Why Everyone Should Train Their Arms Directly

 

Friday at the gym…it’s arm day. #FatArmFridays #ArmDay #BisandTrisForDayz

The above would describe my 4 years of high school, and most of my college years as well. Most guys who are into working out will agree with this statement to some extent. Fridays were always the day where your would hit every variation of biceps, and every variation of triceps exercise you could think of.

Fast forward to post-college. Reading articles, endlessly self studying, and digging deep into the training world through continuing education, and working with mostly “general fitness/weight loss” clients lead me to the close minded conclusion of:

Direct arm work isn’t “functional” nor does it demand a lot of effort (calorie burn), and as long as you do heavy rows and presses, you don’t need to train the arms directly.

Fast forward to now.

Here is what I know:

  1. If you want to train arms directly, go for it. It’s your choice, and there is something that science can never “prove” about the good ol feeling of a great arm pump.
  2. Physiologically and anatomically speaking – if you have shorter arms, and are of shorter stature, you can more likely get pretty solid arm development through rowing and pressing movements – but this is still dependent on tendon lengths.
  3. If you have longer arms and want to build your arms up, you probably need to focus a little more on direct arm work.
  4. Last, but not least, direct arm work is indeed VERY functional…

This last point is what I would like to focus on.

 

Let’s look deeper:

Image result for arm muscle

Triceps – Function – The triceps is an extensor muscle of the elbow joint and an antagonist of the biceps and brachialis muscles. It can also fixate the elbow joint when the forearm and hand are used for fine movements.

So even if your goal isn’t to develop some sexy horseshoe triceps, they help tremendously with extending at the elbow – any time you straighten your arm – OR – they work to help fixate the arm for fine motor skills with the wrist or hands – like while writing, knitting, typing, opening jars of pickles, etc.

In other words, pretty important.

Biceps – Function – The biceps has three primary functions. The most important of these functions is to supinate the forearm (rotate forearm to palm up position) and flex the elbow (pull the hand towards the shoulder). It also contributes slightly to flexion at the shoulder (raising the arm forward and overhead).

Again, even if you aren’t trying to build a solid set of 22″ pythons, the biceps are very important when it comes to lifting anything up, and overhead – along with rotating and performing fine motor skills of the arm.

So why can’t you just focus on heavy presses and rows or pulldowns/chin ups?

There are plenty of factors that could be named here, but the biggest one is some people just aren’t ready or physically able to row or press heavy without potentially hurting other parts of their body – in other word usually the shoulder health or their grip strength is limiting.

So train your arms directly.

1-3 times per week – for 6-12 total sets of each per week – 8-20 reps per set- and that should be the sweet spot that most people need to get the minimum effective dose for overall functional benefits.

On a final note: you don’t need to train the arms super heavy – but focus more on getting maximum contraction of the target muscle.

When performing tricep exercises, get full extension (straightening) at the elbow, and squeeze our triceps HARD, then try to keep tension while returning to a flexed position.

When performing biceps exercises, focus on controlling the weight, and squeezing HARD when the elbow joint is fully flexed (forearm close to your bicep) AND slightly flexing at the shoulder joint when at the top (think about driving your elbows up an inch or two at the top end of the curl). Control the weight down, and keep tension in the bicep the whole time.

There you have it, why the arms should be trained directly – whether or not you want them to look better – but really, who doesn’t?

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Worried About Holiday Eating? Let’s Talk…

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a happy day, spent with family and or friends, where we come together and ENJOY our favorite holiday foods.

It should NOT be a day where we demonize food, or feel like we need to EARN food, or work off food. Don’t get me started on those posts about “It takes X amount of burpees to burn off a piece of pumpkin pie” – stop it. Enjoy the pie.

On the flip side, if you have been working at creating consistency and positive, healthy eating habits, it should also not be seen as a day to completely forgot about everything you have been working on and just pig out to the point of feeling sick or so bloated that you look like a tick ready to pop.

We need to get away from this “all or nothing” mentality.

Thanksgiving can easily be enjoyed without stressing about our diet, or the scale.

Here are some simple things to keep in mind when it comes to ENJOYING Thanksgiving responsibly.

1) It is ONE day. Enjoy that ONE day.

There are 30 days in November, and 31 days in December. Let’s assume you eat 3 meals a day. That makes 183 meals for the two months.

Let’s assume there are 3-4 meals of pure holiday joy during the two months. Enjoy them – and put your focus on the other 179 meals.

