Saturday, July 18, 2015

Making Friends at The Gym


The gym can be a great place to make good friends with people who have the same goals and ambitions as you. Many great friendships have been formed in gyms and if you want the kind of friends that like to be active and live a healthy life as well, the gym might be a great place to start.

You might want to start building your network of exercise-related contacts to help you get into the fitness industry, or just make a few mates that will be a positive influence.

How to make friends at the gym


Don't be annoying

First off: Don't be the person that everybody wants to avoid. See the most annoying people in the gym and make sure you are not one of these people. Make sure you aren't the annoying guy at the gym because you won't make any friends at all that way.  

Make sure that your first objective for going to gym is to work out. Don't go to the gym just to make friends. This comes across and you won't win the respect of anybody there if that is the case.
Train hard. Look good and exercise as well as you can. People around you notice these things. Ironically, people who go to gym for the right reasons end up making more friends than people who attend for nothing but social interaction.

You should not go to the gym in jeans and a shirt to look good. That will make you look silly and unfocused on training hard. Look good by being presentable. You might be at gym, but take some pride in yourself. I'm referring to things like brushing your teeth and wearing clean gym clothes. The bigger and stronger you are, the more likely people will want to be friends with you. Use this as motivation to do your best at the gym. Just as much as you notice the people who are really performing their best at the gym, you want to be one of those people so that others can notice you too.


Be approachable

Start by being approachable. You might look intimidating without knowing it. Many people do. If your eye meets someone else's (which will happen by accident), smile. Smile often to give off the impression that you are kind, a nice human being and easy to talk to. Open up your body language. If you are on your phone between sets or if you are using headphones, then people should respect you and not bother you. Ditch these things if you want to make friends.

Talk to a variety of people

You might want to be friends with the biggest and coolest looking guys in the gym exclusively, but going up to these people in the middle of their training session is going to irritate them. You don't want to be the irritating guy. Be nice and pleasant to everybody at the gym. Greet the staff, cleaners, the old guy from the steam room that talks to everybody and even the people that you wouldn't usually associate yourself with. They are generally nice people, and once you make friends with these people, you will be introduced to more and more people until you know almost everybody around the facility.

Don't talk down to anybody. Do not judge the guy that does cardio along with weight training and don't say bad things about people to others at the gym. This will give you a bad reputation.

Gym at a set time

Most people gym at the same time routinely. If you are able to gym at the same time regularly, you will start to recognize reoccurring faces, and start getting to know the people there. Going to gym at a different time can sometimes feel like walking into a different gym altogether. Personally, whenever I gym at a different time from normal, I am surprised at all the strangers there. The funny part is that they all probably think I'm a newbie because they obviously haven't seen me before either.

Take baby steps

Don't rush in and try to start conversations with everybody. That will be annoying to the other gym members. Start with smaller steps. Make it a habit of smiling often. Greet people as you walk past them. Try to greet everybody you can and not only certain people. A simple 'how you doing' will do. Don't stop everybody to shake their hands if you don't know them. 

When working on exercises that need spotting like the bench press ask people around you for a spot - but make sure not to cause them inconvenience. Don't take up too much their time so that they can't focus on their own workouts. If someone is using a machine or weight that you want to use, ask how many sets they have left. If the number is 3 or greater, it is okay to ask if they mind sharing the machine with you. Most people won't mind sharing weights with you as long as it doesn't slow down their own workout. If the number of sets they have left is 2 or more, asking to share will sound silly so just wait until they are done. 

Feel free to ask people for advice when you need to, but don't ask a million questions every time you see them. Most people love giving advice and they will enjoy talking to you about what they know. You might want to ask someone how they got such big calve muscles or how to do better at your bench press

Don't overdo it

This is very important. Don't ever talk to someone for so long that they end up taking too long in-between their exercise sets. They will start to associate you with slacking off and will try avoiding your conversation altogether if they think it will lead to decreased performance in their training. 

If you want people to like you, you need to try to end up doing most of the listening in a conversation. When we talk, we often focus so much on what we are saying that we don't realize that the person who is listening is just waiting for you to end talking so that they can get away. You don't want that to happen to you. Develop the ability to distinguish whether the person is interested in talking to you or not. Most people won't tell you that you are irritating them out of courtesy, so try to draw the line between being annoying and friendly. 

If someone has earphones or is on their phone, don't bother them unless you know them. There are many people who don't like chatting at all when they're working out. You need to distinguish the difference between the people who don't mind interacting with others and the ones that don't want to socialize at all. 

Take it easy. Just because someone greeted you back doesn't mean you should be asking for their number. People will take time to start seeing you as a buddy in the gym as opposed to a stranger. Slowly but surely, get to know all the people a little more and more each time you can and let things happen naturally.

STAY STRONG!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Benefits Of Drinking Lemon Juice For Athletes


Drinking lemon juice can be very beneficial to your body. Making it a daily routine can be helpful in keeping you healthy. The healthier you are, the more time you can train in the gym and the less down time that you are forced to spend grounded from that nasty flu or cold. Read more about this along with other benefits below.

Benefits of drinking lemon juice (With water)


Lemon benefit 1: It boosts your immune system

Lemons are high in vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system. Drinking lemons in liquid form (lemon juice) allows for quick and usable absorption when your body needs it. Drinking it daily allows your body to get more of the vitamin whenever you have a deficiency - which you might be unaware of even having. Don't wait for sickness to let you know you're vitamin C deficient. You don't know when you need vitamin C, so taking it regularly will do wonders to prevent the sicknesses you didn't know you were going to get. This proactive approach allows you to fight off illnesses before you get sick, not when you're already sick and it's too late.


