How to Build Chest Muscle the Easy Way

Do you sometimes look at yourself in the mirror and wonder what you would look like with a more toned physique? Maybe you are looking to lose weight or just want to start looking after yourself a bit. Whatever your reason for wanting to build up your muscle, here is an introduction. Muscle building and bodybuilding have originally been reserved for big burly men who are more into their looks than their emotions. Those days have long gone and now that people are aware of the benefits of muscle building, everyone is using it to make them feel better and look better too.

So the ultimate question is how to build chest muscle the easy way. A lot of this depends on the amount of spare time that you have and your dedication to getting fit. If you think that you can dedicate an hour each day to the gym then you will get super pecs in no time. If, like most of the population you don’t have that time to spare (or the cash to sign up for a membership) then you can fit in the exercises at home. Simply by sitting at home and doing some chest press reps while watching the TV will help you to bulk up fast and you won’t even notice you’re doing it!

Muscle building is a great all over body workout (as well as cardio) and has some great health benefits along with making you look good. Don’t be put off by the pretence that you have to be a big strong man to body build, they started off somewhere just as you are! You too can have abs of steel and could even compete in bodybuilding competitions. A good body comes through hard work and dedication so what are you waiting for? Get bodybuilding today.

Ab Workout For Men

When it comes to working out, men and women usually have completely different needs, and therefore, follow different sort of workout routines. This is the same for abdominal workouts. Women usually just want to have nice, toned abs, and maybe a bit of a six-pack, but not enough of one that they look more muscular than feminine. Men on the other hand want to really work their abs to get an awesome six-pack, and the workouts they follow will be much different than their female counterparts.

Men’s Ab Exercises

If you are looking to get those awesome-looking six-pack abs, you are going to have to commit yourself to some hard work and dedication. A six-pack doesn’t come over night, and it can take months before you finally achieve your ultimate results. Of course, one of the best types of exercises to really work your abdominal muscles is the crunch, which really intensifies when you hold a weight. As your strength increases, increase the weight, to keep the muscles working hard.

If you really want to work your ab muscles, do your crunches with weights, but do them on an exercise ball. This will make your crunches or other exercises even more difficult, which will really shred those muscles. Don’t forget to keep on using the weights too, to get even more benefits.

Vertical leg lifts are also really great for working the abdominal muscles, and can be even more beneficial when leg weights are added to the equation. Strap on the weights, lay down on the floor with your arms straight beside you, and lift your legs, slowly, as far as you can. Hold them in place for a count of 10, and then slowly lower your legs back to the floor. Do at least three sets of 10 repetitions at first, and increase the reps and the weight as it gets easier.

Backward crunches will really stretch and tone those ab muscles. Lie flat on your stomach with your hands outstretched, just like Superman when he’s flying. Now, slowly raise your legs and arms behind you, and try to touch your fingers to your toes. Hold for a few seconds, and then lower your legs slowly back to the floor. Of course, you will need to do repetitions.

Doing the right exercises will really help you to get a six-pack, as well as get the rest of your body into terrific shape. It will take a bit of work, but soon, you will be ready to proudly show off your new six-pack, and will continue to work hard to keep it.
Article authored by Steven Jones with ExtremeHomeWorkout, your top site to grab the Insanity Workout.

Tight Hips? Tips To Loosen Your Hip Flexors

Pic: Mundoo

What’s long and hard and as stiff as a plank of wood? Get your mind out of the gutter…I’m talking about your hip flexors. Tight Hip Flexors can be a big problem, and so easy to get. Everyone gets hip flexor pain once in a while, but there is always a cure. In a previous post, Pain At The Desk, we saw how sitting down affects your hip flexors. I know when I sit at the computer too long, I tighten up very quickly, and after a long flight from Down Under to Europe I’m as tight as a drum. Hip flexor pain can result from tight hip flexors.

Where Are Your Hip Flexors?

The ‘Hip Flexors’ are a group of muscles that, well, flex the hip. There are quite a few muscles that actually flex the hip, but two that are specifically referred to as hip flexors. The Illiopsoas group consists of the Psoas and the Iliacus.

