Sunday, March 23, 2008

How to Bench Press with Proper Technique & Avoid Shoulder Injuries

The Bench Press is the most popular lift in the gym. It’s the upper-body exercise that lets you lift the most weight. The Bench Press builds upper-body strength like no other exercise & that’s why it’s part of StrongLifts 5×5 program.

Unfortunately the Bench Press causes most injuries. Shoulder pain from doing the Bench Press is common. Proper Bench Press technique not only minimizes risks of injury, it’s also key to lifting more weight. This article will help you with the Bench Press technique.

What’s The Bench Press? Lie on an upright support bench or a bench inside a Power Rack. Unrack the weight & lower it to your chest. Press it back up until your arms are locked. You’ve done a Bench Press.

You have several ways to Bench Press by varying grip, grip width, bench angle, etc. Some Bench Press variations are:

* Close Grip Bench Press. Shoulder width grip. Emphasis triceps.
* Reverse Grip Bench Press. Palms facing you. Also emphasis triceps.
* Incline Bench Press. From an incline bench. Emphasis shoulders.
* Decline Bench Press. From a decline bench. Allows more weight.
* Floor Press. Bench Press while lying on the floor. More triceps.

This article deals with the Bench Press without extreme arching of the back like in Powerlifting.

Benefits of The Bench Press. Why should you Bench Press? Here are two reasons to do the exercise.

* Builds Muscle. Bench Press if you want a big chest, as popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 70s. Front Shoulders & triceps work too.
* Builds Strength. The Bench Press is the strength training exercise that lets you lift the most weight using your upper-body muscles.

Bench Press Safety. Most injuries in the gym happen when doing The Bench Press. One reason is of course because it’s the exercise done the most. Other reasons are not using the following tips.

* No Thumbless Grip. Use your thumbs when doing the Bench Press. You don’t want the bar to slip out of your hands.
* Start Light. Add weight gradually. You’ll get a feeling of what you can & can’t handle while learning proper Bench Press technique.
* Ask Someone to Spot. Spotters will help you if you get stuck with the bar on your chest. If you don’t have a spotter, read the guide on how to Bench Press safely when you’re alone.

Bench Press & Shoulders Pain. Shoulder pain from doing the Bench Press is common. Switching to dumbbells or quiting the Bench Press avoids pain, but doesn’t solve your shoulder problem. What you should do:

* Improve Technique. If you don’t Bench Press with proper technique you’ll injure yourself sooner or later. Read on.
* Fix Posture. You can’t Bench Press with proper technique if you have slouching shoulders. Start doing shoulder dislocations. Focus on bringing your chest forward & squeezing your shoulder-blades.
* Avoid Muscle Imbalances. The Bench Press works your front shoulders more than the back ones. If you don’t strengthen these by doing the Barbell Row & Overhead Press, you’ll get a muscle imbalance. Causing bad posture & thus bad Bench Press technique. Get on StrongLifts 5×5, it’s a balanced program.

Bench Press Setup. You need a strong base to press the weight from. Tighten your upper-back. Grip the bar hard: try to break it apart like breaking spaghetti.

* Grip Width. Too narrow & you’ll lose strength. Too wide & the distance the bar travels shortens. Grip width should be about 55-71cm/22-28″ depending on your build. Forearms perpendicular to the floor when the bar touches your chest.
* Gripping the Bar. Secure the bar with your thumbs by rotating your hands in. Put the bar in the palm of your hand, close to your wrist. If you put the bar close to your fingers, you’ll get wrist pain.
* Tight Upper-back. Squeeze your shoulder-blades before getting on the bench. Keep your shoulder-blades back & down at all times like on the picture below. This gives your body a solid base to press the bar from.
* Chest Up. Don’t allow your chest to go flat or shoulders to roll forward. You’ll lose upper-back tightness, losing power & increasing risk of shoulder injury. Keep your chest up at all time.
* Feet. Use a wide foot stance to increase stability on the bench. Feet flat on the floor, weight on the heels, lower leg perpendicular to the floor. This prevents extreme arching of your lower back.

Zhang Guozheng's Back
Tight upper-back, squeezing the shoulder-blades. Image credit: dehwang.

The Bench Press. Remember to keep the tight position during the Bench Press from start to finish. Squeeze the bar, keep your upper-back tight & your chest up. Unrack the weight with straight arms. Bench.

