Archive for the ‘Exercises’ Category

THE SCHWARZENEGGER SECRETS Part 1

Why Was Arnold’s Physique So Far Ahead Of Its Time?

By STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT

Arnold was able to get huge back in the day because of the tactics he used while training, learn how he used cheat curls and other techniques to get huge arms.

Reading about the workouts Arnold did back in the ’60s and ’70s is inspiring, but did you know there are loads of hidden secrets in those past routines that most bodybuilders just don’t get? The specific muscle training tactics he used, either by instinct or by design, are the very reasons Arnold was the biggest bodybuilder of his era and why his physique in its prime is still outlandish even by today’s freaky standards. For the most part he was instinctively doing a lot of little things precisely right, and though they may seem small those details paid off big. (Some say he was even splitting muscle fibres, which is entirely possible, but tremendously rare.) For example, he knew how to overload the muscle at the exact spot where maximum force* can occur, the point along the stroke where muscle fibres are perfectly aligned for extreme fibre activation. It’s one of the reasons his arms were spectacularly big, full and peaked, and you should follow his lead to make your arms and other muscles more massive. No other bodybuilder in the history of the sport has made the same impact. Indeed, Arnold Schwarzenegger remains the greatest, and most influential, bodybuilder of all time in the eyes of many.

Cheat Curls
If you’ve read anything about his biceps training, you know that cheat curls were one of his favorite size builders. No, he didn’t invent them, but he sure made them popular. He used to start his biceps program with them, heaving up massive poundage’s.
Arnold made cheat curls popular but a lot of people criticised him, saying he wasn’t training biceps, only his lower back, but his biceps had high peaks that made his arms look unbelievably big. Now, you could contend that those who dismissed his cheat curls as non-productive had a point. After all, Arnold did a lot of other biceps exercises too, so cheat curls may really have been training more of his lower back than his arms but I don’t think so. I’ve an idea those cheat curls may be one of the key reasons his biceps got so incredibly full and peaked. Why?

Max-Force Generation Point
The max-force* generation point I mentioned earlier is the place on an exercise’s stroke at which the target muscle can generate the most force, and more force equals more mass. That point, say many scientists, is the spot where the most muscle fibres are stressed to the max because they are perfectly aligned for action. So if you overload that max-force point correctly, max growth stimulation can occur.

Where is that sweet spot on the curl’s stroke?
Right below the point at which your elbows are bent at 90 degrees, between the bottom and the midpoint. There has to be some stretch in the muscle for ideal fibre alignment and therefore max-force production; in fact the closer you get to full contraction, the less force you can produce because of fibre crowding and bunching. Remember what I said in an earlier post about sarcomeres being similar to six man rowing boats all rowing into and over each other.

Now imagine Arnold doing a cheat curl. He would lean forward, bend his arms slightly and heave the heavy barbell to his shoulders. Almost the entire overload occurred right at the max-force point-between the arms-straight-position and the midpoint. One of Arnold’s favourite bicep exercises was cheat curls. It overloads the biceps right at the max-force point, just below where the elbows are bent at 90 degrees.In fact, there was hardly any resistance on his biceps any place else along the stroke. Interesting. Semi-stretched position overload. Perhaps that’s why Arnold’s biceps were so high and he swore by cheat curls as his biceps mass exercise.

Isn’t cheating dangerous?
Absolutely, more people probably get injured doing cheats than those that go on to develop big biceps from them, but remember “where theres a will, and there is a fcking will, theres a way, and there is a fcking way” (Sexy Beast). Soz, couldn’t help myself.  Instead of doing barbell cheat curls, try cable curls. Maintain strict form throughout the set. Begin by first doing as many strict reps as you can, aim for 10 reps. When you can’t do another full rep, pull the bar up to the max-force spot, right below the midpoint, and do short partials till you can’t stand the burn. Those partial cheat reps will overload the muscle through this short range of motion without risking your lower back, well, within reason anyway.

Why use a cable instead of a barbell?
Because cables produce more uniform resistance, without the heaving at the bottom starting point of the exercise you get with a barbell. Try partial reps at the end of a set of barbell curls and you’ll see what I mean.

Main Muscle Worked: Biceps.   Equipment: Cable.   Mechanics. Type: Isolation.

