New year, new you - that’s the way to start 2017! But to knock out big goals, you need a great plan of attack. Think of embracing a balanced approach to training and start working on gaining muscles, improving your performance and maximizing your strength.

 

GAIN MUSCLES

 

Putting on muscle takes time and a lot of planning. You need to have a well-designed workout that will flare up the muscle-building process, in the presence of balance nutrition and smart recovery periods.

Here are some guidelines that can stimulate muscle growth.

 

Compound exercises

Compound exercises hit numerous muscle groups as you perform multi-joint movements through a range of motion. They also help you save time as well as increase your power and endurance. You build the most muscle in the least time by doing exercises that work several muscle groups at the same time.

You can’t expect to gain size without substantially loading our target muscles. With multi-joint movements more leverage can be generated and, given more muscles are recruited and activated, greater stability provides the structural support needed to produce greater muscular force.

Compound movements, with their emphasis on pushing, pulling, squatting, pressing and lifting, more closely resemble how our muscles function in real life. Here are the five best compound movements that can help you put thick layers of muscles on.

 

  1. Bench press

The bench press builds muscle in the chest, shoulders, triceps and back, promoting more upper body mass gains than probably any other exercise. The best way  to benefiting from this movement is to make sure you stretch as many muscle fibers as you can when you’re at the descent phase, instead of  quickly dropping the bar. Not taking advantage of the lowering stage of the bench press can seriously compromise your mass building gains.

 

  1. Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the three standard power-lifting exercises. It works the lats, spinal erectors, traps, inner back, hamstrings, quads, calves, chest and arms… virtually all your muscle groups. And because of the demands it places on so many muscle groups, it’s an extremely valuable exercise that can help you develop a densely muscled physique, along with great functional strength.

 

  1. Squats

While the bench press works your entire upper body, the squat does that for your lower body. The main muscles used in the squat are the quadriceps, but also your back, hip and the rest of your leg muscles. In case you are looking to challenge yourself beyond the simple, but not at all easy, squat, you can also try different variations such as hack squats, one-legged squats, jump squats or split squats. Whatever your training goal, the squat in all its variations, if performed correctly, will be a major component in your success.

 

  1. Dips

The dip is one of the oldest and most effective of the compound movements and it’s responsible on working your chest, shoulders and triceps.  Another thing that makes the dip a great exercise is that it forces you to work hard against more resistance – both your own body weight and the weight you’re adding when you want to make it harder.

 

  1. Reverse Grip Bent-Over Barbell Rows

Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows are essential in developing your back, especially focusing on the lats. It’s an effective compound movement because it  creates tension through the entire body.

This exercise is the king of back exercises, as you can feel it attacking your muscles efficiently. The reverse grip also means that you will feel the movement working your biceps pretty hard as well. That being said, for a thick, massive back – from traps to lower lats – and full biceps development, this compound movement cannot be ignored.

 

High volume

Although you need to add more volume, you should start by choosing weights within your means. Because you’ll be doing more reps and sets per body part, you need to start with a slightly lighter load than you might normally use. Pick at least three exercises per body part, and do 10 reps for each. If you feel you can do more, 12 reps should be your target. You need to put in some work to really tire out the muscles and stimulate them into growing.

 

Rest periods

Tiring your muscles through weight training is key to getting them bigger. By limiting your rest periods to about 60-90 seconds between sets of strength training exercises can go a long way for the muscle-building process.  

You actually don’t want to fully recover between sets, because building muscle requires tiring them out, but you also want to rest long enough that you can repeatedly use a weight heavy enough to stimulate growth. That’s why a 60-90 seconds rest hits the spot of building muscle mass: the weights lifted are still heavy enough to target the muscle fibers with the greatest potential for growth, and the fatigue is sufficient to flip the switch to turn on the mechanisms that result in muscle growth.

 

Failure training

In weight training, training to failure means repeating an exercise to the point of momentary muscular failure, where a repetition fails due to inadequate muscular strength. The objective is to induce the most possible muscle growth by pumping maximum blood to the area.

Training to failure can have lots of benefit, such as boosting strength levels, crushing plateaus, and getting the ultimate pump. By doing as many reps as possible with a given weight, you create an enormous stimulus for growth. The way it works is that training to failure increases motor unit activation and the secretion of muscle-building hormones, like HGH and testosterone – that, compared to conventional training methods.

When training to failure, make sure you are doing it smart: do it occasionally and take just one of your heaviest sets of each exercise to failure, because if you do it too much, may lead to premature burnout and compromise your muscle gains.

 

A thoughtful planning of your workouts can help you ignite the muscle-building process and get you to the next level.  To make sure that you keep the muscles you gain, make sure you keep increasing the degree of overload once your body starts to adapt to what you’re throwing at it.

Progressive overload is very helpful  in the muscle-building process because it requires you to continually challenge your body, and to push for new levels of performance.

 

 

IMPROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE

 

One of the goals you should strive for this year is improving your conditioning  and attaining an overall stronger and better physique. Getting in shape is not all that easy, as there is more to improving your conditioning than simply training as hard as you can.

Here are just a few tips that can help you gain speed, enhance your agility and improve your overall performance.

 

Get explosive

If you want to improve your performance in the gym, you need to be doing exercises that make your movements more explosive. “It’s one thing to be strong, it’s another thing to be strong fat.” Harnessing the ability to quickly apply your strength will lead to rapid muscle gains and a leaner physique.

