Posts Tagged ‘fit’

Welcome to the Jacked Back Trainer. Here you will find some killer back workouts that will help you put on size, burn fat and build a massive, cobra-like back. I love to use various methods to keep the muscle guessing and working harder to adapt = GAINS GAINS GAINS. You think you’re ready?! Add these workouts into your routine and start seeing some real results!

Workout #1 

Rest between 60-90 seconds unless otherwise stated.

  • Superset: (A) Lat Pulldown  4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 {Increasing weight with each set}      (B) Wide Grip Pullups 4 sets to failure
  • Superset: (A) Bent-Over Barbell Row 4 sets of 6, 8, 10, 12 (Decrease weight as you rep up(B) Standard Pullup 4 sets to failure
  • Superset: (A) Reverse Close Grip Lat Pulldown 4 sets of 10 reps (B) Close Grip Pullups 4 sets to failure
  • Superset: (A) Deadlifts 3 sets of 8,6,4 (B) Pullups (*Change hand grips every set3 sets to failure

 

Workout #2 

Rest between 60-90 seconds unless otherwise stated.

  • Wide Grip Pullups 4 sets of 10 {The set isn’t over until you’ve hit 10 reps. Use the rest-pause technique if necessary}
  • One-Arm Dumbell Row 3 sets of 8,8,8 {Triple dropsets;Go heavy and hit 8 reps, then grab a weight 20-25 lighter and hit another 8, then rep another 8 with a weight 20-30lbs lighter then previous}
  • T-Bar Row 50 reps {Pick something that you can perform at least 25 reps with then use rest-pause to get to the 50. Take as many breaks as necessary and move on to the next exercise only after completing all 50}
  • Superset: (A) Machine Hi-Row 3 sets of 15,10,5 (B) Machine Low Row 3 sets of 15,10,5 {Increase weight as reps decrease}
  • Hyperextensions 3 sets of 12 reps

 

Workout #3

Rest between 60-90 seconds unless otherwise stated.

  • Pullups 4 sets of 10 reps {Change your hand position after each set; E.g. Wide Grip, Close-Grip, One Arm, Behind the Head}
  • Superset: (A) One-Hand Cable Row 3 sets of 8 {Slide the cable to the lowest height setting, grab the handle and with bend knees and straight back, pull your hand back towards your body with your elbow as close to the body as possible} (B) Rope Row 3 sets of 8 {Slide the cable to waist height, attach the rope attachment, and pull the weight back with your arms separating the rope and hugging your body}
  • Close Grip Lat Pulldown 3 sets of 30, 20, 10
  • Deadlift 50 reps {Pick a weight that you can complete 25 reps, and use rest-pause technique to hit all 50 reps}

Workout #4

Rest 90 seconds for exercises with 10 sets, and 60 seconds for assistance work. Choose a weight you can do 20 reps for a set with and stick with that for all 10 sets. Do not go to failure, you’ll get there as the sets go on.

  • Bent Over Barbell Row 10 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Row 10 sets of 10 reps
  • Wide-Grip Pullups 3 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Deadlift 3 sets of 10-15 reps

 

Workout #5

 Rest between 60-90 seconds unless otherwise stated.

  • Romanian Deadlifts 4 sets of 10 {Add weight with each set}
  • Pullups 4 sets to failure {1 minute rest between each; try to new variation of the pullup for eact set, e.g. Muscle Up, One-Arm, Close Grip, Wide Grip}
  • Bent Barbell-Row 3 sets to failure
  • One-Arm Dumbell Row 4 sets of 10 reps {Keep weight the same}
  • Seated Rope Row 4 sets of 10 reps {Keep weight the same}
  • High Cable Row 4 sets of 10 reps {Attach a wide grip handle to the lat pulldown station. Grab the bar, step back and put a foot onto the platform used to secure the legs when performing pulldowns. Row the bar towards your chest, the cable should be coming towards your chest diagonally if you’re doing it right! Increase the weight with each set}
  • Medicine Ball Hyperextensions 3 sets of 10 reps 
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Welcome to the Jacked Legs Trainer. Here you’ll find some of my personal leg workouts that I use to add size to my legs and increase athletic performance. I don’t perform many isolation exercises for legs  because those do very little for athletic performance so I substitute isolations for plyometric movements for strong and explosive legs. If you play sports, these workouts will have you running faster, jumping higher and hitting harder, even if you don’t these workouts will give you a strong and powerful base with great functionality.

Workout #1

Rest for 90 seconds between each set for all exercises except for #1, in which you should rest until your are ready for another round, between 2-3 minutes. 

  • Squats 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Leg Press 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Superset: (A)Leg Extension 15, 12, 10 (B) Hamstring Curl 15,12,10 Perform exercise A first then immediately move on to exercise B, perform, rest for 60-90 seconds. 
  • Superset: (A) Seated Calf Raise  3 sets of 15-20 (B) Standing Calf Raise  3 set of 15-20

Workout #2

Rest 60-90 seconds between sets! If doing supersets or trisets, complete all exercises on after the other, rest, and repeat.