What about Stretch Position Overload?
The max-force overload “cheats” weren’t all there was to putting the peaks on Arnold’s arms. While cheat curls attacked the semi-stretched point, he also favoured stretch-position overload. For biceps that meant incline curls. By reclining on a 45-degree incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand hanging down on either side of him, at the start of the curl his biceps were in an extreme stretch range. He would fire out piston-like reps, keeping tension on his biceps throughout the stroke and blasting out of the fully stretched position-but without heaving or jerking.

Fibre Splitting
It’s interesting to note that recent studies have linked stretch overload to hyperplasia, or fibre splitting. One animal study triggered a 300 percent increase in one muscle that was subjected to stretch overload in only 30 days. Yes, that’s tripling the size of the muscle, and the researchers suggest that a lot of the massive increase was caused by fibre splitting, as evidenced by muscle biopsies.

Arnold’s Secret Workouts?
Could stretched-position overload along with max-force-point “cheats” be Arnold’s secret weapons for incredible biceps mass? Well it worked for him, but it wasn’t only his biceps that got freaky from stretch overload.

Arnolds Chest Workouts.
Another example of Arnold using stretch overload is his chest workout. One of his favourite pec movements was dumbbell flyes, but he had a certain way of doing them-only moving through the bottom third of the stroke. He lowered to the bottom stretched position, but on the upward stroke he stopped the dumbbells when they were about three feet apart, immediately lowering back to the stretch. Why?

Dumbbell Flyes.
He said the short stroke kept tension on his pecs, which is true and important, but it also placed the most overload on his pecs when they were elongated, or stretched. Those partial flyes were really just rapid-fire cheat reps in a stretch-position pec exercise-and no doubt one of the big reasons Arnold’s pecs were so full and striated.

Calves.
Arnold was a master at getting the most growth activation from every set, and calves are another example. When he moved to the America, his calves were underdeveloped compared to most of his other muscle groups, this was before he met and talked to Reg Park, a former Mr. Universe winner and a man who was a big believer in overload.  Arnold was using a few hundred pounds on his various calf raises, but when he trained with Reg, he was amazed to see his mentor pile 1,000 pounds on the calf machine and keep grinding out movement until he could barely budge the gigantic load. Arnold soaked up that experience and information and immediately began applying it. Soon he was using 1,000 pounds on his calf raises, and two or three guys on his back for donkey calf raises, a better stretch-position calf exercise than standing calf raises. But don’t think for a minute that he stopped a set when he couldn’t get all the way to the very top.

Never Waste A Set.
When he couldn’t do anymore full reps, he would drive the weight up as high as he could, usually just barely above the bottom stretch point, and do partials till the muscle couldn’t even twitch. It burned like crazy, but it worked. Soon his calves were one of his best body parts, in fact they were so good that he was accused of having calf implants. I think he instinctively knew how to train in semi-stretched and stretched positions. If you’re neglecting stretch overload in the gym, it may be one of the biggest reasons you’re not building more muscle faster. Arnold achieved semi-stretched and stretched position overload at almost every workout, and you might want to follow his lead.

I’ve found that overloading a muscle in its semi-stretched point with cheat reps and power partials similar to what Arnold used at the end of his calf raises and other exercises can make each set two to four times more effective at building mass. Cheat reps work so well because after you hit failure, you keep firing the muscle at its max-force-generation point, which according to scientists is the key mass building position.  Arnold also instinctively knew to train every muscle in the fully stretched position for the fullest, most complete development possible. Was he triggering hyperplasia, or fibre splitting? It’s quite possible. Whichever way you look at it, Arnold knew what he was doing and achieved freaky mass, even by today’s standards.

Edited from an article originally featured on Muscle and Fitness http://www.muscleandfitness.com/training/arms

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Is Functional Strength Training Rubbish?

MODERN TRENDS IN PERSONAL TRAINING

By STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT Qualified

Is functional training a viable addition to traditional strength training?

Over recent years functional training has been touted as the gold standard for developing strength and athleticism. Unfortunately, a lot of this is due to some misguided theories and assumptions rather than actual results. Some would have you believe that in order to be a disciple of functional training you must:

1. Exclude most single-joint exercises
2. Avoid split routines
3. Avoid the use of machines
4. Have a strong dislike for bodybuilding!

Functional” coaches promote the delusion that progressive resistance methods are only useful for aesthetic purposes. However, this stance is not supported by research or empirical evidence. The word “functional” in the strength training arena is vague and causes much confusion for trainers and clients alike. We can define the word functional as:
*Of or serving a function
*Designed or intended to be practical rather than attractive
Resistance Training manuals generally define “functional” exercise as:
*Exercise that improves one’s tolerance or performance of work, daily life or sport.

