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  Click here to go to the first staff post in this thread.   Thread: 1001 Muscle Building Tips

  1. #21
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    124. CARDIO TYPE AND DURATION
    You may be a bodybuilder at heart but you still need to do cardio. This is especially true during the precontest season. Write down the type of cardio you performed (machine or aerobics class), duration, and intensity level. This information will be invaluable the next time you compete or need to get ready for a photo session.

    125. HOW DO YOU FEEL?
    Even though it's very subjective, don't be afraid to jot down how you feel each day. Are you in a positive or negative mood? Do you have enough energy for all your daily activities and your workout? Are you still motivated to hit the gym, or would you just as soon do something else? The answers to these questions are often a good way to determine of there is a problem with out training or eating.

    126. STRETCHING TO PERFECTION
    It's ironic how many people spend thousands of hours contracting (shortening) their muscle by weight lifting, and yet devotelittle or no time to lengthening the muscles. Stretching is nothing more than the opposite movement to weightlifting. Stretching lengthens the muscles, plays a major role in warming the muscles, and research shows that stretching can also indirectly stimulate muscle growth. For maximum effect, spend 10 to 15 minutes each day stretching, and hold each stretch for 15 to 25 seconds.

    127. STATIC STRETCHING
    Static stretching involves moving into a designated position slowly and holding for 15 to 25 seconds. Holding for less time than this will not affect the muscle enough to cause a physiological change in length Holding for more time than this can actually cause muscle tearing and injury. Static stretching is best performed at the end of your workout.

    128. DYNAMIC STRETCHING
    Dynamic stretching involves actively stretching muscles through movements that will mimic the training activity to follow. Forward lunges and leg swings are good examples. You are better served performing dynamic stretches during your pre-cardio routine in order to increase body coordination and circulation in joints and muscles.

    129. EASE INTO IT

    To fully stretch a muscle or joint you must slowly ease into it. Take 30 to 40 seconds to move slowly into a strech. The maximum point to stretch to is the point at which you just begin to feel pain in the stretched muscle. Many experts call this the "pain edge." With time your "pain edge" will move further and further along as you gain flexibility.

    130. BE CONSCIOUS OF FOOT POSITION
    One of the first things you'll notice when you begin stretching is that the position of your feet can make a big difference to the stretch. For most leg stretches try to keep your feet dorsi-flexed (the foot and lower leg make a 90-degree angle) rather than pointed. This is especially true for hamstring streches.
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  • #22
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    131. HEEL DROPS (CALVES)
    Stand on a step riser, your feet shoulder width apart and your heels hanging off the back so that only your tows are on the edge. Slowly drop one heel down until you feel the stretch in your calf. Don't force the stretch. If your heels touch the floor you will need a higher step. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and return to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat many times.

    132. SEATED STRADDLE (MANSTRINGS)
    Sit up straight on a mat with your legs open as wide as possible. Gently lean forward over one leg as far as you can until you feel the hamstrings become tight. Push your shoulder to your knee as you lean forward. Hold for a few seconds and then lean more into the stretch. Hold again, and then return to the starting postion. Switch legs.

    133. FLYAWAY (CHEST)
    Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift your arms out to the side of your body at shoulder height, plams facing down. Reach behind as far as comfortably possible and hold.

    134. BACK STRETCH (BACK)
    This is excellent exercise both for stretching the lower back muscles and reducing the stress on the lower back ligaments and discs. Lie on your back. With the knees bent, draw your legs towards your chest. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds and then relax.

    135. REACH BEHIND AND PULL (BICEPS AND TRAPEZIUS)
    Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring one arm straight out behind you, palm facing down. Reach your other hand behind your back and with an underhand grip, gently tug on the wrist of the extended arm. Hold and then repeat on the other arm.

    136. STRAIGHT ARM ACROSS (REAR DELTOID)
    Stand straight with your feet together. Grab your right elbow with your left hand and pull it across your chest toward the opposite side. Hold, and then swtich arms to stretch the other shoulder.

    137. UPPER SCOOP (BACK)
    Sit on a mat with your legs extended straight in front of you. Collapse the upper body intil you can reach the back of your calves. Exhale and hold while trying to reach as far as possible, stretching the back.
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    138. ELBOW BEND AND PUSH (TRICEPS)
    Stand straight with your feet together. Bend one arm behind you head, reaching down until your palm hits the middle of your shoulder blades. Use your free hand to grasp your elevated elbow and pull it toward the back of your head. Hold, and then switch arms.

    139. ROLL ON THE BALL (ABDOMINALS)
    Lie on an exercise ball so that it's situated in the middle of yor back. Drop your glutes down and bend your legs. Place your hands behind your head, which should be lying back over the ball. For a bigger stretch, you can extend your arms as far down as possible until you are touching or nearly touching the floor. Hold, then release.

