When it comes to building up your upper body strength one of the best gym equipment you can use is the Lat Pulldown. This exercise machine focuses on developing upper body muscles such as the latissimus dorsi, deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and biceps. I have also used this machine to help rehab a shoulder injury that I sustained a couple of years prior. I prefer to read articles on Fitboot which guided me on the appropriate exercises I have done.
However, I do understand that not everyone can afford to have access to the gym either by financial or time constraints. This is why I will be giving you some great alternatives to the Lat pulldown that you can do within the confines of your own home.
Before we head on to some great alternatives to using the Lat pulldown machine, I would like to first go into further detail about the benefits of doing this exercise. As I have already pointed out earlier, it can help strengthen core upper body muscles. Strengthening the latissimus and bicep helps improve the body’s ability to lift. It can also enhance the flexibility of the elbows and shoulders.
Speaking of shoulders, I used the Lat pulldown and the alternative exercise that to help rehabilitate my injured shoulders. It helped in returning my shoulders back to peak health and to this day I have never encountered any issues with my shoulders.
Lat pulldown exercises not only strengthen your upper body muscles, but it can also help improve your posture. This type of exercise requires proper form and a steady pace. You can’t really rush through this as that is a good way to injure yourself.
Other than strengthening my shoulders, this type of exercise also developed my upper and lower back muscles. Improving the strength conditioning of your upper and lower back muscles is important for athletes who participate in sports. Sports like rowing wherein the arms and back are the two main muscle groups that function will greatly benefit from Lat pulldowns and its alternatives.
As you already know, Lat pulldown is a machine that is quite common in the gym. It is rather large and is not exactly practical for home use. However, for those who have no access to this machine or mainly workout at home, there is still a way for you to gain the benefits of this machine.
As promised, I will be listing the best Lat pulldown alternatives that you can do without the need for any kind of gym equipment. These exercises can also be done in your own home which should help people who have a rather busy schedule.
Let’s start this list with a classic exercise routine. The chin-up is a body weight exercise that follows the same applications as the Lat Pulldown. The main difference is that rather than pulling the weight bar down, you will use your own body weight to pull yourself up.
Performing this exercise only requires that you have a stable point to grapple on that you can use to elevate yourself upwards. You most definitely will find a spot in your home or garage that can act as a chin-up spot.
To do this exercise you need to grab onto the bar with your palms facing you. If you want a challenge, try widening your grip and turn your palms away. You can do 10 to 15 reps for starters and make your way up to higher numbers. This is an incredibly simple yet highly effective exercise that will help promote stronger back muscles.
Chin-ups can be a difficult exercise to pull off for beginners and for people who lack the proper upper body strength. A good alternative to lessen the body weight is by utilizing a large rubber band. This band can help support your weight slightly which can make chin-ups more manageable. First timers will likely require this extra advantage, as well as women who are just starting to build their upper body strength.
Just make sure that you have secured the band properly onto the chin-up bar. Then, place your foot into the loop and do the chin-ups as usual. This extra upward boost from the band will help you perform chin-ups easier.
You will need to have a handlebar or barbell for this exercise. This type of exercise is one of the best for strengthening your upper back muscles. You can perform this exercise in a variety of ways, each with differing degrees of difficulty. This is another exercise that you can easily do within the comfort of your own home.
You perform this exercise by bending down from the hips and grabbing the barbell. Make sure you start with a weight that you are comfortable with. Once you have a proper grip on the bars, you simply pull it towards your chest using only your arm strength. You need to stay in this bent over position throughout the duration of this exercise. You can also use dumbbells if you don’t have access to a barbell or if you find barbells to be too heavy.
This exercise focuses on developing your triceps as well as your chest. It also delivers some benefits to your back muscles. You will need to lie down on a reclined bench, however, flat benches will also do fine.
With your upper body at a lower angle, you will take the dumbbell above your head with arms stretched out and steadily raise it upwards at chest height. The steeper the recline the more challenging this exercise gets. For beginners, you can try it out on a flat bench and make sure you maintain your grip on your dumbbell.
Another simple yet highly effective alternative to the Lat pulldown is the Single Arm Landmine Rows. You will need to have access to a barbell to perform this exercise properly. To set up the weight bar properly, you need to place the desired weighted plates on only one side of the bar. You will then grab a hold of this side and in a squatting position with one leg forward for stability, raise it upwards as near to your chest area as possible.
Remember to maintain your squatting position throughout the exercise and only use your arms to raise the weights. This exercise is designed to strengthen your back muscles primarily.
This exercise is an excellent and simple way to improve upper back muscles. You will need to get an exercise band first but the good thing about this exercise is that it can be done anytime and anywhere. There is a common misconception that band pulls apart exercise does not offer the same level of resistance as barbell lifts. However, if you do this properly you will immediately learn that it offers a whole layer of benefits for upper back muscle development.
Another benefit to this exercise, other than being simple to do, is that you can perform in it in three different ways. You can perform the Therapeutic Pull Apart, Muscle Control Pull Apart, or the Slow Temp Pull Apart. Each of these variations are slightly tweak and is done at a varying pace.
Once you have perfected the technique, doing band pull apart is a quick and easy exercise to do that will greatly improve your upper back muscles. If you wish to challenge yourself a bit more, you can get thicker and heavier bands as these offer more resistance.
You can either perform this exercise using the seated cable row machine or by using exercise bands, both will deliver desired results. This exercise focuses on stretching your lats. You start by sitting in a 90-degree angle and grabbing the cables or the band. You will then be pulling it towards your chest area as close as possible.
This exercise will really work your trapezius, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, biceps, forearm flexors, and rear deltoids. You need to make sure that you can feel you back muscles contract with every pull to ensure you are doing it correctly. You should prevent your arms from being pulled. Keep control of the resistance and perform this exercise in a consistent and steady manner.
As you can see, there are other alternative exercises you can do to strengthen your arms and back muscles. While Lat pulldowns are great exercise machines that can deliver results, not everyone has access to this machine. These alternatives offer similar results to the Lat pulldown machines with some you can do anywhere and at any time. Just remember to always follow proper form to make sure that you will get optimum results and prevent injuries.
The scapular retraction is a movement that focuses on strength and improving the integrity of your shoulder blades. This specific exercise requires you to pull your shoulder blades closer together to the spine while preventing your shoulder from doing an upward motion or a shrug. The opposite of this is called the scapular protraction which requires you to push your shoulder blades away from the spine and forward to your chest area. This basically leaves you with a bad hunched posture. More article from Fitboot to help you achieve your body goals.
The scapula is not a muscle but is, in fact, our shoulder blades. It can be found on both sides of your upper back. You can feel it protrude if you place your hand on your upper bag and raise your shoulders. The scapular retraction allows for better posture. You can perform this by lifting your elbows to the side and trying to make them touch each other from the back.
While the shoulder blades are not muscle, they are bones, they are covered with a variety of important muscles like the lats and traps. These muscles that are attached to the scapula allows a wide range of movements that are essential for our own mobility and accomplishing daily activities.
You might be surprised how such a simple movement will give some impressive benefits to the body. Understanding the little intricacies of scapular retraction can help enhance all your upper back exercises by a significant margin.
What the scapular retraction offers is a better mind-muscle connection. This greats in assisting and maximizing the benefits you can achieve from lats and traps focused exercises. This extremely simple exercise will allow better awareness in proper posture when it comes to upper body exercise. And if you were aware of these types of exercises, you know how important proper form is to obtain the best results.
The scapular retraction will also help to improve your form during weight lifting exercises. This form allows your upper body to utilize its full strength when it comes to weight lifting. For example, the opposite of the scapular retraction is protraction. If you use this form when lifting, most of the weight will be placed on your shoulder muscles which are significantly weaker than your chest and upper back muscles.
By using the retracted form, the weight will be evenly spread to your shoulders, chest, and upper back muscles. This makes weightlifting less strenuous on your muscles and lowering the risk of injury. As you can see, understanding this simple yet effective exercise will greatly improve the benefits you will gain from upper back muscle as well as with weight lifting exercises.
