“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” Winston Churchill
In our modern world, there are distractions coming at us from everywhere and at ALL times. Whether it’s our smart phones, computers, televisions, friends, the news, or our mothers, it often seems as if we can’t avoid it.
This is exactly why we need to prioritize focus. You see, focus is like a muscle. If you train it regularly, it will be nearly unbreakable. However, if you don’t train it, your ability to focus will grow weaker and weaker.
There is one quality need to develop focus, and that is self-discipline. The problem is, lack of focus usually also means lack of self-discipline. A person with no self-discipline is like a sailboat without a sail.
They will most likely never get anywhere, and more often than not, it will ultimately have unwanted and unforeseen consequences. Obviously, nobody wants that.
So why do so many people drift through life, only doing what they’re told? Following the already beaten path, with little to no true fulfillment? It’s very simple.
It’s hard to be disciplined. Especially when you don’t have an authority figure standing over your back, threatening you with consequences. Really think about that for a second.
As adults, should we really need someone else to hold us accountable for the things we want to achieve? If you ask me, the answer is a resounding Hell No!
True motivation comes from within, not without! So, ask yourself now if you really want to achieve that goal body. Now, ask yourself why. Why is it necessary for you. Why must you achieve your goal?
Identify why you NEED to achieve it. That reason should move you emotionally when you identify it. It should compel you into action. This is why you will become disciplined, because even though building self-discipline is hard, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as regret.
No-one else can do it for you, and you won’t get fired, or punished, or fail school if you don’t do it. You’ll simply have to live with your unhappiness. Unexpressed desires are energy.
The stronger the desire the stronger the energy. If we don’t express it, it gets stuck inside the body. If you have children, you can easily see what I’m talking about.
Stop them from playing. Make them sit and be quiet. If you do this often enough, they will start to get into trouble. They will act out, and it will often be completely out of character for them.
This is because the energy within them wants to be expressed so badly, that it will come out in literally whatever way it can. YOU are exactly the same way.
If you don’t express the desires within your soul, you will find yourself doing all sorts of things. Smoking, drinking, drugs, sex addiction, video game addiction, a short temper, and struggling with depression.
I’m certainly not a doctor, but it is my experience that depression comes from repression. There’s no need to go through all of these things though, if we just make it a point to develop self-discipline.
If you practice diligently, you can develop laser focus with meditation alone. Self-discipline will come majorly into play here. Please be aware though, that with time, it gets easier.
It becomes second nature, the way that you naturally are. At this point, the only thing standing between you and your dream body or any other goal will be a decision to manifest it.
If meditation isn’t your cup of tea, worry not. You can cultivate focus in many other ways, and once you do, you will be shocked at the things you are able to achieve. It will be Much more than just your dream body!
With that being said, I wish you ALL the best, and remember. Successful people fail ALL the time. The difference between them and failures is that they get up, adjust their approach, and try again.
To train abs or not to train abs? That is the question. Whether tis nobler to have abs that a maiden could wash her clothes on, or to have a shapeless, blocky midsection, capable of frightening small children at a glance.
There are several schools of thought when it comes to training the abs. Some people say there’s no need. That to have great abs is simply a matter of proper dieting. Others say that the abs get all the stimulation they need from heavy compound movements such as squats and deadlifts.
The theories are endless. All of them have valid points, so where does that leave you, the reader? Often it leaves you pretty damn confused. Well worry not my good friend, by the end of this article you’ll be confused no more.
Before we dive into training protocols, let’s discuss exactly what we are talking about when we say abs. We are actually talking about are several different muscles that make up the midsection.
They are the rectus abdominis( the muscles that make up the six pack), obliques, serratus, and intercostals which all make up the muscles on the sides of the abdomen and last but certainly not least the tranversus abdominis( the muscle behind the rectus abdominis, which is responsible for core strength and a flat stomach).
When someone is at a relatively low bodyfat level, you can see these muscles. That’s where the belief that diet is ALL that matters comes in. On compound movements all of these muscles are engaged to stabilize the body.
That’s where the belief that compound movements are enough for great abs comes in. Then there’s the silly belief that it’s ALL about genetics. In my 17 years of bodybuilding I’ve come to one conclusion through not only personal experience, but also observation.
It’s this. The people with the best abs all train abs often. Usually a bare minimum of twice a week. Some even train them every day. I personally believe that you shouldn’t condone something unless you’ve tried it yourself.
This way, you can give an honest assessment of how it works from first-hand experience. This is exactly why throughout the years, I’ve tried all of these protocols, to find out for myself, exactly what works and why.
I’ve discovered a few golden nuggets that I’ll share with you now.
1. Abs recover much more quickly than other muscles and can therefore be worked every day.
2. The most effective ab routines are short and intense ones, with very brief rest periods.
3. Weighted ab movements can enlarge the waist over time, giving the torso a blocky look.
4. In order to really etch the fine details into the abs, squeeze at the top of each rep and hold for 1-2 seconds.
Now for the fun part. Let’s put those protocols together to create a basic ab routine. What I’ve found is that while the abs can be trained every day, they respond just as well to every other day training, and it isn’t so monotonous.
That day of rest in between is critical for maintaining your enthusiasm long term. As for the workout duration, you want each ab session to last for about 10 minutes, with very little rest, about 30-60 seconds between sets.