  • Squats 100 reps (Take as many breaks as necessary but don’t stop until you hit 100, vary the stance to hit all parts of the thighs. I use back squat, sumo stance, narrow stance and front squats, and aim for 25 reps of each) 
  • Triset: (A) One-Leg Leg Press  4 sets x 10 reps (B) Plyometric Lunges 4 sets of 25 reps {Explode from one leg to the other} (C) Wall Squat 4 sets of 30-45 second holds.
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Superset: (A) Donkey Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20 reps (B) Seated Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20

  Workout #3

Rest between 60 -90 seconds between reps.

  • Bosu Ball Barbell Squats 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 {Set up in the smith machine, load up a barbell and flip a bosu ball onto its uneven side, unrack the barbell and find your balance on the bosu ball. Focus here, keep your core tight for balance, and drop into the squat slowly and push out, use a spotter if necessary!) 
  • Bosu Ball Hack Squats  3 sets of 8-10 reps {Lie a bosu ball with the uneven side on the platform of the hack squat machine. Stand on the even platform of the bosu ball and keeping your core tight, unrack the weight, drop into the movement and control it up}
  • Superset: (A) Bulgarian Split-Squats 3 sets of 10-12 reps (B) Squat Jumps 3 sets of 15-25
  • Superset: (A) Bosu Ball Lunge 3 sets of 8-10 reps (B) Standing DB Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20

{Grab a pair of heavier dumbells and find a raised platform, stand on it with your heels off the platform, Drop down all the way and raise yourself using the calf muscles}

Workout #4

  • Squats 4 sets of 30,20,10,5 superset Standing Calf Raises 4 sets of 15, 25, 35, 45 
  • Leg Press  4 sets of 5, 10, 20, 30 superset Leg Press Calf Raise  4 sets of 50, 40, 30, 20

** REST starts at 45 seconds and increases 15 seconds until you hit the set with 5 reps, rest for 90 seconds, then move on to the second round of exercises going from 90 seconds back.own to 45.

Workout #5

Rest 90 seconds for exercises with 10 sets, and 60 seconds for assistance work. Choose a weight you can do 20 reps for a set with and stick with that for all 10 sets. Do not go to failure, you’ll get there as the sets go on.

  • Squats  10 sets of 10 reps {Keep the weight the same for all sets}
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlift 10 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset: (A) Standing Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20 reps (B) Seated Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20

 

What’s up everyone. Here are some of my favourite shoulder workouts that I like to cycle between when trying to put some size on my delts, while dialing in the striations by utilizing various training methods, including supersets, dropsets, rest-pause and german volume training. Try these out and see how effective they are for yourself!

Workout #1

  • 4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 8* rep Behind the Neck Seated Military Press

 (Increase weight with each set, on the last set perform a triple drop set, hit 8 reps with the weight, drop the weight and rep through the next few until failure, drop the weight again and pump them out)

  • 1 set of 50 reps of Lying Upright Cable Row  

Pick a lighter weights here and rep out to 50. Take as many breaks as you want but don’t stop until you hit this number.

  • 3 Sets of 12 reps One-Arm Cable Lateral Raises superset with 10 reps of

Barbell Front Raise

This one will BURN. Pick a relatively lighter weight and rep out 12 lateral raises on the cable per arm. Immediately after, grab a lighter straight bar (I use 40lbs) and lift the bar with straight arms to eye level, bring down and raise again, with straight arms, over your head, that’s one rep. Perform 10 more.

  • 3 sets of 12 reps Hyperextension DB Reverse Flyes superset with 12 reps of Cable Face Pulls

Position the pads on the hyperextension bench so that you can hand over with your lower body stable and locked in. Bend over as if you were to do a hyperextension, and with dumbells in hand, perform a reverse flye. After you’ve hit your numbers move on to the cable machine and set the cable with the tricep ropes at eye level. Grab the rope and pull the rope towards your face.

  • 10 sets of 10 rep Arnold Press on Swiss Ball

This is the final burner and will kill all heads of the shoulder. Grab a swiss ball and some light dumbells, maybe 40% of your 10 RM (I use 17.5 lbs) and perform 10 reps. Stop, count to 10 000, by thousands in your head. And perform another 10. Follow this method until you hit all ten sets. You’re shoulders will be toast by now.

Workout #2

Rest 60-90 seconds between reps.

  • Arnold Press 4 sets of 12 superset with Standing Military Barbell Press 4 sets of 8
  • Seated Lateral Raises 3 triple dropsets of 12,12,12 superset with seated front raises 3 triple dropsets of 12,12,12
  • Reverse Machine Flye 3 sets of 10 superset with Reverse Cable Flyes  3 sets of 12

 

Workout #3

Rest between 60 -90 seconds between reps.

