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The Best Workout Routine to Build Muscle – Get Results Fast!

Ask almost any bodybuilder, powerlifter, or other big, strong dude, and he’ll tell you there’s no one way to train for building muscle and strength. Even so, I constantly get guys asking me “what’s the best workout routine to build muscle?” “What’s the one way to train that will really get me the best results?”

Truth is, most of these guys aren’t really looking to learn any valuable information or put in any serious work at the gym. They’re looking for a magic bullet, that “secret” workout that will get them a big chest, strong arms, and washboard abs by yesterday. That’s not going to happen!

But then again, you’re not that kind of trainee, are you? You really do want to know exactly how to build muscle, and you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen. You just want to know what the best workout routine to build muscle is so that you can maximize the time you put in at the gym! Truth be told, there is no single, best routine, but there are a few rules you MUST follow to make quick progress. Tailor your training to these principles, and you WILL get bigger and stronger faster than you ever thought possible…

1. Squatting for Size

Many an old-timer, washed-up meathead will tell you that squats are the king of all exercises. Don’t ignore them just because they aren’t in their prime – they’re right! Squats are truly the best overall mass-building exercise you can do, but they have unfortunately gone by the wayside as companies have developed new and fancy leg press and hack squat machines. Those have their place too, but they will NEVER replace the good ol’ squat.

You can spend years perfecting your squat technique and routine, but here are a few tips that will put you head and shoulders above 99% of the other gym rats. First, take a medium-width stance, slightly wider than your shoulders. Don’t buy into that “close stance to work the quads” crap, your quads will get bigger as long as you squat big weights.

Next, place the bar low on your upper back, pinching your shoulder blades back as tight as possible to create a “shelf” for the bar with your shoulders. Take the bar out of the rack in a controlled but firm manner, KNOWING you’re going to dominate that weight. Once you’ve taken a couple steps back, fill your belly with air (not your chest!), and sit BACK and down into the squat.

That backwards motion with your hips is essential for bringing your hamstrings and glutes into the equation and allowing you to lift some serious weight. You’ll never squat big if you just worry about your quads! Once the crease of your hip is at the same level as your knees (this is called parallel), explode back up to the starting position.

As far as actual routines go, there are tons of ways to train the squat. For a beginner or intermediate, I would recommend a routine where you’ve got one “lower body” or “legs” day where you focus on squatting as your primary exercise, working up to one or two heavy sets of 4-6 reps. You should strive to increase the weight on these sets week after week. Follow up your squatting with other leg exercises like lunges and leg presses, and you’re good to go. Remember, your legs have as much or more muscle mass than your entire upper body, so get them big!

2. Strength? Size? It’s all the Same!

If you read any conventional bodybuilding “wisdom” these days, you’ll see most guys talking as if size and strength are two totally different goals, and that you have to focus on one or the other. What a bunch of crap! Stereotypes of the “all show and no go” bodybuilder aside, have you really ever seen someone who was massively muscular and NOT strong? No way!

The thing is, your muscles grow in response to certain stimuli. There are a number of ways to stimulate this growth, but the only one that can work in the long term is getting stronger. Think about it – if you increase your bench by 100 pounds, do you think you’ll have bigger pecs? If you take your max on the squat and get strong enough to rep it 10 times, do you think your legs will be bigger? Of course!

I don’t care what kind of workout routine to build muscle you end up doing. Traditional bodybuilding split, powerlifting workout, 5 x 5, it all works. The thing that really matters is that you get stronger! If you train your heart out but don’t worry about actually getting stronger, I guarantee that you will be the same size as you are now, six months or a year from now. Now THAT is wasted time.

There are tons and tons of ways to go about getting stronger, but the main thing you should worry about is gradually adding weight to the bar, week after week, for sets of 4-6 reps. Fewer or more reps is alright if you really want to, but the important thing is to always focus on the weight. Don’t get too eager, either. A five pound increase per week on the squat or bench may seem like next to nothing, but if you did that for a few months, you’d have made over a 100 pound increase in your strength!

3. Massive Food for Massive Gains

Hopefully you already know this, but just in case it’s not drilled into your head yet, I’ll say it again – nutrition is THE most important aspect of bodybuilding. You can have the perfect routine and stick to it like a champion, but at the end of the day, your body still needs enough nutrients to repair damage muscle tissue and build it bigger than it was before.

Proper bodybuilding nutrition is actually somewhat well-known these days, so I’ll just give you the quick and dirty on how to eat for lean muscle gains. First, you want tons of protein. If you get one gram of protein per pound of your own bodyweight per day (not counting the incidental amounts in grains), then you’re on the right track.

Second, you’ve got to get extra calories from fats and carbs to have the energy to train and grow. Don’t bother getting out calculator or counting calories, though. Just make sure you eat most of your carbs before and after training and eat fats with your proteins during the rest of the day. For carbs, eat nutritious foods like oats, other grains, and potatoes. For fats, take in plenty of olive oil, nuts, avocados, and some red meat.