* Bar to Chest. Touch your chest where your forearms are perpendicular to the floor when looking from the side.
* Press in a Straight Line. Don’t look at the bar. Fix a point at the ceiling. Press the bar in a straight line above your chest, not towards your face. Keep the bar above your elbows during the whole lift.

Common Errors. The following Bench Press errors are either inefficient or potentially dangerous. Avoid them at all costs.

* Unracking with Bent Arms. Don’t risk the bar falling on your face. Your arms are strongest when your elbows are locked. Unrack & bring the bar above your chest with locked elbows.
* Pressing to Your Face. The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. Press in a straight line. Fix a point at the ceiling where you want the bar to go. Don’t look at the bar.
* Bending Your Wrists. This will get you wrist pain. Put the bar in the palm of your hand. Close to your wrists, not close to your fingers. Squeeze the bar so it doesn’t move.
* Elbows. Too high is bad for your shoulders. Too low is inefficient. Put your elbows between perpendicular to & parallel with your torso.
* Shoulders Forward. Don’t let your shoulders roll forward. It’s bad posture, bad technique & a guaranteed way to get shoulder injuries. Keep your chest up, shoulder-blades back & down and upper-back tight.
* Glutes off the Bench. This makes the distance the bar travels shorter & thus the Bench Press easier. However it puts pressure on your back, especially when the weight gets heavy. You’re more stable when your glutes are on the bench. Keep them there.
* Pushing Your Head into The Bench. You’ll injure your neck. Tighten your neck muscles, without pushing your head into the bench.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bodybuilding Supplements and Amino Acid

Athletes who are engaged in weight training or in the sports, which are requires the building of muscle mass uses these bodybuilding supplements. These on usual manner are used by athletes. Sometimes, supplements helps in meliorating the performance in sports. They are also proved to be helpful in improving the level of convalescence from events as well as training.

Amino Acid Supplements

Amino acid supplements are considered as another most significant supplements necessary for bodybuilding. In science the Amino acids most popularly are known as the "building blocks" of the body. In an actual sense they functions as the molecular units that contains proteins. Now these proteins can be of 20 specific amino acid by nature. The functioning of them includes the configuration of antibodies. On usual manner these antibodies fights against bacteria and viruses. It also helps in constructing of nucleoproteins. The operation of them also includes building up cells and renovation of tissues. It also acts as the transportation system in the whole body of Oxygen. Another most important function of Amino Acid is that is participates in the activities of body muscles. In the hormonal and enzyme system of the body also, it plays crucial roles. These are the core reason behind the Amino acid being the essential supplement of body as well as bodybuilding.

Amino Acid supplement products

There are many Amino acid supplements available in the market. Amongst them top 5 products are as follows:

ISS Research Complete Amino 2200: Particularly meant for the bodybuilders. This product enriched with amino acid helps in developing muscle tissue, fast recovery and obviously in growth.

SciVation Xtend: Xtend has been considered as the scientific blend of aminos, which helps in generating energy. This blend contains established ratio of a chain comprised of amino acids, glutamine, citrulline malate and vitamin B6. This branched chain helps in generating energy as well as quick recovery.

Universal Animal Nitro: This product contains the perfect ratio of them depending upon the human muscle protein. That is why this Animal Nitro has been considered as the first as well as the only amino acid supplements beneficial for bodybuilding. It is also known as Human Muscle Protein complex.

Optimum Amino 2222 Softgels: Optimum Amino 2222 Softgels gives 2,000 miligrams amino acid of high quality.

For human beings there are 20 standard Amino acids, which are considered as essentials. These are Lysine, Valine, isoleucine, leucine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine and tryptophan.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Competitive bodybuilding not just about dumbbells anymore

The SRU Bodybuilding and Fitness Club will hold its annual Mr. and Ms. SRU Bodybuilding and Fitness Competition in Miller Auditorium on Saturday, March 30.

The annual event is open to all students to compete, but chances are that very few know what goes into the training for the event.

"It usually takes the average person 12 to 14 weeks of hardcore dieting and training," Bodybuilding Club president Dan Tokarek said.

Fourteen weeks? How hard could it be?

"(It takes) a lot of hard work, dedication and confidence in yourself," said Rachel Lhota, who was named Ms. SRU at the competition back in 2006.

In the weeks leading up to the competition, the student-bodybuilders' schedules would make a normal person cry.