Lemon benefit 2: Recovery, joint strength and injury prevention

Even though lemon juice is acidic, it assists your body to remove excess acid from your body. This can help remove some of the lactic acid build up from exercise. Doing so will speed up recovery and get your muscles back on track sooner. Add the vitamin C content to the mix and your joints will have more of what they need to get stronger. This helps to prevent injury. Here are other great ways to speed up recovery from exercise

Lemon benefit 3: Lemon juice makes you look good from the inside out

Lemon juice is used topically on the skin to help with pimples, wrinkles and to fade freckles. But taking it through a drink will make you look better from the inside out. It will give you a healthy glow and add a natural radiance to your skin. Its detoxing properties (see below) will help your body to remove impurities. This, combined with the extra vitamin C, will help to keep your skin looking young and fresh. Wounds and scars will take less time to heal and it also contributes to healthier hair and nails. Click here for more tips on improving your skin.

Lemon benefit 4: It provides energy, suppresses appetite and helps fat loss

Drinking lemon juice is a gentle, subtle way of losing fat without sacrificing any muscle. Even if lemon juice helps you to lose a few grams of fat a day, doing this daily will make a huge difference over a long period of time.


Lemon benefit 5: Lemon juice detoxes you

Lemon juice helps the body to release toxins in the blood and muscles. Furthermore, if you drink warm lemon juice and water first think in the morning, it helps you digestive system and allows your body to eliminate it's natural 'waste' easier and smoother. Think of lemon juice as the crowd control of your colon. It also boosts liver and kidney performance because it helps them to get rid of the toxins that often keep them too busy to focus on other functions. When the strain on your liver and kidneys are lessened because there are less toxins for them to deal with, they can dedicate more of themselves to other functions like regulating metabolism and important nutrients.

Lemon benefit 6: Healthy alternative to water 

Pure water is the healthiest thing to drink and should form the majority of all your liquid consumption. A squirt of lemon in your water once a day is a nice break from the boring taste of plain water, but won't have any negative health impacts - as long as you don't overdo it (see tips and advice below). A squirt of lemon juice in water is also extremely low in calories. Don't add sugar if you want to keep the calories low.

Lemon benefit 7: Vitamins and minerals 

Lemon juice has other useful nutrients that are good for your body and increase your overall health. These nutrients include potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A and pectin fiber. Pectin fiber aids digestion and reduces cholesterol. See the benefits of these minerals here.


Lemon benefit 8: Anti-bacterial properties 

The antibacterial properties in lemon juice make it a good remedy for sore throats (and preventing them). It will help you to fight the fight against any other bacteria that you aren't aware of around you. Lemon juice is also antiseptic. The regular presence of lemon juice in your mouth can deter germs that cause bad breath, plaque and gum disease. Just be careful - too much lemon juice can wear at your teeth since it is acidic. Read more on that below.

Lemon benefit 9: Boosts heart and physical performance

Lemon juice thins your blood which is good for your heart, circulation and cardiovascular system. Your body will have an easier time and be more efficient at delivering nutrients to your muscles during training. Improved blood flow will also shorten recovery times.


Tips and advice


Be tooth smart

Drink lemon juice diluted in water. Lemon juice is acidic and can cause tooth decay, so don't drink it on its own and be sure NOT to drink it before or after brushing your teeth. As long as you do this, it won't have a negative effect on your teeth.

Don't overdo it 

Lemon juice thins your blood, which is a good thing. With too much thinning, though, your blood won't be able to clot. If you cut yourself and your blood is too thin, it will keep flowing, causing more blood loss than normal. One glass of lemon water (2-4 table spoons lemon juice mixed with water) daily is enough to get all the benefits of lemon juice, without thinning the blood too much.

You can get very similar benefits from drinking apple cider vinegar. Do you know of any other benefits from lemon juice? Let us know in the comments below. STAY STRONG!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How Bodybuilders Make Money


If you need tips on breaking into the industry, click here.

Bodybuilding is one of the most expensive sports. The cost of supplements, nutrition and food needed to grow your body is no joke. Once you start getting serious, simply going to the gym and eating whatever, whenever you want is not going to cut it. A proper diet that ensures the best growth is costly. Unfortunately we live in a world where the healthiest and most nutritious food is also the most expensive. People in this sport can generally spend up to a third of their salary on gym memberships, supplements and food.

Even while paying the high price for your passion, can you make enough money through bodybuilding to support your aspirations and make a living out of it?  

Short answer: No. You need to get a job to support your dreams. You need some sort of income to buy and use the supplements and food you need to get you to your desired physique.

Long answer: Yes. There are many bodybuilders who make enough to live off the sport. Some even score good coin from it as well. Working in the industry as a full-time career option is highly coveted, yet definitely possible. Bodybuilders earn in a combination of ways listed below.


How can bodybuilding make me a decent income?

To earn a proper salary, you are going to need to do a variety of the things listed below.

Winning cash prizes at bodybuilding competitions

This is not how bodybuilders make a living, but his is the first thing that comes to mind when people consider the incomes of body builders. This is like an occasional bonus to the best of the best in the industry. The competitors at the top of their category do not count on getting this money and you can't either. Planning to live off prize money solely is going to get you in a financial mess, and a whole lot of disappointment. Congratulations to those who win money at shows, but don't count on it. Even the top guys don't live off prize money. They still have to do the things that follow to stay in the industry full time. Check out these tips to win more bodybuilding shows.