Decrease rest period duration as you are able. Pick two movements targeting different parts of the abs and superset them. Supersetting is performing two movements back to back without rest.
For example, perform hanging leg raises which emphasize the lower abs, and follow them immediately with swiss ball crunches. Due 2 regular crunches, and then one twisting to the left and one twisting to the right. This will emphasize the upper and middle abs, along with the obliques and intercostals. Keep repeating this until failure. Rest 1 minute and repeat the superset 2 more times.
Then pick two more movements and superset them with a minute of rest in between. Do this for 3 sets just like before. Follow this with a plank to failure for the transversus abdominis. Now you’ve trained the entire midsection in 10 minutes.
There is NO need to train the abs any longer. Remember, with the abs, you want to hit it and quit it. Due this every other day, changing up the movements every so often if you desire.
Obviously, if your bodyfat isn’t low enough you won’t be able to see your abs regardless, so remember to eat sensibly. Either way though, your core will be stronger and firmer, which will benefit you in several ways from lessening and preventing back pain, to being stronger in compound movements.
Remember, your core is the center of everything, and as such, it should be kept healthy. That’s it guys, I’m off to train. Don’t forget to hit those abs, I’ll be watching and counting your reps.
“No Wind Blows In Favor Of A Ship Without A Destination.” Montaigne
Exercise is a great way to stay young and healthy. It holds a host of benefits for all those willing to stick to it, but one of the most controversial is the fact that it augments one’s physical appearance. That is the MAIN reason many people get into it, quiet as it’s kept.
And that is perfectly okay. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, and shut shit down every time you step out the door. A healthy ego, not an out of control one, is an asset, not a liability. That brings me to the purpose of this article. This is for any and everyone who wants to achieve a specific physical aesthetic. With that being said, let’s dive into it.
Let me preface with a small disclaimer. This article is written by a male and primarily intended for other men, however, women can certainly benefit from it.
Look at you! You’re hitting the gym several times a week. You’re being more mindful about what you put into your body. You’re even seeing some results. Congratulations!
But before you celebrate your new found gains and confidence, let’s face facts. After that beginning period of 1-2 years of making decent progress, most people will Inevitably plateau.
Why is this? Don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly fine to coast if you’ve reached your physique goals, although personally I believe coasting leads to losing ALL your hard earned gains sooner or later. Coasting is what happens when you lose motivation.
And why do you lose motivation? It’s simple. Undefined goals! Think about it. Why would you bust your ass in the gym when you don’t even know exactly what you want to look like? Exactly! You wouldn’t.
Luckily, this is a simple fix. People are obsessed with the way things look. When something is beautiful, we can’t stop staring at it. The body is a thing. And we have the ability to change it. Look at it like an artist. Our genetics are our canvas. What we eat is our paint. And the weights are our paintbrush. With these tools we can create a masterpiece, or a mess.
This brings me to my next point. What do you want to look like? Seriously, if you could have any body you wanted, what would you choose to look like? It’s very important. Find someone, an athlete, a celebrity, that you would love to look like, and put a picture of them up on your wall, or the mirror.
Pro tip: Make sure that they are similar in structure to you. If you are tall, they should be tall. If you have a small waist, they should too, etc. Obviously they won’t look like you due to added muscle mass and lower body fat, but just look at the structure. This will ensure that you can build a very similar physique to them.
Look at this picture in the morning and before bed, and try to imagine looking at yourself in the mirror with that physique. You look great, you feel vibrant and fit.
This will create a deep level of motivation that will make it easier to go to the gym and make responsible eating choices, and will aid you in staying focused throughout your workouts.
Next, create a basic plan to attain your goal physique. Don’t get fanatical. Just remember this, junk food is a treat, not fuel. Whole(REAL) food is fuel. Eat to fuel your body and treat yourself every so often. Try to drink mostly water, or other zero calorie beverages, and eat mostly whole foods.
This will of course vary from person to person, and if you’re naturally as thin as a rail, you may be able to eat junk more often and still get the results you’re looking for. Generally speaking though, it is always wise to eat healthy most of the time.
Now, let’s talk about identifying the type of physique you want. Different physiques are created by different types of training and nutrition. Here are a few basic physiques to help you identify your goal.
This physique is slim and very lean. To achieve this type of look you would have to eat very clean, ideally knowing and tracking your macros, at least in the beginning. You could lift weights as little as 3 days a week, preferably in a circuit training fashion, and attain this look as long as you were doing some cardio as well to burn extra calories. You would want to keep rep ranges around 10 to 15 to increase the length of your sets and therefore burn more calories. Remember to keep rest periods short to keep your heart rate elevated while you train, no more than 60 seconds rest after each circuit.
This physique has quite a bit more muscle, but isn’t quite as lean. For a physique like this, you would want to train a with relatively heavier weights in the 8-10 rep range. You would also want to get in a good amount of volume each week, and therefore hit the gym more like 4-5 times a week. To accomodate the heavier weight lifted, you would want rest periods between sets at 90-120 seconds. You would also want to eat in a slight caloric surplus, in order to build muscle.
