20 Ways to Build Confidence Through Strength Training

ways to build confidenceSo let’s say you lack confidence.

That’s ok. We all do at times.

Some of us lack confidence more than others.

Sometimes we lack it for longer periods of time than we’d like to.

So what to do?

Well, there’s some things you can do to boost your confidence.

One of the things I see being recommended often is to simply go to the gym and workout.

Sounds simple.

Too simple.

Sure doing exercise will give you a boost and you will likely feel better than doing nothing.

But believe me, there’s plenty of guys and ladies who are insecure even after going exercising for months and even years.

You can argue that they would probably be far worse if they didn’t workout.

I agree.

But what does it take to cause a massive impact in how you see yourself.

That’s a whole different story.

How can you bring about lasting change by training, exercising or working out?

Well that’s something nobody really talks about.

Because building confidence is more than getting six pack abs or having bigger arms and chest.

You can have awesome abs and your confidence can still be pretty be low.

Confidence is not about how you look on the outside.

It can help but it doesn’t necessarily change how you think of yourself.

Bringing about last self-confidence requires challenging yourself.

It requires breaking out of your comfort zone.

Well, in the gym or any time you train you can step out of your comfort zone.

Here are 20 ways you can boost your self-confidence through exercise.

  1. Build A Solid Foundation: As with anything in life it is important to build a strong foundation before building the rest of what is to come.  In order for something to last and meet the challenges that are coming your way it is necessary to start with a great foundation.  When it comes to your body this is no different.  If you want to have a body that projects confidence and that is strong you have to put all the components in place.  Make sure your diet isn’t loaded with junk food.  Keep your diet as clean as possible.  Drop all the stuff that is toxic.  Sleep as best as possible.  Use rest days in order to take a step back and give your body a break.  And of course have a workout that will help you develop a muscular and athletic physique.  If you’re focusing your workouts on doing things like dumbbell curls or you are focusing on ab work then you are cheating yourself from having the best body possible.  Have a workout program that is working on major muscle groups and work on your upper body the same amount of time as your lower body.  If you can include total body exercises, then by all means do those as well.
  2. Master the Basic Exercises: If you’re going to build your confidence I don’t care how many triceps pushdowns you do you are not going feel amazing or reach your physical potential.  The exercises that will help you build your confidence are those that push you physically by working on your major muscles.  There are basically a handful of exercises that you need to focus on, get good at and improve upon.  The following exercises should be part of your routine: Bench Press, Pull Ups/ Chin Ups, Squats, Deadlifts, Shoulder Press.  If you don’t use these exercises, then start now.  Once you have made them a part of your life make sure you learn how to perform them as flawlessly as possible.  The last thing you need is an injury screwing your progress.
  3. Set A Workout Schedule: I never get tired of saying it but if you want to make training a part of your lifestyle you have to set a schedule and stick to it as close as possible.  The best way you’ll stick to your training regimen is by making a commitment to go in and train on specific days and at a specific time.  By following a specific schedule you are training your mind to be disciplined.  Discipline comes in handy when it is time to build a habit, build a better body and build confidence.  I truly believe that by failing to create a schedule you are setting yourself up for failure if you plan on sticking to this long term.  Sure it’s easy to tell someone that if they workout they’ll build confidence.  But if you want to build long lasting confidence you need to train for the long term.  You need to improve your physique and this doesn’t come after one month of training.  Transforming your body takes months.  Making changes that last a lifetime take a lifetime.  The only way to build confidence is by adding one success after another.
  4. Set A Workout Goal:  What do you want out of training?  You need to be as specific as possible.  Gaining muscle? Lose weight? Get more specific.  Building confidence is all about creating a goal and going after it.  The end result should be reaching your goal at some point then creating a new goal.  Success breeds success.  This is why it is important to be specific.  So instead of saying you want to lose weight first choose a reasonable goal like losing 10 pounds in 6 months.  If you goal is gaining muscle you can add a specific number such as gaining 5 pounds of lean muscle in a year’s time.  It doesn’t even have to be strictly based on your appearance.  In fact, you can choose a goal such as bench pressing 10 pounds more in 2 months.  The type of goal does not matter.  Simply aim for something you want to accomplish and go for it.  This is how confidence is built.
  5. Measure Your Results:  So how are you going to know if you’re making progress?  There’s only one way and that is by measuring your progress and results.  As I said earlier, success breeds success.  The only way you can build on each gain you make is by keeping track of how far you have come.  If you plan on training over months at a time and you don’t track your results you won’t look at your progress as a success.  Now when I talk about results I don’t just mean what your arms measure, how many pounds you gained or lost, it could mean that if that is your goal.  You can also measure results by tracking how many reps you did today versus two weeks ago, how much weight you’re lifting over weeks and months at a time.  You get the picture.  It all depends on what your goals are.  Over time your confidence in your workouts and yourself will grow as you see how far you have come along.
  6. Plan Your Workouts:  Along with creating a workout schedule you also need to plan your workouts.  One of the worst things you can do is to go in with a “whatever goes” mentality.  I see this all the time.  Guys show up and start to workout on chest because they feel like it.  Not good.  Ideally you want to incorporate discipline in all areas.  Training is no different.  Write down your workouts, which exercises are you going to do for chest, back, lower body, etc.  Once you have the exercises you’re going to use the next step is to write down the number of sets and reps along with rest periods.  It sounds like tedious work but once you have a plan set the rest comes easy.  Results are soon to follow.  Your body will respond and transform.
  7. Have A Purpose: This goes hand in hand with planning your workouts.  Don’t go in aimlessly.  Don’t waste your time. Get in and get out.  Don’t do unnecessary sets or exercises.  Set a specific time limit on how long you will stay in the gym.  When you have a purpose you can look back with a sense of accomplishment knowing you have kicked ass.  What better way to feel like you’re on top of the world than by knowing you are kicking butt?