Where people tend to get into trouble is when they start celebrating the feast at the start of the week because “who cares, I will be pigging out on Thursday, so why not just start now?”

Or allowing the feasting to continue past Friday (because leftovers happen) and the rest of the weekend.

This is the mindset that can easily snowball back into old habits that you have worked hard to break. Leading up to Thursday, you should continue your week as you normally would. Eat responsibly, eat when physically hungry, get your workouts in, and maintain a slight caloric deficit (assuming your current goal is fat loss). Simple – IF you have been working on these habits up until now.

Give yourself the day, but nothing extra before or after. It is ONE day out of 365.

2) Enjoy Your Favorite Foods – responsibly 

I use this with my clients all the time. Do you enjoy (insert favorite holiday food here)? Then eat one serving/slice/portion/scoop/etc – not the entire thing.

Yes, it can even be a super rich, sugary, fatty dessert. One piece will not destroy all of your progress and ruin everything. However, if you know you have certain trigger foods, it may take some extra precaution before indulging. Plan to have just the ONE piece – and move on.

The truth is, food does not not carry morals, nor does eating a certain food make YOU a bad person. It is food – that is all.

Thou Shall Not allow guilt to be felt on Thanksgiving Day!

Enjoy it, clean up your dishes like your mother taught you, and move on back to your regularly scheduled life.

3) Plan Accordingly the Day Of

If you are like me you KNOW that you will go a little crazy with the food choices at the feast. These are probably foods you don’t regularly eat, so why not?

This being said, if you normally eat an early Thanksgiving dinner, then maybe have a lighter breakfast, or pass on lunch – knowing all too well that you will definitely get those calories in later.

Focus on protein and veggies early in the day, saving all those rich, carb and fat filled foods for later.

Even if you have the best of intentions and you do over eat, oh well. It’s OKAY!

Side note: I know I said you don’t need to feel like you need to earn your food, however if you want to make the most of it, hit a nice heavy weight training session the morning of the feast – I’m thinking 10×10 squats are on my pre-feast plan 🙂

The Bigger Picture:

Holidays are supposed to be enjoyable times. When you create a healthy relationship with food, you don’t worry about holidays because you know they are only a small fraction of the entire year – and there are bigger habits that matter.

When you have an unhealthy relationship with food, you stress and worry about the holidays, but often ignore all the other moments that you mindlessly snack, over eat, and all the moments that you eat without even being hungry.

The moral of the story here is short and sweet – enjoy the holiday, enjoy your family, enjoy the foods, and get right back to it Friday morning and through the rest of the weekend -and all will be good – I promise!

 

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Set Goals That Fire You Up

“If your goals don’t scare you; they aren’t big enough”

I like the quote, but I also think that “scare” might not be the ideal word.

This is why I like “fire you up” instead – goals that get you excited, goals that make you want to start NOW, not tomorrow.

When it comes to setting goals, many people approach them so haphazardly, that they never really get anywhere. It’s great to SET the goal, but then what are you going to do about it? Other points that matter:

  • How are you going to reach it?
  • What are you going to do once you reach it?
  • How will it make you better?
  • Or will it even make you better?
  • When are you going to reach it?
  • Why is it important to you?

These are the things that you literally need to write down, and post on your fridge or at your desk, or on the bathroom mirror – or make the background of your phone – anywhere you will see them frequently and often.

I have done this for the past 2 years, and both times I have accomplished my “big goal”.

  1. 2016 – Start my business, and grow clientele by 10% while maintaining 90% retention rate – CHECK.
  2. 2017 – Get published on 3 other websites – CHECK
  3. 2018 – Present at a major fitness conference. 

This is MY goal for 2018, and I am writing it here so all of you can keep my accountable.

So lets dive deeper into my 2018 goal, and this same process can easily be applied to health/fat loss/muscle building/etc.

I have my end goal: presenting at a conference.

Now we need to break it down into PROCESS GOALS – these are the steps that will get me to my end goal. This is where the focus MUST be, not on the end goal.

With “i want to lose weight” as a goal, you cannot sit around and focus on that. You need to write out what are the pieces of the process that will get you there – and hit those HARD.

  1. Get to the gym 4 days per week.
  2. Measure out my portions.
  3. Get 7 hours of sleep each night.
  4. Eat 1 serving of protein 4 times per day.
  5. Eat 4 servings of veggies per day…

If you sit around and just focus on “why am I not losing weight?!” instead of the process goals, you will just keep spinning in place. Focus on the process, and the finish line will come to you.