The scapular retraction exercise helps improve your overall upper body strength for lifting as well as developing better stability.
For those who wish to improve their scapula as well as their control over their shoulder blades, there are several exercises that you can perform. I will be listing down some of the best scapula retraction exercises that you can do in your home or at the gym.
One of the most effective scapular retraction exercises comes in the form of the seated cable row exercise. You will need to have access to the seated cable row exercise machine or, alternatively, you can use exercise bands. Just keep in mind to focus on giving your shoulder blades a good work out by pulling them back together.
This exercise has the added benefit of tripping your triceps as well. You only need a dumbbell and a bench to do this exercise. Conduct this exercise in a slow and steady manner to truly give your triceps a good burn. Keep your back straight and focus on lifting the weight using your elbow and not your hand. Pull it upwards until you feel your shoulder blades get a good stretch.
If you want to level up the challenge of using a dumbbell then the next logical step would be to use the barbell. Barbell rows utilize the same fundamentals as the dumbbell row. This means you will be using your elbows to lift the barbell while maintaining a straight back throughout the exercise. Using your shoulder blades, you will be lifting the barbell using your elbows and not your biceps to obtain the best results.
Unstable shoulders are a health problem that can lead to many issues as it can hinder our full range of movements. There are several causes of this problem and learning all of these factors will help prevent this from affecting you in the future.
As with machines, our body tends to deteriorate if we fail to use it regularly. Unfortunately, the shoulder blade is one of the most often overlooked part of the body. This problem is further worsened by the fact that our scapulae are needed to perform some of the most basic movements.
If we fail to use the scapulae for a prolonged period of time, we will experience a degradation with our range of movements. It might also cause an increased risk of a shoulder injury in the future. This is why it is important not to lead a sedentary lifestyle.
As with the spine, bad posture can lead to problems with our shoulder blades. If you tend to hunch your back a lot, you might be at risk to several problems concerning the scapulae. Standing up straight with your chest out is a good way to prevent these problems. This might take constant reminders but you will benefit greatly from having proper posture at all times.
Same with being inactive, exercising way past your limits will inevitably cause your muscles to break down. Stay fit but understand where your limits lie. Focus on a full-body workout rather than just picking one specific exercise routine. This is why gym classes have the upper body and leg day schedules.
Getting the Wrong Information
It is best to check with a fitness expert when it comes to formulating your exercise plan. There have been cases wherein a person injures his shoulders due to being fed the wrong technique when it comes to their exercises. Basically, don’t just believe anything you hear. Especially if they are not from experts in the field.
Checking the current stability of your shoulders is pretty simple. The test you need to conduct is called the Winged Scapula Wall. This test is designed to help you locate your winged scapula. This is the protrusion on your upper back that appears you have some form of scapulae instability.
In order to do this test, you will record yourself with your back facing the camera. Step a few feet away from the wall and stretch your arms toward the wall with your fingers pointing down. Now, place your hands on the surface of the wall at waist height and press your hands to it. If only one of your shoulder blades protrude quite noticeably then there is a high chance that you are suffering from some sort of shoulder instability.
I highly suggest you consult with a doctor to know what steps you should take in order to help return stability to your shoulders. Nipping this at the bud is a great way to prevent serious problems down the road.
Now, let us go look at some great shoulder mobility exercises that you can do in order to ensure you won’t experience any muscle atrophy in regards to your upper back, chest, and shoulder muscles.
Shoulder Rotation Exercise – This exercise is designed to improve movement and control of your scapulohumeral rhythm. It focuses on rotation at your shoulder joint while also creating a steady rotating rhythm for both shoulders.
Scapulae Step-Ups – This training is great for improving the asymmetrical shoulder motion. It requires one shoulder to retract while the other protracts. If you want to build stable shoulder muscles then you definitely need to incorporate this training into your regimen.
Overhead Wall Rollout – For stability, this exercise will manage to develop your shoulder muscles to provide you with a better range of mobility and lower risk of injury. It also gives your core stability a good amount of workout.
While often overlooked, the importance of maintaining the strength and mobility of our shoulder blades or scapulae is essential. This part of the body is necessary in order for us to lift weight and to deliver optimum maneuverability of the upper body. Hopefully, this article has given you a bunch of idea on how to train your shoulders and improve its strength and mobility.
If you are looking to trim your lower body, hips, calves, and thighs but don’t want to go to the gym then the wall sit is the simplest and easiest method you can do to achieve your goals. This exercise might seem simple enough but if this will be your first time doing it can be quite a challenge. This exercise is designed for everyone and will not give your back or knees any undue pressure.
The target here is 20 minutes per day but beginners can start low and work their way up to that goal. It is not only designed to strengthen your leg muscles, but it can also help trim off the fat on your legs and abdomen. In this article, we will be discussing the benefits of doing the wall sit exercise as well as variations of it for those who wish to increase the challenge and boost results. Fitboot has lots of articles that can help you reach your body goals.
This exercise focuses on developing leg strength and stability. Not only will help strengthen your leg muscles, but it can also improve your overall stamina. And as you know, our lower body is essential when it comes to building up our overall strength.
Wall sits are simple enough but the longer you stay in this pose the harder it gets. Concentrating on maintaining proper pose helps sharpen your focus. The longer you are able to maintain this pose the sharper your focus gets.
As stated earlier, this exercise can help increase your stamina. Try timing your wall to sit daily. After a while, compare how long you were able to maintain this pose at the beginning and how long you can hold it after a couple of weeks or a month. Not only that, but you will also notice that it takes longer for you to tire out with any physical activity.
Your legs and thighs will be the ones that benefit most from this exercise. For those who are looking to trim their thighs into something leaner, stronger, and slenderer, the wall sit is the simplest exercise you can do in your own home.
The wall sit takes its fundamentals from yoga. Yoga is all about developing a perfect flow and posture. The wall sit can improve posture as you press your back straight against the wall. As you get used to this posture, your body will begin to feel lighter and more flexible. The wall sit may not require much movement, but its benefits include better body mobility.
The wall sit requires you to maintain perfectly still and to focus on tightening your abs and moderating your breathing. As such, meditation is one of the key factors during this exercise. Keeping your mind free from clutter will help you maintain this pose longer. I, for one, managed to continuously break my record every session by meditating and working through the fatigue and pain.
Since the entirety of your leg will take the brunt during this exercise, you can expect your balance to improve as time goes on. Lower your hips as far as you can to increase the challenge. You will also notice how light your feet will get and how much improvement your overall balance has become.
Try to include some relaxing music while doing this exercise. In fact, think of it as a form of meditation. Meditation that not only works your mind but also your lower body muscles. I have actually incorporated this exercise in the afternoon along with some relaxing soundtrack and scented humidifier. Nothing beats clearing your mind of stress while also strengthening your body in one go.
You can tone your calves quickly if you do wall sits regularly. Stringer calves also mean that you can support heavier weight. In a month or so, expect your calves to feel like it was carved with granite. You will also notice that your legs are able to support more weight without straining too much.
Wall sits require you to focus on your abs as well. You need to tighten your lower abdomen during wall sits which in turn helps burn fat in that area while also developing the muscles. Doing wall sits properly will yield results in a week or so. You will notice your abs starting to tighten. Remember to breathe in and out while doing wall sits and focus on maintaining a compact tummy throughout the exercise.
As with a lot of exercises, proper form and posture are essential to achieving optimum results. While the wall sit is simple, maintaining the pose for a prolonged period of time will take some practice. In order to make sure that you are doing this exercise correctly, remember to maintain a 90-degree angle in relation to your knees and hips.
Your back should be completely flat against the wall. You should also make sure that your soles and heels are flat on the surface of the ground. If you feel a pull around your quadriceps then that means you are doing the wall sit properly. Keep this up for as long as you can. Your goal should be 20 minutes per day but don’t force it right from the get-go.
