Thursday, August 20, 2015

Check your Posture: Kyphosis, Lordosis and Scoliosis

Rolandas Malinausakas, a personal training expert and bodybuilding champion (featured on BBC) shares his knowledge on the importance, effects, types and corrections for postural issues. To get in touch with him, find his contact details at the end of this post.


The basics: What you need to know about posture

Weight training increases physical performance. It also requires a high level of body performance. This is needed to be able to train for harder, longer and avoid serious injuries that may occur at the gym.

Depending on how you train or who you train with and what you have learnt up to now; you may or may not be aware of how important having the right posture really is. It's not so unusual for some people to be relatively unaware of the negative effects that a poor posture can have on their bodies. Apart from the long-term health issues and setbacks, bad posture can soon destroy the progression of your weight training endeavors.

What is posture?

Can you picture a powerful athlete? How does he look? How does he walk and move? What about how he sits? Think of how he positions his shoulders and neck. What about his chest? Does his body seem fluid and balanced - as well as sleek and powerful? If you can answer yes to these questions, the athlete that you are visualizing most likely has a good posture.

Posture is the way that your body acts, holds itself, and moves when in motion. It is an expression of the apparent physical composition of your body and the actions of your muscles in different positions such as lifting, running, sitting, standing up and walking.

How do muscles work?

Muscles are very important tissues that are vital to our daily function and ability to do tasks. They are not only responsible for the strength of our bodies but also regulate body movements through controlling the skeleton. They allow us to keep our bodies fixed in certain positions as and when we need to do so.

According to signals sent from the brain to our muscles, they act as rigid or flexible structures which enable us to perform daily activities and exercise rapidly with highly coordinated movements.

How do most postural issues arise?

In children and teenagers, muscles depend on the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve signals sent from the brain. However, busy parents often don't know a lot about good posture and the negative effects that a bad posture can have on health. As a result, they don't teach their children about the importance of a healthy posture, or don't notice when things start to go astray.

With age, certain deformities can occur in bone mass because of long term bad posture. Muscles still respond to brain signals but in consideration to these bone deviations. Imbalance will therefore occur in the muscles. Some are strengthened while others are weakened. Naturally, the more you push your body; the more exaggerated these issues can become. This means that those of us who are into weight training (or any type of physical training) have on one hand a great chance to have a strong and fit body but on the other hand can have a body that is compensating for postural issues instead of improving overall posture. This can be disastrous over time.

So in order to avoid all potentially harmful postural issues and train successfully, let's check out some of the most common ones, and touch on how they can be corrected with weight training.

Kyphosis


Medically, kyphosis exhibits the following symptoms:

  • The head being in a forward position
  • The back being exaggeratedly rounded
  • The shoulder internally rotating forward
  • The upper back (thoracic vertebrae) being rounded or hunched.

It may even be caused by some tumors, congenital spinal deformities or arthritis. You must seek a medical help immediately in these cases.

Kyphosis can also be a common and severe problem which accompanies weight training because of the poor lifting postures. It mostly arises from an imbalance between the chest and back muscles.

Do you have kyphosis? 

Here's how to find out if you possibly have kyphosis: 

Look at the mirror. Stand in front of it and hold yourself naturally. Look at your chest. Do you see it curved forward? Now let's check your hands. Can you see the back of them? If you say yes, you may have kyphosis.

These are the effects that kyphosis can have on weight training.

  • It decreases your physical performance of certain muscle groups.
  • It also decreases your ability to exercise in general.
  • It makes you feel tired quickly (since some muscles are naturally absorbing a higher workload than others).
  • It increases the risk of injuries during weight lifting (as form is almost always compromised as a result).
  • It causes shoulder pain and chronic back pain in the vertebral column.
  • It causes muscle stiffness - especially in the neck and hip.
  • It affects the digestive system negatively. The upper parts of your body can press on the abdomen, which makes your stomach and intestine unable able to work as well as it should.
  • It causes difficulty in breathing and inefficient respiration, since shoulders and head press on the thoracic region and prevent lungs from expanding. As a result, your physical performance decreases. If you have had this problem for a while, you might not even notice the effects of physical performance anymore.
  • It causes poor blood circulation, which makes you less active.
  • Almost all of your movements will be negatively affected, such as the squat, dead lift, bench press and pull up.

Correcting Kyphosis


How to correct kyphosis

The exercises can help to correct kyphosis are the ones that pull the shoulder blades toward each other and extend the neck.

Examples of these exercises are:
  • Bridging
  • Seated rows in a gym (or pull-ups)
  • Chest stretches

Lordosis

Lordosis is also a common complaint that arises from extensive weight training, which depends on sitting for a long time. It also arises during pregnancy. Lordosis means that the vertebrae at your bottom tends to stick out and you have an exaggerated inward curve in the lower back - creating posture which is commonly called "Donald Duck".

Lordosis has the following manifestations:

Tight hamstrings - you will have mild to severe contraction in your hamstring muscles. Your muscles won't be as flexible as normal muscles should be. As a result, you won't be able to exercise well and the risk of injury will increase.

Lower back pain

You will experience a significant decrease in physical efficiency during exercise because you won't be able to use the gluts (which are the strongest muscles in your body).

You will only use the lower back and hamstrings, which are not efficient enough to lift the weight. That also increases the risk of injuries.

Do you have lordosis?

Do you have a frequent lower back pain which increases when standing for extended periods? Does it decrease when sitting? Do you feel a general contraction or tightening in your hamstrings when playing sports or exercising? Stand aside in front of the mirror and look at your buttocks. Do they stick out? Your abdomen protrudes, doesn't it? If so, you might have Lordosis.

Exercises that help to alleviate lordosis


These are exercises which can help you strengthen the glutes and hamstring muscles:

  • Core exercises (like planks)
  • Bridges (which strengthen both glutes and hamstrings)
  • Single leg hamstring flexion with ball (to strengthen hamstrings and glutes)
  • And: don't forget to sit less often. This can make the muscles even lazier.

Other exercises which relieve pain arising from severe tightening (or contraction) of the hip are the following stretches:

  • Standing quad stretch
  • Kneeling quad and hip stretch


Scoliosis

It also is common case in which the vertebral column laterally deviates (toward the side). It causes one shoulder to be slightly lower or higher than the other one. This can greatly affect weight training negatively. If you do traditional weight training frequently, muscle asymmetry (imbalance) will be a strong possibility and the severity of scoliosis will significantly increase. You also will be at higher risk of injuries during lifting heavy weights because of the imbalance in your muscles.

Exercises to help correct scoliosis

It is preferred to do your traditional exercises but with lighter weights and more reps. 
Don't worry about dropping the weight for now - higher reps can still build a lot of muscle

Adjust your shoulders manually before lifting and keep them balanced.

