There are a lot of terms being thrown around in the world of fitness and weightlifting. One of the buzzwords you might have heard being discussed lately is “muscle confusion“. Some people swear by it and others make fun of the term, saying that muscles don’t have a brain, so how can they be confused? With all these different opposing viewpoints being thrown around, no wonder that novice (and even many more advanced) lifters get confused about what advice to actually follow. You are probably going “WTF?” right now. 🙂
Your lifestyle has a lot of influence on the way you are. Whether you are fat or fit largely depends on how you live. This might be a controversial statement for some, but I stand by it. Some people are fat because of a medical condition, but that is a small minority. Most people are fat, because they choose to be fat, or rather don’t do anything not to be fat. There is a movement that tries to promote “fat is beautiful” or loving your body the way it is. I call BS on that. Sure, being a little overweight (keyword: LITTLE) will not damage your health too much and for example for people living in extremely cold climates, like Eskimos, having a layer of fat prevents them from freezing to death. However in today’s society, most people don’t live in extreme Arctic conditions. They don’t need that extra layer of fat to save themselves from freezing. They can also get food whenever they want and so do not need that extra storage of energy. Instead, being fat causes them a lot of bad health conditions.
So campaigns like this fat acceptance, are just a form of laziness. People don’t want to change and are lazy, and so instead of accepting the fact that the state they are in is bad and something needs to be done about it, they come up with BS like fat acceptance. If you are fat, you can lose all that weight (and if you are skinny you can gain it), you just have to accept the fact that it will take a little work. Actually, most likely it will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but the results of all that effort will be worth it. Trust me! 🙂
I believe it is your lifestyle that determines what your body looks like. Carbohydrates are now becoming the new bogeyman, the reason for all the health problems in the world today, just like fats (as in nutrient type) were before them. That’s why you had the low fat craze back in the day and now the craze is all about low carb diets. Yes, carbohydrates can lead to people becoming fat, however the reason is not because of carbohydrates themselves, but instead it is because of the way people live. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. If they are not used up by the body for energy straight away, a part of them gets stored in the body as glycogen. However glycogen storage in the body is limited and so once that is filled up, then the rest of the carbohydrates get stored as fat. So this fact is taken by some influential commentators to explain the obesity epidemic. Since they are influential, they start a trend and this explanation is accepted by the mainstream and most people in society. They are behind the tipping point for this and have a huge influence on what the average person does. Then you have an explosion in all kinds of diets and other “solutions” in order to fix the problem based on this explanation.
The Good Mornings are a very effective exercise that unfortunately most people don’t have in their routine. It’s a compound exercise that hits different muscles, but especially your glutes, your back (especially your lower back), spinal erectors, hips and your hamstrings. In order to do a good morning, you have to put a bar on the upper part of your back and bow, with your body coming all the way to parallel to the floor. Of course don’t forget to keep your back nicely arched while bowing! Most people usually keep their knees almost straight (just slightly bent), but some versions of the exercises can also be done with the knees being more bent. The bent of the knees just puts a stronger focus on different muscles, with the straight knees putting more stress and stretch on the hamstrings.
Doing the good morning can really help you with your squat and deadlift. In fact, for newbies who have never been to the gym before and are just starting out their routine, I would recommend starting out with this exercise first before incorporating the deadlift into their routine as they get a bit more advanced and used to lifting weights (the deadlift is very dependent on proper form and many newbies don’t do it properly and often get injured). In any case, if you want to gain weight and muscle and add a lot of size to your frame, this exercise needs to be a part of your routine.
Don’t forget that proper form for good mornings is very important! Here are some videos showing you how to do them properly:
Tearing your ACL is one of the most serious injuries an athlete can experience. This can sideline you for a long time, usually from half a year to an entire year. Basically when you experience this, your entire season is over. This is something that happened to me this year and unfortunately brought me back to square one.
Before the injury I was finally getting into a good lifting and sports routine, gaining weight and building muscles. I slowly wanted to get back to playing basketball again. Of course, a big part of basketball is being able to jump higher. So I started doing plyometrics exercises. These types of exercises are a really good way of making your muscles more elastic and thereby be able to perform many activities more explosively and efficiently.