Part of that schedule includes waking up at around 5:45 a.m. every day, with no exceptions, to hit the gym and start a cardiovascular workout before spending the day worrying endlessly about the seven or so meals to be consumed during the day.

"I do about a half-hour of cardio and abs, come back (home) and eat my egg whites and protein then go to work," Tokarek said.

Tokarek, the reigning Mr. SRU, knows exactly what it takes to have a great regimen. He has been bodybuilding competitively for the last four years.

He said that on a normal day, he'll consume a chicken breast and brown rice for lunch, oatmeal and whey protein mix for an afternoon pre-workout meal and settle in for a meal of steak and brown rice when he gets home after his workout.

Think he's done? Not a chance.

Two hours later, he eats and has a protein shake, and just before heading to bed, consumes more chicken and green veggies.

"Basically my whole life revolves around my eating schedule," Tokarek said. "I'd rather miss a workout than a meal."

The reason for this seemingly nonstop consumption of "clean" foods is to keep the performer's metabolism up, which actually makes it easier to regulate the bodybuilder's weight.

Competitive bodybuilders generally already love to work out, which makes the trip to the gym the easy part.

Along with the morning cardio workout, they're in the gym two or three times a day. The nutrition side of the training can be the nerve-wracking part, Brian Mortimer, the club's adviser, said.

"If you truly want to get lean, your diet must be controlled," Mortimer said. "Most of the guys and girls are already down here working hard. It really comes down to nutrition; They're already beating themselves up in the gym."

Although the diet is different for everyone, there is one aspect that's constant across the board: the fact that eating is the one thing on each performer's mind 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"If you want to take a day trip, or go shopping, or go out to eat with friends," Lhota said, "you think, 'What can I eat when I get to this restaurant? Or, 'How many meals do I have to take with me?'"

Meals on-the-go are commonplace for the competitors.

Most cook their meals two to three days ahead of time to ensure they don't disrupt their routine.

"If you take the time to prepare the food and have it readily available, the chances of you taking (unhealthy food) are a lot less," Mortimer said.

One competitor said he takes meals anywhere and everywhere-the classroom included.

"I'm always taking food to class or no matter where I'm at," said Jon Murchak, who finished as the runner-up in the heavyweight division at the 2007 competition.

Murchak said he pre-cooks most of his food days in advance just to get the work involved out of the way all at once.

Since the strict eating is such a huge aspect of his routine, he said there would be no way he'd have the time to cook every meal when it was time to eat.

"I come down (to the gym), get my workout in, and then it's all about eating the rest of the day," he said. "If you are not in 100 percent with the dieting and the training, you'll really suffer from it."

Operating on such a demanding schedule for three months out of the year requires a strong supporting cast, Lhota said.

"I've lost friends through this, which was hard," she said.
But she also said that her training gave her the opportunity to find out who her true friends were.

Although most of the competitors admit to training on their own or with one partner, they all agree that outside the gym, everyone around them must be on the same page.

"You have to watch your peers. If you are around the wrong guys or girls and all they want to do is eat (unhealthy), it is difficult," Mortimer said.

Every part of their life must be 100 percent committed when taking on this task.

"Some people don't understand how we can work out that much and still carry on with our regular life," Tokarek said. "It is like carrying two jobs. Two full-time jobs."

Tokarek says that he also has to stay focused on the people around him-like his friends, family and girlfriend-to ensure he's not forgetting what means the most to him in life.

"It's really hard to have a social life at all because you're always on the clock," Murchak said.

But eating well and weight training are a small price to pay to fuel these athletes' competitive sides.

"I love to workout and be healthy, and this was just another sport to get into," Lhota said.

Tokarek concurred.

"I love competition," Tokarek said, "I just love going against other people and trying to beat them."

Although the competitors consider themselves "in-season" for the 12 weeks leading up to the competition, their training period is essentially the entire year.

And on March 30, the SRU Bodybuilding and Fitness Club won't just showcase one of the most demanding sports at the Rock, but a different kind of lifestyle as well.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

Lower back pain with exercise

Although lower back pain can result from sudden traumatic injuries, it occurs more often as a result of weak and inflexible muscles, poor posture or poor body mechanics. Any excessive strain on the back will result in pain. Individuals who suffer from lower back pain normally get relief on their own, within a few months, but others will have recurrences or suffer from chronic pain.