To further explain how to properly perform this exercise, here is a quick step by step guide:
If you feel confident enough, you can add another 5 seconds for each session if you feel you are getting stronger. Experiencing some pressure on your quad is normal, however, if you feel pain on your knees I advise you stop the exercise immediately. This is either due to bad form or something else. If pain on your knees persists, consult with your doctor at once.
As simple as the wall sit appears, it is still considered an advanced exercise. If you are finding it difficult to do this exercise you can modify it to lend some support while not considerably diminishing the benefits and results. Here are some techniques you can use to make the wall sit slightly easier.
Using a Stability Ball – Using a stability wall can transform your standard wall sit into a hybrid wall sit and squat exercise. You place the stability ball between your back and the wall. Once secured, you slowly slide down into a 90-degree squatting position and then using your heels, push yourself back to a standing position.
Uni Wall Squat – If you want a little challenge you can try this wall sit variation. Basically, you will require a stability ball and set it up by placing it in between you and the wall. Take two dumbbells for each hand, raise one of your legs, and slowly lower your body down. Make sure both of your legs get an equal workout.
Wall Squat Lat Raise – Of course, wall sits doesn’t need to confine you to a lower body workout only. Next time you perform a wall sit, bring two dumbbells for each hand. Once you have made a 90-degree angle you should bend your elbows and raise the dumbbells to your sides at shoulder height. This is a good exercise for your shoulders and arms.
Wall sit exercise is a relatively simple exercise to perform but takes some time to master. Just remember to always maintain proper form. Some strain in the quad is okay but if you feel pain in your knees you should stop at once. This is an exercise that you can do at your home at any time you want. Try to incorporate it into your daily workout routine as it comes with several benefits not only for the body but also for the mind.
Are you looking to work on your cardio but you need to give your legs and knees a rest? A couple of years back I had an accident which rendered my left leg pretty much unusable for about 2 full months. Obviously, I won’t be able to do my regular workout routine like jogging and using a stationary bike. The good news here is that I found out about arm bikes during this period.
Arm bikes are, as the name suggests, bikes for your arms. This exercise machine is designed to get your heart pumping while allowing your lower body to rest. This machine was mostly found in rehabilitation centers but is now available for commercial consumption. Ever since the injury to my left leg, it hasn’t really been able to return back to 100% which is why I’m quite thankful I have an arm bike as an alternative for my cardio exercise. Many articles about exercise can be found on Fitboot.
MagneTrainer Exercise Bike
designed specifically for arms and offers some nifty features and an up to date technology.
Additional features include a ‘Quiet’ functionality that can allow you to go full throttle without generating any noise.
Drive Deluxe Exercise Peddler
This arm bike is foldable which allows it to be bought anywhere and takes up very little space in storage
Sleek and compact but filled with features you could shake a stick at
It is basically designed specifically for that type of individual.
Isokinetics Inc. Pedal Exerciser
Another affordable arm bike that offers solid quality and performance. The Isokinetics Pedal Exerciser is one of the most surprisingly durable mini bikes I’ve used.
It is also great for those who prefer equipment that is ready to use out of the box.
The Isokinetic does not require any assembly which is nice for those who are not that confident when it comes to building relatively complex machines
Now, let me give you a couple of examples as to why the arm bike is something you might want to check out. Especially if you are currently nursing a leg injury, the arm bike is one way to keep the blood flowing even when you are resting comfortably in a chair. Here are some of the benefits arm bikes are known to provide…
It Can Help Burn Calories
Similar to stationary bikes, arm bikes are a great way to burn calories using a cardio workout. While not on par with the calorie burning found in a high-intensity bike exercise, arm bikes managed to record about 86% of the maximum calories burned in a 30-minute session. While not a full replacement for biking, it manages to do a decent job when it comes to being a cardio workout.
A Good Alternative if You Have an Injury
For people who are injured or are disabled permanently, an arm bike can provide the cardio training you require to stay fit and improve your overall stamina. As I have stated earlier in this article, I was nursing a leg injury for about 2 months and using an arm bike helped me maintain my body weight while allowing my leg to properly recover.
Can Be Used for Cross-Training
An athletes’ body is put through rigorous training to achieve peak physical performance. This isn’t to say that they have a lower risk of injury when exercising. In fact, athletes must take extra care when training. They can’t overwork their body to the point where it breaks down.
Using an arm bike can help an athlete maintain their daily cardio exercise while allowing their legs to take some much-needed rest.
Improves Upper Body Strength
The arm bike primarily focuses on your upper body muscles like your arms, chest, back, and shoulders. It does this without requiring any weights. It can improve your upper body strength without requiring a separate exercise dedicated to your cardio. Basically, hitting two birds with one stone. This is why arm bikes are also recommended for individuals whose daily activity mostly focuses on exercising their legs rather than their upper body and core strength. For example, jobs that require you to walk or stand most of the day will have an imbalance when it comes to upper and lower body strength.
Offers a Change of Pace
For those who follow a strict daily training regimen, adding an arm bike exercise every now and again can help break the monotony. I still incorporate arm bike exercise from time to time to break the daily routine that I have in regards to working out. Also, since my left leg never truly healed back to 100%, letting my legs rest during workout sessions is greatly appreciated.
In order to choose the right arm bike you need to ask yourself the following questions:
Does it offer a comfortable grip?
Similar to how you choose an exercise bike, it is important to have a pedal that is easy and comfortable to grab. You will be using this for at least half an hour a day, so make sure spinning the pedals with your hands will not cause undue strain or even injuries.
Does it have an adjustable resistance?
The resistance of an exercise bike is important as it can help improve your strength and stamina. If you find the current resistance level to be quite easy, you can switch it up by increasing resistance. This will make spinning the pedals harder but that will result in higher calories burned and improved muscle development.
Is it noisy?
A noisy exercise bike is a no-no, especially in today’s day and age. While it is rare to find a mini exercise bike that squeaks or slides around the surface, it is best to check it out first before purchasing. You should also look for arm bikes that have rubberized legs which will prevent it from sliding across the table when you are using it.
Does it feature a tracking display?
While not essential, it will make tracking your progress during workout more convenient and easier. Most exercise bikes have this feature installed and are still relatively affordable. I suggest you go for ones that do have displays as can make exercising extremely convenient.
Is it well-made?
I have encountered a couple of exercise bikes, both for legs and arms that needed to be re-adjusted more often that I would want. Avoid low-quality exercise bikes that offer inaccurate resistance or arm bikes that wobble. You might get them for cheap but they are not worth the trouble and will not be able to deliver optimum results during your exercise routine.
Does it utilize straps?
Straps should help keep your hands and feet in place. They usually use Velcro to secure your hands or feet to the pedal. Again, while not an essential aspect, it will make using the mini stationary bike easier and more convenient.
Does it come with a warranty?
Whenever I’m about to spend a good amount of cash on anything I always look for a warranty. Warranties help ensure that the product you are buying is a quality one. It also shows the confidence of the manufacturer in their product. You can easily find one-year warranties on mini bikes from reputable brand names. If this is your first time buying then I highly suggest you choose an arm bike that has a warranty.
The MagneTrainer ER is designed specifically for arms and offers some nifty features and an up to date technology. It utilizes magnetic technology to provide the resistance and can reach up to 200% resistance which is a rare feat for mini exercise bikes to accomplish. As you would expect, this one is designed for both rehabilitation and for serious workouts.
Additional features include a ‘Quiet’ functionality that can allow you to go full throttle without generating any noise. The magnetic resistance also allows you to adjust to the perfect tension better compared to arm bikes that utilize dials with a preset resistance level. It is also ergonomically designed and the pedals are designed with a handlebar appearance.
Sleek and compact but filled with features you could shake a stick at. The Drive Medical Deluxe offers a lot to the table while maintaining a fairly reasonable price. This arm bike is foldable which allows it to be bought anywhere and takes up very little space in storage.