Eliminating single-joint exercises has become commonplace with functional trainers due to an incorrect assumption that they and or machine exercises will ruin performance. It is programme design and loading parameters of training that determines the benefit of an exercise.

“A client who participates in rowing requires great pulling strength. Top strength coaches agree that the limiting factor in a primary movement like pulling, is a weak link; a weak muscle. If the biceps are weak in comparison to the lats, then incorporating arm flexion (single-joint) exercises into the programme will improve pulling strength and thus performance in the sport. Select exercises based on the client’s goals and needs, not on the genre of training you support.”

Below, Erik Minor challenges the arguments created by the functional training establishment.
Argument 1:
Functional exercises are natural and single-joint (isolation) exercises are unnatural.
An exercise is natural if it obeys the laws of joint mechanics, neurophysiology, and the limits of soft tissue. All exercises have risks and benefits, it is imprecise to label any exercise as “good” or “bad”. The risk is determined by how far you stray from optimal joint mechanics, how much load is used, and how often. An exercise is valuable if it contributes to the overall improvement of a desired motor pattern. For example, let’s say you’ve recovered from a hamstring injury and now you want to strengthen the weak leg. The most efficient way to recover the lost strength and muscle mass on the injured leg is to perform unilateral single joint exercises. You will achieve more motor unit activation by isolating the movement pattern. Once the hamstring is at a desired strength level, bilateral exercises can be added. There really is no such thing as isolation exercise because single joint exercise requires isometric stabilization of the support muscles. So, single joint exercise could be called iso-metric or iso-kinetic exercise. During a standing biceps curl, the shoulder girdle and core musculature must contract iso-metrically to maintain body position.

Argument 2: Functional exercises are better than single joint exercise for injury prevention.
Other than acute trauma caused by impact, muscle imbalances and faulty movement patterns are major causes for muscle and joint injury. When an individual has weak muscles within a movement pattern, the body will compensate by avoiding the weakness, especially during complex movements such as running, jumping, squats, Olympic lifts, chin-ups and shoulder presses. Repeated exposure to faulty movement patterns can result in pain and joint dysfunction. It has been said, and I agree that you are only as healthy as your joints. The best way to address faulty movement patterns (not caused by a medical condition) is to pinpoint the weak muscles, strengthen with single-joint exercises, and then re-educate the muscular chain with compound exercise. Greg Roskopf, founder of the soft-tissue therapy called Muscle Activation Technique, states, “Functional Training will only reinforce the bad compensatory patterns if the weak links are not first identified and eliminated.” Functional training can be especially problematic for athletes since most have experienced injury during their careers. Correcting muscular imbalances and weakness should be the first priority when training anyone.

Argument 3: Functional exercise is more sports-specific than single-joint exercise.
Unless you are a weightlifter, power lifter, or strongman, there are no sports-specific exercises. The only sports-specific training is the actual sport movement, also known as practice. The sports-specific move for shot-putters is shot putting, for a rower it’s rowing and so on. The real question is whether the strength acquired will transfer to the prime movement of the sport. Transfer of strength is a better indicator of an exercises value. All strength training performed in a gym is “artificial,” but even “artificial” exercise can contribute to improved performance. Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. performed several studies on the effects of machine based strength training on golf driving performance. All 77 participants improved their driving power (average 3.4 mph increase). This reinforces the fact that even machine-based strength can improve performance. Take two individuals with equal skill, body structure, size, and experience; make one athlete 25% stronger in the prime movers of their sport. The stronger individual is now the superior athlete.

Conclusion
A trainer must utilize the best tools available to achieve the goal. Don’t eliminate exercises because they don’t fit into a particular genre. Evaluate every exercise, piece of equipment, and gadget for its efficacy at achieving the desired result. Be practical in your approach and recognize the complexity involved in manipulating the human body.

Adapted from The “Functional” Training Delusion By Erick Minor
Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 | Dynamic Barbell Club

It’s not called personal training simply because it’s one on one. It’s supposed to be personalized to suit the individual, and personalized training has to be so much more than exercise selection and program design.

