5 TINY TWEAKS FOR BIGGER MUSCLE GAINS

You have heard it over and over again- quality not quantity. Let’s examine how and why. You’re investing time and effort in your workout, you might as well get the results you deserve!

Moving halfway through an exercise, you’ll see half the results. If you are sacrificing the proper form for higher sets you are doing yourself a true disadvantage. Getting the most of each exercise, fully engaging targeted specific muscles will maximize results (sooner!) Very often, all it takes is one small tweak to get you seeing results.

Here are some tiny tweaks that just may lead to BIGGER and BETTER muscle gains for you in five of the best exercises known to mankind.

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  1. DO THE FULL SQUAT.

    Of all the moves you do in your workout program, perhaps the full squat is the most important. Squats work multiple muscle groups at once, boost your heart rate, and will enhance your balance and agility. The biggest error made with this movement is not going low enough.. When you squat to a parallel position or lower, you’ll get greater glute activation, meaning better butt building results. If you want that round, curved backside, squatting as low down to the ground as possible is a necessity. Okay, I realize that may not be easily done. Very often restrictions in ankle and hip flexibly are restricting to get there. Check out our squat flexibility video for details. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbaOclCVDEQ.Personal trainer Brian Tabor adds, “When you are squatting, challenge yourself to get the tops of your thighs parallel with the floor or lower. This increases the overall range of motion, glute activation, and can actually reduce strain on the knees.”

 

cardio cooo

  1. ADD INCLINE TO YOUR RUN.

    If you’re a pro on the treadmill and run often, your body is becoming familiar with your routine.  Trick your body and switch it up by adding an incline.  If you typically walk on the treadmill, turn the incline up and feel the burn in your calves.  If you typically run, add in some hill sprints. You may be impressed with the results, even if you don’t do this challenge every time.

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  1. THINK ABOUT CORE IN THE BENT OVER ROW.

    Now we come to the bent over row. The biggest mistake here is letting momentum take over the exercise.As you bend over, you want to really think of squeezing the shoulder blades back and together as you lift the bar up towards the chest. Never swing the weight upward or you’ll have very little muscle activation and put yourself at risk for lower back pain. Keep the back as stationary as possible and that too will help ensure it’s only muscular power driving this movement. Check out our rowing machine video for expert instruction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7yUK7lbeA8

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  1. FOCUS WHEN YOU CRUNCH.

    This move is all about the mind-muscle connection. You need to really focus on squeezing those abs as you let the upper body rise up into the crunch position and then lower it back down again. Never pull on the back of your head with your hands or swing the body upward using momentum in this movement as well. Do your crunches as slow as you can stand it! Slow, controlled, and steady – that needs to be how this exercise is performed.

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  1. AVOID THE SHORT PUSH-UP.

    Finally, when doing push-ups, make sure that you don’t short yourself here.Go all the way down to the ground so that your chest is just millimeters from the ground. Half push-ups will do very little to build muscular strength. If anything, they’ll just put excess stress on your shoulder and elbow joints as you bounce up and down through the movement. As you lower yourself, keep your heels moving away – this helps you engage your lower abdomen and keep a great plank form. As in the row, you’ll want to keep your shoulder blades pressing into your back. Lower down on a three count, pause at the bottom for a one count, and then press up over a two count. This will really have you feeling the muscles you’re targeting. Slow is the theme here, too.

It’s amazing how the smallest changes can bust a plateau. Adjust your stance or grip, set the bench to an incline instead of flat, or change implements from a barbell to a dumbbell, and you’ve suddenly expanded your exercise options with only strategic slight changes.

Article by: Reyanne Mustafa

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Debunking Stretching Myths with Matt Dawson.

Fact or Fiction?

If you already include stretching in your regular fitness routine, congratulations—you’re ahead of the curve. But for the 90% of us, who seem to overlook this crucial aspect of fitness, it is time to rethink how important stretching truly is.screen-shot-2014-07-28-at-10-34-44-am1

Recently celebrating his 12 year anniversary here in Aztec Recreation, personal trainer Matt Dawson has endless knowledge when it comes to the value of flexibility training to avoid and recover from injury.

 “I feel so blessed to do something for 12 years and love it just as much.”

Along with training, Matt’s passion for organic gardening, yoga, and wellbeing truly illustrates his belief that without your health, you don’t have wealth. Matt’s philosophy is that health comes from the inside out. Unfortunately, Matt is not accepting new clients at this time so we decided to sit down and pick his brain to set straight stretching truths and myths.

 1. Stretching before your workout is crucial.

False.
Matt: “In my experience, my clients have performed much better stretching after a 25-minute or longer cardio session. Think of your muscles as silly putty. When it’s cold, it will just tear apart verses when it’s had contact with heat it is the most elastic. Same goes for your muscles.”

Be sure to warm up!!

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7 Reasons to Fall in Love with Plyometrics (box jumps) [Plus Plyometric Video]

Cardio AND squats? Why not kill two birds with one stone?