Being sponsored by companies

If you perform well enough at bodybuilding shows, there will be companies who will be interested in sponsoring you. These companies are most often supplement companies who want to use your image to sell their products to their target market. Their market would be the people who want to look like and be like you. These companies are not limited to supplement companies only, and can be energy drink, gym, clothing or other corporate companies. As stated in our 'make a career as a bodybuilder' article, getting a sponsorship is not as easy as stepping on stage and hoping that companies are going to chase you down with cash in their hands. Most of the time, you are going to have to work for it. The competition for sponsorships is super tight. Therefore, building a great relationship with your sponsor/s is essential.

 Some bodybuilders make a living with this kind of money. However, the numbers of bodybuilders who can live off their sponsorships are below 10% among the pros. A sponsorship could be as small as a year's supply of their brand of supplements. They usually aren't enough to cover your nutrition costs, never mind everything else that comes with staying alive.

Modelling

Modelling and guest posing gigs can provide for good additional income. This is also usually not a lot of money until you become well known and have established a strong brand that people recognize and want to pay for. This is also very competitive so it will be hard work for you to establish yourself from the crowd to get noticed by those who pay for models. The amount of bodybuilders who make a living from modelling is quite low, but higher than the amount who live off sponsorships. As I have already said, most combine a variety of these income streams.


Personal training

Many bodybuilders become personal trainers as a way of doing what they love and working in the same industry to pay the bills. The sport and this career often complement each other. The better they perform in bodybuilding competitions, the more clients with the same goals will want to be trained by them and therefore the more they can make from training others by charging more per session. Working at a gym always has great benefits for the bodybuilder. He gets to network and has a bigger chance of possibly meeting someone who could help him get further in his career. Although you need to get qualified first, you can make a living from personal training. It is not going to make you rich, but staying within the industry can bring in more opportunities. A large amount of people who regularly compete in bodybuilding shows are personal trainers. If you want to be a personal trainer but are put off by the amount of other people going after the same job, specialize. Focus on training children and teens, pregnant woman or people who are recovering from injury.

Being a contest coach

Being a contest coach, just like personal training, can provide a steady stream of income that you can depend on but won't make you rich. In order to become a contest coach, you need to know how the contests work. You need to have the skills to transform a newbie into the best performer he or she can be onstage. You need a reason for people to believe that you can really help them to do the best they can at these shows. The better you do at your own shows, the more sought after you will be to others wanting to be as successful as you.

Monetizing and expanding on your personal brand

If you want to make money out of bodybuilding, you need to develop your personal brand. You should become a well-known brand that people admire. You can grow your brand by competing and placing in shows, gaining a big following on social media like Facebook and Twitter, trying to get as much publicity in the media as possible, and even offering to write guest posts for websites and blogs that your industry pays attention to. You should aim to reach as many people as possible. They should see your name repeatedly and start respecting your authority in the sport. Once you have developed a brand within the industry, you can start capitalizing on it by selling you own merchandise, partnering with another company to use your brand to reach their target market, or becoming a product ambassador for larger companies. The bigger your personal brand gets, the more opportunities will make themselves available to you. Once you are well known, magazines and other media might offer you good cash for interviews, appearances, etc.

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is an often over looked and possibly lucrative way to make money out of bodybuilding. If there is a product or service that you can provide that people are willing to pay for within the industry, you have a business opportunity. Starting a business in bodybuilding has many possibilities and there are many ways of going about it. Although you can make endless amounts of money this way, it will require sharp business skills. The chances are also very high that you will make nothing (or even lose money) when trying to start a business.


Extra tips and advice to earn from bodybuilding


Decide: are you in this for the cash or just for fun?

Unfortunately, bodybuilding is not like other sports because you can't try to qualify for a team and then get a salary depending on the club you belong to. If you want to make a living from it, you need to be clever about it. If you want to take up bodybuilding seriously, you need to decide whether you are going to do it for the sport of it or if you are going to need to make an income from it as well. If you don't need an income from it and have another way of making a living for yourself and can afford expenses like nutrition, then feel free to pursue it the best way you choose. Many of the greats have other forms of income and do bodybuilding professionally, even though they don't earn enough via the sport to live off it. On the other hand, if you want to make your earnings from bodybuilding alone, you will need to be smart about it and plan well. You cannot plan on cash prizes for contests, so you will need to decide what other areas listed above you are going to pursue to make a steady income.

Think long term

If you are planning to live off bodybuilding, you will need to make a short-term, mid-term and long-term plan regarding finances. Perhaps you should get a normal job while you study to become a personal trainer, and once you are a personal trainer, work on starting a business that works well with your passion for bodybuilding. If you don't plan right, ending your next plateau is going to be the least of your worries.

Multiple revenue streams

The key to making a lot of money is through multiple revenue streams, instead of relying on only one way of making money. You first goal should be to establish a steady income, then your second should be to somehow get a secondary income, and with the extra money from the secondary income you can figure out the best way to turn the additional income into more money.

Think apart from everybody else

As with any industry, the better you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd and be superior to the rest, the more successful you will be. If you stand ahead of the rest on stage as a personal trainer or business, you can make a lot of good money. Originality wins.

Be money smart

Save and use your money wisely. Make sure you always have enough for 'rainy days' and keep your expenses as low as possible. The worst thing you want is to cut supplements in the middle of the month because you thought you would get more money but didn't. Don't let your bulking diet drill your wallet into the ground and halt your progress.

We hope this info was useful. Please let us know in the comments below. STAY STRONG! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The 15 Worst People in the Gym - Ever!


