December 2011

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By: Stephen Perrine

Are you looking for your next great workout? Look no further. This fat-burning, muscle-building plan—from the new book, The Men’s Health Diet—is exactly what you need to transform your body. It’s designed with minimum equipment requirements and maximum efficiency in mind: 10 exercises performed in a high-intensity circuit that works every muscle in your body.
But this isn’t your traditional program filled with the routine 3 sets of 10 reps. Those are arbitrary goals set by some gym teacher back in sixth grade. This plan works based on time—the ultimate motivator—and it allows you to challenge your body and push your fitness to new levels. Instead of worrying about a goal number of reps, each set is timed so you can push yourself to reach a new personal record with each workout. This approach allows you to choose if you want to perform more reps or add more weight, putting you in control of your goals. You’ll be changing your body, strengthening your heart, and doing everything you need to supercharge your metabolism and look and live healthier than ever.

Directions

Do this circuit 3 days a week. Perform 1 set of each exercise in succession. Each set consists of doing the exercise as many times as you can in 30 seconds. Use only perfect form—it doesn’t count if you cheat, Mr. McGwire—and when your 30 seconds are up, give yourself 15 seconds to rest before moving on to the next exercise. Rest for 2 minutes after you’ve completed the entire sequence. Then repeat the whole process two more times for a total of 3 circuits per workout.
If you get tired and can’t continue exercising for the entire 30 seconds, stop and rest for a few seconds, and then resume performing reps until the time is up. For each exercise, you should start with a weight that you can use for 10 to 12 perfect reps.

Dumbbell Straight-Leg Deadlift

Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and hold them in front of your thighs, arms hanging straight down. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent (A). Without changing the bend in your knees, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor (B). Pause, then raise your torso back to the starting position.

Dumbbell Plank and Row

Grab a pair of hex dumbbells with an overhand grip and assume a pushup position, your arms straight (A). Keeping your core stiff, balance your weight on your left arm as you pull the dumbbell in your right hand up to the side of your chest, bending your arm as you pull it upward (B). Pause, and then quickly lower the dumbbell. Repeat with your left arm.

Dumbbell Front Squat

Stand and hold a pair of dumbbells so that your palms are facing each other and a dumbbell head is resting on the meatiest part of each shoulder (A). Keep your body as upright as you can at all times. Brace your abs and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees (B). Don’t allow your elbows to drop down as you squat. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position.

Dumbbell Push Press

Stand and hold a pair of dumbbells so that your palms are facing each other and the dumbbells are parallel to the floor (A). Keep your body upright as you bend slightly at the knees, then explosively push up with your legs as you press the dumbbells over your head (B). Pause, then lower the weights to the starting position.

Dumbbell High Pull

Hold a pair of dumbbells just below the fronts of your knees with your palms facing your legs, your hips pushed back, and your knees slightly bent (A). With your back flat and arms straight, pull both dumbbells upward as fast as you can by thrusting your hips forward and explosively standing up (B). Keep the dumbbells as close to your body as possible and bring them up to shoulder height. (At the top of the movement, your elbows should angle out like you’re doing the funky chicken.) Return to the starting position.

Cross Body Mountain Climber

Assume a pushup position with your arms completely straight (A). Lift your right foot off the floor, then bend your right knee and bring it up under your body, toward your left elbow, without changing the arch in your lower back (B). Lower your leg back to the starting position. Then raise your left foot off the ground and bring your left knee to your right elbow. Alternate back and forth until time is up.

Alternating Split Jump

Stand in a staggered stance with your feet 2 to 3 feet apart, your left foot in front of your right. Keeping your torso upright, bend your legs and lower your body into a lunge position (A). At the bottom of the movement, your left thigh should be parallel to the ground, and your right thigh should be perpendicular to the ground. Now jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor (B). While you’re in the air, scissor-kick your legs so you land with your right leg forward and your left leg behind you (C). Repeat, alternating your forward leg for the duration of the set.

T Pushup

Grab a pair of hex dumbbells with an overhand grip and assume a pushup position, your arms straight (A). Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor (B). As you push yourself back up, lift your right hand and rotate the right side of your body as you raise the dumbbell straight up over your shoulder until your body forms a T (C). Reverse the move and repeat, this time rotating your left side.

Reverse Lunge and Swing

Grasp the head of a dumbbell with both hands and hold the weight hanging down in front of your chest with your arms bent (A). Step backward with your left leg and bend your left knee until it almost touches the floor. As you step back, rotate your shoulders and swing the dumbbell to the outside of your left hip (B). Press back up to the starting position and swing the dumbbell to eye level with your arms extended (C). Return the dumbbell to the starting position and repeat on your other side.

Dumbbell Row

Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend at your hips (don’t round your lower back), and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length, palms inward (A). Without moving your torso, row the weights upward by raising your upper arms, bending your elbows, and squeezing your shoulder blades together (B). Keep the dumbbells close to the side of your body at the top of the movement. Pause, lower the dumbbells, and repeat.