  • Shoulder Press 3 x 8-12
  • Upright Row 3 x 8-12
  • Lateral Raises 3 x 8-12
  • Front Raise 3 x 8-12
  • Seated Reverse DB Fly 3 x 8-12

 

Workout #4

  • Barbell Shoulder Press 4 sets of 30,20,10,5 superset Lying Upright Row 4 sets of 30,20,10,5
  • DB Arnold Press 4 sets of 5, 10, 20, 30 superset DB Lateral Raise 4 sets of 30,20,10,5

** REST starts at 45 seconds and increases 15 seconds until you hit the set with 5 reps, rest for 90 seconds, then move on to the second round of exercises going from 90 seconds back down to 45.

Workout #5

  • Machine Shoulder Press (Body facing towards machine) 4 sets of 12, 10, 6, 6

Performing machine shoulder presses facing towards the machine will put a focus on the anterior (front) head of the shoulder.

  • One-Arm Lateral Raise 4 sets of 12 reps superset Lateral Raises 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Straight Bar Front Raise (Eye-Level) 4 sets of 12 reps superset Straight Bar Front Raise (Arms Fully Extended Over Head)  4 sets of 12 reps
  • Pronated Dumbell Reverse Rows 4 sets of 10, 12, 15, 20

 

Pancakes..mmm.. who doesn’t love them! Thought eating healthy was boring? You’ll think again after you’ve had some delicious banana chocolate protein pancakes. These are some of my favourites to make! They’re delicious. They’re healthy and they’re convenient. You can make these the night before and heat them up next morning if you’re usually out the door before eating breakfast. If not these can be the perfect  breakfast,post-workout meals, or meal anytime during the day. So easy to make, you’ll be wondering how you lived without em!

Here are the ingredients and the recipe with pictures to help you follow along!

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1/4 cup oat flour ( I use Quaker Instant oats and the nutribullet to mill the oats into flour. You can also buy oat flour at health stores, but their pretty expensive, so I prefer this little improve).

3 egg whites (You can also use liquid egg whites, just use the nutrition info to calculate the equivalent of 3 egg whites).

1 scoop of protein powder (I use Kaizen Whey Protein because it’s natural, without any GMO’s or gluten, and it doesn’t give me stomach problems. You can also use any type of protein powder; whey, casein, egg, oat, hemp, etc.

1 medium-size organic banana 

1 tablespoon (Tbsp) of organic coconut oil

Preparation:

  1.  Mix the dry ingredients (oat flour, cinnamon, and protein powder into the bowl).
  2. Mash the banana into a smooth consistency and add the to bowl.
  3. Break (or pour) the 3 egg whites into the bowl and mix all of the ingredients together.
  4. Place a pan on the stove and set it to medium. Grab a Tbsp of coconut oil, and coat the pan with it.
  5. After all the ingredients are mixed you should have a lightly runny consistency. Pour some from the bowl onto the pan.

IMG_20130923_112627

6. Let it sit for a 1 minute or two, until you can slide the spatula under it without any resistance. Flip it for another minute     Repeat these steps until the bowl, is empty. This mixture made me 3 smaller pancakes and one bigger pancake.

**OPTIONAL: Pending on your goals, you can add this!! I don’t like to eat my pancakes dry, so I used a Tbsp of 100% pure organic maple syrup. I’m in Canada so this stuff is amazing and its available to me. I tend to stay away from the calorie-free, sugar-free syrups because they are full of ingredients that aren’t very good for the body. Pure maple syrup has natural sugars and has more antioxidants then blueberries and spinach. So with a little moderation, you can eat these natural sugars on occasion. Unless your allergic, in any case, natural honey and agave syrup are good alternatives!!

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I used this as breakfast, but the mix of protein and low-glycemic will release nutrients into my blood through the next couple of hours until I re-feed. As mentioned earlier, these are super convenient, easy to prepare and will provide a sustained energy release. If you haven’t tried them, have a go and let me know what you think!!

Nutritional Info:

Per 1 Serving

Calories: approx. 100 calories

Protein: 9.45 grams

Carbohydrates: 4.68 grams

Fats: 4.125 grams

Abs….we all want them. They’re usually the first muscle noticed and their high sex appeal doesn’t hurt either. Let me teach you a bit about yours, so all you jackedudes can chisel those bad boys out and all you jacketettes can sport a tight, flat stomach!

