Don't Forget To Stretch

A workout is not complete unless you take the time to stretch, and yet many people overlook or fail to understand just how important it truly is. But here are the facts. Leading experts say you should always stretch out both before and after any exercise program. It doesn’t matter if you are an avid runner, love yoga or are simply lifting weights. The benefits of stretching at the beginning and end of these routines are numerous.

Stretching out will purposefully lengthen your muscles. Stretching will increase your range of motion and allow you to move with ease. This simple task will help you perform at an optimal level. In fact, studies show that stretching will help your body be more flexible and can even improve your overall performance. If you fail to stretch you can cause unwanted injury to your body.

Any professional athlete or trainer will tell you how vital it is to make stretching the starting and ending point of your exercise regimen. Your tendons, muscles and ligaments will gain protection when you take the time to stretch. Your body physically responds and changes when you stretch. The positive reactions are evident when we look inside the body

Anti Aging Foods

Each time you stretch your body releases synovial fluid. This allows the joints to move freely. Your body will be like a well-oiled machine and it gets better than that. Stretching takes blood to your soft tissues. You’ll find you won’t tire as easily and will be able to keep going longer. A good pre and post stretch will help keep you from aches and pains after a workout.

There’s nothing worse than being sore after exercising. Many people stay away from exercise because they don’t like feeling sore and tired. Stretching can change that. Stretching is a must if you don’t want to hurt. It will help motivate you to return to your workout when you feel refreshed.

For many people getting to their activity is the goal. But when you take the time to stretch you set yourself up to succeed. You should plan on spending 7 or 8 minutes stretching both before and after your workout. This way your body will get what it needs before and after you workout.

Warming up and cooling down through stretching just makes sense. The benefits are unending and it only takes a few minutes to make a workout that much more enjoyable. So the next time you go for a run or lift up a weight make sure stop and stretch out. You won’t regret it and you’ll be able to accomplish more than you can imagine.

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Get Lean and Strong At Any Age

The Performance Life

Pete Williams

The best thing about having the good fortune of co-authoring Core Performance books with Core Performance founder Mark Verstegen is having access to experts in human performance and cutting-edge research. (It’s the same information provided in the books and on this site, but being around it so closely keeps it in the front of my mind.) Last month I had my bodyfat measured with skinfold calipers at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix for the fourth time since December of 2008.

Body composition is a more accurate barometer of overall fitness than scale weight. Two men or two women roughly the same height, weight, and age can have dramatically different appearances based on body composition. Simply put, body composition is the percentage of body weight composed of fat as opposed to lean mass (usually expressed in terms of a body-far percentage – 12 percent, for example, which is typical for a male team-sport athlete).

There are options when it comes to measuring body composition, ranging from the high-tech (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, also known as DEXA or DXA) to hydrostatic weighing. There’s also bioelectrical impedance (BEI), which can be as simple as stepping on an inexpensive BEI bathroom scale. The subject stands on two electrodes that send a small current through the body, measuring the impedance to this current. (For a more thorough breakdown on body comp options, see our complete guide to body composition.)

Skinfold calipers are perhaps the best combination of simplicity, portability, and accuracy. That’s assuming a trained technician does the measuring. The technician uses the calipers to pinch the subject at seven sites: chest, abdominal, thigh, tricep, subscapular, iliac, and midaxillary. The thickness of the skin folds at the seven sites, measured in millimeters, is totaled and inserted into an equation (Jackson-Pollock), along with sex, age and weight to determine the subject’s body fat percentage. “You’re separating the skin and fat tissue from muscle tissue,” says Erika Wincheski, a performance nutritionist at Athletes’ Performance. “We find skin folds to be a fairly accurate measure.”

In March of 2009, I weighed 173.8 and measured 11.48 percent body fat. By December of 2011, I weighed 161 and had dropped to 8.65 percent body fat. (Height, of course, remained unchanged at 5-foot-11.) After a year of training for triathlon, stand-up paddleboard events, and obstacle races, I finished 2012 at 155. Perhaps more importantly, I had dialed in my nutrition further. The results were encouraging, especially for a 43-year-old recreational athlete.