So back to my goal.

Here are the process steps:

  1. Find 5-10 area conferences that I am interested in speaking at.
  2. Contact the appropriate people in charge.
  3. Have a plan put together on my topic that I wish to present on, and WHY it would be beneficial for them to have me present about it.
  4. Follow up, follow up, follow up!

Truth is, this idea came to me this weekend, and I already applied to 3 conferences in the area, and put together and outline on my ideal presentation and how it will benefit trainers/fitness professionals. I am fired up about it!

So you need to do the same – whatever your goals may be.

  1. Write it out.
  2. No seriously, get out paper right now and W.R.I.T.E.I.T.O.U.T!!!
  3. Write down 2-4 process goals that will help you get to your end goal.
  4. Set a timeline (when you want to accomplish it)
  5. Hit it hard, and stay the course.

If it is truly an important goal of yours, you will succeed. I’m not saying it will be easy, but if you put in the work, you will get there. I promise.

 

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What is the best diet?

 

Yesterday a friend asked me, “so what do you think the best diet is?”

Talk about a tough question…so why not answer it with the easiest cop out answer.

The best diet for someone is the diet that they can enjoy, stick to, get results on, and maintain an optimal level of health at their current point in life.

What a terrible answer…but it’s really the truth.

To break it down:

Eating what you enjoy.

How many of you have tried some kind of fad diet, filled with foods you never eat, and foods you hate? I’m sure you stuck to it for years, and were a very pleasant person to be around.

You have to eat what you enjoy to be successful.

Does that mean I can have a successful diet on ice cream, bacon and homemade chex mix? Probably not all the time, but I can fit those kinds of things in which gets me to point number two…

Sticking to it.

If you enjoy what you eat (most of the time) you are likely going to keep it up, right?

This is where finding true moderation comes in. Moderation is not drinking one soda a day, and eating dessert only after dinner – that is a little excessive. Moderation is how most people consume vegetables – once or twice a week, maybe…

What you eat 80-90% of the time however should be the foods that we all know are beneficial to our health and especially the ones that we enjoy, because by doing this we…

Get results…

Whether it be fat loss, muscle building, or just maintaining our current shape, results matter – and without an appropriate eating plan, results wont happen. (remember, you cant out train a bad diet)

So you may need to do some tracking, measuring, or have someone keep you accountable – but bottom line is, results matter, and they take some effort.

However, it doesn’t need to be as complex as people make it out to be! Look at what you currently eat. Are you currently maintaining weight, but want to lose some? Then cut out two bites at every meal. Simple and silly? Yes – but it would work.

But what if you eat total crap, but still create a caloric deficit – well, you will lose weight, but you might not feel the best after some time…

Maintain optimal levels of health

Clients are shocked when I look over their journals and tell them “okay, switch your 3 cokes a day to 3 diet cokes”, or “lets switch to eating only one quarter pounder with cheese instead of two”…

Most people expect me to tell them to throw out their current life completely and drink only purified water with pH balanced salts, and cook only the purest organic chicken breasts…not eat one less thing at McDonalds.

Truth is, I would love to EVENTUALLY get people away from fast food, and diet soda…but that might never happen (see reasons 1-3) – but if I can get them to substantially reduce their intakes, lose some pounds, and vastly improve their internal health, then that is one hell of a start.

So look over these 4 points, and figure out if you are currently doing the right things for YOU, or are you trying to follow the latest trend on the cover of the magazine at the grocery store?

 

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Eat Less – Exercise More is WRONG

 

If you read anything today, it should be this.

For years, I myself told people, “exercise more, eat less – thats how you lose weight!”

This is true.

Unfortunately, I disagree with this statement completely now. Yes, I can change my views on things too, I am human.

So why is is wrong, and what DO I suggest?

First lets look at the principles behind the statement.

If you increase exercise, or movement in general – you burn more calories.

If you eat less food, you consume fewer calories.

Thus, you create a caloric deficit. Meaning, you are burning more calories than you consume, and by the undeniable laws of thermodynamics – you should be losing weight!

This is all true.

So what is wrong with exercise more, eat less?

Exercise More

“I need to do more cardio” – ” I need to go to more bootcamps” – “I need to workout more”

Three common statements made by people who want to lose weight. All good statements, but all could be neglecting something important – DIET.

You cannot out train a bad diet. You might be able to at the start, but it won’t last. I promise.