Pic: fitstep.com


Both attach to the femur. However the psoas attaches to the lower back, whereas the Iliacus attaches to your hipbone. Sitting down puts these muscles in a shortened position, and as a result leaves them pretty tight. The Psoas attaches to the lower back, if it’s tight, it can pull your back forward, and is a common cause of back pain. A tight hip flexor will also go a long way to inhibiting your bum, which means whatever work you are doing for it, you probably aren’t getting the desired results. No bum means you are susceptible to many more injuries, and have a lack of power in simple things such as walking.

What Can I Do To Loosen Them?

Well, there are a couple of ways to get these babies loose again, especially if you are feeling hip flexor pain. Massage, Acupuncture, Foam Rolling, Self Massage are all great ways to loosen up your hip flexors. These should always be accompanied with Exercises and Stretches.

Exercises

When you think of loosening a muscle, stretching automatically comes to mind. However, you can also loosen your hip flexors through exercises. It works by taking your muscles through their range of motion dynamically and helps get rid of hip flexor pain. I’ll outline some of my favourite exercises for loosening your hip flexors, there are a few more, and if you want to add your favourite, please leave a comment.

Overhead Lunges

This is possibly the best exercise you can do for opening up your hip flexors and reducing hip flexor pain. It is basically a normal lunge, but you hold a medicine ball, or a light plate above your head. Out stretch your arms, keep them straight, directly above your head, and complete the lunges. You have something that is called fascia; it’s basically a sheath that runs over your muscles. Your fascia is a big issue in hip flexor tightness, and often when that is loosened, the muscle is too. Holding something above your head whilst lunging stretches this fascia out, and you get the added hip flexor stretch and helps reduce hip flexor pain.

Reverse Lunges

Same as a forward lunge, but done in reverse! See this video of a Reverse Lunge.

When you step back into the reverse lunge, you are recruiting your bum. Recruiting your bum inhibits your hip flexors, meaning they will relax. Stepping back straight away puts the hip flexors on stretch, and as you do the exercise, you take them through a large range of motion, loosen your hips flexors and reduce hip flexor pain.

Overhead Squat

Performing a squat whilst holding a bar overhead, opens up your hip area, and promotes hip flexor range of motion. See this video of an Overhead Squat.
When most people attempt this to start, the lower they get, the more they will want to bend forward. If you picture the hip flexors, they attach from the upper thigh, onto the lower back, if these are tight, as you try to get lower, your hip flexors will pull you forward. By holding the bar above your head, you have to stay up straight, basically lengthening your hip flexors during a dynamic movement.

Stretches

Stretching is an obvious and essential way to loosen those babies and reduce hip flexor pain. I’ve just taken a picture of my favourite stretch. I’m not sure if I made it up or where I got it from, but for now until someone tells me otherwise, I’ll claim it. I often make up stretches just trying to pin point an area. Basically you get down on one knee, stretch your arms up, then try and touch your opposite hand to opposite foot behind you. Check these pictures to aid my terrible explanation.

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There are many variants of this stretch. That one is just my favourite.
Check out these ones too…

Elevated Hip Stretch

Kneeling Hip Stretch

Partner Hip Flexor Stretch

If you have tight hip flexors, start adding these exercises and stretches into your workout, and you will see a difference and you will reduce your hip flexor pain. If you have some favourite exercises for loosening your hips, leave a comment and we’ll discuss them.

Just another reminder we have moved, all old articles and many more new ones are located at www.laurensfitness.com

Don’t Be A Fool, Stay In Front


Pic: GreenBeanPrime

I walk into gyms all over the world and see people ripping that bar down behind their neck during Lat pull downs. If it weren’t for my superior self-control, the fitness trainer at that club would have that exact bar knocking ever so gently against their head as a quiet little reminder.

You may have been told that you should do it in front of your head, but not been given an explanation as to why…and besides, it doesn’t hurt you, and you’ve also been told that it targets your Lats better if you do it behind your neck. So…

Why Is Doing A Lat pull Behind Your Head So Bad?

Lat pull downs behind the neck are unnecessary and dangerous. From a biomechanical point of view, they are putting your shoulder into a very bad position. The glenohumeral joint (your shoulder joint) is built for mobility, not stability. When the bar is down behind your head, your shoulder is externally rotating, quite severely. This in itself creates risk. You are also putting your shoulder into adduction, extension and abduction (don’t worry if this makes no sense to you, basically your shoulder is in a really abnormal, unnatural and totally crappy position). This places a lot of stress through the front and the back of a joint that really isn’t that stable to begin with.

