoulders and arms. Alternate sides.
2. SINGLE-ARM CHOP
This will develop your hand, wrist and shoulder stability, as well as your strength. Use a lighter hammer than previously and alternate arms.
3. SINGLE-ARM TRICEP LIFT AND SLAM
Gripping the lighter hammer with one hand, twist it behind your back before lifting it vertically using just your triceps muscle and slamming it down on a tire. Alternate arms.
4. SIDEWAYS CHOP
Swing the hammer at a big tire as though playing the ninth hole on a golf course. This will hit the hips and core while strengthening your mid section. Alternate from side to side.
5. SINGLE-HAND ROUND-THE-WORLD
Hold hammer in one hand, then cast it around your opposite shoulder and behind your head. Taking it back to the upright position. Alternate.
6. OVERHEAD STRIKE SQUAT
Grab the hammer with both hands and bring it back over your head before chopping down on a tire while bending at the knees. Perform this drill with a heavy hammer.
7. DOUBLE-HANDED SHOVEL
Bring the hammer from over your shoulder while dipping and perform a front lever with it. Bring it back vertically behind your head. Repeat without pausing and alternate.
Bulk up like Hemsworth
Do you want to become a Norse god? Hereâs an example of Chris Hemsworthâs daily diet plan that helped him gain 30lb of muscle to become Thor.
- 1 cup of oatmeal
- 1 sliced banana
- 1/2 cup sultanas
- Full-fat milk
- 4 egg whites
- 1 egg
- 50g cheese
- Protein shake
- Freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 salmon fillets
- 100g quinoa
- 100g asparagus
- 1 glass full-fat milk
- 2 boiled eggs
- 2 slices brown bread
- Protein shake
One of the coolest pieces of kit to help bring shoulder workouts back to life are stone locks. They are an old school training device, used by Shaolin monks. In China thousands of years ago iron wasnât plentiful so the monks would either carve them by hand or mold cast them with whatever was available.
The angle is designed in such as way that not only does it strengthen your shoulders, but the entire arm as well. The monks would incorporate these into their daily exercises.
Shaolin Boulder Shoulders
ONE-LEGGED FRONT RAISE
Stand on one leg, to activate the core, and raise the pad lock to shoulder height. 20 reps each side.
ONE-LEGGED SIDE RAISE
Stand on one leg and raise the pad lock to the side. Do not raise the arms above your shoulder line. 20 reps each side.
HORSE STANCE PUNCH
Stand square on with your knees bent with the padlocks raised in a boxing-style guard position. Now punch forward, alternating arms. Do 30-second bursts.
Stand in a fight or parallel stance. Keep the locks at shoulder level. Now lower one lock down to your waist and then turn your hip and punch the lock up to the opposite shoulder then repeat on the other side. Do 20 reps.
Stand with your knees bent. Raise the lock in front of your body to shoulder level and then bring your shoulder blades together as your move the locks out to the side. Lower to your hips then raise them again to restart the movement. Do 20 reps.
Place the locks under your shoulder and get into a push-up position. Next push down on one lock as you pull up the other. Do 10 reps.
TRAIN tip: Try to keep your hips level the whole time you are alternating arms.
Standing upright, step forward into the lunge and raise the locks to your sides at shoulder height. When you press back from a lunge return the locks to your sides. Do 20 reps.
BURPEE TO PUNCH-OUT
Start with the locks on the ground either side of your feet. As you shoot your legs back, drop down into a push-up holding the locks, then explode your feet back to your hands and stand-up and punch the locks forward. Do 10 reps.
We all know there are two things that have to happen for you to build muscle: firstly, you need to be training hard and heavy; and secondly, you need to eat your face off. Have you even seen someone try and go on a diet, or lean out, during the holiday season? Itâs almost painful to watch, and Iâm not sure Iâve ever seen someone succeed.
Instead, why not make the most of this special time of year, where you tend to have more time off (and copious amounts of food at your disposal), to get serious about adding some size to that frame? After all, if you put on a few extra pounds of muscle now, when you do lean out in the spring and summer, you'll have an even more impressive physique next year.