Back pain may occur at any point along your spine. The lumbar area is the most common site because it bears the majority of your weight. The spine is suited to bear the body's weight and the force or stress of the body's movements. You don't have to carry a heavy load or participate in a vigorous, contact sport to injure your back. A simple action like picking up a pencil from the floor using poor mechanics, reaching too far out in front of you or bending over with your knees straight can also result in back pain.

The underlying causes of back pain include weak or inflexible muscles in the back, hips, abdomen and legs; excess body weight; poor posture or body position when standing, sitting or sleeping; poor sports movements and poor body mechanics when performing actions like lifting and carrying objects. Strained muscles, tendons or ligaments can cause serious pain and injury to the vertebrae.

Stress may cause the disk to break down and lose some of the ability to absorb shock. A damaged disk may bulge between the vertebrae and put pressure on a nerve root, a condition commonly referred to as a slipped disk.

Maintaining control over your body movements and warming up thoroughly before you begin to exercise will go a long way in helping to prevent lower back pain. Special focus should also be placed on maintaining proper exercise form when lifting weights.

Exercise is recommended by experts, especially for persons who have already experienced an episode of lower back pain. Regular exercises to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles and physical activity, such as walking will help to prevent back pain. The exercises in the pullout are designed to help you maintain a healthy back by stretching and strengthening the muscle group that affects the back. Remember to perform these exercises slowly and make your progression gradually.
Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education: email:

Double knee to chest (back exercise)

Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Place hands on the back of each thigh and slowly pull both knees to your chest.

Straighten your knees so that both legs are pointing towards the ceiling.

Return to starting position and repeat.

Trunk twist

(back exercise)

Lie on your side with top knee bent, lower leg straight, lower arm extended out in front of you on the floor, and upper arm at your side.

Push down with your upper knee while you twist your trunk backwards.

Return to starting position and repeat.

Back bridge (hip exercise)

Lie on your back with knees bent and arms extended to the side.

Tuck your pelvis under, and then lift your buttocks and lower back from the floor.

Hold position for five to 10 seconds then return to the starting position.


(back exercise)

Lie face down with hands under your face.

Slowly push yourself up until your upper body is resting on your forearms.

Gradually straighten your elbows while keeping your pubic bone on the floor.

Hold for five to10 seconds then repeat.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

BULGING BICEPS - Give us a Month....

Is there really anything new under the sun when it comes to training? Perhaps nothing new, but innovation, maybe. As a consumer, bodybuilder, and overall purveyor of freaky muscle, this is how you must think of any workout that's offered via magazine or website. It isn't that there is so much out there you or I haven't heard of at this point, it's more about what we do with what we already know, to come up with something that is creative and becomes a means to a successful end.

One reason innovation is so important as a bodybuilder, is that the body figures out what you're doing fairly quickly, with training, diet, exercise, etc.. So it becomes crucial to find different ways to engage each body part, or system, as a whole, to continue getting any appreciable result. This is particularly the case with a muscle that is typically seen as the pinnacle of a person's success in the gym. I'm talking about the biceps...

Truth is, if you have small biceps, it's like you've failed all around. In reality, small biceps is like having small calves - one is no different than the other. If something is missing, something is missing, period, no matter what it is. But that's not how people judge the situation. This almost necessitates having big arms, whether it's a struggle for you or not. So how can you ensure success in your biceps training? Well, give us a month and we'll give you an extra inch!

One of the things about the limbs that distinguishes them from other body part training is this: Leg workouts and arm workouts can go so against the grain of logic and reason and you can still have success. You may see this as maddening, but it's actually really a great thing. Here's why...

You can overtrain, under train, do high reps or low reps, use heavy weight or employ set complexity with 21's, negatives, concentric overload, or anything in between, and get success. And this is the key: You need to do it all. We call that shot-gunning with AAS use, but it's the same for training.... Throw enough mud against the wall and some of it is bound to stick. And the truth is, you have nothing to lose by doing it.


Week 1 - This week is about heavy, low rep training, and super slow movement. You'll be doing just two basic movements: Standing Barbell Curl and Preacher Curl. You'll do two workouts - one Monday and one Friday.

The weight you use is going to be substantial, but it must still be manageable. Try for 85% of max, if not 95%, as long as you can go super slow with it. It's all about using both concentric and eccentric portions of the range of motion. However, in the final few sets of each of these two exercises, you'll use concentric overload, by doing the curling part of the motion and letting your partner take the weight and hand it back to you to start again at the bottom.