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Polynesian Diet Strategies – 7 Tips to Help You Lose Weight Permanently

I am constantly amazed when I hear stories of Polynesians who suddenly passed away from heart attack, diabetes, and even colon cancer, at such a young age. My grandfather was very young when he died from colon cancer. My mother who is now 62 has suffered from a long history of chronic illnesses, arthritis, stroke, and now has diabetes. Outside of my immediate family, I see other Polynesians suffering from diet induced diseases, and I fear they will not live to see their grandchildren. So what is happening to our people, and what can we do to stop it?

I am going to give you seven of the best tips you can implement to lose weight, and get back your health starting right now, but first I want to tell you a little about myself.

I am a Polynesian male in my late thirties. I was born and raised in New Zealand to loving parents of six children. I came to the United States in the late nineties to attend school. After the first year of College, I had gained some extra weight, about 15lbs. No big deal right, wrong. As each year passed I was gaining more and more unsightly body fat.

This was extremely abnormal for me, since I was fairly active and played a great deal of competitive sports, such as rugby, basketball, tennis and volleyball. I have always had a good sense about being in shape and was growing frustrated at the elusive body fat accumulating day to day. I ignored it for a long time until one day I was flipping through some photos I just developed. I saw a shot of myself where my back was facing the camera. For a brief moment I was confused as to who that was. I didn’t even recognize myself. I was embarrassed and ashamed to realize that the way I thought I looked, and how I actually looked were completely different. Is this what people were seeing?

At this point I bought a pair of scales to assess the damage. After three years of denial I weighed a hefty 246lbs. I was stunned. This wasn’t the worst part. I was beginning to have bad chest pains, and experienced dizziness and shortness of breath. I felt tired all the time. I was also becoming more and more depressed. So what was going on? Well, in a nutshell, I was eating the wrong foods, at the wrong times, and way too much of it.

I decided I was going to embark on a mission, to lose 30lbs, after all how hard can that be right. I mean I am a hard worker, should be a snap. So I did what most people do, head out to the local gym, sign up for a membership and personal trainer, bought all the protein bars, shakes and supplements they recommended. I even subscribed to a fitness magazine and purchased products they recommended. All in all I had spent a small fortune in order to get started, but this was fine because I was really committing myself.

I spent the next 3 months working out with my trainer twice a week, and on my own four times a week, with only Sunday off. My workouts consisted of 35-45mins of cardio six days a week and weight training for 60 Min’s 5 days a week. At first I started to lose weight by 4-5lbs a week. I was really excited, then slowly but surely, it started to drop to 2lbs a week, then not even one. My trainer told me ‘we need to tweak your diet a little, and work a little harder’. Believe me when I tell you I was busting my butt to get in shape. There were days when I was the only one in the gym at 1.30am doing cardio. The cleaners would joke around saying I needed to pay rent I was there so much.

And then it happened, at my next weigh in day I had actually gained 2lbs. My trainer assured me this was muscle gain, and not to worry as the scales don’t distinguish between muscle gain, and fat gain, or muscle loss and fat loss for that matter. I was skeptical because I felt so much weaker. I couldn’t bench or leg press what I could 3 months earlier, and if I was really gaining muscle, shouldn’t I be stronger. It didn’t make sense to me. Nevertheless I continued on to the end of our scheduled training program. When all was said and done I weighed 227lbs. I had lost 19lbs, not bad, but a far cry from my goal of 30lbs.

The worst thing about it, was that I didn’t look much different, just smaller. It was discouraging to me to think I had worked so hard for 3 months and was still not happy with the way I looked. I was still flabby, still undefined, and still felt tired all the time, some days even more tired than when I was heavier. Then it dawned on me, the trainers at the gym had taken specific courses and certifications to help their clients get into better shape. Perhaps they were not specific enough for me. I started to pay a lot more attention to the things I ate, the types of foods, as well as how they affected me, even the foods recommended by my trainer which I had taken as gospel. Here is what I found.

1. Many of the carbohydrates I was eating, even the healthy fibrous carbs, had an adverse affect on me.

2. I could stuff myself with veges and fruits all day long and still be hungry.

3. I would eat less then 36g of fat a day for weeks and still be flabby

4. Eating the forbidden red meat made me feel strong and induced powerful workouts

5. Eating coconut, a food rich in saturated fats curbed my hunger, and accelerated my fat loss

6. Eating larger meals less often, gave me unbelievable energy, despite the accepted idea of eating smaller frequent meals.

7. Healthy grains, such as oatmeal, and wheat bread slowed my weight loss.

8. Cardio sessions left me feeling weak and depleted, and you guessed it, still smooth, not cut

9. Weight training energized me

10. All the protein shakes I was using were making me fat

11. White rice surprisingly did not

12. Although yams were sweeter than potatoes, they helped my progress, where potatoes hindered

13. I could eat a lot, and I mean a lot of fish, and still get lean

I realize now that there is a uniqueness to the Polynesian body and how many of the accepted laws and practices of the fitness industry do not apply to us.

Last year I travelled to Cambodia. While I was there I couldn’t help but notice how slender and healthy the people of that culture were, despite being a third world country, or perhaps due to it. Obesity was practically non existent, and I thought to myself there must be something to the way they eat. I really doubt the average Cambodian has a membership to Golds Gym, and I didn’t see them out running all the time. Many of them where just sitting around on the streets.

