Tag: Bodybuilding

If your ultimate goal is to pack on the most amount of muscle you possibly can, the exercises you choose to perform matter. Most of the old school movements fall in the category of exercises that allow you to maximize the most amount of tension. Not to say that some of the newer exercises won’t provide you with results, but the risk of injury are much higher and/or the effectiveness of overload is very limited. Muscles understand tension therefore choosing exercises that allow you to successfully progressively overload, will serve as the best options for you for gaining muscle. If you’re unfamiliar with progressive overload please refer to my article “Progressive Overload Is The Key To Continuous Progress In The Gym“.

Plate Presses

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Even though the chest is being contracted because the arms are horizontally adducted in frontal plane of the body, there are other isolation movements such as the the pec dec machine, cable flyes or dumbbell flyes that will allow for a greater way to progressively overload. I’ve perform this exercise in the past just to test it out and what I’ve discovered is that at some point you won’t be able to hold more than a 45lbs plate in your hands. The only way to continue to progress through this movements to stack weights above your body which creates the risk of weight falling on your chest if they happen to slide out of your hands. Very high risk for the reward in my opinion!

Alternating Lat Pull Downs

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This is a popular exercise that a lot of individuals are performing in the gym. It allows for each lat to be isolated individual while using a bilateral attachment. Bilateral simply means both hands are needed to perform the movement. The problem I see with this exercise is that tension isn’t evenly distributed between each lat which can cause imbalances in the future. Instead I suggest used a single handle attachment versus a bar attachment to prevent imbalances and to help strengthen each lat individually.

Behind The Neck Shoulder Presses

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I think we can all agree that shoulder health is extremely important. If you’ve been performing this exercises for some time and have the shoulder mobility to perform it great! But if you don’t and feel pain while performing it, I’d suggest you to stop immediately! This exercise puts the shoulders in a very vulnerable position which is why I’ll suggest to stay away from it. Instead performing the standard military press will be a safer choice being that the arms are in front of the body which is a natural range of motion for the shoulders.

Behind The Neck Pull Downs

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Similar to the Behind The Neck Shoulder Press, this one also puts the shoulders in a vulnerable position. This pull down variation not only recruits the lats it’s also activates the mid back as well which is why I believe a lot of people lean towards it. But again as stated on the shoulder press, if the shoulder mobility is there carry on. But if its not, perform your standard lat pull down in the front of the body which is again a natural movement for the shoulders. Then you can perform a row movement to target the upper back mid back.

Glute Band Work

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While I believe that bands have a place in time in everyone training, I also know that just because you feel a burn in a muscle doesn’t mean it’s the most optimal approach. If you want to maximize the most amount of muscle you can build for your glutes, exercise such hip thrust, deep squats, cable kickbacks & romanian deadlifts are better options because the higher chances to progressively get stronger with these movements. Now I’m not saying that using bands are bad because they have great benefits for untrained individuals or when combining them with weighted exercises. For example if you perform hip thrust with bands around your legs, the force from the bands will cause you continue to push your knees outward throughout the movement, which from experience, has help increase my muscle to mind connection with my glutes. But just doing band work alone won’t give you the same results as the exercises that I listed above. There’s always a better & more effective way!

Every year on January 1st, many individuals attempt to start going to the gym to either improve their health, physical appearance or just to take on a new challenge. New gym members can look at the more experienced lifters and say to themselves “they make it look so easy”. The reality is that is wasn’t always that way. Most of us had to force this habit through constant repetitions for it to become a lifestyle. Anytime you try to do something for the first time it will be tough but if you have the right mindset and continue to educate yourself with credible information, what was once tough before, will become easy for you as well.

Before you even think of stepping foot in the gym have a game plan. With fitness being at an all time high, its easy to find exercises or training programs to follow to get the ball rolling. Use this to your advantage! As an untrained individual, there’s only so much work load your body can handle and going to the gym, performing every exercise/machine for legs as an example may not be the best approach. Instead write out 4-5 exercises to start out with each day and progress through those movements. I like to think of going to the gym the same as going grocery shopping. Typically if we go grocery shopping without a shopping list, we tend to purchase things we don’t necessarily need. Same goes with the gym! If we step foot in the gym without a plan of attack, you will soon find yourself performing all the exercises you see other members doing. More doesn’t always mean better! Start small, progress slowly and you’ll prevent yourself from feeling exhausted from the stimulus of strength training.

