October 16, 2014
The chest is the one of the hardest parts of the body to build up in terms of muscle mass and size. A lot of people hit the gym on a Monday after the weekend and try to pump out four sets of heavy bench presses, incline dumbbell presses and finish off with some dumbbell fly’s. They have been performing this routine for years without any alternations because does show some muscle gains- to a point.
Is this strategy the right approach? Well, for some it may work. But for others training in a ‘smart’ way and having the scientifically backed knowledge will definitely help you to boost your chest muscle mass/size. This approach will stop you from hitting the dreaded plateaus in gains, will shake things up a bit and will add some new stimuli into your chest training. A key point to remember is that chest training is hard work but it doesn’t need to be difficult. Your working regime should be smart, fun, motivational and goal driven. If one of your physique goals is to improve your chest size and mass then please read on………
Chest Anatomy and Function
Your chest is made up two muscle groups that work with each other to make the area with your body function effectively. The two muscles are the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The pectoralis minor is situated directly underneath the pectoralis major. The pectoralis major is the broad and thick fanned shaped muscle that is located across your chest. Both muscles begin at the clavicle, are inserted at the chest bone and also into the arm pit. In simple terms of the chest muscles they have three main functions and these are as follows:
Chest Building Strategies
As mentioned previously, the chest is made up of 2 muscle groups. However, in terms of training it should be broken down further into three key areas i.e. top, middle and bottom. These 3 areas of the chest can be targeted simply by changing the angle that you are performing the exercises at e.g. the presses or the flyes. The main techniques of targeting the 3 areas can be broken down as follows:
Upper chest- perform incline barbell chest press, dumbbell chest press and incline dumbbell flyes. The bench should be between 35-45% at an incline. Why not spice it up with some 180 degree twisting dumbbell bench presses.
Middle Chest- perform flat bench presses and flyes, these are standard practice. Add in some pull ups, close grip push ups and some cable flys. Also exchange the dumbbells for some kettlebells, as you will recruit more muscle fibres to counteract the kettlebells hanging below your palms.
Lower Chest- the lower chest is best targeted by decline bench press and flyes; again this is standard practice. The bench should be between 30-45% on the decline. Why not try some lower forward leaning dips, as they target the lower chest and the triceps.
In terms of rep range try to press heavy with a low rep range (4-6 reps) and then advance to 8-12 reps. If you are finding 12 reps easy then increase the weight used. For flys go for a higher range (8-12 reps) with a weight that you feel comfortable using. You can increase the weight but try to keep the reps within this range during each set of flys.
If you are feeling brave why not ditch the bench and use a Swiss-Ball instead. You use the same principles as mentioned above but instead of adjusting the position of the bench, you adjust the angle of your body on the Swiss Ball. Research has shown that using a Swiss Ball helps you to engage your core muscles more and aids with stabilization at the shoulder joint when performing presses and flys.
Compound and Isolated Chest Exercises
Another key point to consider is that bench pressing, push ups and pull ups are all compound exercises that use multi-joints. They also utilize numerous muscle groups and recruit a huge number of muscle fibres when performing them. Due to the large recruitment of muscle fibres you will see rapid gains in strength and size. However, compound exercises are very poor at shaping/defining the chest muscles and this is where the dumbbell/kettlebell flys come into play. They help to isolate and rip up the chest muscles because they are focusing on the 3 main areas. Therefore, both compound and isolated chest movements should be incorporated into your work out regime.