When I flew back to the US my first stop was San Fransisco Airport, and there was no mistaking being back in America. Eight out of ten people I saw were either overweight or obese. I thought more about the Cambodian culture. What did they eat so ordinarily that kept them in shape? Then it came to me. They eat the foods their bodies have evolved to assimilate. It was an epiphany of mass proportion. Once I realised this I could apply it to myself right. Well, I couldn’t have been more right.

I began to research more and more about my heritage. Where did I come from? Who are my parents? Where are they from? What did the people from that region of the world eat before the introduction of commercially processed foods? Now I was getting somewhere. It all led to genetics.

I researched several case studies from the early sixties concerning cultures from the isles of the sea. It was amazing to see the differences in what they ate and how they obtained their food. It was also sad to see how their health has plummeted as they have strayed from that food. It has long been understood that in order to discover truth, you must go to the source. Unchanged and untainted, it is the wellspring from which all knowledge will flow. Cheap imitations may mimic the truth, but from their fruits, they will be revealed.

What I am speaking of are fake foods, fake fats, fake sugars, engineered additives, harmful chemicals, and unnatural preservatives, powders, shakes, and meal replacements to name a few. All in all they eventually reveal themselves through unsightly bodies, crippling health issues, and the loss of quality of life. As soon as I started eliminating all processed foods, refined sugars, and all so called health foods, my fat loss skyrocketed. In just a few weeks, I had lost 14lbs, and the weight continued to come off. My energy levels were very high, and this made me more excited and motivated to exercise. Over the next 3 months I had lost a significant amount of body fat and a total of 38lbs not including the 19lbs I had lost working my butt off. Funny thing was that I was working out half as much as I was to lose those 19lbs, as I did to lose the 38lbs. I was really onto something. All in all I had lost a total of 57lbs.

One day at the gym, a trainer was blown away by how I looked. He had the audacity to ask me ‘what happened?’, as if I had survived a life threatening disease. He then asked ‘what’s your secret’, and I found myself caught in the irony of telling a trainer that my secret was diet and exercise. This was the same advice I had paid over $900 for three months earlier. If only that advice were the right diet, and the right exercise for a Polynesian. Well, back to genetics.

I discovered something very interesting about my heritage. My parents are from the Polynesian islands. My father was born in Lotopa Upolu, and my mother in Suva Fiji. Genetic mapping shows that these cultures have strong links to the indigenous people of Taiwan, and that they are more closely linked to this culture than any other. I thought, hm, seems plausible; Polynesians love chop suey, eat a lot of rice, love their fish, even eat it raw like the Asian cultures. All I did was eat more of the foods they would have eaten on those islands fifty years ago, and why, because these are the foods my body has evolved to assimilate, despite the fact that my diet can contain as much as 60% saturated fats. Yep, you read it right. I can eat a lot more fat and be lean and healthy if they are natural fats, but I cannot eat a small amount of sugar and get away with it.

I went on to discover many important aspects of health that are specific to Polynesians, which cannot be addressed in the scope of this article, but here are some guide lines to help you lose weight safely and permanently.

Tip #1 You must lower your carbohydrates and eliminate processed foods

Before the white man showed up on the islands, organic foods were called ordinary foods. Nothing was processed, and the work effort alone to provide food for your family would be enough to keep anyone lean.

Tip #2 Increase your fiber intake

Tip #3 Drink more water

Get rid of sodas, sports drinks, alcohol, diet beverages, and caffeinated drinks, with the exception of green tea. Polynesians can benefit a great deal from green tea as it has been used by their ancestors (Asians) for medicinal purposes for more than 2000 years. Can’t be wrong.

Tip #4 Eat more protein

Eat whole foods in the form of organic pork, organic beef, and fish. Hey this is the best part. It’s what we love and our bodies are designed for it.

Tip #5 Replace your olive, vegetable and corn oils with coconut oil

Although olive oil is highly recommended and a mainstay of most diets, last time I checked no islanders descended from Italians. Again believe me when I say, our bodies have evolved to assimilate coconut oil better than any other. Various studies show that although there is little nutritional value in coconut oil, many people lose weight by eating it.

In the islands coconut and coconut cream is used in everything. Sixty percent of the normal diet is comprised of saturated fat compared to the typical western diet of thirty five to forty five percent fat, yet the islanders had less heart disease and less blood cholesterol. Diabetes, and colon cancer were completely absent before the introduction of processed foods. Problems arise when you combine these high natural oil diets with refined sugars, and processed foods containing chemicals, additives and preservatives that wreak havoc on the typical Polynesian body type. Things like spam, and canned corned beef that use fake fats are dangerous, and should not be eaten.

Tip #6 Avoid these foods at all cost

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Refined sugar

Fake fats such as trans fats and partially hydrogenated oil

Artificial sweeteners and diet foods

Dairy

Soy products

If you are eliminating all processed foods you will not have a difficulty with most of these. Also avoid processed meats, such as bacon and deli meats as they can contain modified salts, sugars and dangerous nitrates.

Tip #7 Keep a food journal

You may be surprised at how much you eat, or how little. If you keep a journal, you will have an accurate record of how your body is affected by different foods. This is a very useful tool.