What we know as the abs are actually a group of four muscles. These are the:

  1. Rectus Abdominus
  2. External Obliques
  3. Internal Obliques
  4. Transversus abdominis

The rectus abdominus is the flat muscle at the front of your stomach that, when body fat is low enough, provides that “6 pack” appearance. It’s main functions include the flexion of the lumbar spine and compressing the abdominal contents. The first of the three anterolateral muscles (muscles that wrap around the sides of your body), the external obliques, are located at the side and the front of the abdomens. Their main functions consist of unilateral and bilateral actions. The unilateral, or one sided actions, include contralateral rotation and ipsilateral side flexion. Big words right? Have no fear, let me explain. A contralateral rotation just means that the muscles on the right move the trunk to the left. An ipsilateral side flexion is simply a same sided flexion, the muscles on the right flex the right side of the abdomen. Moving on we have the internal obliques, which lie underneath the external obliques and run in their [external obliques] opposite direction. The internal obliques share the same functions as the external obliques, which we can see if we scroll back up. The final layer of muscle, the transversus abdominus, is the deepest muscle in the abdominals and is tasked with stabilizing the back and maintaining abdominal pressure. An example of when we use this muscle is when we go to poop and pee. When you’re pooping and going for the kill, those final pushes are recruiting the transverse abdominus. Pooping your way to abs, wouldn’t that be something! Unfortunately, its not that easy. Let me give you some of my best tips and movements to build your own set.

Before I get into the movements and tips, I want you to chisel this into your brains! Having visible abs is only possible when your nutrition is in check. Notice how I said nutrition, not diet. That’s because your changing your lifestyle here, this isn’t some diet fad that you complete over a month and then go back to junk food for breakfast. It doesn’t work that way. Proper nutrition leads to lower body fat which leads to visible abs. That’s on you. This is your life. Your transformation. Your body. Imagine  your favourite car. Now imagine your favourite car as your body… are you gunna feed yourself shitty 87 grade fuel or super 91. Which one is going to provide you with the better long term performance? The 87 or 91? I hope you get my point.. nutrition is like 80% of the battle for that six pack or tight core you’re looking for. Dial it and results will come. Now how to make those abs pop and those tummies tight!

To those of you who might be doing thousands of sit ups or crunches a day naively believing your going to get a six pack, I advise you to read this and see if it changes your mind. I, for one, am unorthodox when it comes to training my abs. I feel this way because I don’t often directly train my abs. I’ll do some targeted ab work here and there but no religious schedule or workouts. That’s me! I do, however, do a lot of indirect ab work that recruits the abdominals to stabilize my body and keep my  lower back from snapping. Sounds a bit harsh, but I’ve taken a new look on training my core. I like to put the body outside of its comfort zone. This is how I see it. 3 sets of 15 crunches vs 3 sets of squats with a heavy barbell on your upper back, and your abs are stabilizing your body; preventing you from snapping. It’s a bit vulgar but its how I train. Stabilization. Heavy weight isn’t the only solution, take away balance and your in a new world. I do a lot of work with stability balls and bosu balls to build my core. Calisthenics is also a great discipline I use to build my core. When I do train my abs directly, there are a few favourites I have that always manage to kick my ass.

My favourite ab exercises are:

  • Toe-to-Bar Leg Raise
  • Roman Chair Oblique Leg Raise
  • Decline Crunches
  • Swiss Ball Crunch
  • Swiss Ball Bicycles
  • Jackknife
  • Cable Crunches
  • Cable Oblique Crunches (Chops)
  • Windshield Wipers (*advanced )
  • Back and Front Levers (*advanced movements)
  • Hanging Leg Raises

Doing these exercises will provide you with little visible progress unless your body fat is low enough. You’ll need to have your nutrition in check and be consistently active!! You can do it, no excuses, if you want it, you’ll get there. Use your new knowledge of your abs along with these exercises and clean nutrition, and you’ll the that jacked you in the mirror that you’ve always dreamed of!!

A favourite of mine and all guys a like, and ladies, if this isn’t one of your favourites, it soon will be. All men want big, full, peaked biceps and horseshoe tri’s. For the ladies, tight and toned does the job. Nobody wants flabby arms, the fix? Read on.

Section A – The Anterior (Flexor) Arm Muscles

First we will take a look into the flexor muscles in the arm known by normal people as biceps and by gym rats worldwide as guns. As you can see, there are 3 flexor muscles that make the “biceps”. These are the:

  1. Biceps Brachii
  2. Brachialis
  3. Pronator Teres

The largest muscle you’ll notice is the biceps brachii. The term bicep means two heads, and the biceps brachii has both a long head and a short head. These heads work together to allow flexion at the elbow and shoulder, as well as supination (holding with an underhand grip). The brachialis is the main flexor of the forearm and the pronator teres flexes the forearm at the elbow and allows us to pronate at the forearm. What does this all mean? Essentially, it means that the main job of the bicep is to allow the arm to flex at the elbow.

How do we work them out? Well this one is pretty self explanatory. We’ve all seen pictures of massive men with bulging biceps curling heavy looking weights. As flexors, the best way to build and develop the biceps is to add weight to any movement that involves flexing the arm. With that said, there are a variety of exercises we can perform to hit the biceps from all angles and get em growing, or in the case of women, tight and toned. My favourites include:

  • Supinated Dumbell Curl
  • Barbell Curl (*Works wonders for adding size to the guns)
  • EZ Bar Curl (Wide Grip/Close Grip)
  • Preacher Curl ^
  • Concentration Curl ^
  • Spider Curl ^
  • Incline DB Curl ^
  • Overhead Cable Curls
  • Cable Curls
  • Hammer Curls
  • Pronated Curls
  • One-Arm Cable Curls
  • 21’s ( These are DEATH)

^ – These four lifts limit the amount of momentum of the movement and therefore really isolate the bi’s and are effective in giving your biceps that highly sought after peak!