Apart from implementing these exercises with absolute balance, as we all know when our body feels good, we feel good. In a way, your posture is a mirror which reflects your thoughts and presence. Think about the first impression of a person who enters a room slouching. You may perceive this person to lack energy, be lazy or feel unwell in some way or another.

Your body and your thoughts are directly proportional to each other (or are at least or perceived to be so by everyone around you). One of these things can improve the other one. Think about positive things, be self-confident, become motivated and hopeful, know more about body language, and you will see good results.

Be sure to correct any postural issues before training more and keep well aware of your posture. This way you can continue to lift harder and become stronger and build muscle.

More about Rolandas

Rolandas Malinausakas is a fully qualified, highly experienced London personal trainer (PT) and a British Natural Bodybuilding Vice-Champion.

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) chose Rolandas as an expert voice in 2015; in a documentary investigation about the dangers of anabolic steroids. Rolandas brings a wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge to his work and he loves helping his clients to achieve the bodies that they desire.

If you wish to work with a great personal trainer, be sure to contact Rolandas for a free consultation at http://www.personaltraining4u.net

You can also connect with Rolandas and get social on:

And

STAY STRONG!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Train Oily Skin To Be Dry and Train Dry Skin To be Oily

I have had dry skin (eczema) my whole life. It sucks! But what if I could train my skin to be oily the same way that I train muscle to grow? If that is possible, what about the opposite - training oily skin to produce less oil? What if people with oily skin can decrease oil production the same way muscle strength decreases when you stop training? We train our muscles to grow by doing the opposite; breaking them down. We know that our muscles adapt as part of a survival mechanism, so why not do the same for our skin?

This idea is based on making homeostasis (the body's adaption mechanism) work to your benefit


What if the routine that people with oily skin follow causes them to get even oilier skin? And what if people with dry skin follow a routine that make their skin even dryer?

This is based on the idea that our bodies are constantly adapting to its environment and the demands that we place on it. Please note that this is just an idea and not medical or professional advice at all!

I have noticed that on online forums for people with oily skin; people are advised on what to avoid that causes more oil production. On forums for people with dry skin, people are advised on what to avoid that causes even dryer skin. What if the people with dry skin do what the people with the oily skinned should avoid, and vice versa?  

The usual routine of people with oily skin

People with oily skin tend to shower or bath twice a day because the extra oil created through their skin leads to an environment that breeds more bacteria and faster odor build-up. They generally don't moisturize their skin because they don't need to. They also use harsher soaps to feel squeaky-clean and fresh. By showering more often and using stronger soaps to get rid of all of excess the oil, their skin is stripped of its natural oils. The skin adapts by producing more oil to return to its normal state. This helps to control body odor, but they end up retaining their oily skin. Their bodies probably get used to producing even more oil to meet the daily demands placed on them.

The routine of people with dry skin

People with dry skin don't produce enough oil. This leaves the skin dry, itchy, and in extreme cases (like me on occasion) even painful and skin breaking open. In order to preserve as much of the natural oil already in the skin; they wash less often (only once a day), use gentle soaps (some without any fragrances) and moisturize after washing to replace the lost moisture. By helping the skin to retain moisture and by adding more moisture then what the skin produces on its own, the skin feels a decreased need to produce its own moisture since some oil is always kept in the skin - and more is added every day.

Are we babying our skins into doing the opposite of what we want? By seeking instant gratification, are we fighting a losing battle? 


Assumptions (for my dry skin)

From the above conclusions I assume that higher washing frequency, stronger soaps and avoiding moisturizing the skin when I can will strip the skin of its natural oils. I also assume that if I strip my skin of its natural oils, it will adapt by producing more of its natural oils. For those with oily skin, I assume that by keeping the skin more moisturized; it will decrease its oil production as there is less demand placed on it for more oil.

Changes in daily skin care

According to this idea, it could be possible that if people with oily skin limited washes to once a day, used weaker soaps and moisturized afterwards, their skin would adapt by to producing less oil over time. I also think that there is a possibility that people with dry skin could train their skin to produce more of its own oils by doing the opposite.

This would need to done in small steps over time because if I had to shower twice a day with the strongest soap I could find and try dry it out too quickly, I would definitely damage my skin (like over-training your physical body), making my condition worse.

My personal experiment

I decided to try this out and see if my idea could work on my dry skin. I usually shower or bath once a day with a light soap (and sometimes with just water if my skin is really dry or itchy on that day). I started by showering every morning with a light soap and bathing in plain water every night. I didn't use any creams, oils or moisturizes and just took fish oil pills to help my skin out (which I do from time to time anyway to protect my joints).

The results

After three weeks, my skin did feel oilier on its own and my skin was not itchy - at all. I must say that I am happy with the results so far. After some time I am going to start using a stronger soap in the mornings. Once I'm used to that, I will add light soap to my baths in the evenings as my skin learns to produce more oil on its own. Here's to hoping my next post will be complaining about oily skin!

3 simple ways for everybody to improve skin health

The following things can be done to help with problem skin, regardless of whether you have too dry or oily skin.

Exercise often

Regular exercise has so many benefits (find over 100 of them here), and one of them is healthy skin. Exercise teaches the body to regulate itself in more ways than one and keeps you looking younger - inside and out. It also keeps hormones in check, which can wreak havoc on your skin. To see how hormones are affected by strength training, for example, click here

Eat fresh fruit and vegetables

The fiber in vegetables help the body to eliminate toxins that either ends up mixed into oil in the skin or could block oil glands from working properly. The vitamin C is essential for skin maintenance. There are many, many other reasons why you should be eating fruit and vegetables every day.

Sweat it out

Sweating also helps to eliminate toxins and opens up skin glands. It releases oil from underneath the skin. Did you know that you can ease liver function by sweating out up to 30% of its toxins in a good sweat session? There are many other benefits, including improved muscle recovery. If you don't sweat enough during your exercise session (like me), steam rooms might be very beneficial.

Stay hydrated

This is probably the most frequently dispensed advice about keeping skin healthy. Water is needed for almost every function in your body, and having less of it gives your body a hard time at doing what it needs to do. Dehydration can even keep you sicker for longer when you have the flu or cold.

Who would like to give this idea a try and see if it works for you? If you try it out, please let everybody know in the comments below if it has helped you or not. STAY STRONG!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why Pull Ups Are One Of The Best Exercises Around

Pull ups. Most of us hate them and some of us love them. They are difficult to do, but very beneficial for the body. I've composed a list of reasons why pull ups are so good for you.