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Does your treadmill workout make you feel like a rat on a wheel? Then it’s probably time to change up your routine
By Jill Yaworski

Does your treadmill workout make you feel like a rat on a wheel? Then it’s probably time to change up your routine. And not just because you’re bored. “The human body wasn’t designed for conveyor-belt training or repetitive, one-dimensional movement,” says Dan John, a fitness coach in Burlingame, California, and the author of Never Let Go. So try one of John’s novel cardio drills below. Or better yet, try all three. You’ll blast fat and improve your fitness quickly. And the best part: You won’t have to find ways to distract yourself during these workouts—you’ll be too busy getting in shape.
The “55” workout Start by doing one body-weight squat and 10 pushups. Rest for 30 seconds, and then do 2 squats and 9 pushups. Gradually work your way up to 10 squats and down to 1 pushup. You’ll complete 55 reps of each exercise by the time you’re done—and reap both the cardiovascular benefit of aerobic training and the muscular pump of a strength session. (And if you like this routine, you’ll love The World’s Most Efficient Workout.)
10-meter sprints Find an area in your gym where you can sprint for 10 meters. Once you’ve covered the distance, pause just long enough to inhale and exhale once through your nose. Sprint back and pause, this time inhaling and exhaling twice through your nose. Continue the drill—breathing normally as you sprint, and adding an additional nose inhalation and exhalation when you pause—until you can no longer breathe through your nose. “It takes more effort than breathing through your mouth—even during rest—which increases the intensity of the exercise,” John says. The result: more gain in less time (and distance) than on a treadmill. (Don’t undermine your fitness efforts: Make sure to avoid The Worst “Free” Restaurant Foods in America.)
Jumping-jack pyramid Do as many jumping jacks as you can in 10 seconds. Rest for an equal amount of time. Next, do as many jumping jacks as you can in 20 seconds, and rest 20 seconds. Then do 30 seconds of jumping jacks followed by 30 seconds of rest. Now work your way back down the pyramid (30, 20, 10). Repeat three times. This will change the way you think about jumping jacks forever. And for more than 80 lightning-quick workouts that will get you in shape fast, check out The Men’s Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts and The Women’s Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts.

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by Men’s Health

You know the routine: Do a set, rest, do another set. Let’s change that. “By filling your rest periods with exercises, you can improve conditioning and kickstart your metabolism,” says Jim Smith, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Diesel Crew. Pick fillers that work different muscle groups than your main exercise does, and do them for 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Smith likes these pairings.

Mountain Climber

Between sets of: Chinups Do this filler: Mountain climber
Assume a pushup position with your hands on a medicine ball. Lift your right foot off the floor and raise your right knee as close to your chest as you can, without rounding your lower back. Put your leg down, and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating as fast as you can.

Jump Squat

Between sets of: Dumbbell bench presses Do this filler: Jump squat
Place your fingers on the back of your head and pull your elbows back so they’re in line with your body. Dip your knees, and then explosively jump as high as you can. When you land, immediately squat and jump again.

Medicine-Ball Slam

Between sets of: Deadlifts Do this filler: Medicine ball slam
Hold a medicine ball at waist level, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. While keeping your elbows slightly bent, explosively lift the ball up and then slam it to the floor in front of you. Grab the ball on the rebound and repeat.

Dumbbell Hang Pull

Between sets of: Squats Do this filler: Dumbbell hang pull
Stand with your hips pushed back (as if you’re about a quarter of the way into a squat) while holding a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip. In one movement, straighten your hips, knees, and ankles, and explosively pull the dumbbells as high as you can. Lower yourself to the starting position and repeat.

Bench Jump

Between sets of: Dumbbell military presses Do this filler: Bench jump
Stand facing a bench that’s at knee height. Squat as low as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Then explosively jump over the bench and land in a deep squat. Turn around so you’re again facing the bench, and repeat.

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by Kevin Donahue

You’ve heard the critics and the dismissals: He can’t throw a football, he doesn’t belong on the field as an NFL quarterback.

But Tim Tebow does two things really well. He wins games—35 in three seasons as the starter at the University of Florida, and five in six tries since moving atop the depth chart for the resurgent Denver Broncos—and he works incredibly hard.

How hard? When Tebow was at Florida, he’d run up and down every aisle (about 1,500 steps) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, a.k.a. The Swamp, to build endurance, then would do speed intervals to develop strength and explosive power.

More from MensHealth.com: The Best Places in the U.S. to Work Out

“Running steps improves muscular endurance, which boosts performance in any sport,” said Tim Tebow at the time. “It helps strengthen both the bigger and smaller muscles in your lower body . . . It’s as much a mental test as a physical one.”

Want to test yourself like Tebow? You can, though it’s not easy. All you need is bleachers—those with at least 20 steps at your local high school field will do (or substitute the stair climber at the gym)—and some time. Try any of these drills, modified from those used by Gators head strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, C.S.C.S. Use each separately or do them together for a complete workout.

You might not find yourself leading an NFL team to victory any time soon, but you’ll feel great while building strength and endurance.

Drill No. 1 Warm up by walking up and down 90 steps twice. Then perform walking lunges up 90 steps. This helps build strength without spiking your heart rate. If your legs tire, pause and wait 60 seconds to give your muscles a break.

Drill No. 2 The final two sequences are for building stamina: First, make an entire loop through the stadium, running at a pace you can maintain. This should take 15 to 25 minutes, so if the bleachers are small, do it twice or even three times. Rest for 3 minutes, and then do your speed work. Sprint up 30 steps as fast as you can, walk back down, and repeat for a total of 5 sets.

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Your nervous system holds the key to bigger muscles and better workouts. Here’s how to tap into your body’s secret power supply.
By Chad Waterbury, Photo Illustrations by Bryan Christie

IMAGINE YOU’RE A FOOTBALL COACH and it’s the first week of training camp. You have one group of players who look great in practice—they do all the drills just the way you want and have terrific stamina. They aren’t particularly fast or strong, but they sure make it easy to run a practice.
Then there’s another group. They suck at running laps, and their form in drills breaks down after 10 seconds. But when they line up against the first group, it’s like the opening act at the Roman Colosseum. They’re so much bigger, stronger, faster, and more explosive that the high-stamina guys don’t stand a chance.
Needless to say, the men in this second group are your starters come kickoff time on Saturday afternoon.
Your muscles are a lot like those football players. You have a lot of slow-twitch, type I muscle fibers designed for endurance. You also have some fast-twitch, type IIb fibers designed for all-or-nothing jumps, sprints, and lifts. And you have some that fall in between—fast-twitch, type IIa fibers that can stay on task for minutes at a time.
Those limited-edition type IIb fibers not only are the biggest but are also the ones with the most potential to grow even bigger.
That’s why as a strength coach I make them my focus. I want to help my athletes develop the explosive power that sets the champions apart from everyone else.
I have three distinct ways to train the high-performance muscle fibers. But before I show you the techniques, I’ll explain how and why these fibers work.

