Category Archives for "Exercise"
If you are suffering from high blood pressure, the recommended course of action is probably to take some prescribed medications and to watch what you eat. There are a number of foods in your diet that can lead to hypertension, as well as foods that can help lower your blood pressure, so your diet is one thing that you should definitely be watching.
Similarly, there are many medications on the market that help to lower your blood pressure by opening up your blood vessels, putting less strain on your heart to be able to pump blood all around the body. Taking this medication is extremely important, as high blood pressure can increase the risk factors for many issues that can lead to premature death.
However, new research reveals that just as important as medicine is getting enough exercise.
In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers in the US and UK teamed up to examine the effect of exercise on hypertension. While it is recommended that more research is done to be conclusive, the early evidence suggests that exercise may be just as effective in fighting high blood pressure as a medication is.
After examining nearly 200 clinical trials that investigated drug impact on HBP, as well as nearly 200 trials on the effects of exercise (altogether there were 40,000 trial participants), the researchers came to the conclusion on the effectiveness of exercise in fighting HBP.
When isolating the data to only those that had high blood pressure at the outset of the studies, the researchers found that getting consistent exercise proved to be just as helpful in HBP than the results shown by those taking prescription drugs. The strongest results were found in those who combined endurance exercise with dynamic resistance training. This would be like running or jogging, combined with weightlifting.
However, while the results are promising, it is too early to suggest that medication could be completely replaced with an exercise program. For the best results, it is suggested that increasing your activity levels along with undergoing drug treatment is the most effective course.
I am not surprised in the least bit that they have uncovered yet another benefit of getting enough exercise. It is absolutely crucial for your health, your weight, your mood, etc., that it is not shocking news that it can also have an effect on hypertension.
I am curious to read the studies in more detail to see exactly how this effect occurs. Maybe it promotes more blood flow, makes circulation more efficient? Perhaps the rush of endorphins has a chemical effect? I don’t know, but I’d be curious to find out, and look forward to more research on this topic.
If you are afflicted with high blood pressure, by all means, continue to take your prescribed medication. But it is also time to take a look at how much exercise you’re getting. Are you active enough? With this newfound information, there is even more motivation to get off the couch to help with your HBP.
Are you tired of walking around with chicken legs, making it look like you always skip leg day? Nobody wants that. Having a strong, thick upper body supported by a couple little twigs below your waist is not a good look on anybody.
If you’re looking to fill out your jeans a little more, I wrote a previous post about how to grow your calf muscles. In this post, I’ll tackle the upper half of the legs and fill you in with some exercises that provide a killer workout for your quads (thigh muscles). Say goodbye to those twigs and start building some tree trunk legs now!
All of the exercises below can be worked into your existing leg workout, or they can be combined together to form one leg routine that should be done a couple times per week (don’t do it on back to back days). As for the amount of weight to use, a good rule of thumb is that if you can bang out 20 reps with ease, add more weight. If you are unable to perform the exercise with proper form, drop the weight down. There’s a nice middle ground in there for everybody.
Along with deadlifts, squats are one of the granddaddy’s of all exercises. It is a compound exercise meaning that it recruits multiple joints and muscle groups to perform. It is a great total body workout but really engages the legs better than any other movement. If you want some thick thighs, you absolutely must add this to your routine if you haven’t already. It’s also great for building a nice butt!
I already mentioned this one earlier when I talked about squats, and the same philosophy applies here. It is a compound movement that will engage a lot of your body’s biggest muscles, including the back muscles. It is a killer workout for your legs, so be sure to not skip this one! As always, make sure to keep proper form. Don’t use too much weight so you don’t risk injury to your back especially. The video below shows you how to do this lift properly.
I talked about lunges in another post about strengthening your hip flexors, but they are also a great way to add some girth to your thighs as well. Grab a weight that is heavy enough to create resistance, but not so much that you can’t grip the dumbbells long enough or are unable to hold in the lowered position for more than 10 seconds or so. Check out the video below if you are unfamiliar with lunges. Do a few sets of these and you’ll really be feeling it!
The list doesn’t stop there, but those are the biggest ones that I always incorporate into my week. In addition, you can work in some plyometric box jumps, wall sits, stationary bikes and stair climbers, and weighted box step-ups to throw different looks at your leg muscles.
If you like these exercises and are looking for a complete guide to gaining size, I highly recommend checking out this workout program from Jim Stoppani called Shortcut to Size. It is so comprehensive and easy to follow. You’ll be on your way to muscle mass in no time!
To help you reach your goals, don’t forget about nutrition. Add a testosterone booster like this one to make sure you are getting your muscles the nutrients and hormones they need!