The internet exist therefore research fitness professionals who have uploaded tutorials on how to perform certain exercises. If you’re going to begin your journey performing the compound exercises such as Bench, Squats & Deadlifts, I would highly suggest to study on how these are performed due to the high risk of injury if not perform correctly. Some of my favorite YouTubers who provide great content for their viewers are Jeff Nippard, Chris Jones from Pumpchasers, Terron Beckham, OmarIsuf and the list goes on. Use these videos to educate yourself on the proper way to remain safe in gym while still making progress throughout your journey. Its 2019 now so there’s no excuse to not know how to do something!

If your goal is weight loss, patience is key. You didn’t gain the unwanted weight overnight. Its something that accumulated through your past bad habits so don’t expect change immediately. Instead trust the process and monitor your progress on a weekly basis. At my heaviest weight at around 300 lbs, it took about a year and a half to lose the weight through trial & error and finding new ways to stick to my diet to remain consistent with my new fitness lifestyle. While their are some foods you should absolutely stay away from, there are so many foods you can enjoy that will only help you reach the progress you desire. Focus on those foods and cook them to your liking. The most common mistake most people make is focusing on the things we can’t do which creates a huge limitation on our lives because of our old habits. I suggest you make a list of foods you can eat and pick and choose from there. That way you have several options to choose from, you continue to change your eating habits and your body and/or health will start to improving. It’s a marathon not a sprint so take your time and make the necessary adjustment as needed.

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas slowly approaching, the thought of losing track of our fitness goals has cross the minds of a lot of people. The holidays are meant to be around your family and friends while enjoying those special foods that are only cooked once a year. But if you’re like me, you don’t want to lose yourself in the satisfaction of consuming extra calories. Enjoy it but don’t over do it!

The holidays are very social times where alcoholic drinks may be served. If you wished to save yourself some calories, either drink your choice of alcohol straight or mix it with a zero calorie juice, soda or sparkling water. Granted there are calories in alcohol but if you choose a zero calorie mixer, you’ll save some calories to enjoy other foods and treats throughout the day.

Sometimes when we are around family, it can be hard to say no to food. I completely understand. Growing up in a Dominican family its an insult to turn down food. But I’ll say this don’t just eat everything that is offered to you because you don’t want to be rude. If you have goals and don’t want to set yourself back, don’t afraid to polity tell your family member or friend “no thank you!”. Some cultures may take it personal but don’ worry too much about it. They will eventually get over it and act like you never turn their dish down once the drinks start flowing.

The best way to prepare yourself for a night of eating is getting a workout in first thing in the morning. If you have a specific program that you’re following by all means do that. But if you have some flexibility with your training routine, I would highly suggest full body, upper body or lower body training session. This will ensure that you stimulate multiple muscles groups before your big feast in the evening. I personally enjoy a upper body session,2-3 exercises per muscle group, 3-4 sets each exercise and 10-15 rep range. I’m able to burn away my glycogen stores also known as carbohydrates after digestion and make room for all the delicious carbohydrates I’ll be having that evening.

If there was a day to not skip cardio, this would be the day. Typically when I skip cardio, I’m usually following a strict diet when I leave the gym. But on the holidays when I know I’ll be following the “See-Food Diet”, I shoot for a 10-15 minutes cardio warm up and end with 20-30 minutes once I’m done weight training. Cardio adds to the calories burned during your training session. The more calories you burn at the gym, the more calories you can enjoy when it’s time to chow down. 

If you followed these tips but still overindulged over the holidays it’s not the end of the world. Below are some helpful tips to follow the day after to get yourself back on track!

  • Drink at least a gallon of water to help release water from the body.
  • Eat a high protein diet! Protein has a thermogenic effect meaning your body burns calories during digestion.
  • Consume at least 25-35 grams of fiber! Fiber also has a thermogenic effect and helps you stay regular to eliminate waste from the body.
  • Go to the gym, get your workout in  and make sure you do at least 20-30 minutes of cardio. Don’t try to burn the calories you consumed the night before. Just get your workout done and allow your body to regulate from cleaning up your diet!