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  1. They’ll make your legs insanely strong.

Jumping increases your strength and muscle tone, and builds both upper body and lower body strength like crazy. Box jumps force you to jump high enough that you’re forced to use every single muscle in your legs (as well as your arms) to propel you up.

You’ll be sore after the first few times doing them—but don’t worry, your legs will quickly gain massive strength from there.

 

  1. They’ll prepare you for other sports.

basketball-jumpingPlay basketball or volleyball in your spare time, or just like to be able to jump spontaneously into the air? Box jumps will improve your vertical jump, speed, and endurance, as well as increase your coordination to help you excel in any new sport you try.

If you’ve ever tried them, you’ll know what I mean—you learn to boost your coordination quickly since it’s all too easy when you’re tired to almost miss the box entirely and hit your shins on the front edge.Yeah..Ouch.

 

  1. They blast calories and melt fat.

When you jump, your body burns 800 to 1,000 calories an hour (compare that to 200 to 300 calories burned per hour while walking).

Since high intensity jumping such as box jumps stimulates changes in mitochondria (where fuel is converted into energy), your body will burn fat before carbohydrates— good news for anyone trying to lose weight.

  1. They’ll keep you strong and balanced.

No desire to falBanner for Plyol and break your hip later on in life? Then start doing box jumps today.

Since box jumps aid in balance, they’ll protect you from injury now and into old age. Plus, they’ll keep your bones strong and healthy for life. Caution: If you have weak knees or shin splits box jumps may not be the best exercise for you.

  1. They make you look like a hardcore!

While you may never be able to jump as high as this guy, being able to jump high and repeatedly is pretty darn cool.Female athlete is performing box jumps at gym

I’d put it right up there with pull ups and the beloved burpees as one of the most hardcore exercises ever.

  1. They can be done equipment-free.

Simply find a h2011-07-17-stepups_pooja_mottligh enough bench, or some stairs, or a table if you’re that good—and get jumping.

Depending on your level, most women should start with a 14″ or 18″ box, and guys should start with a 20″ or 24″ box.

  1. They’re fun (really)!

Once you get over the fear of actually attempting them, box jumps are one of the more fun exercises to actually do.

Why? Because jumping reminds us of being kids, and playful activities keep you young.

And finally, how to actually do box jumps:

Article by: Reyanne Mustafa

Video by: Jared Kleber, Kyle Leong, Liana Tsirklin

Synrgy 360 Video

The Synergy 360 is the standout piece of equipment at the ARC Express. Whether you are trying toSynrgy 360 Video Screenshot add some variety to your workout or create a fun circuit the Synergy 360 has a diverse set of multipurpose attachments which will revive your routine.

 

I highlighted a few of my favorite attachments on the Synergy 360 in this video, but I would also like to point out that there are many more stations in which you could use. For example, there are alternating monkey bars in the center of the station, rock climber grips for pull-ups, and adjustable cables.

The Synergy 360 is a great way to add resistance training to your circuit, and with its many attachments its great for friends of all fitness levels to workout together. Be creative and challenge your workout!

 

Written by: Anthony Sawh

 

Controlling Over Consumption for the Holidays

Hey Aztecs! Did you know that most people gain 1-2 pounds just from the time between Thanksgiving and New Years? Here are 5 easy tips you can put into action to heHoliday Dietlp you control over consumption while maintaining full satisfaction from all that crazy-good holiday food.

  1. Protein and Fiber – Put those on your plate first
    1. Foods high in protein and fiber are the most satiable. Making them a priority in your food choices can help you eat less overall and prevent overeating.  Foods high in protein and fiber are more micronutrient dense, have fewer calories, and add volume to your meal, while still tasting great!  They will also keep you full longer, helping you cut down on post-meal snacks.
  2. Smaller Portions at a time – Eat less while keeping food volume the same
    1. You will eat less if you have less on your plate, while feeling just as satisfied. Tricking your mind into thinking you have just as much food on your plate by keeping the volume of food the same, but adding in foods that are less calorically dense (fruits, vegetables, etc.) on each plate will allow you to actually eat less without losing fullness.
  3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Reduce temptations to snack unnecessarily
    1. If food is easy to eat, it is easy to overeat. Avoid having food within arms reach or in your vision on a regular basis, and cover up your food to avoid temptations to snack unnecessarily.  The more effort involved in eating, the less likely you are to overeat.
  4. Continue Staying Active – Keep your exercise regimen consistent throughout the holiday season
    1. Exercising releases hormones that will help you stay in control, calm, and confident. Not to mention, it burns calories, increases metabolism, and strengthens your mind and body.  Whether you are at the gym, at the park, or in the privacy of your own room, there are plenty of exercise options you have regardless of equipment, time, and fitness level.  During the holidays, try incorporating your friends and family into fun group exercises like a pre-meal flag football game, a post-meal walk, or a YouTube workout session.
  5. Set Realistic expectations – Don’t give up
    1. Let’s face it, it may be impossible to completely avoid overeating throughout the holidays.  Setting too high of an expectation for any goal is a recipe for disaster, and in this case will result in succumbing to cravings.  Enjoy the food and company while always keeping a positive mindset.  If you find yourself overindulging, don’t give up and let it define your eating habits.  Remember, life is understood in the past but must be lived in the present, so learn from your mistakes and move on.