This physique is basically a blend of the first 2. A fair amount of muscle, but also shredded. This is my ideal physique type, but it should be noted that this physique is the hardest to achieve of the 3. It takes several years to build the muscle mass, and absolute dietary discipline to stay so shredded year round. If this is your ideal physique type, prepare to be in the gym 5-7 days a week. You need to lift light, moderate, and relatively heavy and do cardio several days each week to achieve this look. Figuring out your macros is a must! If you want to look like this, you can’t afford to lose focus in the gym, or in the kitchen. Of course you can still have cheat meals every so often, depending on how lean you are. Let me make it clear that these physiques are just a few examples, and there are many more to choose from. The most important thing is just to find a physique that inspires you!
There you have it. A clear cut way to identify and SMASH your physique goals! Remember, be honest with yourself, and also remember that it’s ok for your goals to change with time. Maybe you start off with something more attainable for you now, and set higher goals over time. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
If you do, you’ll most likely just burn yourself out. So, if all you can commit to is 3 days days in the gym, then do it. Set your goals accordingly. Monitor your progress. It’s incredibly motivating to see your progress on paper, or in pictures. If you know where you’re going, you have a much better chance of getting there. If you have read this far and still feel overwhelmed and confused, you aren’t alone. I would LOVE to work with you. I offer one-on-one coaching, as well as custom training and meal plans. Simply go to my products page to check it out, or you can follow this link: https://wordpress.com/page/frommeatheadtomeatless.com/125 As, always, I love you guys.
“Bodybuilding is 80 percent nutrition.” Vince Gironda
“Abs are made in the kitchen.” “You are what you eat.” You’ve heard the sayings. They all boil down to one thing and that is this. If you want to create changes in your body, your diet has to be on point.
However, let’s face it. There are new fad diets popping up every week. Keto, paleo, vegan, plant-based, carnivore, etc. All of this basically just complicates a simple thing. There are a few basics that if you’ll add to your repertoire will put you well on your way to mind blowing changes in your health and physical appearance.
That’s why I’ve put together this simple list of 4 hacks that are so simple, yet so powerful in their effect. Give even one or two of them a try, and within four weeks, I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in your energy and body.
1. Only drink things with zero calories. This is self explanatory. Drink plenty of water, tea, etc. So long as it is calorie free it is ok to drink. Avoid artificial sweeteners and drinks with unnatural ingredients.
2. Only eat sugar containing foods at predetermined times. For instance, for a weekly designated cheat meal. Another acceptable time would be after an intense workout. Keep in mind though that dependent on your body type and goals it may be best to avoid cheat meals altogether until you hit your physique goal.
3. Avoid carbs within four hours of bedtime. Chances are they won’t be utilized by the body for energy, and thus, will be stored as fat. Instead, eat meals consisting of protein and “good” fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocadoes.
4. Make it enjoyable. The best diet is one you can stick with. The old adage of healthy food being tasteless is simply not true. A healthy way of eating can truly be sustainable for any and everyone, although it may take some time to find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to expand your palette.
If you apply even one or two of these very super simple principles I promise you’ll be astonished at the changes that occur over time. Don’t forget to be active whenever you can on a daily basis. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of driving to the corner store, stretch while binge watching your favorite netflix show, and whatever else you can think of. You’d be surprised how creative you can be when you use your imagination. Much love,
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” John Pierpont Morgan
So, you’ve decided to begin a weight training program, but you’re not sure where to start. There is so much conflicting information out there, it can be a challenge just figuring out what will work best for you. While there are many factors determining your ideal training program, there are a few basics that essentially apply to all beginners right off the bat. Due to all the complex information available about this subject, my chief aim is to make this as straight-forward and simple as possible. With that being said, let’s get right into it.
As a beginner in the weight room, the best thing you can do is to keep things very simple. Resist the urge to do fancy exercises and exotic programs simply for this reason, the basics are the most effective things you can do to improve your body composition and your overall health. So, what are the basics? They are compound (multi-joint) movements. Why would you do this? They work more muscles at a time the, then isolation (single-joint) movements.
In other words, you’re doing more in less time. This is not only more efficient for building the body, it’s also time efficient. Time efficiency in the gym is super important because when you’re training for too long, aka more than an hour, cortisol aka the stress hormone begins to rise in the body. Cortisol inhibits muscle growth and fat loss, which is a big no no! Also, as a beginner, the body responds to even a small stimulus, and isn’t conditioned to recover from a significant amount of work.
It is for these reasons that it makes sense for a beginner to utilize a full body three times a week routine. There should be at least one day of rest between workouts so doing your workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday would be ideal. However, if Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, or any other combination of days work better for you then by all means go for it. The exercises you select for your routine should all be basic compound movements, as I said earlier. Examples of basic, compound movements are: Deadlifts, Squats, Barbell rows, Chin-ups, Leg press, Military Press (esp. When performed while standing) , Clean and Jerks, Snatches, Dips, Etc. You can pick five of these exercises and perform 3 sets of each for eight to ten repetitions. A sample program would look like this:
Exercise: Sets Reps
Deadlift 3 10
Squat 3 10
Bench Press 3 10
Chin-Up 3 10
Military Press 3 10
For the chin ups, you can use an assisted chin-up machine if you need to. If your gym doesn’t have one, lat pull-downs would be a great option as well. Rest sixty seconds between each set and control the weight on the eccentric(negative) part of the movement. Repeat three times a week increasing the weight used in each each exercise every week by about five pounds. This will ensure that you are progressing consistently, provided you are eating a balanced diet.