There are too many people who irritate others at the gym. Are you a new gym user? Don't be one of these guys! There might just be a thing or two on this list that makes people hate you behind your back, without your knowing about it. Read up on the things that irritate everybody to make sure that you don't do any of these things.

Things that irritate everybody else at the gym


Annoyance number 1: People who make too much noise

Grunting can actually be beneficial to your lift, strength and mental focus. Heavy exhalation on the concentric phase of lifts like pulls up, dead lifts and squats will help to tighten your core, helping with form during these tricky lifts. It is one of the recommended ways to overcome light-headedness from squats and deadlifts. It also helps to maximize your bench press ability.

But there is a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not. Your grunt should be a genuine by-product of your training and should not be disrupting or distracting to the other people around you. Don't grunt, scream and perform as way of showing off. That makes you look like a douche and puts you off as the guy who is just there to seek attention. People can tell the difference between the war cries of someone pushing themselves to the limit and the guy that hopes his screams will make others stop what they're doing and notice. No one cares. We're all here for ourselves. Keep it to yourself.

On shouting: Don't scream to your mate across the room. We are here to train and we don't want to hear what your fake manliness. People are trying to focus on their training and other voices ringing in their ears make them wish certain people weren't there. Save your Tarzan voice for emergencies only (like a heart attack, choking, someone dying under the bar, or forgetting your post-workout shake at home). Be considerate. If you want to say something, get off you're lazy ass and walk across the room. People don't mind you having conversations with your mates; just don't make us lose focus, okay?

Irritation number 2: People who drop the weights

It's impressive to see a guy who can curl 50 k's, until he suddenly loses all his 'strength' and drops on to the floor. Did you just make me look in your direction mid-rep and lose my focus? If you can't put it down properly, go lighter and until you have the strength to put the weights back the same way you lifted them in the beginning of your set.

I've heard a lot a haters judge these guys. I'm one of them. It doesn't make you look strong. It makes you irritating. Want to be the guy no-one likes? 'Accidentally' break one of those weights, making the rest of us wait a week or two before the gym replaces it.

Agitators number 3: People who leave their weights lying around


I hate running around the gym looking for a weight that you were too lazy to put back, and I'm not the only one. You don't know it, but we are watching you, waiting to condemn whoever messes with our weights - silently in our heads... as you walk past. Want people to like you? Don't make it harder for them to do what they came here to do: lift.

Vexes number 4: People who talk too much

There's nothing wrong with having a chat or two during sets at the gym. I do it often. The gym is a great place to make good friends with the same interests as you that could possibly end up motivating you to push harder and get further in your physical endeavors. I've learnt a lot from mates I've met at the gym, and I've made good friends there.

However, there is a big difference between the friendly guy who says hi and strikes up a good chat every now and then and the guy who goes there only to talk. We know the difference. Don't be the guy that people end up avoiding because they are forced to hear you babble on about something that no one cares about. Some people like to talk (like me) and others don't.

There are lots of people who avoid any talking at all and only want to lift. Don't irritate people. If you can't tell when you are irritating someone, rather don't try and let people approach you instead. Is no one is approaching you? Then focus and gym harder!

Click here if you need a few more guidelines for socializing at the gym

Who we hate number 5: People who stand in the way

Don't stand in the way of mirrors, water fountains, weights, machines, racks, hallways, walkways, stairs, and anywhere else people might want to exercise. You can take up mirror space if you're using it correctly. If you're not, get out the way. Some people are too nice to tell you to move, but that doesn't mean that you aren't in their way. Don't sit on machines that you are not using, even if it looks like no one is using it. I've waited a long time for some loser who just sat on a machine and got up without doing anything on it.

Reason that angers us number 6: People who take up all of the machines at once

If you're using the bench, don't put your phone, towel, water bottle, or anything else on the bench next to you. Someone might want to use that bench but can't because they think someone else is using it. It can make people pretty angry when they later discover that it was just you who couldn't put your stuff on the floor like the rest of us. Don't take up 3 machines at the same time when there are people waiting to use it. You work out is not more important than the next guy, no matter the size or sport difference between you. If you want to super-set, then offer to share the equipment with anybody else who might need it as well.

 Worst gym member number 7: People who leave sweat and other gross stuff everywhere

If you sweat on the equipment, clean it off. It will take you a few seconds and will save you a lot of self-imposed hate. If you use tissues, throw them away. Don't expect the cleaning staff to do it because it makes you look bad in front of everybody, not them. Also, throw away any other stuff like water bottles, juice boxes, gum papers etc. Most people think of this as common sense. If you never thought of it, now you know. Don't spit in the water fountain, ever. Be a man and swallow if you have to.

Terrible people number 8: Screaming in the change rooms

I find these people the most annoying of them all. I've just finished an exhausting workout that almost killed me. I finally get to sit for a few moments on a bench in the change rooms, downing my protein shake and silently congratulating myself for an amazing workout. This moment of rest is important.
It is one of my favorite moments. I love feeling like I have just conquered the world after an intense workout. But my moments of victory are messed up by the ignorant fools screaming at each other, like they can't hear the echo of their own voices. I hate being the one in-between the guy in the shower and the guy by the bathroom mirror's conversation about why they're so cool or whatever. Don't talk to anybody when you shower at the gym. In order to be heard above the shower's stream you have to shout and the other is going to need to shout so you can hear them. This irritates everybody!

Prick number 9: People who change the steam room temperature and leave after 5 minutes

These people walk into the stem room, get the temperature changed because it is 'too cold' and leave after 5 minutes before breaking an actual sweat. Your body needs time to respond to the heat of the steam room in order to get the proper benefits.

