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Top Mistakes to Avoid When You Are Focusing on Building Lean Muscle Mass

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Fitness mistakes to avoid

Unfortunately, what you may be doing before, during, and after exercising could be negating all the positive actions and leaving you disappointed and frustrated at your lack of progress in building muscle. According to experts, apart from the wrong exercises, your social life, and personal habits may also be responsible for sabotaging your efforts to build mass. Some pointers:

Not Doing the Basic Exercises

There is a common tendency among those lifting weights for building muscle to only focus on certain isolation exercises like leg extensions and chest flies to add muscle bulk. However, they seem to forget that basic exercises like squats and bench presses involve several muscles and impose more body stress so that the muscle gain is actually bigger. As a result of the stress, more growth hormones are produced by the pituitary gland that helps the bulking process.

Despite the need for variation, you should never stop doing the basic exercises in favor of isolation exercises. Ensure that of all the exercises in your routine, at least 40-50% is compound exercises involving multiple muscle groups.

Playing Active Sports

This may seem strange to many people but playing a sport may actually slow down your muscle building. This is because your muscles are not getting the sort of rest that they should be getting after you have played a sport and exercised. Typically, if your muscles are not able to get a 48-hour period of rest, the calories are burned more for meeting the energy demands, not building muscle mass. If you want to find out how much you are being affected, limit your cardio to not more than 20 minutes for three days in a week.

If you are able to complete more reps or even lift more weight in a period of 2-3 weeks, you should limit your sporting activities to give a boost to muscle growth. Try out a steroid supplement to aid mass acquisition.

Smoking and Drinking

While everyone knows how bad smoking is for health, it is less known that strength training can also be severely affected as your muscles get less oxygen due to the presence of carbon monoxide in your blood. The lack of adequate oxygen limits the ability of muscles to contract and the muscles become weaker.

Alcohol results in more fat being deposited on the abs and also interfere with muscle-building hormones. Testosterone levels also dip and prevent muscles from being built. Quit smoking and give yourself a psychological boost by exercising more. Limit your alcohol intake to a moderate level to prevent any impact on the level of testosterone.

Conclusion

Your ability to build muscle mass may be severely compromised if you neglect to eat immediately after working out. Failing to have protein and carbs in the 30-minute window after exercising can make your body break down muscles for energy. Also, make sure that you stay hydrated very well, eat more frequently to keep the energy levels high, and get adequate sleep at night so that the muscles can recover and rebuild themselves.

 

Author Bio: Alex Wentworth owns a gym that is very popular with young executives and professionals. His advice for faster muscle building is to focus on the right exercises, ensure a calorie surplus, and take a good quality steroid.

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Five Things to Do on Your Next Rest Day to Reach Your Goals Faster

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How often do you take rest days? Do you ever find yourself afraid to take a rest day, or worried that resting will slow down — or even halt — your progress?

When I first started working out, I was convinced that rest days should be taken as sparingly as possible.

I thought that I needed to work out at least six days a week if I wanted to see any results. I didn’t actually get the results I was looking for working out this way. I just felt tired and stressed out and mentally drained.

Rest days are not just important; they’re essential for you to make progress toward your health and fitness goals. But, what you do on a rest day is just as important as what you don’t do.

Here are five things you ought to be doing on your rest days to ensure you’re seeing maximum results and getting closer to reaching your goals.

Why are Rest Days so Important?

Why do you need to take rest days? What happens when you give your body a break?

When you’re working out, you’re breaking down your muscle tissue. When you rest, your body has a chance to repair itself. During deep sleep, your body produces the bulk of its growth hormone, which is necessary for muscle repair and recovery.

Regular rest days also help you avoid injuries. When you’re regularly over-exercising, you put a lot of stress on your body and are more likely to experience overuse injuries. If you’re chronically stressed, you’re also more likely to experience other injuries like muscle strains and stress fractures.