Obviously there are so many things you can learn that break down the very specifics of dieting techniques, but trust me, these simple techniques will work for you as they have for me. I have kept the weight off for six years now, and feel terrific. I do recommend that you do more research as I did, to learn everything you can about successful weight loss, and how it relates to you specifically. Don’t be disheartened by all the information that is available out there. A lot of the diet strategies and work out programs won’t work for us, but some of them will. Educate yourself, for knowledge is power. Nothing is more important than investing in your own health, and that of your family.

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Benefits of Calisthenics for Speed Training

Calisthenics Benefits for Speed Training Explained

Calisthenics are perfect for getting in proper shape for running and for gaining the break-neck speed you need to win trophies and make headlines. But some runners and speed training athletes feel that calisthenics aren’t necessary for getting faster. And some are under the misconception that calisthenics training actually makes you slower. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The following calisthenics benefits for speed training should clear the matter up nicely.

Introduces Variety Into Your Training

One of the best benefits of engaging in calisthenics is the fact that you are getting tons of variety in your speed training workout. When you incorporate knee raises, pushups, crunches and planks with very few rests in between sets, you are conditioning your body to be as fast as possible. Remember to keep pushing yourself and to keep trying out different exercises so that you can condition your body even more.

Improves Coordination

When you speak of calisthenics benefits for speed training, you can’t leave out coordination. Coordination plays a huge role when it comes to how fast you are, and if your coordination is off just a little bit you won’t be able to increase your turnover rate and other runners will eventually blow right past you. But if you engage in various calisthenics a few times per week, you’ll become much more coordinated and your speed will increase as a result.

You’ll Get Stronger

One of the most obvious calisthenics benefits for speed training include the fact that you will be getting stronger with each session. Of course you’ll need to make sure you’re getting plenty of fuel in the form of healthy foods and beverages and that you’re getting plenty of rest, but if you do calisthenics in the form of pushups and leg raises and all the other exercises you tend to do when you’re training, you will get stronger and that will increase your power and, ultimately, your speed.

What Does It All Mean?

Hopefully by how you are convinced that you need calisthenics in your training regimen if you want to develop the kind of speed that makes others, including college scouts, take notice. You don’t want to be the slowest person on the field and you certainly don’t want to be second place. You want to win, and that’s why you train every chance you get, using all the tools you’ve been taught in order to carry you towards your winning goals. But if you don’t include calisthenics with the rest of your tools, you will eventually reach your glass ceiling and that’s where you’ll stay. So instead, realize the calisthenics benefits for speed training and train the way the experts do. Calisthenics are not ‘old-school’ or outdated, and they certainly won’t make you any slower. Instead, they’ll make you more coordinated, stronger and faster than ever. If you don’t believe it, try incorporating calisthenics into your normal routine and you’ll reach any speed-training goals you reach for yourself, guaranteed.

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Does Power 90 Work? An Honest Review

In 2001 personal trainer Tony Horton released ‘Power 90’ through Beachbody, a fitness company dedicated to delivering at-home workout routines. Power 90 was so successful that in 2004 Tony Horton released P90X, a program that has gone on to sell 2 million units, become a household name and favorite celebrity workout. However, even as P90X claimed the spotlight, Power 90 continued to sell, and today remains one of the most popular at-home fitness programs on the market. In this article we ask: has Power 90 remained a relevant workout? Can it deliver outstanding results? Has it not been superseded by P90X?

First a brief overview of the Power 90 workout itself: meant to take 90 days, the workout is designed to pass you through 4 stages of gradually increasing intensity as you cycle through six distinct workouts contained on 2 DVD’s. These workouts consist of two ‘Sculpt Circuit’ workouts, two ‘Sweat Cardio’ workouts and two ‘Ab Ripper’ routines. The onus is on the user to decide when they are ready to transition from one difficulty level to the next; Power 90 clearly states that you need to listen to your own body and progress at your own rate.

The actual workouts are quite brief. The longest runs at Sculpt and Sweat workouts range from 29 to 42 minutes, while the ab routines are very brief, ranging from 4 to 6 minutes. Anybody familiar with the P90X workout will recognize the components that go into each of these routines. Sweat Cardio begins with yoga as a warm up, and then continues into a variety of cardio exercises including martial art strikes that culminate in a stretch/yoga cool down. The Sculpt Circuit also begins with some stretching and light yoga, and then proceeds through a weight resistance routine that is demonstrated with both free weights and resistance bands. As such, they progress through a mix of different styles and workouts in their 40 minute durations.

What is immediately apparent upon watching these workouts is that they do not have the intensity or production values of P90X. The setting is a bland, featureless studio space and you will definitely want your own music playing to keep you pumped. The workouts themselves are simply not as extreme as those in P90X, given that not only is their duration brief but the actual exercises will fit within the upper reaches of most people’s comfort levels.

Is this a bad thing? No. Of course having a beautiful stage with all the props and effects such as P90X boasts of is more impressive, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the workout. The only effect such a cheesy setup has is to make it more difficult to take the workouts as seriously. However, anybody who is serious about getting physical results should be able to look past this early iteration of a Beachbody product made when the company was still young, and focus on the exercises themselves.