That’s all there is to it. Stick with this program for as long as it is effective, which could figuratively be indefinitely, and I promise, you will not only improve your health, but also create phenomenal changes in your body chemistry. Print this article out, write it down, or whatever you have to do, and take it to the gym with you. If you’re unsure of the form on an exercise, look it up on YouTube. Remember, it doesn’t matter where you’re starting from, or even where you finish, but the distance that you travel. All the best.
“The groundwork of all happiness is good health.” L. Hunt
Nowadays, more people than ever are taking up resistance training and rightfully so. Although in the past it was thought that weight training was harmful to health and decreased speed and mobility. Thankfully, these days we have many scientific studies showing us that just the opposite is true.
Weight training performed in a controlled and safe manner has many benefits for people of all ages, and I will be covering many of them right here in this very article. I’ve compiled them into a list, in no particular order, for your convenience.
Check them out, perhaps it will give you that extra push you need to get into the gym, or perhaps your workouts have grown stale, in which case this may be just the fire you need to get out of a rut. Ok, enough of the chit chat. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
8 Benefits of Resistance Training
Anti Aging. If this one doesn’t grab your attention, don’t even bother reading the rest of the list. Training slows down many of the factors that result from the aging process, and let’s be honest. Who doesn’t want to feel good in their body for as long as possible?
It reduces abdominal fat. In 2014, a study published in the research journal obesity, performed by Harvard researchers on 10,500 men over the course of 12 years found that strength training is more effective than cardiovascular training at preventing increases in abdominal fat. In other words, if you want to get leaner, lift weights.
Creates better cardiovascular health. Lifting weights has been shown to decrease visceral fat(abdominal fat), which loves to sit around the organs, including the heart. It also improves blood pressure and facilitates better functioning HDL(good cholesterol). Fun fact. 2015 research published in The Lancet medical journal showed that grip strength (a marker for total-body muscle health) more accurately predicts death from heart disease than blood pressure does.
Controlled blood sugar levels. Strength training improves the muscle’s ability to take in and use glucose, or blood sugar, thereby decreasing blood sugar levels.
It reduces the risk of cancer. Research from the journal Oncogene show that visceral fat cells produce high levels of a cancer-triggering protein called fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2. Also, according to research, published in Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, muscle mass is a strong predictor of cancer treatment outcomes. Muscle wasting is a common complication of cancer treatment and is associated with a higher risk of chemotherapy toxicity, faster tumor progression and lower survival rates.
Improved brain health. Strength training can improve brain power in all people over a lifetime, but the effects are possibly the strongest in older adults who are suffering from cognitive decline. In a study in the Journal of American Geriatrics performed in 2016, when men and women ages 55 through 86 with mild impairment performed weight training twice a week for six months, they improved their scores on cognitive tests significantly. However, when participants spent their workouts stretching, their cognitive test scores declined. The key could be getting the blood flowing, Rebold says, noting that high-intensity strength training increases the flow of blood, oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. In this study, adults lifted 80 percent of their 1RM, or the maximum amount of weight they could lift for one rep. That roughly equates to the amount of weight they could lift for eight reps without breaking form.
Preventing and managing osteoporosis. Strength training greatly increases bone mineral density. Any weight-bearing exercise in which you’re standing with gravity pulling down on your body will lightly stress and strengthen bones and muscles.
Improved brain health. Strength training can improve your brain power over your lifetime, however, the effects seem to be the strongest in older adults suffering from cognitive decline. In one 2016 study in the Journal of American Geriatrics, when men and women ages 55 through 86 with mild impairment performed weight training twice a week for six months, they significantly improved their scores on cognitive tests. However, when participants performed stretching only workouts, their cognitive test scores declined.
The key may be getting the blood flowing, Rebold says, noting that high-intensity strength training increases the flow of blood, oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. In the study, adults lifted 80 percent of their 1RM, or the maximum amount of weight they could lift for one rep. That roughly equates to the amount of weight they could lift for eight reps without breaking form.
There are a tremendous number of benefits to weight training, these are only a handful, however, I hope some of them are new to you, and perhaps could be the inspiration you need to get in the gym. There’s no need to kill yourself, all you need to experience many of these and more benefits is 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week. In the meantime, I’ll be here, guiding and encouraging you every step of the way. Let’s do this!
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar
Often, in the fitness community, there is a rush to achieve a certain result as quickly as possible.
This leads to the use of steroids, growth hormone, ephedrine, and other harmful and unnatural substances. It may seem like no big deal to experiment with these kinds of drugs, but in reality to use these drugs is to cheat and misuse your body and mind. Like it or not, harming yourself to look good or be stronger is self-abuse.
This kind of abuse comes as a result of low self-esteem, and though it temporarily increases confidence, it is unsustainable in the long run and ultimately leads to even lower self-esteem. Remember, bodybuilding is an act of self love.
Any act putting one’s health at risk for the sake of vanity is not in line with true bodybuilding. Keep this in mind when temptations to take shortcuts come along. Bodybuilding is a journey, not a destination.
Still, with all that being said, how does one stay motivated day in and day out for decades? There is no simple answer to this question.What motivates some is of no consequence to others.
I’m sure you’ve heard that to stay motivated one needs a strong why. A strong why allows us to push through difficulties that would otherwise make us quit. People get into bodybuilding for all sorts of different reasons.
I find that on the surface it doesn’t really matter what gets someone into bodybuilding initially. What ultimately keeps us around is love. Some love the art of bodybuilding, while others love the challenge.