You lost weight by running a bunch and not really looking at your diet. Then all of a sudden life happened and you had to stop running 2 hours a day, 7 days a week. Then what happens?

Or you hit a plateau in your weight loss, so you must add more running! Now you are socially exiling yourself from your friends and family, because you need to run 12 hours per week to maintain your weight loss – that sounds fun.

Exercising more is not the answer.

Eat Less

So you want to crash diet to fit into that dress for the winter ball? Ok. Go jump on a standard cookie cutter diet (which definitely doesn’t include cookies) and starve yourself at 1200 calories a day. You will lose weight.

But then what?

You either have to keep eating so little that you burn out, or yup – you have to exercise more to create bigger deficit.

Man or woman, starving yourself brings about some pretty nasty hormonal side effects – I don’t recommend it.

So what the hell do you recommend?

Exercise More, Eat More.

or

Exercise Less, Eat Less

(but maintain a caloric balance suited for your goals)

What does this mean?

Want to lose weight at a sustainable rate? Then live in a 300-500 calorie caloric deficit for most days of the week, and don’t go crazy on days that you aren’t.

Want to gain muscle at a sustainable rate without gaining tons of fat? Maintain a caloric surplus of 200-300 calories for most days of the week that you train.

So say you want to lose some fat.

Here is what your week might look like:

As exercise increase, this allows you to eat more – which will help maintain muscle mass, and your sanity – and as long as you stay within a deficit, you are golden.

So how do you figure all this out?

That is way beyond a blog post – and unfortunately it isn’t as simple as just plugging in numbers to a formula. For in general, if you live by being aware of 1) Did I exercise today? and 2) Did I eat a little more today? and 3) Am I still losing/gaining weight (dependent on goal) – then you will have your answers.

This is my goal for everyone. Stop this trend of eating less and less and less, and exercising more, and more – and find a sustainable process that works for the long haul, and you can switch it on and off like a faucet – with very little problems.

 

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Stop Overthinking Everything Diet and Exercise

Being in the industry, I see a lot of opposing viewpoints when it comes to nutrition and exercise.

I can see why it is so confusing for the average person to figure out what they NEED to be doing.

Here is a great realization that I have made recently – the fitness/nutrition world is just like America right now. I would say about 98% of people in the industry agree on most stuff – and then you have the other 1% on each end of the spectrum.

Unfortunately, these 1%’ers on bot are the ones that make all the noise.

  • “If you drink tap water you will die!”
  • “If you eat 5 grams of sugar, your will die”
  • “Lifting weights makes women bulky”
  • “Cardio is the only way to lose fat”

Pardon my le français, but STFU. These aren’t even the most extreme things I have heard, but it blows my mind what people choose to fixate on, and what they passively ignore.

“What supplements should I take?” – “What do you currently eat daily?”…. Crickets….

Supplements mean absolutely, 1000%, jack if you have no clue what you currently eat. I’m not saying it has to be meticulous tracking for the average Joe or Jane looking to lose weight, but you need to be aware of how much you eat.

I could go on about different examples, but here is the deal. Stop over complicating things.

We all know what we should be eating mostly, and what we should be limiting, so I’m not going to even go down that road.

We all know that exercise is good for us, and we should be doing more of it, so I’m not going to go down that road either.

But when was the last time you actually wrote down, or at least thought about what you ate?

When was the last time you worked out, and it felt good, and you felt good after?

When was the last time you enjoyed a day at work?

When was the last time you took time to breathe?

Wait, where am I getting with this?

Do you think that losing 20 pounds will make you happier? It might, but why are you unhappy in the first place? Really, WHY? It likely isn’t just that 20 pounds.

Focusing on improving your nutrition and working out like a #beast is great, but NONE of that will change your life, make you happier, or arguably make you more healthy – if you don’t look at your LIFE as a whole.

So let’s stop fixating on whether or not you should eat 22 or 24% of your calories from fat, or eat 0.8 or 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight…and start fixating on living a wholesome and happy life.

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Sit More Than 50% of the Day? You Need These 6 Exercises

When we hear about exercises for sitting all day, we often hear about stretches for the hips and low back. Hardly ever addressed, is the upper back – especially the thoracic spine.

When we sit at our desk, computer, in our car, or for 20 minutes at a time on the toilet mindlessly browsing Instagram on our phones, we usually are set up in classic kyphotic posture.

The upper back/spine is supposed to be a very mobile segment of the spine, but this kind of lifestyle leads to tightness. When the mobile thoracic spine is immobile, the lumbar spine – lower back – is often sacrificed for mobility – thus leading to LOW back pain.

