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A Practical Guide To Level Up Your Exercise Routine

A Practical Guide To Level Up Your Exercise Routine

When you started working out as a beginner, your ultimate goal was probably building a consistent exercise routine. Of course, it’s one of the best habits to have since consistency is an essential element of discipline. But once your body has adapted to what you’re doing and reached a certain level of fitness, any change may be necessary.

Locking into your established workout routine for a long time can set you up to a plateau, demotivation, and even burnout. Note that you’re likely to see a decrease in performance when you experience any of these things. By all means, you would not want that to happen after working so hard on your fitness goals.

Thus, if you’re beginning to lose interest and focus during your workouts, it’s most likely one of the indicators that you need to switch things up. So, here is a practical guide to level up your exercise routine.


Make An Assessment

Before making any changes, it’s essential to assess where you are right now and what you’re currently doing in terms of your fitness goals. Are there any significant improvements? Or are you getting the same results? Do you want to see better changes in your body? Take the time to look at the areas where you excel and need some progress.

You may want to consider the following factors when making an assessment.

Nutrition

Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, or get a ripped body, you must evaluate what you’re currently eating. Many people struggle with nutrition, which has a great impact on their bodies. Remember that what you’re feeding yourself can either build or ruin your fitness goals.

If you think this is one of your weak areas, you may visit websites like BarBend.com to give an idea of what other nutrients are a good addition to your diet.

Exercise

It’s also important to assess what exercise routines you are already doing and your progress in each of them. Are you performing endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises? Or are you only focusing on one type of training or workout?

Besides assessing the forms of exercise you’re doing, you may also have to consider the following aspects:

  • How hard are you working out?
  • How often are you doing the exercise?
  • And how long are you exercising?

Get a NEW Workout Program >>


Make Necessary Changes

Once you’re able to get an assessment of your current nutrition and exercise plan, it’s easier for you to make the necessary changes. That said, you have to adjust your goals and apply new steps to acquire the fitness level you desire.

Change Your Exercises

When you do the same exercises repeatedly, your mind space out as your body goes through the familiar patterns. As a result, you may experience boredom and eventually reach a plateau. That’s why adding variety to your exercise routine is the first alteration you may have to make if you want to level up.

Besides performing unilateral exercises, you may use something unstable like a ball or foam roller to add a challenge to your balance training. You can also do two exercises at once, such as squatting with an overhead press.

Varying your workout can help you stay physically challenged. But change it up based on your experience level and training cycle.

Change Your Frequency

How often you should do your routines depends on the type of training you’re doing and the goal you want to achieve. Let’s say you’re weightlifting, and your goal is to be fit and strong. You may stick with two or three days of bodyweight workouts every week. However, you may have to lift every day if you want to build lots of muscle.

When your goal is building up, it would always make sense to increase the frequency or the number of days you work out in a week. But then again, it’s advisable to change the number of workouts you have each week occasionally to prevent adaptation. For instance, you usually do four workouts per week. You can then try doing three workouts if you have hit a plateau.

Change Your Intensity

Another way to level up your exercise routine is to change your intensity. It’s basically how hard you are working out. Remember that intensity has nothing to do with how difficult or easy your workout session is. But it’s more of how much weight you lift in comparison with your reps.

If you notice you can do more reps than before, try to increase your workout intensity. You can do it by moving faster, adding vertical challenge, increasing resistance, cross-training, or interval training.

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is necessary to level up your exercise routine to the next level. However, be mindful not to overdo it.

Learn Proper Recovery Techniques >>

Change Your Workout Length

How long you should workout is a personal preference. But in order to make more consistent gains, you can alternative your workout length from time to time.

If you also want to increase your fitness level, you may try to work out six to nine hours a week. However, you must pay attention to how you feel before, during, and after every workout.

Change Your Diet

Fueling your body with essential nutrients is part of leveling up your exercise routine. Keep in mind that your body needs a certain amount and type of food to work out at an optimal level. Your muscles also need it to recover after doing a lot of physical activity. Taking supplements is a good thing to add to your diet plan to level up your fitness routine and performance.


Takeaway

There is no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to taking your exercise routine to the next level. It depends on a number of factors, such as your current progress and desired fitness goals. But learning how to pay attention to how your body responds is of the utmost importance.