There is also increased stress on your external rotators (small muscles in the shoulder that play a VERY big role in the control of the joint) to stabilize the your shoulder. Damage to these results in a long and painful rehabilitation in which most upper body exercises are restricted. The position you are putting your shoulder into is pretty bad without weight; add a few kg’s to that and you are really looking at trouble.

Another added risk is your neck safety. Straining forward during a Lat pull behind the neck is common. Necks are delicate, and there is simply no need to be in this position. A lot of people do this exercise ballistically (really really fast and bouncy), and if you get a little over excited, may cause some cervical damage…let’s not even begin to think about what will damage will occur to your neck if the cable breaks (yes, that does happen).

Am I Sacrificing Benefits For Safety?

No. Not one little bit. Really…nothing at all. And yes, it’s proven. Studies have shown that the front Lat pull down works the Lats and the muscles of your back just as effectively as its scary sister, the behind the neck monster. In fact, one study showed that Front Lat pull downs resulted in the greatest Lat activity.

If you are doing Lat pull downs behind your head, stop…it ain’t worth it.

No Time to Exercise? Cut Your Workout in Half


Pic:Almighty Photography

Exercise is on your list of priorities…just maybe a little further down than it needs to be. You have so many things to do in a day how can you possibly fit exercise in? Once your schedule gets a little lighter you’ll be laughing you way to good health, right?

Lack of time is one of the biggest reasons people cite for not participating in exercise. Besides the fact that there are a million things you can do at home or at work, there are a few ways to cut your workout time down in the gym, but still get the benefits of your long workout.

Cut Down Cardio

What if you could do 45 minutes of work on the treadmill/ bike, or 15 minutes, and burn more calories? Sounds wonderful eh. It’s called Interval Training. Interval training can help you improve your cardiovascular fitness, increase your speed, improve your overall power, reach new exercise levels, and burn many more calories. There are so many examples of ways you can do Interval Training; I’m going to leave that for another post.

What is Interval Training?

Basically it means you do a period of hard work, and a period of easy work, and repeat. For example, you could do a 10 minute workout on the bike. Start with 2 minutes of spinning on an easy level, but reasonably fast, and then up the level, still spinning fast but also pushing hard for 1 minute. Alternate this a few times, and you will find you are left with a pretty hard workout and a lot more calories burnt. This is only one small example of interval training, you can change the level, incline, speed, time…everything. It allows you to work a lot harder in a smaller amount of time. Because you are pushing hard during the intense phase, you will burn more calories from that workout, get more fitness benefits, and have a raised metabolism for longer after the workout. Look out for a more detailed post on Interval Training in the near future for some more examples.

Slash Your Strength Training

A simple way to cut down strength training time is supersets. Supersetting allows you to do the same workout, work the same muscles and get exactly the same benefits as a normal workout. It also allows you to burn a few more calories, as you will be working more and resting less.

What is a Superset?

A superset is when one exercise is done directly after another, without a rest break. Wait, my trainer tells me I need to rest to get the benefits? Yes, you do. The trick is to superset different muscle groups. For example, you could superset an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise. Do a set of Bench, and then do a set of Leg Press. When you do your set of Leg Press, you are resting for the Bench, and vice versa. Another example, and probably an easier way to organize your program is alternating opposing muscle groups. For example, Bench, with Seated Row. Bench uses your Pecs, Triceps and Anterior Deltoids. Seated Row uses your upper back muscles (Rhomboids, Traps, Posterior Deltoids, etc). You will be resting the chest group when you do your Seated Row, and vice verca.

Supersetting your exercises is a way to basically cut your exercise time in half, but still get the same benefits from strength training. You need to take care that your are not exercising any muscles groups that are the same in your superset, this will lead to over training and over development of that muscles, and it will be way too fatigued to actually lift as much as it can. Check with your trainer to make sure you aren’t doubling up.

Now that you have no excuse for a lack of time at the gym, go and get to it, try some intervals training and supersetting.