It also comes with a display that tracks your progress during a workout. You can check for the calories burned, time, revs per minute, and pace with a press of a button. If you plan on moving around a lot you might want to check this arm bike out. It is basically designed specifically for that type of individual.
Exerciser is one of the most surprisingly durable mini bikes I’ve used. It is also great for those who prefer equipment that is ready to use out of the box. The Isokinetic does not require any assembly which is nice for those who are not that confident when it comes to building relatively complex machines.
This is a simple and easy to use arm bike that is well-made and offers what you need. While it does not come with the additional features that the previous two offers, it does a good enough job in giving you a good cardio workout as long as you follow the workout plan.
Arm bikes are not only great alternatives to exercise bikes, but they can also offer you a way to keep your upper body to stay fit. As I have noted at the beginning, for those who are currently nursing a leg injury, the arm bike will give you the exercise your body needs to maintain its cardio. This is a helpful exercise machine that will allow you to do high-intensity cardio exercise while allowing your lower body some time to rest up.
When it comes to weight loss and muscle gains, one of the most effective ways to speed up the process is with a protein powder. This supplement helps promote lean muscle development and will significantly improve one’s gains after every workout. However, many would agree that protein powders do not have the most inviting of tastes. While you can learn to ignore the chalky texture and unpleasant aftertaste, wouldn’t it be better if we have something to considerably dampen the impact of its bad taste?
Well, there are now protein powders available that offer the same results but are presented in a more flavorful and smoother packaging. It manages to eliminate the unpleasant taste of standard protein powders and replace it with something you would actually enjoy drinking.
One of the most popular brands and something that I have personally used is Optimum Nutrition Flavor. If you are looking for a protein powder that actually tastes good and comes in a variety of flavors then you should definitely check what Optimum Nutrition Flavor has to offer. Many articles from Fitboot offers good knowledge to reach your desired goal.
I must confess that I tend to be quite fussy when it comes to what I eat. When I was a kid, if a food is not appealing to me both in taste and smell, you will never be able to make me eat it no matter how healthy it is. While I did manage to shake off that mentality as I grew older, I have to admit that tasting protein powder for the first time caught me off guard. Let’s just say that after that, I opted to lose weight and gain muscles the old-fashioned and natural way.
Fortunately, flavored protein powders were introduced to the market which helped dampen the blow to my taste buds. However, they never truly made me enjoy drinking my protein shake. That is after I discovered Optimum Nutrition Flavors. This protein powder comes in a variety of flavors and each flavor tastes almost identical to what is stated on the label. This is something of a rare occurrence in you are familiar with the protein powder industry as other brands will only offer a hint of flavor. This is not the case with Optimum Nutrition.
They actually manage to imitate actual flavors like chocolate, mocha, and even banana while still maintaining all the nutrients you need to achieve those gains. I actually enjoy drinking it now compared to when I first started drinking standard protein powder shakes which felt more like a chore. I also found that Optimum Nutrition mixes well with other ingredients. I’ve tried it with my pancakes and smoothies and it definitely adds a fuller and richer flavor.
Now, before we head on the list of the best Optimum Nutrition Flavors I would first like to clarify how this list was compiled. Basically, it needs to have high accuracy rating with the flavor stated on the label, it also needs to taste just as good when mixed in plain water, and finally, it needs to actually taste good. The third one is more of a personal preference of mine but worries not, I won’t let it cloud my judgment.
The Mocha Cappuccino flavor is definitely a good choice for coffee drinkers. While it is not a 1:1 recreation of a mocha cappuccino taste, it does a pretty fine job replicating about 80% of its rich flavor. This is expected as this is basically whey protein but it is also surprisingly close. However, if you prefer your coffee with more than a few teaspoons of sugar then this might not be to your liking. The mocha cappuccino protein powder tastes closer to a non-sweetened coffee.
This is one flavor that I did not expect to actually like, but it managed to do so nonetheless. You can look at the Banana Cream flavor to be an underrated variation of Optimum Nutrition Flavor. It is there but is mostly ignored. Which is doing yourself a disservice as this is one of the more surprising variations of Optimum Nutrition. It is quite good terms of taste accuracy and is something that you should definitely be checking out if you want to experiment a bit with deliciously flavored protein powder.
Now, does it actually taste like a banana? The fruit? Not so much, but it does feel like a banana flavored candy, which if you like sweets, would definitely pique your attention. If you like eating banana then you should definitely try this one out. You can also mix it with other food to spruce up the flavor department a little. This is actually what I mix in my pancakes which gives it a sweeter and fuller taste.
Do you love chocolate but can’t satisfy that sweet tooth because of your diet plan? Optimum Nutrition has you covered with a variety of chocolate flavored variations, such as the Rock Road flavor. Rocky Road is basically ice cream with a mixture of chocolate, marshmallow, and nuts. While the Optimum Nutrition Rock Road Flavor does not have these ingredients, it does a great job of emulating that flavor.
If there is one thing the Optimum Nutrition has proven of being able to do quite well, besides being a quality protein powder, it is their ability to capture the taste of chocolate. The Rocky Road flavor is delicious and creamy. It even has a tinge of marshmallow and nuts which is even more prevalent in its aftertaste. This will be the first of many chocolate-based flavors in this list.
For chocolate lovers who want a little twist in their protein powder smoothie, this flavor uses the classic chocolate and mint blend. I have to admit that this isn’t really my ‘cup of tea’ but it is quite popular with some of my friends. Based on their reaction, this variation captures that unique rich flavor with a cool and refreshing aftertaste that they enjoy so much in chocolate mints.
I have tasted this once myself and I do give it points for capturing that chocolatey taste with a refreshing kick of menthol afterward. Again, not my favorite but based on our scoring system and its popularity amongst health buffs, the Chocolate Mint flavor earns its spot in this list.
Now, you would be forgiven if you initially think that this is a typical cookie and cream smoothie on your first try. That is how accurate the taste is when compared to actual cookies and cream. This is also one of the most popular Optimum Nutrition Flavor and delivers that rich and creamy taste you would expect from cookies and cream dessert.
The thing is that it might have captured that flavor too close. You should be aware not to drink too much of this protein powder if you want to avoid spiking your macros level way up. Simply put, I found this flavor to be quite addicting. You can decide for yourself whether that is an advantage or disadvantage.
The standard measuring stick when it comes to flavored chocolate flavored protein powders. This is Optimum Nutrition’s flagship in regards to this market. Chances are you have already tasted and tried chocolate flavored protein powders from other brands and I can assure you this can easily surpass most of its competition.
As the name implies, this truly is a rich and creamy chocolate-flavored protein powder. That silky smooth consistency of a chocolate drink is perfectly captured here. Flavor-wise, it tastes like chocolate milk. Sweet and satisfying with a refreshing aftertaste that really hits the spot for chocolate lovers. The Double-Rich Chocolate flavor can also be mixed with anything you can think of. Tired of making a smoothie? Mix it in with bread and pastries, dealer’s choice.
While Double-Rich might be the original, Extreme Milk Chocolate pretty much perfected the formula. This protein powder brings the chocolate goodness to new heights. If you think their Double-Rich Chocolate flavor is sweet then this might give you a sugar rush.
Personally, this is my favorite as I do admit to having an insatiable sweet tooth. Optimum Nutrition’s Extreme Milk Chocolate can even be compared to other popular chocolate milk powder brands. Except, of course, this one is designed to promote leaner muscles. Sweet, delicious, rich, creamy, and goes with everything. The Extreme Milk Chocolate from Optimum Nutrition Flavor takes the proverbial cake.
Protein powder doesn’t have to be tasteless, or in worst case scenarios, unpleasant tasting supplement drink. Optimum Nutrition has proven that it can be a delicious treat that will also satisfy your cravings for sweets. They offer their product in a variety of flavors, flavors that we weren’t able to touch upon in this article as we mostly focused on the best ones.
