Lifting incredibly slowly builds incredibly big muscles. Lifting super slowly produces super long workouts—and that is it. University of Alabama researchers recently studied two groups of lifters doing a 29-minute workout. One group performed exercises using a 5-second up phase and a 10-second down phase, the other a more traditional approach of 1 second up and 1 second down. The faster group burned 71 percent more calories and lifted 250 percent more weight than the super slow lifters.
The real expert says: "The best increases in strength are achieved by doing the up phase as rapidly as possible," says Gary Hunter, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., the lead study author. "Lower the weight more slowly and under control." There's greater potential for growth during the lowering phase, and when you lower with control, there's less chance of injury.
If you eat more protein, you'll build more muscle to a point, sure. But put down the shake for a sec. Protein promotes the muscle-building process, called protein synthesis, "but you don't need exorbitant amounts to do this," says John Ivy, Ph.D., coauthor of Nutrient Timing. If you're working out hard, consuming more than 0.9 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a waste. Excess protein breaks down into amino acids and nitrogen, which are either excreted or converted into carbohydrates and stored.
The real expert says: More important is when you consume protein, and that you have the right balance of carbohydrates with it. Have a post workout shake of three parts carbohydrates and one part protein. Eat a meal several hours later, and then reverse that ratio in your snack after another few hours, says Ivy. "This will keep protein synthesis going by maintaining high amino acid concentrations in the blood."
Leg extensions are safer for your knees than squats. And cotton swabs are dangerous when you push them too far into your ears. It's a matter of knowing what you're doing. A recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that "open-chain" exercises—those in which a single joint is activated, such as the leg extension—are potentially more dangerous than closed-chain moves—those that engage multiple joints, such as the squat and the leg press. The study found that leg extensions activate your quadriceps muscles slightly independently of each other, and just a 5-millisecond difference in activation causes uneven compression between the patella (kneecap) and thighbone, says Anki Stensdotter, the lead study author.
The real expert says: "The knee joint is controlled by the quadriceps and the hamstrings. Balanced muscle activity keeps the patella in place and appears to be more easily attained in closed-chain exercises," says Stensdotter. To squat safely, hold you’re back as upright as possible and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or at least as far as you can go without discomfort in your knees). Try front squats if you find yourself leaning forward. Although it's a more advanced move, the weight rests on the fronts of your shoulders, helping to keep your back upright, Stensdotter says.
Never exercise a sore muscle. Before you skip that workout, determine how sore you really are. "If your muscle is sore to the touch or the soreness limits your range of motion, it's best that you give the muscle at least another day of rest," says Alan Mikesky, Ph.D., director of the human performance and biomechanics laboratory at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. In less severe instances, an "active rest" involving light aerobic activity and stretching and even light lifting, can help alleviate some of the soreness. "Light activity stimulates blood flow through the muscles, which removes waste products to help in the repair process," says David Docherty, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the University of Victoria in Canada.
The real expert says: If you're not sore to the touch and you have your full range of motion, go to the gym. Start with 10 minutes of cycling, then exercise the achy muscle by performing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions using a weight that's no heavier than 30 percent of your one-rep maximum, says Docherty.
Stretching prevents injuries. Maybe if you're a figure skater. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed more than 350 studies and articles examining the relationship between stretching and injuries and concluded that stretching during a warm-up has little effect on injury prevention. "Stretching increases flexibility, but most injuries occur within the normal range of motion," says Julie Gilchrist, M.D., one of the study's researchers. "Stretching and warming up have just gone together for decades. It's simply what's done, and it hasn't been approached through rigorous science."
The real expert says: Warming up is what prevents injury, by slowly increasing your blood flow and giving your muscles a chance to prepare for the upcoming activity. To this end, Dr. Gilchrist suggests a thorough warm-up, as well as conditioning for your particular sport. Of course, flexibility is a good thing. If you need to increase yours so it's in the normal range (touching your toes without bending your knees, for instance), do your stretching when your muscles are already warm.
You need a Swiss ball to build a stronger chest and shoulders. Don't abandon your trusty bench for exercises like the chest press and shoulder press if your goal is strength and size. "The reason people are using the ball and getting gains is because they're weak as kittens to begin with," says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S. You have to reduce the weight in order to press on a Swiss ball, and this means you get less out of the exercise, he says.
The real expert says: A Swiss ball is great for variety, but center your chest and shoulder routines on exercises that are performed on a stable surface, Ballantyne says. Then use the ball to work your abs.
Always work out with free weights. Sometimes machines can build muscle better—for instance, when you need to isolate specific muscles after an injury, or when you're too inexperienced to perform a free-weight exercise. If you can't complete a pull-up, you won't build your back muscles. So do lat pull downs to develop strength in this range of motion, says Greg Haff, Ph.D., director of the strength research laboratory at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
The real expert says: "Initially, novice athletes will see benefits with either machines or free weights, but as you become more trained, free weights should make up the major portion of your training program," says Haff. Free-weight exercises mimic athletic moves and generally activate more muscle mass. If you're a seasoned lifter, free weights are your best tools to build strength or burn fat.
Ab exercise burn fat. People are always looking to stay lean and healthy, and they all want to burn fat. However they follow one of the biggest misconceptions on fitness, they think that ab exercise burn fat.
The real expert says:
AB EXERCISES DON'T BURN FAT OFF YOUR STOMACH
This is something that I tell people over and over again, yet, people still think the same. I think it is set too deeply in the mind of all people. Since we were young we were always told to burn the fat with a set of crunches, when all we were doing was working the muscles.
Getting the six pack you want is not about making an ab exercise to burn fat. It is a matter of lowering your body fat to a minimum. The ab muscles are pretty easy to work and define. They don't have to be too big; they just have to be defined, contrary to other muscles like the back or the arms.
The hardest part is actually to get rid of the fat and improve your metabolism. The fact here is that your abs are covered by fat and as long as you have that fat, you'll never see them. For this, you don't have to over train your abs. So avoid training them every day and doing thousands of repetitions. Everyone can get great ab muscles with the right combination of exercises, interval cardio and diet, see me for more information.
Just remember that doing ab exercises won't burn the fat off your body.
FIVE SIMPLE FAT LOSS TIPS
Fat loss isn't rocket science. I know we love to make our problems seem much bigger than they really are, but when you really look at them they're typically easy to solve. And that's often the case with fat loss.
To prove it to you here are five super simple fat loss tips you can easily follow:
1) Stop guzzling liquid sugar. Yes, I mean soft drinks and juices and bottles of iced tea loaded with high fructose corn syrup. For the most part, a 12 oz can of cola is 150 calories of pure sugar. Have a couple of those a day...
(Personally, I love Prograde Nutrition's VGF 25+ because it is made from 25 WHOLE veggies, greens and fruits.)
2) I've written it a gazillion times and I will continue to - eat breakfast! If you want to make fat loss easy then make sure you start your metabolism off on the right foot.
3) Eat more fruit. Aim for at least 5 servings a day.
4) Eat more veggies. Again, aim for at least 5 servings a day.
5) Stop eating so many processed foods. If it comes in a box from your grocery store it's most likely processed. The fresher the foods the better.
6) Burn fat while you sleep by eating a little protein about an hour before bed.
Yours in health,
PS - You know I take my nutrition seriously. And it's why I ONLY recommend Prograde Nutrition's Whole Foods based multi. They have both a men's http://fitbysteve.getprograde.com/vgfmen and women's http://fitbysteve.getprograde.com/vgfwomen formula.
PPS – I am a Prograde Nutrition Partner
Steven Greene is a fitness and exercise specialist, as well as a nutrition, weight management and lifestyle coach in Los Angeles.