PART 1

Target the right type Your body doesn’t use its type IIb fibers unless it has to. No matter how hard you try, you can’t force those fibers into action for a task as simple as walking across the room or picking up a pencil. You’d have to sprint across the room or pick up a huge crate of pencils for the type IIbs to fire.
To produce movement, your body recruits muscle fibers in an orderly progression from smallest to largest. Type I fibers, the smallest, have the least strength and the most endurance. So if you’re walking at a leisurely pace, your type I fibers do almost all the work. You could walk along like this for hours, if you didn’t die of boredom first.
But if you pick up the pace, you send larger fibers into action—starting with the type IIa kind. Most guys can engage a good number of type IIa fibers for about a minute before the fibers start to drop off, forcing a slowdown. A well-trained athlete—an 800-meter Olympic sprinter, say—might be able to keep quite a few of these fibers firing for 2 minutes at a time.
The IIb fibers don’t figure into the mix until you’re working at about two-thirds of your maximum capacity–the equivalent of a fast run or a moderately heavy weightlifting set. Even then they don’t go all in until you’re going all out. If you’re running as fast or lifting as much as you can, you’re using every muscle fiber your body can possibly call into action: Think full-effort activity.
When your goal is to target IIb fibers and make them bigger and stronger as a result, you have two options:

  • Lifting a near-max weight
  • Lifting a lighter weight as fast as possible

Picture a simple muscle like your biceps. Let’s say you can curl 40-pound dumbbells once, but on your second rep you have to contort your body like a drunken pole-vaulter. By using 35-pound weights and doing 3-rep sets with good form, you’re probably training every available muscle fiber.
Another option is to curl 20-or 25-pounders as quickly as possible for 3 or 4 reps. This would bring your IIb fibers into action too.
What won’t work is grinding out sets of 10 to 12 reps at a steady, deliberate speed. It’ll feel difficult, and you might be sore a day or two later, but exercise science tells us you aren’t reaching as many muscle fibers as you would if you lifted as much weight as possible or lifted a lighter weight as quickly as possible.
There’s also a third way to recruit your IIb fibers into the game: balance exercises. The scientific term is sensorimotor training. Doctors prescribe this in rehab settings for patients who are relearning basic movements after an illness or injury.
Researchers have discovered that sensorimotor training does more than improve balance. It also improves what scientists call rate of force development, or RFD—the speed at which patients can make their muscles perform. The faster you can develop force, the harder you can train and the faster you can build strength and muscle size.
At first glance, this might not seem logical. How can you make muscles work faster when the goal of a balance exercise is to prevent them from moving at all?
The answer can be found within your body’s nervous system.

PART 2

Add balance to your workout One aspect of your nervous system is simple to understand. You decide you’re going to jump as high as you can, and then your brain sends direct messages through your nerves to your muscles to make that happen. It takes just a fraction of a second for your lower-body muscle fibers—from smallest to largest—to respond and produce that jump.
The same thing happens when you’re deadlifting a maximum weight. As soon as your brain tells your muscles what to do, they at least try to do it.
But let’s say you’re trying to keep your balance while standing on one leg on an unstable surface, like a squishy pad or a Bosu balance trainer. Direct commands from your brain aren’t very helpful here. Instead, your body relies on feedback from loops of nerves that travel from your muscles to your spinal cord and back again. (No brain needed.) These spinal circuits allow you to react and adjust your movements without consciously deciding what you’re going to move next.
That’s why you see better results by training your nervous system to respond both directly and indirectly than you would by simply focusing on the most straightforward ways to increase strength, speed, and power. Balance exercises help you develop force faster, which means you can activate those powerhouse muscle fibers sooner, which in turn helps you grow bigger and stronger.

PART 3

Put it all together My system works best if you focus on one movement pattern at a time—for instance, s a lower-body hip-dominant movement or an upper body pushing movement. Below you’ll find a lower-body example. It’s the same workout that I used when training mixed martial artist Ralek Gracie. It was designed to build his explosive lower body strength so that he could jump higher and kick harder. But it also works great to add muscle to your thighs. You’ll see that the first exercise is a single-leg balance on an unstable surface. Then you move on to a power exercise, the jump shrug, followed by a traditional strength exercise—in this case the wide-grip deadlift—using the heaviest load you can handle with good form.
Directions: Do the exercises in the order shown. Complete all sets of each exercise before moving on to the next. After you do all your sets of an exercise, rest one to two minutes before moving on to the next exercise.
Exercise 1. Single-leg partial squat hold on a Bosu ball Sets: 3 Duration: 15-second hold Rest: 30 seconds between each set Load: Use only your body-weight. How to do it: Stand on a Bosu ball with your right leg. Push your hips back a few inches so your right knee bends slightly. Hold that position for 15 seconds. Your right leg should be shaking. Without resting, perform a 15-second hold while standing on your left leg. That’s one set. Rest for the prescribed amount of time and repeat.
Exercise 2: Barbell Jump Shrug Sets: 3 Reps: 4 Rest: 30 seconds between each set Load: Use a weight in which you could do 10 to 12 reps at most. (It will be “light” for your 4-rep sets, but that’s because you want to perform the movement quickly.) How to do it: Grab a barbell with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Bend at your hips and knees until the barbell hangs just below your knees. (Your arms should be straight.) Simultaneously thrust your hips forward, shrug your shoulders forcefully, and jump as high as you can. Land softly, and reset.  That’s one rep. Do all your reps, then rest for the prescribed period of time and repeat.
Exercise 3: Barbell Wide-Grip Deadlift Sets: 4 Reps: 3 Rest: 60 seconds Load: The heaviest weight you can handle for 3 reps. If you think you could have done a couple of more reps, you need to increase the load. How to do it: Load a barbell and roll it against your shins. Bend at your hips an knees and grab the bar with an overhand grip that’s about twice shoulder width. Your arms should be straight and your lower back should be slightly arched, not rounded. Tense your glutes and abs, then stand up with the bar by pulling your torso back and up and thrusting your hips forward. (Squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the movement.) Reverse the movement, and lower the bar to the floor. That’s one rep. Do all your reps, then rest for the prescribed period of time and repeat.