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How Muscle Imbalance Affects Your Workout Routine & How to Fix It

How Muscle Imbalance Affects Your Workout Routine & How to Fix It

What happens when you get muscle imbalances, and how does it impact your workout? Learn what you can do to fix muscle imbalance to get the most out of your workout routine.

The Easy Way to Find and Fix Muscle Imbalances

When you put in time in at the gym, you want to see positive results. All that hard work should reward you with a good physique. But sometimes you could run into an obstacle such as muscle imbalance. Although fixable, this is a condition that makes it difficult to reach your fitness goals on time.

You can also use muscle recovery supplements to reach your goals faster, but this is a whole new topic for discussion.

Once you notice some muscle imbalance symptoms, it’s important to fix them ASAP. And here we will teach you how to do it.

What is Muscle Imbalance?

Before we address how to fix muscle imbalance, it’s important to know what this is, exactly. Muscle imbalance is a condition when a muscle (or muscle group) on one side of the body is bigger, weaker, and/or smaller than the one on the other side.

While this condition can develop anywhere on your body, the most common types of muscle imbalance are Upper and Lower Crossed Syndrome.

  • Upper Crossed Syndrome occurs on your upper body – with shoulder, neck, and chest muscles.
  • Lower Crossed Syndrome follows the same logic – it’s when you have an imbalance of lower body muscles. The most common one is in the pelvic area.

Muscle Imbalance Causes

There are a lot of causes of muscle imbalance. But the most common one is when you train one muscle group while neglecting the other. For example, doing more reps on dumbbell curls with a strong arm could cause muscle imbalances between the weaker and stronger arm. So it’s always important to incorporate a workout routine, that helps you to balance upper and lower body workout to develop a proportionate physique.

You could also suffer muscle imbalances because of bad posture, inactivity, natural development, or exercising with improper form.

How Muscle Imbalances Affect Your Workout Routine

Strengthening your muscles is beneficial. But if you focus on specific areas and neglect others – that is when you may suffer from muscle imbalances. And this condition is a lot more serious than you might think. Because muscle imbalance can affect posture and lead to limited mobility. If several muscle groups are not functioning efficiently, the imbalance can change the joint path of motion. This places you at risk of injury while lifting heavy objects or during routine workouts.

Shortened muscles can alter joint movements and cause difficulties that prevent you from fully extending and using your muscles. This means your joints don’t get the support they need to stay healthy. You may also experience muscle imbalance causing the pain, because of shortened hip flexors, which cause knee and low back pain.

There’s an increased risk of injury, which includes damage to tendons, connective tissue, muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints. Besides, imbalances in your muscles are a rather cosmetical issue too, that can affect your self-esteem and confidence.

How to Spot Muscle Imbalances

Muscle imbalance diagnosis is easy. The first type of imbalance you can notice is asymmetry. Grab a measuring tape and compare your muscles. Also, take some time to analyze the connection between your lower and upper halves and the front and back muscles to spot flaws. it’s also a good idea to take pictures from different angles. If you have a muscle imbalance, it will usually be visible.

How to Prevent Muscle Imbalances

You can prevent muscle imbalance by incorporating a workout program, based on compound exercises that build your entire body. But overall the best way to avoid muscle imbalance is to work on every area of your body. Don’t obsess about building huge muscles in a single area! If you’re doing lunges or lifting weights, always do the same amount of reps on either side.


How to Fix Muscle Imbalances

In order to avoid and fix muscle imbalances, it’s useful to remember several tips that will help you battle it:

1 – Unilateral Exercises

Unilateral exercises are probably the best muscle imbalance treatment. These are single-leg or arm movements, that ensure that each side of your body works as hard without your dominant muscle aiding the weaker side. The main benefit of these exercises is the fact that you’re using both sides of the body equally.

2 – Begin With the Weaker Side

Naturally, one side of your body will be dominant. You’ll favor the stronger side even without knowing because it feels easier for you. So if you’re right-handed, your right side will usually be dominant and vice versa. But always try to prioritize your weaker side, if you wish to avoid and fix muscle imbalance problem. It will also protect you from any muscle imbalances that might occur.