Here are some quick exercises you can do right now to help loosen up that upper back, fix your posture, and feel better daily.

Cross your arms and look for hit spots along the upper and outer back muscles. Hit them with short little rolls for 30-60 seconds each.

Cross your arms again, keeping your butt on the floor, arch your back over the roller starting at your midback and working up towards your neck. Go slow, breathe out, feel the back stretching – but make sure your butt is on the floor the whole time.

Breathe out and reach big over head letting gravity take your ams towards the floor. Repeat until you feel like you have extended your range and cannot go further.

Lay with one leg over the foam roller and rotate your body away and open while breathing out. Repeat for 5-10 reps per side.

Drive your hips back and arms up while rotating your palms towards the ceiling. Let your head push through your arms towards the floor. Breathe out, reach out. – 5-10 reps.

Plank up, drive your hips back then bring one leg forward outside of the same side hand. Drop the other knee to the floor while rotating away and breathing out. After hitting both sides, push your butt back in the air, then come forward – driving your hips towards the ground and arching your back (DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU KNOW IT HURTS YOU!) – finally glide back into a yoga childs pose. Repeat 3-5 times.

Do these exercises 2-3 times per week – and I promise your back will start loving you.

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Why Your “High Intensity Training” Is Holding You Back

High Intensity Training; it’s all the rage. Bootcamps, Crossfit, HIIT Class, Group X Classes with Plyo Box Jumps for 60 year old ladies…

There is nothing inherently wrong with it, rather the approach may be the biggest problem.

Even your more bodybuilding types can be prone to too much high intensity. When you hit the gym day after day, working at high intensity 95% 1RM sets that you have to crank up the Metallica to 11 for, slap your chest and huff and puff – (this was me) – day after day…

What about endurance athletes? Thats not high intensity! While it may not be high intensity in the form of an all out sprint, I would argue that it still is because of the duration of the activity.

See fancy graph:

So what’s the problem? 

You spend all your time doing HIIT, or balls to the wall workouts – because that burns fat faster, right? Not always.

Truth is; the body has a finite amount of intensity that it can endure until somethings gotta give.

Let’s think about this:

High Intensity not only places stress on the physical musculature of the body, but also the central nervous system. What also places stress on the body and the CNS?

  • Work
  • Life
  • Sickness
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor nutrition
  • Dieting
  • Watching the news
  • Frequent travel

So how many of you High Intensity 5x per week go getters are perfect in all of the above categories? Probably not many.

In that overstressed environment, your body releases chronically high levels of cortisol, a hormone that causes you to lose muscle, retain fat, and lower your ability to fight off illness and injury.

So what do you do???

Am I saying stop doing HIIT all together? NO

Be aware of your volume. If you aren’t sleeping and eating like crap, doing HIIT stuff wont help you 5 times per week – it will probably do the opposite. Get your diet in check and try to sleep more, and limit your high intensity training to 1-2 times per week.

Self monitor. Here’s a novel idea – listen to your body. If you are dragging ass and feeling extra bloated and weak, it’s probably not the best idea to go all out crazy at the gym. Reflect on why you are feeling this way, fix that problem, and then dial it back for the day and do some lower intensity pump work.

Work to Recover. When we talk recovery from training, it’s usually in the form of eat better, sleep better, and do your foam rolling and stretching. How many of us do that?

If you can’t sleep more, and don’t want to change your nutrition habits, then you can at least make an effort to do a solid recovery session 1-2x per week.

What would this include?

  • Breathing exercises
  • Mobility drills
  • Soft tissue work
  • Range of motion work
  • Light cardio

Essentially 30 minutes dedicated to leaving the gym feeling better than when you got there.

By focussing just a little bit on recovery, listening to your body, and dialing back a bit on the crazy 50 box jump workouts, you can actually improve your bodies ability to burn fat, grow muscle, and feel a whole heck of a lot better.

 

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You Don’t Turn Health “On and Off”

*The minimum amount of activity recommended is 150 minutes of  moderate/vigorous exercise per week* – See more here.

30 minutes, 5 days per week.

21 minutes 7 days per week if you want to look at it that way.

But then what? Will doing this alone get you the results of your dreams? Hardly.

Everyone want’s to know:

What is the MINIMUM AMOUNT of effort I need to put in to get results?

What is the MINIMUM AMOUNT of money I need to spend to get results?