It is important to note that P90X and Power 90 are meant for different audiences. P90X is literally an extreme program, and should only be attempted by those in already good physical condition. This is not meant to be a provocative statement designed to sting your pride and goad you into ‘manning’ up, but rather the plain truth. P90X is very, very hard, and just as somebody setting out on learning how to run should not adopt an Olympic marathon routine, novices and those who have not exercised in some time should not attempt P90X.

Instead, Power 90 is the perfect program for them. This is where Power 90’s moderate intensity level is of value. While anybody can push their workouts while undertaking this routine to their personal maximum and thus achieve greater results, Power 90 is a more flexible routine that lends itself to a greater variety of athletes and people.

In conclusion: the principles behind Power 90 are solid. If you follow the workouts and the nutrition guide for three months, you should achieve impressive results. The degree of results will depend on your dedication and effort; Power 90 will tell you how to achieve them, but it will fall on you to do the exercises and eat correctly. Has it been superseded by P90X? No. It is the logical precursor to P90X, and should be seen as a challenging routine for all people interested in going from a beginning or mid-level of fitness to a more advanced position. What is required on your part is that you set aside ego and pride and ask yourself where you are at, and how best to achieve the results you desire. Some athletes can jump right into P90X, while the rest of us have to earn that level of requisite fitness. Which is exactly where Power 90 fits into the picture.

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Five Keys to Increase Vertical Jump – The Pillars of a Successful Jump Program

So you want to increase your vertical jump? It’s not that complicated, but it will be a huge help in all kinds of sports. Obviously, if you want to dunk in basketball or go to the net in volleyball, you need to get up high. Not your sport? Increasing your vertical jump will help in other sports. It will make you quicker off the blocks in track, give you explosive speed off the line of scrimmage in football, and build quick and powerful legs for skiing. But how do you jump higher? Here are five key components to a jump training program.

1. Plyometric Jump Workouts

Plyometric exercises consist of a stretch-lengthening phase, followed by rapid contraction. In plain English, this means that you shock the muscle and then immediately rebound. For jump training, research shows that the most effective exercise for increasing vertical leap is the depth jump or drop jump. In a depth or drop jump, you start out on a box, jump off the box and explode up with a maximal effort (after a nice warm up of course). Sports physiologists have tested many different heights of boxes, but somewhere around 10-12 inches is enough to get most of the benefit with a lot less risk of injury than jumping from a 20+ inch box. Some key considerations:

  • Quality not quantity. You’re going to rest between each jump and you’re not going to be doing a lot of jumps per session. Most importantly, want to measure every jump. Once you start losing height, stop immediately. You don’t want to practice sub-maximal effort. You want to train yourself to go higher.
  • Not too often. Since you are doing maximal effort, you can’t do this every day. Depending on age and base fitness level, 2-3 times per week should be about right.

2. Strength Training and Olympic Lifting

Power is the ability to develop force rapidly. Plyometrics works explosive power. Strength is the ability to develop maximal strength. For this, you’ll want to go to the classics: squats and deadlifts. In all cases, paying close attention to the spine and avoiding any curvature is essential to your health. There is correlation between vertical jump and leg power on the one hand, and leg strength on the other, so you need to work strength to be your best.

Deadlifts, both straight and bent leg, are great exercises for strengthening the “dorsal chain”, that is the muscles of your backside from the back itself through the glutes (butt) and hamstrings. Start light and build up over several workouts.

The traditional squat is a somewhat dangerous exercise and some of the top strength coaches, like Mike Boyle, recommend against it even for their pro football players. A safer alternatives is the front squat, where you rest the bar on your clavicle. This encourages good form and inhibits you from curving at the spine or leaning too far forward and also challenges your core muscles. Leading coaches like Boyle and Gray Cook actually prefer single-leg squats. These are very safe, a killer workout and will reveal imbalances in your strength. I find it best not to go too low. Some people with poor balance may try to cheat and stay too high. So a good guide is to do it near a bench press bench and sink down until your butt just touches, but doesn’t rest on the bench. If you’re 6’10” that may still be too low. Essentially, you want to go to where your thigh is parallel to the floor, but not too much further as that puts huge stress on the knees.

Once you’re comfortable with these exercises, you’re ready to move onto Olympic lifting. Studies have shown that of all the strength exercises, the power clean is the best predictor of the vertical jump ability. Ideally, you’ll get proper instruction from a qualified trainer as this is a complex exercise, but there are some good instructional videos on YouTube as well. Essentially, a power clean is a deadlift that brings the bar all the way to the shoulders.

This requires building speed with your legs through the initial phase so that the momentum brings the bar past the hips and you can sink into it and get the bar on the shoulders. Please do not do a power clean from that description. I have longer descriptions on my website, but even better is to get an actual trainer to help you learn this exercise. The only point I want to make here is that, like jumping itself, the power clean is an explosive, compound exercise. Because of that, it works much the same pathways as jumping and overloads the muscles in the same way, so it is fantastic component for any jump training program. Did I mention that you should get proper instruction? Please!

3. Core Strengthening

Quick, what’s the favorite exercise of Kadour Ziani, world-record holder in the vertical jump? Squats? Plyometrics? Nope. It’s spiders. To do a spider, you lie on the ground face down, spread eagle in an X. Then you lift up so still in an X, you’re on your fingers and toes. From there you can just hold it or even “spider” around, “walking” back and forth or going round in circles. It’s a killer core exercise.