Good Luck!

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How are you working on keeping your holiday meals in check for the holidays? Let us know! #LiveWellAztecs

By: Jimmy Shiba, Graduate Health Promotion Intern,  MPH Candidate

Resources:

http://evidencemag.com/holiday-feast

The DO’s and DON’TS of “Bulking Season”

 How to Gain.. The RIGHT Way

Looking to gain muscle mass? If you think eating anything and everything in sight will help you to bulk up, you may want to think again.

Now that summer has come to an end and tank tops and shorts are replaced by baggy pants and sweat shirts.  The next few months can mean only one thing…Ahh it’s bulking time.

  • The Bulk: A period of time when the primary goal is building muscle, gaining weight, increasing strength, or all of the above. Calorie intake is increased so a caloric surplus is present.
  • The Cut: A period of time when the primary goal is losing fat, losing weight, getting leaner, or all of the above. Calorie intake is decreased and/or calorie expenditure is increased so that a caloric deficit is present.

Every off-season, many individuals fall short of their goals. Why? You might ask. Below are some of the most common mistakes people make during the off-season that hinder their gains. If you can avoid as many of these mistake as possible, you will be on your way to a productive off-season.

1) Not Eating Enough

In order to add muscle to your body you need to make sure that you have an adequate surplus of energy. This means simply getting enough calories daily so that your body can recover from workouts and rebuild the stressed muscle fibers little by little.

Without the energy and the fuel, via a surplus of healthy food, you cannot make the improvements you need. Make sure that you are eating enough calories to enable you to make those improvements. Though you might put on a little (note I said a little) body fat, the body fat will come off once you diet down for cutting season.

2) Not Eating Enough Healthy Clean Foods

Above we talked about taking in enough calories so you can put on good size in the off season.

There is a lot of misguided information out on the internet on how to binge to gain muscle. Often there will be claims that eating this amount of protein or X amount of calories will lead to bigger muscles. We are here to clear all that confusion up.goddvs.bad food

You might say ‘fast food and junk food are calorie dense so why not have them once or twice a day so I can bump up my overall calories?”  or “Because junk food is so calorie dense, I’ll have enough energy to make my reps and build more muscle, right?”
While you want to have excess calories while bulking, the majority of those calories should be from clean healthy foods: lean cuts of meat, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Although not as calorie dense, these healthy foods are energy dense. Clean energy is what is going to give you that extra push to do that extra rep. When you are trying to gain weight you do need additional calories, but diet riddled with junk food will result in little muscle gain and plenty of fat storage.

How many times have you heard people say how sluggish they feel after eating fast food?
This is mostly because junk food has nutritionally zero benefits; yes, you are getting your calories but no nutrients to fuel the body leaving you sluggish. Because junk food has the wrong kind of sugars it’s common to find yourself getting a “sugar high” followed by an immediate crash. The crash is due to the energy running out whereas clean healthy foods keep your energy going for a longer lasting effect. So think twice the next time you take a bite out of that 4×4 at In’n’out! Clean it up and you will beef it up!

3) No Cardio

This is a huge mcardioooistake that 99% of the time men fall victim to the no cardio approach in the off season. They justify it by saying “I don’t want to lose any gainz”. Well, we are here to tell you that three 30 minute cardio sessions a week will do wonders for your bulking phase. By incorporating a cardio routine into your workout program, your appetite will go through the roof, which will make it a lot easier to eat more clean healthy food.

“Staying aerobically fit is an important component of gaining weight. A strong and fit heart will help you to recover between sets more efficiently thus improving your overall work capacity (in other words: allowing you to do more sets in same the same amount of time).” Brian Tabor, personal trainer at ARC.
A big part of building more muscle means progressively doing more work (set/reps) in your training. If you want to put on that size then start doing some cardio.

 

4) Not Enough Rest/ Recovery Timesleep-better

Many novice trainers don’t realize that you do all your growing outside the gym. Even some experienced lifters find it hard to stay away from the gym to get enough rest. They do everything else right: eat clean, workout out hard, but forget to give their bodies enough rest and recovery time between workouts so gains are negligible. Being sure to get plenty of food is one thing, but it’s important to get enough rest and sleep as well. You break down the muscle tissue in the gym, given that you fuel your body with nutritious food.

Article by: Reyanne Mustafa

For more information, visit these sites:

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=11633
http://www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/pdfs/fitfacts/itemid_173.pdf
http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/water.html
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045506
http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/10-most-common-bulking-mistakes.html