3 – Use Your Weaker Side to Set Workout Volume

If you choose to train the dominant side first, the weaker side will struggle to keep up. The best solution is to use your weaker side to set the workload. Starting on your weaker side helps you determine the amount of work your stronger side will do. This in turn stops the dominant side from outworking the other side. If you want to do 4 sets of 10 reps on lunges and the weaker side can only handle 7, that’s the number your stronger side should do as well, even if you can do more with it.

Always strive for balance.

4 – Perform Additional Workout on Your Weaker Side

Balancing the load of work on both sides is not enough to address the existing problem. You must also do additional workouts on the weaker side. Exercises, such as muscle imbalance stretches, will help you fix the proportional imbalances.

Increase workout load on the weaker side, or reduce the workout load on your dominant side, if you wish to maintain the same routine. An extra workout on the troubled area of the body will speed up recovery.

5 – Fix the Underlying Issue

Every problem has an origin, so if you fix your muscle imbalances and forget about what caused them, you might be back there sooner. While all these strategies will fix your muscle imbalance, you should explore other possibilities. Maybe your technique is wrong, or you’re not focused enough. Also, you could be struggling with flexibility or mobility, making it difficult to perform certain workouts.

For example, limited mobility on one shoulder can affect your shoulder and bench press workout and result in one side taking more work than the other. Once you identify the underlying problem, improve your mobility and flexibility around that area to prevent the imbalance from coming back.


Conclusion

Muscle imbalances are a part of the workout process. Ignoring them could lead to injuries since both your posture and flexibility are affected. Besides, you don’t want to be lifting weights when your body cannot maintain the perfect proportion you require to stay on your feet.

Before you get started fixing your muscle imbalances, probe your condition to understand the underlying problem, which you must address first, then embrace a workout routine that ensures balanced input between the weaker and dominant sides of your body.

And that’s all there is to it! Hopefully, we managed to answer all your questions regarding muscle imbalance, and how you can fix it.

Do you have additional tips to share? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to know!

More on Fixing Joint Pain and Correcting Muscular Imbalances >>


Author’s bio: The writer is Thomas Nemel. He is passionate about writing and enthusiastic about bodybuilding. In his spare time, he likes to ride his motorbike. Thomas always tries to engage people in healthy living through his writings.


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The Ultimate Guide for a Gluten Free Diet

The Ultimate Guide for a Gluten Free Diet

Starting a gluten free diet can be a bit awe-inspiring. All around the world, whole grain food is most preferred. However, some people have digestive issues like celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. So they have to avoid diets that contain gluten in rich quantities. And some people find it makes for a great weight loss diet!

But no matter your reason for starting a gluten free diet, with only a little effort and dedication, you can be well on your way to better digestive health and weight loss. All you need is a simple diet plan, like this one, to follow regularly. After which you may find a gluten-free diet is more enjoyable to you.

And in this ultimate guide for a gluten free diet, we have some great tips to help make gluten free eating easier for you!


What is Gluten?

Most people don’t really know what “gluten” is. So, first of all, let’s talk about it!

Gluten is a specific type of protein found abundantly in foods like barley, rye, oats, wheat, and spelt (remembered easily as B.R.O.W.S.).

Examples:

  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Oats
  • Beer

How to know if you are Gluten Intolerant or not?

Gluten intolerance has many symptoms. But diagnosing it on your own can be quite challenging. The reason being there is a broad range of inflammatory response that is caused by gluten intolerance. And most of them are internal or very subtle. So this systematic inflammatory response can never truly be diagnosed without medical testing.

However, the first step in diagnosing gluten intolerance, or some issue related to your villi, is determining if you have any symptoms of gluten-intolerance. Then, to officially diagnose gluten intolerance, you will need to take 2 more steps:

  1. Clinical testing
  2. Eliminating gluten from the diet for some time and reevaluate your symptoms

The same goes for diagnosing Celiac Disease.


What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an extreme form of Gluten Intolerance. And it is a condition that is triggered only by ingesting gluten.

When a person with Celiac Disease consumes gluten their intestines have an extreme inflammatory response, similar to other allergic reactions, and tries to fight off the unwanted proteins.