I started off with different types of plyometrics and at one point incorporated a sideways plyometrics exercise, where you have one of your legs on a chair and the other on the floor. You then jump, pushing off the foot on the chair, you fly above the chair and land on the other side of the chair, with the foot that was on the ground now being on the chair, and the foot that was on the chair, now being on the floor. You then repeat this from the other side of the chair, jump over the chair and land on the other side again. So you repeat this sequence for maybe 10 jumps. I was doing this and at one point kind of stopped concentrating on the exercise. I landed, my knee buckled, I heard a pop and in a surreal moment collapsed on the floor. After that, I managed to get up, but my knee was busted.
I rested the knee a bit and actually got up to go on the in place skiing type machine where you kind of slide your legs up and down as if you were doing cross-country skiing. I was hoping that nothing serious happened. I got home rested the knee a bit and was reading my symptoms on the internet and fearing the worst (all the symptoms were pointing to an ACL rupture). I went to sleep and got up the next day to go to work, however my knee had swollen up and was hurting. I had trouble walking. I went to work and was sitting there for a while, but the pain was not going away. So I decided to go to the hospital to get it checked out. The doctor checked it out, sent me to another room, they checked it out there. Then I went back to the original doctor and in came the verdict. Supposedly just a big sprain with a lot of liquid in the knee, but that it should subside and I should just rest the knee. So I was happy! That was sometime at the end of April.
However the months were passing by and I still had problems with the knee. I couldn’t do any sports or anything involving the knee and it wasn’t getting better. Always be ready to get a second opinion, because according to the statistics the vast majority of ruptured ACLs are not diagnosed properly the first time and people don’t even know about the fact that they have a ruptured ACL.
Whenever you start reading things on weight training you come across a bunch of really long and complicated sounding words. One of these is the word hypertrophy. If you want to get bigger, stronger, bulk up and gain weight and muscle, then this is a word you should pay attention to. It’s just another way of saying increase in the size of muscles.
There are two main functions of skeletal muscles. The first is to contract and thereby cause the body to move and the second one is to provide stability for the posture of the body. As mentioned in previous posts, muscles are made up of many smaller units called fibers. It is at this level that hypertrophy occurs. It happens through the increase of muscle mass, as well as the cross-sectional area. This is done through stimulus from the outside. Muscles adapt to work load. Exercise is often used to simulate this work load. Through exercise, stress is applied to the muscle. The muscle then adapts and generates tension. This results in the increase of size and amount of contractile proteins (actin and myosin) which make up the myofibrils in the fibers. So the muscle fibers get bigger. This is hypertrophy.
There are two main types of hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic and myofibrilar. Sometimes a third type, transient, is mentioned as well, however that one is not as important, as it only means the temporary swelling of the muscle (due to fluid accumulation) after exercise.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy means an increase in the volume of the sarcoplasm in a muscle cell. Sarcoplasm is the gel-like fluid-like substance that is enclosed within a muscle cell. It contains all kinds of things, with the largest percentage of it being taken up by water. It also contains glycosomes (granules of stored glycogen), as well as myoglobin, which is a protein that binds oxygen. Sarcoplasm accounts for about 25% to 30% of the muscle cell’s size, so if it gets swollen up, the cell increases in size as well. Here the cross-sectional area of the muscle increases, but the actual density of the muscle fibers decreases. So this is mostly non-functional increase in muscle size. This increases the bulk size and look of the muscles. The strength of the muscle does not increase as much.
The squat is one of the essential exercises if you want to get big, bulk up and gain weight. Squats are a heavy compound exercise and they work out several different muscles and muscle chains. This means that they give your body (and especially the lower parts) an intense workout. Unfortunately squats are also an exercise that requires a lot of care to be taken in order to do it properly. In order to get the most benefit out of it and to prevent injuries, you need to learn how to do it properly with the right form.
Here is a transformation video of a guy who went from skinny kid to buff dude. He gained weight and bulked up in a pretty short time (although he did juice as well, and by juice I don’t mean orange juice).