If you think this mini-workout is interesting, you’ll love The Type IIb Muscle Plan I created for Men’s Health Personal Trainer. It’s a complete 4-week workout program that trains your entire body.

I’ll tell you up front: It’s a challenging program, since it’s similar to what I use for training elite athletes. (They’ll balance for up to 45 seconds, instead of the 15-second holds you start with here.) Everyone sees similar results: By priming their nervous systems to recruit the biggest muscle fibers as quickly as possible, they take the most they can out of the power-and strength-building exercises that follow.

If you really were a football coach, you’d take those results in a heartbeat.

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By: Lou Schuler & Ian King

Your body has about 650 muscles. It doesn’t matter that you only care about four or five of them. You need every one in order to perform the normal functions of everyday life—eating, breathing, walking, holding in your stomach at the beach.

Granted, you don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about most of your muscles. The 200 muscles involved in walking do the job whether you monitor them or not.

You could try to impress your friends at parties by telling them the gluteus maximus is the body’s strongest muscle, or that the latissimus dorsi (in your middle back) is the largest, or that a middle-ear muscle called the stapedius is the smallest. But it probably won’t work, unless you have some really unusual friends. And muscle trivia can’t capture the wonder of muscles themselves—the brilliance of coordinated muscles in motion, the magnificence of well-developed muscles in isolation.

We hope, in the following story, to help you understand a little more about how your muscles work, and thus how to make them bigger, stronger, and more aesthetically pleasing (if you’re into that sort of thing). You can accomplish all three, if you know what’s going on beneath the surface.

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Muscle Fibers Do Different Things

Your skeletal muscles—the ones you check out in the mirror—have two main types of fibers.

Type I fibers, also called slow-twitch, are used mainly for endurance activities. Type II, or fast-twitch, begin to work when a task utilizes more than 25 percent of your maximum strength. A movement doesn’t have to be “slow” for the slow-twitch fibers to take over; it just has to be an action that doesn’t require much of your fast-twitch strength. And an effort doesn’t have to be “fast” to call your fast-twitch fibers into play.

A personal-record bench press is going to use every possible fast-twitch fiber (plus all the slow-twitchers, as we’ll explain below), even though the bar probably isn’t moving very fast.

Most people are thought to have a more or less equal mix of slow- and fast-twitch fibers. (Elite athletes are obvious exceptions—a gifted marathoner was probably born with more slow- than fast-twitch fibers, just as an Olympic-champion sprinter or NFL running back probably started life with more fast-twitch fibers.) However, the fast-twitch fibers are twice as big as the slow ones, with the potential to get even bigger. Slow-twitch fibers can get bigger, too, although not to the same extent.

So one strategy comes immediately to mind . . .

To Grow Large, Lift Large

When you begin a task, no matter if it’s as simple as getting out of bed or as complex as swinging a golf club, your muscles operate on two basic principles of physiology:

1. The all-or-nothing principle states that either a muscle fiber gets into the action or it doesn’t. (As Yoda said, long ago in a galaxy far away, “There is no try.”) If it’s in, it’s all the way in. So when you get up to walk to the bathroom, incredibly enough, a small percentage of your muscle fibers are working as hard as they can to get you there. And, more important, all the other fibers are inactive.

2. The size principle requires that the smallest muscle fibers get into a task first. If the task—a biceps curl, for example—requires less than 25 percent of your biceps’ strength, then the slow-twitch fibers will handle it by themselves. When the weight exceeds 25 percent of their strength, the type II, fast-twitch fibers jump in. The closer you get to the limits of your strength, the more fast-twitch fibers get involved.

Here’s why this is important: One of the most pervasive myths in the muscle world is that merely exhausting a muscle will bring all its fibers into play. So, in theory, if you did a lot of repetitions with a light weight, eventually your biggest type II fibers would help out because the smaller fibers would be too tired to lift the weight.

But the size principle tells you that the biggest fibers are the Mafia hit men of your body. They don’t help the underlings collect money from deadbeats. They suit up only when the work calls for their special talents, and when no one else can be trusted to do the job right.

In other words, a guy who’s trying to build as much muscle as possible must eventually work with weights that require something close to an all-out effort. Otherwise, the highest-threshold fibers would never spring into action. Moreover, the smaller fibers don’t need any special high-repetition program of their own, since the size principle also says that if the big fibers are pushed to the max, the small ones are getting blasted, too.

Building Muscles Saves Your Bones

Many have tried to disparage the squat, framing it as an exercise that’s brutal to back and knees. The charges never stick. Sure, the exercise can be tough on the knees, but no tougher than full-court basketball or other full-bore sports.

And for guys with healthy backs and knees, the squat is among the best exercises for strength, mass, sports performance, and even long-term health. The heavy loads build muscle size and strength, along with bone density, and thicker bones will serve you well when you finally break into that 401(k). So you won’t be the guy who fractures his hip and ends up in a nursing home, although you’ll probably pay some visits to your nonsquatting friends.

