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Health & Fitness

Rock Hard Abs!

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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. Check out https://www.muscle-guide.com for more info.

Health & Fitness

5 Moves to Target the Lower Abs

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It’s no secret that not all exercises that target the lower abs are created equal; some are more effective than others. For anyone that’s wanting to target the lower abs, it can be very frustrating, to say the least. However, targeting and strengthening the lower abs is possible. The trick is finding the best moves for you to build muscle and flatten or chisel the stomach the way you desire.

Also: Why the Glute Bridge Is Great for After an Abs Workout

Move 1: Rolling Plank
The plank in itself is a great move for the stomach area as a whole. However, this rolling plank works the entire core including the lower abdominal. It will also build strength in the lower back.

Here’s how to do it. Start in a plank position with the body making a straight line from feet to shoulders. Rotate the body to a right side plank and hold for about 10 to 15 seconds. Then repeat on the left side. 10 reps are recommended, 5 on each side.

Move 2: Hanging Leg Raise
Deep muscles are worked during this move as well as the lower back and abdominal area. The only equipment necessary is a chin-up bar. Simply hang from the bar with the feet together and knees bent slightly. Bend the knees and raise the hips at the same time and lift the thighs up to the chest. Pause then lower back to the start position. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps each.

Move 3: Roll Up
The classic roll-up still can’t be beaten when it comes to the best move to build muscle in the lower tummy. Lay flat on your back, arms stretched straight above the head. Slowly bring them straight up, and raise off the floor to touch the toes. Slowly lower back down. Do 3 sets, 10 reps each.

Move 4: Leg Drop
Lift both legs to the ceiling. Make the abdominals tight then lower the legs slowly until they are a few inches above the floor. When the lower back starts lifting you’ve gone too far. Then raise them back up, and repeat. Do 10 reps and 3 sets.

Move 5: Scissors
Lift both legs straight to the ceiling. Lower the right leg until it’s just a bit off the floor, then switch legs. Do the move quickly with no breaks. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps each. For added benefits lift the head and shoulders off the floor.

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The importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water

Alkaline for the Body

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I am sure that many of you have been told of the importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water. What is not as often mentioned is just how alkaline foods and water work to ensure optimal health.

Also: How can I Stay Motivated when it comes to Home Exercise?

To begin with, the consumption of an alkaline diet regulates the body’s PH factor. The body’s PH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. When the body’s PH is kept at just above 7.0 a variety of bodily functions work more efficiently. The resulting health benefits are both numerous and of great importance.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water is an excellent buffer against cardiovascular disease. Alkaline diets are great for reducing inflammation, the result of this is often the lowering of both cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water lowers the chronic pain effects for a variety of ailments. Another benefit of an alkaline diet’s inflammation lowering qualities is a great reduction in chronic pain symptoms. Alkaline foods and water can provide significant relief for chronic sufferers of chronic back pain, headaches, muscle spasms, and joint pain.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water provides protection of bone density. Alkaline diets provide excellent mineral balance which facilitates bone growth and health. In addition, alkaline diets promote the production of growth hormone and the absorption of Vitamin D which provides further protection for bones.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water reduces the risk of cancer. Alkaline diets provide an abundance of antioxidant protection against cancer. Also, alkaline environments are not conducive to the growth of cancer cells.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water prevents the development of diabetes. The pancreas is a bodily organ provided with the task of regulating the body’s blood sugar. The pancreas is dependent on an alkaline environment to function properly. One study, focusing on the effects of alkaline water on blood sugar, showed that just a month of drinking alkaline water can bring the blood sugar of diabetics to a normal level.

The health benefits of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water cannot be understated. I am sure that after reading just a few of these benefits you will agree that making a conscious effort to incorporate alkaline foods and water into your diet is well worth the effort.

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Health & Fitness

Prevent Muscle Loss During Fasted Cardio with BCAA Supplements

BCAAs to Start Your Day

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Photo by Nicole De Khors

One of the most popular forms of extreme fat loss is fasted cardio. Usually done in the morning, this exercise method consists of working out the body anaerobically on an empty stomach, as opposed to full of calories from prior meals. The benefit of fasted cardio all lies in the specific targeting of fat reserves. More specifically, after eating a large meal, insulin levels are raised within the body. As cortisol levels are very high in the morning, they will target muscle cells with the increase in insulin. However, during a fasted state, those high cortisol levels in the morning can be utilized to target fat reserves as opposed to the muscle as the insulin levels will be greatly diminished during that fasting time. As explained by Men’s Fitness, “if you are fasted, insulin is low and cortisol will then go after body fat reserves”.

Also: Increasing Longevity Through Better Nutrition

For those looking to optimize their fat loss while still maintaining all of their hard-earned muscle, fasted exercise is not the only part of the equation. A healthy amount of Branch Chain Amino Acid’s to start your day will help to maintain all of that muscle that has taken so many dedicated hours in the gym to pack on. BCAA are essentially the very building blocks of muscles themselves. According to Layne Norton, experienced bodybuilder, and Ph.D., “BCAAs not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis”. So not only can this aminos help to you to maintain your muscles, it can also provide your muscles with a greater capacity for growth by targeting the actual muscle cells. But within a fasted state in the morning, we are primarily concerned with the rate of protein breakdown that may occur. Lucky for us, BCAA supplements can answer for this too. BCAA’s are also very capable of decreasing the rate at which protein breaks down. As explained again by Dr. Layne Norton, this can be explained by the aminos “decreasing the activity of the components of the protein breakdown pathway”.

In short, starting your days with a BCAA supplement is a great way to ensure that your muscle gains are not lost during fasted exercise. BCAA’s are one of the most well-researched supplements on the market and therefore finding a wealth of knowledge on them is not difficult. A simple search engine will guide you through a host of well documented and researched information. Additionally, these supplements are easy to find at any local supplement store or more simply online.

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