Posts Tagged ‘ways’

9 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Fat Loss

Weight loss is never easy, but stalled progress could mean you’re standing in your own way. Find out what to look for, and how to remedy things, with these tips!

Wondering why your weight loss has plateaued? If you’ve been hitting the gym hard and sticking to your diet, but the scale still isn’t budging, you’re likely feeling fed up and defeated. Before you throw in the towel, take a moment to reassess your process. If your efforts to get lean have been met with nothing but frustration and disappointment, there’s a chance you could be self-sabotaging without even knowing it.

Don’t give up just yet! Remedy the situation, and find out where you might have misstepped, with a little help from two of NLA’s super-fit athletes, IFBB figure pro Jessie Hilgenberg and fitness model Lais DeLeon. Together, they’ll share their experience and help you steer clear of some of the most common mistakes they see people make on their weight-loss journey.


Going crazy with cardio

There’s no question that getting sufficient cardio is key to looking great and burning fat, but it’s important to be mindful of how you perform cardio in terms of type and duration. Grinding on the treadmill for 30 minutes is going to have limited effectiveness in the long term. Yes, it burns calories during the session, but the aftereffect is quite minimal, and it can get stale fast.

“It’s important to mix it up in the gym and make sure you have a well-rounded fitness regimen,” says Hilgenberg, who often sees women doing too much steady-state cardio, spending hours on the StepMill to no avail. “Being a cardio-machine bunny can jeopardize your muscle gains and burn you out.”

There’s no question that getting sufficient cardio is key to looking great and burning fat, but it’s important to be mindful of how you perform cardio in terms of type and duration.

Instead, Hilgenberg recommends a healthy mix of 1-3 steady-state sessions per week alongside two high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions. Not only is HIIT more efficient, allowing you to get in a heart-racing, sweat-pouring training session in a mere 15 minutes, but it also burns more calories post-workout and lessens the chance of tapping into your hard-earned muscle along with fat.

Just make sure to wind down after your intense cardio sessions by walking and stretching. Hilgenberg suggests you attend a yoga class to help your muscles relax and your body unwind. Remember, recovery is a two-way street. “Taking care of your body will allow it to work hard for you which, in turn, will help keep you motivated,” she says.


Not Building a Muscle Base

A focus on weight loss rather than muscle gain could also be the reason your progress has stalled. “The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest,” Hilgenberg says.

But this doesn’t mean you have to skip cardio for weights. “If time constraints have you feeling stuck to choose between cardio and lifting, try combining them both!” Hilgenberg says. “An intense HIIT session that incorporates a lot of muscle power can burn fat and build muscle like you’ve never known before.”

Two of Jessie’s favorite exercises are pushing a weighted sled and sweating it out with the battle ropes. Looking to cut down on time even further? Take notes from this fitness pro. “Try adding your cardio between weight lifting sets,” Hilgenberg says.

Two of Jessie’s favorite exercises are pushing a weighted sled and sweating it out with the battle ropes. Looking to cut down on time even further? Take notes from this fitness pro. “Try adding your cardio between weight lifting sets,” Hilgenberg says. “Jump squats, jumping rope, and plyometric training are prefect for that.”

If you’re going to try this technique, just make sure you swap your rest periods for bodyweight exercises that don’t task the same muscle groups with which you’re lifting. For example, throwing jump squats between sets of heavy squats may fatigue your legs too quickly, so try push-ups or something less lower-body intensive on days you train legs.


Failing to Dial in Your Macros

When it comes to your diet, you have to realize it’s about more than just total calories—although that’s definitely the place to start. Once you know your target daily calorie intake, break things down further into percentages—or even rough gram estimations—of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, with a special emphasis on protein.

“Make sure you’re getting enough protein,” Hilgenberg advises. “If you’re not going to calculate it exactly, make sure that, at the very minimum, you’re getting one gram per pound of lean body weight [daily].”

A photo posted by Jessie Hilgenberg (@jesshilgenberg) on

Protein is critical for muscle growth and repair, and it’s especially important for preserving your hard-earned lean mass during a diet. “Getting enough protein will also help you feel full longer, making it easier to stick to your calorie targets,” Hilgenberg adds.

If you don’t know where to start, she recommends using an online calculator to help you as needed.

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Fearing Fats

Protein’s not the only macronutrient that can leave you feeling fuller longer. Incorporating the proper types of fat into your diet can play a role in keeping you satiated, as well. “Foods such as meat and dairy have saturated fat that you may only want to eat in moderation, but olive oil and avocados provide healthy unsaturated fats that you want to take in,” Hilgenberg explains.

Jesse also recommends turning to a product such as NLA For Her Omegas if you aren’t getting enough essential fatty acids (EFAs). “While you can get EFAs from some nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, supplementing with an omega-3 product can help you achieve the optimal amount,” Hilgenberg says.