Standing Barbell Curl (Straight one workout/ EZ Curl in another workout) 4 x 8 (remember to perform slowly)

Preacher Curl (EZ Curl - Inner grip and outer grip, alternating) 3 x 6 (no cheating with body - good form - slow)

Finish off with 2 sets to failure of alternate dumbbell curls - 60% of max weight

Rest: 2 minutes in between is correct if you are using heavy enough weight

Week 2 - Standard Workout - Do a workout that is varied and has 3 exercises and a pull up. Use standard rep ranges and don't do more than 9 or 10 total sets

Pull-ups - body weight only as warm up - 10 reps minimum with body, try to use biceps

Barbell Curls - Wide and Narrow grip 3 x 8

Seated Alternate Dumbbell Curls 3 x 10

Concentration Curls - seated 3 x 8

Rest: Take 1-2 minutes in between sets

Week 3 - 21's, Drop sets, Super sets. This is the week of varied set scheme. Since the type of sets you do is important, it's crucial that you get a week of two workouts in where you are utilizing all of these techniques that you may just save for pre-contest workouts. You need to have a partner work with you in this week, as well as the first week.

Standing Straight Bar Barbell Curls - Do 2 sets of 21's using moderate to heavy weight

Standing Alternate DB Curls - 2 sets - Drop DB's to lighter within set to go to failure at the lowest weight

Super Set: One armed (low or high pulley) cable curls/ Concentration curls - 2 sets of 8 to 10 reps each exercise.

Rest: 2 minutes between 21's, 3 minutes between drop sets on dumbbells, no rest within superset, but 1 minute in between supersets.

Week 4 - Cables only - all angles - this week. This accentuates both the eccentric and concentric portion of the range, and forces super control. Moderate weight and moderate reps earmark this week, but what is most important is the use of low cables and high cable attachments, as well as single arm exercises and double arm exercises. You must use these attachments: EZ Curl, Short straight bar, long straight bar, handle attachments

High Cable One Armed Pulley (alternate arms for rest - successively - 3 x 10 each arm

Low Cable Pulley Straight Bar from lowest attachment. Try to pull elbows high and use within that range, as well as pulling from bottom to mid-range in 3 x 10

EZ Curl High Cable - Top of range 3 x 8

Rest: No rest in alternating high cable one arm exercise, 2 minutes rest in all others in between. Set should take longer because you are accentuating the movements of each rep and still using moderate to heavy weight.

Varying training is something all bodybuilders ought to be doing, but with limbs, such as arms and legs, this kind of variety isn't just random and haphazard, it actually nets results. Limbs require wicked pumps to grow. But wicked pumps don't just come from heavy training... they come from heavy training, light training that burns into failure, odd attachments, varied sets, eccentric vs. concentric work, or both, and varied rest times in relation to varied work ethic.

Yours may not be to question why here, yours may be to just buckle down, give us a month, and we'll give you an inch on those stubborn biceps.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Experts give supplement advice

Just being in shape is not good enough for some people. Getting big and building muscle mass is their priority and they are always trying to find products to help achieve this goal.

Leaving steroids alone, or perhaps leaving them for Major League Baseball, there is a myriad of pills, powders and products out there to help build muscle mass.

In the end, what someone takes is an individual decision. However, experts agree that consulting with a physician and doing research on supplements are important first steps in deciding what to use.

"The first thing you need to do is see your physician because it's on an individual basis," said Clint Stahler, co-owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in the South Campus Gateway.

Brian Dean, a senior in mechanical engineering, has tried several of these products, but he is still trying to figure out which are most effective, and most importantly, what is safe to take.

"I take protein powder and Muscle Milk, but I stopped taking creatine freshman year," Dean said. "I couldn't rationalize the gains for the money."

Creatine is one of the more controversial supplements, because of claims that it causes cancer. "If I heard creatine causes cancer it would be surprising, but not unbelievable," Dean said.

A major criticism of these supplements is the fact most of them are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

"The FDA wants to regulate these products," said Jackie Buell, director of sports nutrition at Ohio State. "But these companies don't want to be regulated. It's simply politics."

Stahler acknowledges that these products are not regulated by the FDA, but he is not worried. "The competition between suppliers is so fierce that the government does not need to police them," Stahler said. "The competition tests each other's products very rigorously."

One example of a product that is very potent and has raised questions is the popular pre-workout supplement NO-Xplode.

