Archive for September 30, 2018

Lower Body Stretches for Runners

Lower Body Stretches

Building Effective Flexibility for Outdoor Running

An outdoor alternative to indoor cardio machine sessions is the always reliable run, but remember that for the lower body, impact from natural and man-made surfaces requires some pre-run preparation in the form of a stretching session. In fact, there are several benefits that can derive from a targeted stretch to the lower body muscles: increased physical efficiency and performance; decreased risk of injury; increased blood supply and nutrients to your joints; increased neuromuscular coordination; reduced muscular soreness and stiffness; better muscular balance and posture, and less risk of lower-back stress. Consider including any of these for various specific major muscle groups:

For the Hamstrings

Standing Leg-Up Hamstring Stretch – Function: To stretch the hamstrings at the rear of the thigh; hamstring muscles insert on the muscle, and stretching can relieve the tightness that otherwise develops within the muscle, contributing in turn to back dysfunction. Performance: Using a chair, bench or low wall, position the heel of one foot with the toe facing directly upward. From a fully erect position, bend forward to grasp the thigh or leg, as far as you can stretch comfortably forward. As you build flexibility, you can use a higher bench or bar and increase your forward reach.

For the Quadriceps

Standing Quad Stretch Function: intense stretch to the quadriceps. Performance: Standing erect on one leg on a flat and stable surface, bring up the other leg behind you and squeeze it inward toward your butt. For balance, grasp a solid bar or surface with your other hand in front of you. You can increase the stretch by squeezing the glute muscle on the side of the quad being stretched.

For the Back, Sides, Gluteals

Standing Knee-to-Chest Stretch Function: Provide a stretch to the gluteus maxiumus (Gluteals), also a secondary stretch benefit to the lower back. Performance: Standing on a flat surface, bring one knee up directly toward the chest and pull in using both hands. Hold the knee inward toward your torso as tightly but as comfortably as possible; with practice you will be able to tuck your knee in towards your midsection more easily.

Hip Flexor Stretch Function: Also known as a “lunging stretch,” this provides stretch relief to the hip flexor muscles that run from the lower back to the front of the hip. Performance: From a fully erect standing position, take a full step forward while dropping down into a kneeling position on one knee, with hip slightly extended on the kneeling side. Hold in the bent position with the other leg fully extended straight behind you. Feel the stretch fully before repeating with the other foot.

For the Adductors and Groin

Squatting Leg-Out Adductor Stretch Function: Provide a primary stretch to all the leg adductor muscles. Performance: Standing with legs wide apart, keep one leg straight and toes facing forward as you bend the other leg and turn your toes sideways. Lower your groin area and rest your hands on the bent knee or ground. As you build flexibility, increase intensity by lowering yourself even further toward the ground.

Seated Groin Stretch Function: Targets all the muscles of the groin and inner thighs. Performance: in a seated, bent-knee position, with heels as close to your pelvis as possible, grasp the toes of both feet. Then change your grip to grasping your knees, and slowly push the knees apart to bring them as close to the floor as possible.

For the Calves

Calf Stretch Function: To stretch and tone all the calf muscles at the rear lower leg. Performance: Facing a wall or high, solid surface (tree trunk, fence), position your hands on it at shoulder height. Then move your feet backward until your body from arms to legs are extended in a straight line. With the left leg bent, stretch the heel to the floor. Adjust the lower body position further back to intensify this stretch.

Other variations to standing exercises you can try for variety or for additional stability by being seated or lying down include: seated or lying hamstring stretches; lying quadriceps stretch, and lying knee-to-chest stretch Other stretches you can also include if you want a more extensive lower body workout might include hurdler stretches (for the hamstring and groin muscles) and standing side stretches (for the muscles near the waist).

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Men’s Upper Body Travel Workout

Upper Body Travel Workout

Training Arms, Chest, Shoulders and Abs in Your Hotel Room

While travel often stresses the upper body areas, you can recuperate and reinvigorate with these natural strength moves right in your hotel suite.

