Build Muscle with these Powerful Pitching Machine Exercises

Even if you are not a huge fan of baseball, the training required to hit balls and run bases has great health benefits. Learning to be a good hitter can improve your health in these ways:

  • Build strong biceps, triceps and muscles in the chest and shoulders
  • Improve hand-eye coordination
  • Relieve stress
  • Increase Vitamin D levels in sunlight

Baseball players are real athletes. Sports Fitness Advisor says that professional baseball players have a body fat percentage of 8-9%! Building up batting muscles can help you get closer to your fitness goals too.

Batting Fundamentals

Though batting builds the muscles in your arms and chest, a powerful batter uses his whole body. The power starts with a comfortable stance. From your position, you should be able to tap the tip of the bat on the opposite side of the plate. As the pitch comes, move your hands toward the ball without overextending your arms. Through the batting motion, your whole body should swivel around your head. Essentially, your chin is initially at your front shoulder. By the end of the swing, your back shoulder should be at your chin. The key to a successful swing is to rotate your whole body.

Batting Drills

The best way to improve your batting is to practice. Friends or pitching machines can provide the pitches for your swings. One way to improve your swing is to break down the swing into steps:

  1. Shift your weight to your back foot. This is called the load.
  2. Stride the front foot in line with the back foot.
  3. Aim through the ball.
  4. Swing

A friend or coach can call out the numbers for you. Try to match your body position to the number called out. It’s a great way to understand how to position your body through every part of batting.

Related Training

Your batting practice can also benefit from related weight training. Body Building recommends these exercises for an improved batting practice:

  • Weighted crunches
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Wrist curls

Other workouts can be completed with a weighted ball and resistance tubing. Core bridges build the ability translate power from your legs to your arms. Seated bent knee medicine ball rotations help you develop speed through the rotation of swing. Rotational push-ups also help strengthen your body for better batting.

Batting for Health

Batting builds muscles and improves hand eye coordination. While there are many exercises you can do to improve your muscle strength, there is nothing better than actual batting practice to refine your coordination. Working with a pitching machine or strong pitcher will help you quickly reach your batting power and fitness goals.

Best Trampoline Options to Rebound your Way into Shape

If you think jumping on a trampoline is for little kids, you should check out rebounding. The exercise does involve jumping on a small or “mini” trampoline, but it can be altered to your fitness level with weights and repetitions. The health benefits of rebounding include:

Still think it’s just for kids? NASA has completed many studies on the benefits of rebounding for astronauts. A common conclusion is that the exercise provides a great workout for building skeletal strength without overtaxing the heart. It’s a serious workout. Some gyms even have classes for rebounding.

How to Rebound

This isn’t dating advice, but it’s a guide to how to use a mini trampoline effectively. The most basic trampoline bounce starts with standing with your feet 6 inches apart. Bend your knees and then straighten them to begin the bounce. When you’re bouncing about 6 inches off of the surface of the trampoline, you are officially working out. Now repeat at least 30 times.

If that’s not challenging enough, pick up some weights. Do jumping jacks with weights on the rebounder trampoline. Start low with 3 to 5 lbs and work your way up to heavier weights. Low weight and more reps is always a great workout too. Other rebounder-appropriate weight exercises include front and side arm raises, biceps and triceps with a bounce and lateral skiers.

Build a workout routine around your schedule. Even rebounding for 15 minutes at a day will have some positive health benefits. There are about as many options for rebounding exercises as there are for weight room free weight exercises. Be aware of your physical limitations and invent some new exercises on your rebounder.

Where to Rebound

Although some gyms will have rebounder trampolines, the best trampoline option may be having one in your home. Rebounders are typically less than $500 and take up less room in your workout area than a typical treadmill or elliptical. They are also easier to transport and can be taken apart and put away. It’s an easy piece of gym equipment to store in your house.

Rebound for Health

Although exercising often feels like work, rebounding can be fun. It feels like flying, if only briefly. Plus, having a workout you enjoy makes you more likely to stick with it. Rebounding can give you a positive attitude about exercise again. 

Self-Reflection For Fitness Set-Backs [Infographic]

We’ve all been there. You’ve been working on your fitness goals for weeks, without seeing the results you want. The temptation to give up sets in. Suddenly, showing up to that appointment with your personal trainer seems pointless. Watching TV seems like a better use of your time (and your yoga pants) than going to class. You feel like you’ve failed, and you aren’t sure why.

Well, we are here to tell you that fitness failures happen — a lot. Everyone struggles with set-backs, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. You see, while everyone experiences failure, everyone also has the opportunity to experience success. Failure is just another opportunity to see what isn’t working and change the game plan. When you have a setback in achieving your fitness goals, that’s when you know it’s time to take a breath and re-evaluate.

How do you do this? PowerRacksNow.com posed this question to manyprofessional fitness trainers: “What solutions do you give your clients who are experiencing fitness failures?” They got a ton of responses, filled with some great feedback. Trainers are passionate about what they do, and they want nothing more than to see you succeed. That’s why they were so excited to share their professional expertise and advice with you. PowerRacksNow.com gathered the fantastic advice they received, and organized it into an infographic.

If you have difficulty viewing the infographic, their great solutions are also available in the text below.

Best wishes on your fitness journey!

If you’ve experienced some fitness failures, you aren’t alone. Fitness maintenance and a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy. It takes motivation, dedication, and persistence. If you find yourself struggling, maybe it’s time to ask yourself why you aren’t getting the results you were hoping for.

We’ve asked some great fitness trainers out there about the most common challenges people hit and how to overcome them, so here’s some troubleshooting questions and solutions to help you succeed.

#1 Am I relying on others to motivate me?

Personal trainers are great allies on your path to fitness, but they are guides — not guardians. When it comes to getting fit, personal responsibility is key. Don’t expect someone else to be your inner voice and force to act. No one can make it happen but you.

Solution: To succeed with fitness, you have to want it. Trainers set examples, provide knowledge and tools; however, it’s ultimately up to you to decide if it is important enough for you to work at it. (Catalyst Athletics)

#2 Am I setting realistic goals?