Tester  Erika Wincheski
Date  12/5/2012
Weight (lbs)  155
Tricep (mm)  6
Chest (mm)  5
Mid Ax (mm)  3.5
Suscap (mm)  7.5
Abdomen (mm)  7
Iliac (mm)  6
Thigh (mm)  6
SUM 7 Site (mm)  41
Body Fat %  7.19%
Lean Body Mass (lbs)  143.85
Fat Mass (lbs)  11.15

Just for comparison’s sake, Wincheski lowered my age to 25, which dropped my body fat percentage to 5 percent. Since we lose lean mass as we age, age is a key variable in the equation. So too is adequate pre- and post-workout nutrition, something I’ve focused on more during the last year.

“As you age, your body is going to lose some of its lean muscle tissue,” Wincheski said. “We want to prevent that and increased activity will help. There’s a recovery piece there as well. You want to recover your body after training, otherwise you’ll continue to break down that muscle tissue. So by allowing yourself that recovery period to refuel your glycogen stores, and giving yourself the proper amount of protein and carbohydrate, you’ll prevent that muscle tissue breakdown.”

Seven percent bodyfat is comparable to some of the world-class soccer players and sprinters who train at Athletes’ Performance, though they can be as low as 3.5 percent. Of course, I never had world-class athletic skills at their age—or any age. The 7.2 percent “speaks to how lean you’ve become,” Wincheski said. “Muscle tissue is not being broken down and that’s a challenge for all of us as we get older.”

Related: The Problem with All This ‘Overweight People Live Longer’ News [The Atlantic]

About The Author

Pete Williams
– Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.

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Tags:
Longevity, Health, Build Muscle

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Q&A: What are the Most Overrated Exercises?

Movement

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Q: It seems like most people I see in the gym use the same exercises. Which moves work and which ones are overrated?

A: Doing the same workout over and over again isn’t just boring, it’s ineffective. When you repeat the same movements time after time, your body adapts, which limits your results. You can also develop strength imbalances and postural issues over time if you don’t mix things up. To get the most out of your workout, swap out some of your usual moves with new ones. Here are three to get you started:

Overrated: Traditional crunches

The crunch places unnecessary strain on your back, and it only targets the rectus abdominis.

Do This Instead: Plank with Hip Flexion

The plank with hip flexion trains your entire pillar—your shoulders, torso, and hips—while stabilizing your spine and improving posture to help you look and perform better. To do it, start in a push-up position with your hands beneath your shoulders and feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your hips and torso still, draw one knee toward your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.

Overrated: Seated Machine Chest Press

When performing the seated machine chest press, your body has to follow a fixed path. This limits the range of motion in which you can build muscle and neglects important stabilizing muscles of your shoulders. Think about it this way: When the machine provides the stability, your body doesn’t have to.

Do This Instead: 1 Arm Bench Press

The 1 Arm Bench Press places the weight on one side of your body, forcing you to stabilize your body using your core. You’ll develop core strength and upper-body power that transfer to everyday activities and the sports field. To do it, lie face-up on a bench with your hips just off the edge of the bench. Hold a dumbbell at your shoulder in one hand and the bench behind your head with your other hand. Keeping your hips in line with your shoulders, press the weight over your chest and then lower it to your shoulder. Complete the set on one side, and repeat with the opposite arm.

Overrated: Seated Knee Extension

Knee extensions focus solely on your quads, but don’t help build strength and stability throughout the rest of your lower body.

Do This Instead: Split Squat – Back Foot Up

You’ll get a greater total-body workout with the Split Squat with Back Foot Up. This move benefits your quads, hamstrings, and glutes while building single-leg strength and stability to boost your performance. Here’s how to do it: Stand tall in a split stance holding a pair of dumbbells with your weight primarily on your front foot and your back foot elevated on a bench. Lower your hips toward the ground by bending your front knee. Push through your front leg to return to the starting position. Finish your set on one side, and then repeat with the opposite leg forward.