Some love the release, while others love the health benefits. There is no right way to be motivated, ultimately we are all motivated by love of something.
Take some time to think about what you love about bodybuilding. When you are connected to your love of bodybuilding, day to day motivation is almost effortless for the most part.
So what about those who don’t love bodybuilding? What about those who hate training and eating in a balanced way? I believe everyone loves something about bodybuilding, some of us just have to look harder to find out what that something is.
Working with a trainer can be very beneficial in this regard, as a good trainer is generally passionate about fitness, and passion is contagious. Knowing what you’re doing early on can help you to achieve your goals in significantly less time.
So then, what if someone doesn’t love anything about bodybuilding? Well assuming someone truly didn’t have a love for any aspect of bodybuilding, to that person I say, find a form of exercise you do love.
One that doesn’t feel like work. One that makes time fly. It could be biking, dancing, martial arts, gymnastics, hiking, swimming, jogging, calisthenics, or any other of the endless possibilities.
This is a far too often overlooked aspect of anyone’s health and fitness. At the end of the day, I bodybuild because I love it. I love training, being disciplined with my eating, and watching my body progress.
If I didn’t love it, there’s no way I would’ve trained almost daily for 17 years, and eaten a bodybuilding style 6 meals a day for almost just as long. Some people love training, but don’t enjoy being disciplined with their eating.
If this is you, figure out a way to get what you want, while still progressing toward your goals. Hating your training or diet is a sure sign that you won’t last. What you have to realize is that will power is a finite thing, and when it runs out, it’s gone.
That’s when you give into temptation, skipping workouts, abandoning your diet, which leads to feelings of guilt and shame, and the cycle repeats. You’re much better off creating a lifestyle where you can achieve your goals gradually, taking on new challenges as you’re ready. This is sustainable because it’s not based on deprivation and abstinence, but balance and moderation.
Let’s recap the tools to staying motivated long term.
Steer clear of shortcuts. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself, and enjoy the process.
If you love it, you’ll stick with it. Therefore, find a form of exercise you do love. Maybe you don’t love every aspect of it, but you should enjoy it overall.
Figure out your why. And make it meaningful. More than just, “I want to lose such and such weight.” Why do you want to achieve X Y Z? Get specific. Find out what emotions are attached to achieving that goal for you.
Work with a trainer. This is optional, but can be a tremendous investment in your health.
Inevitably there will be times when you feel more motivated than others, but if you implement these tips, I guarantee you’ll be well on your way to achieving your fitness goals.
“I visualized my biceps as mountains. This allowed me to develop my biceps much more than if I had pictured them only as muscles.” Arnold Schwarzeneggar
In bodybuilding, developing every muscle in a symmetrical way is paramount. However, there are a few muscles that are and have always been favored by most. These are considered the show muscles.
They are the muscles that the eyes are first drawn to. Think about it. When you first see a muscular person, where is the first place you look. Nine times out of ten it is at the chest and of course, the biceps. Namely, the bicep peak.
When someone asks us to flex, we automatically know that they are talking about flexing our biceps. A well developed bicep peak takes any physique from great to extraordinary, but many people believe having a great peak is genetic.
This would mean that for those who are not born with a great peak, there is no hope. This is a misconception, and with the right mindset and work ethic, almost anyone can develop a great peak.
I’ve witnessed it first hand on myself, and also on others. You see I didn’t always have a great bicep peak, even once my arms got to 18 and a half inches, my peak still lacked.
It wasn’t until I learned a few key principles that my peaks really began to develop. These principles worked like a charm for me, and they can for you too, but keep in mind that everyone is different and has to find their own ways of training.
Use this only as a guide. My hope is that it will lead you down a path of discovery. Discovering that there is much more to training the biceps than you had previously imagined. Let us get into it.
What Exactly is a Bicep?
Let’s briefly discuss the anatomy of the bicep. The bicep is composed of the bicep brachii, which consists of two heads, the long or outer head, and the short or inner head, and the brachialis, which is an underlying muscle that gives the bicep height and thickness when developed.
The primary function of the biceps is elbow flexion and also supination of the wrist. This is why even though the biceps are trained during virtually all back movements, the optimal movement for training them is and always will be the curl. However, there are dozens of variations of the curl.
Variations of Bicep Curls
The biceps are a relatively small muscle group, and therefore should not be trained with excessive volume. Three sets of three exercises twice a week for a total of eighteen sets a week is plenty.Very advanced lifters can do more at times as long as they are able to recover from it.
A good way to know if your bicep routine is effective is to measure the biceps every six to eight weeks. If they are growing, you’re on the right track, if not, it’s time to reassess your routine and diet.
For every muscle group, a basic compound movement is generally performed first in your routine. In the case of biceps, this movement is the barbell curl.
Although it’s not technically a compound (multi-joint) movement, it allows you to go the heaviest, and train the entire biceps effectively. In general, this is a good movement to start with, but in some cases there are other movements that are ideal for beginning your routine.
One example of this is if you have been training for at least two years and beginning each workout with barbell curls, and your biceps are still a weakness. In this case, for whatever reason, be it technical or structural, your biceps are not being fully stimulated during the barbell curl.
It would be wise then, to start off with a more strict movement to isolate and pre-exhaust the biceps. Some good movements for this are, preacher curls, incline curls, lying cable curls, or even concentration curls.