Anyone traveling nowadays knows about the extra stress to upper body areas that most journeys involve. A day on the road sees you pulling suitcases, or carrying heavy briefcases or laptops on your shoulder. Then there are the periods spent in hunched or limited positions on planes, trains, or the highway. Often, this combination of demanding movement, along with the hours of immobility, can only be addressed after arriving at your hotel. Even if there is no gym on site, you can still use your hotel.room to fit in a shorter version workout targeting the major upper body muscles one day, then train your lower body muscle groups on a following day

Turn your suite into your mini-gym

When there’s no time for outdoors or health clubs, improvising right within the space of your accommodation can still provide a worthwhile session. Mark Saunders, an executive personal trainer in Tucson, Arizona, is enthusiastic about fitness routines on the road. “It can help reduce trip stress, burn extra calories from business meals and help ease the transition into your routine back home,” he points out. “It can also help you maintain regular sleep patterns in foreign beds and minimize the effects of jet lag.”

Take advantage of the surfaces and furnishings of your room for some stretching, cardio and strength movements. Lightweight rubber exercise bands are the key equipment to pack for on-the-road upper body training sessions. Aside from these and a jumping rope, the only other equipment will be your a chair, bed, and a door frame in your room. You can even do in-place cardio drills in your room—in-place high-stepping, jumps, or lunges. Always train for intensity and efficiency: for instance, if you’re traveling for a week or more and you usually train at least four days a week at home, aim for a minimum of three days a week while you’re away.

Multi-functional exercise for time-pressed workouts

Choose exercises that target several muscle groups at once. All of the following provide either core training or multi-muscle exercise:

Warm-Up:

You can either do some jump ropes, stair climb, or run in-place.

Upper Body:

  • Crunches – always start with abdominal crunches. Your lower back needs to decompress and stretch out.
  • Reverse Crunches – work the lower abdominals.
  • Rotational Crunches – target the obliques with more difficult side-to-side crunches.
  • Knee Raises – work the abdominals with sitting, lying or hanging knee raises.
  • Crunches with Exercise Band – using the band’s resistance to raise the torso.
  • Push-Ups, Military Style – for the pectorals, but also beneficial for shoulders and triceps.
  • Push-Ups, Wide-Arm Style – a good warm-up for the pectorals, deltoids, triceps and upper back muscles.
  • Standing Flyes with Exercise Band – target inner/outer pectorals and anterior delts.
  • Tricep Dips – off the edge of a stable chair; advanced version with feet on bed.
  • Tricep Push-Ups – hands together to form a triangle under chest, target the triceps.
  • Tricep Pressdowns – using an exercise band over a door, extend the arms downward flexing the triceps.
  • Wide-Arm Pull-Ups – using the upper frame of a door area, take a wide, firm grasp of it to lift up to shoulder level, targeting the lats, biceps and forearms.
  • Biceps Curls with Exercise Band – perform standing with exercise band looped under feet.
  • One-Arm Rows (with suitcase) – use a medium-size, flat suitcase to simulate one-arm rows on the edge of a bed, targeting the lats and biceps.
  • Upright Rows (with suitcase) –curl a medium-size suitcase toward the chest to target the upper back (traps), outstretched and rear deltoids.
  • Anterior Raises – holding a phone directory, raise arms to shoulder level and then slightly curl lower arms.
  • Hyper-Extension – target lower back muscles by lying on a bed face down, arms and legs extended, then raising the opposite arm and leg 2-3 inches.

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Triathlon Training with Evan Evans

Triathlon Training

A champion triathlete builds his racing skills in other arenas

Triathlon competition demands multiple skills from endurance to strength to speed. Ironman champ Evan Evans discusses his own route to triathlon excellence.

If you always thought size and strength were the main requirements for successful triathlon performance, then take a second look at some leading athletes in today’s multi-sport mania. You’ll find the big guys actually work harder than many others to excel in some competitive segments. Recently, at the first annual Nautica South Beach Triathlon in Miami Beach, we caught up with Evan Evans, one such athlete who has put the odds on his side.

Motivated by his own lifelong passion for a variety of competitive sports, Evan has developed his experience into elite triathlete status. This 2005 Clydesdale class triathlon world champion and 2004 world ironman champion grew up in Miami and has trained and raced some of the best and toughest routes in multi-sport here and nationally. Here he discusses his personal athletic journey as one of the bigger boys on today’s triathlon circuit.