  8. Focus Prior to Starting A Workout (Breathing Techniques):  Now this is going to sound a bit weird, maybe hippie-ish, maybe you’ll stop reading at this point but trust me on this.  Look at the most confident guy at the gym.  Look at the guy who looks like he is awesome at the bench press.  Ever notice he gets in the zone and takes a deep breath in before taking on the weight?  He’s focusing by breathing.  If you learn to focus and breath prior to any challenge or stressor you will be better prepared to perform well.  You will do the task with confidence in yourself.  You don’t need to meditate for a long period of time.  Let me tell you what I do now prior to a workout.  At home before I go off to workout, or at the gym I stand still, look straight ahead, breath in making sure air goes down to the point below my belly button and then exhale.  I do this anywhere between three and five breaths.  That’s it.  I actually do this a couple of times in the day.  Why?  It helps you stay centered.  You become focused real fast.  Once you get better at this you’ll notice feeling confident and less distracted.  When I do this before a workout I get in a zone.  You won’t get pumped up but rather you’ll feel a cool, quiet strength like nothing will throw you off.  Comes in handy before every workout.
  9. Throw Out Negative Self Talk:  This is a hard for so many of us.  That voice and chatter in our mind sometimes seems to pop in at the wrong times.  How many times have you been lifting a weight or been doing a cardio and the moment you don’t do as well as expected you put yourself down?  Man, I’ve heard some people at the gym actually mutter the negative self-talk out loud.  Or you’ll see them nod in disgust as they fail to complete the last rep.  Why?  That’s the quickest way to build self-defeating behavior.  Chances are if you do it in the gym you are also doing it outside of the gym.  So anytime you don’t do as well as you wanted or expected replace any negative self-talk with a reassuring and positive thought.  You can also congratulate yourself for how far you’ve come or maybe the first couple of sets were pretty good.  Focus on those things instead.  Believe me, you can’t beat yourself up if you’re going to succeed in life.  You have to be your best cheerleader.
  10. Do Exercises That Challenge You:  If all you spend time on is the same 3 or 4 or 5 exercises then it’s time to get adventurous and add one or two new exercises to your repertoire.  Step out of your comfort zone.  If you are keeping yourself locked up in a self-imposed box you won’t grow.  This applies to any area in life.  In fitness it is no different.  Challenge yourself with some burpees to work on your conditioning or try using landmine exercises so you can take your training to a level your body is not used to.  As you challenge yourself and your training you will begin to take on tougher exercises in the gym.  The effects will spill over into your everyday life and you will look better along the way.
  11. Embrace The Exercise Nobody Is Doing: front lever hold, power clean, hang clean, box jumps:  The pull up bar is the loneliest piece of equipment in any gym.  I really don’t get it.  Most guys have mastered the chest and biceps exercises.  Why not master the pull up for example?  Or when was the last time you saw someone do a Power Clean, a Hang Clean or a Front Lever Hold?  Maybe there’s one guy who does any one of these exercises.  Maybe nobody else does them.  Who cares?  Be the first.  Do what nobody else is doing.  Believe me, you’ll get a nice surge of confidence over time as you get good at an exercise.  Watch as others become interested in what you’re doing.  Maybe it will inspire others to do the same.  That’s not a bad thing.  Now you’ll be a leader.  The world needs more leaders.  Your gym needs more leaders.
  12. Break A Plateau:  When you hit a wall in life it can get a bit discouraging.  You get worried because things aren’t getting better or things have stayed the same for too long.  In the gym it can be the same way.  If you are already measuring your results and keeping track of each session then it can be easier to break a plateau.  You can add 5 pounds more to your squat.  Do one extra rep at the same weight you have been struggling with.  Or take a week off entirely in case you are burning out.  Chances are you will be stronger after taking some time off from lifting.  Once you break a plateau, even a small one, you’ll feel like a new man.
  13. Do Exercises That Are Athletic:  This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about challenging yourself.  If you are sticking to simple exercises like crunches, bicep curls, or triceps extensions then you are missing out on so much.  The best way you are going to transform your body and yourself is by training in a way that forces you to work on as many muscle groups simultaneously.  It’s okay to do curls or tricep extensions but the bulk of your workouts have to come from athletic multi joint movements like Power Cleans, Bench Presses, Squats, Military Press, Pull Ups/ Chin Ups, and for more adventurous folks Overhead Squats and Clean and Jerks.  These exercises over time will build confidence as your body is pushed beyond its comfort zone and is forced to perform at a level that you may not be used to and few even try.
  14. Keep Rest Periods Short:  When the sweat starts coming out and you start breathing a bit heavier than you are used to it is tempting to take long breaks between sets.  Well, I would argue that keeping your rest periods short and no longer than a minute is a better option.  Look at an athlete on the field or on the court.  How long do they rest for?  Maybe a few seconds between plays and they have to get back and perform at their peak.  When you are training for athleticism, performance, muscle and conditioning you have to keep your rest periods short.  By training your body to perform at a peak level you will find it easier to do every day activities and you will build the confidence to take on new challenges, especially those that are physical.
  15. Be Seen, Don’t Shy Away:  So we already talked about how you need to step out of your comfort zone.  Well, the best way to really do this is by doing something that is very visible.  You have to something regardless of what others may think.  Luckily you don’t have to do anything silly or embarrassing to stand out.  There are plenty of exercises you can incorporate into your training that nobody else often because they are intimidated and don’t want to bring any attention to themselves.  A couple of exercises that will get you some attention are exercises like Box Jumps, Hurdles, Power Clean, Clean and Jerk and Landmine Exercises.  I first started incorporating box jumps after seeing athletes in various sports use them as part of their athletic training.  I figured, why not do the same.  Every time decide to do box jumps the predictable happens.  A few people at the gym stand around and look especially as my jumps increase in height.  Sure the first few times you do this it will be intimidating but you quickly learn to focus and putting all your energy and attention on your workout.  After a while you learn to accept and appreciate the attention that comes with doing what others are too intimidated to try.  If this doesn’t get you out of your comfort zone, then I don’t know what will.
  16. Dress Comfortably For the Gym:  I know some of us don’t look super lean or like the finest specimen that has walked the face of the local gym so not everyone can get away with showing a bit of skin.  But every time I look around at other gym members I can’t help but wonder why some use 20 layers of clothing.  There is no way anyone could feel comfortable bundled up like they are experiencing the worst winter storm of the decade while sweating their butt off.  If you don’t feel comfortable dressing this way when you are at home then why would you dress in such an uncomfortable manner outside of the gym?  Peel away some layers.  Don’t be afraid to show some skin or wear something that feels a bit snug on your body.  Now I’m not asking you to wear biker shorts either.  In fact, I’m begging you not to wear biker shorts.  But begin to wear tank tops a bit.  Appreciate the fact that you look decent.  As you learn to love and appreciate the person working out in front of all those mirrors then you will begin to love and appreciate your body on an everyday basis outside of the gym as well.

