Shoulders… One of the most obvious parts of a bodybuilder because of the way it accentuates the upper body, in particular the area close to the neck. Believe it or not, there are some who don’t focus much on them. They can be hard to train but the end result makes all the pain worth it. Over the years, I have tried and tested different exercises for all my body parts and ended up sticking to only a few. Shoulders are no different. You will find a multitude of different exercises just for this body part. And it can be confusing especially for those just starting out in this sport of bodybuilding.
To start off, let’s take a look at the different types of exercises you can do:
- Shrugs – done with either dumbbells or barbells. EZ bars and the Smith Machine are options, too.
- Pull-ups – done also with dumbbells, barbells, EZ bars and the Smith Machine.
- Presses – done with dumbbells, barbells and the Smith Machine.
- Front Lateral Raises - done with dumbbells.
- Side Lateral Raises – done with dumbbells.
Now, we take a look at what I like to do:
- Pull-ups – this can scare some people off mainly because they can be really taxing. Apart from the shoulders, the movements also target other areas like the biceps. Basically what you do is have the weights in your hands with the arms stretched down to the front. This is the starting position. Then you pull the weight up to your chin, pause and then slowly lower it to the starting position. In order to pull this off, perfect posture with minimal swing should be maintained throughout the movement. The best way to achieve that is to use weights that are not too heavy. However, temptation can set it sometimes especially when you’re feeling the pump. During those times, I do load more weight but my posture will be adjusted just a little bit. Instead of standing with both legs at shoulder width, I will have one in front. That way, my body doesn’t swing during the pull. And then, as always, I slowly bring the weight down to the starting position. Lowering it slowly will allow for the muscles to work extra in order to maintain posture and support the weight. After your through, you will notice bulges near the side of your neck. That means you’re doing it right
- Presses – this can be done with dumbbells, barbells and the Smith Machine. On some days, I may do more with dumbbells. Other days maybe the barbell or Smith Machine. It really depends on how I feel. Can also be done either sitting down or standing up. The exercises are very similar to your bench presses except that your body’s upright. However, there is a slight ‘twist’ when I do the dumbbell presses (no pun intended). At the bottom of the movement, my elbows will only go slightly below shoulder level with the forearms at a 90-degree form/position. Then when I press, I will twist the dumbbells so that they meet parallel at the stop. I noticed that when I do it this way, the bulge near my neck becomes VERY obvious. Why? Because the ‘twist’ transfers the stress from the upper arms to that part. If you do presses with barbells or the Smith Machine, you will notice the stress on your upper arms.
- Front Lateral Raises – this can also be another difficult movement. Can be done with dumbbells, barbells, weight plates, etc. What you do is stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, with the weights in front of you at the thighs. With a slight curve to your arms (to prevent over-stressing your elbow joints), bring the weight up until your arms are 90-degrees to your body. Pause, then slowly lower the weight down to the starting position. If you do this with perfect form (no swinging with the body), you will notice a good amount of stress on the area near your neck and the upper arms. If you do go heavy, then just like the pull-ups, have one leg in front to balance yourself.
- Side Lateral Raises - just like the Front Lateral Raises but to the side. A great workout that focuses on the upper arms. You can do both arms simultaneously or one arm at a time. I prefer the latter mainly because I can focus more on the movement instead of balancing myself. What you do is have a dumbbell at the side of your body and then raise your arm until it is 90-degrees to your body. Pause, then lower the weight slowly to the starting position.
What about shrugs, you may ask? Well, I seriously think it’s one of the most overrated exercises that produces little. I haven’t incorporated shrugs into my shoulder routine for a good few years.
However, one thing you must remember is that what may work for someone may not be for you. Try all the exercises for a few times. You will notice the ones that work best as well as the ones that don’t.
Another important fact to that most people fail to adhere to is nutrition and supplementation. Strength training can be taxing on your muscles. In order for them to grow, you will need to follow a diet that’s high in protein which you find mostly in meat. Tuna, pork, chicken and beef are good sources of protein.
Supplementation is another important part of the equation. Protein powders with anywhere between 24g-30g of protein content per serving is a good start. After workouts, it’s always best to replenish your body with high-quality protein. The first 30-45 minutes after working out is the most important time to do that. When you replenish, your muscles go from a catabolic (muscle-breakdown) to an anabolic (muscle-building) state, thus repairing muscle tissues for maximum growth.