Rest days also give you an opportunity to mentally recharge. Contrary to what fitness enthusiasts on Instagram will tell you, you need to take a break sometimes.

Burning the candle at both ends will just leave you feeling depleted and increase the likelihood that you’ll give up on your fitness goals altogether. It can also make it harder for you to see progress, which, in turn, may lead to disappointment and increase your chances of giving up on your goals.

How Many Rest Days Should You Take Per Week?

Okay, so rest days are important. But, how often do you need to be taking rest days?

As with many things health and fitness-related, the short answer is that it depends. Depends on what?

The following are some factors that influence how often you ought to be resting in between workouts:

  • Your specific fitness goals: If you’re training for a bodybuilding competition, you’re going to need to train more frequently than someone who just wants to lose a few pounds. Think about what kind of results you want to see and ask yourself how often you need to work out to — realistically — reach these goals.
  • The type of workouts you like to do: Generally, a good rule of thumb is to avoid working out the same muscle group two days in a row (at least with the same level of intensity). So, if you work your legs on Monday, you probably shouldn’t work them again until at least Wednesday.
  • The intensity of your workouts: The more intense your workouts are, the more rest days you ought to be taking. If you only do light mobility work, you can probably get away with exercising more frequently and taking fewer rest days. If you do intense weight-lifting or cardiovascular exercise, you need to rest more often.
  • Your current health status: If you’re a generally healthy person, you probably don’t need as many rest days as someone who is struggling with a chronic illness or recovering from an injury. If you fall into the latter group, excessive exercise could leave you feeling worse, rather than better.

There are many other factors that influence the number of rest days you need to take. But, taking these guidelines into account is a good starting point.

Five Things to Do on Your Next Rest Day

The following are five things you can do on your next rest day to promote recovery and help you feel more energized and ready to take on your next workout.

1. Go to Sleep

Remember, it’s when you’re sleeping that your body produces the most growth hormone. If you want your muscles to repair themselves, quality sleep is a must.

What does quality sleep look like? Sleeping all the way through the night without interruptions. Waking up after a reasonable period of time (7-9 hours) and feeling rested and ready to take on the day. Falling asleep relatively quickly without a lot of tossing and turning.

If quality sleep doesn’t come easily to you, you may need to address your sleep hygiene to ensure you’re maximizing your rest days.

2. Move

A rest day is not the same thing as a sit-on-the-couch-and-do-nothing day. While rest is important, you still need to be moving throughout the day.

Going for a walk, stretching, working on your mobility, and foam rolling are all good options that help to loosen up your muscles and minimize soreness.

Remember, rest is important, but there’s a middle ground between being totally sedentary and intense exercise. Shoot for that middle ground so you reap the benefits of movement while still giving your body a chance to recover.

3. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated helps minimize muscle soreness and cramps. It also ensures that your body is functioning optimally, which is essential for muscle repair and muscle growth.

A good rule of thumb for water consumption is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day.

I like to add lemon juice and sea salt to my water at least once per day. This helps to ensure you’re getting sufficient amounts of electrolytes, which are needed for your cells to actually absorb the water you’re drinking.

I prefer the lemon juice/sea salt combination to sports drinks like Gatorade, which are typically full of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

4. Eat Repair-Promoting Foods

What you eat on a rest day matters just as much as your activity levels. Eat foods that are known to promote muscle recovery, including the following:

  • Whole eggs: A great source of protein and minerals like iron and phosphorous.
  • Salmon: Another great protein source that’s also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which help minimize inflammation and promote cellular health.
  • Sweet potatoes: A great source of complex carbohydrates that can help replenish muscle glycogen stores and promote faster recovery.

5. Keep the Muscle-Building Signal Going

Finally, if muscle growth and increased strength are goals of yours, you may want to consider doing “trigger sessions” on your rest days.

Trigger sessions promote muscle growth by allowing you to increase the frequency of your workouts. They don’t damage the body, though, because they’re performed at a lower intensity.