No one goes from couch potatoing to marathon running overnight, nor should you try to. Give your body time to adjust, and take it one step at a time. Don’t start out trying to run five miles a day if you get winded going up your stairs. Be realistic in what you can do right now to make some changes and improve.

Solution: Start with making just one change. Make it a part of your routine. Once it feels like second nature, pick something else to change. Don’t do it all at once. (JCD Fitness)

#3 Am I miserable in my workout?

Success seldom results from hatred and misery. If you dread working out, change it! There is no one set of exercises that you must do in order to be healthy. Fitness should be something you enjoy doing. Get moving in a way that is fun for you.

Solution: Remember that movement is a vital part of life. We can’t have a healthy life without it. Learn about different ways to get movement in, and find one that works for you. (Justin Grinnell — Grinneltraining)

#4 Am I too stuck in my comfort zone?

Change is uncomfortable for many people. Once set in a way, change and challenge can be frustrating and intimidating. Don’t despair! Remind yourself of your goals, and before long, those lifestyle changes will be the new normal.

Solution: Ask yourself why you want to be fit and active. Is it important enough to you to make the necessary lifestyle changes? You have to make the choice. (Dai Manuel)

#5 Am I letting an injury hold me back?

Physical injuries are serious, but they don’t have to end your fitness routines. Obviously, if you bust your knee, you probably aren’t going to be doing squats anytime soon, but you could still workout other parts of your body. Don’t let your injury take you out of the game because it’s always harder to get back into it.

Solution: Trust your body. Don’t think that you have to dominate every workout with full force in order to succeed. Instead, alter your idea of success to be staying active in a way that works for you. (Jessi K.)

#6 Am I lonely in my fitness journey?

It’s far easier to stay motivated when you are surrounded by people with similar interests and goals. Find others with similar fitness goals and train together. Share your ideas, struggles and successes. It will make everyone stronger and more focused.

Solution: You can’t achieve your fitness goals without support. Find someone who knows your goals, strengths, and weaknesses, and will be there to push you further. (William Imbo — Boxlife)

#7 Am I not making my health a priority?

Many people don’t think they have the time to squeeze fitness into their busy schedules. With work, family, and other responsibilities, workouts tend to fall by the wayside. Remember that your health is a priority. If you realize its true value, you will find a way to make time for it. (Julia Buckley)

Solution: Try adding up all the time you spend on other activities, such as watching TV, or browsing the internet. You’ll see that you have more time than you think. (Mike Jackson)

When facing a dilemma, taking a pause and evaluating the root of the problem is vital to future success. Don’t let a fitness failure keep you from moving forward. Take some time to figure out what’s been holding you back, re-evaluate your approach, and get back to pursuing your goals.

SOURCES:

CatalystAthletics.com

JCDFitness.com

Grinneltraining.com

DaiManuel.com

Romanfitnessystems.com

JessiKneeland.com

FitnessJewelltraining.com

BoxLifeMagazine.com

JuliasFitnessBlog.com

HealthylivingHealthylifting.com

Calorie Cage Fight [Infographic]

Have you ever wondered just how many calories you burn while participating in physical activities? This Calorie Cage Fight will give you an idea of what activities burn the most calories in a one hour time frame. Maybe you haven’t tried these fun activities and maybe it’s time you do! See what activity is the champion of this cage fight! (Originally posted on FitnessWeights.net)

If you’re having trouble viewing the infographic above, check out what you missed:

Calorie Cage Fight

THE B-R-E-A-K-D-O-W-N!

Stats are based on averaged numbers. For example, a person weighing 130 lbs can burn approximately 350 calories during an hour session of aerobic pole dancing, while someone who weighs more will likely burn a higher number of calories. This same concept goes for each of the 8 activities listed below. We’ve listed an averaged weight and calorie set so that you can get an idea of how many calories you might burn by trying these activities.

Aerobic Pole Dancing

  • Average Weight: 130 lbs
  • Calorie Burn: Approx. 350
  • Time: 60 minutes

If you’ve always been interested in pole dancing fitness now is the time! Various classes to learn the tricks of the trade are offered almost everywhere. This aerobic exercise will get your heart pumping and is a great activity for building strength.

Weight Lifting

  • Average Weight: 155 lbs.
  • Calorie Burn: Approx. 224
  • Time: 60 minutes

Weight lifting involves performing single-movement lifts from the floor to extended position and two-movement lifts from the floor to shoulder position, and shoulder to extended position. It is a great strength training exercise. Some do it strictly for exercise, while others do it to train for a certain sport they may be involved in or do it to compete.

Crossfit

  • Average Weight: 150 lbs
  • Calorie Burn: Approx. 783
  • Time: 60 minutes

CrossFit is a high intensity strength and conditioning program that allows participants to perform functional varied movements against the clock. CrossFit is a mix of both anaerobic and aerobic exercise and blasts calories as well as increases mobility of joints.

Rock Climbing

  • Average Weight: 155 lbs.
  • Calorie Burn: Approx. 753
  • Time: 60 minutes

Rock climbing isn’t just for the adrenaline junkies, it can be for those who wish to challenge themselves not only physically but mentally as well. This activity is great for working the muscles in both your upper and lower body. You can improve muscle strength, stamina, flexibility, and agility by rock climbing on a regular basis.

Running/Jogging

  • Average Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Calorie Burn: Approx. 557 running, 398 jogging
  • Time: 60 minutes

Running and jogging can be very beneficial to you and you can burn quite a few calories doing it. Not only does it build incredibly strong bones, it helps improve cardiovascular fitness overall. Both running and jogging are aerobic exercises and the main difference between the two are the levels of intensity.

Yoga

  • Average Weight: 155 lbs.
  • Calorie Burn: Approx. 298
  • Time: 60 minutes

Yoga is a different kind of exercise in which one performs various different body postures and focuses on meditation and breathing control. Yoga is great for one’s well-being and overall relaxation process.

Swimming

  • Average Weight: 142 lbs
  • Calorie Burn: Approx. 647 fast paced, 453 slow paced
  • Time: 60 minutes

Swimming offers endless benefits for you, such as keeping your heart rate up and building endurance. You gain muscle strength and can maintain a healthy weight by swimming on a regular basis. Swimming is extremely easy on the body because of the weightlessness you feel in the water. Overall, it can help you maintain a healthy heart and lungs as well.

