And so the journey begins … Carb Back Loading

Carb Back Loading by John Kiefer is just one of those things that somebody comes up with maybe out of the blue or maybe just a series of tweaks on a few popular programs that resonates with certain segment of the population.

In this case.. it’s the breakfast skipping, carb avoiding people who bust butt in the gym and then get all their carbs in after the workout.  The high glycemic kind!  Trashier the better!

It’s been called gimmicky by several fitness experts.  I’m not sure if they truly believe that or because they also sell products, it’s part of the tear down the competition and buy my book mentality.

In any case.. here’s the premise.

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How to Build Impressive Biceps

Who doesn’t want strong and shapely biceps? If I was a gambling man, I would bet you probably see a lot of people working arms (biceps) probably for an hour maybe more doing all types of isolation exercises. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to expend that much time in the gym to have a great looking set of bicep muscles. There’s a few key points that you need to know when it comes to building biceps. First you need to work the biceps from all angles using a variety of key exercise. Next you want to focus on compound movements. Another key point is to keep your workout short and focused. Finally there are four big bang biceps exercises that you can do though ensure maximum bicep growth.  There will always be debate about the best bicep workout routine, but there’s not as much debate about the best bicep exercises you should incorporate for maximum growth.

Bicep Development Begins with the All Angles Approach

The biceps muscle is made of two heads. You might refer to this as an inner and an outer bicep.  Anatomy books will refer to these two as the biceps brachii the long and short head.  You’ll want to choose exercises that work both bicep heads thru a complete range of motion.  If you spend too much time working one area of the bicep you can temporarily change the look of it or develop a weakness when using a different range of motion. By selecting a few key exercises, you can ensure you are getting the best bicep development possible.

Compound Movements or Isolation Exercises?

Why is that even a question?  Focusing on compound movements ideal for most situations involving optimal muscle growth. If possible use free weights like barbells and dumbbells as machines will not provide the same overall stimulus and growth potential. One thing to keep in mind is keep your arm workouts short and focused. Many people will tell you there’s a specific number of reps or a specific number of sets and a time to complete a workout.  As a guideline for most generic programs, this is true, but for the purposes of this article I want you to focus on doing the exercises as intensely as possible without interruption and paying attention to the time. If that takes 15 minutes or if it takes 45 minutes it doesn’t matter as long as you are giving it your all. Once you feel yourself starting to slip and not give his much effort that’s when you stop.  Maybe people could get in much better workouts if they had a stopwatch beep at them when the specified rest interval was over.

The Four Big Bang Bicep Exercises

  1. Barbell curl
  2. Hammer curl
  3. Reverse barbell curl
  4. Close grip pull ups

I am well aware there are many other awesome bicep exercises to pick such as spider curls (Tom Venuto introduced this one to me in one of his many insane bicep blasting routines).  Even if you don’t have access to a gym or any type of equipment, you probably can find a place to do close grip pull ups which are an excellent solution for a biceps workout without weights!  However, building biceps are not as difficult as people may believe. It’s simply a matter of working the biceps from all angles, focusing on compound movements with limited use of isolation exercises, and using some or all of the exercises described here for maximum growth.  Feel free to add or subtract exercises depending on your situation but try to use as many as possible from the list for complete and great bicep development.  You can even split up the exercises on different days based on your routine (barbell curls and reverse barbell curls one workout session and hammer curls and close grip pull ups on another).

Too many people spend too much time in the gym focusing on exercises that don’t get them the results they want. Understanding that the bicep is just a muscle like anything else in focusing on it with short intense workouts, you can develop the arm size or the arm strength about that you desire. There are routines, such as the Unvarnished Arm Routine by Boyer Coe or Larry Scott’s bicep workout coined the best bicep workout, that employee some of these techniques along with advanced concepts (very slow close grip pull-ups with heavy barbell bicep curls).  You’ll find your arms will grow to the size you never thought possible. However even in those professional bodybuilding routines they still focus on using certain exercises, working the bicep from all angles, focusing on compound movements that use as much of the bicep muscle as possible with limited isolation exercises in the shortest amount of time possible. With this knowledge you should have no problem going to the gym and spending 15 minutes dedicated to biceps that will ensure ultimate bicep growth.

Here’s to you building bigger, stronger, biceps!