overhead squat

17.  Lift Objects Over Your Head (weights):  If you are heading into a gym or doing any real training then you will be lifting some heavy weight.  That is a given.  But if you aren’t lifting weight over your head then you are missing out on the benefits of not only gaining confidence but also getting some awesome shoulder development.  There is a sense of satisfaction knowing you are lifting weight over your head especially as it gets progressively heavier.  It’s fine if you are doing exercises like Seated Shoulder Presses but why not push yourself by doing challenging exercises like a Snatch, Overhead Squats, Clean and Press.  These exercises will help you build not only your shoulders but also the lower body and even your core.

18.  Jump More:  Building a better physique isn’t just about lifting weight.  You also need to take advantage of exercises that boost your explosiveness and athleticism.  Don’t be afraid to do exercises that have you training like a kid in a playground.  Whether you do box jumps or hurdles or ladders, simply try doing exercises that are going to work on your lower body explosiveness along with conditioning.jump higher

19.  Do Bodyweight Exercises:  Okay, lifting heavy weight is important but sometimes a more challenging skill is lifting your own bodyweight.  Whether you are doing pull ups, chin ups, bodyweight shoulder press, muscle ups there is a great sense of satisfaction knowing you are challenging your body.
20.  Inspire Others:  In order to build confidence you can’t just focus on your goals and your results.  It is also important to inspire others and help them reach their potential.  Next time you see someone going a bit heavy on a squat or a pressing movement offer to spot them.  If you see them struggling with the weight give them some assistance and pump them up with words of encouragement.  Find the time to motivate, inspire and give back to others.  The rewards that come from helping others achieve their potential will be rewarded.

There you have it.

Those are many ways you can start to bring about lasting self-confidence.

You don’t need to practice all twenty at the same time.

You don’t even need to do half of these every single time.

Simply choose two or three to start.

Over the span of several weeks start adding one or two more strategies I’ve outlined.

I can assure you that if you stay consistent over time you will notice a change in how you see yourself.

How Strength Training Saved My Life

Have you ever been stuck?

I’m not talking about being physically stuck.

I don’t mean the type where you’re trying to squeeze between two tight spaces and you can’t go further.

It’s actually worse.

I mean feeling stuck in life.

The feeling that you aren’t going anywhere and you don’t know what else to do to make things better.

You wake up in the morning and after that you might as well be zombie in “The Walking Dead.”

I’ve been there.

It’s the worst feeling I’ve experienced.

It isn’t painful but it is like walking around without purpose.

You wake up, get ready, go to work, come home, sleep.

Obviously there’s little things that happen along the way like having meals, showering, other hygiene must do’s, reading, having a conversation but it almost doesn’t mean much.

If you can relate, or maybe you can’t, check out the Nine Inch Nails song “Everyday Is Exactly The Same.”

Trent Reznor nails it word for word.

And so you just live that way and wonder how it will all end up.

No purpose. No drive. No motivation.

You start to normalize it.

Maybe I’m just getting older.

Maybe it will pass.

Maybe this is it and there’s no other way around it.

No tears are shed.

Life just is.

And so you question whether it is even worth continuing.

If it’s worth living.

You wonder whether it is worth going after any dream you had.

It’s a feeling like you’re rotting it all away.

Then you start to look at yourself and wonder, “how long should I continue?”

I started feeling like I was on borrowed time and I was okay with that at the time.

That’s where I was at one point a year ago.

It didn’t happen overnight.

In fact I would say it had been slowly building over a long period since my teenage years.

Periods of darkness and gloom that would come and go but eventually I would come out of it.

But never a sense of feeling stuck.

At least not until a year ago.

How Training Saved My Life

henry rollins strength training

Every single day it was a routine.

It was ingrained into me, crawled in my mind and wouldn’t leave.

The routine of waking up, living my day and eventually going to sleep.

Earlier I described the “little things in between.”

It’s the things that happen in between which are important.

Maybe we start looking for the major event that will make life exciting again.

The big date with the girl you want.

The job that pays the big bucks.

The fancy degree that will have others staring at you in admiration.

The fancy car that says, “hey I’m cool because I can go from 0 to 60 faster than the guy in the Prius.”

Maybe they are a big deal but these things don’t happen every day.

They happen here and there and then what?

Well, sometimes the little things can keep you floating, looking forward to something.

As I sat across from my therapist he looked at me and asked,

“tell me something you love doing or that you feel you are good at.”

Without hesitation I answered, “fitness.”

“Fitness and bringing difficult concepts and simplifying them.”

He followed up with “so what specifically do you enjoy about staying fit?”

Again without hesitation I said, “I enjoy lifting weights.  I do strength training several times a week. I also do some cardio but less often.”

And I explained how I enjoy going to the gym, getting a workout done and love to study it.

I don’t know why I had taken it for granted.

But sitting there in front of my therapist I realized how much strength training and fitness in general had become an important part of my life.

Of all the things that happened on a daily basis the only thing I truly looked forward to was the gym.

Since December of 1999 I have made the effort to get in and do what I need to do.

My goal was always to look my best.

My goal was always to reach my physical potential.

Well, as far as my genetic ability allows.

That is always a work in progress.

But last year I realized how important the gym had become not only with helping me look better but in helping my state of mind.

Four to five days a week I have to fit my workout.

It doesn’t matter if I’m tired.