Section B – The Posterior (Extensor) Arm Muscle

If the term “bicep” means two heads, how many heads do you think the triceps have? If your answer was three, you’re correct! The Triceps Brachii, or more commonly referred to as triceps or tri’s, have 3 heads that make up the muscle. These are:

  1. Long Head
  2. Lateral Head
  3. Medial Head

The long head is the longest head of the triceps. As you can see in the photo, it runs down the arm alongside the body. The medial head is found in the middle back portion of the upper arm and the lateral side is found on the outer side of the arm, it completes the triceps and gives it that distinct “horseshoe” look. The  main function of the triceps is to straighten the arm by extending at the elbow, while the long head of the arm also works simultaneously to bring the arm down toward the body.

The triceps are trained using push movements that require the arms to be extended at the elbow. Some of my absolute favourite tricep exercises are:

  • Overhead DB Extension (*great burn)
  • French Press
  • Close-Grip Bench Press (*beast for adding size to them tri’s)
  • Skull Crushers +
  • Cable Extensions +
  • One-Arm Extensions^
  • Rope Extensions +
  • Bodyweight Dips
  • Weighted Dips +
  • Dumbell Kickbacks
  • Overhead Barbell Extension ^
  • Bent Overhead Cable Extension^

^ – These exercises are great for burning out the triceps

+ – These exercises are great for adding size to the triceps with heavier working loads.

There we have it folks, the complete go-to guide to building your arms. Now that you have a better understanding of the anatomy of the arms, lets get to growin! Until next post everyone, stay jacked!!

Welcome to the Muscle Anatomy Series; a six part series with focusing on a the anatomy of a specific muscle group in the body. This series will give you a better understanding of each of your muscles and trust me when I say this, it will help you out so much when it comes to training. How so? Knowing the different parts of a muscle allows you to choose specific exercises that target it, which will help you build complete muscle-specific workouts. Sounds pretty sweet right?! It is, now go grab your reading glasses and sip some protein, here we go!

In weight training, the body is broken down and separated into a series of muscle groups. These muscle groups represent all the muscles that are on the body, they are:

  1. Chest
  2. Back
  3. Shoulders
  4. Arms
  5. Abs
  6. Legs

Many beginners and intermediates generally stick with this series of muscle groups, however advanced weight trainers, bodybuilders and competitors go even further and break down some muscle groups into their specific muscles.

The list below is the typical breakdown of muscle groups for a competitor or seasoned lifter:

  1. Chest
  2. Back
  3. Traps
  4. Shoulders
  5. Abs
  6. Biceps
  7. Triceps
  8. Quadriceps (known as Quads for short)
  9. Hamstrings (known as Hams for short)
  10. Calves

As you can see, seasoned lifters and competitors like to break down the body into such detail because in competition, each muscle is judged both for its individual condition and how it compliments the body as a whole. If the biceps are ripped and peaked, but the triceps are lacking, chances are points will be lost, so it’s crucial to have such attention to detail, however for the majority of readers who are just looking to get in shape, don a nice six pack or flat stomach and have a kick ass body, we’ll use the original six as our reference points.

So without further a due, click here to find out about the chest!

Having laid down some nutritional foundation on you, I’m going to get into the training portion and this post will be about the basics. I’m talking exercises that have been around for as long as weights have.

When you first step into the gym what are the first few things you will notice? Probably a lot of people on treadmills, some guy growling under a bent bar lowering himself to a seated position and rising, another guy at the bench tearing up 3 plates, and another one hoisting massive weight from the ground. Why do you see people doing these exercises? Because they work.

These lifts are referred to as compound movements, meaning that they use more than one muscle and are usually multi-jointed movements. Our basic 3 compound lifts are the bench press, the deadlift, and the squat. Some other effective compound movements are the military press, pullups/chinups, the bent-row and the clean.

If you’re a beginner get familiar with these exercises because they will be the staples of your workout. I recommend that when planning your workouts, 75-80% of your lifts should be compound movements, the remaining 20 odd percent could be isometric movements.

What are Isometric exercises? Well, they are single-joint movements that isolate a certain muscle with the goal of definition. Examples of isometric movements include lateral raises, tricep extensions, bicep curls, etc. These are not so important for beginners, but for those of you that have been working out for some time, 6+ months, you’ll be more inclined to use these types of movements.

Okay, so back to the basics. I’ll be focusing here on the compound movements because they are so incredibly important for all gymgoers, be it beginners or the experienced gym rat. Like I said earlier, you’re workout will be comprised of mainly compounds, therefore it is important to have a solid understanding of these movements because you WILL be doing them.