Ask any weightlifter or bodybuilder what is the most stubborn muscle to grow, and the majority will tell you it is their calves. I don’t know what it is about this muscle group, but there are a lot of people running around out there that have massive upper bodies and thighs but below the knees, it looks like they’ve been skipping leg day.
Getting this stubborn muscle group to grow is the same advice that I’ve repeated for other muscles that seem to plateau. You need to change up your workouts and throw new variations that your body hasn’t seen. This will shock the system, hit the muscles from a different angle, tear up the muscle fibers and force them to repair and grow back bigger and stronger.
For some people, these muscles are just plain stubborn. For others, it is a laziness – not putting calf exercises into their workouts. There is no excuse for this, as impressive calves are a sight to behold (on both men and women). Don’t skip these tips if you want some good looking legs!
Follow these steps if you want to break through a plateau and really add some size to your lower legs.
For the next two weeks to a month, do calf exercises every day at the start of your workout.
At the moment, you’re probably only doing them once a week at the end of leg day. Clearly, this isn’t cutting it.
Try to work in 4 to 6 calf workouts per week for the next 2-4 weeks.
Vary up the exercises, like using the calf machine, jumping rope, doing box jumps, etc.
In addition to making them a part of your workout routine, hit them again before you go to bed during the next 2 to 4 weeks. Right before you settle down, try to do a set of 100 standing calf raises. Don’t just try to pump them out as fast as possible. Really take the time so you feel the burn.
When it is possible (I don’t expect you to do this everywhere in public), try to walk around on your tiptoes instead of flat on your feet. This extends the calf muscles, making them do most of the work rather than spreading the load across your whole leg.
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great way to get a workout for your calves. Even better, if you have the time, try to do a standing calf raise with each new step that you take. You’d be surprised how much your calves will burn by the end of your climb.
After that initial 2-4 week period of doing daily calf exercises, going forward try to do them two times per week. During one session, do a high number of reps with lower weight, on the other, do high weight and lower reps. This will hit both the fast twitch and slow twitch fibers in the muscle, leading to maximum growth.
Obviously, you can’t (and shouldn’t) do all of the above recommendations simultaneously, otherwise, you will be overtraining the muscles. Instead, pick two or three that work best for you, practice those for a few weeks, and then vary it up again. The key is to just not neglect this muscle group!
For a complete list of exercises that target the calves for size gains, I recommend checking out this workout program from Jim Stoppani called Shortcut to Size. Of all the literature I’ve read, it is by far the best program out there to build muscle. Definitely check it out!
Everyone wants to cut that v-shape into their midsection, but not many know how to go about making it happen. For one, it takes time in the kitchen, making smart choices with food. You can’t have fat covering up your stomach and love handles hanging around your waist if you want those hip muscles to show.
The other half of the battle is performing the right exercises in the gym to isolate these muscles so that they really pop. Continue reading below where I’ll go into detail on a number of moves you can add to your routine to get these muscles to flare.
These muscles are absolutely crucial for movement, regardless if you are an elite athlete or just an average joe. These muscles connect your femur (thigh bone) to your pelvis. They are engaged in pretty much every movement that you do, so beyond aesthetic reasons, it is important to keep this muscle group strengthened and toned. Not taking care of these muscles is a shortcut to not being able to move around very well in older age.
Here are a number of things that you can do to make sure they are kept strong, as well as make for an impressive looking physique.
The first step won’t be any kind of resistance exercise, rather it is all about loosening up this area. Most of us spend all day sitting at a desk.
You need to warm these muscles up and release all the tension that is in there. Get yourself a foam roller, or if you don’t have that, you can roll yourself on top of a tennis ball or lacrosse ball.
Dig really deep into your hip muscle with all your body weight, working out the knots as best you can.
If you do any yoga, you’re already familiar with this pose. Lay flat on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
The above depiction is a little advanced, so for beginners, you can keep your hands flat by your side and your shoulders on the ground.
Thrust your pelvic area to the sky as far as you can. This will stretch out the hip flexor muscles. Keep at the top position for as long as you can, feeling the burn in your pelvis. That’s your hip flexors getting a workout!
Sensing a common theme here? You can do all of these stretches at home!
For this one, stand straight up with your feet together. Take one long step forward with one foot.
With the other leg, bend your knee and bring it until it’s only about an inch off the ground. Feel the stretch in your pelvis.
Maintain this low position for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat the exercise with the other foot.
The key to all of these exercises is stretching and isolating the pelvic muscles to keep the hip flexors strong. You can perform these anywhere, so do them regularly! This is just the tip of the iceberg, but you get the idea. You can also do mountain climbers, leg raises, squats, and hip flexion to target this area. The important part is just keeping this area limber and strong as it is crucial for all movement.
Keep up with these exercises, follow a proper diet, and you’ll be shredded in no time!