Check their website for a full list of flavors like strawberry and vanilla, to name a few. As you can see, we can still lose weight get those ‘gains’ properly while still being able to enjoy the sinful taste of chocolate. Many helpful articles from Fitboot can help you reach your body contour.
Figuring out how your body’s metabolism work can be just as difficult as solving a Rubik’s cube. Each person’s metabolism works differently with some having a considerably faster natural fat burning process while others burn fat at a much slower pace. Metabolism is the method wherein your body burns the food and drink you digest and convert it into energy for the body. However, did you know that there are foods out there that actually takes up more energy in order for the body to properly metabolize?
Foods that actually help burn fat as you eat them? Yes, there are food types like that and they are called thermogenic foods. Including these types of food into your daily diet can actually help you control weight gain better and is highly recommended for people who are trying to lose weight.
Interested in learning more? Read on below to find out just what thermogenic foods are and a list of the best thermogenic foods in 2018 that you can include in your weight loss/control diet. Fitboot offers you this great article to help you reach your goal.
As we have stated earlier, thermogenic foods can help increase your metabolism and, in theory, even when you are resting. This doesn’t mean that you can just eat thermogenic foods and lie down all day, it just means your body will have an easier time burning off fat than it normally would.
In theory, thermogenic food should help reduce calories rather than add to them. It does this due to the fact thermogenic foods require more energy to digest and absorb its nutrients. If you want a good example of this, do a quick google search on celery and its calories. Celeries require more energy to digest in comparison the calories it actually provides the body.
Now, if you take thermogenic foods and include them in your calorie counting diet then you have yourself a pretty effective weight loss plan on hand. The key to losing weight, as dietary experts will tell you, focuses on creating a daily calorie intake plan that is less than the calories you burn daily. Including thermogenic foods into that plan will help speed up the whole process exponentially.
Another important aspect of thermogenic food you need to know is the ‘thermic effect’. This is the number of calories you burn during eating. Yes, even eating can burn calories although at such a low rate (20%). However, not all food groups require the same amount of energy to digest. For example, fatty foods only burn about 5% of calories as they are quite easy to digest and absorb. Thermogenic food, on the other hand, can take up to 35% of calories which is a good number if you are actively trying to lose weight.
Now then, since you have been properly introduced to thermogenic foods I believe it is time that I give you a recommended list I made. I have included these foods in my weight loss plan and have proven their benefits for those looking to lose some weight.
11 Best Thermogenic Foods in 2018
If you have already started your weight loss diet plan then chances are you have already come across the benefits of green tea. Green tea contains antioxidants and is a natural fat burner which is why it is also known as the slimming tea.
Green tea is also known to contain caffeine as well as catechins. These two chemicals are known to boost metabolism in the body, a property that is attributed to thermogenic food. So, drink a cup of green tea every day if you want help in controlling and losing weight.
Mixing cinnamon in your drinks or food is a great way to balance the body’s glucose. Not only does cinnamon help moderate blood sugar, but it also contains high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals which helps lower cholesterol in the body. Cinnamon also has natural anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce risk if neurodegenerative diseases.
You can sprinkle a couple teaspoons of cinnamon in your oatmeal, fresh fruit salad, and oatmeal. Also, I find that cinnamon compliments the taste of coffee exceptionally well. And since coffee is considered another thermogenic food, you can only imagine how effective it will be when combined with cinnamon.
Obviously, you can always expect green leafy vegetables in any list that concerns about health. Pick vegetables that contain high levels of fiber and are full of carbs like spinach and lettuce, to name a few. These types of green leafy vegetables offer high thermic effects.
Not only can these types of vegetables help you reduce body fat, but they also contain a slew of other helpful nutrients to keep your body healthy and energized. You can never go wrong with eating vegetables so make a habit of including them as much as possible into your daily diet.
4. Lean Protein/Meat
Lean protein foods offer the highest level of thermic effect. Take a look at all the most effective weight loss diets and you will see one similar element in all of them, every plan includes lean meat. A high-protein diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight and this type of weight loss plan is basically a thermogenic food-focused diet.
Incorporating lean protein into your diet can effectively help your body burn as much as 30% to 35% calories that this food type contains just from digesting it. That is a pretty good deal, not only does protein help you feel full longer, adding a bit of exercise will guarantee you won’t be experiencing any weight gain from this type of diet.
5. Coconut Oil
One of the healthiest and most popular food ingredients at the moment, coconut oil is also considered as a member of the thermogenic food group. Coconut oil can help in weight loss as it completely skips the digestive system and beelines straight for the livers. Once it has reached the liver, coconut oil can then act as body fuel and be used to energize the body.
This makes coconut oil a special kind of thermogenic food. It does not improve the metabolic rate rather it doesn’t convert into fat as easily as other oils. Coconut oil is also considered a safe type of fat that you can use to replace ‘bad’ trans-fat in your diet.
Eggs are another good source of lean protein and they are quite easy to find and prepare. Eggs contain low levels of calorie while being high on protein. It can effectively help speed up your body’s metabolism and thus burn more calories in the process. Eggs are also quite cheap which makes it a go-to thermogenic food for people who are trying to lose weight with this diet method.
If you want to reduce cholesterol intake, you can opt to remove the yolk and only eat the egg whites. Not only are eggs easily available and cheap, but there are also a number of ways to prepare them which are all equally as easy. If you plan on making scrambled eggs I suggest you use coconut oil as it contains little calorie content.
7. Whole Grains
Whole grains are fiber-rich food that also contains protein, vitamin B, and phytochemicals which all offer different health benefits as well. If you plan to greatly reduce calorie intake then it is best to switch to whole grains as it can help burn up to 50% of its total calorie during digestion.
Incorporating whole grains along with other thermogenic food and proper exercise can quickly help you lose weight incredibly fast. There really is no downside to eating whole grains as it is considered to be one of the healthiest and safest foods for weight loss and control available today.
Spicy food is known to help improve the body’s metabolism considerably. Have you ever eaten hot pepper and find yourself sweating? You can thank the heat-generating chemical known as capsaicin. This produces a sort of domino effect in your body as it helps burn calories as well. This is basically like giving your body a quick work out while eating your meal.
Apples are a great way to satiate your cravings for something sweet. This low-calorie fruit can be eaten on the go. It also contains fiber and carbohydrates and offers the same thermogenic effects as a cup of coffee. This is an advantage if you prefer not take any caffeine in your diet plan.
Apples are always a good addition to any type of diet, thermogenic or not. It is a healthy, delicious, and quite filling food that delivers a lot of health benefits.
Ginger has effects similar to hot peppers in that it manages to naturally increase body temperature which helps improve the metabolic rate. Ginger also contains a high amount of anti-inflammatory properties. This means it can help alleviate and stomach swelling caused by gases.
Ginger also helps suppress your appetite which is great for those who are having trouble keeping away from eating during the day. Ginger helps give you a feeling of fullness which should help you fight off cravings.
A surprise entry in this list, drinking cold water does show evidence that it can help the body burn off calories, contrary to popular belief. How does this help produce the natural thermic effect? Well, as you might have learned during school, the body needs to regulate the temperature of the food or drink we take before the digestion process begins. Meaning, it needs to make sure that anything thing we eat or drink must match the body’s internal temperature.
By drinking cold water, it forces the body to raise its internal temperature in order to warm up the ice water. Put two and two together and it is basically the same as a thermic effect, right?
Thermogenic foods can help make losing weight easier in a natural and safe manner. By combining this with calorie counting, you can almost guarantee that you will see positive results within a month. Of course, discipline is the primary ingredient if you wish to lose weight. Moderate your food intake and make sure to avoid unhealthy food. An hour of aerobic exercises 5 times a day will further improve your weight loss diet plan.