On the path to competitive mulit-sport:

“I started swimming competitively when I was age 5 – and kept swimming through high school. Then in college, I was an All-American water polo player. I actually did my first competitive triathlon at age 15, just to see if I could complete it. Obviously I was a good swimmer, and I also had been a cyclist for a long time. But I was a horrible runner, I never lasted. So the first two legs of the race went well, but with the run I just survived. Then between age 15 and age 23 I would do one or two tris a year, just for the competition and to push myself. After college, I turned to triathlons. I’ve been involved in a number of sports— always been into windsurfing, kitesurfing, white water kayaking, into mountain biking. I’m into pretty much any extreme sport out there!”

On using both natural and developed skills:

“The running is my weakest of the three. Genetically I’m not the smallest at 6’2″, and 200 to 205 pounds. Most serious competitive triathletes are in the 135 to 150 pound range, so I’ve got 50 plus pounds on most of these guys, and that’s a detriment in running. With swimming, the differences are negligible. With cycling, I actually have become a very strong cyclist over the years because I have the power and the muscle mass. I am a decent runner for my size, but there’s not many very fast, competitive 200 lb. runners. Elite marathon runners are extremely skinny guys and the top triathletes are lean too. Genetically, this is about as lean as I get: at 200 lbs., I’m just at 4 to 5% body fat. So I try to be the best that I potentially can be with the tools I’ve got.”

On preparing for a contest season:

“During a typical race season, I’ll race usually between 12 to 15 races. The race season runs from April through October, so you’re talking about two to three a month depending on when certain races are. You can only peak at certain times of the season: ask any competitive triathlete – he’s focused on two to three events a year. Those are the events where you’re going to be at your one hundred percent. Other events are either billed events or are stepping stones towards that big race.”

On other multi-sport favorites:

“I also do Xterras–off-road triathlons, swim-bike-run. There’s certain days when I’m not in the mood to get on the road bike, and I’d rather mountain bike, and then vice versa. It gives me both a mental and physical break, allows me to continue to cross-train, and I think it’s probably helped me in both aspects.”

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Transforming from Power Athlete to Muscle Sport

Muscle Sport

How NFL Player Ryan Watson Moved From Speed to Physique Training

For new Florida super heavyweight bodybuider Ryan Watson, training for physique competition was a different challenge than his prior time in the gym and track while prepping for the NFL as a player with the Atlanta Falcons for two years. A spinal problem brought an end to his football career, but it didn’t stop Ryan from pushing his body in a new direction.

Once Ryan entered regional bodybuilding shows in the south, it was all about starting to work for size and proportion instead of power and speed. At 6’2″ and 240 lbs. onstage, he made impressive headway in his first shows with an overall win at the Mid-Florida Classic in 2006, followed by a third place in the big NPC Southern States event in 2007. He placed fifth at the same show a year later, and is taking 2009 off to rest and retool his physique and training. Meanwhile, his degree in nutrition and exercise physiology keeps him on track with figuring out how to come back better than ever while operating his personal training company, One More Rep, in the Tampa Bay area. So how does he assess the strategies he relied on to transform himself from a power sport player to an athlete competing in the world of muscular development?

  • “I started off training for bodybuilding with the methods I had read up on while still in football. I also have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and exercise physiology, and I knew a great deal about the human anatomy and training philosophies. I also didn’t decide to do a show until I had lost a tremendous amount of the body fat composition that I carried for so long while playing football. I managed to drop around 40 or 50 lbs. of fat, while also being able to retain a lot of lean mass, while still training hard and heavy but just eating much cleaner foods. It took me a period of over a year and a half to drop the 50 lbs., and then I felt I was ready to enter the world of bodybuilding.”
  • “The first step I really had to grasp was how to prioritize my training, which means to really only focus on the weak areas, and learn how to manipulate the amount of volume of repetitions and sets to be done for certain body parts to create a certain look from certain angles. There’s so much variety out there as far as different methods to stimulate new muscle growth and to bring out the lines and definitions, depending on what you still need. So it was really about mastering that concept of going from training for football–where it’s more about training for explosiveness, injury prevention, speed and agility–to now training where it’s all about aesthetics and really bringing up your weaker body parts and trying to build a complete package with symmetry.”
  • “Another thing you really learn is how to scale back your volume: I used to be a believer in a lot of volume—a high amount of sets. But I never grew explosively as I did more recently, and I feel that was because I scaled back my volume, I cut my sets down from about six sets per exercise to about three. I go from three sets to failure, whereas I would usually go for four sets and on the fifth set try to go to failure, and I was just basically overtraining. People fail to realize that you grow outside of the gym, you don’t grow inside the gym. Nowadays, I’m very aware of including variety too; I like to make sure every workout is somewhat different, because your body is an amazing machine that’s going to adapt if it gets the same stimulus. I’ve also made some major progress just by adding in a lot more of the old-fashioned bodybuilding movements, whereas before I was more of a believer in only power movements — you know, like always squat, or always deadlift==and then I wouldn’t do enough other smaller exercises to train the muscle in more detail and from different angles. “
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Tips to Avoid Injury while Exercising