Adults should aim to consume about 2 grams of omega-3 EPA/DHA per day.


Eating Too Much Processed Food

In addition to your total calories and macronutrient breakdown, you should also pay attention to food quality. “Try and stay away from processed foods if you want optimal results,” Hilgenberg says.

A photo posted by Jessie Hilgenberg (@jesshilgenberg) on

“Practice shopping just the perimeters of the grocery store instead of going up and down the aisles,” she adds. “That’s where you’ll find the whole foods—think vegetables, meats, whole grains, and more—that your body will thank you for. Remember, filling your cart with healthier items means prepping yourself for quality gains!

Then, when you do have a cheat meal, make sure that it doesn’t replace that day’s healthy eats entirely. “If you eat food high in sugar or simple carbs, make sure to pair it with a food high in fiber,” Hilgenberg says. “You’ll do less damage that way.”


Slathering Everything in Sauce

One of the biggest problems pro fitness model Lais DeLeon sees people making is neglecting to track the add-ons they use when preparing their meals. Long story short, condiments count!

A photo posted by @laisdeleon on

“Dressings and sauces are full of hidden sugars and fats, so be sure to check them carefully,” she says. “You may have the best of intentions eating that salad and chicken breast, but if you slather it in a heaping of heavy dressing, it changes the nutritional value of the meal entirely.”

DeLeon recommends that you always ask for the sauces or dressing on the side and pick a lighter or sugar-free version whenever possible. “Try mustard, hot sauce, vinegar, or dry spices for added flavor without the calories,” she says.



Cutting calories isn’t always equivalent to cutting fat, especially if you cut too drastically from the very beginning. While you need to expend more calories than you consume in order to lose weight, if you go too far, dieting can work against you. You may begin to lose muscle, and your metabolism may eventually adapt to your new low levels of caloric intake.

“Not eating enough can cause the body to store or hold on to more fat,” DeLeon explains. “Plus, the fatigue and bad mood associated with crash dieting will undoubtedly make it much harder to work out and stay positive about your goals and progress.”

A photo posted by @laisdeleon on

The take-home message here is that, when you do alter your caloric intake, do it incrementally and progressively. If you’ve hit a plateau and want to adjust your diet, start by trimming 100-150 calories a day from your calorie total, not 500. And give yourself at least 1-2 weeks at this new daily level for the changes to actualize.

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Missing key micronutrients

If you don’t cut smart, a reduced-calorie diet could leave you short on the vitamins and minerals your body needs. “Being in a caloric deficit may mean you aren’t getting enough of the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids needed to keep your body running at an optimal level,” DeLeon says.

In order to make sure you’re fueling your body to optimal levels, she recommends you supplement with an omega-3 product, a multivitamin, and branched chain amino acids.


Relying on Sports Drinks

Finally, one last way that you might be sabotaging your progress is through an over-reliance on sports drinks, especially those with lots of sugar in them. Sure, you want that extra edge, but drinking down added sugar and empty calories isn’t the best way to go.

“While some sports drinks provide great benefits during intense training and can improve your athletic performance, they are not necessarily intended for weight loss,” DeLeon says. They’re also not a substitute for whole foods, so don’t think you can power through your day on liquids alone!

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5 Ways To Increase Your Training Intensity

Physique changes occur when you challenge your body. Ramp up your workouts for better progress with these intensity techniques!

You’re probably familiar with the words “training intensity.” But what do they mean? To a kinesiologist, intensity is a way to determine how much energy your body is expending during exercise. It’s a measure of your effort against your maximum capability. In other words, it’s way to gauge power output.

Depending on the amount of energy you expend or the intensity of a workout, your body will use fuel differently. For example, high-intensity exercise will cause your body to use carbohydrates because of their quick energy production. Unfortunately, your stores of carbohydrates are limited and can deplete rather quickly, leaving you with an empty tank.

Research has shown that high-intensity exercise is a powerful method to increase your body’s ability to rely on stored fat for fuel, which will allow you to work out longer, and it can have a positive impact on your body compostion.1

Increasing the intensity will not only help you burn through extra calories, it will challenge your cardiovascular and muscular systems in ways they may not be accustomed to. New challenges to your body generally turn into great physique and performance enhancements.

Using the following intensity increasers will help you keep your muscle mass high and your body fat low, all year round.


Use Heavy Weight

Your rep range should reflect your fitness goals. For strength goals, your sets should be built on 3-5 reps. For muscle-building goals, stick to 8-12 reps. For muscular endurance, try 12-15 reps. For hypertrophy (muscle-building) goals, the last couple of reps per set should be damn near impossible. In reality, a great way to determine if you’re lifting heavy enough is to see if you’re reaching failure on each set. If you can get to 15 reps easily, then those dumbbells are too light!