Most people today don’t have time to hit the gym while juggling work and personal life. However, don’t let this stop you from attaining the body that you desire. Being fit is not about being able to hit the gym, it is all about dedication, control, and maximizing the tool you have at your disposal. For example, if you want to develop leaner muscles you don’t need to hit the gym. Of course, the gym can help in your training but you can also do that in the comfort of your own home and with the instructions of Fitboot can reach your desired goal.
Case in point, the triceps bar. This exercise equipment is a simple yet highly effective method to work those triceps and build up muscle. The good thing about the triceps bar is that you can use it in your home. No need to go to the gym or register for a membership. I’ve been using triceps bars for almost half a year now and it has significantly done wonders. If you are like me who is not comfortable going to the gym or simply don’t have time for it, the triceps bar might just be what you are looking for.
Titan Fitness Triceps Bar
The handlebars are threaded and are spaced just right to allow for optimum grip with your arms
It also has rotating sleeves which makes training flow more smoothly.
I do feel it might be too small for people with larger hands which might make hammer curls unnecessarily difficult
Power Systems Pro Tricep Bar
Power System Pro might just take the cake thanks to its high-grade rubberized grips.
The rubber handles also utilize a knurled designed which further enhances your grips.
It can hold up to 200 lbs. of weighted plates
CAP Barbell Triceps Bar
An ideal triceps bar for those who are looking to have a relatively moderate weight training experience.
It is still a solid choice for strengthening your triceps but for those who have a smaller stature, you might want to look for a triceps bar that has closer handles.
Sunny Health and Fitness Triceps Bar
The Sunny Health and Fitness Triceps Bar use a threaded sleeve design which means it will not be able to hold too much weight.
The threaded design on the sleeves allows this bar to completely secure plates without the need for a clamp.
This bar is actually designed to hold a limit of 150 lbs
Alder Sports Regular Triceps Solid Bar
If you prefer something that is relatively lightweight, the Alder Sports Triceps Bar just might be right up your alley
This larger space between the handles makes this an ideal triceps bar for larger individuals. Take note though that Alder Sports triceps bar is not compatible with Olympic weights.
The bar, on its own, weighs only 17 lbs. but is basically a full-sized triceps bar at 34-inches.
Obviously, triceps bars deliver most of its benefits in the form of developing and strengthening your triceps muscles. However, you would be amiss to think that is where the benefits end. Triceps bars are designed so that you can do other exercises on it such as presses, weighted lunges, weighted squats, and weighted sit-ups.
Triceps bars are also extremely easy exercise tools to use. It also offers flexibility as you can add or remove weighted plates to suit your needs. Tricep bars can weigh between 20 to 250 lbs., and this is just for one triceps bar. It is pretty much an advanced version of a dumbbell. As triceps bars are easy to use, beginners can pick this up and train with it with just a bit of practice. Experts will also be able to utilize this weight in their training regimen.
Another advantage of this impressive weighted bar is that it is quite affordable in comparison with other workout equipment that offers similar benefits. This is also compact which means you can easily store this anywhere at home and whip them out anytime if you feel like doing some strength training.
Triceps bars are quite affordable but like with any other purchase, it is best to know what to look for in order to prevent getting a bar that does not meet your needs and preferences. Before you buy a triceps bar, consider the following first:
What is its overall construction?
Triceps bars can come in all shapes and sizes but one principal aspect you should always look for is its frame. When it comes to weighted bars, it is always smart to look for ones made from solid steel. This ensures that it will be able to handle the significant weight without bending. Try to avoid triceps bars that are made from plastic or other materials other than steel. This is doubly true if you are planning on doing intense weight training.
How much weight is it designed to support?
This is another personal preference factor that will depend on what type of training you are planning on using it on. For experts who want a good challenge then a triceps bar that can support up to 250 lbs. is a must. For beginners or those who are just looking to do a lighter workout, a triceps bar that has a 100 lbs. limit should suffice.
The sleeves are technically where you place the weighted plates. There are two types of sleeves used in weighted bars: the Olympic and the Threaded sleeves. Olympic sleeves are basically just your straightforward bars that are cylindrical and smooth. This type of sleeve can support significantly more weight but will require a clamp to hold weighted plates in place. You have to be careful when buying clamps, it must be made from high-quality material and are as durable as possible.
The second type is the threaded sleeves. As the name suggests, this type of sleeve uses the threaded mechanism design. You will basically be screwing the weighted plates in place. This is considerably more secure than the Olympic sleeves but is not designed to hold significant weight.
Another important factor you should look for in a triceps bar sleeve is whether it rotates to support your movement. A static sleeve will cause some awkward resistance which can increase injury or discomfort. I suggest you look for ones that have revolving sleeves as these offer more convenience but at a slightly elevated cost.
Lastly, the grips should be able to fully accommodate your hands. Make sure that the grips are large enough to allow you a comfortable and secure grip. You should also look for grips that offer optimum traction and comfort. Avoid grips that are smooth as it has a higher risk of slipping off your hands or causing blisters.
The Titan Fitness Triceps Weight Bar is my personal top choice. I’ve been using this for a couple of months now and I have to admit that I am not disappointed with it yet. The handlebars are threaded and are spaced just right to allow for optimum grip with your arms.
While designed for hammer curls, people with larger hands might find the handlebars too small for comfort. It also has rotating sleeves which makes training flow more smoothly. This triceps bar is designed to be compatible with most weighted plates. The clamps are also durable enough to ensure that the weights stay in place at all times.
As for the total weight, it can support, the Titan Fitness Triceps Bar can hold up to 200 lbs. plus the overall weight of the bar which is 25 lbs. This is my personal pick as it is ergonomically designed, well-made, and comfortable to use. However, I do feel it might be too small for people with larger hands which might make hammer curls unnecessarily difficult.
In terms of handling and optimum grips, the Power System Pro might just take the cake thanks to its high-grade rubberized grips. Not only does the grips provide maximum traction on your palms, but it is also quite comfortable to hold. The rubber handles also utilize a knurled designed which further enhances your grips.
It has a solid steel construction which makes it ideal for those who are planning on doing intense weight training. It can hold up to 200 lbs. of weighted plates. It is also coated with zinc plating which is rust-resistant, giving this triceps bar longevity as well.
An ideal triceps bar for those who are looking to have a relatively moderate weight training experience. This triceps bar can also hold up to 200 lbs. of weighted plates. You will notice that space in between the handles is visibly larger compared to other triceps bars. This makes it an ideal bar for hammer curls.
It is still a solid choice for strengthening your triceps but for those who have a smaller stature, you might want to look for a triceps bar that has closer handles. This one appears to be designed for larger individuals.
The handles are also comfortable to use thanks to its knurled design. The sleeves also revolve making it easier to do various training exercises. This is a good all-around triceps bar, especially for those who have a larger build.
The Sunny Health and Fitness Triceps Bar use a threaded sleeve design which means it will not be able to hold too much weight. This bar is actually designed to hold a limit of 150 lbs. of the weighted plate. The threaded design on the sleeves allows this bar to completely secure plates without the need for a clamp.
The solid steel construction significantly enhances its durability. The chrome finish also gives it a scratch resistant coating helping it retain its shiny appearance longer. The handles are designed so that your hands can easily wrap around them. It is also coated with a specially made texture that strengthens your grips.
If you prefer something that is relatively lightweight, the Alder Sports Triceps Bar just might be right up your alley. The bar, on its own, weighs only 17 lbs. but is basically a full-sized triceps bar at 34-inches. The handles have an 8-inches space between them which is slightly wider than your standard triceps bar.
This larger space between the handles makes this an ideal triceps bar for larger individuals. Take note though that Alder Sports triceps bar is not compatible with Olympic weights. You need to buy standard weighted plates for this one. It also comes with two 1-inch spring collars.
There is also an issue with the knurled designed grips. The knurled carving is a little too shallow to offer optimum grip. Still, as long as you are planning on using this for a light to moderate weight exercise then knurled grips issue can be overlooked.