"Sure you might get a positive result for lifting, but you might also be increasing your blood pressure," Buell said. "Chances are there's always going to be a downside."

"All the products that we carry are safe," Stahler said.

In order to help inform its customers on the safety of its supplements, Max Muscle offers books, DVDs and other educational resources. Stahler used fast food as an analogy to the safety of creatine and other supplements.

"Is McDonald's safe to eat? It depends on the individual person," Stahler said. "Unlike McDonald's, all of our products have labels."

Aside from safety, do the supplements really do what they claim?

"Honestly, these products probably provide minimal gain," Dean said.

From a scientific standpoint, Buell isn't convinced either.

"Does it work for the masses? If it did we'd have more research proving it," Buell said.

Dean and Buell agree that although the products might help build muscle mass, a sufficient amount of sleep is extremely important.

"The only way you're going to respond to pills and supplements is with a healthy diet and a good night's sleep," Buell said.

"I'm not anti-supplements," Buell said. "But use your brain. Don't follow someone else's advice blindly."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises

If you dream of tightening your tummy but dread doing endless sets of sit-ups, then California researchers have good news for you. The classic sit-up, they say, is not the best answer for stronger, flatter abdominals.

A study led by Peter Francis, Ph.D., at the biomechanics lab at San Diego State University put different abdominal exercises to the test and found that not all are created equal.

The traditional sit-up - or crunch - fell close to the bottom in a ranking of the ab exercises.

"The sit-up is ineffective," Francis says. Typically, he says, people do sit-ups by lying with their back on the floor, with their legs straight or knees bent. Then, they sit all the way up, relying on their hips and less on their abdominals. Not only is a sit-up ineffective but it can strain the back, Francis adds.

Perhaps another surprise finding was that despite the advertising hype, some abdominal exercise equipment tested, including the Torso Track and Ab Roller, either were no more effective or only marginally more effective than a regular crunch you can do at no cost.

"You don't have to spend $150 on a piece of exercise equipment to strengthen your abs," Francis says.

Tummy-tightening comparison

The San Diego study, sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), compared 13 of the most common abdominal exercises, some involving equipment, and ranked them from most to least effective. The study included 30 healthy men and women, ages 20 to 45, who were either occasional or daily exercisers. Each was put through a battery of exercises, including the traditional crunch, modified crunches, partial body-weight exercises and exercises using both home and gym exercise equipment. Muscle activity was monitored during each exercise using electromyography equipment.

Each of the 13 exercises was ranked for muscle stimulation in the rectus abdominus (the long, flat muscle extending the length of the front of the abdomen) and the obliques (the long, flat muscles extending along the sides of the abdomen at an angle).

The top three abdominal exercises were:

Bicycle maneuver. To do this exercise, you lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Breathe evenly throughout the exercise.

Captain's chair. This was one of the few on the "most effective" list that involves gym equipment. To do the exercise, stabilize your upper body by gripping the handholds and lightly pressing your lower back against the back pad of the chair-like equipment. The starting position begins with you holding your body up and legs dangling below. Now slowly lift your knees in toward your chest. The motion should be controlled and deliberate as you bring your knees up and return them back to the starting position.

If you do not have access to a captain's chair, Francis says you can improvise by hanging from a bar, although that may be difficult for many people who aren't in shape.

Crunch on exercise ball. A high-quality exercise ball, which costs about $30 depending on the size, is needed to do this exercise. Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Let the ball roll back slowly. Now lie back on the ball until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slightly tuck your chin in toward your chest. Contract your abdominals raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees. For better balance, spread your feet wider apart. To work the oblique muscles, make the exercise less stable by moving your feet closer together. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position.

If you do a crunch, researchers found you are better off doing a vertical crunch (which ranked number four on the list of most effective ab exercises for the rectus abdominus) or a reverse crunch (which ranked number three for strengthening the obliques).

"These crunches don't put as much stress on your back," Francis says, as a traditional sit-up type crunch.

To do a vertical crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands behind your head for support. Extend your legs straight up in the air, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract your abdominal muscles by lifting your torso toward your knees. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward; inhale as you return to the starting position.

To do a reverse crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head or extend them out flat to your sides - whatever feels most comfortable. Crossing your feet at the ankles, lift your feet off the ground to the point where your knees create a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, press your lower back on the floor as you contract your abdominal muscles. Your hips will slightly rotate and your legs will reach toward the ceiling with each contraction. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position.