Many people use it to sit back and relax. I use it to sweat, raise my core temperature, detox and flush out lactic acid, jump starts my immune when I need it or increase blood circulation. If you are curious about the benefits of steam rooms, click here.

Sit in the steam room for at least 5 minutes before deciding that it's too cold. If it is still too cold, ask the people in the steam room (especial the ones that were there before you) if they would mind if you changed the temperature.

Gear grinder number 10: People who parade their junk in the change rooms 

You aren't shy about being bare and natural in the change rooms. Congratulations! Now put some clothes on. Most of us change in there and being naked is inevitable, but get done with it and move on. A cold shower is better at cooling you off from your workout or sauna, but we don't want to see the sights that come with it. You might be comfortable in your own skin, but you could be making others uncomfortable without knowing it. Some people consider it rude to have your junk in their faces for longer than what is necessary. 

Jerk number 11: People who belittle others

Don't mock the new kid at the gym who isn't using the best form. It makes you look bad, not better. If it bothers you so much, offer some advice; but don't get offended if he wants to find out for himself. So what if the other guy uses low weights and high reps? Not everybody in the gym is a bodybuilder and some people want to have less muscle mass for various reasons.

Be careful, it's a small world out there and people talk. I've seen what people say come full circle all too often. I might be a big guy, but when I hear my smaller mates belittle the people who are smaller than them, there's a level of respect that I lose for them. I have a high regard for the bodybuilding sport and for everybody that tries - whether I think that they are doing it right or not. If someone is always on their phone or is constantly looking in the mirror more than working out, how is that affecting you? It doesn't look like that guy is really focused on lifting I might agree with you - but remember - each to their own.

Loser number 12: People who take too long on machines

If there are only two benches and the other one is taken, don't take half an hour to do your three sets. The list of people waiting on (or hating on) you is growing by the minute. It is okay to take your time and be sure not to sacrifice the quality of your workout, but you need to be reasonable. Place yourself in the shoes of the other people waiting inline. Mentally come up with a semi-compromise. Resting a little less in-between a set is not going to kill you. Who knows... the random muscle confusion might benefit you.

Idiot number 13: People who talk to you mid-Set

If you need to ask a question or say something, wait until the person is done with their set. Do not talk to them in the middle of their squat, curl, dip or lift. Lifting weights comes down to an internal battle between the mind and body. Respect his or her moment of focus. Interrupting people while they're busy with their set is just plain nasty. This applies whether the person is a complete stranger or your best friend. Providing motivation and mental pump-ups during sets are fine, that's not what I am talking about. I hate the 'how many sets do you have left?' guys when I'm focused on reaching that 8th curl. Could you really not wait a few more seconds?

Fool number 14: People who ask for a spot but can't move the weight 

These people are the biggest clowns in the gym. If you are going to ask someone to spot you, don't load a weight that you can't handle and expect the spotter to do part of the work in moving the weight. The spotter is there to ensure that you don't injure yourself or that you don't fail and end up under the bar - nothing more. If the spotter is a good mate of yours then it might not be seen as annoying, but asking someone you only know in the gym to spot you is the same as asking him for a favor.

Don't make him expend his own energy when he already has a workout to do. He isn't your personal trainer. Don't annoy people by giving them more physical work that they didn't ask for. I laugh when these people ask 'how much of that did I lift?' afterwards. None dude! Your spotter is obviously going to be polite and say it was all you, even when it wasn't. 'Riding' means balancing. If your spotters needs more than a finger to assist you, it's too much. The only time he might need to exert a little more energy is if you fail on your last rep and he helps you rack the bar.

Moron number 15: Spotters who become drill sergeants

When people ask me for a spot, I ask how many sets they want to do and if they want me to 'ride with them' (guiding the weights as the lifter moves them, so that they don't lose balance and topple the bar) or just stand by in case they fail and can't rack it. While spotting, be prepared to help out if you need to. Don't push the lifter to do more reps then he was planning to do.

Unless he or she asks for your motivation, they already know what rep range they are going for, and they might not want to train till failure. I, for example, train till failure in some programs and avoid failure in others to vary my training. Forcing the poor guy to do more reps then he intended is not going to win you any brownie points. I avoid asking certain people to spot me now, solely for this reason.

Know of any people who need to read this? Share the article and decrease the amount of douches gym-wide. STAY STRONG.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why Size Doesn't Win Bodybuilding Competitons

Size doesn't decide who wins bodybuilding competitions.

It's not the biggest guy who wins competitions 

Perhaps you want to pursue a career in bodybuilding but can't seem to place better than you should. One of the biggest mistakes that most beginners make is assuming that the goal is to get as big as possible and that their success on stage is proportionate to the amount of muscle mass they can bring present to the judges. Size is a big factor in determining the winner, but it is definitely not the only factor that matters. If size is still your weak point, try these supplements, or build your own bulking diet here.

Have you ever been to a bodybuilding show and wondered why the biggest guys are sometimes placed lower than someone clearly smaller than them? The judges aren't blind. They are just judging according to different criteria than you are. While size is what distinguishes us from the rest of the world, is it only one factor in determining the ultimate bodybuilder. Size is important, but certainly not the most crucial part of winning.

How to win a bodybuilding competition


Symmetry 
You could be twice the size of the guy next to you, but if any muscular imbalances are visible to the naked eye, you could be giving your spot away to your smaller, but symmetrical, competitor. Judges grade competitors on a points system. Body symmetry will lose you the most points without you even knowing about it. Have a good look in the mirror - We all have a 'good side' and a 'not as good' side, but one of your eternal goals will be to close this gap as much as you can. You need to work hard to find any parts of your body that doesn't quite match the other half, and correct them. Only upon closer inspection might you see that your left peck slightly dominates your right. This might not be a big issue in normal life, but definitely a possible 'I don't know why I didn't win' card for you to pick up after the next time you step on stage. Correcting imbalances like this is very important.