If I'm speaking your language, I've got five muscle-building tips that are guaranteed to fast track your progress. Use them for rapid muscle growth, and I guarantee you'll be impressed with the results!
1. Go Big or Go Home
When it comes to leg training, I love exercises like single-leg RDL's, step-ups and the like. And almost everyone enjoys blasting their guns with some isolation work, or chasing a searing pump on shoulder raise variations. But this month, as the saying goes, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" This month, it's all about big, compound lifts.
Even your 'assistance' exercises for the month should be of the compound variety. Think RDL's, dips, close-grip benches and similar exercises that really allow you to push weight, getting bigger and stronger in the process.
Last but not least, you need to push the weights to make maximum progress. Using sets of five for your main exercises will allow us to use heavy weights, tax the fast-twitch muscle fibers, and works hand-in-hand with the other training tips that are coming up.
2. Drop Sets for Big Gains
What's better than using big lifts to start your workout? Using them to take your gains to the next level! Let's say you've just polished off a heavy set of fives on the squat. Instead of simply moving on to the next exercise, drop the load 5-10% and continue hitting fives for another one to three sets based on how youâre feeling during the workout.
If youâre feeling great, perform up to three extra sets. If youâre feeling a bit rundown, only perform one drop set. This is a great way to accrue more volume, and make sure you're spending more time on the exercises that will provide maximum return on investment.
3. Use the Strength-Aerobic Method
The strength-aerobic method is a protocol that allows you to develop both slow and fast-twitch muscle fibers in one awesome session. By changing the performance of an exercise slightly, you can focus more specifically on either the fast- or slow-twitch fibers.
To use the strength-aerobic method, pick out a big lift like squats or bench presses. You're going to push the weight on heavy sets of five (or something similar), until you become fatigued. From there, you're going to drop the weight substantially and focus on what's called tempo training. This is an awesome tool in your toolbox, because it's going to preferentially develop slow-twitch muscle fibers.
4. Work Fast
A common issue for trainees who want to get bigger is they don't work fast enough in their training sessions. Strength coach Ian King often refers to his "Neural-Metabolic" continuum.
On one side of the continuum you have a more nervous-system-based program (i.e. more sets, fewer reps, longer rest periods, etc.). On the other side you have a more metabolic-focused program (i.e. fewer sets, more reps, and shorter rest periods).
If your goal is to get strong like a powerlifter, you want three, five and even as long as 10 minutes between sets so that you have time for full recovery of the nervous system. However, if your goal is to get huge, you need to shorten those rest periods considerably and get after it!
5. Include Low-Intensity Cardio
Have you ever wondered why some of the biggest bodybuilders do some form of low-intensity cardio year round? While it definitely keeps excess body fat at bay, it does something else that's important, too â it builds your peripheral vascular network.
Huh? Think about it like this: We all know we need to eat protein to build our muscles, right? But how do you actually get stuff like protein, or oxygen, to your muscles? The answer is: blood.
And how do you get more blood to your muscles? Easy. You create a vascular system designed to get blood there more effectively.
Low-intensity cardio is great for cardiac development, but it's also quite powerful for developing your vascular system. After all, what's the point of building all this new muscle if you don't have the means to support it?
As a newbie, putting on size is relatively easy. If youâve never pushed yourself in the gym, it feels as though just thinking about lifting and eating enough food allows you to pack on muscle at an appreciable rate.
But for someone that trains, you're not quite as lucky. You've exhausted your newbie gains, and it's time to pull out the big guns in your programming.
Use the tips above, and you'll be guaranteed to put on some bulk this holiday season.
For a full workout guide to accompany this article, get issue 1 of TRAIN magazine.Â
The program starts off with 20-second sessions and 20-second rest intervals. Then build up to 40 seconds with 20 seconds' rest. It will be very surprising how fast this will kick your butt.
