Monthly Archives: January 2015

How to reduce colesterol? Five Easy Tips

Understanding the good and the bad isn’t as hard as you think.

Before you changed your outlook on fitness, you might have had no problems consuming a large bag of potato chips or super-sizing your combo at McDonald’s or Burger King—but what you don’t see can actually hurt you. What Reps! is referring to is cholesterol. Cholesterol—both good and bad—is talked about a lot, but few people really understand what it does, where it comes from and what they should be concerned about. Let’s try to clarify some of these issues by taking a closer look at the facts on cholesterol.

What is it?

Cholesterol is made by most body cells, part of all cell membranes and 50 percent of bile, and is transported in the blood by carriers known as lipoproteins. Too many of these cholesterol-containing blood lipoproteins can result in hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and poor circulation in the eyes, mannsportfingers and feet. Some cholesterol-containing blood lipoproteins are worse at creating these problems than others: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, can lead to heart disease faster than high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, which is more benign. It’s good to have low total cholesterol (<200 mg/dl), but it’s also good to have low LDL (<100 mg/dl) and a high HDL-to-LDL ratio. So, the question is this: How do you get there?

E-Z Eating Strategy #1: Eat Less

 

One strategy is to eat less cholesterol, which requires a dramatic reduction in foods of animal origin.

E-Z Eating Strategy #2: Consume Less Fat

A more effective strategy is to cause the body to make less cholesterol by lowering your total fat intake. This strategy is much more useful because when you eat less saturated fat, your body doesn’t have to make as much bile to emulsify the consumed fat. Bile is 50 percent cholesterol, and it shows up in the blood with the fat you eat. If you eat less fat, you don’t need as much bile and your total body pool of cholesterol drops.

E-Z Ways to Reduce Your Fat Intake

The basic rules for reducing your total fat intake are as follows.

  • Eat less visible fat.
  • Eat low(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection fat dairy products.
  • Eat fewer processed meats, such as salami, bologna and bacon.
  • Eat less animal protein.
  • Eat fewer fried foods.

Making these five changes to your diet is guaranteed to improve your blood cholesterol levels—unless your genetic makeup mandates a higher level. Surprisingly enough, low-fat, high-cholesterol foods aren’t as bad for you as high-fat, high-cholesterol foods, which are heart disease in the making. Your goal of having less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day may be difficult to achieve, but your goal of consuming foods that don’t significantly raise your blood cholesterol is much easier to accomplish by following these five basic rules.

Crunching Cholesterol’s Numbers:

Food / Cholesterol content (mg) per serving / Total fat content (g) per serving / Saturated fat content (g) per serving / Likely heart disease potential

cut-hugh-jackman-workout-muscle-30092011

Chicken breast (1/2 breast), broiled / 72 / 3 / 0.8 / Neutral
Chicken breast (1/2 breast), fried / 78 / 4/ 1.1 / High
Cottage cheese (1 cup), low-fat / 31 / 2 / 1.5 / Neutral
Cottage cheese (1 cup), regular / 166 / 10 / 6 / Very high
Shrimp (3 oz), boiled / 125 / 1 / 0.2 / Neutral
Shrimp (3 oz), breaded or fried / 165 / 13 / 2.8 / Very high
Salad dressing (1 tbsp), lemon juice / 0 / 0 / 0 / Low
Salad dressing (1 tbsp), French / 9 / 6.5 / 1.5 / High
Egg (1 whole), hard-boiled / 210 / 5.3 / 1.5 / Neutral
Egg (1 whole), fried / 212 / 7.0 / 1.9 / High
Egg white (2 oz), cooked / 0 / 0.1 / 0 / Low
Note: The goal of consuming an average of less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day remains important, but reducing your fat intake—especially saturated fat—is even more important.

 

Best Tips to Power Up Your Legs

Alternate quads and hamstrings for maximum growth.
A good pair of legs is as important to the body as a good set of wheels is to a car. But like a quality set of wheels, strong, healthy legs come at a high price. So, don’t take the following powerful legs exercises — especially the sissy squat—lightly. Because this is an incredibly intense workout that will turn your thighs into killer wheels. Serious focus and intensity are required.