The benefits of pull ups


1. Pull ups are a compound exercise

Pulls ups are great because they work many muscles at the same time. They will grow and strengthen your back muscles, biceps, shoulders, forearms and core. Compound exercises are great because even though they are harder than simple exercises. They cause your body make more HGH (human growth hormone, increases general muscle growth and recovery). How compound exercises are great to increase muscle-building hormones. They are a natural way to increase testosterone levels.

2. Pull ups burn fat at a fast rate

Pull ups burn fat at a fast rate while building muscle at the same time. The will burn more fat doing pull ups continuously then running for the same period of time. If you are interested in seeing which sports burn the most calories, click here. If you are trying to burn fat or increase caloric output, see how temperature affects metabolism.

3. Get fit quicker

Pull ups are a great test of strength, but are also a quick and effective way to get fit. Regularly doing pull ups will increase your body's ability to perform at a physical level and at a faster pace than most exercises, due to their high intensity. Their high intensity makes them almost as good as squats.

4. Increase your grip strength

The longer and more regularly you do pull ups, the more your grip strength will grow. This will benefit most of your other lifts and exercises in the gym. The better your grip is, the longer you can do bicep curls and therefore the faster your biceps can grow, for example.

5. The strength you gain from pull ups 

The strength you gain from pull ups will help with all of your pulling exercises like rows, bicep exercises like curls and rear shoulder movements like reverse flies.

6. They give you that V-shape

Pull ups widen the back and build the lats, giving you the V-shape that makes you look more muscular.

7. Muscular back muscles

Have you ever pushed your shoulders back and in towards each other when you knew people were looking at you from behind at the beach? Or have you ever done that to show off your back muscles in the mirror? Pull ups grow the muscles that show up you when do that. The better you become at pull ups, the better your back will look on its own, and even better when you pull your shoulders back.

8. Pull ups help your posture

Pull ups improve your back and core muscles, which help you to keep the right posture in daily life to support your spine and muscular balances. Weight training can be an effective treatment for poor posture.

9. Back muscle definition

Pull ups will not only build bigger back muscles but also help to define them so that you get a more chiseled look instead of that bulky look during bodybuilding competitions. This is also great for the beach and the pool!  

10. Strength training for when you are older

Strength training exercises like pull ups are great for posture, but also great for building strength around your joints and increasing your general fitness. This is important so that when you are older, your body will be stronger. If you do more pull ups now, you will have a stronger upper body later in life. This will help to lessen joint pains and improve overall strength. This is one way that exercise can slow down aging.

So there you have it, pull ups are basically a must-have exercise to do for strength and size gains, better health and improved living later in life.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like the benefits of push ups.
Stay Strong!

Feeling Light-Headed After Squats and Deadlifts And How To Solve It

Some of us get light headed after doing squats. The good news is that you are not alone. This happens to more people than you think - so no need quit the gym before 'something bad happens'.


Firstly, don't give up. Squats are one of the best exercises around. Along with deadlifts, they increase testosterone and other muscle building hormones.

What is the cause and what can you do to make sure everything is OK? There are a variety of possible reasons why this could happen. See our list below to find what best suits you according to your personal situation.

Why power lifts can make you dizzy


1. Core pressure (The Valsalva maneuver)

You could be light-headed because of the pressure that is placed on your core when doing squats and dead lifts. Strengthening of the core is always essential for doing powerful lifts like the squat. Additionally, the way you breathe will have a massive impact on allowing your core to cope with the pressure placed on it during these lifts. The core is placed under a lot of pressure as it is the connection between your legs pushing against the floor and the bar you are pushing up.

DO NOT inhale during the concentric (standing up during the squat) part of the movement because this opens up the core and massively decreases its ability to cope with pressure. By exhaling whilst restricting the amount of air that exits through your mouth, you force your core to tighten. When the core is tightened, it can withstand more pressure when you lift the weight further away from the ground. Breathe in as normal when you go down and exhale whilst restricting the amount of air leaving your mouth to tighten your core when returning to a normal, standing position. Don't worry about focusing on your breathing throughout your entire set, just focus on tightening your core by exhaling forcefully when you straighten your legs during the squat or dead lift. It is recommended NOT to block airflow entirely with your mouth during the movement, as studies have shown that this will dramatically increase your blood pressure momentarily.

This helps most people with their light-headed feeling from squatting.

2. The bar is on your neck

If you do back squats with the bar resting on your shoulders, then there is also a big chance that the pressure between the bar and your neck could be restricting blood flow to your brain. This could explain why the light-headed feeling only comes once you have place the bar back on the rack and off your neck, allowing blood flow to eventually get to your head.

As a solution, you could replace back squats with front squats, which will be harder to master at first, but will be beneficial for other reasons, like the fact that front squats minimize lumbar spine flexion, and stabilize the core better.  

Additionally, if you are going to do back squats then you should ease the pressure between your neck and the bar mid-set, either by lifting the bar off your neck with your hands if the weight is not too heavy or by racking the bar and spacing it from your neck for a few seconds to allow for some blood flow before finishing your set. I push up against the bar with my hands during my set. I don't lift it off my shoulders at all, but it decreases the weight placed on my shoulders.

3. Lack of oxygen

The light-headed feeling could also be from a lack of oxygen in your blood - for two reasons. Firstly, you could not be breathing enough during the lift thus allowing less oxygen to enter your system. Secondly, the massive stress placed on your whole body during the squat forces your muscles to burn up more oxygen at a faster rate to cope with the load. Since there are so many muscles being used at the same time during the squat, oxygen is used up a lot quicker throughout your body. You could feel light headed after the squat as oxygen levels return to normal.
Remember to breathe during your set and don't hold your breath. See Point 1 above to make sure that you are breathing properly during each rep.

If you think that temporary lack of oxygen is the problem, try doing some HIIT or skipping (link shows how skipping is great for bodybuilders) to increase your body's oxygen efficiency.

4. You are pushing too hard 

Don't push your squats through the dizziness. Many people pass out because they try to push through it. Others puke (we've all seen those videos online). The risk of sustaining serious injury if you pass out with the bar on top of you is very real. If you start feeling light-headed during your lift, make sure to place the bar back on the rack and sit on the ground so that you don't fall over and hurt yourself if you pass out. Most likely, you will start to return to normal after a few seconds. Rather safe than sorry! If this is the case, regular practice will ease your body into this high-intensity action.

5. Blood pressure

Both people with low high and low blood pressure have experienced light headed symptoms during squats. The best way to help with this is make sure you don't hold your breath during the movement and to make sure that you are always breathing properly - again.