1. PALM DOWN SLAMS -Â Grab the rope with some slack in it and alternate right arm and left arm. Make sure you use your whole body when performing the action.
2. PALM UP PUMMELS Â -Â Grab the rope with the palm up and alternate arms while you create a wave pattern with the ropes.Â
3. DOUBLE ROTATIONAL SLAMS -Â Grab the rope with a palm-down grip and, as in judo, rotate your hips as though you are throwing someone from side to side.Â
4. ROPE JACKS -Â Grab the ropes and perform a set of jumping jacks.
Heavy rope training benefits:
- Extreme grip strength
- Full-body explosivenessÂ
- Ease of use
- Great for interval training
- Fun as hell
- Carry over in to many sports
Although most fighters will fit in several cardio based sessions per week as well as their gruelling training regime, injuries, thankfully, are a rarity. That aside, the yearly incidence rate for injuries suffered by recreational runners while pounding the pavements or treadmill is between 37 and 56%.
The highest percentage of those occurs at the knee, a joint thatâs prone to damage due to its relative instability, either by misalignment or muscular imbalance. Too much, too fast, too quick, poor exercise selection or execution makes the joint vulnerable to overtraining.
The knee gives support to the body and allows propulsion during the gait cycle. Propulsion can be either moving the body in walking/running or acceleration of the movement of the foot rapidly as in kicking.
The stability of the knee joint is due to an array of ligaments connecting the tibia (lower limb) and femur (upper limb). The strong muscles surrounding the joint are activated in response to tensions within the muscles. The two main ligaments are the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) which stops unwanted twisting between the two adjoining bones and prevents a forward glide of the tibia on the femur. The other ligament is the PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) which sits behind the knee and also prevents twisting motion and any backwards glide of the tibia upon the femur.
ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT AND MENISCUS TEAR
The two menisci in the knee rest between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) both medially and laterally. The main function of the meniscus is to distribute weight evenly in the leg to prevent damage to the knee joint.
Most common traumatic meniscus tears occur when the knee joint is bent (flexed position) and the knee is then twisted. It is not uncommon for the meniscus tear to coincide with anterior and medial cruciate ligament damage.
Signs to look for include pain along the joint line, locking sensation, generalised ache in the knee or feeling of weakness and insecurity around the knee (a feeling like it will give way). You can expect minimal swelling and a full range of movement with pain only at the end of range.
The ACL can be injured by twisting the knee or because of an impact to the side of the knee, often the outside.
Amazingly a recent study showed 76% of ACL injuries are missed by a primary physician, so itâs important you keep a careful history of any problems you have. Any twisting,Â cracking, popping, immediate pain, swelling within four hours (usually immediate) and a situation in which you have to stop the initial activity would suggest a cruciate tear until proven otherwise -- and recognising the injury can save a career. The extent of the injury is determined by the degree of damage to the ligament.Â If the ligament has been stretched and not torn there will be a minimal amount of swelling. In order to diagnose correctly there are questions that need to be addressed:
1. What was the activity? Has activity changed or increased?
2. What was the force? Was it due to a fall or a takedown?
3. What happened to the knee? If it was twisted then either of the cruciate ligaments or the meniscus will most likely have been affected.
4. Was the knee hyperextended or flexed? If it was then itâs more often a muscular issue, although occasionally it could have affected the ACL.
5. Did it swell? When? A watershed of four hours divides cruciate injury from meniscus and ligament injury which normally takes four hours or more.
6. Did you have to stop immediately? If so, this could be the result of a cruciate Injury or occasionally a fracture of the tibia.
7. Did you hear anything such as the pops and cracks that are common in cruciate injury?
8. Was there pain? When? Within four hours divides cruciate injury from meniscus and ligament injury which normally takes four hours or more.
PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN â RUNNERâS KNEE
Damage to the knee accounts for more than half of all sports injuries and is often the result of individual quadricep muscle weakness, tightness of other related muscle groups, imbalances around the knee and quite often poor footwear choices.