Barbell Squat

Target: Quadriceps and hamstrings.
Setup: Stand with a barbell balanced across your traps. Your feet should be wider than shoulder width apart. Before you continue with this exercise, make sure that the bar is placed symmetrically.
Action: Once you feel comfortably balanced, contract your quadriceps and gluteal muscles and lower your body slowly. When you reach the point where your upper legs are just below parallel to the floor, push back up to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight to protect your lower back, and keep your head up and your eyes fixed ahead as you perform this exercise.

double-gains1

Sled Hack Squat

Target: Quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.

Setup: Step into a hack sled with your feet shoulder width apart and positioned near the top of the foot plate.

Action: Starting in an upright position (without locking out your knees), contract your quadriceps muscles and slowly lower into a squat position. Once you reach the bottom movement (where your upper legs are just below parallel to the platform), press the sled back to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your lower back planted firmly against the rear padding to avoid a back injury.

Stiff-Legged Barbell Dead Lift

Target: Hamstrings and glutes.

Setup: Grab a barbell with a grip that’s slightly wider than your shoulders.

Action: With your back straight and your upper body rigid, contract your hamstrings slowly and ease the barbell off the floor. Bring your body up and stand up straight. Without resting, return to a position where the barbell is slightly above the floor; repeat. Keep your knees fixed and slightly bent throughout the movement.

Sissy Squat

Target: Quadriceps.

Setup: In case the name of this one throws you off a bit, be warned that this exercise is definitely not for sissies—and you might be sore for a few days after you’ve done it. First, hang on to something fixed, like a squat rack, to keep steady during the exercise. Stand on the balls of your feet with your feet positioned slightly wider than shoulder width apart. If you have trouble keeping your balance, put a couple of five-pound plates under your heels. Keep your upper legs and torso in a straight line, from your shoulders to your knees.

maximize-muscle-mass-training_d
Action: Start by leaning back slightly—this is the top position of the movement. Next, break your knees slowly and lower your body as far as you can without falling backward. If you feel like you’ve gone too far, you can use your supporting hand to pull yourself back up. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, push yourself back up to the top without “locking out” and repeat.

Intensity Tip: Once you’ve mastered this exercise, try holding a light weight (a little goes a long way here) on your chest with your free hand. To avoid injury, take your time and use caution when learning and performing this advanced exercise.

Seated Leg Curl 

Target: Hamstrings.
Setup: Sit in a seated leg curl machine and place the back of your lower legs (slightly above your heels) on the roller pads. Tightly position the thigh anchor over your thighs to avoid upper-leg movement during the exercise. Keep your knees slightly bent at the top of the movement to avoid injuring your knee joints.

Action: Contract your hamstrings while pulling the foot pad toward your body without jerking. When you reach the end of the movement, return to the top and repeat. Take time to adjust the machine to fit your body to ensure optimum performance and functionality.

Safety First: Use a spotter and machine safety guards whenever possible. Perform a light warm-up set before each exercise. Take no more than one set of each exercise to the point of momentary muscle failure.

 

Build Thicker and Strong Shoulders

Make your body bigger with these three shoulder exercises.

 

If you want to improve your shoulder width, prioritize this workout, swapping it for your regular shoulder sessions every third deltoid workout. Or, depending on present development, do it every other workout as needed. Use the sequence of exercises prescribed here: Their purpose is for progressive prioritization, from heavy weight for strength and muscle-group size to higher reps for isolated muscle size and deltoid striations that draw the onlooker’s eye to those points located at the maximum width of the shoulder girdle.

Dumbbell Overhead
Back-Exercises-l

Targets:
The entire shoulder girdle, including overall width and all three deltoid heads.

Setup:
Brace your back against an upright, seated bench, feet planted firmly for pressing power. Hold a heavy dumbbell on top of each deltoid, palms facing forward, dumbbells level (not tilted in either direction) and elbows out to the sides in lateral alignment with your shoulders.

Action:
Maintaining the above position, press the dumbbells overhead at arm’s length. Resist the weight on the negative movement, tightening your shoulders, grip and body to generate potential energy for the next repetition.

Progression:
Your first working set should be difficult for eight reps but not to failure. Pyramid the weight upward through two more sets, the last to failure at six reps.