These movements make it hard to incorporate any muscle besides the biceps. They will give you a great pump, strong contraction, and get your mind in your biceps. This will make it easier to feel barbell curls later.
Keep your reps higher, between 8 and 15 and never going below 6. This is because when you go to heavy when curling other muscles, namely the lower back and front delts tend to take over.
Focus on feeling the biceps, not on lifting the weight. Follow this up with a more basic movement, like barbell or alternating dumbbell curls. You could also do cable curls with a low pulley.
Follow this up with an exercise for peak such as guillotine curls, high pulley cable curls, or dumbbell preacher curls, and you will have a solid routine for growth, so long as you progress over time and eat adequately.
If you start with barbell curls you could do dumbbell hammer curls next, or cable curls with the rope attachment. From there you would finish with a peaking exercise.
Technique is paramount for maximizing results, and it varies for everyone depending on their unique structure. Figuring out and perfecting the best technique for you takes time, but there are some basic guidelines I’ve found helpful for most.
Here they are. Don’t go too slow. Use a good speed, especially on the positive portion of the reps. Going too slowlywill result in more type 1 muscle fiber recruitment. Type 1 muscle fibers are responsible for a more slim muscular look.
This will result in toned arms but not much of an increase in size in my experience. Utilizing a faster tempo will generally result in more type 2 muscle fibers being stimulated. This will result in a big increase in size over time.
Now that you have an idea what exercises to perform, and how to set up your routine, let’s discuss a few tips to really maximize your time in the gym.
Tip 1: Keep constant tension on the biceps. Do not rest at the bottom unless you’re doing rest-pause reps at the end of a set. This applies the time under tension principle, which is crucial for bicep growth.
Tip 2: Don’t go too heavy. The biceps are only so strong, and if you pick up more weight than your biceps can handle your lower back and front delts will help.
Tip 3: Relax the wrists and forearms. The forearms assist during all bicep movements, since we are grabbing something. Especially if the biceps are a weak point,aim to fully relax the wrists and forearms and put as much tension as possible on the biceps.
Tip 4: Biceps not responding to regular training? Add techniques to increase your intensity such as, rest-pause, drop-sets, supersets, holding peak contractions, etc. to really wake those guns up.
Tip 5: Train the biceps frequently. Twice a week minimum to keep protein synthesis elevated and growth consistently occurring.
Tip 6: Monitor rest periods. Resting too little or too much will negatively affect gains. Aim for around 60 to 90 seconds depending on how quickly your biceps recover from a given movement.
Tip 7: Squeeze! Every rep squeeze the biceps at the top.
Tip 8: Visualize how you want the biceps to look while you are training them. This may seem esoteric, but I can tell you it works!
Tip 9: Flex your biceps in the mirror often, to build a strong mind muscle connection.
Tip 10: Don’t overtrain the biceps. They don’t need a ton of volume, just to be properly stimulated. If any bicep workout takes longer than 30 minutes then you are resting too long and or not training hard enough.
My biceps are over 18 inches, and my bicep workouts typically only last around 20 minutes. However, this is a hard and focused 20 minutes, and at the end, my biceps are toasted.
There you have it. The biceps are a very simple muscle to train, but to sculpt them to perfection takes a tremendous amount of effort and will. Our minds are truly our strongest muscles and in order to develop the biceps to their full potential we must utilize not only weights, but our mental faculties as well.
There you have it, if you will incorporate just a few of these tips into your biceps training, you are sure to build peaks that would belong on Mount Olympus. Now train hard and eat properly, I’ll be watching you and counting your reps.
“My attitude is if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.” Michael Jordan
In bodybuilding, the idea is to create the illusion of perfect balance, symmetry, and proportion. Ideally this seems simple and straightforward, train everything equally and you will create balance throughout the physique. However, this is not the case, and if it were, every bodybuilder would be walking around with perfect symmetry, resembling a statue carved by Michelangelo himself. The truth is that body parts develop differently due to several factors. This is what we will be addressing in this very article, along with how to overcome these factors and build a physique worthy of being immortalized on Mount Olympus.
Why Everyone Inherently Has Weak Points
No one wants weak points, and for this reason we typically ignore them and keep training as usual, as if hoping they’ll magically vanish one day. This often has the opposite effect, exacerbating our weak points as our strong points continue to grow consistently. Among the many factors that cause weak points are: Genetics, poor mind-muscle connection in certain muscle groups, lack of intensity, overtraining (particularly in smaller muscle groups), and simply the way we are naturally put together. For example, someone with long arms and a short torso is usually going to appear to be lacking in arm thickness. Someone who’s short with a wider waist is going to look blocky, etc. If any of the above describe you, don’t worry. It’s all fixable. It isn’t your fault that you have weak points, it is however, your duty to do something about them.
Bringing Up Weak Points
So how do you bring up weak points? It varies from person to person, and bodypart to bodypart, however, with dedication and patience, any weak point can always be drastically improved. The following is a list of ways to bring up weak points. Give one or two methods a try, and if they work, continue implementing them. If not, try other alternatives, but just remember, the most important thing is that you have your mind made up regarding exactly what you want to achieve.