Other causes include a weakness in the VMO (vastus medialis obliquus), a muscle that plays a key role in stabilising the patella, and allows the quads to work effectively. Weakness in this muscle can lead to maltracking which can cause anterior knee pain and tension in the iliotibial band as a result of an imbalance, and this can go as high as the gluteus medius/minimus.
Exercise, excessive bending, pain when contracting the quadriceps and pain during weight bearing are all signs of patellofemoral pain.
Knee injuries can be split into acute or overuse injuries. Acute can be caused by trauma and normally involves an improper balance between strength and mobility of musclesâ components, ligament strength and the forces put through them.
Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive movements and triggered biomechanical factors tend to be the underlying problem. Acute injuries, in which the foot is fixed during a fall or when excessive force is applied during a twist, can cause structures of the knee to become severely damaged.
Immediate treatment for all of the above injuries is recommended by initially following the procedure below, which is aptly labelled P.R.I.C.E.
P - Protect
Protect yourself from any further damage to the area by stopping the activity. If the injury isn't too severe, it may only require taping.
R - Rest
The first 48 hours following an occurrence is when severe swelling and bleeding around the Injury is at its maximum. Seek alternative activities and/or take complete rest to reduce any further pain. Depending on the severity of the injury immobilisation is not usually necessary, and can be potentially harmful to the repair process and outcome.
I - IceÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
The application of ice cools the damaged tissue by contracting the blood vessels. This will prevent any further swelling and bleeding, allowing the healing process to start. The applications should be frequent, but each application should be for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
Once any swelling has subsided â usually 48-72 hours after the initial occurrence - heat is then generally applied to chronic injuries that have no inflammation as it increases circulation and raises skin temperature. Sore, stiff, nagging muscle or joint pain is ideal for the use of heat therapy.
Apply compression to the affected area, no matter how gentle, as it will prevent and control the extent of swelling.
By elevating the affected area above heart level, swelling should drain away. This is crucial within the initial 48 hours.
Variety. Itâs what you want in life. From what you eat, and how you work out, to what you do in the bedroom, variety is key to keeping you interested and enthused. Importantly, itâs also what gets you better results sooner. Itâs not so surprising, then, that the treadmill has become one of the most vilified pieces of gym equipment â gym-goers are ditching the human hamster wheel in favor of other, more engaging forms of cardio exercise. And for good reason too.
The treadmill is ineffective. Running 100 meters on one uses 36% less oxygen than cantering at the same speed on natureâs treadmill, terra firma, according to a study in Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise. So the going is far easier on a treadmill compared to good old-fashioned grass.
Weâve all seen that guy or girl in the gym, slogging it out on the treadmill day-in day-out and making absolutely no progress â and thatâs because itâs all too easy to go light on yourself on the gym staple. Run on rough terrain and your muscles are pushed in new ways with every step. The same just isnât true of the treadmill.
âJumping, climbing, swinging and rolling are activities that almostÂ everyone has done as a child and it was simply called âplaying,ââ says Michael Conley, gym manager at Tempest Freerunning Academy in Los Angeles, USA (tempestacademy.com). âThese elementary movements have been standardized and expanded upon thus creating the arts known as âparkourâ and âfree running.â People come to our facility because itâs different and actually looks fun.â
Itâs not only new types of cardio workouts that are appealing to those seeking treadmill alternatives. Martial arts and martial-arts-based activities, for example, have grown in popularity, too. âWe find that more and more people are coming to us as a change from ânormalâ gyms saying that they are âbored,ââ says Stuart Grant, of Westside Martial Arts in Melbourne, Australia (westsidemartialarts.com.au). âWe have treadmills at our gym but they are used for people to warm up for their training or for the purpose of cutting weight for competition.â
And by far the most effective alternative to treadmill work is circuit training. âThe popularity of circuit training workouts that incorporate more functional pieces of equipment like stability balls, sand weights, weighted vests and battle ropes has exploded in recent years,â says Ponn. âThis type of fitness delivers maximum results, as youâre not only burning calories but also sculpting lean muscle that will in turn increase your metabolism and help your body burn more fat.â
So in 10 years time, will we look back at treadmills in the way we now view manual typewriters and video tapes? Get issue 1 of TRAIN magazine to find out, and for more of this feature.