What is the MINIMUM AMOUNT of time this will take until I’m at my goal?

This mindset is terrible. Working towards your health really has no minimum nor maximum. You don’t turn it on and off. It is more about how much effort you put towards it vs. how much you don’t.

So if you are already asking what is the least amount of effort you have to put in, you are going to fail.

One of my ladies put it so well in a conversation about working out, I have to share it. Our women’s lifting group meets 2 days per week, for 45 minutes per session. Not even the bare minimum recommendation. However – she gets “it”. This is how she summed up the idea of training twice per week:

“You have to commit to 7 days to see results, 2 of those days you just happen to workout with other people”

BAM! SO GOOD!

It’s all about the process, not the end date.

Do you need to go all out 7 days per week? Do you need to meticulously measure all your food and never eat “junk food” or drink alcohol 7 days per week? Hardly

You need to commit to healthy behaviors 365 days per year, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be 24 hours a day.

1) Move as much as possible

Ever track your steps? Do it and see exactly how much you move in a day. If you usually have your phone on you, I recommend the Pacer AppGet 10,000 steps per day.

2) Eat mostly unprocessed foods that are ingredients, not ones made of ingredients.

How many ingredients are in an apple? One – apple. How many ingredients are in a chicken breast? One – chicken. How many ingredients are in a slice of deep dish delicious pizza? I don’t know, but probably a lot.

Follow this rule as much as possible.

3) Prioritize your health as an investment

You have one body, and one life. You better take good care of it.

In about 6 weeks, people will line up to spend $1000 on the new iPhone. How many of these people will also claim they can’t afford to eat healthy? A gym membership? Even a small group training class could be purchased with that money!

Many won’t hesitate to blindly put shoes, fancy gadgets, and epic nights out on their credit card. But when it comes to putting purchases that will benefit their health, and pay long term dividends, many are hesitant.

 

 

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Don’t Forget to Train THIS Muscle Group!

 

“How much ya bench?” – Most Bro’s in the gym.

“I want to have toned arms” – Most women.

A large majority of people who approach lifting on their own are often quick to jump to the “typical” exercises – bench, curls, shoulder presses, some leg stuff, and abs.

But what about your back?

The muscles you can’t see in the mirror are forgotten about in most self made recreational lifting programs.

Not only do some people forget about training back, but if they do train the back muscles, they often don’t train them enough or with the right kind of work.

First let’s look at the back:

The “big 3” back muscles are the trapezius (traps), the teres major, and the latissimus dorsi (lats) – and you could throw in the back of the shoulders – the posterior or scapular part of the deltoid (rear delts).

Why should they be trained?

Your back muscles play a huge part in your posture and overall spinal health. Most people nowadays spend most of their time hunched over at a desk, hunched over in the car, or hunched over on their phones. This leads to a chronic weakening of the upper back muscles, and a shortening or tightening of the chest muscles, leading to “desk posture”

So, by focussing only on mirror muscles at the gym – chest especially – we are only reinforcing that posture and thus leading to more bad posture and more chronic back issues.

How much should you be training your back?

Most fitness experts will propose a 1:2 or 1:3 push to pull ratio.

***This means for every pushing exercise you do (bench press for example), you should do 2 or 3 pulling exercises (rowing exercises or pulldowns)***

Now we can get even deeper here and I would argue for a 1:2 ratio of vertical to horizontal pulling exercises.

Vertical pulling being pullups, chin ups, or pulldowns, and horizontal pulling exercises as any row variation from multiple angles varying from 45 degrees above the shoulder, straight on from the shoulder, and 45 degrees below the shoulder.

How should the back be trained?

Back exercises should focus on using the back muscles to initiate the pull, and end with a strong contraction of the back muscles. Many times, people focus on pulling with the arm, and don’t actually pull with the back muscles.

Think about initiating the pull with your lats, and squeezing the heck out of the lats on the contraction.

Bonus: Having a muscular back is sexy

Yes, I get it, we don’t all workout just to look good – but thats usually a nice added bonus.

Having a muscular back for men gives you a wider upper back, which is in alignment with the more traditional masculine body type, you fill out your tee shirts better, and it also makes your waist look smaller (pro tip).

For women, having a muscular back looks great when you wear a swimsuit or tank tops, and it often helps with the look of having sexy toned arms.

As evidenced by my badass women’s lifting group:

Rather than asking for a light load, ask for a strong back – Do your rows.

 

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Stay healthy my friends,