Abs need regular workout

Unlike strength training, Francis says abdominal exercises should be done frequently rather than for intense periods. "Abdominal strength isn't the same as working on big muscles with large resistance," he says. Instead, what's needed is "endurance training for the abdominals."

Five minutes a day of abdominal exercises can make a difference if you do it regularly.

If one exercise feels uncomfortable or is too difficult, then Francis says try others. The captain's chair exercise, for example, might be too stressful for someone who has low back pain or is out of shape.

However, strengthening the abs can actually help maintain good posture and alleviate lower back pain, Francis says. As with any fitness program, though, check with your doctor first before starting abdominal exercises.

While the best ab exercises can help you reach a goal of a flatter, tighter tummy, Francis cautions, too, that they are only part of the equation. Diet is another part.

While the best ab exercises can help you reach a goal of a tighter tummy, it will not necessarily make the stomach "flatter". For a healthy-looking mid section, a combination of ab work, proper diet, and regular aerobic exercise is the most effective strategy.

"You can have the tightest abs on earth, but if you have 10 pounds of lard covering them up, you won't see that," Francis says.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Natural Bodybuilding Contest Preparation Course Scores 100%

Moorabbin, Victoria, Feb 08,2008--Tony DiCostanzo of Long Island, New York, has become the first male student to gain a perfect 100% score of the Natural Bodybuilding Contest Preparation certificate course run by the International Academy of Physique Conditioning (IAPC) - It is the world's first bodybuilding contest preparation certification course, and teaches insider secrets on how to win a Natural Bodybuilding Show.

Over 400 students from around the world have successful completed the course since it was released just over 2 years ago. Tony is the first male student ever to complete the certification exam with a perfect score.

Says Tony… "The information packed into this course is invaluable. Having been a lifelong bodybuilder myself and having already produced champion competitors, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. After completing this certification course I recommend it highly not only for competitors, but also for trainers and all those wanting a deeper and richer knowledge of contest preparation. This course can save competitors and trainers years of unnecessary “hit or miss” type regimens and protocols. Everything from mindset, nutrition, diet and training… through to supplementation and posing -- it’s all detailed and laid out comprehensively, yet explicitly. This course is one of a kind and a must read for the competitor and/or trainer"

The renowned course fills a gaping hole in the fitness and bodybuilding industry for a specific contest preparation certification. The comprehensive bodybuilding course comprises of 22 lessons bound in a 345 page printed manual, and was created by Wayne McDonald BASc President INBA (International Natural Bodybuilding Association) and Richard Hargreaves, Mr Australia. The course is done via home study, so it can be completed anywhere in the world…and comes complete with official IAPC certification at the end.

The Natural Bodybuilding Contest Prep Course is for all types of physique competitors; male and female bodybuilders, Ms Figure competitors, SportsModels and Bikini Style competitors.
Lessons cover… Psychology of winning, training methods, nutrition and diet, body types, ergogenic aids and supplementation, posing to win, manipulation of fluids, minerals and carbohydrates, 20 point checklist for contest day, long distance travelling. Plus tanning, oiling, grooming, posing costume, rules, judging criteria, drug testing, stage presence, symmetry, muscularity, posing to music…plus much more…

Tony is the founder and head trainer of Body Transformation Systems, which is an Elite Worldwide Online personal training program that incorporates fat-melting dietary protocols, goal-specific exercise regimens, unlimited coaching and mind-motivational conditioning. Tony is a Certified Professional Fitness trainer (NFPT-CPT) and Certified Sports Hypnotist (NESTA) who ensures that each and every client receives unparalleled individual attention. Holistic in nature and unique in service, DreamBodies caters to Bodybuilders, figure competitors and athletes of all genres. The holistic approach of goal-centered mind conditioning along with results-driven exercise and nutrition applications empowers clients with the direction and tools to achieve their peak condition and absolute best body.

As a limited time special offer, those who purchase the Bodybuilding Contest Preparation Course this month will also get a concise yet informative 44 page guide on Sports Injuries, complete with illustrations…plus the IAPC Nutritional Food composition table suite CD, valued at $297, absolutely FREE. Use the Food Suite CD to quickly find high protein foods, low carbohydrate foods, low fat foods, low calorie foods…foods high in potassium or zinc or sodium. In fact whatever it is you need to know about food composition…you'll find the answer here. Over 2300 pages…with an inbuilt search engine. 83 comprehensive tables in all…with a database of 6040 foods will enable you to select nutrient compositions for all of them.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

To Burn Fat, Try The Deadlift!