It doesn’t matter if I slept like crap the night before.

I push myself.

All within reason.

There’s days I struggle to have any energy. I skip those days.

If I’m sick I don’t push it.

I stay home instead.

But the days I’m fine and can gather the strength to do an activity is when I get up and go to the gym.

If my friends, family, coworkers ask me what I’m doing later that day, chances are I’ll something like, “I’ll be at the gym.”

But there is a beauty behind strength training I appreciate.

I actually appreciate it even more than before.

It’s me and the iron.

I don’t even fight the iron anymore.

I simply have to find the motivation and the will to the move it and make it happen.

Nothing moves by itself.

Every time I lift it’s with a goal in mind, to lift and complete the number of reps.

It’s a matter of making small gains over time.

I’ve learned to be patient with breaking plateaus, personal bests and with the way my body responds.

I fell in love with the process the moment I made the commitment to train.

I’ve been criticized, made fun of, you name it.

If you don’t have dedication to working out then they simply can’t understand.

It’s the only thing I found looking forward to in my day.

On days I questioned whether it was worth living I looked in the mirror and said, “I have to work out today.”

That’s what I did.

It could be 10 a.m. or late in the evening but one thing I’d remind myself was that I had a workout coming up later in the day.

Maybe it was the fact that I had made it a part of my life for several years that training was now second nature.

The fact that I had one thing to look forward to on certain days was a life saver.

If the gym was not in my life what else would I have?

And so with every training day completed I had a sense of satisfaction.

I knew I had tried my best.

My body was being reenergized.

Muscles were torn and then rebuilt.

This was part of my daily practice.

James Altucher talks about his “Daily Practice” and how it helped him climb out of depression and despair on more than one occasion.

As James describes it we all need to do things that nurture us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I was basically doing one component of the daily practice- the physical.

It was my first step out of the darkness.

Other Steps To Get Out

I can’t say that the gym was my magic pill.

Saying that the gym alone was my way out would be deceiving.

I had to take all the other steps.

I had to get my mental state in order by seeing a therapist.

At the time I felt like I had lost.

It was like taking out the white flag and declaring defeat.

No longer was I able to handle things on my own.

Now I was seeing mental health professional?

Tough to admit at the time but now I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

I also began to write down ideas about everything and anything.

Yes, even ideas on fitness, looking for new ways to develop muscle groups, things I could write about on this blog…

And many ideas that probably sound weird.

The important thing was to use the idea muscle as James Altucher calls it.

Emotionally I shut out anything I considered negative: news, arguments, people that pissed me off…

Spiritually I did whatever it took: meditation, pray, be grateful about the things that mattered to me that very moment.

I felt grateful I had a gym to go to.

I felt grateful I was healthy and could exercise.

I felt grateful I had a successful workout.

I felt grateful I would wake up and feel sore from the previous day workout.

And yes, I slept a bit more than before.

But I have to admit that I’m notorious at being a poor sleeper.

As most ectomorphs (skinny people) know, we don’t usually sleep much.

I’m not proud of it but I’ve made adjustments so I get at least 7 hours of sleep.

Now that’s a major breakthrough from a measly 5 to 6 hours per night that I was sleeping before.

I’m working on getting up to 8 hours this year.

So it’s an ongoing process.

All these things I continue to do on a daily basis.

I really try but as with any new habit it is very challenging to keep up.

It isn’t easy but it’s a lot harder feeling like crap.

At least hard to live that way.

But I know that each component of the daily practice is as important as the other.

Leave one out and things could potentially begin to fall apart or at least it is easier to fall back to square one.

For me that first component of working out was literally the only thing that was constant and consistent.

This is why I say that weight training saved my life.

Other than training what else did I do consistently to stay healthy at any level?

Nothing else.

Well at least I didn’t practice anything else consistently.

Most of us don’t.

Almost a year has gone by.

Things changed drastically 6 months into this process.

The word “stuck” no longer fits my reality.

I now have a purpose.

I am now focused.

There are long term goals as well as short term goals I have planned out.

Every day is a new adventure.

This does not mean I am always working at my potential and feeling amazing.

But I can say the days that are less than stellar are short lived and I feel like I have more control over them.

Either way, as long as I’m training at the gym and nurturing my physical, mental, spiritual and emotional self then things are working to my advantage.

And best of all I know life is worth living.

20 Fitness Tips To Make 2013 Your Best Year

fitness tips 2013

It’s the start of a new year and you are all pumped up.  You are planning to make this the year you look your best.

Do it. You deserve it.

But don’t forget that it may not be an easy road.  It may require some sacrifices and it may take some planning.

Don’t worry, it will all be worth it.

So to help you out here are 20 tips that will make it easier for you to achieve your fitness goals and a the body you want in 2013.