The Squat – This movement works the lower body and core. It hits your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus (your butt), your calves and your core. This is a beast of a lift and you will definitely feel it. To do it properly, line up under the bar and pick it off the rack just behind your traps, take a few steps back, extend your hips back and drop down slowly and controlled. As you sit into the squat, you want to make sure you’re feet are flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart, and that your knees track over your feet. You can go 90 degrees or lower, I prefer to go ATG (Ass to Grass) and dip just below 90. Make sure your weight is on your heels, keep your head faced forward, and use your legs and hips to drive the squat up back into full extension. Many people tend to fold their backs when they go down which is wrong. You want to keep the bar in a straight line from top to bottom, by driving the hips you can do this properly. By clicking here, you’ll be sent to youtube where Mark Rippetoe explains the concept of hip drive in greater detail.

 

The Bench Press – This lift is a staple for building the muscles in your chest.  It works the pectoralis major muscle in the chest and is a great mass builder. To do it properly, lay flat on a bench and grab the barbell just over shoulder width. As you raise the barbell off of the rack, make sure to keep your wrists straight, control the weight down to the nipple line and explode up. You want to ensure your back stays flat! Many people arch their back once they lift heavy and you can easily slip a disk and mess up your back. Don’t do that, always be sure to use a weight that you can control. The weight isn’t as important as the mind-muscle connection.

 

The Deadlift – This is your lower backs best friend. One of the most classic lifts in a bodybuilders arsenal, this thing is extremely functional because we pick stuff up off the ground everyday. To do the lift properly, stand over a barbell with your feet just under shoulder width. Make sure your shins are touching the barbel and the barbell sits over the middle of your feet. As you lower down to grab the barbell, ensure that your back is straight and grip the barbell about shoulder width. Keep your feet flat, weight on the heels as you explode up. Keep your head up, look straight ahead throughout the whole lift and lock out at the top. This exercise can really mess you up if you round your back. You can easily slip a disk and mess yourself up as well, so ensure a flat back throughout the lift. The deadlift, like all of the classic compound movements can be targeted to focus different muscles with variations to your stance and grip. We’ll get into that as you progress, for now you’ll get better at this.

The Pullup and Chinup – I love this one and you should all know what it is. A pullup is done with your hands are pointed away from your body gripping over the bar, whereas a chinup is done with your hands are pointed towards your body, gripping under the bar. Different hand placement determines what part of the back is being worked, and yes you can cover virtually your entire back with different variations. Perfect for lifters of any experience, every back workout I do includes some variation of the pullup or chinup and so should yours.

The Bent-Over Row – Another great mass builder for the back, the bent row is my go-to for putting on size and strength. The exact muscles used differ on hand placement, which can be either pronated (as you see in the pic) or supinated (underhand grip). The bent-row works the latissimus dorsi muscle, which makes up the middle back. To perform the bent row, grab the barbell about shoulder width and slightly bend your knees. Lower the barbell to about knee level and keeping your back flat,  contract your back muscles and lift the weight up your quad and into your hips. Lower slowly and repeat. This exercise can be used with heavy weight so make sure that you nail the form before attempting to go heavy. Always control the motion and keep a mind-muscle connection.

The Military Press – The king of all shoulder exercises. This beast works all three heads of the deltoids and can be used to build strength and put on size on the delts. To perform this move correctly, sit on a 90 degree bench and grab a barbell just about shoulder width. Keeping the back as flat as possible on the bench and wrists straight, lower the weight down until your arms are about 90 degrees, pause, and control the weight back up into starting position. You don’t want to go too low because you can mess up your shoulders, which I’ve done and its not very fun at all. Don’t let your ego get the best of you and use weight you can manage, it can be easy to mess up your rotator cuff if you’re reckless.

The Clean – This is one of my favourite olympic lifts. It works muscles in your lower and upper body, as well as your core. It is a great exercise to add strength and improve athleticism. I know personally I’ve used this for hockey and its used religiously by football teams, for good reason, it works. This exercise is a bit more complicated to learn, so take your time with it and master the basics. Essentially you start as you would prepare for a deadlift, feet flat, back straight, head pointing up and forward.  As you explode up, lifting the barbell and shrug the weight up and using the momentum and force created, you drop and receive the barbell in a front squat. I know it seems complicated and it might seem so at first, so click here to get a video demonstration.

So there we are, we’ve reached the end of the basic lifts. These lifts explained above work the entire body and will be used in every workout you do. Be sure to learn them properly and remember to check your ego at the gym door and work with weight you can manage. If you have any questions, you know where to find me! Until next time, stay jacked!

If you’re here because you’ve already read my post Nutrition 101: Macronutrients, please read on, if you haven’t click here to check out the first lesson in Nutrition before returning to continue your learning.