About The Author

Kevin Elsey
– Kevin Elsey is the vice president of the performance innovation team at EXOS. With three undergraduate degrees from Queen’s University in Canada and several years of experience as a personal trainer and physical education teacher, he brings a wealth of educational and practical experience to EXOS.

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Tags:
Resistance Training, Strength, Build Muscle, Pillar strength, Stability, Abs, Q&A

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Q&A: What's the Best Source of Protein for a Vegetarian?

Nutrition

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Q: What’s the best source of protein for a vegetarian?

A: A vegetarian diet can help you control your weight and lower your cholesterol, but you can’t just drop meat and fish—a key source of protein—without a plan. Your body needs protein to build muscle and maintain a strong immune system. It’s important to get about 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight a day. The good news: There are many vegetarian-friendly foods that are high in protein. Some healthy options include:

  • Grains (quinoa, rice, whole grain cereals)
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soybeans)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy products (eggs, milk, cheese, Greek yogurt)

Even if you include the foods above in your diet, you may find you’re unable to exercise as hard when following a vegetarian diet. This is likely due to a lack of creatine, an organic compound produced in the body and found in meat and fish, which helps muscles recover and can help build strength. If you find you’re lacking energy, add more protein to your diet and talk to your doctor or dietitian about creatine supplements.

About The Author

Amanda Carlson-Phillips
– Amanda Carlson-Phillips is the vice president of nutrition and research at EXOS. As a registered dietitian, she has provided educational seminars and individual counseling to a variety of professional and elite sports organizations.

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Tags:
Strength, Health, Build Muscle, Q&A, Protein

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Is Your Workout in Balance?

Movement

Dave Cruz

Training is a lot like nutrition. Healthy foods never taste as good as fattening ones, and exercise is the same way: The best exercises for your body are the least popular—and they seem to hurt the most.

The most popular moves? Anything where you sit or lie down. The whole machine concept is based on appealing to the lowest common denominator of human nature. You can exercise while seated on a padded chair. Of course this is highly ineffective.

The average person’s work ethic in the gym is the equivalent of going to a restaurant, ordering dessert, getting too full from dessert, and skipping the meal. Lots of empty calories and none of the stuff you need.

Most people go to the gym and immediately do the exercises they like. If you’re a guy, that usually means bench presses and curls. If you’re a woman, it often means hopping on the treadmill for a long, slow walk or run.

This mentality contributes to the populations downfall in health and fitness. People always work on the stuff they can’t see or don’t like to do, and they promise themselves they will do it tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.

As a college strength and conditioning coach, I encountered the same problem early in my career. I came to the early realization that Monday would always be lower-body day. This was done for one simple reason. Every day, I was forced to battle with human nature. Athletes are no different than the average gym-goer. They want to do what they like. I was like the parent who needed to say, “No TV until your homework is done.”

When we first began developing training programs for athletes, they were just like the folks described above. Athletes who were not on a program would wander into the weight room, do a couple of sets of bench presses, and then wander over to the curl bar for a few sets. After this, they would leave.

My solution to this problem was simple: The first day of every week was lower-body day. This meant that athletes would return the next day to do the stuff they really wanted to do. A simple but effective solution.

The solution for you, if you’re not an athlete, is even simpler: Perform a full-body workout every time you go to the gym. Do your lower body and pulling exercises (like chin-ups) first. Save the bench presses and curls for last. If you just did a squat or squat variation, a pull-up variation, and then benched and curled, the result would be a vast improvement in your physique since it would correct common strength imbalances, which improves posture as a result.

Michael Boyle is one of the world’s leading experts in the area of performance enhancement and the owner of StrengthCoach.com. Michael is also the author of Functional Training for Sports.

Tags:
Total Body, Posture, Training, Strength, Build Muscle, Reduce Pain

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Arms Done Right Workout

Arm training day is without doubt one of the most favored workout days, everyone who ever steps foot inside the gym wants to build big arms, no matter which group you train biceps and triceps will always be the favored combo. However, the question you must ask yourself is are you getting the most out of your biceps and triceps workout? This guide willl give you a quick anatomy and biomechanics of this popular muscle combo.

