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

ARC Fitness Room Gets A Summer Makeover!

V06A9946The ARC Fitness Room was upgraded in the summer of 2015 with numerous Hoist cross cable machines as well as Life Fitness®, Paramount® and Cybex® selectorized circuits. Cross cable equipment enables you to perform a huge range of exercise and also supports high speed movements for functional training. Check out our video blog with oblique training tips on cross cable. All the selectorized machines complete three full circuit sets and many support unilateral movement to help build strength and symmetry in your workout. The Cybex® Total Access line-up accommodates exercisers of all abilities and allows wheelchair access. The Life Fitness® machines include rep counters and timers as well as QR codes linking you to specific instruction to use the machines for peak results.

4 Steps to Fitting Wellness into Your Schedule

The semester has started and your calendar is probably filling up quickly! This is an exciting who metime, full of new experiences and opportunities, but don’t forget to make time for a very important person…YOU! It’s very easy to overbook your schedule without leaving time to actually take care of yourself.  By treating your personal well-being like any other activity or commitment, you can make fitting wellness into your schedule part of your daily routine. Follow our step-by-step guide and start making your wellness a priority today!

Using a calendar or planner is extremely helpful in keeping yourself schuduleorganized. You schedule your classes, work, meetings, etc., but we also want you to understand that wellness should be scheduled into your daily routine. Don’t start a new calendar for your wellness activities, rather we want you to identify what works for you and get in the routine of also fitting in wellness. If you don’t currently use anything, check out digital calendars like Google Calendar or smart phone applications. You can set-up alerts and share your schedule with other people.

Step 1: Stick to a Sleep Schedule

The first wellness component you need to add to your calendar is your sleep. Yes, you read that right! We want you to schedule your sleep and commit to it! Scheduling your sleep makes it a priority and reminds you to complete your other tasks before the deadline, your bed time. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that young adults aged 18-24 years old get 7-9 hours per night. Want extra credit? Avoid looking at electronic devices at least an hour before bed to ensure that you are getting better quality sleep.

Step 2: Prioritize Time for Exercise & Follow Through

First, ask yourself what type of exercise do I enjoy? Do you like hiking? Great, explore San Diego! Do you like lifting weights? The Aztec Recreation Center is calling your name! Just make sure you are doing some form of exercise you enjoy, because it’s more likely that you remain active down the road.

You’re probably asking yourself, how much time should I schedule for exercise? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (brisk walking) every week and perform two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities per week (CDC, 2015). As the intensity of the aerobic exercise increases, the recommended weekly time decreases.  You can check out the website to see how exercise intensity is determined. If it doesn’t seem like you have room in your schedule for 30+ minutes at a time, research shows that doing 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise 3 times per day is just as effective (CDC, 2015)! Also, remember to fit in activity whenever you can. Try parking across campus from your class, so you can walk farther to give yourself an energy boost before class. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Carry a grocery basket instead of pushing a cart. Get coffee with friends and walk instead of sitting at a table. Every little bit counts!

Once you decide on the type and length of exercise, schedule it into your open time slots and pledge to keep that appointment. You reserved this time to improve your health, don’t let yourself down!

Step 3.  Embrace Meal Planning & Prepping

Sometimes eating a balanced diet is easier said than done, but can be more achievable with meal planning and prepping. By setting aside some time each week to plan your meals, go meal prepgrocery shopping and prep your food, you’re setting yourself up for success. We want this to be enjoyable for you, so Health Promotion has some tips to make eating healthy even easier:

  1. Keep it simple. When mapping out your meals for the week, find recipes with very few ingredients. This will save you money and cut down the cooking time.
  2. Shop your kitchen first. Get creative and use what you already have in your fridge and pantry. There’s no point in buying more of what you already have!
  3. Look for deals. Use the local grocery store ads to find discounts on foods and shop the sales! Check out the Sprouts, Windmill Farms, Vons, and Ralphs weekly deals!
  4. Buy frozen, ready to cook ingredients. Fresh produce is great, but we don’t always have time to prep and cook it. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great option for quick and nutritious meal additions!
  5. Cook more than you need. You are already spending time cooking, so make extra to take for lunch the next day or freeze for another day when you are short on time.

Now look at your calendar and find some time that you would like to devote to meal planning, prepping and grocery shopping. Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. Find a routine that works for you and makes eating nutritious meals easier and part of your schedule!

Step 4. Schedule Some Me-Time

I 3 me timeYes, prioritizing yourself is just as important as getting an A on that exam. Don’t forget to take care of your emotional, spiritual and social wellness. This will look different for everyone. If you need some “me time” on campus, the Center for Well-Being is a great place to relax, meditate, read and even sit in a massage chair! Based on your schedule, you may have more time some weeks than others, but always try to squeeze in some time to unwind.

Remember to be patient with yourself as you begin integrating wellness into your schedule. Make small goals that help you develop healthy habits and make them part of your normal routine. Before you know it, making wellness part of your schedule will become second nature and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how much better you’ll feel!

By: Shantille Thompson, MPH, CHES

Sources:

http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need/page/0/1

http://www.brighamandwomens.org/about_bwh/publicaffairs/news/pressreleases/PressRelease.aspx?sub=0&PageID=1962

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

 

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!!

Continue reading

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