Posing Ability


What are the best poses and which poses do you need to do on stage? Have you practiced them in front of the mirror so many times that it now feels natural and comfortable? More importantly, do you know how to execute each pose so that every body part and muscle is flexed in such a way that it boasts your physique in the best possible light? Take a good look at the next show you attend and take note of who knows how to pose the best, in your opinion. Take note of who poses more naturally and who looks like they need to concentrate more on pulling the right muscles at the right time. Match these up to the winners afterwards and you will be surprised at how much posing ability actually determines the winner. Judges can easily see the difference between people who are completely in touch with what makes their bodies look the best with each pose and those who are just doing what the others are doing and just 'going with it'. It looks like practice really does make perfect. 


Everybody is different. Take the 'front double biceps' pose, for example. Do you know which body parts this pose emphasizes and how you should hold this particular pose for your body's best look? With practice you will find that perhaps you need to bend your knees a little more to show off the leg muscles or rotate your feet in a certain direction to get the best calf angles. 

Stage Presence



Do you look like the newbie who is still trying to come to terms with the bright light in your eyes when you first walk on stage? As the audience turns their attention to you when your name is called out, is your body language that of a champion that deserves to carry the legacy of bodybuilding forward to the next generation? Does your body language show nerves or an 'I'm trying not to look scared' face? Walk with confidence. Let your presence on stage depict a VICTOR in need of reckoning. This takes time, but you need to work on developing a persona that envelopes the crowd. With time, you need to learn to conquer the crowd, don't let the crowd conquer you. Command admiration, and it shall be given to you. Walk like the champion, be seen as the champion. 

Proportion


Do you know what one of the other destroyers of would-be champs is? Calves! Upper-body and lower-body proportions are extremely important and bigger competitors are often placed below their smaller peers because of body proportion. If you have freakishly large pecks, make sure the rest of your body is just as freakishly large or it could actually work against you. You cannot afford to lose the placement you deserve because your one muscle group is larger or smaller then what is considered 'proportionate' to the rest of your body. You need to work on keeping everything in proportion. Imagine trying to not let any other body part outshine the other. 'My chest is smaller but my bigger arms will make up for it in the show', said one loser to another. A few friends of mine have lost shows purely because of certain muscles being out of proportion to the rest of their bodies. We often see bigger guys lose to smaller guys because their legs weren't in proportion to the rest of their body. If your calves need work, click here.

Muscle Definition



How well can each muscle be seen in every muscle group? Can you see all three heads on your triceps, for example? Reducing body fat and decreasing water reserves in the body to reveal the muscles underneath come into play here. Being able to show the muscles you worked hard on getting are just as important as the size of those muscles you've worked so hard on. Get all the muscle in the world, but if they aren't clearly seen, what's the point in entering a competition?

The Total 'Look'


Every bodybuilding show has a certain look they tend to lean towards. You need to look the part. Winners are chosen among those who a certain bodybuilding organisation or federation feel would fit their image and embody what they feel is the picture of the ultimate bodybuilder according to their standards. Do you look like someone who should be sponsored by big companies? How far is your look from the guy that these competitions try to find? We all have a different image in our heads, but there are definitely similarities in general. 'The look' comprises of your body, face, haircut, outfits, body language, persona, eye contact, and more - even down to skin tone. Work on creating the 'look' that these organisations are after. Be the one they chose because you are their prefect poster boy.

If you want to compete in South Africa, check the local bodybuilding competitions here.

So, as you can see, size doesn't win bodybuilding competitions because it is only one aspect that will be judged to find the Ultimate Bodybuilding Champion. Work hard on all these often under-looked areas above and you will be well on your way to placing better and better after each bodybuilding competition. Work hard. We hope to see you in the next magazine! STAY STRONG!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Break That Plateau


If you follow the same workout program for too long, you will start to see diminishing results (fewer gains in muscle size and strength) over time as your body adapts to the stimulus placed on it.

You want to grow as fast as possible, right? A gym program is only as good as the strength and size gains it brings you. There might be nothing wrong with your program, but if you’re doing the same thing over and over, your body will have adapted to it and stopped growing to meet the same old physical demands.

Signs that you've hit a plateau


No increase in physical performance for two weeks or more

You aren’t increasing your reps and weights anymore. You are stuck at the same place that you were two weeks ago. It needs to be for two weeks in a row for you to be concerned, because all of us suffer from drops in performance for a day or two every now and then. If your physical performance is not improving, your body won't either.

You aren’t losing fat or building extra muscle: Your body weight isn't changing

This is a classic plateau symptom. Your body has adapted to your exercise routine and has become comfortable. It does not feel the need to change because it feels safe with its physical expectations and output.

Your gym regime seems more like a daily routine, instead a challenge for your body to overcome

This is a psychological symptom of a plateau. If your workout no longer challenges you and if you don't need that much determination to finish your workout, it might be good time for change. I personally change my workout plan whenever I feel like it is getting boring to avoid hitting a plateau. This often also encourages a lack of motivation, since you aren't feeling or seeing any physical changes as a result of your hard work anymore.