There are many muscles that control the movement of the arm, however we will stick to the basic muscles that control the major flexion and extension of the arm for now. The tricep muscles are made up of three heads including lateral, long, and medial heads (shown in the image below). The biceps are made up of three muscles including the long and short heads, and the brachialis all which make up the front of the arm. There are many muscles that control the arms, however most gym goers will only usually focus on the muscles mentioned above.

The muscle you work in the arm can vary, depending on the angle, grip and exercise used. The short head of your biceps works alongside with the deltoids to raise the shoulders (know as shoulder flexion). The biceps and the brachialis both work in supinating the wrist (twisting the palm up). On the other side of your arm lay the triceps, the bigger of the two muscle groups. Now the long head of the triceps works in two ways, first being fully streatched when the arm is raised for exercise like overhead extensions, while it also works when the shoulder is extended in movement such as pullovers. The medial head tends to work more with a pronated grip (when your palms are facing down) with exercises such as pressdowns, finally the lateral head works with the reversed grip (palms facing up or with your palms facing) such as reverse pushdowns or rope pushdowns. Now you know how the arms work lets get to the workout!

 

 

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Build Total-Body Strength

Workouts


Contents

Boost strength and gain muscle with this full-body routine.

Scott Wachter

Like our workouts? You’ll love our personalized programs.

Equipment

  • Stability Ball
  • Dumbbells
  • Bench

Training

Movement Prep











Movements Sets Reps
Get the most out of your warmup with these quick exercises.

Inverted Hamstring Stretch
01 05 reps each
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Knee Hug – Moving
01 05 reps each
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Lateral Squat – Low
01 05 reps each
Play Video


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Forward Lunge Elbow to Instep
01 05 reps each
Play Video


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Strength Circuit #1









Movements Sets Reps
Circuit: Perform each movement in succession with little or no rest between moves.

Bench Press – Alternating Dumbbell
03 08 reps each
Play Video


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Romanian Deadlift – 2 Arm / 1 leg Dumbbell
03 08 reps each
Play Video


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Squat – Front to Press Dumbbell
03 08 reps each
Play Video


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Strength Superset







Movement Sets Reps
Perform one movement after another without resting between moves. Rest 60 seconds, then repeat the superset.

Cable Lift – Standing
02 08 reps each
Play Video


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Split Dumbbell Curl to Press
02 05 reps each
Play Video


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Strength Circuit #2











Movement Sets Reps
Circuit: Perform each movement in succession with little or no rest between moves.

Pillar Bridge – Lateral Dynamic
02 10 reps each
Play Video


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Lateral Squat – Dumbbell (Slide)
02 08 reps each
Play Video


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Row – 1 Arm / 1 Leg Ipsilateral Dumbbell
02 08 reps each
Play Video


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Physioball Plate Crunch (Behind Head)
02 15 reps each
Play Video


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Tags:
Total Body, Resistance Training, Strength, Build Muscle

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Why Small Fitness Studios Beat Big Gyms

When it comes to fitness, many people default to paying for memberships in big gyms because it’s the most obvious, commercial and widely accepted solution to meeting fitness needs. However, just because you’re paying your bill each month doesn’t mean you’re getting the proper fitness training and exercise that your body needs. By the same logic, just because the equipment is there in front of you it doesn’t mean you’re going to use it correctly or at all. Big, corporate-run gyms may be alright for some, providing plenty of machines and classes, but they do not account for one of the biggest factors in fitness: your mind.

Many fitness gurus will tell you that it is not your body you must conquer when pursuing fitness goals; it is actually your mind. It is extremely challenging and rare to achieve major fitness goals without some sort of help. Results depend heavily on the right workout, the right diet, consistency and the right form. Without someone there to check you when your form is off, help you develop a routine and an appropriate diet, and hold you accountable for when you miss a workout, you could easily lose your focus, momentum and motivation. To combat this, big gyms do offer trainers, but these trainers are not always certified and often have so many clients that they are forced to apply a one-size fits all approach to keep up with their clientele.