  1. Have a specific goal in mind.  Don’t just tell yourself that you want to gain muscle or that you want to look lean or lose weight.  That is too broad of a goal.  I mean, what does gain muscle really mean?  You can gain 2 pounds of muscle and call it a day.  Instead get down to specifics.  Do you want to gain 5, 10, 15 or 20 pounds of muscle by December 31st 2013?  Or do you want to lose 5, 10, 15 pounds of fat by that date?  Cool, write it down and focus on that goal.
  2. Develop a schedule and stick to that schedule as much as possible.  Before you start a workout plan, whether it is at home, on the track or at the gym make sure you have the days planned and times planned ahead of time.  This is the key factor in your success.  Write down when you’re going to train.  If you are going to do strength training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday then you must do it on those days.  If you missed a day for whatever reason, too bad, don’t make up for it on Tuesday.  It’s gone.  Stick to the plan.
  3. Be consistent at all times.  This goes along well with developing a schedule.  The only way you are going to see a result is by sticking to a plan week after week.  If you are the type that goes to the gym on week then takes a month off you won’t get the results you are hoping for.  Go in week after week, chip away at your goals, remove the excuses, and build your dream body a bit at a time.
  4. Go to the doctor.  Sorry to bum you out but the only way you can perform at your peak is by making sure everything is working properly.  Get a physical and have them run all the necessary lab work.  What good is it trying to look better on the outside if you are not doing well on the inside?  Get it done.  Chances are you are doing fine but it never hurts to be safe.
  5. Break a personal best.  You can bench press 135 for 10 reps? Great, now aim for 140 pounds.  You can do 10 pull ups?  Good, now aim for 11, or better yet, add some weight to that.  Whatever it is try to improve as much as possible.  The only way you are going to get a better physique is by going the extra mile.  If you don’t improve you will stay the same, plateau, or simply find that you are getting bored.
  6. Lift heavier and don’t be afraid to increase the weight.  If you have been holding on to the same 20 pound dumbbells and they feel light as paper that is telling you something.  That is your cue to add some weight.  Increase the pounds and watch your body put on some muscle.
  7. Step away from machines and work with free weights.  Whether your goal is to gain muscle or just trying to lean down go ahead and use barbells, dumbbells or even kettlebells.  Unless you are a true beginner get away from machines fast.  Get your body used to the dynamics of lifting and pulling objects.
  8. Warm up all the time.  This may seem like a boring task but it doesn’t have to be.  A warm up can be like a workout before the serious training begins.   However, if your muscles aren’t getting prepared for what is to come then chances are you are only stepping into an injury minefield in a matter of time.
  9. Do more bodyweight exercises.  Lord knows everyone is spending time pushing and pulling weight.  That’s great that you aren’t afraid to push a barbell, grab a couple of dumbbells but why not master the pull ups or the chin ups.  Add some dips for your triceps and chest.  If your focus is on weights then add at least 1 bodyweight exercise to each strength training workout.
  10. Try some advanced bodyweight exercises once in a while.  I know most of us have this false perception that a bodyweight workout can only consist of pushups, pull ups and bodyweight squats.  Well, it can be a lot better than that.  Try some handstands or handstand pushups, L-sits, front lever hold, use a TRX or gymnastics rings if you have access to them.  You will also notice that your abs will better too.
  11. Have your training revolve around compound movements.  Every session you dedicate to strength training you should be using compound movements and these include bodyweight exercises.  Sure you can do isolation exercises like dumbbell curls or triceps extensions but that shouldn’t be your focus.  Make sure you are doing exercises that work multiple muscles (examples: deadlifts, squats, pull ups, chin ups, pushups, bench press, military press).
  12. Use Olympic movements often as well.  You should already be using bench presses, squats, shoulder presses and/ or deadlifts in your training.  If you aren’t by now then what are you waiting for?  If you are then switch it up and try something like a Power Clean, a Hang Clean, and a Push Press.  These exercises will trigger more muscle growth in you and will help you work more fibers in your body.
  13. Make your training sessions as athletic as possible from start to finish.  Don’t just end a session by doing some lame stretches.  Do a finisher with a jump rope or with some kettlebell swings, run some sprints or throw in some mountain climbers.
  14. Focus on strength training as well as your conditioning.  Most people choose one or the other.  A hardgainer neglects conditioning afraid of losing muscle.  The person trying to lose fat is afraid of gaining muscle.  You can’t neglect one over the other if you want to look your best.  For some excellent conditioning stick more with intervals like sprints,  sleds, and finishers.
  15. Eliminate at least one unhealthy food item.  I wish I would tell you to eliminate all items that are unhealthy but we all know that’s tough.  Instead look at one item you can eliminate or consume less of.  You drink soda every day?  Stop drinking it.  Potato chips find their way in your mouth often?  Stay away from it.  Twinkies are your favorite sna… oh never mind they went bust in 2012.
  16. Stick with a training plan beyond the month of January.  So many take the first step in their resolutions and get to the gym that first week of January then start going less and less after a couple of weeks.  You won’t see results after only 2 weeks.  You will start seeing improvements after a couple of months and as the year progresses.  Just stick to it for the long haul.
  17. Keep your workouts brief and intense.  There is no need to spend a couple of hours in the gym.  Once you go longer than 60 minutes you will start heading into overtraining zone.  Aim to stay within the 45 minutes to 60 minutes range.
  18. Learn to cycle your training.  If you’re the type that spends week in and week out that is awesome but if you aren’t taking some time off then it isn’t so awesome.  Believe me; I’ve been in your shoes.  I would go months nonstop with working out and wonder why I had the classic signs of overtraining and not looking better as time went on.  Take at least a week off every 10 to 12 weeks.
  19. Rest and recover in a smart way.  Along with taking some time off make sure you sleep well every night.  Get your 8 hours of sleep and get some massages to work on the wear and micro tears in your muscles.  Self massages work well as do foam rollers.
  20. Stay active even on off days.  Find an activity that will help you burn some excess calories while at the same time being easy on your body.  One thing I like to do a couple of days a week on those days I’m not going hard in the gym is doing some jump rope.  A few jump rope drills for 15 minutes to 30 minutes keeps my heart rate up, gets my body working all without putting too much stress on my body.  Just choose any activity, from walking to hiking, surfing, and any outdoors activity.  The options are limitless.

(here is a video I have found inspiring on many occasions)

Apply these tips year round.  Getting to your fitness goals require focus, determination and putting in the effort on a consistent basis.

One tip alone won’t get you to where you want to be but working at each of one of these tips will get you there.

And remember that being fit and staying fit is a long term process and should be your goal well beyond just the first few weeks of the year.

Dynamic Warm Up Exercises: Prepare Your Body For Battle and Avoid Injury With Athletic Drills

I have a confession to make.

I don’t warm up before a workout.

Let me make a correction.  I sometimes warm up before my training.  I am not consistent with this part of my training and I really need to get my act together.

There I said it.  I’m guessing many of you don’t warm up either.  And I’m not talking about some stretching before you start lifting weights.  I’m talking about stuff that gets your CNS (Central Nervous System) fired up.

For a long time I have had this old school approach to training and warming up.  I remember reading Jack Lalanne’s opinions on this a long time ago.

Jack Lalanne:  “15 minutes to warm up? Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ No! He just goes out there and eats the sucker.”