Parkour

  • Average Weight: 155 lbs.
  • Calorie Burn: 700
  • Time: 60 minutes

Parkour is not your average type of exercise but the idea of navigating through urban obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing is certainly super cool! You can get a full-body workout from a parkour routine and build your confidence like never before. This is a type of activity that really pushes your mind to think and your body to use coordination and balance.

Ask The Experts: Healthy Warmups and Fat Burning Techniques


What is a good warmup routine to do before you start lifting?


MY ANSWER: I believe that a good warmup involves preparing the mind and the body. I personally have to put myself into a calm and positive mindset before I decided to start and get to work warming up and working out/lifting. I always, always stretch before any kind of workout or lifting session because it helps you avoid injury and pain later on. I spend about 10-15 minutes preparing my body and making sure that I feel stretched out enough and ready to perform a more intense workout or lifting session.


“When warming up before a workout I don’t just warm up according to the exercises I’m about to perform but I also warm up the mind. I get the right kind of music playing that gets me fired up. I remind myself WHY I train to be Stronger, Tougher, Faster and Healthier. I get the blood flowing full body with some bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, recline rows and push ups. I will add band pull-aparts to warm up the shoulders, PVC pipe dislocators and some ab work. If I’m working lower body I’ll hit a few sets of sleds and some jump variations such as box jumps or hurdle jumps. For upper body I’ll throw a light medicine ball from various angles and perform a few low rep sets of explosive plyo push ups, speed pull ups and of course then it’s time to perform a few lighter sets of the exercise before going full force. Never rush your warm up, even when you’re short on time.”

zacheven-esh.com | Twitter: @zevenesh


“I always recommend some dynamic stretches, focus on moving the muscles you intend of using, pick a song and give yourself 5 minutes, or pop on a piece of cardio equipment and slowly warm yourself up. Treat all exercises as you would yoga, there are always going to be exercises you cannot perform perfectly, fitness is all about form and progression, there is no finished product as there is always something to improve, change or adapt. A healthy body is all about balance, mix strength with endurance and hypertrophy, work on your flexibility and spend time researching what you should be doing in the kitchen, it’s a journey, not a destination.”

carlyrowena.com | Twitter: @CarlyRowena


“Well, I do it this way. First of all, I perform light mobility exercises for all the links in the body: neck; shoulders; wrists; elbows; lower back; knees; ankles. This warms up all the areas that are prone to injury the most. The exercises I use are simple. Something like arm circles and bodyweight squats. Additionally, I do some drills for my upper back too because it is my weak spot injury-wise. If I don’t warm up it thoroughly, I most likely will get injured at the one-arm chin-up or front lever work. Then I move to the big compound exercise for that day. I go from easy weight for 6-10 reps to heavy for 3-6 (depending on my goal) in 2-3 sets. That’s it. I wouldn’t warm up at all for isolation work. The biggest mistake I see in warm up routines is going to failure.”

roughstrength.com | Twitter: @roughstrength


“I personally like something that resembles the following: A. 10min of low intensity cardio such as a bike, jogging, rowing. Anything to get the heart rate up.

B. Open up thoracic spine and ankles using MobilityWOD techniques. My hips tend to be okay otherwise I may spend time there as well. These are the 3 main areas of mobility needed for a weightlifter. Any stiffness in these regions will express itself in movement during training. I’ll also smash the quads out to develop better tissue quality. Stiff muscles have difficulty being explosive so improving this area will give the lifter a better opportunity to develop power and transfer the force.

C. Barbell work to prime training for the day. For example, light-medium intensity snatch balances using sets of 5-6 repetitions to develop timing, tempo, rhythm and support for the day’s work. This might seem lengthy, but it’s an investment into the day’s training. By spending this 20-30min up front, it greatly improves the overall quality of the remainder of the session.”

fubarbell.com | Instagram: @dianefu


“It really depends what I’m training… I warm up the major muscle group(s) being trained with compound movements. [For leg or cardio day specifically] I warm up with squats.” — Submitted via Twitter

legionathletics.com | muscleforlife.com | Twitter: @muscleforlife


What are ways to burn more fat, either in your workout or during your daily routine?


MY ANSWER: If you want to burn more fat, I would advise getting your workouts in the morning because I believe that is the best time to get yourself in gear and make your body work harder. I also think it’s very important to give yourself variety and mix up the way you workout. Doing the same workout everyday and not switching anything up won’t help you burn fat or see changes and results.


“This question totally ignores the real crux of the issue, that energy balance, not any temporary increases in heart rate or exertion, is the single most important factor in weight loss or gain.”

thestrengthathlete.com | Instagram: @bryce_tsa


“For maximum fat-burning, body-sculpting results, forget steady types of exercise that you can maintain for long periods. You need varied, intense workouts that leave you totally spent–ideally in less than an hour. My motto is “go harder, no longer”. When people are used to long training sessions it can take a while for them to learn to really go all-out for shorter durations, they’re so used to holding back so they can keep going. But with practice they find that extra gear and start to build more explosive fitness, which does amazing things for their bodies. Also, don’t just repeat the same workout or do the same type of exercise every time you train. You need to vary your training. This helps keep boredom at bay and reduces your risk of injuries which are often caused by too much repetition of the same movements. This maximizes results by ensuring all your different muscles get fired up and that your body doesn’t get comfortable with one type of exercise.”

juliabuckley.co.uk | Twitter: @Julia_B


“Metabolic Finishers are a great implement to help burn that unwanted fat. Basically they are a circuit of exercises that are designed to raise your heart rate and gain lean mass. They are called finishers because they are completed at the end of your workout. We like to use these because they are more exciting than your basic static cardio. You can do the finishers many different ways. They can be body weight, dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, sleds, tires, battle ropes, etc. The list goes on, so you can get creative with them.”

madestrength.com | Twitter: @merrickcraig

Here are some of the Metabolic Finishers that Craig uses at MADE:

(1) DB Farmers Walk 30 yards, set the DB’s down, do 10 Push-ups, pick the DB’s back walk 30 yards, and do 5 Burpees. Repeat 3 times and that is 1 set. Rest 2 minutes and do 3-5 sets.