The transformation of Zyzz is pretty remarkable. When starting out, you can see that he was a very skinny and nerdy kid. He described himself as being a person who spent hours playing video games and fapping it in the basement. One day he decided he had enough and wanted to transform himself to a big, buff guy. That’s when his gym transformation started. Zyzz spent hours in the gym, ate a lot, used some questionable means (steroids), but at the end he transformed himself into a huge guy. Check out the before and after of Zyzz transforming himself…
The transformation of Zyzz is something that can motivate you. I am posting this for inspirational purposes (Zyzz before and after in video):
Zyzz Transformation (before and after): Find out how you too can become like Zyzz.
So are you a total beginner who has never set foot in the gym? You probably don’t have the strength, habits or coordination to be able to do any meaningful weight-lifting exercises. You can of course start with weights straight away (of course first studying how to do everything properly), but I think it would be better if you learned workout habits and got some muscle endurance first.
So if you are a total beginner and have almost no experience in the gym or with sports, start with a bodyweight routine. The goal of this routine is to be able to do the number of repetitions specified for each exercise in a row without stopping. So after a while you should be able to do 100 pushups or 200 body squats in a row. However at the beginning you probably won’t be able to do that. So the key here is to be able to do the specified number of repetitions for each exercise in a DAY. So for example you need to do 100 pushups. You do 20 in a row and then your arms collapse and you can’t do any more. After that, you rest a little bit and then do 20 more. You don’t have time to do anymore so only come back 2 hours later and do 20 more. You are up to 60 now. You then do the remaining 40 at various intervals during the day. The same thing would happen with the other exercises. The key here is to do as many as you can on the first try. So the first week you would be able to to do only 20 in a row, the second week 25, the third week 30 and so on, until one day you would be able to do 100 in a row! The numbers below can of course be changed. If you feel that doing a 100 pushups in a day is too much for you, then you can set the daily goal at 50 or even 25. The important thing here is to pick a goal and stick to it.
Do all the exercises below. You can try to do them all in one day every day of the week or pick a few to do a day, only exercising 3 days a week. It’s up to you and how busy you are. However once you pick a schedule, then stick to it religiously!
200 body squats
100 glute bridges
Some people argue against doing a lot of repetitions of single exercises, however we are not going for total strength here, but instead muscle endurance and the formation of good habits. Repetition was what our ancestors did and they were probably more robust than us. A lot of old martial arts routines were also based on long high repetition body work.
The above exercises should form the base of your routine, but you can throw in other exercises as well if you want to. For example the exercises here are good for any age. You can also throw in a mild stretching routine and maybe some slow cardio on a stationary bike.
After forming a strong base with these exercises, then you can move on to a more structured lifting routine composed of compound exercises .
Each person has a different body and each body has a different composition of muscles. There are several types of muscle, but probably the one most well known by normal people are the skeletal muscles. These muscles are made up of different cells called myocytes. Myocytes are what we are talking about when we discuss muscle fibers. Muscle fibers and myocytes are two words for the same thing. These myocytes are in turn held together by connective tissue.
Muscle fibers form in a process called myogenesis. In this process different myoblasts are fused. This fusion results in long cylindrical cells that have more than one nucleus and are called myofibers. Myofibers are further made up of myofibrils, which are in turn made up of sarcomeres, which are the basic units of cells in muscles. These sarcomeres repeat one after another to form the muscle.
Sarcomeres are made up of different types of protein. The different proteins that make up the sarcomeres can be described as long and fibrous and function by sliding past each other when the muscles contract. There are several types of protein that make up sarcomeres, however the most important are myosin (which is thick) and actin (which is thin). They are the primary building blocks and also very important for muscle contraction. Myosin and actin bind to each other, while the myosin head also binds to ATP (source of energy for muscle movements). Myosin and actin act on each other and this makes the muscle fibers generate tension. With the aid of motor neurons this tension is what creates muscle contraction. While myosin and actin are probably the most important proteins that make up the sarcomeres, there are also other proteins, for example titin and also nebulin.