SIX WEEKS TO A BIGGER CHEST

(I would recommend waiting till you’re an intermediate or veteran before using pyramid sets because the stress to your system can be challenging and overtraining can become a real issue. STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT Qualified)

Grow your chest in six weeks with little more than heavy weight and basic tools
By Jim Ryno

When your goal is to build bigger pecs as soon as possible, getting creative with exercise selection is not only unnecessary, but in most cases counterproductive. Machines certainly have their place in a hypertrophy routine, but anyone who tells you he got a big chest by doing only the pec deck is either lying or selling a pec deck. Adding size requires focusing on the most basic lifting equipment in the gym: barbells, dumbbells and benches.

The following six-week chest-building routine has you training the pecs twice a week and hitting the muscles from top to bottom with incline, flat-bench and decline exercises – four of them free weight pressing moves and one cable flye thrown in as a burnout finisher. The reps top out at 10 to encourage heavier weights and promote hypertrophy, and volume bumps up to 16 sets per workout in weeks 4-6 to maximize mass. Nothing fancy, nothing cute. Just simple and effective.

CHEST BUILDING ROUTINE
Perform twice a week with 2-3 days between chest workouts.

Weeks 1-3
EXERCISE

Bench Press; 3 sets, 10, 8, 6 reps.
Incline Barbell Press; 3 sets, 10, 8, 6 reps.
Dumbbell Decline Press; 3 sets, 10, 8, 6 reps.
Decline Barbell Press; 3 sets, 10, 8, 6 reps.

Weeks 4-6
EXERCISE

Dumbbell Decline Press; 3 sets, 10, 8, 6 reps.
Bench Press; 4 sets, 10, 8, 6, 6 reps.
Incline Barbell Press; 3 sets, 10, 8, 6 reps.
Decline Barbell Press; 3 sets, 10, 8, 6 reps.
Incline Cable Flye; 3 sets, 10, 10, 10 reps.

Power of the Pyramid
Perform all pressing exercises with a pyramiding rep scheme. On your first working set, choose a weight that allows you to reach 10 reps, then increase weight on each successive set so that you can only do eight reps on your second set and six reps on your third (and fourth, where applicable).

This article appears on the Muscle and Fitness site

FAT BURNING: THE FACTS

At some point or other we have all wanted to burn off some body fat but what if you want fast results? Well fear not, here are my top tips to help burn off that tyre around your waist.

1. PRE-BREAKFAST MORNING CARDIO
Studies show that working out in the morning burns up to 3 times more fat compared to working out at any other time during the day. To get into the ‘fat burning zone’ a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio is required.

During the day your body’s main source of energy is the carbohydrates that you get from eating your meals. As you sleep at night for 6+ hours, your body uses up all those carbohydrates as energy for the various bodily functions that go on even while you sleep. When you wake up in the morning your body doesn’t have any carbohydrates left to use and it will look to burn body fat instead for energy.

For you to take advantage of this morning fat burning opportunity you have to exercise first, before eating breakfast. If you do have breakfast, then you’ll just give your body more carbohydrates as a source of energy instead of the body fat that you want to burn off.

Another great thing about working out first thing in the morning is that your metabolism gets revved up and then stays elevated throughout the day. An elevated metabolism means that you’ll burn more calories and lose more weight. If you exercise at night you may still burn fat while you work out but as soon as you go to sleep your metabolism will slow down and you’ll have missed out on all the extra fat burning that you could have had during the day if you’d exercised in the morning. When you sleep your metabolic rate is always at its slowest.

For advanced athletes adding an extra workout to your daily routine 4-6 hours after your morning workout will maintain your already high metabolism. Most fat calories are burned when doing cardio at moderate intensities. If you make your second workout of the day a weights workout, then you will burn mostly carbohydrates during it.

2. EAT BREAKFAST
Another way to keep your metabolism revved up all day long is to eat breakfast. Have breakfast after your morning cardio and you’ll give your body the perfect combination to jump start your metabolism. If you skip breakfast your metabolism will run slower causing you to burn less fat. Eating breakfast will help stop those cravings you may have later on in the day and along with working out in the morning, will also keep you energised throughout the day and lower your stress levels.
It is best to have 6 small meals throughout the day as this will keep your metabolism at a higher level. Every time you eat, your body uses energy to break down, digest and use the food. Eating a small meal every 2-3 hours allows the body to experience calorie burning and less calories are stored as fat. Consuming multiple meals also aids in lowering cortisol levels allowing testosterone levels to remain high. Elevated testosterone levels increase muscle growth, which in turn boosts calorie burning properties in your body.