(2) Prowler Sled Pushes: Push sled 30 yards rest 30-60 seconds & return. Continue to this for 10-15 minutes.

(3) 10-1 Goblet Squats/1-10 Push-ups: Do 10 Goblet Squats, then 1 Push-up, then 9 Goblet Squats, 2 push-ups, 8 Goblet Squats, 3 Push-ups, etc. Your Last set should be 1 Goblet Squat, and 10 Push-ups

(4) A real quick easy one that doesn’t require equipment is the 300 yard Shuttle. Run 25 yards up and back 12 times. Rest 3 minutes and repeat 2-4 times.


10 Habits of Healthy and Fit People:


“I am all about creating habits that can last long term when it comes to burning fat, building muscle and sustaining this over a period of time. Below are my top 10 habits of healthy and fit people.”

10 Habits of Healthy and Fit People

1.They primarily drink water.

2.They make exercise a part of their life for the long-term.

3.They eat an adequate amount of fruit and vegetables.

4.They make getting stronger a priority.

5.They eat more foods on the higher quality end of the continuum.

6.They don’t eat perfect.

7.They skip workouts, but never totally get out of it. They maintain repeatable workouts that they can do for the rest of their life. They don’t go to the extreme all of the time. Remember the 9/2/1 rule?

8.They get adequate sleep each night.

9.They eat an adequate amount of protein.

10.They develop habits, don’t diet, and don’t try every “next best” workout or supplement every time something hits the mainstream.

“Healthy and fit people are not perfect. They just create habits that they can maintain for a lifetime.”

grinnelltraining.com | Twitter: @JustinGrinnell4


What’s the smallest change you’ve made in your life that gave you the best results?


“Getting a resistance band. 3 x 10 pullaparts, 5 dislocates while you’re watching TV does a lot for shoulder health/Oly lifts.” — Submitted via Twitter

livehard.co.uk | Twitter: @JoelSnape


One of our awesome devoted followers on Twitter had this to say about lifestyle changes: “My hips are real stiff all the time. It’s a struggle to put socks on… knees have always been bad but lately worse with football. Might go lighter on extensions and do a much longer warm-up/pre-exhaust leg routine from now on. Stretch more, etc.” — Submitted via Twitter

Twitter: @mattpardy21


When it comes to simple things that changed his lifestyle for the better, Stainthorpe simply says that “drinking more water…” will make a drastic difference. — Submitted via Twitter

fatherfitness.co.uk | Twitter: @FatherFitness

Avoid Workout Injury With 6 Simple Steps

We’ve all been there. We’re stoked to go to the gym and get our fitness on and then the inevitable happens: we hurt ourselves because we didn’t listen to the experts when the told us the important steps that are vital to avoiding injury while working out. Let’s avoid those pesky injuries by following these simple steps that are sure to help you leave the gym feeling amazing and accomplished (and not limping)!

#1.Practice Proper Warm-Ups

Proper warm-ups before any kind of workout will help ensure that you conduct a safe exercise routine while enhancing your performance and ultimately avoiding injury in the process. A warm-up routine should include a cycle of dynamic exercises that help activate your muscles, improve your range-of-motion, and increase blood flow/body heat. Try spending 10-15 minutes warming up with some high-rep, low-intensity, and quick paced exercises. Stretching is also vital to your overall health as well.

#2.Use The Correct Form & Technique

Using the wrong techniques and form when exercising can severely injure you and leave you unable to go the gym or participate in physical activity for months on end. In order to prevent such injuries you must practice proper technique when lifting and working out. It is very important to educate yourselves and make sure you have studied up on proper technique for every routine you perform. If you feel unsure about completing the rep correctly, it may be best to move on to something you know well. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this article from BodyBuilding.com on form and technique: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/likness25.htm

#3. Remember Safety First

It’s also incredibly important to make sure you are taking safety precautions when exercising. For example, when lifting, make sure you have a good controlled spotter that knows how to help if you need it. Also follow the safety instructions on all equipment you use; it’s there for a reason!

#4. Don’t Lift Too Much Weight

You are putting yourself in a high-risk situation when you try to lift more weight than you should. If you know you cannot control or feel like you cannot control the weights you are using, it is better to stop and find something lighter rather than push through with heavy equipment that could leave you severely injured.

#5. Don’t Work Out Too Often (Overtraining)

Contrary to what you might believe, training at the gym too often can actually hurt you rather than help you. If you are overtraining, chances are you might be seeing as much progress as you would have hoped! You wouldn’t want that, now would you? The standard healthy number is to train 3-4 times a week and for no longer than an hour at a time. Fitness author and blogger Mark Sisson knows a thing or two about overtraining and discusses his take on it here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/overtraining/#axzz3…

#6. Proper Nutrition Is Key

In order to stay healthy and feel like your hard work is paying off, you must also incorporate exceptional eating habits into your everyday life. Eating healthy is not that hard and finding a good balance and routine that fits you best may take some time, but it will be worth it in the end.

The Ultimate ​Beginner’s Guide to Building Strength – Safely and Quickly

Despite what you may have heard, and hoped, there are no secrets to building strength. This process takes a lot of work and dedication, but it, thankfully, relies on well tested and understood principles. We’ve put together this guide so that you don’t have to go searching all around the internet to find answer to your questions. You’ll find a compilation of some of the greatest resources on the web to help you get started with weightlifting and naturally achieve the success that you want.

Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

Benefits

Strength training isn’t just about gaining strength; it’s about become a healthy and happier person overall. If you’re still on the fence about weightlifting, check out this guide from Everyday Health on the additional benefits you can gain: 7 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Workout Routine. These 7 reasons include the obvious — gain strength, but also some lesser known benefits such as weight loss, flexibility, and mental health.

Making and Reaching Goals

People who set (and write down) specific goals are far more likely to reach them than those that go at strength training with the vague idea of “becoming stronger.” At Fitness Health 101, they’ve put together one of the best guides to goal setting we’ve seen here at Fitness Weights. Their guide includes explanations of long and short terms goals, guidelines for setting goals, and even a sample goal chart. Use their advice and you’ll find your strength gains will be jumping ahead faster than you could have hoped: Defining and Setting Your Personal Goals.