    140. LYING GLUTE AND HIP STRETCH (GLUTES, HIPS)
    Lie on a mat with your back flat on the floor. Cross your left leg over your right so your left heel is touching your right knee. Lift your upper body so you can hug your right knee and gently pull it toward you. Exhale and hold, then switch and repeat on the other side.

    141. LYING QUAD STRETCH (QUADS)
    Lay facedown on a mat, and then raise you upper body to support yourself on your forearms. reach behind you with your left hand to grab your left foot and pull until your heel touches your glutes. Hold the position and switch legs.

    142. THE TOUCH (HAMSTRINGS, LOWER BACK)
    Sooner or later someone will say to you "can you touch your toes?" Besides being a test of flexibility, touching your toes is a great way to stretch your hamstrings and lower back - even calves. Make sure you don't overstretch when first doing this exercise, as it can be stressful on the lower back. For the same reason don't bounce at the bottom.

    143. OVERHEAD STRETCH (BACK, CHEST)
    This is a very simple movement that can be performed every day. Stand up and raise your hands above your head. Clasp your hands together and push as high as you can, trying to touch the ceiling.
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    144. SPECIFIC MUSCLE WARM-UP
    Don't walk into a gym and immediately throw your top weight on the barbell. Many a pec-delt tie-in has been torn that way (the area where the chest and front shoulder muscles join together). Always perform a couple of light-to-medium, high-rep sets before putting your maximum weight on the bar.

    145. INCREASE YOUR WARM-UP IN PROPORTION TO YOUR STRENGTH
    As the muscles get stronger the need for a warm-up becomes greater. A beginner may get by on a quick five-minute warm-up but once you start using hundreds of pounds on your exercises you'll need to adequately prepare the muscles. You may save time by skipping your warm-up, but at what cost? A torn pec or biceps msucle will set you back many months of training. A lower back injury coul dbe a lifelong menace.

    146. CONSTANT EVALUATION
    If you are training hard, eating well and getting sufficient rest, yet you are not making gains, then something is amiss. You have to find out where you're going wrong. Don't continue training in the exact same manner hoping the problem may solve itself. You have to sit downand re-evaluate your whole approach. The best way to do this is to refer to your training logs and records.

    147. PHOTOGRAPHS
    Taking a set of photos when you begin training is a good way to evaluate your physique. We should warm you that the first set of photos you take will probably depress you, as you will no doubt compare them to the bodybuilding superstars in Muscular Developement Magazines. But over time as you make progress your physique (and photographs) will start looking like more and more the ones you see in the bodybuilding magazines.

    148. TAKING MEASUREMENTS
    Opinion is split on taking measurements. Unless you are one of those genetically gifted types, you probably won't see a rapid change. For example, it takes on average about 10 pounds of muscular bodyweight to add a sngle inch to the arm. Coincidently, this is about the amount of weight the average person can expect to gain in the first year of training. On the bright side, in four or five years you'll be sporting 20-inch arms.
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    149. WHEN TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
    Few people achieve success without help from others. Even something as individualistic as weight training has room for doubling up. A training partner provides numerous advantages. For starters you won't have to keep bothering other people for a spot. Another benefit is motivation. On days when you don't feel like training (or training with enough intensity), your training partner can encourage you. You can then reciprocate on his or her lazy days.

    150. FRIENDLY COMPETITION
    Another benefit of a training partner is that you and your training partner can engage in little competitions. If he gets 10 reps, you try to do 11. This back and forth will do wonders for your progress.

    151. BRUTALLY HONEST
    A good training partner can be honest. You may think your physique is flawless, but your partner can quickly bring you back to reality. This brutal honesty wil help you immensely if you decide to compete in a bodybuilding contest down the road.

    152. THE RIGHT TIME
    The most basic thing to keep in mind when choosing a training partner is what time you both like to work out. If you're a morning person and he or she prefers late evening, odds are you two will never mesh. Try to pick someone who works out around the same time of day as you do.

    153. THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
    Nothing derails a good workout like negativity if you're training with someone who is always complaining and constantly seeing the downside to everything - get rid of them! You want someone who will motivate you to train harder, not get you thinking about chainging sports. It doesn't matter if your training partner can bench press as much as you can. What's more important is his or her mental approach to training.

    154. THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY
    One of the main benefits of a good training partner is that they can motivate you to strive for higher goals. They will not be able to motivate you if they only making every second or third workout. This inconsistency is telling you that working out is very low on their priority scale. Drop them and look for someone else.

    155. IS STRENGTH IMPORTANT?
    Although not as important as attitude and consistency, it does make sense to train with someone who is in the same strangth range as you. It won't make any difference on most machine and dumbell exercises, but a huge difference in your bench press weights will mean a lot of loading and unloading the bar. Of course a slight difference in strength might be a benefit. You can push yourself to catch up on you partner's stronger exercises, and he can try to match you on exercises in which you are stronger.