The work seems easy, but you still reach failure and can’t push past your previous bench marks

This is a classic, common sign that you've hit a plateau. If you don't feel like your workout is taking a lot out of you, even though your body won't let you go any further, you've most probably hit a plateau. If the maximum volume, time, reps or weight that you can do stays the same; you've hit a plateau. If your maximum output decreases, you might have over trained.

Although over training and plateau’s can often interlink, they are not the same thing. It is possible to over train without hitting a plateau - and it is possible to hit a plateau without over training


A plateau leads to a lack of physical progress. Over training leads to reversed progress (you get weaker instead of stronger), joint pain or injury, and exercise-induced depression.

Signs of over training (if you’ve overtrained then you need to remedy that instead of trying to break a plateau)


Sleep: you suffer from insomnia or oversleeping

Ironically, struggling to get good sleep, sleeping too much or the constant desire for more sleep is all caused by over training. All three symptoms can arise from too much physical stress being placed on your body. For people who struggle to sleep, your body is under so much stress on the central nervous system that it can't calm down to recover properly. Read more about your central nervous system, how over training affects it and how to help it recover here. Sleeping too long is common among others because your body needs more time to recover, but the stimulus placed on it is so high that it never catches up on needed recovery. This will also explain lethargy, fatigue and the desire to sleep all the time.

Lack of motivation (could also be present in a plateau, but not as predominantly)


While a plateau can also sap out your motivation to further your goals, over training attacks your motivation more aggressively. Some people don't lose their motivation when they've hit a plateau. They just fall into the monogamous routine of doing the same thing over and over again - even when they don't see new results anymore. Over training is the most common culprit among athletes who begin to wonder why they are putting so much effort into their sports or exercise efforts in the first place. Many of them start to hate the sport that they do or dread the idea of practicing or exercising. Over training can cause depression, whereas hitting a plateau does not have as a big an impact on your emotional state.

Diet: lack of appetite or constant cravings for high calorie / fast foods

This is a very common sign of over training than usually is not present among individuals who have hit a plateau. Since their bodies are bombarded with physical stress and they are frantically trying to recover, they might not be able to regulate their hunger and satisfaction hormones properly. Again, different people will experience this in different ways. Some people will lose their appetite, since they bodies are starting to break down from too much physical stress. Others crave high calorie and high fat foods as their bodies try to get as much energy from food as possible to compensate for the drastic energy depletion. If you feel like this might refer to you, click the links above to recover from over training.

Moodiness


This is commonly seen in athletes who have over trained. Since the physical stress starts to crush the body from the inside out, the emotional state suffers as well. The brain does not have enough time to recover during sleep, since the body is taking as many resources as possible to recover physically. Also, mood-regulating hormones become out of balance along with the rest of the body's normal mechanisms.

Halted/diminishing physical performance


When you train more than what your body can recover from, your physical performance will not increase but slowly start to decrease. The longer you stay in this overtrained state, the faster the rate at which physical performance declines. The longer you over train, the longer it will take to recover.

Muscle spasms and twitches


This is due to the central nervous system being over stressed and starting to fall apart. Getting this from hitting a plateau is very uncommon.

Lowered immune system: Falling ill more easily and more frequently


Your immune system also takes a big hit when your body suffers from over training. If you are getting sick more often, you might have over trained and your body probably needs a good break.
       

Constant, unquenchable thirst


This is another common symptom often associated with over training. You might also feel nauseous often as well. In other cases, it also becomes harder to follow your normal daily routine (waking up, working, spending time with friends and family, bed time, etc.)

If you have over trained (nearing or at the point of over exertion), a few rest days might be all that you need to get your body back in its feet. Here are great ways to make your rest day the best recovery you've ever had.

Now that we've distinguished the difference between over training and hitting a plateau, read on if you think that you have hit a plateau


Back to breaking that plateau

These 8 ways to break a plateau will turn your workout routine back into the body-enhancing agent it is meant to be.

1)      Take a rest week

Taking a rest week off might be all that your body needs. Your body adapts between workouts the best it can for the time being, but there is also a long-term recovery that the body can use to maximize your progress. It is recommended to take a rest week off every 10 weeks you spend hitting the iron so that your body can repair itself on a deeper level. Lack of long rest might be causing your plateau as the need for deep recovery starts to accumulate. Avoiding this kind of long rest for too long can lead to over training.

This time will allow your body to re-align muscle fibers, strengthen bones and joints and stock up on inter-muscular nutrients without the stress of quickly recovering as best it can before the next workout. Many people have larger muscle growth rates in their rest weeks than normal training weeks! I am one of these people. They often return to the gym with increased strength, stamina and motivation. I recommend that you spend two days during this week at the gym - only stretching and relaxing in the sauna, which will help maximize your body’s recovery. It’s hard to stay away from the gym when you’re as dedicated and addicted as most of the bodybuilding greats, but the results are worth it.

It can sometimes feel like we shrink a little when we take off. Try this out at least once and see how you feel when you return. In the meantime, use this opportunity to clean your house, spend some extra time with the family or do something fun. A nice, relaxed walk can do wonders for you, both mentally and physically, during these times.

Not sure what do to with your extra time on rest days? Turn awful detention into awesome recovery.

2)      Diet: Add or Subtract Something

You’ll be surprised how often too much or too little of something is the cause of that annoying plateau. Are you consuming enough calories to sustain greater muscle growth? Are your macro (protein, carbohydrate, fat, fruit and vegetable) portions in the right proportion and size, according to your current needs? There are many ways to customize your diet:

1.       Try a simple/fast-acting carbohydrate food straight after your workouts to replenish glycogen stores in your muscles quickly


2.       Increase protein and water intake (throughout your daily meal plan)


3.       Increase the total daily calories you consume

If maximum muscle growth is your goal, try a diet high in calories for maximum muscle gain.