Cambered Bar Upright Row

combine-exercises-muscle-training-29062011

Targets:
Anterior and posterior deltoid heads, lower middle head mass, trapezius and shoulder thickness.

Setup:
Stand upright and hold a cambered bar at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Use a medium grip so that your hands are at chest width. Tighten your abs to stabilize your torso.

Action:
Pull the bar upward to chin level, keeping it close to your body, elbows pointed straight out to the sides (not angled upward or to the rear). At the top, your elbows and hands should be at the same level. Lower slowly. Do not arch backward, drop the weight or jerk it upward.

Progression:
Your first working set should be difficult but not to failure for 10 reps. Pyramid the weight upward through two more sets, the last to failure at eight reps.

Cable Laterial Raise

Targets:
 Medial deltoid head, lower medial head mass and upper deltoid cap.

Setup: Stand between the cable stacks of a crossover apparatus with the front of your body just behind the plane connecting them (so your body doesn’t get in the way of the cables crossing each other). Cross your arms, each one grabbing the opposite stirrup handle attached to its floor-pulley cable (your hands should face the respective stack). Stand erect, chest high and head aligned with your body (not crooked forward or backward). Hold your shoulders low—don’t shrug.

Action:
Keep your arms almost straight and elbows not quite locked. Raise the handles straight out to the sides and upward to only a couple of degrees above shoulder level without rotating your hands (do not pronate or supinate). Palms should face downward throughout the move. Leading with your elbows, lift only with your deltoid muscles, not with your traps or upper back. Resist during the descent to the starting position. Make sure that the movement is controlled and consistent from the beginning to the end of the set.

Progression:
Do three sets with the same weight, all to failure. This is a burnout exercise, which means that you must keep the reps going through the pain until your eyes water, your teeth crack from your grimace, you whimper pathetically and your arms no longer twitch. Now you’re good.

 

10 Ways to Boost Your Workout Fast

This list of 11 workout strategies can help you build your own super-functional, head-turning body, one that makes people wonder how your victory evolved.

 

You may marvel at the guy in the squat rack using his rock-solid lower body to grunt out perfect sets at 275 and then 315 pounds. You may be awestruck by the perfectly proportioned upper torso — every muscle group exudes power, functionality and aesthetic integrity — of the guy slicing through the water as he swims laps in the gym pool. But before you pull out the genetics card about how they’re lucky, consider this: The real accomplishment you witness lies in the unseen — the accumulated knowledge and consistent discipline it took to build such physical prowess. It’s the culmination of one good workout after another, where wasted effort and half-hearted strategies aren’t likely to be found. This list of 11 strategies can help you build your own super-functional, head-turning body, one that makes people wonder how your victory evolved. And your goal needn’t be to squat 315 or bench 305 — these are simply metaphors for the power of smart tactics applied consistently behind the scenes.

  1. Make Cardio Different

Hate cardio? You’re not alone. While taking a class may be the easiest option for you, consider an entirely different form of cardio. You can swim laps, run bleachers, jog on an outdoor track or hiking path, go for a 25-kilometer bike ride, and so on. Ask a friend to do the activity with you to generate a competitive spirit and additional calorie burn. “Instead of spending time doing an exercise you hate, pick a cardio that you like doing,” says Joy Jure, CSCS, sports performance director at The Office, a sports performance center in Anaheim, California. “There are a lot of choices when it comes to increasing your heart rate. If fat burning is a goal for you, don’t make cardio the part of your fitness you dread most.”

  1. Change Your Style

So many gym-goers tend to fall in love with a particular method of training: 5×5, pyramid training or circuits, for example. But switching things up may provide a welcome jolt to tonight’s workout. “Enjoy high-volume workouts? Try one-set to failure HIT for a day,” says Rob MacIntyre, WWE strength and conditioning coach. “Do you lift explosively? How about super slow reps.” These drastic departures from the norm will challenge your muscles to respond in kind. Tomorrow’s soreness will be proof enough of that.

a8

  1. Alternate Opposing Muscle Groups

It’s arm day and you want to hit your biceps and triceps hard. But instead of doing all of your exercises for one muscle group before moving to the other, you might want to try alternating them. Research shows that a muscle group will be stronger if it’s trained immediately after its antagonist (opposing) muscle group. It also floods more nutrient-rich blood into the tissues for a substantially greater pump than you could achieve training each muscle group on its own. You can get good use out of this type of training with chest and back, hamstrings and quads, biceps and triceps.