So we know about macronutrients and you’re probably thinking holy sh*t, this must be really time-consuming and difficult to maintain. This is the point at which you decide how strict you want to go! If you’re looking to get into contest shape or planning to be a fitness model, you’ll want to have a plan of action with your macros and track each one so you can monitor progress and adjust based on how you look. That’s a different story, and I will be writing an article about specifics in another post shortly and linking it here. This post caters to the beginners, who haven’t followed anything specific and don’t know where to start. I’ll break this up really easily for you.

The good news is that there are many ways to achieve your nutrition goals. Some prefer to cook their meals for the day everyday, but in this day and age, it is much more practical, convenient, and efficient to prep are your meals once every 3 days. For me, Sunday and Wednesday nights work. I grill all of my proteins and prepare my carbs as well, all this alongside some salads and vegetables.

So what do I recommend? A visit to your local dollarstore, walmart, target, etc, to buy some Tupperware containers. Why? Because this will make your life SO much easier. Grab a small cooler as well, this will give you a place to store and carry around all your food so you can eat on a dime and you’re never left unprepared. This may seem like a weird order of events but bear with me. It just makes more sense to get the elephant out of the room right now. You’re going to have to be prepared, and failing to plan will lead to failure to execute.

Before you continue reading, please understand that I myself don’t count calories because I’m just maintaining my current physique. I’ve been eating like this for so long I can tell portions without weighing them and I know the nutritional profiles of what I usually eat, and if you’re a beginner you most likely wont, so make sure you track what you eat. This will help you greatly in making necessary adjustments based on your progress.

So we now know about macronutrients and why they are important, but what role do they play in our plan? You’ll see, but for now it a good idea to find your Daily Caloric needs, which can be calculated by clicking here. This will give you the amount of calories that you need to maintain your current weight. Now for the plan, if you’re trying to gain weight/build muscle you’ll be adding anywhere between 250-500 calories/day to that amount. If you’re trying to lose weight you’ll be dropping about 250-500 calories/day. You should be dropping about a pound or gaining about a pound for every week. That’s what’s considered normal. Remember that these numbers aren’t exact! Everybody is different, take a week or two eating at a caloric increase/deficit and see how you weigh, if you’re not gaining or losing you’ve gotta adjust accordingly until you find out what works for your body. Just remember, if you’re focused on losing weight, during the first week, the healthy eating and exercise will shock your body and you may lose anywhere between 3-10 lbs. This is water weight, aside from the first week, you should be losing about a pound a week.

Almost done promise! Now that you’ve got your set amount of required calories, you’ll have to figure out how many meals you will have. I usually have anywhere between 5-7 meals a day, consisting of 3 larger meals and 2-4 snack meals, depending on whether I’m training that day or not.  So what you’ll want to do is divide the total calories by how many meals you plan to have. It’s generally recommended to eat in 2-3 hours intervals in order to keep the metabolism revved. Some live by this others are against it. Like I said earlier, it works for me and that’s what matters. Find what eating regime works for you and stick with it, just make sure you’re getting in all of your required calories!!

Ok so we’ve got our caloric requirements and we’ve determined how many meals we will eat each day, what’s next? Cooking your food and preparing the meals with the right macro’s. The general rule of thumb is to take in about 1-1.5 grams protein per lb. of bodyweight, 1-2 grams of carbs/ lb. of bodyweight and 0.5 grams of fat/lb. of bodyweight.

For example, at the time of this writing I weigh 186 pounds.  To fill my caloric requirements, I need to eat anywhere between 186 grams- 279 grams of protein, 186-375 grams of carbs and approx. 95 grams of fats. I know from personal experience that I need about 3000 calories to maintain my current size.  To get my required calories and macros, I would need to eat about 240 grams of protein (240×4=960 cals), 300 grams of carbs (300×4=1200) and around 95 grams of fats (95×9=855 cals), which adds up to 3015 calories. Knowing this, you can divide your macronutrients by the amount of meals you’ll be having and set goals for each meal (e.g. If I eat 6 meals in a day, for each meal I should aim for about 40 grams protein(240/6), 50 grams of carbs (300/6) and 16 grams of fats (95/6). Be sure to check out my post on macro meals breakdowns and meal timing, by clicking here, to see how to manipulate the macro’s in each meal to optimize nutrient absorption and recovery.

Here’s a quick guideline to recap our meal prep for dummies:

  1. Find your daily caloric needs and adjust them based on your goal.
  2. Divide these calories up by the amount of meals you’ll have and your macro requirements .
  3. Prepare your proteins, carbs, fats and veggies/greens on the same day, and have your Tupperware containers ready.
  4. Once finished making all the food, mix and match your protein, carb and fat sources into each of the containers and you’re set!