6. The exercise intensity

The sheer intensity of the exercise could be placing your body under a level of pressure that it is not used to. This is because so many muscles are recruited to work under a very heavy load all at once. The light-headed feeling could be similar to the feeling you would get if you were an amateur runner who just ran a marathon. The difference is that the intensity is not brought onto the body over time, but all at once. If this is the case, take it easy. Reduce the weight or rest longer in between sets until your body gets used to the movement and the weight. If you keep at it, your body will adapt and be able to perform the workload without feeling so faint afterwards.

If the intensity is too high, use a lighter weight with higher reps to ease into the extreme pressure. High reps can also drastically increase muscle growth.

7. Blood circulation

During the squat, a large portion of the muscles in your body contract, forcing blood out of them, like squeezing a wet sponge and the water runs out. Once you finish squatting, the muscles relax, allowing lots of blood to run back into your muscles. Since a lot of blood runs back into the muscles (think of how large your leg muscles are), there is less blood momentarily available for your lungs and heart to send oxygen to your brain, causing the light-headed feeling your feel afterwards.
The countermeasure for this is to remain standing under the bar once you place it back on the rack. This way, your leg muscles don't relax fully like with sitting, so that your body gets a chance to return to normal instead of moving from one extreme to another (max intensity of squats to low intensity of siting down). Hold onto the bar above you once you have placed it on the rack so that if you pass out you have something to grab on and stop the fall.

Drinking more water during exercise can ease symptoms associated with blood circulation (and yes, it is actually possible to drink too much water).

Always make sure that you do squats properly. Try these causes and cures to see which one works best for you. Stay Strong!

My Story: You Can Still Be A Bodybuilder If You Have Crohn’s Disease

Hi. My name is Jack and I'm a Crony.


Jack shares his story to encourage others 

I was raised in a small town in Massachusetts and now I live in Las Vegas, in the USA.  Crohn's Disease was a part of my life since 1988, after 14 years of rarely even catching a cold or getting sick at all. Before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I was an ambitious and competitive top state soccer player, starting and winning on many all-star and regional teams.

It took many months, several doctors and even more days and nights of lying in the fetal position on my bed (or the floor) from extraordinary and severe pain before I was finally diagnosed accurately. I've heard so many times all the typical excuses and brush-offs like “Don’t worry about it” and "It's all in your head" or "It's just gas".  It was the worst news ever. When I was finally diagnosed I could hardly fathom the news. When I asked the doctor about a cure or fix, he said “Sorry but unfortunately, there is no cure”. And I was left absolutely devastated.

Since 1988 I have had countless surgeries… and resections… and abscesses… and fistulas… and fissures… with the obstructions, the fatigue, the dehydration and all the other "minor" complications just piling up. 

I, like most other people after this kind of diagnosis, found myself going through the phases of trying to come to terms with everything. I went through the "why me?!" phase.  Then followed by the "what the hell!!" phase and then the "come on, really?!" phase. Now I have decided to start a new phase on my journey, a phase of victory.

Firstly, the reason why I’m sharing my story is to promote the benefits of health, physical activity, wellness, positive attitude, nutrition, fitness and also my support group. I started the Breaking Crohn’s Disease community to give people like myself a much needed outlet with a support group while dealing and learning to live with Crohn’s Disease. I started it to let other people out there know that you can overcome this disease.
"It just takes GUTS"

 I also compete in Men’s Physique bodybuilding competitions every year. Men’s Physique is one of the sub-divisions of bodybuilding. Contestants in this subclass are judged on body aesthetics, shape and muscle symmetry. Where it is different from other the bodybuilding divisions is that contestants wear board shorts and do not display usual bodybuilding poses in the competitions. Men’s Physique competitors look a lot more like fitness models compared to usual bodybuilders, since extreme muscularity is not what they are going for and is actually marked against them. I really like the idea behind Men’s Physique because contestants have more opportunity to reach these goals based on what is most appealing instead of working to become a 280 pound (127 kg) bodybuilder. I personally find it more appealing to the crowd and more attainable for the general public. It also helps to create a larger following and provides opportunities to a wider audience for bodybuilding.

I do not enter these competitions to show off my 'good looks’. It is more than that to me. The biggest reason that I want to do this is to raise awareness of Crohn’s Disease and motivate people while showing them that lots of things are still possible, DESPITE having such a debilitating disease such as Crohn’s Disease. A lot of people with Crohn’s disease are severely under-nourished and look like I did 20 plus years ago when I was 160 pounds (72.5 kg). I really want to be a motivation - proving to other people with Crohn’s that it is possible to get your symptoms under control and live a purpose-led, healthy, active and athletic life.

Because I compete, I have personal goals to work towards every year and even accomplishments to be proud of. Placement is not the most important thing to me. I don’t mind whether I get placed first or last in the shows (although I aim for 1st and would be happy to be placed 1st). I enjoy the personal challenges and being able finish what I’ve put my mind to. I’ve had to learn overcome more challenges than most of the other contestants in the competitions, so stepping on stage is a big achievement on its own for me.

I want to show people with my disease what can be possible while pushing the limits of their body and mind even with a debilitating chronic disease like mine. I have had good days, and I have had bad days. But it’s not for sympathy. I do not want people to feel sorry for me. That’s not my motivation. I want to raise awareness about a relatively unknown disease that many people have not heard about. People take a look at me and initially see my physical appearance. But there is so much more to my story. My story is much more than just my physical achievements and I want to represent more than that. It’s about dedication and the fact that you can be what you want to be. Disease can only stop your dreams if you let it. I really hope to make a difference in someone’s life - be it big or small. I hope that I can be the motivation that someone out there can use to improve their life. That is my real dream.

My goal is to provide motivation and show what has helped me deal with these challenges so that others can do better for themselves as well. Let people look at me and be motivated to pursue their own dreams without fear or defeat. Exercise is my natural antidepressant and it can be the same for others. That is one of the biggest reasons why it is so important for me to stay physically active. As someone living with Crohn’s disease, it is often hard to maintain a positive mind set. Exercise is such a great way to help you feel more upbeat in life, become more in-tune with your body, and helps to prepare you for so many other potential obstacles that you will face in your life with Crohn’s Disease. If a bad flare exhausts you and when you feel especially drained from surgery, it is good to know that resuming some form of enjoyable exercise is a sign that you are returning back to independence and your personal self-care routine. Sometimes, finding time to exercise will be challenging, but it sure is the best motivation to recall what it felt like to be sick and unable to exercise, or even move and see how far you have come. Remember those feelings when you find yourself unenthusiastic about exercising. Make the most out of every day that you have in life. The time that you have to be strengthening your body is a privilege for all of us; one that Crohn’s can sometimes take away from you. Always take advantage of the opportunities you have to work out!

“WHAT TYPE OF BODY DO YOU WANT TO LIVE IN?”  You still have the choice. You can decide to control your disease instead of letting it control you. You can be the master of this! It is difficult at first, but like with everything else, practice makes perfect. Every day CAN be better than the last. Take it from me; you will notice improvements both in the severity of symptoms and your enjoyment of life.