While this article will not instruct you how to perform a deadlift, it will make you very much aware of adding this powerful exercise to your arsenal, for effective fat-burning results!

The deadlift is quite possibly the biggest 'muscle working exercise' on the face of this planet. It engages pretty much every muscle in your body and therefore burns a large amount of energy into the bargain. What's more, it will send your metabolism sky rocketing after training, forcing you to burn a high number of calories between sessions. If you need to lose fat, THIS is the exercise to embrace!

Deadlifts are feared by many, but embraced by those that appreciate its power. There really is no reason to fear this exercise. For complete beginners, results can be achieved with minimal weight, simply by focusing on technique. As you become confident with the movement you can begin to add more weight to your bar or your dumbbells, and be assured that you are working your body in a time-effective manner that gives you good results.

The deadlift loads your spine, forcing your core muscles to engage and work hard. Too many people spend too long fixating on their abdominals and not nearly enough time working their spinal muscles. The beauty of the deadlift is that it works both - together.

This core loading will make your spinal support muscles stronger and do a lot to prevent or even start to cure lower back pain, provided that your technique is good. What's more, deadlifts will teach you the correct way to pick up heavy objects from the ground without 'doing your back in'. So you see, deadlifts are not just reserved for bodybuilders and powerlifters. They're are very useful for everyday living too.

Finally, deadlifts are a great way of instilling good posture into our 'desk-bound' lifestyles. They force your body to use muscles that desk-sitting cause to weaken. Some of the biggest muscles in your body - the glutes (buttocks), hamstrings (back of the thighs) and upper back muscles - all come into play with this exercise, the very muscles you need to be strong to hold your body up straight.

So, if you want effective fat burning and all-over body strengthening, embrace the deadlift with both hands and bring your fat burning to a new high!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Bodybuildings Most Effective Creatine Formula

Every bodybuilder is familiar with creatine. It most certainly is by far the most popular of bodybuilding supplements of the past few years. Originally only available as creatine monohydrate, it worked well for most bodybuilders.

The main drawback for a lot of bodybuilders was that it often resulted in intestinal distress and diarrhea because it sat in the intestines, pulling in water. This problem would subside in some bodybuilders over time, but it was a problem nonetheless. Another drawback of the creatine monohydrate form of creatine is the amount of carbohydrates needed to induce the muscles to absorb it. This is due to the fact that insulin is required to stimulate the creatine transporter in muscle cells. It requires approximately 100 g of simple carbs for every 5 g of creatine. This amount of carbohydrates taken before and sometimes after a workout often leads to stomach bloat, not to mention unnecessary sugar calories.

Better forms of creatine have hit the market over the past few years in order to address some of these issues, as well as increase absorption and its overall muscle building effects. Some of these products are creatine malate, creatine ethyl ester, creatine methyl ester, and buffered creatine.

Creatine AKG (creatine alpha-ketoglutarate) is the newest formulation available. This is produced by binding AKG and creatine molecules together. This is the same AKG that is used in the nitric oxide formulas (arginine AKG).

Alpha-Ketoglutarate is a precursor of glutamine, which means that with this supplement you are getting both glutamine and creatine. The key benefit, however, is that the intestines more easily absorb AKG, which will prevent the diarrhea that most bodybuilders experience when they take creatine monohydrate.

Another huge benefit of the creatine AKG, is that AKG readily crosses into muscle tissue without creatine transporters, which means that you no longer need to take in 100 g of carbohydrates with your creatine!

Creatine and AKG is also used in the Krebs Cycle, which is an aerobic energy-producing pathway. The Krebs cycle is used to replenish levels of quick energy within the muscle cells in between workout sets. Since creatine provides quick energy for completing more reps, and AKG helps restore energy levels between sets, the combination of the two is an extremely effective way to keep your energy and strength levels high during your workout.

Furthermore, since creatine AKG is absorbed more efficiently into the muscle tissue, you don't need to take quite as much as you would with creatine monohydrate.

I recommend using a creatine AKG product that contains 2-5 grams creatine in each serving. Take a serving before and after your workouts, and for additional benefits, add a serving at night and first thing in the morning.