What’s worked for me is using my fist size to judge portion sizes. This makes it so easy to prepare meals and takes the hassle out of the meal planning. One fist size for me is about 5-6 oz of protein, 1 cup of carbs, 1 cup of veggies/greens and a tablespoon or two of fats. Using this method, when I prepare my foods, I toss in a chicken breast, 1 yam and a cup of broccoli into one Tupperware case and in the other I’ll change my protein source and throw in a fist size portion of extra lean ground beef with a cup of brown rice and a cup of mixed greens. Sounds easy right? It is.  Use this method to ease into the habits of healthy eating. If you’re just looking to lose weight or build mass this helps. If you’re not losing weight, switch one carb serving for an extra serving of veggies/greens. On the mass building plan, if you’re not gaining, increase your carbs to a fist and a half for a meal or two and see how that goes. It’s all played by ear, if it works keep it going, if not make simple changes, experiment and adjust based on the results. I’ll make some specific nutrition plans for weight loss and muscle gain in time, but for now remember to keep it simple and make small changes where necessary.

Remember I’m here for you during this journey, if you still find something confusing, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back with an answer as soon as I can!

Before I get into the nitty gritty of muscle specific workouts and workout programs, I want to make it known to all that nutrition is easily 85% of the battle. If you want to make a transformation, be it lose weight and tone up, lean out, or to pack muscle, whatever your goals are, you’re nutrition has to be spot on, I CANNOT stress this enough. Having a sound nutrition plan and staying consistent with it is a KEY ingredient (see what I did there) in the recipe for success. It’s said that failing to plan is planning to fail and I agree completely. So now that thats out of the way, let me get into the nitty gritty of nutrition and show you that it doesn’t have to be as difficult as people make it. There are many ways people go about nutrition and food prep, but the most successful people are those that plan ahead and are always prepared. Being prepared allows for  consistency and ensures that your body is receiving enough nutrients to recover and grow. Don’t think of this as a diet!   You’re changing your lifestyle here, this isn’t something that you follow strictly for said amount of weeks and then you go back to eating junk food. This is a change for the better. You’re doing your body good with this and trust me, its not as hard as people make it out to be.

Okay, so now we know that nutrition is vital for a successful transformation and preparation is the best way to ensure consistency of this nutrition.

Now let me break this down for you. Grab something in your kitchen with nutritional info on the package and have a look. This will be your new bestfriend. On the label you have total calories, then the chart breaks down into FAT, cholesterol, sodium, CARBOHYDRATE and PROTEIN. See the letters in caps? Those are what we call macronutrients. There are three and as you can see above, they are:

1. PROTEINS

2. CARBOHYDRATES [ Two types: (1) Hi-Glycemic Simple Carbs: quickly digested and cause a insulin spike in the blood (2) Low-Glycemic Complex Carbs: slow and steady insulin release]

3. FATS

These three macronutrients provide the calories that you see listed on as the total amount of calories on your label. These guys are important so pay attention!

Proteins have 4 calories per gram.

Carbs also have 4 calories per gram.

Fats have 9 calories per gram.

What does this mean? Well, take you’re calculator and multiply the amount of fat shown on the label, in grams, by 9. Next, multiply the total carbohydrates by 4 and the total proteins by 4. Add them all up and you should receive the total calorie amount shown on the label. This means that proteins, carbs and fats are what we must feed our body with for it to be able to recover and grow from your intense training sessions. Now every food has its own macronutrient profile, some foods are build mainly of carbs (e.g brown rice and oats), some of mainly proteins (e.g turkey, chicken, fish), and some of mainly fats (e.g coconut oil, nuts, flax).

The goal of proper nutrition is to manipulate the numbers of proteins, carbs and fats into a macro ratio, which will be planned according to your goals. Most people use the 30 P/40 C/30 F ratio, meaning 30 percent of your calories will come from protein and another 30 percent will come from fats, and the remaining 40 percent will come from carbohydrates. I will make a post in this series about different macro ratios and describe what goal each will help attain, as for now read on!

Here are some basic examples of foods that fit into each macronutrient profile:

Proteins –  Chicken, Fish, Turkey, Whey Protein, Eggs, Beef, Poultry, Lamb, etc.

Carbs –  Hi-Glycemic Simple Carbs: Fruits, Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup

Low- Glycemic Complex Carbs: Brown Rice, Oats, Grits, Whole Grain Pasta, Whole Grain Bread, Quinoa, Couscous

Fats –  Coconut Oil, Nuts, Flax Seeds, Fish, etc.

At this point, I’ll explain how your body uses these macronutrients, so play close attention, this is important!

Protein:  Your body uses protein to help rebuild and repair muscle tissue. When you workout, you rip muscle tissue, thats why you feel sore the day after. By getting in enough protein, you will be able to help your body repair the ripped tissue and grow.

Carbs: Carbs are your bodies preferred source of energy and they are required for you to function. The brain needs carbs to work and the body uses them for energy.

Fats: Help promote good health, brain function and help protect your limbs and joints from damage.

Okay cool!  So we’ve covered what macros are, how your body uses them and I’ve given some examples of foods that fit in each category of macro. What now? Well head over here to find out how to prepare your nutrition battle plan.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!