So what in the world does core strengthening have to do with vertical leap? Simple: core strength will give you rigidity in your torso. So when your legs generate that massive force you’re building through plyometrics and strength training, you want to transfer that force into vertical leap, not dissipate in a wet-noodle body.

If you’re not ready for spiders, you can start with front and side planks and back extensions. Front planks are basically like a pushup position, but you hold it at the top for 1-4 minutes depending on how strong you are. Side planks are like that, but turned 90 degrees, so your chest faces the wall, not the floor. In back extensions, you put your hip cushion with your feet under a roller on a Roman Chair. If you don’t have one in your gym (I don’t), you can use an exercise ball for your hips and put your feet under a dumbbell rack. And while you’re on the exercise ball, turn over and do some crunches on top of the ball, which gives you a longer range of motion and a better workout that doing crunches on the floors.

4. Stretching and Flexibility

You should allocate some scheduled time every week to dedicated stretching and flexibility work. Ideally, you do not want to stretch a lot right before a jump workout. Why? Because it will temporarily weaken the muscle a little. Better to do a nice warmup and just a bit of basic stretching. But outside of your strength and power workouts, you want to work your flexibility by doing some extended sessions, as well as several sessions throughout the day. The best gains come from holding one position for a long time (1-2 mins) and then also maintaining that stretch with frequent refreshers throughout the day if your job or school schedule allows. The refreshers can be just 10 seconds with your foot on the back of a chair.

Why bother with all this? Two reasons. One, you don’t want all that strength and power you’ve developed to be impinged because your body can’t move as it should. Second, you also don’t want your form to be messed up because of an inability to move correctly or because of an imbalance between one side and the other.

5. Proper Nutrition.

Obviously, you want to eat your veggies. Lots of broccoli. That’s true whether you’re training or not. If you’re training hard, though, you want to make sure that you have adequate nutrition. Research is divided on the subject, but I take a multi-vitamin to fill in the gaps. More importantly, you want to get enough high-quality protein without too much fat. The best source of this is whey protein. The best deal I’ve found at this time (October 2009) is a 10-pound bag from NOW Nutrition ordered through Bodybuilding.com, but look around. As a general guideline, you’d like your total protein (including what you get from broccoli) to equal about 1 gram per pound of lean body mass (that is your body mass minus your fat mass). Ideally, you’ll take this in throughout the day in doses of about 20 grams, since you can’t utilize large amounts of protein and the excess protein in a dose will just get converted into fat.

One more tip: some research suggests that 20gms of whey protein taken without other calories right before bed can promote the release of human growth hormone during deep sleep. So that can be a huge booster for your recovery.

Conclusion

Remember, these are just a few key components to a successful vertical jump training program, but it’s far far from exhaustive. You still need to use common sense and that means warm up before you exercise or else you’re asking for injury, and get plenty of rest, otherwise your body can’t recover and you won’t make adequate gains. Remember, rest includes plenty of sleep as well as rest days after strength training.

Train hard, train smart, jump high!

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How to Jumpstart Your Weight Loss With 6 Simple Exercises

Before you think about losing weight, the first thing you have to ask yourself is – do you need to? There are many basic ways to evaluate for yourself whether you are fat, heavily obese or if you simply healthy. Most of them are based on simple height weight ratios, of which the most commonly used method is Body Mass Index (BMI). While none of them are 100% accurate, they do provide a good gauge for measure. Usually BMI overrates the weight category of the user, putting normal people into the obese category rather than under.

If you do think you belong to the obese category, the next question to ask yourself is whether you are losing weight because of health or aesthetic reasons. If it’s simple for aesthetic reasons, then chances are that you’re not overweight and you do not need to lose weight. Note that exercising to lose weight is very different from exercising for good health.

If you serious about losing weight for health reasons, you are probably facing a major problem. You lack the muscle to support your own weight and as a result you tire too easily to keep a sustained exercise regime.

To help you get started, the following exercises are designed with low intensity and impact; firstly, to reduce the risk of injures, especially for beginners and secondly, to make it possible for you to actually achieve them.

Here are 6 exercises that are simple to perform and can be done in the comfort of your own home.

1) Overhead Clap

This exercise is also known as the Buddha Clap. You can do this exercise while sitting on the ground. Start with both your arms fully outstretched to the sides and with your palms facing the sky. While keeping your arms straight, bring both hands at a comfortable speed overhead and clap them together. Return to the original position with arms straight and palms facing upwards.

This exercise appears simple enough, but that’s exactly how it is meant to be. But once you have repeated the action for 10 to 20 times, you will realise it is not exactly effortless. It stretches your back and arm muscles and works your cardiovascular system. Do 20 to 40 sets of this exercise daily.

You can also do this exercise while standing to increase the intensity of the exercise.

2) Twinkle Twinkle Star

If you remember how you danced while singing the nursery rhyme, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, then you should remember the action of twinkling stars. This exercise is exactly that action. Hold out your hands straight in front of you with your fingers open. Next, simply clench and open your fists (it doesn’t have to be tight) repeatedly.

Each time you clench and open your fist counts as one. Do this for about 20 to 40 times daily. This strengthens your shoulders and forearms. Like the Overhead Clap, this exercise can be performed while sitting or standing for better results.