I read that and thought, heck that’s good enough for me.

Now if you don’t know Jack Lalanne he was a beast in fitness.  Lived until the age of 96 and was a fitness eccentric.

I admire the man and have since I was a kid.  I also have to give him credit for something else and that is he had a gifted physique and health.

I have followed his approach for a long time but I just can’t do it anymore.

I have to face my limitations.  As much as I would like to be a lion or more like Jack and attack the weights immediately I can’t do it.  I am only setting myself up for injury or lousy workouts

If you are like me you are jumping in to your workouts and you give it a go.  Lift the weights, build up momentum and you are done.

Or maybe you start off with some off hand stretching.  You grab your ankle, pull it behind you and hold it for a few seconds.  Stretch.

Grab your arm, hold it over your head, pull it slightly behind your back and then across your chest.  Another stretch.

Some call that a warm up.  But it isn’t.  That is just simple static stretching and if you do it before a workout it won’t help you avoid injury or the quality of your training.

Or maybe you get on the treadmill and jog for a few minutes and get your temperature elevated this way.

That works at getting your temperature up, get a bit of a sweat on but does that help you prepare for attacking the weights the way you want?

Preparing the CNS

In order to help the body work to its potential you need to get your muscles prepared for battle and not only the muscle fibers but your entire Central Nervous System (CNS).

The muscles, nerve endings, neurons and basically all the system that is in charge of activating your body, from your brain to your spinal cord.

Like any machine (yes, your body is a machine), your body needs to prepare before it can work to maximum efficiency.

If we are going to work with weights in a manner that is explosive, then the best way is to prepare the body for what is to come with an equally athletic warm up and not a slow jog or simple stretching.

Dynamic Stretching Warm Up

Rather than doing simple stretches where you pull your arms or legs to feel muscles pulling try exercises that require your body to stretch and move.

Here are some examples:

Bodyweight Lunges:  You can do walking lunges but it is best to keep it simple and just lunge forward with one leg, hold the lunge position and come back up.  Switch legs and do the same movement.

Shoulder Dislocations:  This is an excellent exercise to loosen up the shoulder area and helps it protect it from injury.

Forward Leg Swings: Start in a standing position and with one leg slightly behind.  Kick the leg that is slightly behind in a forward motion and swing it up to waist level.  This will get the hips and hamstrings loosened up for any lower body workout.  Repeat several times for each leg.


Arm Circles:  Move your arms in wide circles first going forward and then backwards.

Hip Circles:  Stand with your feet at close to shoulder width and move your hips in circles.

Cherry Pickers:  If you remember this exercise from your middle school physical education class you may recall it as a silly movement.  Well, this will stretch your lower back, hamstrings and even your upper body.  Stand with feet shoulder width apart and with your hands reach down and touch the floor.  First touch the floor slightly in front of you, then slightly closer to you and finally the space between your legs, come back up and place your hands on your waist.  Repeat.

Hand Walkouts:  Stand with feet shoulder width apart and place your hands on the floor.  Proceed to walk with your hands and leave your feet firmly planted on the ground.  Walk your hands as far as possible going forward and then walk them back to your starting position.

Superman Exercise:  Get on the floor face down and on your stomach.  Begin by starting flat and then elevate both your arms and legs off the floor a couple of inches at the same time.  Hold the position for 3 seconds and come back down and rest for 3 seconds.  That is one repetition.

Dynamic Warm Up Examples

Now let’s move on to dynamic warm up exercises as these work in great combination with dynamic stretches.

The following dynamic movements will help the muscle fibers with upcoming activity.

Here are some examples:

Jumping Jacks:  Yeah, jumping jacks are a good way to warm up.  Do some for anywhere between 20 and 30 reps.

Overhead Bodyweight Squats:  This exercise can also be done as traditional bodyweight squats but doing it this way will only work the lower body.  Raise your hands above your head as if reaching for the sky and hold this position as you do bodyweight squats.  You will feel the muscles in your back and shoulders working together along with the lower body. Ten reps will work just fine.

Burpees:  You can do it with or without a push up as you please.  As a warm up you can leave a push up out of the movement and without a jump as well.  Do 10 reps in a warm up.

Mountain Climbers:  This movement will work the core and the entire body.  Get in a push up position and move as in a running motion making sure you drive your knees up. 30 seconds of this exercise are good to include in a drill for your warm ups.

Jumping Rope:  I would rather do this as a finisher but you can keep also substitute as a warm up exercise to get the body moving.  As opposed to a finisher which would be performed with high intensity, you can do this exercise at a moderate pace divided by intervals.  Five to ten minutes is enough if done as a standalone exercise.

Knee Tuck Jumps:  This is similar to a bodyweight jump squat, except the starting position is not from a deep squat.  Once you are up in the air the knees come up to waist level or higher and close to the chest if possible.  10 reps will get the body prepped for action.

These are some exercises you can include in your warm up and as you can see they are athletic.

However, the best way to maximize them is by putting them together as a combination.

Dynamic Stretching Drills (Warm Up)

Here is a series you can perform as your warm up next time you are ready to begin your training session.  It is a combination of dynamic stretches and dynamic warm up exercises.

1)      Jumping Jacks (20 repetitions)

2)      Overhead Bodyweight Squats (5 reps)

3)      Bodyweight Lunges (5 lunges per leg)

4)      Forward Leg Swings Leg Swings (5 leg swings per leg)

5)      Knee Tuck Jumps (5 jumps)

6)      Shoulder Dislocations (5 reps)

7)      Arm Circles (10 circles forward and 10 circles back)

8)      Cherry Pickers (10 reps)

9)      Mountain Climbers (do as many reps in 30 seconds)

10)   Superman Exercise (5 repetitions)

This is just a sample warm up and you can substitute some exercises and even change the order which they are performed.

This may seem like a workout in itself but that is the point.  This is like a mini workout or preparation for the real work that is to come.  It shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes but it will get your upper body as well as lower body activated.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, I have not been consistent with warming up.  The weeks and months that I have ever chosen to include drills in my training I have noticed better quality gym sessions.  Believe me, I will warm up without fail from now on.