3. CONSUME PROTEIN
It is recommended that you consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. This should be split between your 6 meals throughout the day. Following a high protein diet means you will need more calories just to maintain bodyweight levels and in turn it makes it easier for your body to burn fat. The constant stream of amino acids also means that muscle tissue is less likely to be broken down. The best forms of protein are lean cuts such as chicken and turkey breast, lean beef and low/non fat dairy.

There are also supplements available that can aid with fat burning, here is my guide to those all important supplements:

CAFFEINE
Caffeine is involved in increasing the mobilisation of fat cells into your circulation and is seen as a potent stimulant. Caffeine’s stimulant properties aid strength training if used pre-workout and can also help to reduce muscular soreness.

GREEN TEA EXTRACT
Green tea contains high concentrations of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is responsible for the tea’s thermogenic effects. In addition to its fat burning qualities green tea extract is also a powerful antioxidant. EGCG is a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin C and more effective than vitamin E at cell protection.

FORSKOLIN
Forskolin is extracted from the roots of the coleus forskohlii which is a wild plant that grows throughout India, Thailand and Burma. Forskolin stimulates the part of the brain that synthesises epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. Together, epinephrine and norepinephrine directly increase the heart rate, triggering the release of glucose from energy stores and increasing blood flow to the skeletal muscle. It has been shown that forskolin is also beneficial for decreasing bodyfat levels and stimulating free testosterone levels.

L-TYROSINE
This naturally occurring amino acid can impact the production of neurotransmitters such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are responsible for fat mobilisation and fat burning. This impact usually occurs when dieting so supplementing L-Tyrosine into your daily routine when in a dieting phase can help your mind stay balanced as well as aiding with fat burning.

CAPSAICIN
Capsaicin is known as the element which makes chilli peppers hot. It also helps increase your levels of norepinephrine which aids fat burning.

ACETYL-L-CARNITINE (ALCAR)
Alcar is the acetyl eater of L-Carnitine and occurs naturally in animal products such as red meat and dairy products and is vital for fat metabolism. It has been reported that using this supplement results in a great increase in muscle carnitine content and studies show that increased skeletal muscle carnitine levels result in a greater use of fats for energy during exercise.

CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID (CLA)
Cla is a fatty acid found naturally in red meat and dairy products. It is known for its fat loss properties and also helps with cellular health and muscle building. Scientific studies uphold CLA supplementation as a simultaneous fat burning, anti-catabolic and anabolic aid.

HYDROXYCITRIC ACID (HCA)
Hca is an appetite suppressant and has been shown to increase lipolysis (fat burning), boost serotonin levels and allow the body to use fats instead of carbohydrates for energy.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your fat burner:

-Drink a minimum of 8 ounces of water with each dose of fat burning product and keep hydrated throughout the rest of the day.
-Take your first dose upon waking (before your pre-breakfast cardio).
-Take a second dose 30-60 minutes before lunch and take your last dose 30 minutes before dinner.

To summarise, in order to get fast acting results you will require:

-30 minutes of steady pre-breakfast cardio.
-Six small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism high.
-Time permitting, an extra workout 4-6 hours after your cardio to keep your metabolism high.
-A fat burner from the list above to help you achieve the results you desire.
-These tips will assist you in elevating your metabolism to burn more calories and fight fat on a daily basis and ultimately help shed all that unwanted body fat.

This article appeared on the Flex UK website authored by MEHMET EDIP

arnie shouldersTHE SPECIFICS OF SHOULDER TRAINING

By Steven Milner

All progressive resistance exercises for the shoulders involve lifting the arm. But although the result is a lifting of the arm, the actual action involved is rotation of the shoulder joint. With few exceptions, all movements are the result of the rotary movements of one or more joints. When you know which joints are involved and what they are doing, you will be able to understand the mechanics of individual exercises and how to do them correctly. The shoulder joint is the most mobile and most vulnerable joint in the body, being able to rotate the arm through a full 360 degrees. The movement of the shoulder is controlled by the deltoids, of which there are three, the front or anterior, side or lateral and rear or posterior deltoids or delts. These muscles, working individually and in combination, have one basic function: they abduct the arm away from the body.

