Tag: Fitness

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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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!

How To Build A Home Gym for Less Than $1,000!

How To Build A Home Gym for Less Than $1,000!

Gym Closed Because of Coronavirus? Here’s How To Build A Home Gym for Less Than The Price of a Gym Membership!

A Guest Article by Brian of HomeGymStrength.com

We are all stuck at home these days and can’t even go to the gym because of social distancing. So, this is the perfect time to build a home gym for less than the price of a gym membership!

“YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS”, you might yell.

Let me assure you, I am very serious about fitness and a home gym is one of the best ways to maintain your physique. 

And yes, a home gym can not only cost less than a typical gym membership but also save you money in the long run.

A normal gym membership costs around $100 a month. This is for a gym that gives you good equipment and facilities. You can count the time and transport expenses on to that and it quickly balloons to a $1200 per year ordeal. 

While this may not seem like a lot, especially if you are getting some quality equipment, that membership can’t be used in the lockdown.


Building a Home Gym

A home gym is not only convenient but it can help you stay fit even during Coronavirus. The best part is, it doesn’t even need to cost a lot.

You wake up, go to your home gym, do some quality exercises and that’s it. No need to wear masks and gloves to drive to the gym that is probably closed or only allowing a few people inside.

How to Build a Home Gym

Building a home gym for Coronavirus is not that hard. You just have to look for good equipment online and have it delivered at your place.

Get Used Equipment

Finding used equipment is going to save you a lot of money when building your home gym.

Sure, if you can afford new stuff, then it is all good. But usually used equipment is not only cheaper but also just about the same quality. Gym equipment is made with durability and reliability in mind. So if someone used the equipment responsibly, it should still be in top condition.

You can find used equipment on Facebook Marketplace, Let Go, and even Craigslist. This guide about the best apps to find used home gym equipment will help. 

Just make sure the items are delivered to your home and wear protective gear when you receive them.

Get a Squat Rack

A squat rack is a good starting point. There are two types of squat racks; the full rack and the half rack. If you have a small space, get the best half racks. If you have ample area, get one of the best full squat racks.

Get a Bar

No, not the one that serves drinks. Get an Olympic barbell. Most are made out of incredibly strong materials and a used one won’t have any problems.

Get Weights

If you are new to lifting get bumper plates. If you already have a padded floor, you can get the best Olympic weights.

Get Adjustable Dumbbells

Some good quality adjustable dumbbells would complement the rest of the equipment nicely.

Get A Program

Check out our best Workout Programs >>


Here’s Some Rough Math

For a total of $1000! And this is how you can build a home gym for less than the price of a gym membership!

And don’t forget to get a quality Workout Program >>

Now go forth and build some Quarantine Gains!

Here’s how to set up your Home Gym >>

How To Use A Foam Roller

How To Use A Foam Roller Properly

It takes only a few minutes to learn the proper foam rolling technique to relax your tight tendons and soft-tissues. So, let’s get started now on how to use a foam roller properly to increase joint mobility and decrease muscle pain and stress!

Page Contents:

Get our complete How To Warm-Up Properly Guide >>


How Foam Rolling Works

Foam rolling works by:

  • Breaking apart adhesions in the tissue layers (known as self-myofascial release),
  • Moving fluids through soft tissues,
  • and overall assisting with Muscle Recovery.

So, you can use it to aid in the mobility of tight tissues or just as a recovery technique.

Foam rolling has become very popular in recent years, but it has been around for decades. As it is an effective tool that helps to mobilize your joints by relaxing the soft tissues and muscles around them if done properly. But, the most important thing you need to know about foam rolling is that it is NOT a fix-all solution.

Foam rolling simply prepares your body to improve joint and muscle flexibility by relaxing any chronically tight tissues around them.

If a muscle is tight, or overactive, it will fight against any stretching you do for it. So, the foam roller can be used to help relax your muscle tissues in order to prepare them for other stretches.

It is what you do after foam rolling that counts!

Stretching Exercises >>


Proper Foam Rolling Technique

Here’s how to use a foam roller properly:

Beginner Technique

  • Simply roll the foam roller up and down your muscles in a controlled manner to massage the muscle. This is a great way for beginners to start, as it is the least intense.

Advanced Technique

  • For a more effective self-myofascial release technique, attempt to crush your tissues lightly by rotating on them horizontally using controlled pressure. So, instead of rolling the roller up and down your muscles, keep the roller in place and roll your body side-to-side (perpendicular) along the same area. This will reach down deeper into the tissues.
  • Then move slightly up the muscle and do the same thing.

To properly break apart adhesions in your soft tissues, stop at points where you feel the most pain and relax the muscle into the roller.

Stay on that spot for at least 30 seconds at a time and breathe deep to let your muscles relax. Then slowly continue rolling over the entire muscle.

If no tightness or pain is felt in a certain area, then either use a firmer tool or move on. You will only feel pain where there is tightness. The same as a massage.

Get our complete How To Warm-Up Properly Guide >>


Choosing a Foam Roller

Foam rolling is most effective with a smooth round object that can roll over your soft tissues; such as a stiff ball or cylinder.

Soft Choices for a Light Massage

  • Basic Foam Roller
  • High-Density Foam Roller
  • Tennis Ball

Buy a Foam Roller >>

Firm Choices for a Deep Massage

  • 4-6″ PVC Pipe
  • Lacrosse Ball

Buy Lacross Balls >>

It is best for beginners to start with a soft roller, then upgrade to a firm roller. Preferably a solid PVC pipe or something similar.

I know that sounds like it hurts, and it does…at first. But it is the only thing that is truly going to work.

This is because, if the roller is less dense than your tissues, then it will break down and limit the amount of tissue release you can obtain.

Your tight tissues can only be fully released with dense objects that can break apart the adhesions. And anything made of foam just isn’t enough.

However, this also will increase the intensity of the message so you won’t need to use it as frequently. It’s the same as when you do high-intensity workouts, you need more time to recover.

What NOT To Get

When choosing your foam roller, make sure that you get one that does NOT have a bunch of spikes on it or “pressure points”. Though it may feel good, it is not nearly as useful as just getting a firmer object, like a PVC Pipe or Lacross Ball.

Remember, we want to smash over the muscle massaging everything, not just pinpoint it. That is what hand massages are for. And the fancy-looking rollers just don’t do as well.

Get our complete How To Warm-Up Properly Guide >>


How often can I use a Foam Roller?

You can roll out your tissues anytime, from before, during, or after your workouts.

  • Before, or during, your workouts if you have a tight muscle that is causing pain, or preventing proper technique.
  • Post-workout or on non-workout days to help with recovery.

However, the same muscles should not be rolled out more than four times per week. And often not multiple days in a row, to allow for proper recovery.

This is because, when you use a foam roller, you are breaking apart your soft tissues, similar to when you workout. So you need time to recover before doing it again.

Get our complete How To Warm-Up Properly Guide >>


How long should Foam Rolling take?

How long foam rolling takes, depends on how tight your muscles are. At first, your self-myofascial release massage may take an hour if you have a lot of tight tissues. If it does, then let it.

Do not rush through this process!

Over time, as your tissues are released and become more relaxed it will take less and less time.

If you have limited time, it is best to focus on the most important areas during the time you have. Set a timer if needed, and go for 10-20 minutes.


how to warm-up properly for strength training bookGet Our Complete Workout Warm-Up Guide!

Learn how to decrease pain, improve performance and prevent injury with mobility exercises specific to your workout!

Be ready for any workout in 15 minutes or less!

Learn More


How To Prevent Injury >>

Tendonitis Treatment >>

How To Cure Joint Pain >>