The best thing to do is include some type of warm up to avoid injury and prepare your body for a productive session.  Maximize your workouts as much as possible and save your body the wear and tear that accumulates over time.

Remember, you are not Jack Lalanne, or an animal ready to hunt and kill its prey.  However, you can train smart, stay healthy and look like an athlete by training like one.

Does Beef Jerky Help You To Build Muscles (Guest Post)

It has been proven scientifically that beef jerky can help you build strong muscles. Beef jerky refers to strips of dried beef that are mostly consumed as snacks. High in proteins and low in fat content, beef jerky is a favorite among athletes and body-builders. If building lithe muscles is your objective, then beef jerky is a part of every shopping list you create.

Beef jerky started out as a means of increasing the preservation period of meat during an era when refrigerators were not yet available to hunters. The beneficial effects of dried beef did not go unnoticed, and nutritionists lost no time in identifying what makes beef jerky the health food that it is.

Beef jerky is important for body builders as it is packed with proteins and iron, but is low on fat. The preparation of beef jerky is a process that sucks out moisture and fats. An ounce of beef jerky contains about 15g of protein, almost twice the amount of the mineral in pork. Vitamins, or amino acids, are the building blocks of cells, and are essential for the development of muscles.

Red meats are the staple diet of those who are working on building muscles as they are rich sources of proteins. Beef jerky tops the scale of desirability as it is devoid of fat (almost 97% fat free in most cases). Besides, beef jerky has been recognized to be a biologically complete source of amino acids required by human beings. The only negative aspect of beef jerky is that it is rich in sodium which can be injurious to cardiac health, but this effect can be countered with other dietary corrections.

The best manufacturers of beef jerky boast of their product having as little as 1g of fat per serving. Adding to its glory is the fact that the fats in beef jerky are unsaturated – no saturated or trans fats make their way into your body via beef jerky. Unsaturated fats are reactive and can be broken down by enzymes in the body, there by contributing to generation of energy. Unsaturated and trans fats, on the other hand, are non-reactive, and are accumulated over time to form fat deposits that trigger cardio-vascular problems.

Iron is the most important mineral found in beef jerky. Men’s dietary intake must provide them with 8mg of iron a day, while females must consume 18mg of iron per day. 3 ounces of cooked beef contains 2.31mg of iron. The role of iron in muscle building has been proven via various experiments carried out by different organizations.

Iron plays an important role in oxygen transportation and storage, enhancing energy metabolism, DNA synthesis and anti-oxidation processes. Body builders find iron all the more important because it helps increase the energy level of the body allowing them to work out for longer spells, improves performance and builds resistance power of the body. Apart from allowing the body to work for longer periods, iron also promotes rest, striking a balance for the body to be able to repair itself.

You could consume oranges or freshly squeezed orange juice along with beef jerky as the vitamin c in the citric fruit will help in the absorption of iron. The effects of beef jerky have often been compared with what spinach seems to do for Popeye – release reserves of energy instantaneously, boosting strength and stamina.

Apart from iron, beef jerky is rich in zinc and phosphorus, too. Smaller quantities of potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese and selenium are also present, making it a highly nutritious food. Zinc is directly involved in the muscle building process – it hastens metabolic reactions that bring about muscle growth, stabilizes the structure of proteins and regulates hormone levels in the body.

Beef jerky also furnishes the body with a wide range of vitamins. Though the product does not contain high amounts of any vitamin to be hailed as a vitamin supplement, it does provide the consumer with smaller quantities of requisite proteins. Vitamin B6, B12 and K, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid are some of the vitamins found. These vitamins contribute to the processes of digestion, tissue growth and respiration.

Beef jerky has an Achilles’ foot – it contains too much sodium. A single serving of beef jerky contains at least 550mg of sodium – about 25% of the sodium intake allowed for humans per day. Acknowledging the adverse effects sodium has on consumers, manufacturers are now providing low-sodium beef jerky. Be sure to check the sodium content before tossing a bag of jerky into your shopping cart.

Beef jerky is an important tool for those on a quest to build muscles. Paired with the right kind of exercise and body care, beef jerky can promote the development of muscles, giving both men and women the opportunity to develop able bodies with great athletic performance.

Author Byline

The post is shared by Jason Phillips; he provides tips on men’s and women’s health and wellness and all components of women’s wellness. Visit his site lone mountain wagyu to know more about his business.

How a Bodyweight Exercise Routine Alleviates Fibromyalgia Muscle Twitching (Guest Post)

Fibromyalgia is a condition which arises in the muscles of a human body which cause pain in the muscle because of the muscular inability to function well. The medical disorder does not limit itself to pain, but causes other symptoms as well including sleep apnea, joint stiffness, stress and fatigue, gastrointestinal troubles like IBS and difficulty in swallowing. It can also lead to bladder abnormalities and a constant feeling of tingling or numbness.

Fibromyalgia can be divided into three parts. The word ‘Fibro’ stands for ‘fibre’. The word ‘my’ stands for ‘muscles’ and the word ‘algia’ stands for ‘pain’. So it means pain in the fibre muscles of the body due to muscle dysfunction.

Role of diet

Lack of nutrition can pose a great amount of pressure on the muscles in the healthy performance in their daily lives. The pain in the muscles is the key symptom which calls out for more and more nutrition. A good amount of nutrients will also help in curing insomnia because a rich diet will help in relaxing the muscles. Lack of proper circulation which is often the cause of the fibromyalgia chest pains can also be due to nutritional deficiencies. The main cause of poor nutrition is the over-use of pesticides in the food, unnatural methods of breeding and hormonal use in animals. Other factors include high preservative food items along with processed form of foods. Stress along with high pollution levels lead to progressive damages to the body which needs a good diet to fight the production of free radicals in the body and prevent the fibromyalgia condition to worsen.

Treatment

The treatment of fibromyalgia includes the use of cognitive behavioural therapies which help in treating the psychological condition of a person. But the effectiveness of such therapies can be increased, if they are accompanied with physical exercises. Other options may include use of anti-depressants, anti-seizure medications and muscle relaxants along with anti-inflammatory drugs like ‘Quercetin’.