There are two basic types of shoulder exercises; presses, where the arms are lifted using a combination of the shoulder and elbow joint, and raises where the arms are raised up and away from the body in front, behind or sides using only the motion of the shoulder joint itself.
Presses are compound exercises, since they use more than one joint and muscle. You can move more weight with presses because you have a leverage advantage and more muscle is involved, so presses have the edge when it comes to building maximum mass and strength.
Raises, or laterals, are isolation exercises as they involve only the shoulder joint and no other muscles than the deltoids. Laterals are excellent for working and shaping the individual heads of the deltoids and can be done, more or less to the front, side and rear to stress specific areas of the shoulder muscles.

I’ll talk you through some of the different shoulder exercises and offer some suggestions as to how to get the best from them. Of course this article only covers the basics, there are many variations. Remember though, no matter what the movement, focus on what the shoulder joint is doing, feel the muscles working and keep the exercises strict to encourage growth and limit the risk of injury. It takes time and skill to isolate the deltoids as a group and special attention to target individual deltoid heads.

PRESSES
Presses can be done using a barbell, dumbbells or with various types of machines and cables. In all cases, you begin by holding the weight at about shoulder height, palms facing forward, elbows underneath for support. The exercise is performed by lifting straight up overhead, pausing at the top, then lowering the weight back, under control, to the starting position.

Doing presses with a barbell or machine, your hands are locked into place. This tends to somewhat limit the amount of rotation of the shoulder joint compared to pressing with dumbbells. Depending on the equipment involved, you can position your hands further apart or closer together to hit the shoulders from a variety of angles. In general, the closer together your hands are placed the more involvement there is from the triceps; the further apart your hands, the less triceps are involved.

Another way of looking at this is by thinking in terms of the elbow joint. The longer the range of motion of the elbow the more it bends and straightens the more the triceps become part of the exercise. When the elbows are less involved, so are the triceps less involved. As above, so below.

BARBELL PRESSES
Barbell presses can be done to the front, as in the military press or with the bar behind the neck for presses behind the neck, oddly enough.

Military Press: From a standing position, clean the weight (lifting it with a reverse curl movement) or take the bar off a rack holding it with a palms forward grip and hold it across the upper chest. Press the bar upward, locking out the elbows on top, and then lower the weight, under control, back to the starting position, watch your face!

Press Behind the Neck: Position the bar across the back of the neck, holding it palms forward. Press the bar upward, locking out the elbows on top, and then lower the weight under control back to the starting position. This can be performed either seated or standing Don’t rest or drop the weight on your neck it’s just stupid.

DUMBBELL PRESSES
Dumbbell presses can be done standing, seated on a flat bench or on a bench that gives you back support.

Clean the dumbbells, or have a training partner pass them to you, and hold them at shoulder height about level with your ears just outside of your shoulders on each side, palms facing forward. The most common way to do this exercise is to press the weights straight up overhead without locking out the elbows, and then lower the dumbbells under control back to the starting position.

There is a twist on this movement, bear in mind that the action of the shoulders is rotation. Hold a pair of dumbbells level with your ears just outside your shoulders and then press them up in an arc over your head, before the dumbbells come together at the top rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing, then bring them down in a similar arc to the starting position. Using dumbbells rather than a barbell means your hands are not locked into position, and lifting them in an arc, similar to dumbbell flyes for chest, allows for extending the range of motion of the exercise.

Shoulder press bottomshoulder mid pressshoulder press top

MACHINE PRESSES
It doesn’t matter what type of machine you use, the basic action of pressing against resistance overhead recruits the delts and extends the triceps during the range of movement. Concentrating on how much rotation you’re getting from the shoulder joint during the movement and how much the elbow is involved will give you a good idea of exactly what kind of movement the machine is allowing you to do. Remember, in most cases machines don’t allow for building as much mass and strength but often allow you to do a stricter movement and in some cases work through a longer range of motion. One negative aspect of machine presses is that they don’t allow for strengthening all the support tissue around the joint to the degree that is possible with free weights.

LATERALS
Laterals involve lifting the arms up and out to the side with the arms kept more-or-less straight so that there is no involvement als can be performed using dumbbells, cables and various kinds of machines.

side lateral shoulder raisesSide Laterals: Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand hanging down by your side, palms facing inward. Lift your arms out to each side, elboof the elbow joint or the triceps. You can do laterals to the front, side or rear although each of the techniques involved varies with the delt head being targeted. Laterws slightly bent, until the weights are level with the top of your head. Pause at the top, and then lower the weights under control back to the starting position.