Never underestimate the power of heavy weight. If you’re not using challenging weight, there’s no way you’re stressing your muscles enough to make any change. It takes power output to move weight, so make sure yours is on the high end!

A photo posted by Brock Cunico (@brockcunico) on


Increase Your Time Under Tension

To grow, your muscles have to be stressed. The amount of stress you can provide on your muscles is important. If you train your muscles for too long, you run the risk of injury and overtraining. If you don’t give them enough time under tension (TUT), you may be not be getting the gains you want.

TUT is the total amount of work you put on the muscle, or the total time your muscle resists weights during a set. You can change the length of your set for particular goals. For strength goals, the amount of TUT per set is about 20 seconds. For hypertrophy, you want to be somewhere around 40 seconds. For muscular endurance, you’re looking at about 70 seconds.

To lengthen each rep, you can increase the eccentric portion of your lifts, boosting the amount of time your muscles work on each rep. You can also pause at peak contraction for 1-2 seconds instead of immediately lowering the weight.

If you’re in that muscle-building range of 8-12 reps, each rep should last 4-5 seconds. You may not think slowing down your reps will have a big impact on your workout, but give it a try. I bet you’ll feel some serious pain during and after.

A photo posted by Brock Cunico (@brockcunico) on

One way to increase TUT is to use tempo training. Tempo refers to the speed at which you lift weights. It’s usually denoted in numbers like this: 3:1:2:1. The first number is the eccentric, or lowering, portion of the lift. The second number is any pause at the midpoint. The third number is the concentric, or lifting, portion, and the fourth shows any pause at the top.

You can play with the tempo of your lifts in many different ways. You can slow down the eccentric portion, speed up the concentric, or increase the length of the pause at peak contraction. Or you can do the complete opposite.

Tempo training will give you more control over your lifts, making you a better lifter in the process. Tempo training will provide extra oomph for your workouts. Lengthy holds at the contraction and slow eccentric lifting can make your muscles scream!

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Decrease Your Rest Periods

How much rest you give yourself between reps will dramatically affect the intensity of your workout. If you’re a powerlifter, chances are you’re giving yourself at least 3-5 minutes between sets in order to produce maximum energy during each lift. However, if you’re training for hypertrophy, you can make your workouts pack a bigger fat-burning punch by decreasing the amount of rest you take between sets.

In general, I suggest keeping your rest periods between 30-60 seconds. That means you need to watch the clock and pay attention to what you’re doing between sets. There’s no time to be talking to your friends, looking at your Instagram feed, or taking selfies. You should need those 30-60 seconds to recover and maybe grab a sip of water or BCAAs.

If you find that 60 seconds is too long, and you’re not getting the cardiovascular benefit, drop your rest to 45 or 30 seconds. It’s your job to pay attention to how your body reacts and how you feel. If you are still breathing hard by the time you hit your next set and can’t complete the reps, you may need to give yourself a little more time. However, you shouldn’t be resting so long that your heart rate returns to normal. Keep your heart rate high by resting just enough between sets so you feel fatigued, but not so fatigued you can’t complete the work.

A photo posted by Brock Cunico (@brockcunico) on


Use Supersets, Circuits, and Dropsets

Straight sets work well—don’t get me wrong. Per exercise, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps are definitely going to help you build muscle and lean out. However, there are ways to spice up those straight sets to increase your workout’s intensity.

One of the best ways to make your workouts more intense is to perform supersets. Supersets involve performing two exercises, one right after the other, without rest. Going from one exercise to another without rest is a great way to get your heart and muscles pumping.

The same idea can be applied to many exercises. For example, you can do an entire workout as a circuit by performing five exercises, one after the other, without rest. Only rest when you complete the last exercise in the circuit. Training circuit-style often means you’ll have to use a little less weight because the intensity is so high. It also means you’re giving your body one hell of a cardio workout while you’re pumping iron.

Another great way to increase intensity is to use dropsets. Perform your usual sets, but after completing the final rep on the final set, drop the weight stack and keep doing reps. You can do multiple drops in a set, or just do one. The point, though, is to take your muscles beyond failure. Stressing your muscles this way will help you achieve some epic gains.

A photo posted by Brock Cunico (@brockcunico) on



There’s a distinct difference between somebody who wants it, and somebody who will actually do what it takes to get it. When you’re in the gym, it’s your job to keep your lifts heavy and your volume high enough to make your workouts difficult. If you’re continually undertaking mediocre workouts that don’t challenge you, progress will remain elusive.

Your workouts are supposed to be difficult. You don’t need to leave the gym every day feeling wrecked, but you do need to leave the gym every day feeling fatigued, perhaps even depleted. If you want change to happen, you need to put your muscles through stress they’re not accustomed to.