Setup: Set a bar in supports that are just below shoulder height and load the weight plates. (Be conservative with these weights if you’ve never squatted before. There’s a learning curve.) Grab the bar with your hands just outside your shoulders, then step under the bar and rest it on your back. When you pull your shoulder blades together in back, the bar will have a nice shelf to rest on. Lift the bar off the supports and take a step back. Set your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly, pull in your lower abs, squeeze your glutes, and set your head in line with your spine, keeping your eyes forward.

Descent: To begin the squat, bend your knees and hips simultaneously to lower your body. Squat as deeply as you can without allowing your trunk to move forward more than 45 degrees from vertical. Make sure your heels stay flat on the floor.

Ascent: Squeeze your glutes together and push them forward to start the ascent, which should mirror the descent. Keep your knees the same distance apart (don’t let them move in or out). Your hips and shoulders need to move at the same angle–if your hips come up faster, you increase your trunk angle and risk straining your lower back. At the top, keep a slight bend in your knees.

You Can Improve Muscle Quality

On the day you were conceived, the gene gods had made three decisions that you might want to quibble with as an adult, if you could:

1. Your maximum number of muscle fibers

2. Your percentages of fast- and slow-twitch fibers

3. The shapes of your muscles when fully developed

On the downside, unless you were born to anchor the 4100 relay at next summer’s Olympics, you can forget about ever reaching that goal. The athletes at the extremes—the fastest and strongest, the ones with the best-looking muscles, and the ones capable of the greatest endurance—were already at the extremes from the moment sperm swam headlong into egg.

The upside is that there’s a lot of wiggle room in between. Few of us ever approach our full genetic potential. You probably will never be a freak, but with the right kind and amount of work, you can always be a little freakier than you are now.

The best way to do that is to learn to use your muscles’ very own juice machine.

More Muscle Comes from More T

Everyone has some testosterone—babies, little girls playing with tea sets, grandparents shuffling through the laxative aisle at CVS—but no one has hormonal increases from one year to the next like a maturing male. His level increases tenfold during puberty, starting sometime between ages 9 and 15, and he hits near-peak production in his late teens. From there, his testosterone level climbs slowly until about age 30, at which point he hits or passes a few other peaks.

His muscle mass will top out between the ages of 18 and 25, unless he intervenes with some barbell therapy. Sexual desire peaks in his early 30s. Sports performance, even among elite athletes, peaks in the late 20s and starts to decline in the early 30s.

None of this is inevitable, of course. Unless you’re that elite athlete who’s trained for his sport since before the short hairs sprouted, you probably have the potential to grow bigger and stronger than you’ve ever been. And that could also put a little of that teenage explosiveness back into your sex life.

The testosterone/muscle-mass link is pretty clear in general terms: The more you have of one, the more you get of the other. Strength training, while it doesn’t necessarily make your testosterone level go up permanently, certainly makes it get a little jiggy in the short term. We know of four ways to create a temporary surge in your most important hormone.

1. Do exercises that employ the most muscle mass, such as squats, deadlifts, pullups, and dips.

2. Use heavy weights, at least 85 percent of the maximum you can lift once on any given exercise.

3. Do a lot of work during your gym time—multiple exercises, multiple sets, multiple repetitions.

4. Keep rest periods fairly short—30 to 60 seconds. Of course, you can’t do all these things in the same workout. For example, when you work a lot of muscle mass with heavy weights, you can’t do a high volume of exercise, nor can you work effectively with short rest periods. This is among the many reasons you should periodize your workouts, which is a polysyllabic way of saying change your workouts every few weeks, rather than do the same thing from now till the gene gods recall the merchandise.

Muscles Need More than Protein

The mythology surrounding protein and muscle building could fill a book, even though the science is fairly straightforward. Your muscles are made of protein (except the four-fifths that’s water), so you have to eat protein to make them grow. You also have to eat protein to keep them from shrinking, which is why men trying to lose fat without sacrificing muscle do best when they build their diets around high-quality, muscle-friendly protein from lean meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and low-fat dairy products.

But if you’re young, lean, and trying to gain solid weight, a lot of extra protein may not help as much as you think. Protein has qualities that help weight loss and may curtail weight gain. First, protein is metabolically expensive for your body to process. Your body burns about 20 percent of each protein calorie just digesting it. (It burns about 8 percent of carbohydrate and 2 percent of fat during digestion.)

Second, protein creates a high level of satiety, both during meals and between them. In other words, it makes you feel fuller faster and keeps you feeling full longer between meals. (This effect does wear off as you grow accustomed to a higher-protein diet, so it may not have an impact on long-term weight gain or weight loss.)

Finally, if you eat more protein than your body needs, it will learn to use the protein for energy. You want your body to burn carbohydrates and fat for energy, obviously, so a body that’s relying on protein for energy is like a car that’s using pieces of its engine for fuel.

The best weight-gain strategy is to focus on calories first, protein second. You should make sure you’re eating at least 2 grams (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of muscle mass. A kilogram is 2.2 pounds, so a 160-pound guy weighs about 73 kg and should take in a minimum of 146 g protein a day. But that’s just 584 calories of protein, the amount you’d find in 15 ounces of chicken, two salmon fillets, or a 28-ounce steak. A protein-powder shake can amp up your totals, as well. If you need to eat more than 3,000 calories a day to gain weight, you’d better have some sweet potatoes with those steaks.

Do Deadlifts

Ever watched a Strongman competition on TV? They start with large men picking something even larger up off the ground. That’s a deadlift—the most basic and practical of all strength-building movements. Now, have you ever watched a Strongman competition with your wife or girlfriend? She’ll notice something you probably wouldn’t: Not a single one of those guys has a flat ass. So pull up a barbell: You’ll be able to perform everyday feats of strength—lifting a sleeping child or a dying TV—and you’ll look a lot better when she follows you upstairs to the bedroom.