Most of the power in your body comes from your hips and core. Exercises such as the dumbbell snatch, cable suplex, and push press teach you to extend your hips forcefully, increasing your ability to coordinate muscle actions fast.  If you take a look at the bodies of fighters, wrestlers or football players – the ones that train with such exercises – you’ll know that explosive training also yields aesthetic results.

 

Activate your muscles

Muscle activation exercises have been around a long time, yet few know about them and even fewer do them. They are designed to enhance the communication between your neurology and your muscles.

Bands are becoming more popular and with good reason. They are a great way to get the muscles geared up for a workout. Muscles contract and react to the band’s resistance, which gives you the ability to stabilize your joints. Stand on a band, grab it with two hands, do a front raise all the way up over your head, then drop the arms to midlevel to form a T. Raise your arms back up overhead, do an overhead shrug, go back to mid-level, and repeat.

 

Focus on multi-joint  ground-based movements

Compound movements such as power cleans, squats, overhead presses, and deadlifts require the use multiple joints at once and they are the biggest muscle builders. Ground-based movements are the moves that have your feet on the ground for majority of the time, while your body learns to absorb and apply force through the ground.

 

Get jumping

The jump is the best conditioning tool you’re not using. Skipping rope fires up the nervous system, increases your core and muscular temperature, and conditions the tissues of the lower body for explosive activity. Jumping develops speed, agility, and a coordination foundation for any type of sport. Not to mention that sprinting and high velocity movements build great levels of conditioning, improve athleticism, preserve muscle, and shred fat.

We not only suggest that you get the old jump rope and put it to use, but also try different exercises that can help even more, such as squat jumps, box jumps, and quick vertical jumps to improve athleticism.

 

Stay hydrated

You need to constantly replace the fluids you’re sweating out during your workout sessions.

The human body is composed of up to 70% water. As an athlete, staying hydrated is of great importance in order to maximize your performance because water is involved in so many processes in the body that being just 2% dehydrated can start to hinder your body's ability to perform. Make sure you drink at least 15 minutes prior to any activity; and during your workout session try to down 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes.

 

Time your rest periods

If you want to make sure you operate at a high level, you need to time your rest intervals while allowing full recovery from your workouts. It’s best to let the speed and quality of your athletic performance determine how long you should rest between movements.

 

Recover actively

Your stiff, sore muscles will become even worse if you just end your training session and do nothing at all. Once you finish training, take the time to do some active recovery. Nothing much, just something simple such as a walk or a 10-minute dynamic warm-up. These extra, small workouts will increase your blood flow without the soreness associated with muscle cramps. Put in a little extra work to make sure your body doesn’t suffer later.

 

Make sure you always have a plan before you hit the gym. Take these tips and add them to your training session so that you begin to train, feel and look like an athlete.

 

 

MAXIMIZE YOUR STRENGTH

 

Strength might seem like a simple pursuit, but it requires an intelligent process. If you are looking to build-up your strength, you need to monitor your training variables to make consistent progress and choose exercises paying attention to intensity, and volume, while implementing helpful recovery methods.

Here are the 5 top strength-building strategies that can make things feel just a little bit easier.

 

Train consistently

You can't hit the gym every once in a while and expect to see progress; therefore, consistency is the name of the game. If you train week in and week out, having in mind the goal of building strength, over time you will experience steady gains in strength and also muscularity.

 

Get a proper warm-up

When you exercise first thing in the morning or after a day of sitting at work, most of your muscles are tight while some might be completely shut off. Warm-ups are crucial because they get all your muscles ready for activity. Without warming up, you not only risk injury but you also get less from your workout.

 

Work out smart

You don’t need to finish or kill yourself every workout session. Try finding the balance between training hard and smart and listen to your body when it says you need to make adjustments or you had enough. This could make the difference between continuing to work out or standing on the bench (or who knows, even worse). Figure out what works best and set some training principles for yourself.

 

Stimulate your entire body

Not only that you need to stimulate muscle growth throughout the body, but you also need to fixate on certain muscle groups you know to have weak points. Fixing your weak points will also get you an overall well-rounded physique. If a muscle never gets to be activated and used, it won’t grow, it’s as simple as that.

The forearms, traps, lats, scapular retractors, spinal extensors, glutes and hamstrings, even the core and quad muscles get activated during heavy deadlifts. However, your pectorals, delts, and biceps are not helped by this exercise, so you will need to combine exercises to make sure you work all your muscle groups and hit your entire body.

 

Progressive overload

If you want to build muscles, gain strength or improve your performance, you need to implement this type of training. The progressive overload forces your body to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond anything it has experienced so far.

Progressive overload is the most important aspect in strength training. The technique is recognized as a fundamental principle of success for various strength training programs and it yields great results, such as physical strength and muscular growth. As with any type of training, this one also has some limits, as exaggerating can lead to  overtraining, increasing the risk of illness or injury. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you need to use this technique only periodically and provide adequate recovery periods between strength training sessions.

 

Proper form

Form is very important with every exercise you perform, especially when talking about squats, deadlifts or any other exercises where the risk of injury is higher. If you don’t pay attention to form, the results will be pain and injury – which will stop any progress you’ve made.

 

Healthy nutrition

It doesn’t matter that you have a great training program if you don’t make the right changes in your diet. The breakfast you take each morning, the meal-preps you pack and the way you fuel your body post-workouts, have a huge impact on your body.  Take nutrition seriously and you will see results.

 

Make sure you follow our tips if you want your workouts to yield the expected results. Choose your exercises wisely, plan every aspect of intensity, duration and volume, and pay attention to your nutrition.





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