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When it comes to working out or getting that dream body, a lot of people tend to leave out their legs. Why? I don’t know. It could be that the legs are hard to train. Or maybe it’s the number of leg exercises one needs to do in order to get those hard, sexy legs (and butt). And just thinking about them makes some squirm.
But it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. As always, I advocate doing only what feels right to you. As you progress, you can (if you want to) incorporate other exercises to your regime.
First, let’s find out what the basic leg exercises are:
- Squats - the ultimate leg exercise! This is a compound exercise which means it also targets other muscle groups including the lower back, quads, calves and butt.
- Deadlifts – another great compound exercise to target the lower back, quads and butt.
- Leg extensions – a great isolation exercise, focusing on the thigh section
- Leg curls – great exercise which targets the hamstrings & butt
- Leg presses – isolation exercise done with a leg-press machine. Because you’re lying down, your back is relaxed and you are able to push a whole lot more weight.
Now, let me show you what I do:
- One-legged Squats – I absolutely love this one! I position myself at the Smith Machine like I would a squat. I then take one step back with one leg & lower myself til the knee almost touches the ground. From here, I squeeze everything out of my thighs & butt to lift myself off the ground. If you’re thinking “lunges”, this is what I’d call a “Reverse Lunge”. My butt always feels great after this one This is a great option especially when you’re not able to support heavy weights on a regular two-legged squat.
- Leg-presses – after the torturous one-legged squats, it’s to the leg-press machine. The great thing about one-legged squats is that they sort of prepare you for other exercises like the leg-press. That’s because they’re not easy and can be very stressful.Before I started experimenting with one-legged squats, my leg-presses weren’t anything to shout about (at least, in terms of weights). One day, I decided to give it a shot and waddaya know, the weights I cranked out for my leg-presses went up by 20%!
So there you have it; my favorite leg exercises just for you. Go ahead and give these a try. Just remember, no amount of training can replace the importance of proper nutrition, supplementation & rest.
For more on the type of supplements you can add to fire up and complement your workouts, click here.
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In the years that I have been in this sport of bodybuilding, most if not everything has been about trial and error. Whether it’s dieting, supplementing or even key exercises. I’m not saying that I’ve found the answer to all of these but the experience has taught me a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t.
Now, this article will only be about the key exercises that has helped me build mass. It’s a gradual gain but faster. And it’s a regime that I have already been using for some time. Please note that this isn’t an article that explains how to performs these key exercises but rather what exercises you can implement into your regime. So, here they are.
Biceps – alternating dumbell curls (standing or seated), standing barbell curls (wide grip, close grip and EZ bar)
Triceps – rope pull-down, V-bar pull-down, flat bench dumbell extension (lying down with dumbells parallel to the side of the head)
Forearms – behind-the-back barbell curl
Chest – incline and flat bench barbell presses, incline and flat bench dumbell flyes. I usually alternate between these two types of exercises. This is so my muscles don’t get too used to the routines and stop responding. On one chest day, I may do the incline barbell press (sometimes I use the Smith machine for the purpose of isolation) and then move on the the flat bench dumbell flyes. The next chest session will be the other way round: incline dumbell flyes and then on to the flat bench barbell press (or the Smith machine).
Shoulders – Arnold press (standing or seated) , barbell pull-up (close grip & wide grip)
Upper Back – Barbell bent-over rows. You can also turn to dumbells once in while. This way you engage the muscles in a different way, shocking them so they don’t get used to the same exercise or routine over time.
Mid-back – seated rows (close grip, mid grip and wide grip). Sometimes I would do a one-and-a-half-rep routine where you pull in from the starting point, go back out halfway, pull it in again and then back to the starting position. That’s one rep. If you’re starting out with this routine, you may wanna drop the weights a little bit. Doing ten one-and-a-half reps can feel like doing twenty full reps at one go.
Lower back – dead lifts
Legs – calf raises, leg extensions, leg curls, squats. Squats can be dangerous if it’s you’re first time. You DO NOT want to start heavy (I know that’s what they all say but some guys have egos the size of Texas). A good alternative would be the leg press machine because it takes some of the load of your back so you focus more energy on the push.