Increase Your Max Bench Press


So you've hit a point where you can't seem to increase your bench press? Don't worry; it happens to all of us as some point. You have probably hit a plateau that you need to work through. There are many things that you can do to get back on track to building a bigger chest and growing muscular strength. Here are a few suggestions.

How to increase your bench press performance


Take it easy

Have you been training hard for too long without taking a few days' rest? Perhaps your muscles are getting tired from accumulated stress over time and all you need is a good rest so that they can fully recover before reaching maximum recuperation and increased strength. There are times when after a few days off I come back to the gym bigger and stronger than ever. You should take a rest week every 2 months or so. Here are ways to turn your rest week into bigger muscle. Also, here are ways to get the most of every rest day.

Check your frequency

Are you working the bench often enough? Or are you hitting it more than you should? Aim for once to twice a week for great gains and make sure that each workout puts enough stress on your muscles so that they are tired the day afterwards. If they aren't tired the day afterwards, then it is time to change up your chest exercises. Make sure that they keep adapting and they keep growing in response. Change up your program regularly so that your body is forced to adapt to new challenges. If you want to change things up, try the totally exhausting Garry program. We examined a few studies to determine the best workout split here.

Change your rep range

Have you been using the same 8-12 rep range for months already? Try using a lower rep range like 5-8 for a month or two and see the difference. Or switch to the higher 15-20 rep range to keep your muscles growing. It is best to alternate between three rep ranges (high, low and standard). Change it up every few months so that your muscles will develop a variety of rep strengths and keep adapting to different stimulus (and therefore gaining size). Changing rep ranges will increase the bench press max of your original rep range because the muscles will have to grow in strength to adapt to the new kind of stress placed on it. And yes, high reps can be just as good as low reps at building muscle.

Vary your exercises

Don't do the barbell bench press on its own and expect your chest to grow to its full potential. Include other exercises like the dumbbell bench press, dips, cable crossovers, dumbbell pull-overs and dumbbell flies. This will grow the entirety of your chest to its best potential. Every few months, change the exercises up again by changing the order in which you do the exercises, adding incline or decline exercises, and changing all the exercises with other chest exercises altogether.

Change your grip

Changing your grip (the way you hold the bar) will help to develop other muscles that might not usually get as much stimulus for the bench press but are still crucial to performing the lift. These muscles include your forearms and even parts of the triceps, shoulders and the chest itself. When these muscles are stressed more and strengthened by changing your grip for a period of time, they will be more capable of supporting your original bench press, therefore helping you beat your max. 

Strengthen your supporting muscles

What if the weaker triceps or shoulders are the culprits that are limiting your bench performance? Weaker triceps, for example, will tire before your chest muscles get the decent workout that they deserve and you stop before they get the stimulus needed to grow at their best. Try strengthening these supporting muscles so that your chest has all the time it needs to work its magic under the bar. Determine whether you need a separate shoulder day or whether any other specific muscles are holding you back.

Check your diet

In order for muscle to grow, your calorie intake needs to exceed your caloric output (What else would they grow from if all the food that you eat is burnt up as energy?) Besides that, are you eating the right foods that your muscles need to grow, along with the right nutrients to sustain the energy that you need to perform the workouts that cause muscle growth in the first place; without forcing your body to dip into its muscle reservoir? This is why it is easier for bodybuilders to work within bulking and cutting cycles because it us safer to take in too much calories to build muscle than taking in too few calories which hampers (and can even reverse) muscle growth. Consider taking supplements to aid muscle growth or fill in the nutritional gaps that your diet keeps missing.

How's your ZZZ balance?

Getting enough sleep is crucial to growing muscle strength and size. Most of your muscle growth happens during sleep. If you are not getting enough shut-eye, your body will prioritize other functions that happen during sleep over muscle growth to survive. Lack of sleep could lead to quicker over-training, lack of motivation, and worst of all... lost gains. 

Make sure all the above are in check and you should be well on the road to constant muscle growth in size and strength. STAY STRONG!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Benefits of Squats


Squatting is arguably the best muscle building exercise out there. We've decided to compose a list of the benefits of squats that you might (or might not) already know. There are over 100 benefits of exercise in general. You might also be interested in the benefits of push ups or pull ups as well.

Facts about squats


1. Squats work the entire leg muscles

Squats are good for growing the quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes generally. They also work the ankles, abs, oblique muscles and lower back. Yes, they will help to improve calve muscle size.

2. Squats increase human growth hormone

Squatting regularly will increase your body's production of Human Growth Hormone, a hormone that speeds up muscle recovery and aids muscle growth. See here the muscle building hormones that get stimulated through strength training.

3. Squats also increase natural testosterone levels (and production)

The body responds to squatting exercises by producing more testosterone, the hormone which (among other things) determines muscle size. There are other natural ways to boost testosterone too.

4. Squats give you a good-looking, sexy bum

Squats make your bum look more aesthetic and more attractive to the opposite sex. This is true for males AND females. Guys can get a perfect jock-bum, while girls can use squats to add tone and shape.

5. Squats increase your endurance

The more you squat, the easier the rest of the exercises that you do at the gym will be, no matter what you goals are. This is because squats are so intense. Doing these high-intensity movements will increase your intensity tolerance and therefore increase the amount of physical pressure that you can take in one go.

6. Squats increase blood circulation and oxygen usage

The more you squat, the better your body will be at performing other physical tasks. Since squats are so intense, your body learns to get better at using oxygen and other nutrients in your blood to recuperate. This raises your immune system, metabolic rate and natural energy levels.

7. A squat burns fat at a faster rate than running

Squatting continuously for the same time as jogging, for example, will burn fat faster whilst still increasing muscle mass. Squats take a lot of energy to do (but take a lot less time and space). Here are the calories that different sports burn per hour, on average.



8. Performing semi-squats decrease mobility over time

Like with any exercise, use the full range of motion. Squats are no exception. Doing half-rep squats could negatively impact the general mobility of your muscles and joints over time as you train to work within lesser motions.

9. Doing squats properly actually improves your knee health

Doing squats regularly without overdoing it to injury will actually build your knee/ankle joints and their surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons over time. Squats are used in some rehabilitation courses to help people rebuild knee and ankle strength. It is important to always use full range of motion and correct form. 

10. Squats are good for digestion and help keep you regular

Can't produce squat in the bathroom? Try producing squats at the gym!

11. Squats help to build and maintain muscular balance and posture

The better you can hold your squat, the better your body can hold itself throughout the day. Squatting teaches you to keep your back straight and is great for programming your body to keep the right, healthiest posture without effort.