Avoid Injury while Exercising

Take Care when Exercising not to Overstress Your Body

Whether it’s tennis, swimming, backyard baseball or cricket, cycling, bushwalking or just doing more gardening, everyone feels like exercising when the weather is warm.

Baby Boomers (aged between 45 and 64) are known for their ‘forever young’ attitude, but orthopaedic surgeons and exercise gurus suggest middle-aged people should take a more adult attitude and remember that their bodies are not as young as they used to be.

“Baby boomers have become increasingly active as they age and orthopaedic surgeons think this trend will continue,” says Dr Ray Monto of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

“One thing to keep in mind is that when you are 50, you may injure your body more easily than when you were 20.”

In 2008, more than 166,000 people between the ages of 45 and 64 were treated in emergency rooms, clinics and doctors’ offices for injuries related to exercise and exercise equipment.

Exercise Benefits Everyone Over 40

“Exercise is always beneficial for older people and in fact for people of any age, but especially after 40,” says Dr Tim Henwood, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland, who specialises in exercise and older adults.

“The benefits of physical activity and exercise for older adults are significant. However, very rarely are their injuries discussed and if they are, we often see comments like ‘the benefits outweigh the risks’.”

Medical research shows that people over 40 who exercise regularly are less likely to experience depression, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disturbances, so it’s important to enjoy physical activity as a regular routine at any age.

“Everybody, no matter what their age, should be trying to get a well rounded activity program,” Dr Henwood says.

“Ideally, I believe individuals should do something that raises their heart rate three days per week punctuated with a minimum of two days per week challenging their muscles.”

Don’t Overstress Your Body while Exercising

The problem is, he says, “individuals are jumping in too quick and ending up injured.” Joints, tissues and muscles may not be as flexible as they used to be.

Both doctors suggest that as people get older, they should take extra steps to protect themselves from injuries when exercising.

”A little extra stretching before and after exercise, for example, goes a long way,” Dr Monto says.

Dr Henwood says it helps to remember that “we are a little more susceptible to injury as we age, we are likely to fatigue quicker and require greater recovery time frames”, and make allowances for these changes.

“The best way to prevent that risk is start slow, be educated, set achievable goals and, probably the most important, consult an expert to help you get started and at the first sign of any problem.”

Tips to Avoid Injuries while Exercising

The AAOS offers the following exercise safety tips:

  • Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. This is especially important if you have had a previous injury.
  • Always warm up and stretch before exercising. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured, so warm up with light exercise for three to five minutes.
  • Avoid being a ‘weekend warrior.’ Moderate exercise every day is healthier and less likely to result in injury than heavy activity only on weekends.
  • Take lessons. An instructor can ensure you are doing the exercise correctly, which can prevent overuse injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures.
  • Develop a balanced fitness program. Incorporate cardio, strength training and flexibility training to get a total body workout and prevent overuse injuries.
  • Introduce new exercises gradually, so you don’t take on too much at once.
  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to your body’s needs and abilities, and modify your workout accordingly.
  • Remember to rest. Schedule regular days off from exercise and rest when tired.

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Tips on Healthy Living for Middle-Aged Men

Middle-aged Men

Diet and Lifestyle Changes for Optimum Health

Optimum health starts with a man’s observance of good habits—healthy thoughts, choices, and actions that include moderate eating, proper rest and sleep, adequate exercise and sunlight, natural supplements, and harmonious relations.

Giving up smoking, which is a self-imposed pollution, lowers risk of developing lung cancer, bronchitis, emphysema and heart attacks. Sense of taste and smell will improve and breathing becomes easy.