You’ll see bodybuilders starting with the weights held together in front of them, using fairly heavy dumbbells and then swinging the weights up to either side so that momentum helps with the lift. This kind of cheating can be useful for advanced bodybuilders, but it can easily get out of hand and diminish rather than increase intensity. So be wary of using this technique.

Front Laterals: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, hanging down at arm’s length in front of you, palms facing your thighs. Lift one arm forward and up and bring it toward the middle, palm remaining downward, bringing the weight up toward the middle helps isolate the front deltoid, but opinions vary. Raise the dumbbell so that its directly in front of you and slightly higher than the top of your head, pause for a moment at the top, then lower it under control back to the starting position. Repeat using the other dumbbell. This movement is usually done by alternating arms but can also be done lifting both dumbbells or a bar at the same time.

Rear Laterals: Bend over at the waist with a dumbbell in each hand at arms length below you, palms facing inward. Keeping your body steady, lift the dumbbells out and up to both sides and slightly forward so that the weights end up beside your ears rather than back even with your shoulders. This keeps the focus on the rear delts and away from the side delts. Pronate the weights by rotating your thumbs down slightly. Lift as high as you can, pause at the top, then lower the weights under control back to the starting position.

Cable Laterals: The three basic types of laterals can be done using a cable and handle attached to a low pulley and in some cases two such cables and handles.

Cable Side Lateral Raises: This can be done to the side with the pulley beside you and the lift going straight up or with the cable on the other side with the cable crossing over in front of your body as you do the lift.
Cable Front Laterals Raises: Perform the lateral raises to the front with the pulley located behind you. You can use individual handles for this movement or both hands together holding a short bar.
Cable Rear Lateral Raises: Lean down and grasp a “D” handle with the pulley  on the opposite side of the arm you’re using and pull away and up from the low pulley station, much as you would with dumbbells or you can use two pulleys, one on either side in a crossover fashion doing both arms at once.

UPRIGHT ROWS
Upright rows involve lifting a barbell or handle attached to a low pulley cable up in front of you to hit the front deltoids. Stand holding the bar with an overhand grip arms length down in front of you, hands about shoulder width apart. Lift the bar up leading with your elbows, pass the bar close to your body, pause the bar for a moment at a position just below your chin, then lower the bar under control to the starting position.

MACHINE LATERALS
There are a variety of machines that allow you to do side lateral exercises and a few with which you can target the rear delts. The basic movements have to be the same, no matter the equipment used, if the target muscles are going to be trained. Read the instructions posted on individual machines for more information or ask a gym employee. Have you heard me say that a personal trainer is worth his or her weight in gold and a committed training partner is a diamond? Well they come in really handy when you’re doing shoulders believe you me.

the transverse abdominals beautifully displayed

SECRETS TO A FLAT TUMMY Working the Transverse Abdominals

Ladies, ever wonder why you never seem to get that flat stomach when you’re relaxed?  No matter how effectively you work your abs typically you will be working them in just one direction, up and down, or, more properly along the length of the rectus abdominus. But what about the abdominals that go from side to side? Can we exercise those?  Well, yes you can, the transverse abdominals (TA) flatten the tummy from side to side, so read on because I’ve got some information to share with you about working your Transverse Abdominals.

The TA complex belong to a group of core muscles that lie below the rectus abdominus and are often neglected in standard ab routines. Typically most abdominal exercises target the vertical rectus abdominus largely ignoring the horizontal transverse abdominals. Even crunches, the staple of most abdominal workouts, do nothing for the transverse abdominals. This group of muscles connect to both the lower back and the rectus abdominus to form a powerful support for the entire abdomen. Any routine aimed at flattening the stomach should include the transverse abdominals as a focus. Using the following exercises, you can target your transverse abdominals and really make progress towards that flat tummy.

Transverse Abdominal Crunch
Lie face up on a mat and plant your feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart, maintain contact between the mat and the small of your back. With the fingers of both hands find the tips of your hip bones on either side of your tummy. Move your fingers inwards slightly towards your centre line just off the hip bone, don’t worry your hip bones are easy to find even if you’re carrying a lot of fat. Now this is an easy exercise to master once you know how to “feel” the transverse muscle working, here’s how, press down slightly with your fingers and cough! You will feel the transverse abdominal wall tighten and jump beneath your fingers. To use the exercise, first cough to initiate the contraction and then hold for a count of ten and relax, repeat for sets.