12. Squats strengthen your core

The better your core strength, the stronger your other lifts will be. A lot of physical power is generated from your core. Note that it is important to still do additional core strengthening work outside of squat exercises.

13. Squats will make you jump higher

The strengthening of the leg muscles used during the squat means that you will have more power accessible for jumping and power exercises. 


14. Squats can help your run

Since squats help your leg muscles so much, they can add power to your sprint and offer joint protection for long-distance runners, too.

15. Get mentally used to intensity

 If you can squat with heavy weights almost to failure for a few reps regularly, you won't have a problem with added intensity in your other exercises. Since squats are one of the most intensive exercises, once you've got this one down it will be a lot easier to deal with other physical challenges during training.

16. You can squat easily

Squats, push-ups, planks and pull-ups make a great almost-full-body-workout when you can't get to the gym and don't have any equipment with you. Luckily, this means that you can get bigger and stronger no matter where you are!

17. Squatting undoes all of the negative muscle-moves that we do daily

Nothing like some good squats to counteract all the bad postures we put ourselves through in daily activities like sitting, working on the computer and driving.

18. Squatting can help eliminate back pain

This is because it undoes negative posture moves like in the point above, and because it helps strengthen the lower back muscles.

Can you think of any other reasons why squats are so great? Do you know of any other interesting facts about squats? Let us know below.

The Garry Bodybuilding Workout Program: The Most Intense Muscle Building Program Ever


This is the most intense workout that I have ever tried out myself. Due to its high intensity, this program is not recommended for people are just starting out or who are relatively new to training. These people should start off with these programs instead. Newcomers should start off with the first program to get their bodies into the idea of breaking down and rebuilding muscle. Once you are ready, you can progress to the second program in the above link, which is similar to what most bodybuilders do.

The Garry workout program was supposedly designed for advanced bodybuilders whose muscles are already used to intense training. It is used to boost muscle growth and blast through a plateau for a limited period of 2 months for accelerated muscle growth. The high intensity of this program lends itself to the fact that it can't be sustained for too long. Since you are working till failure on every set, for many sets, it takes a toll on your nerves and central nervous system.

Since this is a great shocking technique, muscle growth is boosted through this period as the body tries to adapt to the extreme stimulus. As a result of the strain it places on the joints, energy systems and metabolic system, the program should only be followed for a very short time before switching back to normal training.

You should only do this program when on your bulking phase. Restricting calories on a program of this intensity could lead to muscle breakdown. Make sure that you are getting enough calories from a good bulking diet (click here to build your own).


How the program works

The program incorporates German volume training (high reps, high sets), limited recovery time per set and repeatedly forcing muscles to failure, driving them to complete exhaustion with each workout. The goal of this program is to enforce rapid hypertrophy by shocking the body into accelerated growth. This takes its toll on the central nervous system as well as the metabolic system over time, which is why it is advised that beginners, people with injuries or other medical conditions and people who have already overtrained do not try this type of program. The body starts showing a negative response (over-training) if the program is followed for longer than 2 months.

Program rules


The program runs for 6 days a week

The program is in a 6-day split, focusing on one muscle group per day. All major muscle groups are worked in the program, but through only one exercise. The only rest day is day 7. You need to follow the program fully, not cutting out a single day.

Perform only one exercise per day

Do only one exercise per day, excluding a warm up and cool down. This is shown below. You can only add warm-up and cool-down exercises but do not stress the body more than what is described below. I would personally recommend a cardio-style warm-up and an exercise-specific warm-up, depending on the exercise for that day. Don't do any other weighted exercises as a warm up and make sure that your muscles aren't fatigued at all before the exercise. The point is to exert the most out of the muscle in the shortest amount of time. 

Resist the temptation to do any isolate or additional exercises. Try this out for a few weeks and you will see that the exercises here are more than enough for growth.

  Perform every set till failure

You need to work until complete failure with every set. Forced reps are allowed. I did mine until I couldn't move the weight at all. If you can do another rep, you're not done.

You must follow the prescribed times

Every set has a resting period of exactly 30 seconds before the next one, with the exception of squats and dead lifts having 1 minute rest intervals. Do not rest longer or shorter than this between sets. This maximizes short-term fatigue.

Keep doing more sets until failure until you cannot perform a single full rep 

This blasts your muscles and will test your muscular endurance, but keep on performing sets of the exercise until you cannot do a proper repetition with the right form. As you can see below, it might take a loooot of sets before you fail to do a single rep.


The program

Day 1: Squats
(60 second rest in between sets) (Until failure) (E.g. 15-7-6-4-4-4-4-2-1)

Day 2: Standing Calve Raises
(30 second rest in between sets) (Until failure) (E.g. 15-15-15-14-14-1-1-1-10-9-8-5-5-5-3-2-2-2-2-1) 

Day 3: Russian Twists
(30 second rest in between sets) (Until failure) (E.g. 20-20-20-18-16-14-10-7-7-7-6-5-4-2-2-2-1-1-1)

Day 4: Deadlifts
(60 second rest in between sets) (Until failure) (E.g. 12-11-10-10-10-9-8-7-6-6-5-5-5-5-4-2-1-1)

Day 5: Dumbbell Bench Press
(30 second rest in between sets) (Until failure) (E.g. 12-10-8-6-4-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-1)

Day 6: Pull Ups
(30 second rest in between sets) (Until failure) (E.g. 25-25-25-23-20-19-27-17-14-12-11-9-6-5-4-3-3-3-3-2-2-2-1)

Day 7: Rest

Additional notes

  • Use dumbbells for the bench press exercise because the intensity of this program could easily get a bar stuck on your chest.
  • The workout goes very quickly (It took me less than half of my usual workout routine to complete).
  • I struggled to do the squats till failure. On most occasions I ended up resting for longer in the middle of my sets.
  • My calves exploded on this routine. I use this kind of principle for my calves often because of that.

Give this program a try and tell us about your experience in the comments below. STAY STRONG!

Get Bigger Calve Muscles Right Now - You're Doing it Wrong


Calves are what I call a 'gene-muscle'. Some people can grow their calves into mini boulders while others can't, even though both could be working just as hard on them every week. Unfortunately, the size that your calves can grow in proportion to the rest of your body is largely predetermined to luck-of-the-draw genetics. Don't lose hope though, there are still ways to get them show-ready and larger than life with smart lifting and a few changes to your work-out routine. Check out these smart tips that will turn your puppies into bull dogs.