The biggest mistake we can make in life is worrying too much about making a mistake. In many ways our blunders define us. They teach us important life lessons, show us how to forgive, how to live without regrets, help us to grow as people, and teach us to let go of our fears.
And nowhere is that last point more important than in a sporting arena, because competing while consumed by fear is the ultimate inhibitor. By putting too much pressure on attaining the perfect performance we restrict ourselves from true success.
Performing cautiously has its time and place, but to push on and achieve sporting greatness, we must throw caution to the wind and get rid of what sports psychologists call the âfear-driven mindset.â If a golfer thinks too much about his swing because he's afraid of driving into a water hazard, if a baseball player refuses to let loose with his bat for fear of striking out, if a skater avoids a difficult jump fearing she may fall, or if a tennis player holds back on a serve in case he double-faults, then all is already lost.
Highly committed athletes, including perfectionists, hurt their confidence with a harsh attitude about the way they performed. When reviewing their performance, perfectionists:
- Focus only on their mistakes.
- Are self-critical of their overall performance.
- Can't remember the good plays or shots.
- Disqualify any positives about their performance.
They can't feel satisfied with a good performance because they:
- Never feel as if they performed up to their own expectations.
- Make false assumptions that others are disappointed with their performance.
- Want to perform perfectly and view less than perfect as a failure.
Reversing these negative actions will help to reverse your sporting fortunes.
For more information on this and how you can conquer the fear of failure, check outÂ issue 1 of TRAIN magazine.
Sam Kotadia is a sports psychologist who has worked with elite athletes including professional soccer players. Here are his top five tips for getting in the right frame of mind to improve your chances of achieving success in competition:
1. GREAT GROUNDING -Â Grounding is a powerful exercise to strengthen your sense of the physical space you occupy and to bring your mind and body into balance. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths to relax your mind and body. Direct your focus to the contact points of your external environment. For example, this could be the sensation of your feet on the touching the cage floor. Keep your focus there when you open your eyes to encourage a composed mindset that can create effortless performances.
2. BACK TO BASICS -Â Directly after making a mistake, try something simpler. You're more likely to succeed at a basic task, and this small success will prevent the initial mistake from damaging your confidence. Once this simple task is completed, push beyond your comfort zone and try something more challenging. When you are in the cage and retaliate uncontrollably it is unlikely that you will regain your composure. Take small steps to regain your momentum.
3. SUPER STATES -Â One of the biggest predictors of confident behaviour stems from your ability to generate a resourceful state. Get yourself feeling good by creating positive internal visions, maintaining an encouraging internal voice and adopting positive body language. Thinking about loved ones, special memories, and some of your best performances are some ideas. Feeling good is the source of all inspired performances, especially in intimidating environments.
4. TIMELY TRIGGERS -Â The brain often learns through association, by paring two experiences together. Close your eyes and recreate in your mind the last time you performed at your best in the cage. Generate the images, feelings and sounds that you experienced and pair that image with a physical action such as squeezing your thumb and finger together. Open your eyes and repeat this process several times. Your brain will learn to feel inspired whenever you repeat the action. Use this whenever you are finding it hard to perform at your best in the sporting arena.
5. GET A GRIP -Â One cause of failing to find your best performances is believing that everything is out of control. This is common in high-performance settings where there is constant pressure to achieve desirable outcomes. To overcome this, focus on the controllable elements of your environment. Ignore events beyond your own influence and direct your attention towards actions and processes that you have control over. Positive results will follow.
A hip joint may be a cool place to hang out on a Saturday night, but what isn't so cool is that research in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery suggests hip replacement procedures are set to soar in the US by 174% to 572,000 within the next 17 years.
And when you compare that figure to a forecasted population increase of just 16% within the same time frame, it's a real cause for concern.