Here, then, are health tips to promote high-level of health, which middle-aged men can put to practice today because tomorrow can be late.

Diet and Lifestyle Leading to a Healthy Living

Healthy Eating Habits

Eat foods that are high in fiber. Fibers have cholesterol-lowering properties and are present in most fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. A balanced diet includes carbohydrates, proteins, and fibers. A “Cut Down on” sugar intake will help prevent glucose intolerance, and tooth decay.

Since middle-aged men are salt-sensitive, use less salt and sauces in cooking as salt causes body to retain water, which may lead to high blood pressure. Use spices and herbs to flavor food instead of soya, tomato, or chili sauces. Avoid canned or salted foods. Instead, use fresh meat and vegetables.

Eat less fatty food to reduce risk of heart disease. Trim away all fat and skin from meat before cooking. Do not eat more than 2 to 3 eggs a week. Boil, bake, grill, roast or stew food instead of deep-fry. Use margarine in place of butter.

The human body needs fiber for healthy digestion. Eating more cereals, fresh fruits, vegetables prevent constipation. Avoid creamy cakes and pastries.

Drink at least eight of 8oz. of water daily to help flush out impurities from the systems. Limit alcohol intake to moderate. Alcohol abuse is the culprit behind high blood pressure and heart disease.

Natural Dietary Supplements

Food nutrients are essential for cell growth for the body to function efficiently. Daily calcium supplement is a critical factor in the prevention of osteoporosis in men. Beans, and dried peas, bean curd and soya, and leafy green vegetables are good sources of calcium.

Middle-aged men have greater risks in developing cardiovascular diseases. A daily supplement of vitamins C and E, carotenoids, as well as omega-3 fish oil promotes healthy cardiovascular functions, and normal cell growth.

Physicians of Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women Hospital reported in the Nov. 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine that men who take beta-carotene supplements for an extended time have less cognitive decline and better verbal memory than those who do not. Dark green, yellow-orange fruits and vegetables such as apricots, carrots, peaches, spinach, and sweet potatoes provide the required dietary beta-carotene.

Other natural supplements beneficial to a man’s health are present in dried fruits and green leafy vegetables. Cabbage, broccoli, Lima beans, and green peas are good sources of iron, which helps make hemoglobin that transports oxygen to the body tissues. Extracts of ginger and turmeric boost the body’s resistance to both mental and physical stress. Whole, fresh garlic is beneficial to the immune system, against viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.

Regular Exercise

Heart disease is lesser among men who are physically active than in those who are sedentary, overweight or obese middle aged men. Cardiovascular fitness slows the process of hardening of the arteries, reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, keeps weight down and reduces the risk of diabetes, reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol level, and puts aging at bay.

A good exercise begins with 5 minutes of stretching exercises and ends with 5 minutes of cooling-down stretches. Remember, the aim is to exercise 3 to 5 times a week, 15 to 60 minutes each time to build strength. Choose an exercise according to body strength, endurance, mobility, and cardiovascular-pulmonary performance. Start slowly and gradually increase the amount and duration of the workout.

Healthy Relationships and Social Interactions

“Distress promotes poor health habits and heart disease,” says Researcher Peter P. Vitaliano, PhD, of the University of Washington in the May issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

Healthy relations bring about extra benefits. It enables a man to function at a high level of emotional health.

Spend time with family. Try to learn new hobbies and skills. Ballroom dancing, bonsai gardening, kayaking, or origami making are skills that make a man interesting and sociable.

Perform voluntary works. A good work is a clear statement of a vivacious spirit. Keep the mind active. The challenge for the middle-age man is to stay in touch with current events, to adapt to life, and to aspire for achievements—endeavors that are within his reach.

Healthy living helps reverse stress, and frustration that are part of middle age. Healthy relationships and social interactions can motivate men to practice healthy habits. In addition, doctor’s suggestions for diet, exercise, nutrition, and preventive health care can help prevent further health risks.

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The Downside of Bodybuilding

Downside of Bodybuilding

How Bodybuilding Causes Tendon and Ligament Damage

At almost every fitness seminar, you will hear the phrase “functional training.” Presenters will tell you how traditional bodybuilding exercises won’t help our neuro-musculo-skeletal health and how they are leading us to muscular imbalances.