When you hit the weight room, you don’t often think about training your neck muscles. But not only is it necessary to have a strong neck to support your head and protect your spine, it just all around looks better than the alternative. Have you ever seen someone who has such a skinny neck that you wonder how it could possibly support their head? Yeah, not an appealing look.
Now that’s not to say that you should endeavor to build a thick neck to the point that you can’t even button the top button on your shirt, but at the least, it should be an area that you should strengthen – both for function and aesthetics.
For a little background, the neck is made up of a group of muscles called the trapezius, semispinalis, longissimus, splenius capitis, and sternocleidomastoid. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Put simply, these work in tandem to operate your neck in all movements – flexion, rotation, extension, and bending from side to side. Your neck can move in so many directions, which is why it is important to strengthen each of the muscles in this group for better functioning.
Below are a number of exercises that you can add to your workout routine to really build those neck muscles. Before beginning any resistance training with your neck, loosen up the muscles a bit. Roll your head around, put your ear to one shoulder and then do the same on the opposite, put your head to your chin, and lean your head all the way back. Spend about 5 minutes doing this, pausing in each position for 10-15 seconds.
Lay on your back on a weight bench with your knees bent, and hang your head and neck off the edge of the bench. Take a light weight (this will differ from person to person) and place it on top of a towel on your forehead. Hold the weight with both hands to steady it. Lean your head as far back as you comfortably can, then raise your head so that your chin reaches your chest. This will work the front and back neck muscles.
This is similar to the exercise above but will work the side muscles of your neck. Again, lay on a bench, but this time lay on your side instead of on your back. Hang your head off the edge of the bench and place a small weight (with a towel underneath) on the side of your head. Just the same, bend your head downwards to the floor and then tilt it sideways back up again.
For both of these exercises, make sure to not use too much weight. You can strain your neck very easily. Try to do 1 set of 15 reps if you’re a beginner to avoid injury. Focus on doing the exercises slow and deliberately. Do not do them in a hurried or jerky fashion.
This is one I touched on in the my post about building your trap muscles, so of course, it fits in here too. While standing, hold a dumbbell in each hand and, just like the name implies, shrug your shoulders upwards. This will really burn the trapezius muscles, the ones that connect your neck and shoulders.
If you really want to pack on muscle, exercise alone won’t get the job done. You need to be following a proper diet and adding supplementation for the nutrients your muscles crave. A couple of supplements that have been working incredibly well for me can be found below:
I wrote in an earlier post about how to build your back muscles, but that more spoke to developing your back as a whole. In this post, I’ll talk specifically about the lateral muscles and how to build them up. These muscles are under your armpits and are what flare out to add that V-shape to your body.
Developing these muscles goes a long way to completing your physique, as opposed to having a straight rectangular trunk. There are a number of ways to isolate the lats, which I will get into below as well as provide video instruction on how to perform these exercises properly to get the best results and negate the risk of injury to these important muscles.
These are the largest muscles in the back, so it is important that you keep them strong. Beyond just being aesthetically pleasing, they are crucial for so many daily tasks that you do. Add these movements listed below to your workouts and you’ll be carrying grocery bags like a pro! The best exercises for the lats are ones that heavily involve the laterals but don’t necessarily isolate them. This way, the rest of the back and the biceps are recruited to be able to lift heavier weight, leading to better strength and size gains.
One note – for all of these, focus on doing high weight with low reps, as opposed to a low weight with high reps. Focus on the movement, taking it slow and deliberate to really engage the back muscles and not cheat with your biceps or shoulders.
This exercise is the core of any good weightlifting program and is one I touched on in other posts on this site. It recruits so many muscles to perform this compound movement and really helps for gaining size and strength all over. Not only is it a great lat exercise, but it’s also just a great exercise in general. Focus on heavy weight with low reps, but don’t use too much weight as to sacrifice form. Check out the video below on how to perform this movement properly.
I talked about this one in my post about strengthening your back, but this one really targets the lats for a great workout. You can vary this one up with a wide grip or a narrow grip, in front of your head or behind your head. The key is not to do the same thing over and over – change it up to keep your muscles guessing and getting different looks. Focus on using your back muscles to pull the bar down, and not your biceps.
You can perform this with dumbbells as well, but I prefer engaging both sides at the same time with a barbell. This exercise will engage all the muscles in the back and allows you to lift more weight than other variations of row exercises.
Since the back is such a big muscle group, you will want to train your whole body to get your anabolic system going to promote muscle growth all over. One good workout program that I follow for adding size and strength is the Shortcut to Size workout by Jim Stoppani, which I reviewed here on this site.
Also, don’t forget about nutrition. Your muscles are hungry after you tear them up in the gym, so it is best to feed them with the nutrients and hormones that they need. I’m a big fan of taking TestoGen supplements to keep my testosterone levels high to build muscle.