The Impex Marcy Threaded Triceps Bar might not offer the same premium quality as some of the more expensive brands in this list but as a beginner’s triceps bar that offers practicality, this will do. It uses standard weighted plates so if you already have a couple of those lying around then this will be a financially smart investment. Well, Impex Marcy is quite affordable as well so you won’t have to spend too much on it.
The overall weight of the bar is only around 15 lbs. which makes it one of the lightest choices. The bar appears to be well built. Joints are all welded efficiently and it also comes with caps that are used to hold the weights in place. Just make sure you place them in there properly as they can slowly become loose during weight lifting.
The Impex Marcy Threaded Triceps Bar also do not have a rotating sleeve which can put some pressure on your hands if working out using heavier sets of plates. With that, I would recommend this if you only do light to moderate strength training.
The Body Solid Olympic Weight Bar features an impressive design that allows it to be used without any obstruction. This triceps bar is designed for optimum mobility and comfort and gives you a variety of triceps exercise to choose from.
This incorporates the rotating sleeves which makes weight training easier on your hands. The handles also feature a quality knurled design which is diamond finished for a completely detailed and ergonomic grip.
The ergonomic design of the Body Solid Olympic Triceps Bar makes it easy on the wrist and elbows. The spacing between the handles are also pretty good and should prevent the bar from lowering the level of mobility you can do during weightlifting training. This triceps weight is designed to support up to 200 lbs. and is compatible with Olympic plates. The collars located on both sleeves also help secure and stabilize the plates.
Buying the correct triceps bar is actually quite simple as long as you remember the key factors to look for. For those who are looking to strengthen their upper body muscles, specifically the triceps, the triceps bar is a great and practical alternative to hitting the gym or using large exercise machines.
I recommend you check out the list of triceps bars that were listed above. These are highly recommended within fitness circles and I have also benefited from using the Titan Fitness Triceps Bars. Take into consideration your personal preference and the type of results you are aiming to be able to pick the best triceps bar possible.
If you want the guidance and motivation of a personalized, supervised fitness program, we offer the best in one-to-one fitness training for men and women, teens to seniors, beginners and experienced athletes.
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Are you confused with all the ads, infommercials, and headlines about proper diet and amount of exercise necessary for good health and fitness?
Looking for the bottom line?
First, two things to keep in mind:
See if you recognize any of the following fitness myths I’ve heard often during the past two decades. Read the real scoop beneath each myth. These are just a few of the questions that folks routinely ask me. Follow some of the links to find more information about training, diet, and supplements (but remember to come back here and find out more about how you can get started on developing your ideal physique).
What the Surgeon General’s report (July 1996) actually said is that at minimum, a moderate amount of exercise daily is required to achieve health benefits. It gave some examples such as 30 minute of brisk walking or raking leaves, 15 minutes of running, or 45 minutes of volleyball on most, if not all, days of the week. The recommendations were intended to demonstrate the least that people need to do to modestly improve their health.
Because most folks look for an easy way around even minimum requirements where exercise and discipline are concerned, the Surgeon General and major sports medicine organizations like the ACSM tried to find ways to help Americans live longer healthier lives by just getting up and moving a LITTLE BIT during their average day. Completing some form of exercise for at least 10 minutes at least 3 times daily will cause some positive physical changes for the completely inactive person – ANY change is better than none.
In fact, in January 2005, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services finally updated these recommendations with the hard truth Americans need more exercise:
Many factors control how much and how quickly you will build muscle mass: genetics, pounds lifted and number of repetitions, duration of rest periods, training consistency, daily caloric intake, and quality of nutrients. Most people who express this concern, aren’t being realistic. If you lift weights that force you to perform no more than 8-12 repetitions per set, for 3-4 sets per exercise AND you consume no more calories than you can burn daily, bulking up to gargantuan bodybuilder proportions is not very likely.
Get to know your body and how it responds to exercise. Keep in mind that you must build some muscle in order to have any shape to that physique and that carrying muscle burns more calories than carrying fat (you’ll burn calories even while you’re resting!!) Once you see how your body responds to real training, you can modify your routine to get the shape and size you really want. You may choose to: use lighter weights that allow you to do no more than 15-20 repetitions per set (for definition); change exercises to emphasize different body areas; lift slightly heavier weights for 4-10 repetitions per set (for strength gains), add more sets, and/or moderately increase your calorie consumption to encourage more muscle growth.
This one is tricky because it’s been oversimplified and repeated ad nauseam in the sound bytes. The only possible processes involved when you use progressive resistance training (e.g., weightlifting) are: increasing muscular size (hypertrophy), increasing muscular strength, increasing muscular endurance, or increasing muscular power. If you lift weights in the appropriate rep range, you will always build some muscle. There is no physiological process known as “toning.” What people are referring to is emphasizing defined muscularity without excessive muscle mass. Lifting lighter weights in sets of 12-20 reps combined with a sensible fat loss program of proper diet and aerobic work will help you moderately increase your muscle mass while removing the layer of fat that hides the definition. But remember: you can’t shape the vase until there’s enough clay on the wheel. You have to build some muscle mass before you sculpt out the muscular definition you want.
Also, be realistic about what it means to use light weights. How many rail- thin, shapeless folks have you watched wasting hours each week doing endless reps with dumbbells about the size of an office stapler? This method is a big waste of time unless your office products give you a lot of trouble. Even if you’re “body-sculpting” you have to use weight that enables you to complete no more than 12-20 reps each set – if you can keep going with that weight you need to increase your resistance to force you back into that rep range. Otherwise, you’ll just get really good at moving staplers all day (muscular endurance). Remember to start by building a little muscular size with weight that forces you to complete no more than 8-12 reps per set for a few months before you start trying to shape that muscle with slightly lighter weights and higher reps.
Once and for all: muscle and fat are completely different substances. One cannot become the other anymore than you could turn lead into gold. But you’ve no doubt seen (or been) the muscular high school or college athlete who no longer hits the playing field but has kept eating at the training table. The muscle fibers shrink because they’re not challenged in the gym or in the game. But the body size hasn’t gotten smaller (in fact, maybe it’s a bit rounder?) because it’s moving all those extra calories to fat storage (now that they’re no longer being played off).
If you reduce your activity level, you must adjust your diet for your new level of activity. If you stop playing a certain sport or just want to buy a smaller sized wardrobe, reduce your daily caloric intake, reduce your weightlifting poundage, increase your reps, and/or increase your amount of aerobic activity.
Boy, the American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association, various physician organizations, and hundreds of trainers are sorry this one ever got out of hand. Of course Americans’ consumption of saturated fats became an obvious problem about 30 years ago, but despite our steadily decreasing average daily fat intake, Americans’ physical girth has steadily increased during that same time. One big reason: the preponderance of low-fat and fat-free foods that are loaded with sugar and sodium to disguise their lack of taste. Another reason: fat-free foods that have no nutritive value at all (so eating them makes you feel full but keeps you from eating real food). Recent statistics show we’re much more likely to consume twice as much food when we know that food is low- or non-fat. Yes, we’ve lowered our fat intake. But we’re promoting fat storage in our bodies when we consume more carbohydrates (usually processed sugar) than we can burn or when we consume empty calorie foods that reduce our appetite for quality nutrients.
Despite the possible short-term effectiveness of many fad diets that advocate mounds of fat-free foods without heed to overall caloric intake or breakdown, you will not get and stay in shape following this quackery.
You need some fat in your daily diet because several essential vitamins cannot be used by the body without it (the fat-soluble vitamins) and because your body learns to hoard what it gets denied, but there only TWO essential fats that must be consumed because they can’t be manufactured in the body;
Your body can make fat from almost any nutrients consumed in excess, so your daily dietary requirements are quite low;
If the fat-free food contains more calories than you can burn (probably from sugars added for taste), you will convert the extra calories to bodyfat;
Junk food with a fat-free label is still junk. The quality of your fuel controls your body’s performance and the quality of the shape-giving muscle it produces.