Rewarding Yourself to Stay Motivated

Setting your goals is one of the biggest steps to take on your journal to a strong and fit body, and your primary rewards will be the feeling of accomplishment you receive as you meet and beat these goals. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with some external motivation. Planning rewards to match your goals can be a great way to keep motivated and on track. Weight Lifting Complete offers this advice on rewards.

Table of Contents

All trainers agree that what you eat matters at least as much as the training you’re doing when it comes to weightlifting. Weightlifters don’t tend to “diet,” instead the concern is getting the proper nutrients in the proper quantities. Unfortunately, exactly what those quantities are is under debate. Protein, carbohydrates, and fats all play an important role in providing your body the necessary materials to gain strength. How Stuff Works offers a simple overview on nutrition that makes some of the dense guides out there a little easier to follow: How to Form an Eating Plan for Weight Lifting.

Strong Lifts offers more suggestions on what types of foods you should be eating for specific meals, but limits the examination of calories.Simple Nutrition Rules to Get Stronger and Build Muscle.

For some in depth examples of calorie intake based on body weight, Muscle and Fitness put together a Hyper Growth Meal Plan that you can check out (make sure you click through the full guide to find the suggested meal breakdowns).

Table of Contents

Now that you understand a little about nutrition and have some idea of how to set goals it’s time to figure out which program and lifting routines will work best for you. Most good programs have similar setups in terms of the lifting and schedules, but there are some variations between them.

Most quality weight lifting programs recommend a 3 day full body split — which means working out three nonconsecutive days a week with full body workouts each time.

Here are three of the best weight training programs that we have seen online.

Strong Lifts: Possibly the best free program available for rapid strength gains. Mehdi, who runs the site, provides an amazing training program and in-depth information on every facet of his program. If you like to understand what you’re doing and enjoy reading this is without a doubt the place to start.

Starting Strength: One of the best books on the market for beginning weightlifters. While not free, this program is easy to understand and provides plenty of information to keep you moving forward and away from plateaus.

A Workout Routine: Another great source of information. This program doesn’t offer quite as much information for free as Strong Lifts, but has some great guides for beginners and advanced lifters, as well as offering a couple downloadable guides for purchase.

Table of Contents

When it comes to the weight room in your gym, just identifying all of the equipment is a hurdle. The folks over at Cody put together a handy little guide to help you know what it is you’re looking at. Fitness 101: A guide to the Weightlifting Room.

If you’re following any of the three programs above and want to set up a home gym there’s only a few pieces of equipment that you’ll really be using regularly: the power rack, Olympic barbell, plates, and your bench. For some recommendations on shopping for your home gym check out this guide from End of Three Fitness: How to Shop for and Buy Good Barbells, Bumper Plates, etc…

Regardless of where you’re lifting you’ll also want to consider your shoes and whether you want to use a belt.

Power Racks: Are the most frequently overlooked tools by beginners and the most valued one by experienced lifters. If you don’t have a power rack you shouldn’t be lifting. Period. First and foremost, they provide safety. Because they allow you to lift safely you can work with greater weights than you otherwise could, which limits the chance of hitting a plateau. They can also be used to train specific problem areas. Your Power Rack Questions Answered.

Olympic Barbell: The Olympic barbell is a 45lbs metal pole. If you’re shopping for a home gym you do want to buy quality here. A cheaply made barbell can bend under greater weight, not provide the right grip, or simple wear poorly over time. Olympic Barbell Review and Shopping Guide.

Plates: If you’re buying an Olympic weight set generally you’re getting the barbell and plates together, though you can opt to buy them separately if you wish. Quality Olympic weights will last well beyond your lifetime and compared to the costs of a gym membership can certainly be viewed as an investment. Olympic Weight Set Review.

Bench: There are a couple important aspects to consider when it comes to benches. Your bench should be versatile to allow you to do several different workouts with it. It should also be stable and able to handle a great deal of weight. If you’re 200lbs and start lifting 200lbs you’re going to start wondering whether your bench with a max weight of 500lbs is going to hold up for you. If you’re in the position to be setting up your home gym, quality and dependability is the way to go. Choosing Between All the Different Weight Lifting Benches.


Shoes
: Your shoes matter more than you might believe. You don’t need to go right out and buy a pair of weightlifting shoes, but you do need a flat uncushioned sole. Avoid running shoes at all costs when lifting. Weightlifting Shoes: Why You Need a Pair, What to Look For, and When to Wear Them.

Belts: Weightlifting belts tend to elicit nearly as much debate as nutrition does among weightlifters. Some experts suggest them as a way to avoid injury and push your performance higher, while others have said belts can actually be detrimental. The debate rages on even here at Fitness Weights so we encourage you to read up on potential risks and rewards so that you can make an informed decision.

For: Choosing the Right Belt for Powerlifting.

Against:
Weight Lifting Belts: To Wear or Not to Wear.

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We mentioned before that Medhi at StrongLifts provides great free resources on his site and we weren’t kidding. He has written the most detailed descriptions we’ve seen anywhere online for each exercise in his program. For each exercise below we’ve included a link to his guide as well as a video that shows off the proper form and technique. Despite these resources we still encourage that anyone starting a weight training program work with a certified trainer to make certain you are lifting with the proper form and minimizing your risk of injury. All the videos and descriptions in the world don’t make up for the eye of an experienced lifter helping you when you’re starting out.

