Muscle size and strength are often synonymous. Most bodybuilders are quite strong, and most of those who are strong are also quite big. But does correlation equal causation? By this I mean, is getting strong and lifting heavy HOW those who are big got to be that size? The answer is YES and NO.
When programming for muscle size, volume is key. Volume is the primary driver of hypertrophy, not intensity or load. Lifting heavy all the time will likely not lead to a great deal of muscle hypertrophy (growth). But occasionally programming cycles focused on increasing your strength can aid in increasing volume over time by allowing you to move more weight for more reps on all of your lifts. This is just a basic summation of a much greater concept. Lifting heavy absolutely has a place in a well-designed hypertrophy program, and actually, so does lifting with lower loads and higher reps – they all have a place.
Lifting heavy (repetitions performed at above 85-90% of 1RM) primarily...
“Be Prepared!” - The Lion King
I wrote another article (Are You Ready For Your Bodybuilding Competition?) on preparing for a competition discussing the training and nutrition side of it all. This one will go over costs and anything else you may need to know.
GO SEE A SHOW.
If you haven’t even been to a show, how do you know what you’re getting yourself into? Go see what you’re up against.
Talk to experienced competitors. What hardships did they have to go through? Sacrifices and changes have to be made from what you are used to. As you get closer to a show you’re going to have to be prepared to prioritize yourself over your relationships to an extent. Ask them the cost of this lifestyle.
Food - This goes without saying, but what you buy and what quality you buy should change. If you’re truly trying to bring the best package on stage, you shouldn’t be buying crappy grain fed, farmed low grade...
There are many benefits to being vegan. But first, it’s important to clarify what vegan ACTUALLY means. People often confuse a “vegan diet” with a “whole foods, plant based diet”.
The vegan diet excludes any animal-based foods. This means not only no meat, but also things like butter, milk, eggs, yogurt, etc. are off the table. It does allow meat and cheese substitutes, as well as any processed foods not containing animal products. This means that any food, healthy or unhealthy, as long as it isn’t animal based, is still on the table for vegans.
A whole food plant based diet also excludes any animal products. However, unlike the vegan diet, processed foods are also eliminated.
So, being vegan DOESN’T necessarily mean being healthy. The diet guideline allow a tremendous amount of unhealthy, overly processed foods.
That being said, a vegan diet CAN have many health benefits. Going from a the typical “western diet” to a...
Gluten is the proteins found mainly in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. It’s currently a hot topic in America. There seem to be two very divided camps on the topic:
Camp 1 says: Gluten is the devil, the root of all health issues.
Camp 2 says: Only hippies go gluten-free, beer and bread for me!
There is LOTS of reasoning behind the anti-gluten camp.
The most severe form of gluten sensitivity is celiac disease. According the celiac disease Foundation: “When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.” (1)
Celiac disease has MANY symptoms, including: anxiety, bloating and gas, constipation, depression, diarrhea, itchy skin, joint pain, and many more. (4) (For more...
In today’s fast-paced, time-is-money society, self-care usually gets bumped to the end of our To Do list...especially if it’s a type of self-care that some of us may not find particularly enjoyable (i.e. working out). But, what most of us fail to realize is that self-care, specifically exercise, can actually make you more productive and create balance in your life. Working out helps to reduce stress on both a physical and mental level, and having less stress in our lives leads to finding more balance. So, how can you use exercise to create balance in your life?
Working out creates feel-good endorphins in the body, which helps us to feel less stressed so that we can handle day-to-day life as calmly and efficiently as possible. Not feeling physically stressed increases the likelihood that you’re able to find balance, since you feel more energized and capable of taking-on the tasks of the day.
Additionally, while research has long...
Sensationalist headlines about red meat are EVERYWHERE, proclaiming it’s cancerous effects. Is red meat REALLY that bad?
There have been many, many correlative studies showing an association between higher meat consumption and higher risk of cancer mortality. Despite these studies being correlative (correlation does NOT equal causation), this is still more than a little concerning, given the sheer volume of studies that have made the meat-cancer association.
Let’s look at a MASSIVE study (131,342 participants) published in 2016 titled: “Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality”. The study concludes that high animal protein intake is associated with a higher mortality rate AND a higher cancer mortality rate. (1) It’s easy to look at a study like this and concur that eating meat is going to give you cancer.
However, looking deeper, the study reveals that the meat consumption and increased cancer...
Ever wonder why you only feel your shoulders working when you bench press? It’s supposed to be a chest exercise right?
Maybe you’re doing some hip thrusts to target your butt, but can really only feel your hamstrings and low back working.
You’re most likely lacking a good mind-muscle connection: the ability to feel a muscle working, to force it to powerfully contract on command. Developing a good connection to your muscles is ESSENTIAL for growth. The muscles that we lack a good connection with are almost ALWAYS the most underdeveloped. A poor connection to muscles often results in imbalances and injuries (when you can’t recruit the muscles you’re TRYING to, others do their job, and become overworked).
We’ve established that a strong mind-muscle connection is important. So how do you build it?
Understanding Basic Anatomy
Gaining a better understanding of anatomy, and what the roles of specific muscles are has played a HUGE role...
Anyone who has been resistance training for awhile is most certainly familiar with the fact that not all of us develop each muscle at the same rate. What I mean when I say this is that despite our great intentions and training efforts, some of us struggle to develop certain muscle groups. The fitness community has even developed words and phrases to describe those of us afflicted with a “lagging body part”, phrases like “bird chested”, “noodle arms”, and the like. The most common one that I am hearing these days is “chicken legs”. If you are someone with “Chicken Legs”, We are about to dive into a foolproof plan to fix that problem, but before we do we have to address the root cause.
When a body part is underdeveloped you want to know what the number one exercise is? Genetics. When a body part is well developed you want to know what the number one reason is? Hard work and effort. If you want to change the way your...
To be successful and helpful as a personal trainer, it is essential to have a good knowledge base. Most trainers start to build their knowledge simply by training themselves. After developing an interest in fitness, they get a certification, and kick off a career as a trainer.
In the fitness industry, most gyms require trainers to have a certification to get a job. So every trainer, at least at some point, has probably held a certification.
The issue is, most personal training certification are VERY BASIC in nature. A trainer being certified does not AT ALL ensure that they are a good trainer.
Most trainers will tell you, 99% of what they learn on how to train comes from learning outside of their personal training certification. The best trainers have lots of hands-on experience training diverse clientele, and are constantly seeking more knowledge in their field, be it through better certifications, mentors, or studying independently.
A trainer that does have a higher...
More often than not, I hear what seems like far too many people excited for their “cheat day”...which usually falls on a Saturday….when there’s a big event...and all the worst foods.
You also hear many variations - cheat day, cheat meal, refeed, etc. It’s time to make some sense of it all.
First off let's start with the fact that today’s focus is cheat MEAL. NOT day. There is no reason to dedicate an ENTIRE day to eating like crap convincing yourself you deserve it, when really it just hurts your progress.
The point of a cheat meal isn’t to hit up Taco Bell and McDonald’s the same day you downed an entire large pizza. It’s a much higher than normal caloric meal to help get you out of a plateau, readjust your metabolism, or in smaller cases, a psychological break. After your cheat meal you should feel like “ahh that was just what I needed”, not placing an order for pickup.