Marc David – CPT
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding

PS – Check these biceps tendonitis tips if you start to feel any pain or discomfort beyond normal muscular soreness.

Cheap Testosterone Test

Cheap Testosterone Tests

If you haven’t ever taken the time to do a blood work test to start a baseline, now is as good of a time as any.  Will Brink (fellow fitness expert) wrote up an excellent article on the importance of blood work.

My visit to the life extension clinic to get a baseline for my blood work cost me exactly $250 (3 vials of blood; test results explained to me by the doctor).  It wasn’t free.

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How Technology Reshaped My Fitness

This is a guest post by Joe Pawlikowski, a fitness obsessed blogger

When you’ve been hitting the gym for 10 years but still have a beer gut, you start to ask yourself questions. Where did I go wrong? What is the guy with the six pack doing that I’m not? What can I do differently? When I started asking myself these questions, I had no answers. That’s because I had no data. In fact, I used to laugh at the guys who brought notebooks to the gym. “Just lift,” was my mantra. Fat lot of good it did me.

There was no sense in continuing to pay for a monthly gym membership if I couldn’t at least answer why I still had a beer gut after 10 years of exercise. It was then that I decided to start keeping track of what I did in the gym. Since I run a number of technology-focused blogs, I thought that bringing tech into the equation could work to my benefit. And boy did it.

Two years later I’ve eliminated plenty of fat. I weigh 30 pounds less than I did before, but that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. The journey from beer gut near-six-pack (still haven’t gotten the last leg done) included plenty of muscle gain to go along with fat loss. And it’s all because I started to employ technology in my everyday workouts. Here are the two main devices I use, and how I use them.

Smartphone

The number of smartphone users in the US is growing by the day. At last check more than 40 percent of cell phone users were operating smartphones. All major smartphone platforms — mainly Android and iPhone — have huge marketplaces filled with useful apps. And boy let me tell you, there are hundreds upon thousands of fitness apps. Why not take advantage of them?

Timers. When my gym technology was limited to the discman I shoved in my pocket, I never really knew how much time I took between sets. I’d just amble around for a bit before getting under the bar again. It’s easier to measure progress, though, when you keep consistent rest times. Using a timer on my smartphone means I can ensure that I’m not seeing gains just because I’m taking extra long rest times. Additionally, I can keep times for HIIT routines with interval timers.

Pedometers. While you make deliberate gains in the gym, you can also work towards your fitness goals at any time. Walking more, for instance, can help you remain active throughout the day. I accomplished this with a simple pedometer app. It let me know how many steps I took in a given day, so I could try to beat that the next day. You wont’ melt your way to six pack just by walking, but it can supplement a more rigorous fitness routine.

Run keeper. I won’t do cardio these days without keeping tabs on my time, pace, and distance. Free apps such as Map My Run record your stats and help you track your progress. WIth that data in hand I can make better decisions about my cardio workouts — including when to take a break.

Music. If I’m using my smartphone for working out, I might as well pump some tunes through it. The great thing is that smartphones don’t have any moving parts in them, so you can take them on any kind of cardio or weight lifting workout. (It’s recommended that you don’t run with a traditional iPod, because the hard drive has moving parts and can more easily break.) I like unlimited music apps like Spotify, because I don’t have to think about adding music before I get to the gym. I can just load up one of my pre-made playlists.

Tablet PC

Originally I tried to track my progress on my smartphone. Might as well get the most use out of a single device, right? Unfortunately, this proved prohibitive. While there are a number of smartphone apps that will help you keep your workout data, I just found the small screen to be a bit prohibitive. That’s where another of my favorite technological devices comes into play: the tablet PC.

I have Lenovo’s Thinkpad, an Android powered tablet. Yet when it comes to the functions I’m using it for in my fitness routine, it’s the same as an iPad or any other tablet. In fact, you can find a free spreadsheet application for basically any smartphone platform. Google Docs does the job just fine, and it’s especially sweet on my Thinkpad. And, since the screen is 10 inches, it’s easy to record as much data as I need.

Not only can I record the data, but I can also analyze it. It’s easy to create charts and graphs out of whatever data I input: weight, measurements, body fat percentage, sets, reps, weight, etc. Converted into visual form, the data can show me trends in my workout that I never noticed before. It really helps answer the question, “what am I doing wrong?”