    156. THE STRONGER SEX?
    Does your training partner have to be of the same sex? Absolutely not. Some of the best training partnerships consist of a couple. Knowing that there is a female watching you will bring out the best in you, and most women who train with weights want to show the guys that they belong in the weightroom. Unless there are major differences between the two of you with regards to some of the other more important traits already discussed (you can find a way around the strength differences), try training with someone of the opposite sex.

    157. DOUBLE THE KNOWLEDGE
    The best scenario is if your training parner has an equal but different range of knowledge and experience than you do. You can alternate back and forth, drawing on one another's suggestions.
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    158. WHAT DO I WANT?
    One of the most fundamental questions you should ask yourself before you pick up that first dumbell is "what do I want to achieve from bodybuilding?" For some, losing a few pounds and perhaps some general conditioning is all they are after. Building a 50-inch chest is the furthest thing from their minds. For others, nothing short of elbowing the current Mr. Olympia off the stage will suffice. Keep in mind that even if your goal is dethroning the current Mr. Olympia, you don't start training at the Mr. Olympia level. Start out slowly and gradually progress to the next level.

    159. KEEP IT SIMPLE
    The primary goal at the beginning level is to learn how to train - nothing fancy, just basic sets and reps. For the first few months follow a full-body three-times-a-week training routine. Pay strict attention to form and increase the weight only when the muscles are capable of handling it.

    160. COMPOUND EXERCISES

    When beginning bodybuilding, virtually all your exercises should be compound. Compound exercises are those in which more than one joint is involved and more than one muscle group is utilized. Compound exercises are the ones that allow you to use the most weight, and hence they are the best for gaining mass. Examples of compound exercises are bench presses, squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, barbell curls, chin-ups, and shoulder presses.

    161. TO BULK OR NOT TO BULK
    Bulking up was a popular term back in the '60's and '70s. It basically means eating as much as possible and training as heavy as possible to gain as much bodyweight as possible. The reason bulking up has fallen out of favor is that much of the weight gained is fat, which has to be lost if you want to compete (or even just look good). Today many bodybuilders try to keep their off-season weight to within 20 pounds of their competitive weight (as opposed to the 40 to 50 pounds years ago). Unless you are very skinny and have a hard time gaining muscular body weight, we don't recommend bulking up.

    162. RIBCAGE EXPANSION
    Although the chest muscles receive all the glory, it is the underlying ribcage that makes up most of the chest measurement. While you can't enlarge the ribs, it is possible to slightly lengthen the cartilage and ligaments connecting the ribs to the sternum (center rib bone). We should add that by your early 20s these soft connective tissues have hardened, so the techniques for expanding the rib cage won't have much effect. Ribcage expannsion works best in the teenage years. The two best exercises for expanding the ribcage are breathing squats and cross-bench pullovers.

    163. BEWARE OF THE BOXY LOOK
    Although ribcage expansion may be desirable for some, for others is should be avoided. Those with narrow should structure should probably avoid trying to expand the ribcage, as it will only leave you looking like a "box". By this we mean you'll be nearly as thick as wide. Those with boxy physiques tend to look fat in clothes.
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    164. CRUNCHES-TORSO AND LEG POSITION
    When performing crunches always keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Performing any exercise with the legs locked out straight, particularly adominal exercises, adds excessive pressure on the lower back. Also, raise the shoulders only 8 to 10 inches off the floor. Raising all the way up to your knows doesn't work your abs harder, it just brings the hip flexor muscles into play.

    165. CRUNCHES-ARM POSITION
    When you start performing crunches, keep your arms across the middle of the chest. This makes the exercise easier by "reducing" the weight of the arms. As you get stronger you can move the arms farther away from your abdominals - first to behind your head, and finally to a fully stretched-out position above your head.

    166. CRUNCHES-WATCH THE NECK
    One of the big mistakes people make when performing crunches with the hands behind the head is to push the back of the head with the arms. This not only takes some of the pressure off the abdominals, it also puts stress on the neck. Try to keep your elbows pointed outwards at all times and keep your head stationary by locking your eyes on a point on the ceiling.

    167. CRUNCHES- DON'T LOCK THE FEET
    Another mistake many bodybuilders make when performing crunches is to lock their feet. The primary culprits for this are abdominal boards with rollers. Locking the feet will place excessive stress on the lower back as you crunch forward, in addition to working the hip flexors excessively.