If you want to work on growing your shoulders or legs, for instance, you might do a few rounds of resistance band lateral raises or bodyweight squats on your off days to keep the muscle-building signal going with promoting soreness and muscle breakdown.

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5 Most Effective Ways You Can Lose Those Pregnancy Pounds

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40 weeks is a long time. Taking care of yourself and the baby was a tiring and wonderful endeavour. Most of the things that you needed to consider before your baby arrived have now been replaced with a new set of responsibilities.

Losing those pregnancy pounds just got added to the list. If you’re finding it difficult, let’s break it down.

1. Breastfeeding

Providing nutrients for your baby is not the only thing that breastfeeding does. It helps in cutting down the calories in the mothers’ body too. On an average, women tend to burn 330 calories per day while breast feeding. This is equivalent to 45 minutes on the treadmill at 10mph.

Must Read: 6 Steps to Eliminating Sagging Breasts Following Your Pregnancy

2. Crash diets are a no go

Watching all those television shows makes you want to go down to a size-0. Doing so can put your body into a nutrient deficit shock. There is no way for the body to lose all those pregnancy pounds that you put on, within a span of a few weeks. The body needs all the nutrients that it can get, to get back to its full potential. Which is why, it is important to take baby steps to lose those pregnancy pounds forever.

3. Superfoods for the supermom

Every new mom has a bunch of cravings, with her body still healing and adjusting to all the changes. Planning is the key here. Trying to switch up those pastry cravings with some fruits and vegetables is exactly what a new mom needs. Breaking down 3 meals a day to 6 meals a day can help increase metabolism, and munching on snacks could be swapped for have some nuts and dry fruits.

4. Exercising and eating right go hand in hand.

It’s time to put on your work out shoes, exercise helps in shedding those pregnancy pounds. It is also important to keep in mind that moms shouldn’t just jump into a rigorous exercise routine, take it slow; baby steps, remember? Start by going out for a walk, and eventually take it up a notch and try yoga, Pilates, kegels or aerobics. If you feel any pain, discomfort, nausea or dizziness stop immediately and try again the next day.

5. Ever heard of the concept of stress eating?

Stress tends to release two hormones in our body such as, adrenalin and cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that makes us think we are hungry, thereby making us eat more and throwing weight loss plans out of the window. Stress is something that new moms are bound to have. Which is why, asking your partner, your family or some of your friends to take care of your baby while you have a “me” is always a great idea to reduce those stress levels.

Also See: 5 Ways to End Emotional Binge Eating

A wonderful thing like giving birth can change the way the body works; even if it is for a little while. This is why it is important to have a balance between your diet and the exercise that you do, to bounce back to your full potential and take care of your new baby.

5 Most Effective Ways You Can Lose Those Pregnancy Pounds

Author Bio: Today’s guest post is written by Olivia Thomas. Check out her latest article on losing those pregnancy pounds.

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Top Five Yoga Poses for People with Lower Back Pain

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At any one time, approximately 31 million Americans are suffering from lower back pain. Lower back pain is also the leading cause of disability for people all over the world.

If you’re currently struggling with lower back pain, you know how frustrating and debilitating it can be. But, it’s also important for you to know that there are a variety of treatment options available to help lessen your pain and improve your quality of life.

One of the best — yet often overlooked — treatment options for people with lower back pain is a consistent yoga practice. Yoga comes with a number of physical and mental health benefits that make it a great choice for people who want to relieve their pain.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of yoga for lower back pain, as well as five of the best pain-relieving poses that you can try today.

Benefits of Yoga for Lower Back Pain

Some of the most well-known benefits of yoga for people with lower back pain include:

  • Strengthens muscles in and around the lower back to improve posture and correct imbalances that contribute to pain
  • Stretches the muscles to relieve tension and improve range of motion
  • Promotes relaxation, which further reduces tension and pain
  • Improves body awareness and helps you understand your own body’s current limitations
  • Improves mindset, which can change your perception of and relationship to your pain

As you can see, there are lots of reasons to give yoga a try. Even if you’re skeptical about the practice’s ability to improve your back pain, at the very least, you’ll get to enjoy an hour of relaxation, which is something just about everyone can benefit from!