Building muscle is a slow process especially for natural lifters. It takes time, effort and patience to develop the physique you envisioned for yourself. I’ve made mistakes during my own journey and helped identify mistakes from clients I’ve trained and/or coached. Building muscle isn’t an easy task but by avoiding the mistakes below, you’ll increase your chances of  developing that physique you desire. 

Practice Proper Form: If you aren’t performing movements correctly, you could be wasting your time and/or putting yourself at risk for injury. Performing an exercise in a Full ROM(Range of Motion) will give you better results than a partial ROM also known as “cheat reps” especially on those big compound lifts.  I suggest everyone make a list of the exercises you perform in the gym that you’re not quite comfortable with. Then spend some time looking up tutorials or demonstrations online of how to perform them correctly. Always be a student. Always be willing to learn. That’s the recipe to become better.

Use Progressive Overload: In order for your body to change, you must continue to challenge it. Doing the same exercises with the same weight, number of sets and reps will definitely cause your muscle building progress to stall. Progressive overload simply means in order for your muscles to grow, strength to be gained or improve performance, your body must be forced to adapt to a stimulus that is greater than what it has previously experienced.  Please refer to the “Progressive Overload Is The Key To Continuous Progress In The Gym” on how you can incorporate progressive overload into your current training.

Too Much Cardio: Even though cardio is a great tool to keep additional body fat off as well as getting blood flow to muscles to improve recovery, doing too much cardio can add to muscle loss instead of muscle gain. Obviously muscle isn’t being built while performing cardio on the treadmill, stair master or elliptical therefore performing more that is needed is only adding or creating a deficit to your calories. In simple terms muscles need calories to grow. Burning too many calories doing cardio will only take away from the calories your muscle could have used for recovery. 

Track Calories: Most people typically track their calories when they are trying to lose weights but fail to do it when they are trying to gain weight. The same way a weight loss plateau can occur, so can a weight gain plateau. This is where you’ll need to increase calories to continue to gain weight at a healthy pace. If you don’t know exactly what you’ve been doing before, how can you know for sure what adjustments need to be made in the future? Easy fix just track your calories and you thank yourself later!

Drink Enough Water: The blood that runs through our bodies is primarily made up of water. Aside from delivering oxygen to muscle and organs, our bloods other function is to deliver nutrients to our cells and transport waste out of the body. This is where water consumption is very important for muscle building. Even though you can build muscle while being in a small calorie deficit, most individuals are in a surplus of calories. So the more food you eat, the more water you should drink. This allows those nutrients from our diet get to our muscles to recovery. Drinking enough water has other benefits such as preventing muscle cramps and improving muscle contractions. If you want to guarantee great training sessions, drink enough water throughout the day.

Prioritize Rest: Rest is the most important piece to the puzzle. After an intense training session, rest allows the muscles you have broken down to heal and recover. Most people have the theory that the muscle growth occurs during a training session. That is so far from the truth. In fact during training all that is taking place is breaking down muscle tissues but through proper nutrition and rest, muscle grow bigger, better & stronger.

Beginning a weight loss journey can be quite challenging. Learning about healthy food options, training routines, counting calories, etc. but once you get the ball rolling, you notice the scale moving almost immediately. Reason being is that if you’ve been eating junk for some time, your body is holding on to water due to high amounts of sodium and lack of water intake. Also lack of micro nutrients such as fiber that aids in digestion. This is very common for individuals to lose up to 5 lbs weight loss in the first week after cleaning up their diet. After a few weeks or even months of committing to your new lifestyle, you may notice the weight loss slowing down or stop all together. You may be asking yourself, “what do I do now?”.

There are several things you can do to overcome a weight loss plateau. Lets cover what you can do on the nutrition side of things. Every individual requires a certain amount of calories to maintain their current body weight. As your weight goes down, so does the amount of calories you need to maintain your new body weight. So what does this mean for you? I always suggest others to track their calories especially when weight loss is the goal. Tracking your calories gives you a baseline of what you’ve been doing in the past in order to adjust for the future. The reason for the plateau is that the calories that you’ve started out with can very be your new maintenance calories for after dropping some pounds. In order to create a new deficit, you will have to decrease your calories again to make sure your body is burning more calories than you’re consuming. Easy yet simple just make sure you don’t drop the calories too low. Refer to “Losing Weight Too Quickly? A Bad Thing” article.