  1. Post-Activate for Big Gains

Post-activation potentiation is a training concept — currently real hot and at the core of the new P90X2 system — that can immediately spike your training. Basically, a few reps of an explosive exercise can have an impact on the movement to follow. For example, doing a handful of explosive jump squats a few minutes before doing heavy dumbbell lunges or getting under the bar for a heavy squat, you “wake up” more power-producing motor units, giving you the ability to push through those heavy sets for more reps than you normally could. Likewise, a few near max-load lifts — 90–95% of your 1RM — can make you stronger on the lighter-weight sets that follow, as you might in a reverse pyramid scheme where you do 1–3 heavy sets, and then progressively lower the weight and increase reps on each successive set.

  1. Train Heavy, Rest Short

When you lift heavy, the instinct may be to take more rest. But if you’re concerned with building strength and burning fat, you want to do the opposite of that. Numerous studies show that lifting heavy — think 6–8 reps to failure — elevates metabolism higher and for longer than 12-rep sets. Another study out of New Jersey showed that men who rested just 30 seconds between sets of bench presses burned 50% more calories during the workout.

  1. Drop to a Century

Sometimes, muscles just need a good, old-fashioned throwdown. Guillermo Escalante, ATC, CSCS, co-owner of SportsPros Physical Therapy & Personal Training Center (4sportspros.com) in Claremont, California, likes to have clients take on 100 “burnout” reps, drop-set style, following their heavier work. 8284_forza1_zoomUsing the leg press as an example, you’d crank out 20 reps to failure, then immediately reduce the weight and do 20 more reps. Repeat in this manner until you reach 100 reps. Rest briefly if you must, but keep in mind that you can only reduce the weight each time you’ve churned out at least 20 reps.

  1. 7. Observe the Negative

If you like to go heavy in the gym, chances are that getting the weight up on each rep is the focus of your set. But more attention can and should be paid to the pace of each rep, particularly the negative, also know as the eccentric or lowering portion, of each move. “More muscle breakdown occurs from the eccentric or negative portion of the lift, so try to take a full four seconds on that part of the rep, then explode through the positive,” says Phil Gephart, MS, CSCS. This simple change can lead to greater growth over time.

  1. Do Cardio After Weights

If you’re going to do weights and cardio in the same session, do the weights first. Your body responds better when you’re lifting the heaviest weights possible within a given rep range, and performing cardio first can compromise your strength levels. Besides, doing cardio second will provide more fat-burning benefits; your body, in a carb-depleted state from weight training, will have to tap into fat stores for fuel earlier.

 

  1. Stretch Before, Only if…

Research shows that stretching preworkout can acutely diminish strength on the work that follows, so it’s best left to do after your training. But there are exceptions to every rule. “If you can’t do a full range of motion from a muscle in a specific exercise, you won’t get maximum results,” says Phil Gephart, MS, CSCS, a Newport Beach-based (California) trainer (newportfit4life.com) and exercise science professor. In cases like these, he says, it’s okay to perform some light stretching ahead of your specific warm-up for a lift because it’ll ensure a productive range of motion during exercise.

  1. Use a Single Arm (or Leg)

Try subbing all your two-handed moves — like seated rows, lateral raises and pressdowns — with the one-arm version. Truth be told, in some exercises you’ll actually be substantially stronger, perhaps as much as 20% more. Studies show that unilateral training makes the working limb recruit more total muscle out of necessity to complete a lift, which means more force generated and more muscle broken down. Get in the habit of getting out of your habit and trying single-leg extensions and one-arm machine presses, which can better help those target muscles.

  1. Max Out (bonus tip)

Everyone wants to be stronger. So, for today, “Find out how strong you really are,” says Rob MacIntyre, WWE strength and conditioning coach. “Max out on every exercise you do, whether it’s the bench press or dumbbell curls. Or have an impromptu powerlifting (squat, bench, deadlift) meet with some regulars in the gym.” This will not only help you adjust your benchmarks for weight loads on key lifts but it’s likely to motivate you to implement more pure strength training.