Setup: Load a barbell and roll it up to your shins. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Position your shoulders over the bar as you grab it with an overhand grip, your hands just outside your knees. Keep your back in a straight line from head to pelvis. Finally, pull your shoulder blades together and down.

Just before the lift: Straighten your legs a bit to establish tension on the bar. Pull in your lower abs and squeeze your glutes.

First pull, from floor to knees: Straighten your legs while keeping your trunk and hips at or near the same angle. The bar should stay in contact with your skin at all times.

Second pull, from knees to midthighs: Stand up, driving your hips forward. Finish upright, with your shoulder blades back and down and your lower back flat.

Lowering: No need to perfectly reverse the motion; just slide the bar down your thighs and shins to the floor. Don’t annoy your fellow lifters by dropping the bar.

Next repetition: Repeat the setup, letting go of the bar and regripping if necessary. You want perfect form on every repetition, and you won’t get that if you bang out reps without stopping to set up properly before each lift. Remember, it’s a deadlift. That means no momentum from one repetition to the next.

If you use perfect form, your lower back should give you no trouble. However, if you have preexisting back problems, your muscles may not fire properly for this exercise. Try the sumo deadlift instead. Set your feet wide apart, toes pointed slightly outward, and grip the bar overhand with your hands inside your knees. Your back will be more upright at the start, taking away some of the potential for strain.

Dip for Big Triceps

Beginners almost invariably hit their triceps with light weights, limited ranges of motion, and simple, easy exercises. Which is fine . . . for beginners. For sizeaholics, the key to triceps development is lifting really, really heavy loads.

If you have time for just one triceps exercise, make it a dip. It’s the big, basic movement that works all three parts of the muscle (thus the name “triceps”). And, because the bigger, stronger chest muscles are the prime movers—the ones that get your body moving from a dead-hang position—your triceps get to work against a much heavier load than they would in a triceps-isolating exercise.

How to dip: Hoist yourself up on parallel bars with your torso perpendicular to the floor; you’ll maintain this posture throughout the exercise. (Leaning forward will shift emphasis to your chest and shoulders.) Bend your knees and cross your ankles. Slowly lower your body until your shoulder joints are below your elbows. (Most guys stop short of this position.) Push back up until your elbows are nearly straight but not locked.

Making progress: For most men, doing sets of dips with their own body weight is challenging enough. But when you reach a point at which you can do multiple sets of 10 dips, you want to add weight. The best way is to attach a weight plate or dumbbell to a rope or chain that’s attached to a weight belt. Many gyms have belts specially designed for weighted dips and chinups. Another solution, especially if you work out at home, is to wear a backpack with weight plates inside it.

But the more weight you add, the more careful you have to be. Always lower yourself slowly—you don’t ever want to pop down and up quickly on a weighted dip, unless you think you’ll relish the feeling of your pectoral muscles detaching from your breastbone.

Precautions: Aside from the pec-tearing thing, you want to protect your shoulders. If you have preexisting shoulder problems, or feel pain there the first few times you try dips, you should skip them.

A comparable but more shoulder-friendly exercise is the decline close-grip bench press, using a barbell or dumbbells held together.

Run Less to Grow Faster

Running doesn’t build muscle mass. If it did, marathoners would have legs like defensive linemen, and workers in Boston would have to repave the streets each year following the city’s signature race. But running shrinks muscle fibers to make them more metabolically efficient, thereby saving the pavement.

You’d think you could get around this by lifting weights in addition to running, but your body negates that work through a mysterious “interference effect.” Your type II fibers—the biggest ones—will still grow if you run and lift. But your type I fibers won’t, and even though they’re smaller than the type IIs, they probably comprise 50 percent of the muscle fibers in your body that have any growth potential.

Cut back on your running program and you’ll see growth in both your slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers, and perhaps finally get your body to look the way you think it should.

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Isn’t it frustrating when no matter what we do we can’t get our children to listen?

And when that happens at home you can’t help but to wonder if they are doing the exact same thing in school. You keep asking yourself, what does the teacher think, is it affecting their grades and what can I do to help?

I’ve been teaching children for 29 years and I can assure there is and approach to handling this type of situation. If fact we have a 4 step method that we’ve been using that just about guarantees success for your child. You too can teach your child the skills of listening right in your own home.

You can easily teach this 4 steps process to your child!

 #1 The listening Position – It is imperative that when it is time for your child to receive instruction from you or anyone else regardless of the subject that they sit or stand up straight and assume a good posture keeping their shoulders back and their chin up. By making this one adjustment they start to double their listing retention!

#2 Always look the person who is speaking directly in the eyes –   This is probably the single most important
thing that you can teach your child when it comes to listening. You must absolutely insist upon it when you are speaking with child. They will then be able to focus more intently on the words you are saying to them. Research has shown
that looking at the speaker can increase comprehension skills up to 62% for children.

#3 Have you child repeat back what you said to Them – Once you have told your child what you want them to do simply ask them to repeat back to you what you just said. In time they will understand that you are always going to expect them to repeat your instructions. For example, your child might say to you, “OK Mom, you want me to put away all my toys and wash my hands for dinner” This way you will know your child has heard and understood what you have said!

#4 Teach your children to interpret how you feel about what you are saying – I remember there was quite a difference tone in my mother voice when she was angry and calling my name. Teach your children that it is OK to ask respectful questions. This shows that they are paying attention, and care about what the other person is saying! This can be particularly true with older children, train them to ask themselves, “How does the person speaking feel about what they are saying?” Are they Angry? Sad?  Impatient? Concerned?

Please remember that even small children can be taught these easy to use steps. Just start by reading them to your kids, and then practice each skill!