For starters, the low carb fad is back on the scene again, the only difference is that it’s finally found HUGE commercial success. The first one promoted commercially showed up in 1864 when a British undertaker named Willliam Banting got too fat to tie his own shoes; he followed advice from a friend of his, an ear surgeon named William Harvey, and went on a diet of very few carbs but plenty of alcohol. He lost weight and wrote about the miracle diet in his “Letter on Corpulence” which ultimately sold more than 100,000 copies although he never wanted it published. Banting lived another 14 years and managed to keep his weight in check. But here’s the part the low carb fanatics leave out when they cite Banting as a nutrition pioneer and the father of their movement: In the 1860’s, Dr. Harvey wrote that this regimen should not be carried on for too long, and Banting had completely altered his diet by simply controlling his portion sizes, reducing his intake of protein and fats, and resuming his intake of carbs. In other words, he learned to balance his nutrition and stop demonizing one nutrient more than any other.
In modern times, the low/no carb craze has emerged again and again:
Recent studies show that many people do lose weight on very low carb diets, just as they do on every diet, but the problems still greatly outweigh the short term benefits:
Do yourself a favor. Learn what each of the major nutrients does for your body and then use your common sense – you’re an omnivore for a reason. Get the proper fuel balance from quality food sources including every major nutrient. Nothing is magic and nothing is evil.
Nope. Although some elite athletes may practice several hours daily and rarely take a day off, remember that they’re working on physical strength, agility, and possibly mass building; improving their playing skills; cycling on- and off-season training time; and getting paid to do it. Keep your workout to 60-90 minutes in order to stay mentally focused on what you’re doing, and then give yourself at least 1-2 days rest each week in addition to plenty of sleep each night. Your muscles and heart get stimulated during the exercise session, but growth, strength improvements, and skill attainment actually occur outside the gym while you’re recovering. The body you want – while not available in the 15 minutes promised by some salesmen – is available for about 5 hours a week, consistently.
Again, time to separate necessity from desire. Depending on the quality of your diet and the training level you wish to attain, you may want to add a few supplements to your daily regimen. But for the average person who just wants to look better and perform well, you don’t need to buy out your local vitamin store.
The current DRI (formerly known as the RDA ) for most nutrients is insufficient to help you achieve significant muscularity, excellent endurance performance, or quality muscular definition. It’s barely sufficient to keep us alive. That’s the point of the DRI’s: minimum recommendations to keep a hypothetical population of sedentary people alive without poisoning them with any overdoses. In addition, the quality of our conventional over-processed foods grown in substandard soils or force-fed hormones and antibiotics also will not adequately fuel great physical performance.
So first, get the highest quality, minimally processed, drug- and pesticide-free foods you can afford
Then, at minimum, you should take a quality, potent multi-vitamin from a reliable source. I recommend Twinlab products because they are consistently rated some of the best in the world with quality ingredients whose presence consistently checks out in independent lab tests (if they say it’s in there, it really is).
You can check on the quality of other manufacturers’ products with an inexpensive annual subscription to ConsumerLab.com. These folks independently analyze many of the vitamins, herbs and other nutritional supplements you find on shelves and report on whether each one:
In addition, ConsumerLab also posts reports of FDA and Federal Trade Commission warnings, alerts and citations against the snake-oil salesmen and potion- makers who advertise bogus physique and performance enhancers and cure-all’s.
For those constantly on the run without the time or facilities to eat all of the small, frequent, quality feedings they should get, you may try meal replacement shakes or bars. The key: choose high quality products that aren’t filled with sugars, fats, (partially hydrogenated or tropical oils), or low quality ingredients. And be sure to control your serving sizes to fit your actual daily caloric needs. Check out bars by Luna, Odwalla, MetRx, Parillo and PerfectRx. Check out powders like Gainers Fuel, Mass Fuel, or Diet Fuel by Twinlab. Gainers Fuel and Mass Fuel provide very good meal replacement with good mixability, and you can simply reduce the serving size to meet your needs (thus stretching your dollar as well).
Some other supplements can help you achieve your specific goals, some provide some health benefits, some will not do any harm (but probably won’t do much good either), and some should simply not be used at all. Read reputable sources for information on the supplements you’re considering, check out the claims, read the science behind them (if it’s only studies allegedly performed by the manufacturer or their cronies, put it back on the shelf, it’s a joke), look at the results in people you meet who are using them and have goals similar to yours, and look for reliable manufacturers.
You can rely on ConsumerLab.com for some good reporting on the science behind many of vitamins, herbs and other supplements you might be considering. If a product contains everything the manufacturer claims but none of that stuff has been proven effective at anything you’re wasting your time and money.
Another good source is Muscular Development Magazine. It is published by the folks who produce Twinlab supplements, so there is some product bias and some long ads that are cleverly disguised as legitimate articles. They’re also on about the 8th change of format in the past few years, with the magazine currently looking more like men’s locker room drooling material than reputable science. But it does contain very high quality articles and is associated with heavy-hitting contributors from the internationally respected sports organizations and certifying bodies. They have always cited the sources behind all claims and all their products. You can then go find the research for yourself to get more information.
Be sure to get quality advice from a trainer or sports nutritionist who is familiar with your goals, physical history, current body composition, etc. But here are some basics:
Creatine monohydrate (provided you have no history of kidney problems) and a good whey protein powder supplement are essential for putting on quality muscle mass.
L-Carnitine is a good idea for aiding in recovery between training sessions (also the function of creatine) and for burning fat.
Chromium picolinate is a good idea for fat-burning y helping make your insulin drive more efficient, especially for those with a large amount of weight to lose
Read legitimate studies to find appropriate dosages, standardizations, and length of time for use.
Stay away from “miracle” promises like you see on infommercials and the gym juice bar, unnecessarily high dosages in many products called “mega”-something or other, useless sprinklings of herbs and spices added to make products seem complex (like in the Thermo-this-and-That and Metabo-something fat burners), and inexpensive “sports bars” available in the impulse buying aisle at the supermarket next to the candy. If you want to throw money away, just head for the casino – at least there’s a chance you’ll win.
No, it won’t. Practically every machine you’ll see in the gym or on TV was designed to imitate a free-weight or body-weight exercise. (There are a few exceptions such as leg curls for the hamstrings that are difficult to execute without a machine). Unless you require physical therapy, have problems with balance, have a condition which prevents you from making full use of both limbs, etc. most of the apparatus you find in the mall or on TV is superfluous.
In my experience, most weekend athletes and weight loss seekers will purchase an average of 3 pieces (over a lifetime) of miracle-promising equipment that will each become an expensive coat rack about 30 days after the date on the sales receipt. A 1997 survey found that half of all American households contain at least one piece of exercise equipment. At last count, only 1 in 4 were still in use in the home
Be honest with yourself and keep it simple. First work on the discipline to just get up and complete 30-60 minutes of body-weight exercises several times each week for several months. After all, if you won’t do pushups, crunches, dips, and some stretching where no equipment is required, you probably won’t do it just because there’s a brand new Health Climber under the bed.
The push to buy a machine that will shorten your workout doesn’t even make sense as a goal. We already know you need to train at least 30-60 minutes on most days of the week to make serious gains, so how could shortening the time you spend get you anywhere.
If training were easy, we wouldn’t call it a workout. The point of exercise is to challenge your muscles and your heart so that they rise to the challenge, grow and get stronger. Making training easier = no improvements.
As for reducing fat in those problem areas, you should know by now there is no such thing as spot reducing. Therefore, you can’t choose to burn fat in specific areas with or without a new machine. Losing inches will come when you reduce your total bodyfat by:
So why is it still a multi-billion dollar a year industry even though most of the products are shlock and most people don’t even continue using them? Two hints: 1) most people still cling to the false hope that there’s an easier answer than “get off your butt and train”; and 2) when was the last time you followed up on a money-back guarantee?
Email or call me with any questions or confusion you have. I’ll be happy to try to answer them or point you to the right source. And if I get more than a few of the same question I’ll post them here for easy reference
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