1.Train more intensely. This is the most basic principle when bringing up a lagging bodypart. Often we are lacking in intensity. Let’s say someone is lacking in the medial or “side” delts for example. It is hard to train them to failure because when they start to get fatigued you have to swing the weights up to keep working them which takes most of the tension off of them and puts it on the traps and lower back. Because of this, I find that the best way to fully develop the side delts is to train them with alot of volume. Every muscle is like this, it has its own preference and it is on You, the bodybuilder, to figure out what that preference is.
2.Learn more about training that particular bodypart. I believe the best way to learn is hands on experience, however, when bringing up a weak point, often it can help to learn about what its functions are. This will help you understand why you would choose certain movements in your training program, and what the most effective movements are. You can also research different methods of training that bodypart that you haven’t tried before. Assuming you’ve been consistent with your current routine, something completely new will often prompt your body to add some new muscle.
3.Lighten up your weights and focus on mind-muscle connection for a while. Too often we believe that big weights equal big muscles, and while this is true in some cases, such as when doing compound movements, there are some instances where going too heavy can hinder or prevent progress all together. Let’s take rear delts for example. They are a small area that is stimulated with heavy weight when training back, however, if we try to use heavy weights on rear delt specific exercises, the back and traps are going to take over the movements. This prevents us from getting deep fatigue in the rear delts and thus, hinders our development and creates a disproportionate look. The same is true with virtually all bicep movements, most tricep movements (with the exception of close grip bench presses and tricep dips), and generally all isolation movements. A good rule of thumb to follow is to never go below 10-12 reps when doing an isolation movement. This will ensure that you’re using a light enough weight to really utilize the mind-muscle connection. It will also increase time under tension, an important factor for growth. Most importantly though, it will aide you in minimizing the involvement of assisting muscles.
4.Train weak points more frequently. Research shows that muscle protein synthesis is increased for 48-72 hours after training a bodypart. This suggests that training a bodypart every 2-3 days is optimal for growth. If you are only training a muscle once a week, consider cutting your current workout in half and training said bodypart twice a week. Add more as you can handle it. For example, you could train arms on Tuesday and Friday. This will keep muscle protein synthesis elevated and ideally, produce more growth. Also, you could do a main workout for a bodypart, then a feeder workout 3 or 4 days later. A feeder workout is a low volume pump workout where nothing is done to failure. The idea is just to bring blood into the muscle to provide it with nutrients and stretch the fascia.
5.Stretch that bodypart daily. Stretching is one of the easiest, and most overlooked ways to improve your physique. First and foremost, stretching can create good posture. Good posture will automatically make your physique look significantly better, even without changing body composition. Correcting bad posture can lead to better technique and the correction of muscle imbalances. Another benefit is decreased risk of injury. As you know, when you’re injured, you can’t workout. If you can’t workout, you can’t progress. It can also help improve mind-muscle connection. It increases range of motion, which leads to better development. Lastly, as an added benefit, it’s good for you in general.
6.Visualize daily how you would like that bodypart to look. This one is slightly different, as it’s not a physical thing. Visualization is very powerful, just look at the studies on how visualization has affected high level athletes’ performance. I have found that if I can clearly imagine how I want a bodypart to look, and I persist with this vision, that is exactly how that bodypart develops. Give it a try, visualize how you want a bodypart to look while you are training it, and also when you think about it throughout the day. Arnold and many other greats have said this was crucial to their success.
All of these methods will assist you in achieving your goals, but keep in mind, nothing will work unless you do. You have to really want it, and be willing to put in the time. That about wraps it up. Have some weak points? Give some of these methods a try and watch them turn into strengths.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” – Thomas Jefferson
I remember years ago when I decided to go plant-based, but I didn’t believe it was possible to live a bodybuilding lifestyle on such a diet.
So, I set out to prove to myself that it could be done. There wasn’t much info out there specifically addressed to plant-based bodybuilders, so I had to do a lot of experimenting.
It took some time, but eventually, I figured out a recipe for success which has worked for myself and several other bodybuilders I know.
It was a challenge for sure. You have to remember, bodybuilding as we know is very young, less than a century old.
Vegan bodybuilding has been around for even less time, so as you can imagine there isn’t a whole lot of info on the subject. That is why I’ve taken the liberty to put together this article.
It contains virtually everything you need to know to get started as a vegan bodybuilder. If you will apply these simple techniques I promise you will avoid many of the pitfalls I have experienced and progress like never before. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Nutrition is crucial to the success of any bodybuilding program. Train as hard as you like, but without proper nutrition you’ll plateau very quickly.
As a natural vegan bodybuilder our approach is a little different, though not drastically from the typical bodybuilder not only in that we do not consume animal products, but also our primary focus is on maximizing our intake of micro-nutrients.
Micro-nutrients are things such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This is because every cell of our body depends upon these micro-nutrients to function optimally.
A good rule of thumb is to eat the rainbow daily. Meaning eat fruits and veggies that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
This is much easier than it sounds and can be done in one salad. It ensures you are getting a wide variety of micro-nutrients daily and prevents deficiencies.
Remember, health is our primary concern because a healthy body recovers quickly and the more quickly we recover, the faster we can put on muscle.
Typically when bodybuilders bulk they put on excessive weight because they believe it’s necessary, but this could not be further from the truth.
Many bodybuilders have built muscle while in a caloric deficit, and while this is not easy and I don’t recommend it, I only mention it to illustrate that one does not need excessive calories to gain weight.