All of the said exercises are what I incorporate into my routine. I have tried and tested many different exercises and found these really work. Having said that, no two people are the same. What works for one person may not necessarily mean it will work for another. You must be diligent in trying out as many exercises in order to find what’s right for you.
Another thing that a lot of people tend to overlook is this: Dieting and Supplementation. You must remember that your muscles grow during your rest period. Training only provides the stimulus for growth.
A very important thing to remember is to give your muscles at least 48 hours to rest and recover. Make sure you maintain a high-protein diet so your muscles can repair, recover AND grow. During times when you think you may have not taken in enough protein, you can supplement with protein powders. A favorite protein of mine is casein because I can just take it before I go to sleep. Post-workout supplements are good, too because they help muscles recover faster so you can focus on your next session in the “torture chamber”.
I look forward to reading your comments to this article. Alternatively, you can visit my group page on Facebook called Fitness 24/7. I will be posting this article there as well so you can comment through there, too.
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A lot about creatine has been going around ever since it was introduced as a sports nutritional supplement, both good and bad. Creatine has, over the years become one of the most popular supplements. Why? Simple. IT WORKS! But like all things that work, there is bound to be some negativity or false accusations around the topic. My goal here is to dispel the most talked about “myths” surrounding the use and effects of creatine. And to me, there are five. So, here they are.
MYTH #1: Creatine is a steroid
TRUTH: This is probably my favorite. Why? Because it’s funny! How anyone can even suggest this is anyone’s idea. Creatine doesn’t even come close to being chemically related to steroids. Creatine is an amino acid found in meats like beef and pork. Aminos are the building blocks of protein. If creatine WAS a steroid, no one would tell you to eat creatine-rich foods.
MYTH #2: You don’t need to supplement with creatine since it is found in certain foods
TRUTH: The fact of the matter is, YOU DO! Why? Well, although certain foods like beef and pork are rich in creatine, the amount they contain is not enough to give you the benefits. To get it, you have a choice: eat truckloads of creatine-rich foods on a daily basis OR buy creatine supplements. Plus, the cooking process would’ve already destroyed most of it.
MYTH #3: Creatine needs to be “cycled”
TRUTH: There are some who would advocate “cycling” creatine (on for a few weeks and then off) but most would agree that taking it consistently would be better. This is because creatine tends to exert most of its benefits once a saturation point has been established.
MYTH #4: Creatine must be “loaded”
TRUTH: Like myth #3, there are some who would strongly suggest this. Loading however, isn’t a necessity. It is simply a way to expedite/speed up the process of saturating your creatine stores. Truth is, even a nominal dose taken over a few weeks will do just fine. This is why some companies like ProMera have creatine products like Con-Cret with labels stating that no loading or even cycling off is required. The good thing about not “loading” is that your creatine supplement stack lasts longer, meaning you SPEND LESS!
MYTH #5: Creatine is not safe for females
TRUTH: WHAT? So, it isn’t safe for females to take pork and beef then? This is nothing but a load of rubbish! Creatine is not a “sexist” supplement. Need I even say more?
With all that out of the way, it is now time to check out what brands of creatine are available. Creatine comes in both pill/capsule and powder form.
For the most widely used creatine pills/capsules, click here.
For the most widely used creatine powders, click here.
Further reading: The Top 5 Best Creatine Benefits
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Everyone wants the best for their money. What is the best sports formula on the market today? What can it do for me? There are benefits to every brand of formula. Certain formulas will aid in recovery time, some will help build your stamina and endurance, others will help you gain muscle to mass. Only a selected few can do it all.
Sports Supplement Weight Gainer This unique sports supplement was built for bodybuilders, athletes, and anyone interested in serious muscle gains. The complex carbohydrate are going to come from maltodextrin, a carbohydrate source that is widely contested. As general information, maltodextrin is technically a complex carbohydrate, however has a very high GI rating (acts much like a sugar). Some favor maltodextrin as a carbohydrate source, while others prefer a low-GI carbohydrate (such as rice, oatmeal, etc). The different types of protein are Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate, Egg Albumen, Hydrolyzed Whey Peptides and Glutamine Peptides. It’s made of mostly whey protein, and a little bit of casein and egg protein – not bad for a weight gainer. The fats are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s), and High Oleic Sunflower Oil. The 3 grams of saturated fats will be coming from the MCT’s found in this product. Sports formula Muscle Builder gives you that hyper-fast recovery time you long for, after an intense workout session. No more carry over fatigue from your last workout session. When you use sports supplements you can attack each new workout session at 100%, leaving nothing up to chance. That is the secret to building more muscle mass, strength, and power. Optimum Nutrition raised the bar for the sports supplement industry when they released the Sports supplement formula.