Squat: If you see a strength training program that doesn’t include squats, skip it. Squats are the core of any good workout. While it does focus primarily on the legs and lower body, it is a great compound exercise that still includes the core, back, and even the arms and chest. Video

Bench press: The most well known strength training technique, and for a reason. Like the squat for the lower body, the bench press is an amazing compound exercise, working multiple muscles in your upper body. Make sure you watch the video and read Medhi’s guide. While a common exercise, many people (even some trainers) do this wrong and are risking injury and pain to the shoulders. Video

Deadlift: Another great compound exercise. The deadlift targets most major muscle groups and along with the squat is a great “real world” exercise, in that it will aid you in many regular activities you perform in your life. Video

Overhead press: While the focus here is on the upper body, the overhead press is still a great leg workout based on balance, stability, and strength. Ultimately though, this exercise will build strong shoulders and arms. Video

Barbell Row: Another great way to target multiple muscle groups. The focus here is on the arms, but this will also build strength in the upper and lower back as well as the hips. Video

Pull-ups: (And chin-ups) work the shoulders and arms, particularly the biceps and triceps. Chin-ups focus on biceps while pull-ups work the biceps more. These are both great exercises that show quick strength gains. Video

Dips: A similar workout to push-ups, the dip though engages the entire body weight, and is easy to add weight to as well. This is an arm targeted exercise, and like the pull-ups tends to make quick early gains. Video

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With the training programs we mentioned working out on nonconsecutive days. The reason for this is to provide at least one full day of rest before weight training workouts. You’ll hear time and again if you stick with weight training — “muscle doesn’t build while you’re training, it builds while you’re resting.” You can read about this process in detail in the next chapter, The Science of Strength. Whether you read about the science or not just know that if you’re not resting your not gaining strength. Breaking Muscle will take you step by step through the recovery process with their guide “How Much Recovery Do You Need?” And Jeff Behar has put together a great article over at BodyBuilding.com to walk you through what overtraining is and how to avoid it: “Rest and Overtraining.”

If you still don’t believe us though here are some common objections to adequate rest:

My friend has been training everyday and he’s lifting more and more.

This is a common occurrence with beginners. Your friend might be lifting more, but that’s not because of muscle growth. Strength training, like anything is a skill. The more you do it the better you’ll be at it. The first gains you make in weightlifting have nothing to do with strength and everything to do with skill. Overdoing it at the start will prevent you from making greater gains in the future.

I don’t feel sore or tired after working out:

Not being tired is fine, but if you’re not sore the next day then you haven’t strained your muscles enough to promote strength gains. Your muscles only gain strength when they’re forced to. That said — don’t jump ahead in your program. The early stages of weight training are about learning how to lift correctly so that when you do go heavier you’re ready for it. Laying a proper foundation at the beginning means you’re less likely to hit plateaus later on, and trust me, slow gains in the beginner are far preferable to later plateaus.

Bodybuilders train everyday and they’re really strong.

Yep, they are. Don’t ever let someone tell you a bodybuilder isn’t strong. But the way they’re training is vastly different from you. Bodybuilders train individual muscles in isolation. Their training regimes include rest days for specific muscle groups because their training allows for this. They also tend to rely on drugs and supplements to increase size and reduce the need for rest between workouts.

I JUST REALLY WANT TO WORKOUT EVERYDAY!

That’s great! Let’s be clear, when we say rest between your workouts here what we’re talking about is resting your muscles between strength training. You can workout on days that you’re not strength training, just make sure you avoid stressing your muscles. Cardio on your off days is fine, as long as you’re taking in enough calories to offset both.

Table of Contents

Building strength started out as a trial and error process, but over the years countless studies have been done that have pulled back the curtains and identified the exact process the body goes through to build strength. Muscle for Life has put together a great guide on the four laws of muscle growth based on these studies. First Law: Muscles grow only if they’re forced to; Second Law: Muscles grow from overload; Third Law: Muscles grow outside of the gym; Fourth Law: Muscles grow only if they’re properly fed. We’ve already covered rest and nutrition in this guide (laws 3 and 4), so we’re most interested in the first two laws for this section.

If your read the muscle for life guide, you know that muscles grow after experiencing micro-tears. For strength training the process that happens is that you lift more weight than your body is used to handling. Your muscles — because they’re not used to this weight — end up being damaged. The body heals this damage but to avoid experiencing this same damage in the future it adds density to the muscle fiber, which makes it stronger. This process is called hypertrophy and it takes a couple days to complete (and must be repeated several times to build any noticeable increase in strength).

This buildup of muscle tissue is why strength training programs continual have you add weight to your lifts. After you’ve built up stronger muscle tissue it won’t need to strain to lift the weight it used to. If it’s not straining it doesn’t have any reason to grow any stronger. For an incredibly detailed academic understanding of hypertrophy check out this guide from Strength and Conditioning Research.

Eat Clean & Train Mean: What You Need To Know

Clean eating is a simple task that requires awareness about what food you are eating. This means paying attention to where your food comes from and what has happened to it along the way. Clean eating urges participants to eat food in its most natural state or as close to that as possible. This allows less room for processed foods and unwanted additives to make it into your meals each day. Clean eating is not just a diet, in fact, it is far more than that… it is a conscious lifestyle change. Changing your lifestyle and sticking with a healthy eating plan will only bring you amazing results and benefits if you have the right mindset and willpower to stick with it.

When participating in the decision to eat clean, processed foods are your worst nightmare. Finding foods that are natural and nutritious are your best bet to success and overall great health. Some people tend to think that vegetables are no fun to eat because they have little flavor but that is far from the truth! With some simple research you will find that there are many ways to bring out the full potential of flavor in your healthy foods. The end result will make you much happier and leave you feeling much better than the Big Mac meal from McDonald’s will. Clean eating and healthy food will help you feel good after eating and not weighed down by grease, fats, and extra amounts of sodium from other bad foods.

You’ve heard it before and you will definitely hear it again: limit your sugar intake. White sugars in your baked goods, sweets, and coffee shop frappuccinos are your enemy and you should steer clear of them whenever humanly possible. A little here and there will not kill you, but it’s always a good a idea to knock a bad habit out of your life as soon as possible. Natural sugars that come from fruits will not be detrimental to your clean eating plan and you should consume these when possible because they are beneficial to you. Here is a list of great natural sugar substitutes for your clean eating lifestyle change.

Make sure you are taking a look at high-sodium foods and leaving them on the shelf because they will not be helping you in any way, shape, or form. By staying away from too much salt you will significantly decrease your risk for cardiovascular (heart disease), strokes, and much more.

Drinking caffeine while you are eating clean is ok but there are some concerns and restrictions that should be considered. A cup of coffee or tea is not frowned upon but you shouldn’t overdo it with your intake of caffeinated beverages. Too much of these types of drinks can actually spike your anxiety and stress, therefore, unravel the hard work you’ve done so far in your clean eating journey.

