Tag Archives: training

Build a Bigger Back

Do you feel like you’re blowing your back out by trying to blow it up? Here’s how to build a bigger back

Your back is made up of several muscle groups, big and small, that contribute to the overall size, aesthetics, and performance of your back. In fact, powerlifters often cite back strength as more critically important than arm strength when it comes to their bench press. When it comes to back workouts here’s what you want to do:

1. Keep the basics

Pull-ups, chin-ups (yes there’s a difference), deadlifts, and rows are too important to neglect if you’re trying to build a bigger back. The back fly machine is not going to give you the results you want, but it is useful for supplementing back exercises.

2. Target every muscle

Your back consists of your lats, traps, teres minor, teres major, infraspinatus, rhomboids, posterior delts, serratus, and more. Pull-ups alone won’t isolate all of these muscles and place enough stress on them individually to make them really show.

3. Mix in a variety of angles

A simple turn of the wrist can be the difference between isolating your rear delts and recruiting several larger back muscles for an exercise. For example, you can hold a dumbbell in a neutral, supinated, or pronated position for a dumbbell row and completely change the feeling of the exercises.

Here’s a back workout to try:
*Each exercise pair reflects a superset.

Deadlift: 4 sets x 12 reps
Barbell Row (Palms facing up): 4 sets x 10 reps + a rest pause set

Lat Pulldown: 3 sets x 10, 8, 8 reps + drop set

Bent Over DB Fly: 4 sets x 15 reps
Weighted Pull-Ups: 4 sets x 8 reps

Straight Arm Rope Pulldown: 5 sets x 10 reps
Barbell Shrugs: 5 sets x 20, 15, 15, 10, 8 reps

Trigger Point Roll for recovery: 5-10 minutes.

Check me out on Instagram for more workouts!

Why You Should Include Kettlebells In Your Workouts

There are a myriad of benefits of incorporating kettlebells into your workout routine every day. Kettlebells offer a change from the standard body weight, dumbbell, barbell and machine workout routines. You’re adding a new stimulus to your routine that can be used for resistance training, cardio conditioning, core prep, and grip strength

1. Resistance Training

The shape of the kettlebell allows you to train for strength and power differently than barbells and dumbbells where the weight is generally evenly distributed. Try adding kettlebells to the ends of your barbells when bench pressing and try to keep them balanced while you press. It’s a different game entirely.

Use them in your arm workouts to build your wrist stability and grip strength. One way to do this is to replace regular dumbbell hammer curls with kettlebell hammer curls. Another way you can do this is by doing tricep kickbacks with kettlebells instead of dumbbells.

Try replacing at least one dumbbell workout with kettlebells to add variety, and a new challenge to your daily strength routine.

2. Cardio Conditioning

Tired of running on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day? Change things up with kettlebell swings, kettlebell snatches, and kettlebell goblet squats. One way you can do this is by doing a circuit like this:

60 seconds kettlebell swing
30 seconds kettlebell snatches
30 seconds goblet squats
30-60 seconds rest

Do kettlebell HIIT circuits like this for 20 minutes instead of your usual cardio routine and you’ll see the difference in your core, arms, legs, and your metabolism will remain elevated for hours after your workout.

Cardio Acceleration Supersets for Fat Loss

3. Core Prep

No more sit-ups, you can use a light weight kettlebell to shred your abs with only a few workouts. Try a core circuit like this for 4-5 sets:

Kettlebell V-Up: 15-20 reps
Kettlebell Turkish Get Up: 10 reps
Kettlebell Russian Twist: 15-20 reps
Rest: 45 seconds

3 Ways to Train Your Core Without Doing Crunches

4. Grip Strength/Wrist Training

Kettlebells are a great way to work on your grip strength and train your wrists to be less susceptible to injuries. Exercises like kettlebell turkish get-up will help train the stabilizing muscles in your wrist/forearm.

Check out Heavy Metal Kettle for some insane kettlebell workouts!

What is Unilateral Training and Why Should You Do It?

Unilateral training is defined as a form of training that only affects one side, muscle, or structure of the body. This effective yet often overlooked form of training adds several benefits to your routine. Whether you’re bodybuilding, powerlifting, training for sport, or just a weekend warrior, you should include unilateral training somewhere in your workout. Here’s what you’re missing out on:

1. Unilateral Training Creates Symmetry

Is your left arm bigger than your right? Or maybe one pec is slightly larger than the other. Chances are you’re left-side or right-side dominant. Unilateral training forces you to focus all of your attention on one limb or one muscle at a time. Over time your muscles will become more symmetrical creating a more balanced physique.

2. Unilateral Training Balances Strength

Similar to my first point, maybe one side is stronger than the other although not necessarily noticeably bigger or smaller. Unilateral training addresses this issue by forcing you to exert the same energy on each side of your body. Maybe you’ve noticed some people in your gym dumbbell pressing and one arm locks out at the top while the other arm only comes up about 80% of the way. Unilateral training helps you make sure you’re completing each rep on either side of your body.