If your looking to find the best sports supplements online, your going to have to shop strategically and understand all the ingredients in the sports supplements formula. To help yourself out, your going to want to research different ingredients you’ve never heard of by Googling the terms. You want to find thorough reviews and testimonials so you can understand if the product worked well for that person. You don’t want to buy an expensive product that doesn’t work, effective sports supplements can help gain lots of good muscle weight if you are trying to bulk up. I’ve seen so many people that where shrimps, look like muscle pimps after they’ve taken the right sports supplements.
Your workout routine needs to consist of a 5-7 day workout plan with a solid diet. You need to be disciplined and aggressive with your workout routines. You should workout till you cannot move the certain muscle you are targeting so you break muscle and it compounds into more muscle, thus, producing the desired results you’ve been working for. Don’t waste your time taking extensive breaks, count 3-5 minutes after you max out on repetition.
Workout Outside the Gym.
You don’t need a gym membership to get big at all. Start doing pushups, sit ups, squats. There is a workout the help your legs out, your going to want to put your back up against the wall and keep your back straight acting like your sitting down on an invisible chair. Maintain the position until you can no longer maintain the position. Your going to feel a burn around your thighs and buttock muscles. This is a very effective way you can workout your legs. Another effective way is to ride a bike, your going to ride 2-5 miles a day so you can workout the majority of your leg muscles. Riding the bike is said to be the best way to stimulate all your muscles working them out. This is highly advisable to do as you don’t want chicken legs walking around. Legs are looked at by most people as perfection if you have well built legs, however, not many people compliment the legs, it’s more of a mental compliment to the other person. This is why your girlfriend may compliment you if you have nice legs, at least most girls may or may not say something even if you have perfect legs but you for sure will stand out as the most attractive thing if you have built legs, ripped body and a good looking face.
Your Diet Your diet is going to be the most important thing and vital role on developing each one of your muscle groups. Eating high protein foods like chicken, beef, steaks and fish are really important in your diet. You should also eat a lot of pasta and breads which help you gain weight. Take your daily vitamins, sports supplements and creatine to help give you better muscle recovery time.
Drinking a specific fluid everyday is very important on how your body performs. Gatorade and water should be the only things you consume throughout the day, you shouldn’t drink anything else. Your going to see a better endurance rhythm when you workout, short of breath won’t exist in your workouts when you drink water. You will be able to recover your muscle and your supplements will be able to absorb better when you incorporate water only for your fluids. The best thing is your going to feel a lot better when you continue water as your permanent fluid.
As I gave you some very important information on working out the right way you are going to start learning the proper way to working out. Start now by researching all the health and fitness sites so you can gain some very important information and knowledge. Your going to want to understand exactly the good you are doing for your body. Your body is a masterpiece and is like a piece of real estate, the better you take care of it the more valuable your body and yourself will be.
One More Thought Discipline and mindset are going to be the most important role players into the way you get in shape. If your mind isn’t there you won’t have discipline, if you don’t have discipline, you won’t have any sort of motivation to continue working out for long. Working out should be something you do for the rest of your life, not only will you look and feel better, your going to live longer and healthier. This is why you need to develop a positive mindset, so you can endure the pain and work ethics involved when you work out. No one ever said getting in shape is easy. Start by reading books first on positive mindset so you can start your workout plan. You will see that when you workout and get in shape, your going to be more confident in yourself, be able to sleep better, feel happier and simple addictions you had like smoking or eating junk food will not have cravings anymore. Working out will make your life easier if you have certain addictions. Fitness is one way you can stop certain cravings, you won’t like junk food anymore, you won’t know why but it is a good feeling to know those bad cravings will fade away out of your mind now.
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