This mere consumption of gluten then causes damage to small intestines. And over time leads to loss of organ tissue and even organ failure. This internal damage also leads to the inability to absorb nutrients properly, eventually causing weakness.

Additionally, the long-standing utilization of a gluten-containing diet by people having celiac disease is susceptible to having everlasting health tribulations, such as:

  • Malnourishment
  • Malignancy
  • Other autoimmune circumstances
  • Reduced bone compactness

Generally, one out of a hundred people are susceptible to having a celiac disorder.

How long do you need to be on a gluten free diet to see noticeable results?

If you notice some of the symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you should go gluten-free for a minimum of two weeks.

However, for the complete elimination of the disorder, it is recommended to be on at it for almost three months. That is the correct time in which your villi come back to the normal state, and the small intestine restores usual health standards.


What you can’t eat on a Gluten-Free Diet

If you want to be on a gluten-free diet, then you need to know what is in everything you consume. To be gluten free, you cannot eat anything that contains barley, rye, oats, wheat, or spelt.

That means no:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Beer
  • Fried Chicken
  • Baked Goods
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal

*Unless they are Certified Gluten Free.

Though it may seem like there is a lot you can’t eat on a gluten free diet, there is far more you can eat. You just have to change your habits and find new things you like. That may be a gluten free version of your favorite baked good, pasta, or bread. Or it could be something new entirely!


Gluten-Free Foods

Here are all the healthy and enjoyable things you can eat on a gluten free diet!

  • Meat & Fish
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Dairy Products
  • Most Herbs & Spices
  • Beans & Legumes
  • Tofu

So, really, all you are doing on a gluten free diet is eliminating one unnecessary food group! Which then leaves more room for all the rest!

What is Tofu? And why you need a Super Tofu Press?

Tofu is a gluten free high protein and low-fat product that is created using soy milk. It is packed in the water, much like a sponge. And to get the original flavor of tofu, you need a super tofu press to drain out the extra water.

Tofu is highly recommended for people with gluten-intolerance due to its low fat and high protein content.


Fitness Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet

A gluten free diet can be very beneficial to anyone. Especially for those suffering from a celiac disorder.

Benefits of a Gluten Free Diet include:

  • Relieve digestive issues and even improve nutrient absorption
  • Cure constipation and diarrhea
  • Decrease gas and stomach bloating

The Final Word on Gluten Free Dieting

Today 1% of the general public has stomach issues, primarily associated with small intestine villi. And gluten intolerance is the main cause.

Starting a gluten free diet can help fix this issue for most people. And by doing so, you will be able to get a completely healthy intestine and stomach.

Just follow this ultimate guide for gluten free diet, and you are well on your way to a healthy body!

More Articles:

The Ketogenic Diet for Athletes: Main Pros and Cons >>

7 Unexpected Health Benefits of the Keto Diet >>

Diet & Nutrition Principles >>

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Sandbag Training | Using Sandbags For Strength Training

Sandbag Training

Using Sandbags For Strength Training

Using sandbags for strength training has been around for quite some time. But not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and traded their dumbbells for a burlap sandbag.

Besides being cheap to purchase (or making one yourself), sandbags offer several strength benefits that make it worthwhile in adding to your workout routine.

Here are a few examples…

Sandbag Training

Builds Core Strength

It’s always a good idea to strengthen your core muscles as much as you can. Core exercises strengthen your underlying muscle tissue and can help to prevent injuries.

When doing a sandbag strength training routine, you’re engaging your core muscles with almost every movement. Even if the exercise itself is not entirely focused on core strengthening.

A sandbag shifts it’s center of gravity constantly. Which feels different and often more difficult when compared to traditional weights. Also, by switching between different types of sandbag fillers, you can add diversity to your workout.

Sandbag Training Doesn’t Require Much Space

Barbells, plates, machines, and squat racks can all take up a lot of space. If you want to improve your strength, using sandbags for weight training is not only affordable, but they also require very little space. This makes them perfect for home gyms and home workouts where you can have a flexible way of working on your strength whenever you feel like it.

You can also take them anywhere. So if you ever find yourself somewhere lacking exercise equipment, for example when traveling, then getting a sandbag could be the answer!