3. Unilateral Training Works Your Core More

By placing resistance on only one side of your body you’re forcing your body to have to stabilize itself. To do so you have to activate your core to keep your trunk, hips or shoulders stable. Unilateral training forces you into an effective ab workout with each set, even if you thought you were only working your triceps, pecs or legs.

Click here for other ways to work your core without doing crunches.

4. Unilateral Training Creates Variety

Every training program needs variety to be fun and successful. Doing the same workouts over and over again becomes stagnant, eventually you’ll lose interest and progress. Try doing single arm lat pull down instead of your regular lat pulldown workout to spice things up and see some new results.

Click here for 3 more ways to break through plateaus.

Here are some Unilateral Training Exercises to add to your routine!
+ Exploding Single Leg TRX Squat
+ Single Arm Overhead Dumbbell Press
+ Single Leg Leg Press
+ Single Arm Behind the Neck Tricep Extension
+ Single Arm Dumbbell Row

unilateral training fitness diet nutrition

I may only do one or two Unilateral Exercises in my daily routine but it’s enough to make sure each muscle is equally strong and symmetrical on either side of my body. Balance is key. Try it out and see the difference for yourself.

3 Ways to Train Your Core Without Doing Crunches

If you’re actively trying to live up to your New Year’s Resolution by doing hundreds of crunches or buying products that “target belly fat” you might want to read on. I personally hate crunches because of how ineffective they are compared to other core workouts. My opinion has always been that if I’m spending 1 hour at the gym every day, I want that hour to be as effective as possible. One person’s 45 minute workout can be more effective than another person’s 2 hour workout depending on how they treat their time. Not only are crunches far from the best core workout (in my opinion) but by the time you’ve made them an effective workout you’ve spent a good deal of time (figure 5 sets of at least 20-25 reps). So you might be asking yourself why I’m anti-crunch and you might even be arguing with me in your head that I’m wrong. I encourage you to consider how our core is designed. Our core is meant for stability and rotational movement. In daily activity our core is used when we rotate our torso or hips, when we’re thrown off balance (or to keep us in balance), and to keep our body stable. Nowhere in our day to day activities are we confronted with the task of having to do 100 crunches, so why would that be the best way to train our core? These methods below are exponentially more effective at providing a more effective core workout to really sculpt your midsection.

1. Stability Exercises

These are probably my personal favorite exercises because they’re the most engaging and entertaining to me. I love anything that involves balancing on a ┬ábosu ball, stability ball, medicine balls or TRX. If you don’t have access to any of that equipment you can train for stability by performing an exercise with one leg off the ground. You may not get a shredded 6 pack from these exercises alone but they provide a great foundation for you to advance from AND they serve a purpose in your daily activity. I also love stability exercises because you can progress easily by decreasing your stability, adding weight, increasing the time of each set, or adding in new challenges. You can regress easily by increasing your stability, decreasing your time of each set, and keeping the exercise basic. Here are some great stability exercises you can use:

Plank
Stability Ball Plank (Plank with your feet on a stability ball)
Bosu Ball Plank (Plank with your hands on a stability ball)
Double Bosu Ball Plank (Plank with your hands on one bosu ball and your feet on another)
Stability Ball & Bosu Plank (Plank with your hands on a bosu ball and your feet on a stability ball)
Medicine Ball Push-ups (Perform as many pushups as possible with your hands on medicine balls)
Medicine Ball Push-ups on All Fours (Perform as many pushups as possible with your hands and feet on medicine balls)

Perform 5 sets of any of these exercises for 30-60 seconds each. When one exercise becomes easy over time, progress to the next exercise or make your current exercise more difficult by adding weight or a challenge.

jen core

2. Rotational Movements

Because our core is engaged when we rotate our torso or hips it’s important to train for those motions in our routine. Try adding a few of these rotational exercises to your ab routine and see how they stack up compared to crunches.

Windmills
Half Kneeling Medicine Ball Lateral Toss
Bicycle Crunches
Russian Twist
Stability Cable Chop
Rotational Overhead Medicine Ball Slam

This is how athletes are trained to build their core strength because Performance Coaches know that crunches don’t add up to better performance on the field or court. EXOS calls this Pillar Training but you can call it working smarter.

3. Slow Down and Breathe

This is a common mistake I see a lot of people do when they’re working their core. 100 poor quality sit-ups will not get your further than 50 slow and controlled sit-ups. Slow down your movements, focus on really engaging your core, and most importantly breathe. In fact, for many core exercises, the slower you go the better. Powerlifters, mixed martial artists, and other athletes use breathing techniques for specific movements like deadlifting, swinging a tennis racquet, or throwing a punch. It’s important that you focus on how you’re breathing (or not breathing) during your exercises to make the exercise more effective. Inhaling is going to tighten up your core making it more stable in exercises like squatting or medicine ball pushups. Exhaling is going to loosen your core by decreasing pressure. Try it now in your chair. Inhale and tighten your core and record how that feels, then exhale while keeping your core tight and record the difference. It’s important that you catch yourself holding your breath during exercises or breathing wrong entirely (exhaling when you should be inhaling and vise versa).

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions or comments feel free to start a dialogue!

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