With that being said getting adequate protein is still important, but we don’t need an excessive amount. .7 to 1 gram per lb of body-weight is still about as high as one needs to go, the only exception being if you’re pre-contest and eating a very low amount of calories.
In this case you may want to go up to 1.5 grams per lb of body-weight to protect muscle tissue but it is not necessary. Remember that if we take in more protein than we need the liver has to convert it into glucose, whereas if we just upped our carbs a bit, they are more readily converted to glucose.
This is easier on the body. This protein should come from a variety of sources such as legumes, lentils, tempeh, edamame, fermented protein powder (easier to digest), and quinoa to name a few.
When cooking lentils or legumes, be sure to soak them for at least a few hours. This will keep you from bloating and becoming gassy.
This is majorly important. It’s not how much you eat, but how much you can digest, that determines your optimal performance and recovery. When you are bloated and gassy, it will show on your physique, and in your performance.
It is a symptom that you are not digesting your food efficiently. Circumvent this by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut (my personal favorite), kimchi, vegan kefirs, etc.
Also when you are eating 5 to 6 meals a day, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar right before meals does wonders. Lastly, bitter greens such as arugula and chard aid in digestion.
Make these digestive aids staples in your diet, particularly if you are often gassy or bloated. Even if you are not though, everyone can benefit from these natural digestive aids that will build gut flora and keep the stomach acid strong.
Carbs when you’re vegan aren’t much different than when you’re omnivorous so I won’t go into specifics there. Keep in mind though that many plant based proteins contain carbs.
Fats aren’t either, just stick to basic whole plant based sources here. For meals, Combine a protein with a carb source and maybe add a little fat. Towards the end of the day meals should be lower in calories.
This will ensure that we always stay relatively lean. Staying lean is important for bodybuilders because it allows us to see the muscles more clearly. This makes bringing up weak points possible and much easier.
Now it’s time to incorporate all of this into your daily life. Multiply your body-weight by 13 to 15 depending on if you’re an inactive or active man and 10 to 12 depending on if you’re an inactive or active woman.
That’s roughly how many calories you need daily to maintain your current body weight. In order to get leaner consume about 500 less calories than what is required for maintenance.
In order to build muscle increase calories by several hundred. Take pictures and keep an eye on the mirror and scale once a week to get an idea of how you’re responding.
If you’re making sufficient progress keep it up, if not, make small adjustments. Never do anything drastic because once you do, the body will adapt and you won’t be able to make much more progress from there.
Small changes are most effective over time, even though they require some patience.
Supplements are not mandatory but are very beneficial for any hard training bodybuilder looking to progress. With health being our primary concern, we always want to opt for supplements from whole food sources.
That being said, my personal favorite supplement is an Irish moss, bladderwrack, and burdock mixture. These three plants combined contain all 108 minerals the human body needs to function optimally.
Minerals are some of the most important things we can consume and almost everyone is deficient in some areas so this is a God send.
It’s a one stop shop for all the minerals we need on a daily basis and therefore I highly recommend it. Next on my list of supplements would be a quality plant based protein powder.
Go for a fermented form of protein here, or at the least, one with probiotics. This will ensure they digest properly and don’t give you gas.
This is important because gas means bloating and bloating destroys the beauty of a physique. It expands the waist and blurs definition.
I myself take in slightly more than a gram of protein per pound of body weight daily, however, the recommended minimum amount of protein for bodybuilding is about .7 grams per pound of bodyweight.
I take in more because I train very frequently and my workouts are intense. I also find that I build more muscle with more protein.
There is a limit however, and I don’t believe it’s ever necessary to go beyond 1.5 grams per pound in a day. Next on the list is a high quality amino acid supplement.
This can consist of all essential aminos, or just bcaa’s. It can be in powder or tablet form. The only thing that matters is that it is high quality and therefore readily absorbed and used by the body.
These supplements are, as I see it, staples for a plant based bodybuilder. They are not required, but when training intensely, and trying to recover and build muscle optimally they are greatly beneficial.
There are other great supplements, such as glutamine, beet root powder, creatine, etc. but I don’t believe they are essential. The only prerequisite is that any supplements we use should come from natural sources.
This is why I don’t take creatine, as it is synthesized. I recommend starting with the basic supplements once your eating and training properly for a few months.
The only exception is the Irish moss mixture, which is beneficial to everyone, regardless of whether or not you train.
From there, you can try others if you feel inclined to do so. See how different things work for you, but make sure that before you do, your training and diet are solid and consistent.
This will ensure progress as supplements as their name indicates, are only meant to supplement everything else you’re doing.
Stretching is one of the easiest, yet most overlooked aspects of bodybuilding. It is critical for maintaining mobility and staying injury free.
It also helps with being able to perform certain exercises properly over a lifetime, and may even improve the look of the physique by improving postural problems and so on.
For these reasons, I recommend a daily stretching routine that incorporates a stretch for every muscle and also stretching the spine. Each stretch should be held for a minimum of 30-60 seconds.
Yoga is a great way to stretch also, and a good yoga routine will usually incorporate stretching the entire body. Ultimately though, it depends on what you enjoy.
You can stretch the entire body in as little as 5-10 minutes a day just as a way to stay healthy and functional, or if you prefer, you can opt for a more extensive program.
You may even switch back and forth. Whichever stretching routine you decide on, make sure to set a time, such as first thing in the morning, or before bed, so that you build stretching into a habit over time.