3) Crunches

Most of us should be very familiar with Crunches, however, few of us actually know how to utilise this exercise properly. There is no right or wrong way of doing Crunches, but different ways of doing them have a different result. Since we are looking at weight loss and muscle strengthening, we should be doing our crunches in a slow and steady manner.

Firstly lie flat on the ground and with your knees bent, raise your legs such that your thighs and stomach are approximately at 90o. This is the starting position for Crunches. Next, cover your ears with your hands and bring your upper body up so that your elbows touch your knees or thighs. Hold in the position for 2 seconds before returning to the starting position. All this while, keep your legs as they were in the starting position. If you find difficulty in keeping your legs raised, you can place a cushion or chair to support your legs. Eventually, you should progress to a stage where you don’t need the support.

This exercise trains your upper abdominal muscles. Do this for 10 to 20 times daily. You can alternate this exercise with the alternate crunches where the right elbow touches the left knee and vice versa. The alternate crunches train your side abdominals.

4) Leg Raisers

To start with Leg Raisers, first look for heavy furniture that you can hold on to. Lie down flat on the ground and extend your hands to hold onto the furniture (preferably the furniture legs). Keep your arms half bent. Raise both legs up (keeping them straight, do not bend your knees if possible) so that your thigh and your stomach are approximately at 90o. This exercise can pose difficulty for a large number of us. If you find raising both legs difficult, you can try starting one leg at a time.

This exercise works the lower abdominals, and is especially good for reducing the abdominal fat or belly, as we term it. Do this for 10 to 20 times daily.

5) Knee Raisers

Again, look for heavy furniture that can support your weight at home. This time you will need to hold onto it for support, so make sure the height is comfortable for yourself. Place both hands on the furniture with your body upright and legs shoulder width apart. Start by bending one of your knees and lifting that leg up to your chest slowly. Put down your leg slowly and proceed to repeat the action with the other leg.

Each time you lift your leg and put it down, it should count as one. Do this for 20 to 40 times daily. This exercise builds up thigh muscles.

6) Tip Toe-ing

This exercise is similar to the Knee Raiser. Again, place both hands on the furniture for support with your body upright but keep both legs together. Start by tipping your toes up and down. Do this for 20 to 40 times daily. This exercise builds up your calf muscles.

Each of the above exercises will take you less than 5 minutes, doing all 6 should take you at most half an hour a day. No matter if you’re looking to lose weight or simply to stay active, these exercises are very useful in keeping yourself reasonably active.

These exercises work the major muscles on your body and strengthening them for higher intensity workouts. This is very important especially if you are obese. Since this routine is only for beginners, you should move on to higher intensity workouts after a few months for better weight loss results. However, do not skip ahead to start with more difficult workouts immediately! By skipping the basic training, you risk injuring yourself with exercises that your body is unable to withstand.

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Total Gym Workouts – A 4 Phase Workout To Build You Up Fast

Total gym workouts are exactly what you need if you are looking to build your whole body and get yourself in shape as a whole. Too many people focus on just one area of their body, but if you’d like to get into shape all over, check out this total gym workout.

Phase 1

The first part of any total gym workout should be some cardio work. You want to get the blood pumping and get yourself all stretched and warm and ready to lift hard. Not only will it warm you up, but it will help you minimize your bodyfat. Most people run on a treadmill, but if you’re real hardcore you may want to try skipping. It’s a real killer!

Phase 2

You’ll find that many total gym workouts start with your arms or legs, but this is a mistake. They should be last, because if you tire them out right at the start, A, your arms won’t be able to pull their weight during other exercises, and B, your legs still have to carry you around the gym for the remaining workout time. Instead go for your chest and your back first.. Get some dumbell bench presses going for your chest, and also if you can use a pec deck, go for it. Your back can be a little harder to work, but get into some lat pull downs and some deadlifts and you’ll be seeing gains in no time.

Phase 3

OK now it’s time for arms. This is the favorite part of many people’s total gym workout, as the arms are where most people notice their gains the most. It’s important not to forget there are 3 sets of muscles in the arm, so you want to get some dumbell curls going to build the biceps, some triceps pulldowns for the triceps (tough!), and both forearms curls and reverse forearm curls for your forearms. Now you are glad you didn’t do this to start!

Phase 4

Now comes the legs. During most total gym workouts, unless people are looking to compete, the legs are mostly neglected. Thankfully though, they have to carry you around all day and so respond quite well to any stimulation.. You can do some squats to build your thighs, and you’ll find some single footed heel raises will build your calves like you wouldn’t believe. Lastly, it’s your hamstrings, and they’ll build naturally from all the running, but you can also do some basic leg curls to really get them pumping.

Now you’ve seen that total workouts don’t have to be hugely time consuming or complicated. Click the links before for some great advice on your workouts.

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How to Survive Your First Kick Boxing Class

The most important part of all exercise of course is being prepared. The best way to prepare for your first class is to dress appropriately. You will certainly want to be in loose fitting clothing and comfortable footwear. Try and avoid the big bulky clothing such as hoodies because they will make you far too hot. Plus the pull strings for the hood will swing wildly and hit you in the face. I recommend a simple T-shirt and shorts that are not too short) or some simple sweat pants. Be sure the shorts of pants of choice have enough room to stretch as you raise your legs to the side or the front.