Of course, you need to take a few precautions when bringing a tablet into a gym. You can’t go placing it on the ground like a notebook, lest someone steps on it or worse, a weight gets dropped on it. But if you’re careful you can make it work and record the workouts as they happen.

Bringing it all together

Using both a tablet and a smartphone, I can collect any and all data about my workouts. I know how far and how fast I ran. I know how much weight I lifted, for how many sets, and how much time I took between those sets. I know how much weight and fat I’ve list in any given period. Best of all, I can see all that data visually, which gives me a better idea of what’s working and what’s not.

If something isn’t working, I don’t need to move far to find solutions. A tablet is built for web browsing, and so I can visit fitness sites that I trust to figure out how to change things up. And then I can write down those changes and implement them right into my next workout. Sure, I still have to get under the bar and do the work, but technology takes a lot of the hassle out of everything else.

Joe Pawlikowski is a fitness obsessed blogger who runs multiple technology focused websites. He keeps a personal blog at JoePawl.com.

guest blog posting guidelines

Rest Between Sets and the Effects on Your Workout

Rest between sets should be 30 seconds to 5 minutes.  True or False?

rest between sets

I’m sure by now you are well aware that rest between sets are just another variable you can manipulate depending on your overall objective (strength, muscle growth, endurance). What you may not be aware of is rest periods between sets have very different outcomes depending on your objective.   Improper use of rest between workouts can eventually lead to overtraining.  Here’s the scoop…

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Good News for Alcohol Consuming Bodybuilders

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol “may” reduce bone loss!  A study published in Menopause, showed that moderate alcohol consumption may prevent bone loss.  As you know (or do now if you didn’t) bone is a living organism.  Doing weight bearing exercises has helped prevent bone loss as you age which is why I highly recommend weight training for as much of your life as possible.

The researchers took 40 blood samples from  healthy postmenopausal women pre and post moderate alcohol consumption and concluded that drinking alcohol in moderate amounts helped slow down the bone turnover rate.

What you need to know is this…

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If You Eat at Home, You are Not Alone

Thanks to a NPD report on the use of recipes for at home cooking, it looks like if you are one of the people who’s cooking more at home, you are not alone.  This means things like bodybuilding recipes is on the rise!  That’s great news for you because there’s quite a few on this blog.

People who use a recipe on a weekly basis has jumped from 37% back in 2005 to an almost high of 42% in 2011.

A whopping 67% of U.S. households have used a receipe in the last month and 42% use it even more often!

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Are You Still Doing 3 Sets of 10? | Muscle Building Tips

I ran across an article by fellow fitness professional, John Sifferman (CST Coach, CST-KS) dissing the 3 sets of 10 repetitions that I personally grew up while working out in my room with my Sears weight set.  There’s some great muscle building tips that you can use as John covers the concept of Escalating Density Training and how you can tweak your own workout program to acheive better results.

Personally I have no issues with the old 3 sets of 10 for beginners who need something to latch onto and really don’t have the mind to muscle connection established.  If you’ve been training less than 6 months, the concepts of intensity and maximal lifts are probably foreign to you.

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Calcium Supplementation Causes Heart Attacks and Strokes!

A published in Heart Journal has found that the benefits of dietary calcium might not offer any significant cardiovascular benefits, and cautioned against calcium supplementation because they “might raise” myocardial infarction risk.

You read this thinking exactly what I did.  Is there something about the calcium supplementation that my grandmother, sister or wife takes or somebody else I know that might be causing adverse health risks?

Call me a sensationalist but I’ve seen this so many times before.  You start taking some supplement, the health claims are there.  Research shows positive results and then BOOM!  Like a timely filed but incorrect tax return, you get slapped with a big jolt to your reality.

Imagine the headline on February 15, 2012 reads:

Your Calcium is Killing You!

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Core Exercises for Men with the Abdominal Plank

core exercises for men

Can you do a 5 minute plank?

Core exercises for men can be summed up in just one word.  The plank!  So you think you can do a plank?  You think you have what it takes to do a 5 minute abdominal plank?  This may not be the most exciting abdominal exercise ever invented but it’s cheap, it’s easy (to do) and works practically anywhere.

Does the plank work for abs?

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