How to get bigger calf muscles


Treat your calves like any other muscle group

Firstly, the calves should be treated like any other muscle group. They differ from the other muscle groups in a variety of ways. They were made to take more heat before failing. In the wild, you died if your calves gave out when running away from Mr. Lion (not Luscious) and other tribes. They are made up of more slow-twitch muscle fibers and less fast-twitch muscle fibers. The abdominal muscles are another example of muscle types that are mainly composed of slow twitch muscle fibers.

This is why most people think that you should train them differently. You should, however, train them the same as other muscle groups. If you train them using higher reps (but lower weights) and at higher frequencies (more times a week than other muscle groups), you are appealing to their slow-twitch nature. By doing this, their slow twitch nature will be stimulated, instead of the few fast twitch fibers that have the most potential for massive size.

Instead, you want to increase the fast-twitch part of the muscle (therefore increasing the potential for increased size). You do this by appealing to the fast twitch part of the calf muscles. By training them according to their slow twitch nature, you are enforcing the fact that they don't grow like the other muscles. If your calves are trained like they are just as fast-twitched as other muscles, they will adapt and change.

Lower the rep range

Would you train your chest at 20 reps for 4 sets? Decrease your rep range and increase the intensity by raising the amount of weight that you put on them. This will appeal to their fast twitch fibers and you calves will grow bigger.

Work to failure

Your calves burn because they would rather work with oxygen energy instead of glycogen energy (lactic acid is released when we exercise at energetic rates higher than what oxygen can replenish). Work them to failure in the same way that you would push your bicep muscles. The burn is their way of telling you that they are uncomfortable. Let them get so uncomfortable that they are forced to change.

Rest times

If you are working on your calves every day, you are not working them hard enough per session (not enough to cause delayed onset muscle soreness). You might not be giving them enough rest to grow and improve for the next workout. You should try to grow the size of your calves in the same way that you do with chest and back muscles, even though they will give you more resistance when you try to do so. Your body prioritizes calf function over other muscles, since they are so important for you to escape danger. If they don't have enough rest, they would rather decrease size in order to be ready for the next time you need to run away. Just like how training chest muscles too often won't give it them the time that they need to recover, training the calf muscles too often won't give the fast twitch muscles enough time to recover and grow. 

For those who don't know the difference between fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers

Fast twitch muscle fibers are the fibers in the muscle that are used for short periods, but at higher intensities. They rely on glucose instead of oxygen for energy because oxygen will take too long to add up in the fiber for the amount of power that the muscle needs right now. They grow a lot bigger than slow twitch muscle fibers.
Slow twitch muscle fibers are the muscle fibers that are used at low intensities for longer periods of time. They reply on oxygen for energy. Since they don't need to store glycogen, they grow a lot smaller than fast twitch muscle fibers.

For a good example of the size potential differences between fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, think about the muscle differences between sprinters and marathon runners. Sprinters use fast twitch muscle fibers, since they need a lot of energy in a short space of time. Conversely, marathon runners rely on slow twitch muscles because they use less energy, but for longer periods of time. 



Are you working them hard enough?

If you train your chest to failure, why are you not training your calves to failure? Calves are harder to train to failure because you will initially have a larger portion of slow twitch muscle fibers. Their slow twitch nature is reinforced by being repetitively used in low-intensity, high endurance movements like walking and running - which we all do a lot of in life.

This means that when you do exercises that recruit fast twitch fibers like calve raises, your higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers release more lactic acid as a response (you feel a burn in your calves before you reach failure). Every time you work your calves, work past the burn until they start to fail and you can't move the weight anymore. Once you are failing to execute full reps on them, you are reaching failure. In order to start increasing the fast twitch fibers in your calves, you need to get used to working your calves to failure every time you work on them. This will take some time to get used to, because your calves are naturally inclined to burn and make you stop BEFORE they fail as a survival mechanism. As a rule in survival, your calves are programmed to never fail, because reaching failure means that you would not be able to get away from dangers (like animals in the wild).

Once you have reached failure, try to do a few forced reps (with as much of the full rep movement as you can) because calve muscles are also programmed to recover as quickly as possible to ensure your natural mobility and survival.

From the beginning of your movement, make sure that you complete the full movement of each rep. Start with your heels as low as what feels naturally possible and lift them as high as you can. You should be struggling to get your heels as high up as possible with each rep, meaning that you almost pause for a second at the top of each movement by trying to reach the highest point possible. Pause here and let those puppies suffer.
Don't rush through your movements. This would be your natural instinct to recruit slow twitch fibers by turning it into a semi-cardio activity. Yes, doing this will burn. The burn is a good indication that you are challenging them more than what is naturally expected.

But just like when you work your other muscle groups; it is about increasing strength and size, not speed. The slower you go, the more it should burn. The more you work through the burn, the closer you get to failure. The more you cause your calves to fail, the more that they are forced to grow those fast twitch muscle fibers.

Use a lower rep range

You bench at a range of 8-12 reps, right? Then why are you doing calf raises in the 15-20 rep range? It is easier to use the fast twitch muscles in our chest but easier to use the slow twitch fibers on your calves. Using heavier weight and failing on lower reps just feels wrong on your calves because they are not designed to do so - but the whole point of this is to grow your calves past what they are naturally inclined to grow and have their size proportional to the rest of your muscle profile.

 To do this, put them on the same regimen as the rest of your body, whether if feels 'comfortable' or not. Make sure to reach a point of failure and do a few forced reps. Get used to using a lower rep range, and then alternate between rep ranges every few weeks to keep them on their toes (pun intended). Switching to high reps every now and then benefits muscle growth in all muscle types.


Muscle confusion

Your calves will get used to their exercises very quickly, because they are naturally essential to our primal survival. Do you need a good counter measure? Use calve exercises until they reach a plateau and then change the exercise to keep them growing. The change could be something as simple as swapping the standard standing calve raise machine for standing dumbbell raises on a step, or using a barbell on your shoulders, or doing raises on the flat ground, or changing rep ranges (and rest times in between sets). You should be changing your calf exercises more regularly then other muscle groups because of the fact that they adapt so quickly.

Different exercises for different goals

Different calf exercises will affect the calf muscles differently, so be sure to do a mixture of exercises to grow the different parts of the calf evenly.

Standing calve exercises (on a straightened knee) will stimulate the gastrocnemius more. This is the part of the calve that looks like a tennis ball at the back of your calve and gives the calve the shape and definition which looks very aesthetic.

Seated calve exercises (bent knee) help to widen your calves and add bulk, which is important to keep your calves in proportion with the rest of your body.

Lifting you toes while keeping your heels on the ground under a weight will increase the size and strength of the front part of the lower leg. These are the muscles that are the closest to your shin. You can do this by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell on your toes and balancing them with your hands. Lift your toes while balancing your heels on the ground. You can pivot your heels on a step for a greater range of motion.