As the pace of life becomes ever more frenetic in a 24-hour society, and our bodies become more and more susceptible to wear and tear, it is vital to maintain our joint mobility at an optimum level.
Hip mobility and stability movements:
1. CLAMSHELL â Lie on your side, with your hips and knees bent approximately 45 degrees. Keep your feet together and raise your top knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Return to the starting position and repeat 10-15 times. Repeat with other leg. You can increase the resistance by placing an exercise band around your leg while you open the clam.
2. LYING PIRIFORMIS STRETCH â While lying on your back, cross your left leg over the right, with the left ankle resting on the right knee. Slowly move your right thigh up toward your chest and gently apply pressure to the inside of the left knee. This stretch should be felt in your glutes (buttock) and hip. Hold for 15-30 and repeat with the other leg. You can also perform this stretch while seated.
3. COSSACK SQUAT â Take a wide stance like a sumo wrestler and point your toes out slightly. Start to squat down and shift your weight to one side. Keep your knee over your toes and make sure the foot on the side doing a squat stays flat on the floor. The opposite leg should be straight out. Lift your toes off the floor and point them toward the ceiling while the heel remains in contact with the floor. Repeat this stretch 2-3 times per side and hold a few seconds.
For more expert tips on how to improve your mobility and prevent injuries, check out TRAIN magazine, in stores now!
Being fit for competition is one thing, but being mentally capable of performing when it matters is a chain of sports psychology thatâs red hot in the sphere of professional sports. Everyone whoâs ever been a member of a club has known an athlete who excels in training, yet blows it when it truly matters. Some people are able to deal with the pressure of competition, while others should stick to staying fit and perhaps coaching.
According to Dr Jim Loehr, author of The New Toughness Training for Sports and chairman of the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida, mental toughness is, "the ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances."
Here are TRAIN's top five tips for helping you face and conquer the mental challenges posed by tough competition, thus allowing you to compete at your very best:
1. FLEXIBILITY -Â So, things are not going your way. You lost a player from a tackle or your opponent got switched at the last minute. One of the keys to staying mentally strong is the ability to adapt and remain relaxed, without going all defensive. Also, stay open to growth and development: remember, every champion is also a student.
2. STRENGTH -Â Even when the chips are down finding the inner strength to come through adversity and fight to the end is essential in professional sports. As NFL Hall of Famer Vince Lombardi once said: "Winners never quit, and quitters never win."
3. PREPARATION -Â Cutting corners is nothing but a fast track to failure. Hours in the gym and honesty in competition are the key to a healthy mind, body and spirit. When you prepare right then you can compete with a clear conscious and 100% confidence.
4. RESILIENCE -Â Winners lose. Itâs how athletes bounce back from any setback that truly makes them a champion. Being able to learn from mistakes, and push forward from a defeat is what separates the good from the great. Likewise, itâs human nature to make a mistake once in a while. Developing thick skin is the prerequisite of any pro athlete.
5. SPORTSMANSHIP -Â Becoming a cheerleader for your team, or simply masking a heavy blow from an opponent are all forms of sportsmanship that must be mastered to succeed. Never let an opponent know they have you down, it will only lift their performance. Instead smile at any challenge and always support your team.
For more expert tips and full-length articles on how to physically and psychologically strengthen yourself, check out TRAIN magazine, in stores now!
Think youâre saving yourself extra calories by going the artificial sweetener route? New research published in The Journal of Physiology suggests you might be barking up the wrong tree.
Researchers at Yale University's School of Medicine found that drinking fizzy diet sodas that are filled with artificial sweeteners may actually sabotage efforts to reduce calorie intake, by leading people to reach for higher calorie alternatives later on â because the brain can't be fooled.
Thatâs because in their animal research, scientists observed that a specific physiological signal that regulates dopamine levels â the feel-good chemical that works with the reward centre in the brain â only arose when sugar was broken down into a form that could be used as fuel and energy for the body.