Pelvic Tilts
Lie on your back on a flat surface, such as a mat or a bench. Roll a towel to cushion the small of your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Raise your pelvis off the floor,  hold momentarily, and lower under control. Repeat for sets. Maintaining a controlled movement is crucial to this exercise, use your abdominal muscles not your body’s momentum to do the work. Be sure to keep your upper body on the floor throughout to target the transverse complex.

Crunchless Crunch
This exercise is fairly simple but can be difficult to master. In a nutshell we’re going to try to pull our belly button in towards our spine, this involves muscles which you may not be accustomed to working, it can take time to make the mind muscle connection. Start by either lying on your stomach or supporting yourself on hands and knees. You might want to try both ways and see which helps you feel the exercise better. Relax your body as much as possible; use only the lower abdominals to try to move your belly button toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds. If holding for ten seconds feels easy, hold for a longer period. You should aim to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it anymore, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominus. When you feel this, release the contraction and relax.

Scissor Kicks
Again start by lying on a mat or bench, place your hands under your backside and try to keep the small of your back pressed down. Start by slowly raising one leg to a height of about ten inches, then slowly lower it back to the floor, as your lower one leg, raise the other. Repeat this movement for reps and sets. Keep disciplined, focus, don’t let momentum rob you. Your upper body should remain on the floor through the entire move.

Transverse abdominals aren’t show muscles but if you want a flatter tummy vitalising these muscles will take you a lot closer to your goals. Exercises like these are key to any tummy flattening plan, and they are especially good for pregnant and postnatal women.

BODYBUILDING SECRETS REVEALED #5  6 tips for better ab training

By Steven Milner 

Tip 1 Don’t eat too many fast-digesting carbohydrates. Fast carbs spike insulin, which affects fat-burning and fat storage, particularly on top of your abs. Carbs to limit are white bread, white potatoes, pop, sports drinks, table sugar, etc. Instead, try whole grain, rye or “best of both” breads, porridge, sweet potatoes, fruits, leaf and root vegetables, brown rice and so on. One exception here: You can eat fast-digesting carbs right after your workout when they’ll be put to work boosting muscle recovery and growth.

Tip 2 Don’t neglect isometrics or continuous tension techniques, this means flexing a body part, in this case the abs, and holding that position for an extended period of time (a bit like a bodybuilder posing). To do this, tense your abs for 6–10 seconds, then relax for 6–10 seconds. Repeat for 10–20 sets. This is a great way to hit your abs while sitting in your car, on your couch or at your desk. I’ll be posting a technique specifically aimed at flattening a tummy (not just for ladies) that uses this principle in isolation. Transverse abdominal crunches coming soon.

Tip 3 Don’t neglect your breathing. When performing an ab exercise such as the crunch, exhale when you reach the finish or top position. This is important because it helps you better contract your abs. Contracting the abs in the position of greatest resistance for a second or two will maximize muscle-fibre involvement.

Tip 4 Generally we train in specific rep ranges, such as 8–10 or 12–15 reps per set. You can and should train your abs in this rep range and add weight (i.e. a plate held across your chest) to keep the progressive resistance going. Many people worry that if they do weighted ab exercises, their abs will become thick and blocky. Abs are muscles just like biceps, so they need definition and separation to stand out, try weighted movements in the 8–10-rep range for optimal ab development.

Tip 5 Don’t do abs first. Some trainers recommend that you begin your workout with ab training to make sure you don’t skip it. This isn’t always true. Recent studies have found that when trained lifters did abs before legs in a squat workout, they completed fewer reps of squats than when they trained abs after the squat workout. This is because the abs, obliques and transverse abdominis work together to stabilize the core, which allows you to produce greater force. Training abs first fatigues them, which lessens your core stability and weakens your base, as well as your ability to generate force.

Tip 6 Don’t train abs always at the same speed, change up your rep speed from slow and smooth to fast and explosive, allowing you to utilize more fast-twitch muscle fibres to build more power, strength and size. According to new research from Spain, scientists tested the muscle activity of subjects’ rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and spinal erectors while they did crunches at rep speeds of four seconds, two seconds, 1.5 seconds, one second or as fast as possible. They reported in a 2008 issue of the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research that as the rep speed increased, so did the activity of all four muscles. The greatest boost occurred in subjects’ external obliques, which were hardly involved in the crunch at slower speeds but increased by more than six times at the fastest speed. So don’t fail to vary your rep speed. The fast reps will help recruit more muscle fibres in the midsection and turn the crunch into an excellent oblique exercise.