The usual stuff


Your calves need nutrition just like all the other muscle groups

They require a good bulking diet to grow in size. Make sure that your diet includes enough natural food to keep your immune system strong. Supplements are a great way to make sure that you reach your daily macro nutrient targets. An energizing pre workout can increase calf performance and recovery.

Avoid catabolism

Make sure to follow these tips to make sure that your muscles are not breaking down and undoing all of your hard work.

Was this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below. STAY STRONG!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bodybuilding Makes You Smarter


Bodybuilding actually makes you smarter. You will do better at your studies, perform better at work and have greater cognitive power if you are a bodybuilder. Taking part in the sport will increase your overall IQ over time. Here is a list of reasons why.

Why bodybuilders are smarter


The better the body, the better the brain

Our bodies are interconnected. Our physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual states are in tune and dependent on one another. A mental state cannot work without a physical state. Therefore, the healthier our physical bodies are, the better we can perform mentally. Lifters work to improve their physical states and this leads to natural, healthy mental performance. Since our bodies are healthier and stronger than normal, our brains are housed in bodies that are more physically able to provide more for our brain's needs. Having a body that is less challenging to physically sustain translates to having minds can run more freely without needing to adapt to physical demands like physical weakness and other bodily problems.

Bodybuilding increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain

Physical exercise - especially high intensity exercise - increases our body's ability to transport blood around the entire body. This benefits our brains without our realizing it. The amount of oxygen that we take in with each breath though our lungs increases. Additionally, the percentage of that oxygen that we can actually use within our bodies increases as well. This translates means into more blood-rich oxygen for the brain to use. Ever heard of the concept that the deeper we breath in, the healthier and smarter we are? There is no need to walk around taking ridiculously large breaths all of the time. Simple exercise increases our blood flow and our blood oxygen levels. 


Bodybuilding provides the escapism and mental breaks that are needed for brain health

Over training is just as dangerous for the brain as it is for our bodies. Reading is a great way to physical rest, just like how exercising is a great way to rest your head while still advancing in life. These mental breaks give your brain a chance to rest, recover and recap on its current challenges before being used again at a higher intensity. Have you ever noticed that you get great ideas while working out? The reason for this is because the refreshing break with a low-thought activity (and increased blood flow to boot) puts the brain in a powerful place where it can settle and develop. The brain is a muscle which has a mental output instead of a physical or forceful output like the other muscles. Exercise is a great way to speed up mental recovery and adaption (growth) from daily stimuli and stresses placed on it. For example, exercise is a great way to get over addiction (it is often used in rehab centers for this reason) due to its ability to re-settle the brain.

Better choices

The choices that bodybuilders make improve their brains as well, although they make these choices to primarily improve their bodies. Bodybuilders are more likely to drink less alcohol, avoid smoking and eat less junk food - all of which damages the brain. The choices that we make that enhance our bodies are almost always likely to benefit our brains at the same time.

Bodybuilding gives you a goal

Bodybuilders have a great sense of purpose because they have goals that they achieve and then set new goals to work towards. This 'sense of purpose' and 'sense of achievement' after reaching predetermined goals are highly beneficial to our mental states. Our brain positively responds to these cycles and indirectly increases our mental confidence, performance, and refreshment. Also, lack of mental goals to visualize and work towards end up dulling and aging the brain faster than it should.

Prevents mental problems before they happen

Exercise is one of the best ways to fight depression - a mental condition - and people who take part in bodybuilding for a prolonged period of time are less likely to develop negative mental conditions later in life like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, panic attacks, addiction, insomnia, paranoia, and personality disorders. Bodybuilding might be preventing you from getting an underlying mental condition that you would have experienced later on down the line if you didn't hit the gym.

Bodybuilding keeps you younger

We age as the cells in our bodies slowly lose their ability to regenerate and start to die off. Exercise slows down this process because through the challenges that exercise brings, we unknowingly reprogram our bodies to keep adapting to a stimulus and as a result our individual cells learn to regenerate at a faster pace. In the case of aging, it takes a longer time for our cells to lose their ability to regenerate. Because of this, they start dying much later than usual. It is as if they if been put under an increased demand to regrow for longer periods of time (years into old age). This is why medical aid schemes can determine your health status through an 'age test'. The younger your body appears in this test, the healthier you are. Our brains are very susceptible to aging just, like our bodies and physical appearance. Two people might be the same age, but their physical health will be different. This means that their bodies are operating as if they are older or younger than their actual age. Bodybuilders undergo exercising and dieting regimes that end up reversing the aging process. It unfortunately does not benefit us fast enough to reverse aging, but it slows it down at a great pace. This brings benefits for minds as well as our bodies and appearances. Being able to operate as if you were younger means that you could have the bright mind of and 21 year old, even though you are 60 years old. Don't believe me? Here are the studies that prove it


Bodybuilding relieves stress

Just like how the steam room could relieve stress placed on the body, exercise relieves mental stresses placed on us throughout the day. If these mental stresses and not relieved (like through exercise, relaxation, or social interaction), they can accumulate and lead to diminished cognitive function and even negative mental conditions mentioned above.

Bodybuilding makes you happier

Exercise releases endorphins, the brain's 'happy hormone'. Exercise also helps to eliminate stress hormones that the brain releases when under stress, much like how our muscles release lactic acid when under stress. The endorphin release is what gives you that great 'on top of the world' feeling when you leave the gym and is why some of us feel a little depressed when we don't work out for a few days. By regulating mental hormones like endorphin release and stress hormone elimination, regular exercise keeps your brain healthy and happy, allowing it to grow and develop to its best potential all the time; as well as preventing any negative stress build-up that might accumulate through time.

Higher immunity = More brain growth time

Bodybuilders generally have a higher immunity than other people and get sick less often, which is great for our brains. When we get sick, our brain development is slowed down as our bodies prioritize survival and fighting sickness instead of increasing our mental ability to respond to cognitive challenges. This is why it is harder to take in information, work, or pay attention when you are sick. The less time we are sick, the more time we have to stimulate our brains through social interaction, studies or work and the better our brains recover and grow as a response to that.

Nutrients

The same nutrients that are great for our bodies are often favourable for our brains as well. Fish, protein, complex carbs, vitamins, glutamine, fish oil and veggies which are a large part of bodybuilding diets are fantastic nutrient sources for the brain as well. Exercise increases the absorption and utility of these nutrients in the blood stream, which makes them more available for our brain just as much as these nutrients are readily available for the rest if our bodies to use.

Hormones

The hormones that are increased by regular exercise (especially compound movements) like testosterone, growth hormone and insulin are all improved. All of the hormones benefit your brain as well.

So there you have it. Bodybuilding makes you smarter! STAY STRONG