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As the wife of a shrimp fisherman, I get my share of fresh shrimp, so much so that I almost get sick of eating them. You see, when my husband fishes closer to shore, he brings back a bigger variety of fish and seafood. Out where the famous red Denia shrimp are, though, there isn’t a lot […]
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The question of “What Are The Best Exercises For Building Muscle?” is one that has plagued bodybuilders and strength athletes for years. And unfortunately there is no set in stone answer as to what the “Best Exercises” really are. It will vary depending on the individual and their own unique training situation.
But any exercise is better than no exercise. So to a certain degree all strength training exercises that you do can be beneficial. But there is a specific way to rank exercises from those that provide the lowest level of muscle stimulation, to the those that provide the highest level of muscle stimulation.
In this blog post I’m going to share that exercise ranking system with you. So you can use it to help save yourself time and maximize your gains in the gym, by picking the most productive muscle building exercises, in the right order, for your workouts.
Compound exercises work multiple muscles across more then one joint. Squats, Bench presses, and Deadlifts are prime examples of compound exercises. They are often referred to as the “Big 3 Lifts” because they are the 3 powerlifts used in powerlifting competition.
Just by doing these 3 exercises you work virtually every muscle major muscle group in the body. Squats primarily work the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, glutes, spinal erectors, and upper back. Bench presses mainly work the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Deadlifts heavily work the entire back, hips, glutes, hamstrings, as well as the grip and forearms. Because these exercises involve so many muscle groups, you can handle a lot of weight with these big basic compound exercises.
Now there are a lot more compound exercises besides squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Most pressing and rowing exercises fall into the category of compound exercises as well. Shoulder presses, bent over rows, dips, chin ups, etc.
Isolation exercises on the other hand generally focus on working one major muscle group across a single joint. Dumbbell flyes, leg extensions, and bicep curls are examples of isolation exercises. These exercises are smaller movements and you are greatly limited in the amount of weight you can lift, compared to bigger compound exercises.
Now I should also point out that technically there are no “True Isolation Exercises”, all exercises will bring in multiple muscle groups as stabilizing and supporting muscles. Heck, even now while you sit in your chair reading this blog post you are working your spinal erectors, abs, obliques, etc. just to sit up straight. So our main focus here is not on “every single muscle”, just those we are working for muscle building purposes.
Free weight exercises are typically classified as barbell and dumbbell exercises (kettle bells would also fall into this category as well). Basically they are exercises that you do with no outside support. You are responsible for lifting, supporting, and balancing the weights using your own strength.
Machine exercises are what you’ll find a lot of in most gyms these days. They are basically fixed exercises with handles, pads, pulleys, or foot plates that you push or pull against to lift the weight. Now even though you have to exert effort to actually lift the weight, the machine itself balances and supports the weights along a fixed path.
There is less actual muscle stimulation from machine exercises as compared to free weight exercises. The whole act of balancing and supporting free weight stimulates your body at a higher level. You have to be more aware of what you are doing, there is a greater risk of injury with free weights as they can move in all directions, shake, wobble, etc. All this extra movement activates your central nervous system to a much greater degree.
But on the other hand machine exercises are valuable because they can work the muscles from different angles and ranges of motion that are simply not possible with free weights. With free weights we are limited by gravity and only have resistance when lifting up. However, with machines you work against the resistance of pulleys and cables so you can have resistance in all directions and angles based on the particular machine.
Now all of these arguments are valid and there are pros and cons to each exercise variation. But I personally don’t like to think in absolutes of only doing one or the other. Instead I like to focus on how to combine the different exercise variations to maximize muscle stimulation and get the best overall muscle building results.
After all, the whole process of working out is just a means to an end. We’re only using these exercises to build muscle and get in shape. We not here to nit-pick over which one is better than the other.
When training a body part, I typically like to start off with a big basic compound free weight exercise right at the beginning. This provides high intensity muscle stimulation when I’m feeling fresh, strong, and energetic. So if I was training chest for example; I’d start with some form of free weight bench press variation, such as the barbell bench press.
After working the muscles hard with a free weight compound exercise. I generally like to move on to an isolation exercise to really target and isolate the particular muscle group I’m working. So in the case of a chest workout I may do dumbbell flyes.
By this stage of the workout muscle fatigue is starting to set in. But I don’t want to call it quits just yet, I still want to do another exercise for my targeted muscle group to really “finish them off” so to speak.
This is where doing a machine exercise can work really good. You can train the muscles from a unique angle and because the weight is balanced and supported by the machine, the risk of injury is much lower compared to doing another free weight exercise.
So in the case of a chest workout I may move on to some variation of a chest press machine and really grind it out. Knowing that I can push myself hard and train to failure with no risk of getting pinned under a heavy barbell.
As you can clearly see, there is no one “Best Muscle Building Exercise”. It all depends on the individual and what stage you are at in your workouts. Each exercise variation has a time and place where it can be utilized to help with your workouts.
This simple process of going from a basic compound free weight exercise, then moving to an isolation exercise, and finally onto a machine exercise is an awesome way to select your exercises for each one of your body part workouts. It will help you get the best muscle building benefits from all the different exercise variations.
And if you’d like to see this entire exercise selection process in action for yourself, I highly recommend that you sign up for my VIP “Inner Circle” Coaching Club at: www.TotalFitnessBodybuilding.com
Part of the “Inner Circle” Coaching Club includes the Workout Of The Month, where you’ll get a brand new training program each month. These programs are specifically designed to build on the previous help you make continuous progress towards your muscle building goals.
