Simple Steps to Superior Fitness
Is your fitness program really working for you? Don’t answer too quickly. Most people vastly over-rate their physical condition and are not getting the results they want. On the other hand, some people are in much better condition than they give themselves credit for and should be happy with their results. Either group can benefit from this article.
To determine which group you are in, and whether you need to seriously reconsider your program, take this six question quiz. Following that, we’ll look at some ways to go from being in shape to being in really great shape—and looking like it.
Now, let’s examine each of these areas and provide some tips for you.
Many people think doing more biceps curls is the way to build arm strength. This is not true. The body tends to limit muscular development based on supporting structures and other factors. If you have a weak upper back, you can pretty much forget about much arm development. So, before you waste your time doing all kinds of curls, build your upper back. Note that you will also need to boost your testosterone via large exercises like squats and deadlifts. In fact, if you don’t do such exercises now, but quit doing curls and did squats instead, your arms would actually grow.
Upper back strength
It’s funny how people focus on the “mirror muscles” of arms and chest, but neglect to develop upper back. A well-developed back makes you look powerful, because when you have it you are powerful. And without it, your arms will never reach their potential. Don’t neglect your back.
What are good ways to develop your back? First, build the foundation. Do front squats (not leg presses) twice a month. Next, do pull-ups and chinups on your back and biceps days. Combining these will hit your rhomboids seriously, plus add both thickness and width to your lats. Doing only one or the other will prevent proper development. Hit your rhomboids with bentover rows, and then follow up with biceps curls and hammer curls. The hammer curls hit the brachias, which many people neglect—this “lifts” the biceps ball of muscle, making it look bigger.
I like to do this workout in the morning, and repeat the curls part of this workout again in the evening. But don’t do that yourself unless you are taking glutamine.
The rear delts stabilize the shoulder and allow for good posture. Proper alignment massively improves your strength, due to basic biomechanics.
You can hit the rear delts with any of several exercises, all of which are hard to describe in text. The rear deltoids are located just below the bony projection at the back of the shoulder. Feel around and find it. If you lie on your left side and place your right elbow on your right hip, and then rotate your right arm up and down, you should be able to feel it move. Now, think about how to put a load on that muscle and you can develop your own exercises. You can start with this position, actually.
You can also grab some light weights, bend at the waist, and raise your elbows. Keep the elbows in a straight line with your shoulders, and raise your upper arms parallel to the floor. Now, rotate your hands so your thumbs are pointing downward. Try for a 45 degree angle. The backs of your hands should be facing each other at a 45 degree angle from horizontal, and they should be tilting thumbs down. Bend at the elbows, and raise and lower your hands. You should feel this in your rear delts. Adjust your positioning, if you do not.
Simply correcting your exercise program may not be enough—you may need chiropractic care to overcome the problems you have created in your ligaments and other tissues. Otherwise, you simply cannot hit your deltoids correctly. As with any other professional, not all chiropractors are equally qualified—if you don't see results within the first few visits, try another chiropractor. Also, beware of the turfwar mentality that exists in the "traditional" medical profession—get the care you need, even if one type of caregiver disparages another.
It takes 3500 calories to make a pound of body fat, and you have to burn 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat. It is far easier, and more productive, to reduce fat through proper caloric intake than to try to burn off the results of overeating. Some people think they can burn off excess abdominal fat by doing sit-ups. Not only is this a bad exercise, you would need to do about 10,000 sit-ups to burn off a pound of fat.
But, you can reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories and lose a pound of fat each week. Where can you cut? Of course, you know not to scarf down an 800 calorie superburger or a 1200 calorie fast food shake.
Simply reducing your portion size by one fourth will cut those 500 calories. Smaller plates will do it. If you have 10 inch plates and don’t want to replace them with 8 inch plates, then eat off your teacup saucers. Plan your meals. See our article on hidden calories.
You also need to think about insulin, HGH, and testosterone. Avoid simple sugars, and do front squats or deadlifts twice a month, and you’ve won half the battle in this regard. The main thing that will gice you the most benefit, however, is simply limiting your portion size. Eating six small (not regular size!) meals a day will provide even further advantages.
The human body responds to acute stresses, and deteriorates in the face of chronic ones. This is why the theory of exercise high intensity (think sprinters) produces results, while the theory of exercise low intensity (think of all those fat people watching TV while walking treadmills) produces poor results.
One athlete never does "aerobics" or "cardio routines," but has a lung capacity on par with professional football players and people who have been running for years. How does he do this?
You don't need to run (treadmill or otherwise) to develop lung capacity. Here are some other ways to develop it:
There are some other important areas we didn't discuss, such as posture. However, this is an article and not a book. Think of the areas we did discuss as a good start on the path to superior fitness. It helps if you think of fitness as a continual journey, rather than a destination.
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The articles on this site are authoritative, because:
Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.
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