|Upper Chest Work Out|
|Barbell Incline Medium Grip Bench Press||4 x 4-6 reps|
|180 Degree Twisting Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses||4 x 4-6 reps|
|Incline Kettlebell Flys||4 x 8-12 reps|
|Wide Arm Push Ups||4 x 12 reps|
|Middle Chest Work Out|
|Barbell Incline Medium Grip Bench Press||4 x 4-6 reps|
|Kettlebell Flyes||4 x 4-6 reps|
|Cable Flys||4 x 8-12 reps|
|Pull Ups||4 x 12 reps|
|Wide Arm Push Ups||4 x 12 reps|
|Lower Chest Work Out|
|Barbell Decline Bench Press||4 x 4-6 reps|
|Forward Leaning Dips||4 x 8-12 reps|
|Decline Kettlebell Flyes||4 x 8-12 reps|
|Decline Dumbbell Flys||4 x 8-12 reps|
|Push Ups||4 x 12 reps|
September 17, 2014
By: Douglas Wheeler, Strength Coach
Not seeing results from your CrossFit WODs? Or have you reached a plateau that you just can’t seem to cross? Perhaps it’s because you’re doing it wrong. These quick and simple tips to spruce up your WODs can get you back on the road to meeting your goals from weight loss to strength gains! One or more of these issues apply to most people, so adjust your workouts accordingly.
September 12, 2014
More and more, society is learning the importance of general fitness, exercise, and good nutrition in order to maintain a healthy life. But in a society that is ruled by the internet, misinformation in the world of fitness and nutrition abounds and people are tasked with trying to figure out what is real and what is just nonsense that people post to get their name out there. However, general fitness can be fun and can be quite simple if you are patient enough to go through with it and push past the initial challenges. There are many ways to exercise in a group setting without having to take a run of the mill step class or aerobics class, such as doing CrossFit, participating in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or even just exercising with friends.
Fitness is important for everyone because it promotes health and well-being. Scientific studies have shown that through complex reactions and mechanisms down to the cellular level that exercise helps the immune system, fights aging, and even makes you feel good by causing your brain to release endorphins, or chemicals that make you feel good and happy.
1. Do Not Think of Exercise as a Chore
If you think of exercise as a chore, you will begin to look for ways to get out of exercising, rather than exercising. In fact, rather than looking at it as something you should do at some point during the day, think of exercise as only part of having an active lifestyle! If you will change your habits to become more active, you will be surprised to find how much extra time you have during the day.
2.Get Involved in CrossFit
CrossFit can be a fun way to exercise and get fit if done properly. CrossFit is a specific type of workout involving many different exercises from Olympic weightlifting movements to rowing or jogging. CrossFit is done in specialized gyms known as boxes, where group sessions are led by certified CrossFit coaches. CrossFit can be a very intense and high impact sport, however, so it is important that if you are considering CrossFit, you ensure that you are healthy enough for exercise and you only complete workouts at your own pace.
3.Consider Martial Arts
Not only are martial arts a fun way to exercise and get fit, it also has many practical uses, such as learning self defense! Martial arts include karate, tae kwon do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and many others. Martial arts not only promote activity and teach self defense, but it also teaches mental focus and acuity.
4. Make Exercise a Game
Exercise with friends and make it a competition, trying to work harder and sweat more. Of course, be sensible and don’t hurt yourself, but have fun with it. You’d be surprised to see how much harder you’ll work when exercising with a friend.
5. Look for Ways to Stay Active
Look for ways to make activity part of your everyday routine such as parking farther from the entrance to the store, going the extra mile while cleaning, or even walking the dog a little bit farther. If you live in an area where driving is not necessary, leave your home a few minutes earlier and ride your bike or walk to work. There are all sorts of ways to incorporate activity into your routine, and they can all be fun rather than tedious. Most importantly, find activities that you enjoy, you will be more likely to follow through with it if you enjoy it, so that does not necessarily mean that you have to go run on a treadmill.
September 11, 2014
You are probably wondering what the craze is all about regarding this core-conditioning exercise. Here is the breakdown:
It is a strength training exercise so one of the key benefits is obviously to improve your strength in various areas. Let's take a closer look at the actual exercise...
If you look closely at the front plank, you will notice the muscle groups being challenged. If we start at the front, the first muscle being worked is the neck. In order to hold this plank position correctly you must keep your neck straight and not bending down. By keeping it straight you are working major muscle groups in your neck called the traps, this helps your posture especially.
