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Health & Fitness

Rock Hard Abs! Do You Have What it Takes?

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If your abs look good, your whole body looks good. Having Big arms and chest is one thing but having rock hard defined abs is so another.

Everyone knows that nothing turns heads like a defined full set of abs. And hey, chicks love em. What more needs to be said.

Contrary to popular belief, the abs or Rectus Abdominis is really only one muscle. It stretches from the top of your pelvis up to your ribcage. The “six-pack” as it is called is merely sections of this one muscle.

Dispelling the Ab Myths:

The action of any muscle is simply to contract. And as you can’t contract half your bicep or quad, it makes sense that you cannot contract half your abs as well. Therefore the myths about “upper ab” and “lower ab” training are total nonsense. I’m not discounting those training methods but the simple fact is that if you can’t see your lower abs, it just means you’ve got fat covering them, not that you need to work them harder.

Say goodbye to hanging knee-raises, straight-leg raises, and any other type of leg raises for building your abs. They simply don’t work. The primary role of your abs is to stabilize your body. When you raise your leg for example, your hip flexors pull on your spine and arch it forward/downward. Your abs stabilize this action by resisting and essentially keeping your back from breaking. Take note that this is the static action of the abs. It doesn’t build or strengthen. Leg raising exercises only feel like they are effectively working your abs because of the repeated strain and exhaustion of your muscle producing catabolic, lactic acid build up. Search for “lactic acid” at https://www.muscle-body.com for more information.

What Really Works:

What does strengthen your abs is what strengthens any other muscle in your body. Contraction! In this case – Decreasing the distance between your rib cage and your pelvis.

So we come back to the good old sit-up. But there are a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, forget about the cool all-the-way-up sit-ups you see in the movies. Your abs are fully contracted when your shoulders are about 5 to 6 inches off the ground. So don’t bother trying to impress or outperform someone by touching your elbows to your knees. It does nothing for you. Crunches as they are sometimes called are the way to go.

Secondly, don’t wedge your feet under something to help you get up. You don’t need to do this if you are doing crunches properly anyway. Your legs should be at 90 degrees to each other and your knees at 45 degrees to your waist. If you need to, use something to press your heels back against to stabilize yourself. This way you will use your hamstrings instead of your hip flexors which will keep the focus on your abs.

Thirdly, keep your hands lightly held against the side of your head or crossed on your chest. Don’t clasp them together behind your head or neck. If you do you will be tempted to pull with your hands to get the last few reps out, which will put unnecessary strain on this fragile part of the spine.

Alternative:

Another good exercise for abs is kneeling crunches. You will need special equipment to perform this exercise. This is where you kneel and contract your abs so that your upper body arches forward/downward. You hold a rope attached to a pulley with weights for extra resistance. Most gyms will have a rope attachment to the triceps pull down to perform this exercise. The idea is to lock your arms against your upper body so that you pull down only with your abs and not your arms.

Ab Training Devices:

In 2 words – Forget it.

You don’t need them. Most of them do nothing for you. Building muscle is hard and it hurts. Most of these devices are designed to take the pressure off your body making the exercise seem easy and con you into thinking you are really targeting your muscles. Don’t believe the hype. Ab training is definitely hard work but definitely worth it’s reward.

The Secret:

The difficulty in obtaining great abs is not so much building the muscle. It’s cutting enough fat from your body for them to show. You probably know by now that spot-reduction of fat simply doesn’t work here. In order to show those abs you need overall fat loss.

LynxMode

When Moderation Isn’t A Thing

Savannah Lynx

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Photos by Ludwig Araujo Photography

It’s 4 pm and I’m alone in my apartment. Even though I’ve just eaten a satisfying spinach salad with egg whites, slivered almonds, red bell peppers, and broccoli florets, I’ve been opening, closing, and reopening the pantry cabinet door for the last minute and a half now. Before I take a second to stop and think, I do the unthinkable. I climb up onto my kitchen countertop and reach far into the unreachable space in which I’ve hidden it. I grab a spoon, unscrew the lid, and dip my silver utensil into the ooey-gooey goodness of my most delectable vice. As the savory sweet treat lands on my tastebuds, the voice inside my head says just one more spoonful and then you’ll be done. That voice and I both know it’s a big fat liar.

For more Savannah Lynx: Savannah Lynx’s Resolutions with Resolve

Hi. My name is Savannah, and I’m addicted to peanut butter.

It’s amazing to me that no matter how many times I tell myself I can keep peanut butter in the house and enjoy it in moderation, I still manage to disappoint myself to no end. My predictable lapses in willpower and good judgment have become exhausting, and my tumultuous relationship with this particular pulverized nut butter is no doubt verging on toxic. If you think my hyperbole is employed simply for dramatic flare, think again. It’s not uncommon for me to polish off a Costco sized family pack of peanut butter in under a week. If I don’t have anything to do on a lazy Sunday and nobody’s around to judge me, it might only take me a committed afternoon to devour an entire jar. It’s disgusting and flat out shameful, but it’s also the sad truth. As a fitness model and supposed model of health, I feel like I shouldn’t be dealing with such silly food-related matters. After all, I have won tens of thousands of dollars in fitness competitions and even have my own column on fitnessgurls.com for crying out loud. This kind of behavior just doesn’t fit the bill. But the more I think about the secret life of everyone you think you know, the more I’ve come to realize that I’m probably not the only one suffering from a paralyzing food addiction. Just to be certain, I started asking my friends.