âAccording to the data, when we apply substances that interfere with a critical step of the âsugar-to-energy pathwayâ, the interest of the animals in consuming artificial sweetener decreases significantly, along with important reductions in brain dopamine levels,â explained lead author Ivan de Araujo.
âThe consumption of high-calorie beverages is a major contributor to weight gain and obesity, even after the introduction of artificial sweeteners to the market. We believe that the discovery is important because it shows how physiological states may impact on our choices between sugars and sweeteners.â
If youâre a dedicated gym rat youâll probably be planning to fit in a two-hour workout on Christmas Day morning before meeting up with the family and tucking into a turkey dinner.
And as much as you might enjoy filling your face with cakes and mince pies, as soon as youâre offered that first glass of mulled wine youâll be making a beeline for the exit. Thatâs because a lot of fitness buffs believe alcohol can have only a detrimental effect on their regimens â most obviouslyÂ a beer gut. But are things really that black and white?
During one recent study, a group of volunteers who substituted 10% of their calorie-intake with alcohol, versus a group who had grape juice instead, experienced greater weight loss (2.2lb) after 12 weeks.
Alcohol actually contains a slightly higher amount of DIT (diet induced thermogenesis) than protein, which means when you drink booze your body expends a lot of calories getting rid of it.
OK, while itâs true that alcohol causes the expenditure of more calories than it contains, booze suppresses fat burning when ingested. So as with most things in life, the secret is moderation.
But if youâre still not sure about indulging in that festive tipple, hereâs something else to bear in mind: alcohol has been shown to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and heart attacks by increasingÂ the production of HDLs (high-density lipoproteins). HDLs shuttle cholesterolÂ to the liver, moving it away from the arteries, reducing blood clots and blocking the oxidation of LDLs (low-density lipoproteins).
Another benefit of alcohol discovered recently is its ability to strengthen theÂ immune system by boosting the activity of natural killer cells via impairment ofÂ white blood cells. One study, conducted over a three-year period, found that out of 417 volunteers given the rhino virus (common cold) via nasal drops, those that consumed alcohol were most resistant to catching a cold.
Basically, what weâre saying is this: if you do feel like having a drink over the festive season, then as long as youâre sensible and plan ahead, thereâs no reason why you shouldnât.
If you have a bigÂ night out planned, justÂ eat sensibly during theÂ day and take in your carbsÂ earlier on. But that doesnât mean drinkÂ on an empty stomach, because when it contains a sizeable meal, you have a release valve called the pyloric sphincter that closes. So when you drink with food in your stomach, alcohol is trapped because the valve is closed, allowing your body time to process the booze so it doesnât enter your system so quickly.
And when, or if, you do finally allow yourself a drink, you should stick to liquor, light beers and wine -Â particularly red, because it has a much higher polyphenol content than white wine, as well as a higher level of antioxidant activity.
Plus, you should always try and steer clear of putting mixers in with my shots, because once you start adding sodas and syrups you are going to go over what your daily calorie intake should be.
There's nothing more frustrating than being in full-swing with your training and nutrition - you're eating well and training regularly, you can see your body improving physically and you're feeling better and stronger than ever - when you're suddenly stopped in your tracks by a bout of illness.Â
To give your body the best possible chance of resisting harmful infections, try adding these five foods selected by TRAIN to seriously strengthen your immune system:
1. YOGURT -Â Not only are yogurts incredibly tasty they're also filled with probiotics, the healthy bacteria which battles germs inside your gut. Perfect for battling off any illnesses you may have.
2. GARLIC -Â Your breath may smell horrific after you've eaten it but garlic actually has an ingredient called allicin which can stop infection in its tracks.
3. FISH -Â Add a little salmon to your diet and your immune system will get a boost because fish is packed with selenium, which can help fight flu viruses.
4. CHICKEN SOUP -Â Chicken soup may be good for the soul, but did you know it also stops inflammatory white cells from moving to bronchial tubes? Well, now you do.
5. SWEET POTATOES -Â They may be best known for helping people lose weight, but sweet potatoes also provide our skin with vitamin A, which is our first line of defense against nasty germs and bacteria.