Click Here for more info on how you can become a
Total Fitness Bodybuilding “Inner Circle” member…
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The average Sweat with Kayla app review on iTunes is 3 stars. Despite the middle of the road rating, the written reviews make it seem like people either love it or hate it.
This comes as a shock due to the overwhelming amount of love and support that Kayla Itsines receives from her followers. One great example who shared her disappointment with Sweat with Kayla app is at SweatWithKaylaApp.com. Read on for our review on Sweat with Kayla workout app.
Let’s step back for a moment. Kayla Itsines is a highly successful businesswoman internationally known for abilities as a personal trainer and as a fitness personality on Instagram. She built her fruitful business by translating her experiences into online products; first three PDF eBooks and recently an app.
The original products were a set of three eBooks named Bikini Body Guide 1.0, Bikini Body Guide 2.0, and the Bikini Body Nutrition Guide. Clients were encouraged to buy them as a bundle so they would have the full 24 weeks of workouts and meal plans.
Recently Kayla Itsines added the fitness app to her repertoire. The app is intended to update Bikini Body Guides and make them more applicable to users’ on-the-go lifestyle.
Kayla Itsines app offers extras such as a built-in workout timer, weekly photo journal, and access to Bikini Body Guide 3.0 for weeks 25 and higher. This is on top of the established Bikini Body Guide features such as short, manageable workouts, meal planning, and detailed instructions on what to do next.
Below are some of the app’s top features:
– Short manageable workout sessions averaging 28-minutes
– Workouts rotate between resistance, LISS, HITT, and rehabilitation
– A timer built into the workout
– Meal planner with customizable options and many healthy suggestions
– A photo journal to help track progress
– Fitness challenges open to the global community
– Education materials
– Access to the Bikini Body Guide 3.0 workouts designed for weeks 25 to 36
All in all, this fitness app offers an excellent array of features and incorporates much of what made the Bikini Body Guide series so popular.
The “Average” Review
After hearing the onslaught of positive reviews for the Bikini Body Guide, I was surprised to hear the disappointment surrounding Kayla Itsines’ App.
After digging through the numerous app reviews, I found a few commonalities.
Below are the pros and cons most commonly cited in the App:
Pros of Sweat with Kayla:
ü Great design
ü Breaks down workouts on a daily basis
ü Workout planner lets you plan up to 2 weeks of workouts and adds reminders to your calendar.
ü Meal planner lets you plan up to 2 weeks of meals, provides healthy recipes and auto-populates
ü Step by step guide. Takes out any guesswork in what to do next.
Cons of Sweat with Kayla:
x Data loss
x Limited Meal Plans – they should be expanded to accommodate various dietary restrictions.
x Can’t change the planner start date. It auto starts on Monday which isn’t convenient for everyone.
x Doesn’t benefit long standing Bikini Body Guide users as there is little to no new content.
x Subscription based
What I find interesting about the “average” review is that users were providing a higher rate of negative reviews at the beginning. As time went on the reviews started to improve and span the 5-star range. My guess is that long-time fans were initially disappointed by the app but as Kayla Itsines made improvements the new comers were more satisfied with the product. This theory is based on two particular gripes: Data loss and price.
Data loss and glitch behavior were cited in the earlier reviews. There were reports of the app crashing resulting in data loss for active users; that missed workouts are lost completely because you couldn’t go back a day or two; and if you cancel your subscription, you lose all of your data. It seems some of these issues to have been addressed as many of the
newer reviews state that the app is working fine.
Next we come to the most cited complaint: price.
Sweat with Kayla is a subscription-based service. It costs $4.61 a week, which is $19.99 a month and $55.42 for the full 12 weeks. While this is less than a gym membership and about the price of a fancy coffee, the app has still received flack for being too expensive.
The real issue is that loyal fans feel taken advantage of. They are being asked to pay for material they already purchased; it is just in an updated version. They feel that they’ve already sunk hundreds of dollars into Kayla Itsines workouts and shouldn’t have to subscribe to the new app.
Despite the naysayers, many new fans purchase the app every day. They tout its convenience and ability to produce results.
My personal opinion with this app? It works exceedingly well.
Fans routinely claim to have lost 15, 30, and even 50 pounds with it. A quick look at the before and after photos posted on Kayla Itsines Instagram and shared by fans, it is evident that the app works well for many individuals.
With the overlapping content in mind, it is unsurprising that the results from Sweat with Kayla are similar to Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide eBooks.
Sweat with Kayla can provide excellent results thanks to its
ü Utilization of both diet and exercise
ü Detailed step by step plan that eliminates guesswork
ü Intentionally varied and graduated exercises
ü Healthy, easy to follow nutrition plan
ü Positive, encouraging online community
Together these reasons contribute to why Kayla Itsines app works.
Should you subscribe?
Now that we’ve determined that the Sweat with Kayla app works, the questions remains: should you subscribe?
The answer depends on your experiences with Kayla Itsines thus far. Most people will fall into two camps:
1) Are you a loyal fan who owns every other Kayla Itsines product and willing to pay for material similar to what you already have just to obtain the latest version? If you answer is yes, then you should subscribe right away.
If your answer is no, I suggest you wait to see if there are any new features added. Kayla Itsines has promised updates so Sweat with Kayla may fit your needs in the future.
2) Are new to the Kayla Itsines Empire and looking for an app to serve as a cheaper alternative to the gym?
Then you should consider subscribing. You’ll reap the benefits of the educational materials, detailed workouts, and meal suggestions.
No matter which camp you are in, I recommend trying the 7-day free trial. It lets you evaluate if the Sweat With Kayla app features will work for you.
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