MYTH #1: DO 8 TO 12 REPETITIONS
The claim: It's the optimal repetition range for building muscle.
The origin: In 1954, Ian MacQueen, M.D., an English surgeon
and competitive bodybuilder, published a scientific paper in which he
recommended a moderately high number of repetitions for muscle growth.
The truth: This approach places muscles under a medium
amount of tension for a medium amount of time—it's basically The Neither
Here Nor There Workout.
Here's the deal: Higher tension—a.k.a. heavier weights—induces the
type of muscle growth in which the muscle fibers grow larger, leading to
the best gains in strength; longer tension time, on the other hand,
boosts muscle size by increasing the energy-producing structures around
the fibers, improving muscular endurance. The classic prescription of 8
to 12 repetitions strikes a balance between the two. But by using that
scheme all the time, you miss out on the greater tension levels that
come with heavier weights and fewer repetitions, and the longer tension
time achieved with lighter weights and higher repetitions.
The new standard: Vary your repetition range—adjusting the
weights accordingly—so that you stimulate every type of muscle growth.
Try this method for a month, performing three full-body sessions a week:
Do five repetitions per set in your first workout, 10 reps per set in
your second workout, and 15 per set in your third workout.
MYTH #2: DO 3 SETS OF EACH EXERCISE
The claim: This provides the ideal workload for achieving the fastest muscle gains.
The origin: In 1948, a physician named Thomas Delorme reported in the Archives of Physical Medicine that performing three sets of 10 repetitions was as effective at improving leg strength as 10 sets of 10 repetitions.
The truth: There's nothing wrong with—or magical about—doing
three sets. But the number of sets you perform shouldn't be determined
by a 50-year-old default recommendation. Here's a rule of thumb: The
more repetitions of an exercise you do, the fewer sets you should
perform, and vice versa. This keeps the total number of reps you do of
an exercise nearly equal, no matter how many repetitions make up each
The new standard: If you're doing eight or more reps, keep
it to three sets or less. If you're pounding out less than three reps,
you should be doing at least six sets.
BONUS TIP: When it comes to making lifestyle changes that will
improve your health, your first step is the most important one. Start
here: 20 Little Changes for a Healthier Life.
MYTH #3: DO 3 OR 4 EXERCISES PER MUSCLE GROUPThe claim: This ensures that you work all the fibers of the target muscle.
The origin: Arnold Schwarzenegger, circa 1966.
The truth: You'll waste a lot of time. Here's why:
Schwarzenegger's four-decade-old recommendation is almost always
combined with "Do three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions." That means you'll
complete up to 144 repetitions for each muscle group. Trouble is, if you
can perform even close to 100 repetitions for any muscle group, you're
not working hard enough.
Think of it this way: The harder you train, the less time you'll be
able to sustain that level of effort. For example, many men can run for
an hour if they jog slowly, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who
could do high-intensity sprints—without a major decrease in
performance—for that period of time. And once performance starts to
decline, you've achieved all the muscle-building benefits you can for
that muscle group.
The new standard: Instead of focusing on the number of
different exercises you do, shoot for a total number of repetitions
between 25 and 50. That could mean five sets of five repetitions of one
exercise (25 repetitions) or one set of 15 repetitions of two or three
exercises (30 to 45 repetitions).
MYTH #4: NEVER LET YOUR KNEES GO PAST YOUR TOES
Allowing your knees to move too far forward during exercises such as
the squat and lunge places dangerous shearing forces on your knee
The origin: A 1978 study at Duke University found that
keeping the lower leg as vertical as possible during the squat reduced
shearing forces on the knee.
The truth: Leaning your torso too far forward, so that your
knees stay back, is more likely to cause injury. In 2003, University of
Memphis researchers confirmed that knee stress was 28 percent higher
when the knees were allowed to move past the toes during the squat. But
the researchers also found a countereffect: Hip stress increased nearly
1,000 percent when forward movement of the knee was restricted. The
reason: The squatters had to lean their torsos farther forward. And
that's a problem, because forces that act on the hip are transferred to
the lower back, a more frequent site of injury than the knees.
The new standard: Watch a toddler squat. Push your hips back
as far as you can, while keeping your torso as upright as possible.
This will reduce the stress on your back and knees.
MYTH #5: WHEN YOU LIFT WEIGHTS, DRAW IN YOUR ABS
The claim: You'll increase the support to your spine, reducing the risk of back injuries.
The origin: In 1999, researchers in Australia found that
some men with back pain had a slight delay in activating their
transverse abdominis, a deep abdominal muscle that's part of the
musculature that maintains spine stability. As a result, many fitness
professionals began instructing their clients to try to pull their belly
buttons to their spines—which engages the transverse abdominis—as they
The truth: "The research was accurate, but the
interpretation by many researchers and therapists wasn't," says Stuart
McGill, Ph.D., author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance
and widely recognized as the world's top researcher on the spine. That's
because muscles work in teams to stabilize your spine, and the most
valuable players change depending on the exercise, says McGill. Read:
The transverse abdominis isn't always the quarterback.
In fact, for any given exercise, your body automatically activates
the muscles that are most needed for spine support. So focusing only on
your transverse abdominis can overrecruit the wrong muscles and
underrecruit the right ones. This not only increases injury risk, but
reduces the amount of weight you can lift.