If you see that your child is losing focus, which can happen from time to time, by simply giving them a friendly reminder, “Remember…use your listening skills!” you can refocus them.

Needless to say you also should be looking for opportunities to give praise to your child when they do show their listening skills. Try to catch them doing it right, and follow up with a sincere complement, It might sound something like this, I am so proud of you for listening to what I was saying today!”

If you should ever have any questions about teaching your child listening skills, drop us a line. We would love to hear from you and we would be happy to help!

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by Mens Health

Every exercise targets certain parts of your body—but if you tweak a move just right, you can build other muscles at the same time. This workout, designed by Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S., does that by challenging your core, chest, back, arms, and shoulders. Perform it as a circuit with no breaks between moves; then rest for 1 minute and repeat two more times.

Chinup + Knee Raise

Hang from a chinup bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Pull your chest to the bar while also raising your knees to your chest. Pause, and slowly lower your body while also lowering your knees. If you can’t complete a chinup, simply raise your knees while hanging from the bar. Complete 10 reps, or as many as you can.

Standing Single-Arm Shoulder Press

Stand holding a dumbbell just outside your shoulder, with your palm facing you. Set your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees slightly bent. Raise the weight until your arm is completely straight, and then lower it to the starting position. Do 10 repetitions with each arm.

Pushup + Row

Start in a pushup position as you grip a pair of hex dumbbells placed shoulder-width apart, your palms facing in. Lower your body, pause, and push yourself back up. Now pull the dumbbell in your right hand straight up to the side of your chest. Pause, and lower it. Repeat the move with your left arm. That’s 1 rep. Do 10.

Lying Triceps Extension

Lie faceup on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length above your head, your palms facing each other. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows to lower the weights until your forearms are past parallel to the floor. Pause; lift back to the starting position. Do 12 reps.

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by Danny Dring and Johnny D. Taylor

Sidelined. Restricted activity. Surgery. Therapy.

Those words have the power to drag down the spirits of any martial artist. When you’ve been taken out of your game by sickness or injury, you discover a whole new team of opponents standing between you and your rapid return to training and competition. And the longer it takes to get back in the game, the more prone you are to experiencing injury-related depression.

Depression, that energy-sapping, happiness-stealing frame of mind, is almost certain to visit any athlete who’s been sidelined because of injury. And it will kick you while you’re down. So be prepared to fight back should you find it attacking you.

Why So Sad?
Here are a few reasons injured athletes fall prey to depression:
• The injury itself: The knowledge that you’re injured is enough to darken your mood.
• Pain: The chronic pain that accompanies many injuries can wear down your attitude.
• Months of hard work down the tubes: Inactivity brings atrophy, causing hard-fought gains in physical ability and skill to disappear.
• Time: The period needed to recover and return to your former levels can be overwhelming if it stretches to months or even years.
• Missed opportunities: The goals you’ve set for yourself in competition or personal achievement are suddenly out of reach.
• Endorphin withdrawal: Your regular workouts have provided you with natural mood-elevating chemicals. Being injured means no workout, and no workout means no endorphins.

Fight Back
But enough of the bad news. It’s more beneficial to discuss ways to defeat depression and get back into training. Here’s how to start:

Don’t deny — identify: If you ignore it, it won’t go away. And if you’re not impervious to injury, then neither are you immune to depression. You can’t deal with it until you recognize and acknowledge it.

Don’t quit: An injured athlete is still an athlete and should act accordingly. You didn’t quit when the workouts got hard, and you won’t quit when your athletic career faces the unexpected challenges that injury and depression present.

Take responsibility: It’s your body, mind, career and injury. You must take responsibility for your healing, and that includes your attitude. Medical professionals have their roles to play, but ultimately the responsibility for health and healing lies with you.

Be proactive: Regaining a sense of control is mentally therapeutic, so instead of passively waiting for your body to heal, get involved and develop a plan of action.

Form a Plan
A blueprint for healing will help you focus on what you can do, as opposed to what you can’t do. It’ll help you direct your energies toward achieving as quick a recovery as possible. Just having a plan will go a long way toward lifting the weight of injury-related depression. Your blueprint should include the following actions:

Redefine Your Goals
Most martial artists are goal oriented and have used that characteristic to reach their current level of health, rank or competition. You should tap into that same power to speed your healing. Set new goals for yourself such as consistently attending rehab or therapy sessions as directed by your doctor.

Get Smart
If you’re going to become proactive in the healing process, you’ll need to arm yourself with all the information you can get. Study your injury and the schools of thought surrounding it. Learn the treatment options available. Discover which medical professionals in your area specialize in your type of injury. Find out what your body requires to heal and do all you can to provide it.

Work Around the Injury
Not all injuries require bed rest, so ask your doctor what you can and cannot do. If your shoulder is jacked up, can you get in a lower-body workout? If your knee is torqued, can you work your upper body? How can you train around your injury, allowing it the inactivity it needs to heal while still working your uninjured parts? Can you swim or ride a stationary bike? Can you work your abs? What about developing flexibility? There is much to be said for creative cross-training and the benefits it will bring. You may find that a return to working out, regardless of how strenuous or unconventional it is, creates a new sense of mission, a hedge against atrophy, a productive and positive use of time, and those wonderful endorphins that will elevate your mood.

Understand that the regimen of therapy devised by a medical professional is one thing and a workout that allows you to train around your injury is quite another. It’s important to separate them so you can set medically sound goals for both the rehab and the training.

Think Holistic
To optimize healing and your state of mind, you must address as many components of health and wellness as possible. The six primary components are:

Strength: Ask your doctor when and how you can lift weights or do resistance exercises.

Cardiovascular health: Also ask to what degree you can maintain your endurance level.