Moving along the neck, the next muscle group you will notice being used are your shoulders. Holding the shoulders up are the biceps. If you are not into body building and building your biceps, merely performing the plank will help build and tone your biceps as you are using your biceps to keep your upper body weight off the ground.
Now if we travel along under the body, the next muscle group we hit is chest then of course abs. Strong abs are vital not only for sport but also for good posture. The muscle groups to the opposite side of the abs are your lower back muscles. These too play a vital role in keeping you in the plank position. Moving along, the next muscle group we come to are the ones located in your bottom, yes these too are strengthened! From there you have the thighs and finally the calf muscles. We got there in the end! So as you can see, the plank provides strength benefits to many muscle groups all at the same time.
August 26, 2014
The search for answers about muscle building and fat loss can sometimes lead to articles or forums that point out one of the most influential factors for results: your genetics. Research appears to confirm that regardless of how hard you work, you will never overcome your genes. Will power is one element that scientists fail to taken into consideration. By changing your workout variables to fit your genes and by harnessing the power of your mind, you can achieve your fitness goals.
A simple yes or no response cannot be given to the question of whether genetics is the sole defining factor for what type of physique you have. Recent studies show a wide range of results.
“A landmark study by Hubal used 585 male and female human subjects and showed that twelve weeks of progressive dynamic exercise resulted in a shockingly wide range of responses. The worst responders lost 2% of their muscle cross-sectional area and didn't gain any strength whatsoever. The best responders increased muscle cross-sectional area by 59% and increased their 1RM strength by 250%.” (“The Truth About Bodybuilding Genetics” 2011, para. 3)
A variety of factors must be taken into consideration; however, in general, it can be said that genetics do have a central role in determining what your body should look like. At the very least, what it should begin to look like. As Rivera points out,
“Genetics will determine how quickly results will be achieved from a training program and how far the body will be taken when pushed to the extreme. However, there is an even more important factor and that is the mindset.” (“How Much of a Factor Do Genetics Play In Bodybuilding and Other Sports?” N.D., para. 1)
The big problem with many of these modern studies is that all of the subjects performed the exact same training program. What’s more, in some studies, nutrition was not monitored. 70% of the results you see come from nutrition!
Most importantly, no study measured the attitude and mindset factor. The human body is a wondrous thing but one program will not for every single body. Arnold Schwarzenegger can give you his workout routines but that doesn’t mean they will work for you.
Pay no mind to the studies. Here are a few great ways to overcome your genetic fate.
1.) The Workout
You need a well-researched and well-tested workout program. You may have to dedicate yourself to several programs before you find the one that works with your body but you will find it. Be sure you measure every detail during your workouts. This is how you will see if your body is reacting in a positive way. Watch for gains in the mirror and on paper.
2.) The Nutrition
Nutrition is 70% of the results that you see. Building muscle and losing fat requires you to curtail your eating habits to align with that goal. Your meal planner should be just as detailed, if not more so, as your workout plan.
3.) The Mindset
The most important factor is your attitude and your belief system. You need to believe that you’re able to achieve this goal. If you don’t believe it then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Find a workout partner with the same goals. Get mad, get motivated, and get in the gym. Nothing is impossible as long as you believe in it.
1.) Contreras, Bret. “The Truth About Bodybuilding Genetics” t-nation.com. (2011). Web
2.) Rivera, Hugo. “How Much of a Factor Do Genetics Play In Bodybuilding and Other Sports?” bodybuilding.about.com. (N.D.). Web.
August 21, 2014
Former Bellator MMA Lightweight Champion and newly signed UFC fighter Eddie Alvarez makes waves in global MMA news about his release from Bellator and upcoming debut fight against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. He will now return to action on September 27 at UFC 178 in Las Vegas.
August 1, 2014