Exercise routines

The physical treatment given to the body in case of fibromyalgia is very effective and acts as a supporting mechanism to the ongoing drug medication. A good workout routine will help in curing the sleep problems, fight fatigue and cure depression. Exercising releases ‘endorphins’ which help in fighting depression and maintaining a happy state of mind. An exercise routine helps the patients to gain their lost flexibility, particularly cardiovascular activities.

  • Aquatic exercises in a warm pool work well on the patient because it combines the cardio with resistance training. Warm pool and environments cuts the risk of developing chills and pains in joints. Water exercises are really beneficial for the muscles and easy to perform. They lead to better circulation of blood to the muscles and one can also opt for water aerobic classes. Even, if one doesn’t know how to swim, these exercises can be performed with a life jacket or a tube.
  • Other types of exercises include those exercises which increase the heart rate like running on a treadmill, brisk walking or indulging in a sexual activity. Stretching the muscles and strength training will also fight the pain which fibromyalgia patient suffers from. A healthy routine like four days a week will help in maintaining a good health in fibromyalgia patients. One can also enrol in yoga classes, badminton, golf or basketball. It will help in maintaining interest along with the physical activity.
  • Lastly, one must not forget breathing techniques and meditation. These techniques soothe the body and calm the mind which provides a better control over the body and system. They help in warding off pain and maintain a healthy state of thinking. Meditation also helps in bringing happiness and sense of well-being, one must start believing that the body condition is getting better with the passing days and eventually, the belief will make you win.

Before starting any activity, stretch the muscles for five to ten minutes. Then, slowly warm-up the body by jumping or jogging on a slow pace. After the warm-up session, indulge in any type of physical activity and combine it with light resistance training to bring out the maximum results. Follow it up with a cool down session to return to the normal pace and avoid the incidence of body injury.

Conclusion

Fibromyalgia is not a fatal condition, but a persistent and pervasive medical state. The symptoms may improve with time if the right type of action to curb the condition is taken. Therefore, a combination therapy is the best suited plan in such patients including the prescribed medications, physical workout sessions and CBT. The individual conditions and requirements must be kept in mind before designing the treatment plan. Just eat healthy and exercise well to keep your body and mind in a healthy condition.

Author Box

The post is shared by Jason Phillips; he is an expert in writing articles about ailments that affect our body in daily paraphernalia. There are many fibromyalgia clinic that can provide cure to your disease.

Muscle Building Superfoods (Guest Post)

Muscle Building Superfoods 

The best way to maintain a good looking and great feeling body is to engage it in a healthy cycle. This cycle includes exercise which converts body fats into muscles. The more muscle a body builds, the less fat it would contain which would further reduce health dangers, and also give better shape to the body. However exercise is not the know all and end all of building a strong, muscular body. A healthy diet is the lifeline of a successful exercise routine. It is for this reason that certain foods have been given the title of superfoods because they take the body of a regular person to be muscular, shaped and strong.

  • Eggs
It is considered as one of the best muscle building superfoods because it has the highest biological value, which makes it the rich source of protein. Every egg gives five to six grams of protein in only sixty calories. While people might think the yolk of the egg can be avoided, if eaten would not cause harm, but only act as additional protein. Having more than two or three whole eggs a day may cause high cholesterol however maintaining the count would give high nutritional benefits. Aside from proteins, eggs are a rich source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folate.
  • Almonds
 These are considered to be an important source of healthy fats to the diet. They are easy to consume as a snack during the day or be used as topping on salads and spreads. Their high calorific value adds to the total calorie intake during the day easily, without too much consumption. They are also a source of magnesium which is vital for carrying out energy metabolism and also in protein synthesis.
  • Salmon
 The main mantra of body building remains to avoid foods with high fat content; however that refers to the bad and harmful fats only. The body still needs all essential fatty acids and Omega-3 nutrition to help develop muscle through increased metabolism and protein synthesis. Salmon, particularly pink salmon or wild salmon are known to be a high source of healthy fats, fatty acids and Omega-3 all three of which are vital for the body to absorb other nutrients from the food and also produce energy using the same. Tuna, trout and sardines are also healthy fish options that one can opt for. Good fish can have up to twenty five grams of protein in one hundred grams of meat.
  • Yogurt
Even with the high oestrogen content that yogurt withholds, it is one of the best options for body and muscle building. It has a special fat which actually cuts away harmful body fats. Its subtle combination of carbohydrates and proteins is ideal for exercise recovery and muscle growth. While some may be against the use of regular yogurt, or even yogurt with fruits, however it has been established that the fruits that are added to the yogurt give the body a chance to increase insulin content because of the injection of natural sugars into the blood stream. This insulin increase prevents post exercise protein breakdown. Aside from that, the bacteria in yogurt are known to increase intestinal activity and make digestion more effective.
  • Water
Most people think of food in a healthy diet and ignore the importance of water. Since 70% of the human body is made up of water, increasing muscle content would largely depend on the intake of water to provide muscles, ligaments and tissues with water. Body builders are advised to consume up to ten litres of water a day because well hydrated muscles are known to carry out protein synthesis much quicker than what would be possible otherwise. It is also an important step to be taken to prevent dehydration after strength training and allows for quick muscle recovery.

While the above may be a few of the important foods which need to be consumed for body building, other foods like beef, steak, turkey, flax, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, cottage cheese, dairy, soya, chicken, quinoa, and even oysters are important foods which can be incorporated into the diet to allow quicker and better muscle build up. Having all of these in combination and regulation with one another would promise best results wherein a person would be able to maintain shape, health and lose fats, all at the same time. See what complements your exercise routine the most and decide the foods which would be most essential.

Eat wise and exercise well.

Author Box

Jefferey Morgan has authored this article. He is conscious of every bite that he consumes, and he can’t eat local foods. Apart from that he provides no nonsense information on how to get ripped fast easily. Visit his site Get this ripped, to improve your dining experience.