But the fact remains that every individual who walks into a gym wants the very same thing – to change how he or she looks. Very few people join the gym because they feel they need to improve their stability.

End of an Era

Functional training is now apparently the only way to train, apparently leaving bodybuilding in the past. So are these functional advocates telling us that building muscle is bad for us? Surely building muscle is the body’s natural response to hard work, and we replicate hard work in the gym with resistance.

Bodybuilding programme design is based upon one principle: in order to increase the area of our muscles, we perform repeated resisted movements which, in turn, induce fatigue within a certain time. This can be performed for all of the “major” muscle groups in a variety of layouts.

Decreased Function

Most bodybuilders will have been told that using 8-12 repetitions will achieve the best results when wanting to increase size and they will very seldom, if ever, deviate from this repetition range.

Reaching maximum voluntary contraction within this time frame will ensure that the body is heavily dependent on the lactate (anaerobic) energy system for ATP production. However, when you exercise for these short periods you will not promote a proportionate increase in capillary density due to a decreased dependence on oxygen.

“A rapid increase in the volume of a muscle cell, without any increase in the capillary network that supplies the muscle, will lead to an ischaemic environment being created. This will result in diminished nutrient and oxygen supply, which slows down the metabolic processes within the muscle and the disposal of metabolic waste products from the muscle” – (Zalessky & Burkhanov, Legkaya Atlitika, 1981).

So, in short, many bodybuilders will have fewer capillaries per square inch of muscle than even sedentary individuals, let alone other exercisers.

“The decreased oxygen carrying and utilisation abilities of hypertrophied muscles will affect their ability to respond positively to exercise, leading to irreversible structural damage occurring within the muscle.” – (Adapted from “Advanced Training Planning for Bodybuilders: Part 1” by Brian Haycock MS, CSCS from the web site)

Tendon & Ligament Damage

Another detrimental effect of bodybuilding on muscle function is the decreased ability of the connective tissue to repair and strengthen itself in proportion to the muscles. Due to the reduced nutrient and blood supply, ligaments and tendons can take up to seven times longer than muscle tissue to recover from a single bout of exercise.

“Increases in strength, brought about through muscle hypertrophy without proportionate increases in connective tissue strength, will inevitably lead to tendon and ligament damage” – (Zalessky & Burkhanov, Legkaya Atlitika, 1981).

With both of these situations in mind, surely it’s no coincidence that bodybuilders have the highest injury rate – the most common being muscular tears. Be sensible when it comes to weight training and seek professional advice on what suits you best when it comes to a programme.

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Stretches for Muscle Flexibility and Growth

stretches

Heavily Muscled Physiques Can Benefit from Stretching Sessions

The benefits of stretching are multiple – and it only takes a few minutes of stretching to deliver all those benefits to your body. If you can include a minimum of just five to seven minutes of stretching both before and after your workout, you will be working towards increasing your flexibility and even your range of motion.

Stretching: Basics and Benefits

Stretching is also known to help prevent injury and reduce or avoid soreness. When you perform a session before regular exercise, it can reduce the tensions you may be carrying in various muscle groups. Often, we are unaware of these tight or tense muscles, but sufficient stretching can help them to respond positively and be readier for the stress put on them by weight training. Finally, stretching also improves cardiovascular circulation by assisting the capillaries to transport blood throughout the muscles with greater ease.

Notes Jon Van Der Assche, a heavyweight amateur American competitive bodybuilder: “At my weight, and the amount of muscle gains I’ve been adding through my diet and training, regular stretching has become essential in both the in-season and off-season periods. It has helped me be much more flexible, avoid injury during some heavy power lifting and has become a consistent part of my lifestyle.”

Integrating Stretching into Leisure or Exercise Activity

While stretching is beneficial to include in advance of an actual gym workout, you can also find your own opportunities to integrate it during time away from the gym or while doing other activities outdoors. A few basic upper and lower body stretches include:

  • Chest Stretch

Emphasis: extend and stretch the inner and outer pectorals. Performance: hold hands together with palms facing up behind your lower back. Hold position for about 10 seconds.

  • Shoulder and Neck Stretch

Emphasis: loosen the muscles supporting the neck; relieve tightness in the shoulders. Performance: Place both hands behind the back and hold the right wrist with the left hand. While tilting the head to the left also pull the right arm toward the left. Hold for about 10 seconds before repeating on the other side.