The other things you will want to consider are food and water. Be sure you have a water bottle with you so you can stay hydrated. While you won’t really need food during class, the high level of muscle use in a kick boxing class can take some people by surprise who are used to more traditional cardio. So stay away form that steak and potato dinner right before class to avoid cramping. If you eat a couple of hours before class, keep the foods light and moderate in protein. Something like a granola bar or some fruit usually fits the bill. Other people have good energy and stamina with the classic PB&J sandwich.

Finally, remember to have fun. Leave your ego at the door and simply relax. Too many people will walk into their kick boxing class trying to be the next Chuck Norris. This usually brings about an excessive amount of power in your technique which often leads to injury (for yourself or your partner if you are working with someone) and fatigue. Remember that everyone knows you are new and no one expects you to be perfect or even to know what you are doing. So it’s always okay to make mistakes and look like you are new to kicking and punching. Everyone in that class started out exactly where you are, so they understand. So go easy, have fun and keep the ego in check. You will have much more fun if you simply play around with the techniques rather than try and impress everyone and yourself.

Extra tips:

o Also be sure to arrive early to class to say hi to the instructor and introduce yourself. This will make you feel like less of a stranger and the instructor will feel more comfortable helping you when they know a little bit about you.

Be fit and live free,

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The Best Core Training Workouts!

It is extremely important for you to include the best core training workout exercises in your fitness routine. Core workouts are an essential element to fitness success. If you are not using a core fitness workout, you need to get started!

Your core is the stabilizer for the rest of your body. It is the trunk of your body. Pretend that your body is a tree – if the core of the tree is not stable and strong, the branches of the tree cannot reach their full growth potential! Your body is similar – if you do not have a stable trunk (core), you will not be able to properly develop your branches (arms, legs, etc.).

The core muscle groups include the obliques, upper and lower abs, and lower back muscles. The pelvic and groin regions are also essential to core training success. The bottom line is that if your want success with the rest of your body, you need to develop your core first by using the best core fitness workout strategies.

See some of the most effective core training tips below:

Have some Sex! Sex is a great core exercise workout. The thrusting motion is fantastic for your pelvic floor and lower abs, and sex really is a full body workout. This is my favourite method of strengthening my core! Whoever said core training isn’t fun is wrong!

Twist! Do the twist each and every day for 5 minutes. Pull out your favourite music and twist the night away. Seriously, twisting is fantastic for your obliques, abs, and back. In my opinion it is the best core fitness workout and one way to lose weight and reduce body fat quickly. It’s fun and really helps to burn off some of your unwanted fat.

Learn to Salsa! Salsa dancing is a blast and is great for your core. Have you ever seen a salsa dancer in bad shape? I haven’t and its because salsa dancing is a fantastic core exercise. Once again, you are twisting your trunk to create stability for the rest of your body! Salsa is an amazing core fitness workout!

Mastermoves! The Mastermoves program is an excellent core training workout program. Mastermoves incorporates twisting and balancing exercises to produce a great core workout.

Full body exercises are very important to core success.

Core training is extremely important to the success of your fitness routine. If you are not core training, you are losing out on a fantastic way to improve your general fitness and health. The best core fitness workouts use some of the tips above. Make sure to check out some reviews.

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Tips For Preparing For the APFT

What to Eat and Avoid

1. Stay Hydrated

The most difficult part of preparing for a PT test is the most intuitive. Staying properly hydrated seems like so simple of a task that it is often overlooked. There is much more to staying hydrated than drinking water. The first suggestion is not to drink too much water. Drinking large amounts of water in a short period of time will flush the body of necessary electrolytes. Once the electrolytes have been flushed out, there is nothing in your body to keep you hydrated. Salts help retain the water. This is not to say that you should be taking in a ton of salt either. Too much salt will have the opposite effect. Eat something with some salt while you drink your water. I recommend a banana for every three glasses you drink. If you’re going to drink Gatorade the night before a PT test, do so in moderation. Large amounts of sugar and salts will do nothing but dehydrate you. Gatorade should only be drunk after a workout to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. If you really want the best possible drink for hydrating, go out and buy Pedialyte. I know it’s for kids and not as sweet as Gatorade, but it is designed to hydrate in a hurry. It is costly, but one large bottle will do the trick.

2. Do not “Carbo-load”

There is a common misconception that eating a large amount of carbs the night before a workout will give you more energy the next day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When your body breaks down large amounts of carbs, it will process them into stored energy or fat. This process actually uses a great deal of energy also. Increased energy will come from meals eaten within two to five hours depending on what you eat. Carbs are broken down faster than other forms of food. If eaten about 4 hours before working out, they can be very helpful. Unfortunately, PT tests are scheduled at 6 a.m. Getting up at 1:30 to eat just isn’t a good solution. Sleep is much more important than a small boost in energy. The other issue with eating a lot of one particular is that your body cannot process all of it. This causes more waste to be generated. I let you guess how a large amount of waste would affect you on the day of a PT test. Since you aren’t going to get up at one and you shouldn’t carbo-load, what should you do? Eat a moderate balanced meal with protein, vegetables, and some carbohydrates.

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