Best Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain Relief

If you think you can’t practice yoga because you don’t live close to or can’t afford to go to a yoga studio or gym, think again.

Thanks to the internet, there are tons of free resources available that will help you learn the basics and start reaping the benefits of yoga from the comfort of your own home.

Some simple yoga poses you can try today to relieve your lower back pain include:

1. Child’s Pose

This is one of the easiest, yet most beneficial yoga poses you can incorporate into your routine. It provides a nice stretch for the lower back and hips while also helping you relax and enjoy the moment.

To do this pose, start by kneeling on all fours. Bring your feet together so your big toes are touching and open your knees up so they’re a bit wider than hip-distance. Inhale, then exhale and sit your hips back as you stretch forward so that your torso rests in the space between the thighs. Extend your arms in front of you while resting your forehead on your mat.

If your forehead doesn’t touch the ground, you can prop it up on a yoga block, a pillow, a book, or even your stacked fists.

Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths, or longer if you’d like.

Must Read: 5 Practical Reasons To Practice Yoga During Pregnancy

2. Cat-Cow Pose

This is a great stretch that promotes healthy spinal mobility to relieve tension and strengthen the muscles in the back and abdominals.

Start by kneeling on all fours — make sure the wrists, shoulders, knees, and hips are all stacked and in line with one another. Inhale and arch your back, dropping your stomach down toward the ground and lifting your chin and tailbone up toward the ceiling (this is the “cow” part of the pose). Exhale and reverse the pose, pulling your abdominals in and arch your back up, tucking your chin and tailbone in (this is the “cat” part of the pose).

Repeat for at least five rounds (five “cats” and five “cows”), making sure the movement and breath are synced.

3. Downward Facing Dog

In addition to stretching the back, it’s also important to look elsewhere when you’re experiencing lower back pain. Often, people’s backs hurt because their leg muscles are tight — everything in the body is connected, and if one muscle group is tight, it’s probably pulling on other muscles and causing tension throughout the body.

To do this pose, start on all fours. Then, walk your feet back so that you’re in a plank pose with your shoulders right over your wrists. Inhale, then, as you exhale, lift your hips up toward the ceiling until your body forms an upside down “V” shape. Straighten your legs as much as you can and try to bring your heels down to touch the ground. Gaze between your legs or up at your belly button.

Hold for at least five breaths.

4. Standing Forward Fold

There are a number of standing yoga poses that are also great for countering lower back pain, including standing forward fold.

To do this pose, stand up straight at the top of your mat. Your feet can be hip-distance apart, or you can bring them closer so that your big toes are touching. Inhale and raise your arms up above your head, then exhale and hinge at your hips and stretch forward and down toward the ground, keeping your back as straight as possible.

Tuck your chin toward your chest and let the crown of your head reach toward the floor. If you can’t touch the floor, hold onto your shins or ankles instead. You can also bend your knees a bit if this is too intense for your hamstrings.

Hold for at least five breaths.

5. Reclined Pigeon Pose

This is a very calming pose that is often done at the end of a yoga class. It’s great for cooling down the body and quieting the mind. It also provides a great stretch for the outer hip, which, if it’s tight, can contribute to lower back pain.

Start by lying flat on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the ground. Lift your left foot and cross it over your right thigh so it’s resting just above the knee. Reach through the space created by your right left leg and clasp your hands behind your right thigh. Gently pull your right leg in toward your chest, keeping the knee bent.

Hold for at least five breaths, then switch sides.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve never tried yoga as a way to relieve your back pain, consider testing out these five poses today. Your body — and your mind — will thank you!

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