Making sure you drink an adequate amount of water every single day is not only vital to your clean eating plan but vital to your overall health. Water is incredibly important because it hydrates your body and fuels it in order to get things done. A rule of thumb is to make sure that you are drinking 2 liters of water every day. This will help you stay full longer and eat less often as well.

You’ve been told that alcohol is just a bunch of empty calories and I am here to tell you that it is TRUE. Add massive sugar amounts to empty calories and you get into the danger zone. Not. a. fun. place. to. be. Sure, a drink every now and then is fine, but like with caffeine consumption, it’s important to not overdo it.

Label reading will be very beneficial to you and it is something that cannot be ignored if you want to find success in your personalized clean eating plan. Try to be on the lookout for organic, green, low calorie, low-sodium foods because they will benefit you the most! Consider whole grains when purchasing pasta, bread, and tortillas; they are a healthier alternative when shopping for the foods you love. You can find a great clean eating grocery list here for future reference.

Yes, there is even such a thing as healthy fats! Your good fats to consume are: olive oil, almond oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and palm oil. If you can, try to stay away from canola and soybean oil.

*Tip: Try blending some fresh brewed coffee with coconut oil and unsalted grass-fed butter for a brain boosting caffeine spike each morning. Click here for the bulletproof coffee recipe; it’s genius!

Train mean. It sounds like exactly what it is. You must work hard if you want to see results and feel healthier. If you’ve never exercised regularly before, “training mean” will not be your first step, but it can be a step you work up to in the future. You have to start somewhere, so starting with a standard exercise plan tailored to you and your body specifically will be a great place to set your feet in the beginning.

Need more info? What exactly does “train mean” mean?

What it means is that you have to amp up your workout routine and prepare yourself to kick some extra butt each and every day. If you’ve been doing the same standard routine for months on end, this will be the perfect time to mix up your exercises and challenge yourself with something new and more intense. New workouts, heavier weights, a different fitness class, etc. These are all ideas you can consider when making the commitment to work harder than ever before.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is key to some mean training and you should be doing everything you can to make yourself sweat! HIIT is great if you don’t have much time to workout but can squeeze in 15 minutes or so at least 3 times a week. You will burn more fat working out this way and have a healthier heart. Why wouldn’t you want to do this!? What else is good about HIIT workouts? You don’t need any special equipment–you just need your body. Another great factor with HIIT is that you will keep your muscles and if you are losing weight, it will most likely be coming from where your fat is stored and not somewhere detrimental such as your muscle areas.

Although HIIT is super challenging, it will be worth your time and commitment, especially if you are changing your lifestyle for good and attempting to get yourself into the best shape of your life. BodyBuilding has a great guide to HIIT workouts here that would be beneficial to read and get some ideas from.

A Revolution For New Year’s Resolutions [Infographic]

New Year’s is a time for celebration. It’s when we reflect on the past year, and look forward to the future, filled with joy and excitement. We gather with friends and family, sing Auld Lang Syne, watch the ball drop, and make lofty declarations of future change and success. Mixed in with all the laughter, fireworks, glitter and champagne, we develop a sense of grandeur and invincibility. All that before seemed daunting now seems conquerable, and we become convinced that we will wake up the next morning a whole new person, with motivation that will last all year.

We all want change. Whether it’s career development, improved health, giving up a bad habit, or starting a new adventure, there’s always something we are grasping at. New Year’s tends to be the culmination of all these goals. We say, “This is the year!” Of the 40% of Americans who set New Year’s resolutions, though, only about 8% actually see their goals come to fruition. Why? There are some common barriers to success. This infographic (originally published on PowerRacksNow.com) will help you find out what roadblocks you may encounter, and how you can beat them and become part of the coveted 8% this coming year. If you have trouble viewing the image, you can find the information in the text below.

Another new year is right around the corner, and it’s that special time when people get invigorated (perhaps more than any other time) to make self improvements and set ridiculously high, unplanned goals for themselves as they turn a new page.

Unfortunately for many of us, these goals are short lived, and instead of experiencing the joy and benefits from succeeding, we spiral down and perceive ourselves as failures, and sometimes this lingers on until the next new year. It doesn’t have to be this way, however, and all that momentum can still go to good use.

With a little bit of planning and understanding, this infographic from Powerracksnow.com can help you understand how to set yourself up for a victory into the new year.

WHY PEOPLE FAIL

#1 Unrealistic Expectations

Problem: When setting New Year’s resolutions, some people expect to wake up a completely different person come January 1st. All the energy and hopes for the New Year gets misdirected into a massive goal. Massive change doesn’t happen overnight, though, and many people aren’t able to live up to their expectations.

Strategy: The higher the goal, the higher the chance for failure. Try setting smaller, more realistic milestones on the path towards your overall goal. Working towards these small milestones will give you a much higher rate of success. Be sure to regulate and reevaluate from milestone to milestone, and adjust your goals as needed.

#2 Lack of Planning

Problem: Major change requires major preparation. You can’t expect to accomplish a major goal without having an execution plan. It requires an understanding of yourself and an understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. People who dive in without a strategy or working knowledge are setting themselves up for failure.

Step One: Understand Yourself

Is this goal realistic for you? Knowing your own personality, strengths, and limitations is vital to your success.

More Than Your Skills, It’s Your Belief In Yourself That Matters

“Perceived self-efficacy is concerned not with the number of skills you have, but with what you believe you can do with what you have under a variety of circumstances.” ~Albert Bandura

Step Two: Understand Your Goal

What Is Motivating You?

Are you motivated by a desire for personal growth, or some outside influencer, such as a desire for a better job or a higher salary? If your goal is coming from a desire for a sense of achievement, you are much more likely to succeed. People getting their motivation from an outside source tend to be less invested in achieving their goal, and give up more quickly.

Intrinsic Motivation: Intrinsic motivation comes from within yourself, aligns with your values and beliefs, and stems from a desire for personal growth and a sense of achievement.

Extrinsic Motivation: Extrinsic motivation comes from an outside source, such as the desire for a better job or an increase in salary — the resolution is a stepping stone to your real goal.