4.       Switch out your protein sources (too much whey, too little fish?)

Try taking protein supplements according to the way the protein enters your body so that your body always has the protein that it needs to rebuild.

5.       Add micro-nutrients like vitamins, minerals or oils

Are you eating enough fruit and vegetables to be getting these important nutrients naturally? Or do you possibly need more minerals or electrolytes?

6.       Check your supplements: Are they really perfect or is it time for a change-up?

I've seen many cases where simply changing supplements increased muscle growth.

7.       What else can you add or subtract to help your body get its growth back?


3)      Go on a creatine cycle

A good pre-workout or creatine cycle will give your body a boost to blast past that wall it can’t climb over. Start with a half dose for 2 weeks, a full dose for 2 weeks, and then another half dose for the following 2 weeks (keeping the same reps and weight numbers you did on the full dose). Sometimes our bodies just need a good push in the right direction to get it growing again.

4)      Change the program

This is the most common way to overcome a plateau. How long have you been following the program that you are currently on? Under 3 months? Go back to the other points. Over 3 months? Then it’s time to change things up! You can do this by either changing the whole program completely (a standard 5-day split to a Push-Pull-Legs (PPL) program) or a few small things within the program if you want to keep at it a little longer. If you are ready for a real challenge (advanced weight lifters only), try the GARRY workout program. You can also check out our research on what the best workout split for muscle growth is.
There are many things you can change in your existing program to bring back your body’s magical adaption mechanism:

1.       Rep range

Many people cycle between a week of higher reps and a week of lower reps to keep the body in its prime adaption phase. Try using heavier weights with fewer reps or lighter weights with more reps.
Changing your rep range can have a great counter-plateau effect. High reps can also build muscle mass.

2.       Rep time

Try increasing your TUT (total time under tension) with each rep. If your reps are usually under a second, take a full second to lift the weight, another second to hold it there and two seconds to lower the weight back to your resting position. The burn you feel in your muscles after doing this will definitely be an indication of greater stimulus being put on the muscle. 

3.       Number of sets

Change the number of sets to a higher or lower number. Would your muscles benefit form a few more sets per exercise or are you doing too many sets for them to recover sufficiently before the next session? You can also add a power set at the end of your session to pump the muscle you want to grow more specifically.

4.       Exercises used

Switch rows with pull-ups, cable presses for bench presses and hack squats with knee extensions. This will help you to instantly bust out of that plateau.

5.       Grip

Reverse the grip on all of your exercises to work the muscles from an angle that they are not used to, and forces them to adapt to a new form of stimuli.

6.       Set style

Swap the standard 8, 8, 8 set for a pyramid style, drop set and super-set to keep forcing your muscles to grow.

7.       Intensity

Try decreasing the amount of time that you rest in between sets. Now muscles will need to get stronger and bigger to be able to cope with less recovery time they have before being recruited to work again. You can also increase your rest time, so that you have more strength with each set.

8.       Order

Change the order of exercises you do, so that different fibers in the muscles are recruited at different exercises. The bench press might be exhausting your triceps before you hit the dips. Now your triceps can do more on the dips and your chest will need to step it up to complete the bench press afterwards.

9.       Rest in between workouts

You might be resting too little in-between sessions that use the same muscles, so that they aren’t at their full potential next time round; or you might be resting too long, meaning that they are over-rested and have started shrinking back to normal before they are stimulated again.
See which rest times between sets work best.

You don't have to implement all of these changes at once. Choose which ones you are going to change and take it from there. The next time you feel a plateau coming on, you can change a few other elements. Sometimes, all it takes is one good change instead of many. If you really thirsty to change everything up at once, go ahead. That's also okay.

5)      Get more sleep

You might feel fine, but perhaps an extra hour or two of shut eye might be all that your body needs to recover to the max for its next session under pressure. Most muscle growth happens when you sleep, so it is important that we get enough of it and have the right nutrients in our bodies when we sleep so that our muscles can do what we want them to – Grow!

6)      Suntan

Exposing the skin to the natural rays of the sun increases our testosterone hormones through the vitamin D that our skin makes during contact with the light. No wonder why our energy levels are lower and we're just plain lazy during winter!

7)      Add a friend

Studies show that people perform better at physical exercises when their friends are with them. Some healthy competition between you and a bud will increase your muscular output. This might sound crazy, but who cares if you're getting stronger?

8)      Add music

My personal top 3:

Everybody hits a plateau (although some plan ahead and make changes before they plateau). My personal, favorite ways to speed up muscle growth are:

A.      Taking a rest week

I like the idea of getting a good, deep recovery every few weeks. I personally feel like it sets my last week’s gain well into my new cycles’ starting point. After a week of rest, my new size and strength gains become my new ‘starting stats' for me to improve on before my next rest week. I take a rest week every 2-3 months.

B.      Going on a creatine cycle

I feel like creatine can be the jumper cables to a body that wants to start slowing down. It's embedded in our bodies to save energy whenever it can, and it will only grow when it feels like it has to in order to survive. A helping hand from mister C never hurts. Read about whether you should take creatine regularly, cycle it or even take it at all

C.      Changing my program

I generally do a rest week, then a creatine cycle once I've maxed out and then a total change in program (different exercises, reps, split or everything). I love the soreness in my muscles when starting a new program because I feel like the muscle is being forced to grow even bigger. If my muscles aren't suffering, why should they grow?

Don't stagnate, be a muscle magnet. Congratulations on reading through this super long post. STAY STRONG!