Welcome to a new edition of the Built for Life & Times, the official digest blog from Body-Solid. Today we're looking at some of the best fitness and lifting articles around the web including some tips on morning workouts, ways to maximize your squat and an exercise that can relieve one of the most painful sports and fitness related injuries.
Rise & Burn!
Whether you have to get up early every morning for work or choose the begin your day before the sun comes up, Bodybuilding.com’s Christine Schmieden has some great ways to utilize that time for effective workouts:
“Conditioning is vital no matter when you do it. But, by starting at daybreak with heart-racing sprints, battle ropes, box jumps, and kettlebell swings, I stoke the fires in my metabolism for the remainder of the day… This is huge for people looking to lose weight. Couple early intensity with heavy lifting in the evening and you set yourself up for some incredible rest when your body is naturally on the mend—during sleep.”
See the full article as well as a list of Christine’s 6 At-Home Morning Routines: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/rise-and-burn-six-at-home-morning-routines.html
Can Facebook & Twitter help you lose weight?
Maybe you should be using your phone at the gym? Research from the Imperial College London shows that social networks helped participants lose weight. Analysis by researchers from Imperial College London combining the results of 12 previous studies shows that such programs have achieved modest but significant results in helping participants lose weight.
“One advantage of using social media over other methods is that it offers the potential to be much more cost effective and practical for day-to-day use when compared to traditional approaches. The feeling of being part of a community allows patients to draw on the support of their peers as well as clinicians. They can get advice from their doctor without the inconvenience or cost of having to travel, and clinicians can provide advice to many patients simultaneously.”
Very interesting, I definitely encourage you to read the full study at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140908093559.htm
Make the most of your squats!
If you’re reading this, you probably already know the tremendous benefits of the squat exercise. Recently, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (via Poliquin Group) outlined guidelines for designing squat programs for maximum gains:
- Stance width in the squat has a moderate effect on muscle activation in the lower limbs. A very wide stance width that is twice the width of the hips activates the glutes and adductors much more than a hip-width stance. Rotating the feet out to 30 and 50 degrees will work the adductors even more, and muscle activity is greatest during the bottom phase of the squat in flexion and extension.
- Compared to altering your squat stance, using heavier loads has a much greater impact on muscle activity. For example, a study that compared hip-width stance with stances that were 150 percent and 200 percent of hip width showed that muscle activation in the quads increased significantly as the load increased to 70 percent of the 1RM—the heaviest load tested. A second study found that when trainees did squats with a heavier load of 75 percent of the 1RM the activated the quads 20 percent more and the adductors 28 percent more than when they used a lighter 65 percent load, regardless of stance width.
- Full squats are superior to half or quarter squats. In a comparison of squats to parallel and half or quarter squats, muscle activation is highest in the last phase of the descent and first phase of the ascent. In simple terms, your muscles are working hardest as you go from parallel to a deep squat and vice versa. The reviewers provide sage advice, writing, “partial or quarter squats will result in reduced muscle activation of the prime movers and therefore arguably produce an inferior training effect in comparison to parallel or full squats.”
- One study found that deep squats were much more effective in increasing jump height than the partial-range squat. Full-range training with a heavy load is essential, but there is a time and place for partial-range squats if you want to challenge the strength curve and lift a really heavy weight that would be impossible in the full-range.
- To train the abs and lower back, best results will come from progressively using heavier loads. Traditional exercises such as the squat and deadlift are best for training the abs and lower back.
- Unstable surfaces such as balance disks appear to activate the quad muscles more (greater EMG activity) but lighter loads must be used, and strength and power gains are compromised. Therefore, unstable surfaces should be avoided when training for strength, power, or speed.
- The free barbell squat activates the quads much more than a Smith machine squat. One study showed greater activation from the free barbell squats by 26 percent in the biceps femoris, 34 percent in the gastrocnemius, and 49 percent in the vastus medialis over the Smith squat using an 8RM load. The ab and lower back muscles were also more engaged in the free squat.
- Only one study compared EMG with and without weight belts in the squat. No significant difference was found in muscle activity, but the weight belt trial was performed significantly faster, resulting in greater power output. The reviewers suggest weight belts should generally be avoided because, despite the greater power output, they will undermine the training effects of slower, controlled heavy squatting.
How do you get rid of plantar fasciitis?
Runners and athletes alike no there is nothing worse than plantar fasciitis. The debilitating injury can have prolonged effects on your training and ability to perform everyday activities. Thankfully the New York Times Ask Well Blog has a few tips for relieving the pain:
“The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, finds that a single exercise could be even more effective (in relieving plantar fasciitis). It requires standing barefoot on the affected leg on a stair or box, with a rolled-up towel resting beneath the toes of the sore foot and the heel extending over the edge of the stair or box. The unaffected leg should hang free, bent slightly at the knee. Then slowly raise and lower the affected heel to a count of three seconds up, two seconds at the top and three seconds down. In the study, once participants could complete 12 repetitions fairly easily, volunteers donned a backpack stuffed with books to add weight. The volunteers performed eight to 12 repetitions of the exercise every other day.”
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