What Will It Take?

What kind of sacrifices and investments are you going to need to make this change? Do your research. What have other people done to succeed? Research shouldn’t be boring. Take a real interest in your goal. The more that it matters to you, and the more you know about it, the more likely you are to see it through.

What Does The Future Hold?

Visualization: Think about how your life will improve or diminish with this goal. Picturing future consequences is a great motivator, and will help prepare you for all possible outcomes.

#3 Human Psychology

Problem: When people face small setbacks, their initial response is often to throw in the towel. While small successes may increase our motivation to keep going by a little, small failures decrease our motivation to keep going by A LOT. Just a little failure has been proven to be detrimental to people’s success. Obstacles, challenges, and hardships MUST be expected to arise. Don’t be thrown off course when failure arises.

Strategy: Don’t think of your goals as work. No one likes work, and unless you’re getting paid for it, you’re likely to quit. Instead, create and keep the perspective that your goals are fun. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick with it.

Strategy: Just like a small goal is easier to achieve than a huge one, bite-sized hardships are far easier to deal with than massive obstacles. Deal with small setbacks as they come along — don’t let those little hardships pile up to become one huge obstacle.

Strategy: Don’t be afraid to seek help. Sometimes it takes others to help you over a hurdle. This could be a conversation, education, learning a skill, or whatever else you may need to move forward.

Sources:

Albert Bandura, Statistic Brain Research Institute, Özgür Za

5 Ways to Get Over Gymtimidation

Gymtimidation: The fear of workout out at a gym because you’re intimidated by the equipment and/or the ripped, toned bodies present.

Many of us have felt gymtimidation at some point in our lives. Not only is it an awful feeling, it can be detrimental to our health and our strength. For many people, gymtimidation is so strong that it keeps them out of a gym completely, and unfortunately, out of an exercise routine.

If you’re committed to a healthier, stronger lifestyle, then you need to get your butt to the gym. Say goodbye to gymtimidation and hello to a strong, healthy you with these five tips.

Participate in group exercise

Group exercise is defined as an exercise performed by a group of individuals led by an instructor. Most gyms and rec centers offer a variety of exercise classes to their members. Participating in one of these classes is a great way to learn how to use the equipment, make friends, and gain confidence in your workout routine.

What I love most about group exercise is that there are so many class options to choose from. From kickboxing to spinning to muscle conditioning, you can choose classes that best fit your interests.

If you’re like me, group exercise may be a bit intimidating. Yes, some of the other people in the class may be in better shape than you, but chances are the majority of people in the class are just average Janes. So step out of your comfort zone and join a class.

Bring a workout buddy

partnerHaving a workout buddy is beneficial for many reasons. (Note: It may help to have a workout buddy with similar goals as you.) If you choose someone who is reliable and motivated, they will help motivate you to stick to your exercise plans and achieve your goals. And on days when they’re feeling unmotivated? You can be the boost of motivation they need.

Workout buddies can also help you focus on yourself instead of the other people in the gym. When you have a workout buddy, you know at least one other person in the gym isn’t a gym master, so your gymtimidation will decrease. Plus, trying new equipment with a partner — someone you know — is much easier, and less intimidating, than figuring out the equipment on your own.

A workout buddy will make exercise fun and encourage healthy competition. Being able to laugh, compete, and encourage one another can be very motivating. You’ll start looking forward to your time in the gym every day.

Start small

If you’ve been out of the gym for a while, the best way to start building an exercise routine is by starting out small. What does that mean? Start with what you know — this is generally some form of cardio for most people. Get yourself into the gym and hop on the treadmill or the elliptical. Do it for 10 or 15 minutes every day and slowly work your way up. Every other day add some weight lifting and strength training exercises. Again, start with what you know. If you’re more comfortable with free weights, do those before you start messing with weight machines.

Slowly build upon your routine as you go along. Set goals for yourself. You may start by doing 10 minutes of cardio every day and 10 minutes of strength training every other day. Add 5 minutes to each of those every week until you hit a comfortable workout time. (But don’t get too comfortable, you should be pushing yourself to reach your goals.)

As you spend more time in the gym, you will gain confidence in the equipment you are using. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new strength training exercises or cardio machines. Watch other people in the gym to see how they are using free weights and machines. Get to know your gym’s instructors and trainers. Have them teach you how to use new equipment.

Go when there are fewer people

Smaller numbers of people means fewer reasons to be intimidated. For most gyms, high traffic times are early mornings before work and early evenings after work. But not every gym is this way. Talk with the gym instructors to find out when your gym sees the least amount of traffic.

If you belong to a 24-hour gym, try going late at night when most people are at home. You may even get the gym to yourself so you can rock out to your music and exercise to your heart’s content.

For those of you who don’t have a gym yet, shop around. What does your schedule look like? Find a gym with open hours that fit with your work or school schedule.

Dress comfortably

If there’s one thing that can make a great workout a miserable experience, it’s your clothing. Whether you prefer skin tight, flexible clothing or loose clothing, you need to wear something that is comfortable and easy to move in. Wearing clothing that restricts your movements will impede your workout and increase your discomfort. If you find yourself constantly adjusting your clothing, try wearing something else.

Some other things to consider when you choose your workout clothes aremoisture wicking fabrics and supportive shoes. Many people wear 100% cotton clothing because it’s regarded as cool and comfortable. Unfortunately, cotton absorbs moisture, keeping it close to your skin as you work out. Quick-drying synthetic fibers or lightweight, moisture wicking fabrics are optimal. And please retire your clothing when the smell no longer comes out of it.

As for shoes, you should be wearing supportive, comfortable shoes that haven’t been worn out. This is essential for joint and overall body support no matter which activity you choose to participate in. Professional trainers suggest replacing your shoes every 500 miles. For occasional runners, this means you need a new pair of shoes every year. For more active runners, you should be replacing your shoes every three to six months.

Some final tips: don’t wear jewelry, as it can get in the way of your equipment and movement. Wear a supportive sports bra and retire it when it gets old. Don’t wear clothing that is too baggy or too tight. Overly baggy clothes can snag in machines. Too tight clothes can be uncomfortable, limit your range of motion, and may be too revealing.