    168. SUCK IT IN
    Well the military was right: regularly sucking in your gut and puffing out your chest does work. Before you hit the sack every night (and/or first thing in the morning) practice pulling in your abdominal muscles. Count to 10 and then release. Doing 3 or 4 "sets" of this simple exercise will make your waist appear smaller.
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    169. VACUUM
    Vacuums are a variation of the suck-it-in tip discussed earlier. Suck in your stomach, puff out your chest, and then blow all the air out of your lungs. Hold for 10 seconds. Three-time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane was a master of this technique.

    170. BACK EXTENSIONS
    Most muscules work in pairs and the abdominals are no exception. In this case the opposing muscles are the spinal erector (lower back) muscles, and you should train them regularly. One of the simplest exercises to work the lower back is to lie face down on the floor and gently raise the toso upwards. Don't excessively arch (hyperextend) the lower back. You must strike a balance between working the lower back muscles and plaing too much stress on the lower back ligaments.

    171. LEAVE THEM TILL LAST
    As the abdominals and lower back muscles are used for stabilizing on most of the exercises for the legs and torso muscles, you should train them after these larger muscle groups. Fatiguing them early will interfere with the execution of these exercises and could lead to an inury of the lower back.

    172. LYING LEG RAISES
    As with crunches, never perform the exercise with totally straight legs. Always keep a sllight bend at the knees. Start with the incline board at the lowest level and gradually increase the angle over the weeks and months to make the exercise more difficult.

    173. LEG RAISES - LEAVE YOUR BUTT ALONE!
    Some people rest their hands under their butt when doing lying leg raises. This adds extra stress to the lower back and tends to shift the stress from the lower to the upper abs.
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    174. BARBELL SQUATS
    Squats are considered the best quad exercise. They'll also stimulate muscle growth over your entire body. With the barbell resting across the shoulders, slowly squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position. Do not bounce at the bottom of the movement. Try to keep the torso perpendicular to the floor. Don't let the body start leaning forward - doing so could lead to a lower back injury.

    175. SMITH-MACHINE SQUATS
    Even though barbell squats are king when it comes to building the legs, there are a few occasions when you may want to use the Smith machine. Those with poor flexibility in their Achilles' tendon may find it difficult to keep their balance when doing regular babell squats (the old "up on the toes" syndrome). The Smith machine will allow you to keep your feet slightly forward or back in your stance, enabling you to keep your feet flat on the ground. Also, those with injured lower backs or knees may find the Smith machine less stressful on these areas.

    176. LEG PRESSES
    Leg presses are a close second to squats in terms of effectiveness and have the advantage of letting you use hundreds of pounds of weight in relative safety. As you lower the platform by bending your knees, don't bounce at the bottom of the movement. You run the risk of damaging your knees or ribs. Likewise don't lock the leggs completely straight at the top as you could hyperextend and tear the knee ligaments or cartilage.

    177. HORIZONTAL OR 45 DEGREES?
    If you gym has both the 45-degree and horizontal leg press, try both to see which one feels more comfortable or gives you the best leg workout. If you find both equally effective, try alternating them on different leg days.

    178. LYING LEG CURLS
    This exercise is one of the best for developing the hamstring muscles. As you raise the lower legs toward your butt, don't let yoru butt lift off the bench in an attempt to move the weight. There should be no jerking or bouncing as you lift the weight up.
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    179. LEG CURLS - DON'T HYPEREXTEND
    Many of the older leg extension machines allow you to extend th legs past the lock-out position. In other words you can hyperextend at the knee joint. While you may be giving the hamstring muscles a better stretch, you are also forcing the knee joint through a greater range of motion than it was designed for. Try to keep your legs from locking out completely on leg-curl exercises.

    180. FLAT BARBELL PRESSES
    Like squats, barbell presses are considered on of the best for stimulating muscles, in this case your chest, shoulders, and triceps. With a slightly widerthan shoulder-width grip, lift the bar off the rack and slowly lower it to your mid-chest. Push it back up to arms' length. Don't bounce the bar off your chest. Likewise don't arch your lower back excessively when lifting. For a few extra pounds of weight you run the risk of lower back injury.

    181. INCLINE BARBELL PRESSES
    Incline presses are performed the same way as flat presses except you are lying back on a tilted or inclined bench. This shifts the stress from the lower and outer chest to the upper chest. Instead of lowering the bar to yourmid-chest, try lowering it to your collarbone. Keep your elbows back throughout the movement.

    182. IT'S ALL IN THE ANGLE
    As you perform incline barbell presses, experiment with different angles on the bench to see which angle hits the uppper chest most effectively. Too high and it's more a should exercise. Too low and you are virtually doing a flat bench press.

    183. SUPINE DUMBELL PRESSES
    This exercise is very similar to supine barbell presses except that you use two dumbells instead of one barbell. Try to keep your upper arm at 90 degrees to your torso as you lower the dumbells to just below chest level. Push them back up until they just touch at the top. Dumbells allow you to get a greater stretch at the bottem of the exercise than a barbell.
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