TRAIN Tip:Â The health benefits that come with eating salmon are well known among most people, however, it can be quite pricey and some people may not be able to afford it. If this fish is out of your price range then try tinned tuna, which admittedly isn't quite as flashy as salmon, but its health benefits are almost identical.
For loads more tips on healthy eating and nutritional science, check out TRAIN magazine, in stores now!
Let's be honest, how many people stick to their diet during the festive season? Itâs difficult to do, especially when everyone around you is indulging without a care in the world. However, if you want to enjoy your holidays with something tasty that is also going to help you in the long run in terms of your diet then why not turn the MHP Power Pak Pudding into your protein-filled Christmas dessert?
1. PROTEIN POWER -Â Remember itâs bulking season so itâs important to get a significant amount of protein in your diet. And thatâs why the Power Pak Pudding is so great. Not only is it scrumptious and filling, it also has 30g of protein per serving. So while your family and friends are getting fat off the normal Christmas pudding, you can enjoy your own and bulk all at the same time.
2. CARB CUTTER -Â Christmas puddings may not be stacked with carbohydrates, however when you add in everything else youâll consume over the holidays it just adds to the carbohydrate conundrum. MHP have solved it with their pudding as it contains a minuscule 9g of carbs.
3. CALORIE FRIENDLY -Â While watching everyone else rack up the calorie counter while consuming every single morsel of food on display during the holidays, feel happy in the fact that your Christmas pudding is only 190 calories, allowing you to eat a little bit more without feeling guilty afterwards.
4. REDUCED FAT -Â Fat, food and Christmas go together like Santa Claus and his little helpers, but you can crush the chub with your MHP pudding as it has absolutely no trans fat and has only 4.50g worth of the saturated stuff. Perfect for those who want to keep their abs looking sharp.
5. COMPLETELY CALCIUMMY -Â With 500mg worth of calcium stocked inside of the Power Pak pudding, there will be no need to worry about whether or not your bones will be able to handle the weight when you get back to the gym as theyâll be as strong as ever.
To get our Supp of the Month plus loads more fitness and nutrition goods, go toÂ Bodybuilding.com's online store.
As well as knowing which supplements you should be taking to help pump up your muscles, it's also important you know when you should take them. To save you the trouble, TRAIN has put together a program that'll have you packing on the brawn quicker than it takes Usain Bolt to get out the starting blocks.
Hereâs a muscle-stacking supplement plan that you can use this month to ensure your December pump reaches it full potential.
- 2-3 x 1000mg fish oil tablets
- 2-3g creatine
- Protein and carbs shake
- 5g creatine
- 100mg caffeine tablet
- Testosterone booster (if youâre over 35 years old)
12.30pm: Gym routine
- Weight training for 45-55 minutes is the ideal time to train for because research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that short yet intense weight sessions gave lifters some of the biggest surges of testosterone â your chief muscle-building hormone.
1.30pm: Post workout refuel
- Protein and carb shake
- 5g creatine
- 2 x 1000mg fish oil tablets
- High-protein lunch
- Protein shake (if you donât have time for a high protein real food snack)
8pm: Pre-sleep routine
- Growth hormone supplement
- 1 x 1000mg fish oil tablet
- Testosterone booster
- Protein shake
Don't do the crime...
Cheat day. A day healthy-eating, gym-going individuals look forward to - anything you want to eat at any time without any restrictions. As tasty as a cheat meal can be, it always comes at a price, and if a 14-inch large Dominos pepperoni pizza is your poison, then that price equals 3,520 calories!
... if you can't do the time
For the average western male, weighing 180lb, a large Domino's Pepperoni Lover pizza will take such a long time to burn off, you might want to book a couple of days off from work to do it. You would need to run at over 9kph for four and a half hours before you even came close to burning off all of that pizza. Doesn't sound quite as tasty now, does it?
Find out how much training time you'd have to put in to burn off various other cheat meals every month inside TRAIN magazine.