As more and more people have become conscious of these facts, small, local fitness studios have seen a steady uptick in memberships over the past few years. More people are realizing that a more focused, private setting will allow them to work smarter, not harder, and will give them the results that they’re looking for quicker. Boutique fitness studios offer more lazer-focused, small group classes which are more cost effective than a dedicated trainer but that give you much more personal attention than simply working out on your own in a big gym.

Less distractions

Gyms can often be filled with people having conversations, chatty friends and acquaintances who will want to talk to you, TV screens, showboaters who enjoy strutting their stuff and well, let’s face it – distractingly attractive people. All this takes your focus and attention away from finishing your workout fast, keeping your heart rate up and keeping your form. Smaller gyms offer more privacy and more ease for you to focus on the machines that you need to be on for your specific fitness goals.

Less intimidating

Remember those showboaters we mentioned earlier? For some people, these showboaters work as motivation; but for others, it may be a source of intimidation, making them feel like they are not fit enough to be working out around them. This could mean many things, from you losing your form, exaggerating your movements, or doing more or less reps than you should. All of this will drain the effectiveness out of your workout. A smaller gym feels more comfortable and private, where you will have less eyes on you; the people that go to smaller gyms are not there to show off – they’re there to get results and you will feel this sense of focus when you’re there; it will inevitably rub off on you.

Specialized Methods

Smaller fitness studios often specialize in specific methods and equipment that can deliver better results in a shorter amount of time. Specialized methods like the Power-Plate system offer more efficient workouts than many traditional options. This particular choice is a machine that gives muscles a high-speed workout using vibrations that stimulate contraction and relaxation. In a normal exercise session, human muscles contract once or twice a second, but by standing on the Power-Plate, the vibrations cause an automatic reflex muscle contraction of 30-50 a second. Because of this increased intensity and effectiveness, the Power-Plate is a big time-saver. Many muscle groups are activated at the same time. Just 30 minutes on the Power-Plate will have the same results as 90 minutes of conventional strenuous training. This particular method even helps your body to continue burning calories after your session.

More focused attention

One thing you’ll definitely see a difference in is the attention you get; your instructors have a smaller group to watch as you do your workouts. In big gym classes, you’ll get lost in the shuffle, as just another face in a sea of sweaty faces. In smaller fitness studios, they’ll be able to spot you faster if you’re doing an exercise with the wrong form. They’ll catch you if you slack. Best of all, you’ll get more one on one time with the instructors and more customized attention which will be closer to personal training, without the expensive monthly price tag.

The Philosophy on Equipment: Quality over Quantity

Mega gyms have so many machines that working out on your own in a sea of contraptions you’re not sure how to work could be discouraging and overwhelming. Smaller gyms tend to have just the right mix of machines that are targeted at different areas of the body; there are often a small enough number of machines that your trainers have time to show you just how to use each one properly.

More Accountability

When you walk into a big gym, the only person who notices is yourself and maybe a few other gym rats who you probably don’t even talk to. You are just another scanned membership card to the front desk staff who’s just waiting to clock out. Other than that, if you miss a full week, the only person who is going to hold you accountable is you. This is rarely enough to motivate you to maintain consistency. At a smaller, boutique fitness studio, the groups tend to be much smaller and will definitely notice and comment on either your absence or your progress. You’ll be less likely to miss when your instructors and peers are rooting for you! Beyond just a guilt trip, the atmosphere is typically so close-knit that you will be looking forward to showing up; like an athlete looks forward to joining his or her team for practice, you’ll be itching to get to the gym to put in some work.

Smaller fitness studios, like Streamline Vibrations in Miami, where you will find the Power-Plate method, now make up approximately 21% of the $22.4 billion fitness industry in America. An astounding 45% of people have left their full-service gyms for these smaller, boutique studios, according to the New York Times. This number will likely continue to grow as more people become more serious and strategic about their fitness.