Competitor or not, what I’ve discovered from my official “Is-It-Just-Me?!? Poll”, is that almost EVERYBODY has that one food they cannot say no to. These addictions range anywhere on the spectrum from “questionably healthy” like raisins and trail mix to flat out not good for you at any time and might not even be considered food like Sour Patch Kids and Flaming Hot Cheetos. Moral of the story? We all pick our poison. Everyone knows treating yourself isn’t bad in small doses. But what happens when we finally come to terms with the fact that small doses sometimes aren’t a possibility? It’s time to get real, get honest, and get this friggin’ crap out of our hands so we don’t sabotage our own progress.

Here’s how to kick those cravings and keep on target!!!

Step 1: GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE
You’ve tried “moderation” but it’s time to accept the fact that you just can’t control yourself. The only way to stop yourself from eating too much of something you really don’t want to be eating in the first place is by not having access to it. If it’s not in the fridge or pantry, you can’t be tempted by it. Out of sight, out of mind!!

Step 2: Turn your Emotional Eating Into Mindful Refueling
Most of the time we binge or indulge too much because we’re emotional. Boredom, nervousness, excitement, and stress are major triggers when it comes to forgetting about our nutrition plan and making undesirable choices. When you feel a craving coming on, take a moment to breathe and ask yourself if you’re compelled to eat because you’re hungry or because it’s just something to do. If it’s the latter, step away and occupy yourself with something intellectually engaging that will veer your focus elsewhere.

Step 3: Beware of Group Think!!
Just because your boyfriend, coworkers, friends, or neighbors are eating, doesn’t mean you have to. In a lot of cases, we eat because it’s socially awkward not to. For me, it’s almost impossible to beat my girlfriend’s house for movie night and not reach for the chips, pretzels, or popcorn- but I’ve got to stay strong! There’s a time and a place to indulge, but if you haven’t already accounted for some extra calories via your workout and meal plan, then say no thank you and pop in a piece of gum!

Step 4: Throw Away Unhealthy Mentalities
I’m not a stranger to that unhealthy way of thinking where I’ve already broken the seal on some fattening foods and think to myself I might as well keep eating since I already messed up. Wrong! We all make mistakes, and nobody can be expected to be perfect 100% of the time. The key is recognizing when we’ve had enough, and stopping before we head for a binge. Be kind to your body and allow for some give here and there. You’re only human!!

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Workout Wednesday

Heather Marsh’s Workout Wednesday: Cardio & Core Circuit

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Heather Marsh has one of the most beautiful and inspiring physiques in the fitness industry. She’s a mother, a WBFF Pro Competitor and she shares her secrets on cardio & core circuit.

Related Article: Jade Atkinson’s Workout Wednesday: Lower Body Workout

A strong core is a key to warding off back pain and keeping good posture. A good strong posture keeps you standing tall and confident! Try this cardio and core circuit if you’re short on time. You’ll be sure to get your heart rate up while building a strong core.

Heather Marsh’s Cardio & Core Circuit Workout

Interval 1:
Plank jacks 20
Supermans 20
Side planks 20 secs
Jump squats 20

Interval 2:
Jump squats 20
Mountain climbers 20 per leg
Dumbbell Russian twist 20 per side
Lateral squatted walks 20 per leg

Interval 3:
Lateral squatted walks 20 per leg
Plank toe taps 20 per leg
Scissor kicks 20 per leg
Frog hops 20

Repeat each interval 3-4 times

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Health & Fitness

7 Reasons Why Your Muscles Stop Growing. How To Get Muscle To Grow Again

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Photo by Ludwig Araujo Photography

Have ever wondered why your muscles stopped growing after a few months of training even though you are training very hard? Here are 7 reasons why your muscles stopped growing and how to get your muscle to grow again.

Also: Jade Atkinson’s Workout Wednesday: Lower Body Workout

– You are training too hard: Every time when rain your muscles intensely, you are actually breaking down your muscles. So your muscles need to recover from the damages you inflicted on them. So train each muscle group only once or at most twice a week.

– You are training too long: Keep your workout intense but do not workout more than an hour each time. After 45 minutes of intensive training, your cortisol level will increase. This hormone is known to destroy muscle cells.

– You are sleeping too little: You need to sleep more for good muscle growth. Your muscles grow when you sleep. So sleep more than 8 hours a day and watch those muscles growing fast.

– You are abusing alcohol: Alcohol is known to break down muscle mass plus many other body destruction ability.

– You do not change your workout routine: You must change your workout routine every 6-8 weeks. Your muscles adapt to your routine and stops growing.

– You do not progressively overload your muscles: You must try to increase your reps or weight every time you next train a particular muscle group. Otherwise, there is no reason for your muscles to grow.

– You do not eat sufficient protein: If you want to build bigger muscles, you must eat more protein. Protein is the building block for your muscles. It is recommended that you need 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight equivalent. If not enough protein is consumed with your normal diet, do supplement with protein shakes.

There you are, the 7 reasons why your muscles stopped growing even though you are training hard. There are many more methods on how to grow your muscles bigger but these 7 reasons and how to overcome them will be sufficient for an average bodybuilding beginner.

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