Versatile Exercises

Sandbag workouts are not only effective but also versatile. You can use them for almost any type of exercise.

They can be used for traditional compound exercises such as squats, bench press, power cleans, deadlifts, and more. And because sandbags are soft, they have a low impact on your joints and you can perform less rigid movements.

There are exercises that are unique to sandbags such as the bear crawl; which are good for building stamina and working the core. There are also bear hug squats which are a good alternative to the front squat.

When it comes to cardio-related exercises, there are sandbag sprints and carries. These are not only high-intensity but they also heavily work the legs.

In a similar way you might use a wobble board for stability and balance, this sort of training can also be developed with a sandbag. You can even combine the two for a crazy stability building session. This work with unstable objects can be useful for many sports.

As you can see, sandbags can replace a lot of the equipment needed for most exercises.

Sandbags Come In Different Types

No matter which level you are in your fitness or strength training, you’ll find that there is a sandbag to accommodate your needs. Some bags can weigh up to 400 pounds; which are perfect for those wanting to gain serious strength.

You can also choose from different material qualities, the number of handles, and sizes.

As mentioned earlier, it’s possible to use different filler weights; you can add or remove them accordingly to suit different workouts. This makes them perfect for CrossFit routines where different exercises are performed in a single session.

Pricier sandbags can be water-resistant and withstand heavy-duty usage. With all the different sandbags available on the market, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that can suit your level of fitness and your exact requirements.

Various Strength Training Variables

When compared to weight training, using a sandbag offers an excellent range of training variables to enhance your strength. Your body’s position, holding position, and the plane of motion can have a larger scale by using a sandbag when compared to traditional weights.

For example, there are around 11 positions to hold a sandbag versus only four positions when using a barbell. There’s a whole list of possibilities of training variables when you use sandbags.

These ways of lifting sandbags and making changes to your body’s position can alter how an exercise feels and the results that come afterward.

Also, planes of motion with a sandbag, such as shoulder squats, rotational lunges, and lateral drags, can make your strength training more elaborate and progressive.


Conclusion

Sandbag training can be a game-changer for your strength training routine. Depending on your fitness level, there is a lot of gym equipment that a weighted bag can replace.

As we’ve discussed, there are so many exercises that are possible with one training bag.

Progressing your strength training is very achievable using heavy sandbags. And if you want a versatile workout that you can perform almost anywhere, then a sandbag is a fantastic option!

Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength Gain 101

Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength Gain 101

As we quickly approach fall season for many high school and Collegiate athletes across the country, strength gain and muscle hypertrophy are common goals for many athletes. What are some ways that we can promote strength gain as gym-goers and athletes? Let’s take a look…

This is a Guest Post from EverybodysPersonalTrainer.com


Keys To Building Muscle Size and Strength

Linear Progression

Before we can discuss muscle hypertrophy and strength, we need to first take a look at the physiological response our muscles have to exercise. When a load is placed upon a muscle belly, the muscle tissue is broken down and thus needs time to recover. During this recovery process, your muscles adapt by growing bigger and stronger; through muscle hypertrophy.

So it goes without saying that one of the most important ways to increase muscle size and strength is to linearly increase the load upon the muscle in the form of increased poundage.

Proper Rest

Ample rest and recovery time between bouts of exercise is also very important for strength and muscle gain. Have you ever heard the saying that you grow and become stronger outside of the gym? Therein does lie the truth. Much of the adaptation that is being made is happening on those rest and recovery days outside of the gym.

Proper Nutrition

Now that we have discussed load and weight-bearing activity as well as rest and recovery, we now have to consider proper nutrition. Protein is responsible for building, maintaining, and repairing muscle tissue. As a strength athlete or gym-goer looking to promote strength gain, it is very important to get at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Ideally spacing these meals at 2-3 hour intervals throughout the day is best.

According to personal trainer Eric Leader, post-workout protein and carbohydrates are essential. It is said that the 30 minutes after a bout of exercise is typically called “the anabolic window” and is an excellent time to take in additional protein.

Consistency

Finally, consistency over time may be the most important factor to increase muscle size and strength. As long as you exercise consistently over time, you will experience results. The name of the game is to stay vigilant and to stay in it for the long haul.

Get a Workout Program >>

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