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Core Performance and Intel Partner to Advance Fitness Technology

In the News

Are you making the best use of your time in the gym? No doubt you’re working hard, but chances are you can benefit from working smarter—whether you’re exercising for 15 minutes or an hour. One of the ways in which Core Performance is aiming to help people train more efficiently is with breakthrough technology like the CPro (featured in Wired magazine and shown in the video below). 

The CPro combines traditional gym elements like a pull-up bar and adjustable bench with air-powered resistance, a Power Plate, and interactive monitor. Users enter inputs on how they feel while the Core Performance Logic Engine generates a personalized workout based on their goals, fitness level, and evaluation data.

In addition to prescribing personalized workouts, the CPro allows you to preview exercises, pause video to examine form, and track repetitions. What’s more, the CPro records your training data, so you can actually look back at historical data to see how far you’ve come or how much power you exerted on your last repetition.

The CPro is powered by Intel technology. Check out the video to learn more about how Intel’s advances in fitness are helping people train more effeciently.

Tags:
Training, Health, Build Muscle, Weight Loss

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7 Plateau Busting Tips

When you’re busting your butt, watching your diet, and pushing your limits trying to change your physique, it can be frustrating when you find that your results have stopped. Many people will fall off the wagon and start slacking off at this point, rather then pushing through the plateau.

If you’re serious about your goals then you need to learn to push through these plateau’s. There are many things you can do when you hit a wall, and here are a few minor tweaks that will help keep things fresh and revitalize your results. Consider these plateau-busting tips:

Reversing the order that you perform your compound exercises is one of the simpliest ways to change the way in which your body is worked. This will help confuse the body and promote new muscle growth.

Here is an example of a chest routine.

1. Flat Bench Press

2. Incline Bench Press

3. Weighted Dips

4. Dumbell Chest Flyes

Reversing your compounds lifts would look like this:

1. Weighted Dips

2. Incline Bench Press

3. Flat Bench Press

4. Dumbbell Chest Flyes

Dumbbell flyes would still be the last exercise you do because it is not a compound movement. This may seem like a very basic change but sometimes the simple tweaks can lead to big gains.

Simply switching your reps and sets is another simple but effective way to bust through a plateau. Instead of doing your normal 4 sets of 10, try doing 10 sets of 4. This turns the workout into an intensity workout and will help you increase your strength.

Just like the body can adapt to a workout, it can also adapt to a diet so try switching up the foods you eat. If you’ve been eating chicken breasts, salmon and eggs for the past few weeks try changing them for alternative proteins for a week. It can be very easy to get bored of a diet so be sure that you don’t eat the same proteins more then once a day.

If your looking for other proteins sources try scallops, tilapia, sable fish, beans, bison, turkey, greek yogurt, quinoa, or even chocolate milk.

Truth About Abs

Listening to music when you train is a great motivator, get yourself an mp3 player and listening to something uplifting that gets you in the training mood. Many athletes find that listening to music gets them into a mindset when training and has helped them achieve a much better workout then what they would have done without it. Listening to music is also a great way to help you get rid of any distractions.

When your in the gym take a look around at everyone, you’ll see that most of the people training don’t have a training partner. In fact only around 25 percent of people actually have a training partner. Having a good training partner can help motivate you and breathe new life into your workout.

It’s always good to find someone who may be a little more advanced than yourself, you’ll find yourself with more energy than you thought you had. Even the pro athletes have a training partner to push them further. Some professional athletes will pay for a good training partners.

How long are you resting between sets? 30 seconds, 50 seconds, or more. Are you getting stronger each week or are you just resting for longer?

A good way to keep track of your strength is to wear a stopwatch and time your rest between each set. Keep your workouts honest and consistent.

Finally, if you have hit a plateau taking some time off from the gym can do wonders for the body. If you are feeling tried and unmotivated take a week off and you will come back feeling fresher and more focused. However, don’t just laze about doing nothing spend some time with friends and family, go for walks, do some relaxing activities or maybe try doing some yoga. Taking a week break every 3-4 months is a good idea for anyone training as it can help you stay on track and avoid hitting a plateau.

If you have any plateau-busting tips please share them in the comments!

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