For those of you who have been dieting for while and you’re calories are pretty low already, you may not want to eat less. In this case the amount of cardio that you do each week is the next thing you can adjust. As an online coach, I give my clients weekly amounts of cardio that they need to complete. Cardio adds to the deficit that you are already getting from the diet. When the plateaus come about, either adding another session of cardio or increasing the amount for the current cardio session(s), will create a larger deficit. Low steady state cardio is perfect for those who want to burn some extra calories without the feeling on being fatigue or it affecting recovery. Cardio is your friend when it comes to weight loss. Use it as a tool to complement your current diet.

Not all of us have the time to spend more time in the gym. You may be eating low calories and work a job that is highly demanding of your time and adding 15-20 minutes extra for cardio just won’t work for you. If time is not on your side throughout your journey, your training routine can be manipulated. Let’s say your current training routine has you performing one exercise at a time and resting roughly 45-60 seconds. Pairing exercises in a “super-set” will keep your heart rate up longer which will help you burn more calories. “Super-set” simply means you perform one exercise for a certain amount of reps or rep range then immediately perform another exercise and then you rest. Implementing tools such as “super-sets” increases your training intensity which can help overcome a plateau as well as get you in and out of the gym that much sooner.

These are all things you can apply to overcome your current or future weight loss plateaus. Even though they all can help continue further weight loss, I don’t recommend adjusting everything all at once. Troubleshoot the weight loss stall one aspect at a time. This will ensure that you are not losing weight too quickly and instead just creating a small enough of a deficit to continue losing a healthy amount of weight which is 1-2 lbs per week. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it. But if it is in fact broken, look for the one thing that you can adjust but is still sustainable throughout the duration of your weight loss journey.

The supplement industry has grown dramatically over years due to the increase in the fitness community. Anyone with money to spend can create a supplement company in the matter of weeks. Dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA like pharmaceutical drugs before they reach the market, therefore potentially putting the customers at risk of consuming “unapproved drugs”. These drugs have potential of causing serious health issues. Supplement companies have customers from all fitness levels to market their products. From bodybuilders to cross fitters to the average person in the gym, products are constantly being advertised across all social media platforms and fitness expos. I’m not here to bad mouth any supplement companies because I truly believe in some products that truly work. But just because they work, doesn’t mean you necessarily need them.

 

There’s a place and time where I believe supplements are beneficial. Supplements shouldn’t replace real food. Supplements are meant to fill in certain gaps in your nutrition. As an online trainer/coach I provide my clients with specific macro nutrients that I want them to reach every day. Depending on the individual, protein may be a bit higher than what they were previously accustomed to. If consuming the desire protein intake becomes difficult to reach, adding a protein supplement can help them reach your daily protein intake without having to consume another meal. Some individuals like myself can force an additional meal easily, but for someone who can’t, adding a protein supplement can definitely assist with that gap.

 

Supplement companies are in the money business meaning that the lower the cost to create these products, the more profit they will earn. It’s a business and every business has a goal to turn the biggest profit. Some companies have sold the public dreams on what there products can really accomplish. I remember reading a pre-workout label that guaranteed 8lbs of muscle in just 8 weeks! Now let’s be realistic, not even illegal substances can guarantee that. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. But there are a few approaches you can take so that you aren’t being taken advantage of by these companies:

 

  1. Buy from trusted companies! New companies may be out to make a quick dollar off of you but a company that has been established for quite some time will have a lot more to lose by trying to deceive their customers. Simply do your research and read/watch reviews on these products.
  2. Read the nutritional labels! Beware of proprietary blends where companies don’t disclose specific amount for each ingredient. Instead they provide a total of the variety of ingredients. This is extremely common in pre-workouts. Pre-workout ingredients need a specific amount that make them effective. If a proprietary blend in is a product, you don’t actually know if the effective dosages are included for each ingredient.
  3. Don’t just follow your favorite bodybuilder or fitness icon! These individuals make money based on the amount of people who use their discount code. Only support if they are in fact promoting a solid product.
  4. Don’t shop at a local store! You’ve never taking supplements before so take some time research why you need them, the effects and the benefits. The internet is a great way to educate yourself on practically anything. Certain representatives at local a GNC or vitamin shop don’t educate themselves or personally use all the products in the store therefore mislead you to buying something you don’t actually need or even want.