  • Posterior Shoulder Stretch

Emphasis: relieve tightness and enhance flexibility on the rear shoulders and delts. Performance: Hold the back of your left upper arm with the right hand and pull it across the chest gently. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on your other side.

  • Triceps Stretch

Emphasis: builds flexibility for the all the triceps areas, ensuring optimum strength performance and growth. Performance: Hold one end of a towel in the right hand and lift the right arm over the right shoulder, so the towel is hanging down the back. Reach up behind with the left hand and grab the other end of the towel. Gently pull the the triceps and lat muscles into a deep stretch. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on your other side.

  • Groin Stretch

Emphasis: enhances flexibility in the groin and inner thigh areas. Performance: sitting on the ground, position the soles of the feet together. Grasp the ankles and gently push the knees down using the elbows. Hold for about 10 seconds.

  • Lunging Stretch

Emphasis: stretches the muscles of the hips, gluteals and front quadriceps. Performance: step forward with either leg and descend into a fully bent position while keeping the other leg straight. Hold for at least 10-15 seconds, then repeat with your other foot forward.

Achieving and Maintaining Flexible Muscularity

Before any stretching session, you should increase circulation by doing some light cardio endurance exercise first. Once the muscles have been warmed up they are more pliable for stretching and less likely to strain. Walking or any type of running is one efficient way to achieve a rapid warm-up. If you are indoors, you can access treadmills, step machines or run in place. Outdoors, you can do a few minutes of any simple activity that elevates the heart rate–walking, jumping rope, or swimming. With some minimum effort and consistency, you will have made stretching both a productive and proactive element of your bodybuilding lifestyle.

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Strategies for Safer Shoulder Training

Safer Shoulder Training

Safe and Productive Workouts for Shoulders in Recuperation

Well-sculpted shoulders are a major element in overall upper body development for any bodybuilder to perform well as a competitor. If you take a careful look at the overall upper body development of the finalists on a championship stage, you will always notice that no one has mediocre deltoid development.

The deltoids contribute structurally to both the width of the shoulders and visually enhance almost every pose of the bodybuilder during a contest. Returning to a targeted training routine for the shoulder area while not incurring any new risk is especially critical for any bodybuilder dealing with injury to this area. The deltoids are one muscle group that requires three types of movement for a complete growth: pressing, pulling, and leverage exercises.

Training Around Shoulder Area Injury

Whatever the extent of an injury to any of the shoulder muscles, there are some general guidelines you can follow supporting recovery while also avoiding more injury:

Correct lifting technique – A sound lifting technique is key to recovery, usually it is best achieved by having some direct supervision with a personal trainer or partner.

Lifting optimum amounts of weight – Lifting beyond a safe amount of weight increases the possibility of tissue and structure failure resulting from either poor conditioning of the soft-tissue structures or neurological fatigue, which both contribute to poor technique.

Avoiding overtraining – Be aware that muscles need adequate time to recover from training in order to hypertrophy. If the same body part is trained too frequently, it can leave insufficient time to recover properly, and thus increase inflammation and scar tissue in the area.

Insufficient rest or recuperation = If you do not rest adequately after a training session, it makes it difficult to train heavily at the next session. Also, keep the outside stress factors in your life to a minimum.

Overly repetitive training of the same muscles on the same equipment = Try using a variety of free weights and machines to keep the muscles continually stimulated.

Previously injured areas not healed correctly – One of the main causes of weight training dysfunction is a previous injury that did not heal properly, and is exposed by overloading the joint or muscle.

Rehabilitation, Retraining and Modification

One example of a successful national amateur competitor overcoming major shoulder injury is South Carolina state champion Marion Benton. A serious car accident in 1996 left him first entirely confined to a bed, then in a wheelchair, and finally just using a cane until he could walk again. Two years later, he was able to step onstage again at his first national event, the Junior Nationals, and a year after that won his state title at the NPC South Carolina event. While rehabilitation can include the gradual return to certain familiar core or shaping exercises, there may be some injuries after which some movements need to be avoided completely. “I don’t do 90 degree shoulder presses,” Marion points out about his own modified training. “In fact, I don’t do any exercise as far as heavy weight — and “heavy” being a relative term– I’m just there to work on my body effectively but safely.”