Flexibility: The inactivity often associated with injury doesn’t always have to result in a loss of flexibility. In fact, you may find that you now have time to focus on it.

Nutrition: Your body has been traumatized by an injury and requires top-notch nutrition to rebuild. The best diet is complete in terms of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, as well as vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Take time to study what you need and then consume it.

Hydration: Every athlete knows the importance of water in a workout, so don’t let inactivity result in dehydration. Keep the water flowing.

Rest: The best healing and the best attitude require the best rest. During your recuperation time, you may discover that a sufficient amount of deep, undisturbed sleep will not only heal your body more quickly but also refresh your mind.

Get a PMA
The ultimate goal is to experience the opposite of depression, and that’s a positive mental attitude. Having such an attitude about your health, knowing that you’re being proactive in the process and exercising some control over it will help you feel better and heal faster. If you’re fired up about your therapy or your training-around-the-injury workout, you’re more likely to do the work that’s required.
So acquire the necessary tools: motivational books, tapes, magazines, videos, buddies or whatever works for you. Then intentionally build your positive mental attitude. Like a muscle, your attitude will respond to exercise by growing stronger.

Voice Your Attitude
Words are powerful mental programs, so take care to be positive in all that you say. When you talk about your injury or recuperation, intentionally speak in positive terms. You need to hear yourself talk about the gains you’ve made and how much worse it could have been. Be attentive to that little voice inside your head and make it a source of optimism. If you convince your mind that you’re healing, your body will believe it and act accordingly.

Don’t Obsess
Is there more to you than your injury? Is there more to life than your athletic endeavors? Of course there is, so embrace those aspects while you recuperate. If you catch yourself always thinking or talking about your injury, your healing, your goals — in short, yourself — stop it! Nobody likes a self-absorbed person, not even you. You may find that your down time gives you an opportunity to focus on others and be productive in different areas.

Tell Your Doc
Be sure you talk to your health care professional about your state of mind in addition to your body. He can’t help with your overall health unless he knows your overall condition. Don’t let continued or chronic injury-related depression go unaddressed.

Laugh Yourself Happy
What makes you laugh? Is it movies, TV shows, books, comics or friends? Well, get what tickles you and enjoy. A good dose of laughter not only lifts your mood but also releases those mood-elevating chemicals you get from a workout. Laughter really is a good medicine.

Celebrate Small Victories
Is it your first step since the injury — literally, your first step? Then throw a party. Completed your first lap in the rehab pool? Rejoice! Finished with your first round of medicine? Reward yourself. Find a way to mark your progress so it builds a positive mental attitude and makes your life more fun. You’re getting better, so be glad.

Remember that while you’re an injured athlete, you’re still an athlete. Moreover, there will always be more to you than just your athletic ability. So stay positive, stay busy, take control and take heart. Fight against depression the same way you’ve fought against other opponents — with the courage of a warrior and the heart of a champion.

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by Gary Goltz
Photos by Rick Hustead

Judo is a way to effectively use both your physical and spiritual strength. By training you in attacks and defenses, it refines your body and your soul, and it helps you make the spiritual essence of judo a part of your very being. In this way, you are able to strive toward self-perfection and contribute something of value to the world.

—Jigoro Kano, judo founder

Modern judo straddles the line that often separates self-defense from combat sport. Practitioners of the grappling art view that as a strength, however, because judo has managed to elegantly master both endeavors while sacrificing none of its founder’s directives.

As such, judo, which has been a popular Olympic sport since 1964, teaches techniques that function equally well in competition and on the street. One of the most useful and effective is the foot sweep.

First Things First
An essential component of judo is the fine art of getting your opponent onto the mat, and the foot sweep is a primary method for accomplishing that because it can be used against a person who’s advancing or retreating. It’s excellent as a counter and great for setting up combinations. Before you can begin learning it, however, you and your training partner must know how to fall. Skip that and chances are you’ll wind up bruised or broken in short order — even if you’re on a forgiving surface.

The name “judo” is composed of two root words: ju, which means “gentle,” and do, which is often translated as “way.” Combine them, and you get “gentle way,” a term that reveals much about the way the foot sweep is effected. To be efficient in its execution, you must yield to your opponent’s energy so you can use his force against him. At no point do you meet force with force because that would mean the stronger person always wins. The lesson: Don’t try to execute a sweep by using every bit of power your body can generate to knock his supporting leg out from under him. That wouldn’t be an intelligent way to fight.

If you don’t believe the lowly foot sweep can be effective against a skilled opponent, read an account of Anton Geesink’s match with Japanese champ Akio Kaminaga at the Budokan in 1964. Geesink was renowned for having been the only foreigner to win a gold medal (open weight division) at the Tokyo Olympics. In the final bout, he used a foot sweep to bring down his famous foe. Afterward, the Dutchman attributed his win to the top-notch traditional training he’d received at the Kodokan judo headquarters.

Time to Get Technical
The foot sweep is effective because it’s fast and doesn’t require great amounts of strength. Fringe benefit: You can use it from a distance without having to do a full 180-degree tai sabaki,or turning motion, which is required when you execute most of judo’s major forward throws. These factors make the foot sweep ideal for use against a bigger opponent as well as for use by older martial artists who suffer from reduced flexibility because of injuries to the knees and/or lower back.

The challenge associated with using the foot sweep in competition is that to become proficient, you need near-perfect timing, coordination and balance. I say “challenge” and not “obstacle” because the ease with which you master the sweep depends on the person from whom you learn it. I was fortunate to have trained under one of the world’s best technicians, Kyu Ha Kim, who was the South Korean national champion in the late 1950s. Standing 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 210 pounds, he’s a big man to this day. With his long legs and thick ankles, he resembles Geesink in his heyday — which makes it not much of a surprise that he’s a master of the foot sweep.

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