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.”

 

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  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

5 [hidden] Benefits of Rowing

Unless you are among the lucky few, the majority of us dread cardio days.  The thought of going on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, or even stair master becomes such a drag no matter how dedicated you are to fitness. But what about those tucked away rowing machines? Think you won’t get as much of a workout? Think again.

  1. Weight Loss

Rowing burns calories rapidly, making it a suitable addition to your workout regimen if weight loss is your chief priority.  The full body nature of13 rowing makes it a huge calorie burner: in a few minutes a day, you’ll burn more calories on the indoor rower than you would on a machine that doesn’t engage as many muscle groups.  According to a Harvard study done in 2012, rowing vigorously on a stationary rowing machine can burn up to 632 calories per hour if you’re 155 pounds.

2.  Muscle Toning

Rowing uses virtually every major muscle group in your body. Unlike a bike, that only gives resistance in one direction, the activity of rowing works both the front and back major muscles therefore increasing the rate at which you burn calories.

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3. Cardio Benefits

Rowing is an endurance exercise that increases heart function. Keeping the rowing machine tension at a low level allows you to maintain a high rate of speed with minimal resistance. For cardio workouts this enables you to reach and maintain an aerobic state.

  4. Easy on the Joints

Its not rocket science to detect that running, and heavy weight training over time puts tremendous stress on your joints. Rowing on the other hand puts little pressure on the joints, due to seated position.  This low-impact exercise allows your joints to receive some much needed loving. With your joints not having to work as hard you are allowing your muscles to do most of the work which is the goal right?

5.  Great total body warm-up

Rowing machines are located in both the ARC and ARC Express cardio zones. Because of the total body activation of rowing, it’s a great way to warm up prior to your resistance training workout.

Why So Unpopular?

So with all these benefits, why isn’t there a line of people waiting to use rowing machines? The main reason is that most people just don’t know how to use them. Others may shy away from rowers because they provide a challenging workout, and some people just want to slump over a treadmill. Personal trainer Kyle Leong, shows us the proper use of how to use these calorie burning machines.

The 20-minute fat-burner: Try this routine designed to max out your muscles during each interval, while the recovery periods help increase the efficiency of this fat burning exercise routine. Set the rowing machine at a resistance of four. Then perform sets of 10, 15, and 20 power strokes—pulling the handle to your torso as fast and as hard as you can. Separate the power strokes with 60 seconds of easy rowing at about 50 percent of your full effort. Repeat the cycle until you’ve rowed for 20 minutes.

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MBACCLooking to get even more out of your workout? Rowing on water vigorously burns 844 calories per hour if you DCIM101GOPROweigh 155 pounds, according to a study by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. For an even better workout along with more of an enjoyable experience, ARC members have the opportunity to take rowing classes all semester long (for class credit) at Mission Bay Aquatic Center! GET OUTTA HERE… (Literally!) Access to these classes is major benefit to our members. Take the fitness outdoors while enjoying beautiful sunny San Diego!

Article by: Reyanne Mustafa

http://www.mbaquaticcenter.com/rowing.htm

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

Reach Your Goals With Group Fitness

Group fitness classes are included in the Aztec Recreation membership and are a great way to help you with your 2015 fitness goals! We offer cardio, strength, mind/body, and dance formats so you can enjoy a huge variety of classes that make exercise fun. Beginners are welcome; previous experience is not required! If it’s your first class, feel free to introduce yourself to the instructor prior to class. That way he/she will be better able to cater to your experience and fitness level. Check out the current schedule.

Looking to achieve internal balance and reduce tension and stress? This class uses breath-synchronized movement to create internal heat that purifies muscles and organs by expelling unwanted toxins from the body in the form of sweat. Dynamic, flowing posture sequences will build strength and flexibility. You will learn to set an intention for your personal yoga practice and take the necessary steps toward reaching that goal.

Heard of the at-home Insanity® program? Now it’s in your group fitness studio! This class utilizes the concept of max interval training, where longer high intensity cardio intervals are interspersed with short rest periods so that you can get the most out of your workout. All levels are welcome in this body weight workout that can increase your cardiovascular endurance, as well as muscular strength. Just one question: are you ready to dig deep?

Article by: 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

 

Importance of Mobility for Strength Training

Mobility is both beneficial to all aspects of fitness and is easy to improve and maintain.  It is your ability to control your limbs throughout their full range of motion, and can sometimes be confused for stretching.  Although stretching and flexibility are both aspects of mobility, mobility has a direct functional effect on movement.  By working on mobility, not only will you be able to avoid injury but you will be able to execute exercises with more power and efficiency. Watch the video below to see how different mobility exercises can help you get into a more optimal squat position.

 

 

As the school year begins, the gym gets packed with students from a wide range of fitness levels.  From beginners to thoroughbred fitness gurus, students are eager to put the amazing facility at the ARC to good use.  But, before you go charging in to grab a bench or claim a pair of dumbbells, let’s take the time out to prepare the most important piece of equipment in the gym: you. Your body is the most complex machine found in any gym facility.  With over 200 bones and over 650 different muscles, it is important to recognize the endless possibilities of movement patterns and leverages it can accomplish.

Making sure your body has the sufficient mobility for weightlifting should be an essential part of your workout routine.  It allows you to get into optimal positions and execute movements in ways where you are testing the strength of your muscles and not the integrity of your joints.  It also prevents injury by giving you the awareness of any weaknesses you may have in your muscle groups so you will not compensate by overworking and straining other dominant muscle groups during exercises.

Lack of mobility often manifests itself in large compound movements.  The squat is a great example.  Lifters will often times lack mobility at the bottom of the squat in their ankles and hips, which forces their toes and knees forward and outward to create space for their hips to drop down, while at the same time, shifting weight onto the toes.  This starts an avalanche of problems as your body attempts to compensate for the lack of strength created by the poorly leveraged squat position. As the knees come forward, all the weight shifts onto the quads, eliminating the entire posterior chain from the movement (the posterior chain consists of all the muscles on the backside of your body including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and back).  The body will compensate for the lack of strength with the knees, hips, and lower back, putting them under tremendous strain and often leading to injuries in the future.

You can improve your mobility in countless ways.  Essentially every muscle in your body can be worked on and improved for better performance.  Several high quality foam rollers and bands are available for checkout at the front desk and the PVC pipe is available for use in the Fitness Room.  The ARC also offers various Yoga and Pilates classes throughout the day to all members which can help you strengthen your mind muscle connection and your core while improving flexibility and mobility.   So before you go crazy with the weights, take a moment to make sure your body is primed, supple, and ready for action

Article by: Jimmy Shiba, Graduate Health Promotion Intern,  MPH Candidate

Are you working on your mobility? Let us know how #LiveWellAztecs

More mobility resources:

(A more in depth description of joint mobility and joint stability as the foundation of any workout program)

(Joint mobility as it relates directly to the squat. Video and article by multiple powerlifting world record holder Bryce Lewis)

(The difference between mobility and flexibility.)