He also continues to be mindful of the safe training techniques and knowledge acquired during his own journey back to complete mobility, strength, and shape when it comes to his recommendations to clients as a personal trainer: “I’m a big believer in kinesiology — muscle form and function. Basically if I see something similar to what I went through, I know how to tell them okay, we’re going to do this exercise to help avoid this injury that you had, but we’re also going to try and strengthen that area as well.” There are points regarding form and performance he often makes to clients that are safety-minded while also aimed at improved results: for instance, “trying to lift too heavy, or bouncing the weight, or feeling they need to rush through the workout or the set — you’ve got to slow it down so that the muscle can feel it.” Aside from that, some exercises require extra care if you continue using them; as Marion points out, with side lateral raises, for instance, “I find I have to continuously tell my clients to go and do the extra set and don’t bend your elbows too much, but don’t straighten them out too much either. You want to put a weight in their hands that probably is easier than what they’ve normally been doing so that they can get the form down correctly.”

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Skin Fitness

Skin Fitness

Some Basic Steps for Nurturing Your Body’s Surfaces

Diet and exercise, of course, are for the bodybuilder two of the key components that contribute to the quality and appearance of the skin. A bodybuilding lifestyle where the objective is to build muscle mass and strength, can sometimes also create reactions on the epidermal surface. For instance, a diet high in fatty acids or “junk” foods during the off-season can lead to the skin appearing blotchy and breaking out in pimples. Since the skin is also one of the body’s eliminatory organs, toxins passing through the skin can cause blemishes.

Skin, Nutrition and Diet Issues in the Bodybuilding Lifestyle

Maintaining a well-balanced diet free of useless fats will contribute greatly to skin health and appearance. Researchers have found that antioxidants may be of value in preserving the skin’s elasticity and texture because of their ability to reduce damage to collagen and other cellular membranes caused by “free radicals.” These free radicals are molecular distortions within cells (caused by sun exposure as well as the aging process itself) that increase the risk of wrinkles and even skin cancers. A diet rich in antioxidant nutrients can thus be useful in preventing this type of skin cell damage. Consider including vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and the trace mineral selenium in your diet. Also fresh fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamins A and C. Check at your health food and supplements stores for a reputable brand that carries vitamin E and selenium. Reliable food sources of selenium are whole-grain cereals and breads, fish from the sea and poultry, while vitamin E can be found in small amounts in wheat germ, whole grain products, vegetable oils and green leafy vegetables.

Tanning and Skin Protection

Nowadays everyone realizes that a tanned appearance can be developed either naturally or chemically or even through a combination of both. For the most fair-skinned, some natural tanning base will probably create the best-toned tan. A natural tan gives you a thinner and darker looking skin, while chemicals can only darken your skin. Of course, just sun tanning or using an indoor tanning bed needs to be done over six to eight weeks. Do not try to rush the process by burning the skin–a sunburn will just draw water into the skin, making you appear much smoother than you actually are.

Bodybuilders in particular who may be taking diuretics need to be extremely cautious about overexposure to ultraviolet light: consult a physician about the possible interactions between the sun and any diuretic substances you may be using at the same time. Fair-skinned athletes should also consider using a sunscreen on their skin as they gradually increase exposure time – although everyone should also use a sufficiently high SP level protectant as consistently as possible. A sunscreen will filter out harmful, burning rays and permit the tanning rays of the sun to reach the skin. Although the safe tanning beds and tanning creams are quite popular with bodybuilders who do not have sufficient time for a complete natural tanning process, many will still try to make the time for some natural tanning during the days preceding a bodybuilding event because they like the dehydrating effect on the skin.

Caring for Your Skin as a Vital Organ

Finally, always bear in mind that the skin is more than just the bodily surface: it is also an organ, and one which is going through constant change. Combine that with the changes in the world environment, and you will understand why practising sensible protected exposure is so essential. Being very physically active is itself an excellent form of skin conditioning, so the bodybuilder really needs to only keep his eye on some simple additional methods of supplementing his skin’s vitality. Managing your exposure to the elements, along with nutrition that maximizes your skin’s well-being and skin care products suitable for your skin type are all strategies to maintaining a skin condition that will be as fit as the rest of your body.

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