The new standard: If you want to give your back a supporting
hand, simply "brace" your abs as if you were about to be punched in the
gut, but don't draw them in. "This activates all three layers of the
abdominal wall," says McGill, "improving both stability and
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Friday, January 11, 2013
1. Train using the most “bang for your buck,” multi-joint lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin-ups, and Olympic lifts.
2. Avoid isolation, single-joint lifts such as bicep or leg curls unless you have unlimited training time.
3. Use very short rest periods (10 to 60 seconds) to trigger the greatest growth hormone response.
4. Vary the tempo of lifting phases and rest periods to provide new stimulus for the body to adapt.
5. To get lean fast, use a hypertrophy-type protocol (8 to 12 reps, more than 3 sets, 70 to 85 percent 1RM load).
6. Use a longer time under tension to burn more energy and increase postexercise oxygen consumption—try a 4-second eccentric and 1-second concentric phase.
7. Train to create an anabolic response. Increasing growth hormone is the priority because of its significant lipolytic (fat burning) effects.
8. Perform circuit training with little rest between sets for maximal growth hormone response.
9. For gradual fat loss over a longer period, include strength cycles that favor testosterone release with heavier loads (up to 95 percent 1RM), slightly longer rest (2 to 3 minutes), and lots of sets.
10. Work harder. If you’re not getting results, you’re not working hard enough.
11. Give priority to training the anaerobic energy system over the aerobic system when strength training and conditioning.
12. Do high-intensity sprint intervals for conditioning. Two examples are 60 cycle sprints of 8 seconds each, 12 seconds rest; or 6 all-out 30-second running sprints on a track, 4 minutes rest.
13. Be as active as possible in daily life. Move more: Take regular brisk walks during the day, always take the stairs, park far away in any parking lot, or do your own yard work.
14. Do relaxing physical activity instead of sitting in front of a screen: yoga, stretching, foam rolling, martial arts, or walking mediation.
15. Eliminate all processed foods from your diet—don’t eat them ever.
16. Eliminate all trans-fats from your diet such as margarine and shortening—they MUST be removed from the diet.
17. Don’t avoid fat. Research shows that people with diets with 30 to 50 percent coming from smart fats have higher androgens and lower body fat.
18. Eat smart fat, favoring the omega-3 fats that come from fish and wild meats.
19. Take fish oil to boost omega-3 fat intake and ensure your omega-3 to omega-6 fat intake is balanced.
20. Eat a diet with high-quality protein—organic meats will provide the largest “bang for your buck” protein.
21. Eliminate wheat and avoid grains in favor of vegetables.
22. Raise resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories the body burns at rest) by eating a higher protein diet with 15 to 25 percent of the diet coming from high-quality protein.
23. Eliminate all high-glycemic carbs and eat only low-glycemic vegetables and berries.
24. Eat an antioxidant-rich diet to prevent inflammation, which leads to fat gain. Try kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, berries, pomegranates, and cherries.
25. Non-green veggies that help you lose fat are colored peppers, eggplant, garlic, onions, mushrooms, hearts of palm, spaghetti squash, and water chestnuts.
26. Drink a lot of water (at LEAST 3 liters a day) to stay hydrated and help detox the body.
27. Avoid alcohol, juice, soda, and sports drinks. Stick to water, tea, and coffee.
28. For a radical approach, eliminate all alcohol. If alcohol can’t be eliminated, Sardinian and Spanish red wines are the best worst option.
29. Try acupuncture—studies have shown it can aid in treating obesity.
30. Make sure your vitamin D level is over 40 ng/ml. Take vitamin D if not.
31. Take a probiotic to improve your gut health.
32. Make sure your magnesium level is up to par. Scientists suggest 500 mg of magnesium a day.
33. Take a liquid zinc test to see if you can taste zinc. If not, you are deficient and should take zinc to speed fat loss.
34. Don’t buy cheap, poor quality supplements because they will do more harm than good if they are tainted with heavy metals or pollutants.
35. Take B vitamins, especially if you eat a high-protein diet or take BCAAs because the extra amino acids take away from the pool of available B vitamins need for detox.
36. Drink coffee or take caffeine before workouts to increase fat burning and work capacity—research shows we will self-select heavier loads if we take caffeine before training.
37. Drink organic green tea to elevate fat burning and aid in detoxifying the body.
38. Take carnitine to help the body use fat for fuel and increase time to exhaustion when training hard.
39. Take the amino acid taurine because it lowers the stress hormone cortisol and helps the body digest fat.
40. Take R-form alpha lipoic acid because it supports detox and recovery from training.
41. Use the herb fenugreek with meals to improve insulin sensitivity and energy use.
42. Remove body piercings to lose fat fast, especially belly piercings.
43. Limit fructose in the diet because it gets in the way of losing belly fat.
44. Never eat fructose before workouts because it blunts fat burning and lowers metabolic rate.
45. Avoid milk before workouts because it is very “insulinotropic,” meaning it causes persistently high insulin levels that make you burn less energy.
46. Don’t drink caffeine after workouts because it may raise cortisol at the point where you need to clear it for the best fat-burning and recovery effect.
47. Eat high-quality protein for breakfast. Avoid cereal and all processed foods.
48. Eliminate all sugar from your diet. It’s way more trouble than it’s worth if you want to lose fat.
49. Make an effort to get enough sleep. An early-to-bed, early-to-rise sleep pattern has been shown to improve body composition.
50. Know that you have complete control over what you put in your mouth. No one ever ate anything by accident.