The Next Step

When using these intensity-boosting techniques, try implementing them one at a time. For instance, if you haven’t tried increasing the TUT of your sets, start there. See how it feels to lengthen your reps, and see what progress you can make with that technique in 4-6 weeks. Once you’ve done that, see what happens if you decrease your rest periods.

Always take stock of your workouts and how your body feels. If you notice great changes occurring, keep working. If you don’t like something, make a change. Fitness is personal—make your workouts fit your needs!

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  • Gibala, M. J., Little, J. P., MacDonald, M. J., & Hawley, J. A. (2012). Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease. The Journal of Physiology, 590(5), 1077-1084. Articles

8 Ways To Speed Up Muscle Growth

Looking to make the most of your time under the iron? Build slabs of quality mass faster with these 8 tips from WBFF pro Jamie Alderton!

Building muscle can be a slow and frustrating process for even the most committed lifters, especially if you’ve spent an appreciable amount of time under the bar. You might have grown like a weed when you first started training, but over time, consistent muscle growth requires new strategies and tactics. If your journey to more muscle has stalled, a few tweaks to your program might be all you need!

Thankfully, WBFF pro Jamie Alderton is here to share some of his favorite tips and techniques to kick your muscle-building efforts into high gear. Wherever you are on the road to packing on more quality mass, try a few of these tips to supercharge your results!


Go Slow to Grow

When it comes to packing on size, you might actually want to slow down your lifts to elicit new growth. “Too many people focus on trying to lift heavy and fast to speed up muscle growth,” Alderton says. “This often leads to sloppy form and takes the focus off of the working muscles.”

“While adding weight to your lifts helps you grow, it comes secondary to stimulating the muscle through a full range of motion,” he adds. If you let a heavy load get in the way of proper form and tempo, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

A photo posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

Form and controlled speed are crucial. “A key mechanism for building muscle is mechanical tension, which is created when a muscle is stretched and contracted repeatedly with a challenging weight,” Alderton explains. Consider watching yourself perform each rep of an exercise to check your form, and then focus on lifting and lowering the weight slowly and under control.

“What most people don’t realize is that the eccentric phase of the lift is just as effective at building muscle as the concentric phase,” Alderton adds. The eccentric—or lowering—portion of the lift creates more muscle damage, which is another essential mechanism of muscle growth.

“Slowing down your reps in the eccentric phase of your lifts will not only cause you to lift through a greater range of motion, it will also increase the time that the muscle is under tension,” Alderton adds. This, in short, can lead to greater muscle gains.


Grab a Spot

When lifting near your one-rep max or pushing past failure on your muscle-building sets, training with a spotter is extremely beneficial. Even if you don’t use your partner’s assistance on every rep, knowing he or she has your back will help you push harder than you otherwise would. Over time, this extra effort translates to greater strength progression and muscular adaptation.

A spotter can also help you perform specific training techniques like assisted and eccentric (negative) reps to push past sticking points and stimulate new growth. During assisted reps, you lift to failure, and then have your spotter assist you with a few additional reps beyond that point.

During negatives training, you load up with a weight heavier than you’d normally rep out and focus entirely on a slow eccentric, or lowering, component of the rep. Your partner helps you with the positive portion.


Maintain a Caloric Surplus

Muscle won’t grow without adequate cause. To build it effectively, you need an adequate training stimulus followed by ample nutrition and recovery. Getting enough daily calories is a critical component of adding quality size. “If you really want to speed up your muscle growth, you need to fuel your body effectively,” Alderton adds.

A photo posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

The best way to do this is to take in more calories than you burn. A 250-calorie surplus—or 250 calories over what you’re currently eating, or your maintenance goal—is a great starting point, but be sure to monitor progress over time and adjust accordingly. While you don’t want to embark on a caloric free-for-all and start packing on body fat, you also don’t want to have too small of a surplus. If your surplus is null, you’ll be building muscle at a snail’s pace. If you’re in that boat, start eating 500 calories over your daily maintenance level.

Not sure where you stand? A trick Alderton uses to guesstimate how many calories he needs to build muscle is to take his body weight in pounds and multiply by 18-20. If he’s not growing after eating in that range for a few weeks, he’ll slowly increase his calories. If you’re wondering how to find your maintenance calorie level, just multiply your body weight by 15 for an easy place to start.


Know Your Maxes

Another key to getting stronger—and therefore building more muscle—is knowing your limits. “What is your 3-rep, 5-rep, and 8-rep max for the compound lifts?” Alderton asks. “If you don’t know the answer to that, it could be part of your problem.”

Why? Because knowing these numbers will allow you to program smart workouts. Instead of blindly guessing how many reps you can complete on a certain lift with a certain weight, you’ll be able to select the appropriate load—and progressively increase it—from workout to workout. This kind of systematic tracking will help you get bigger and stronger for the long haul.

If you don’t already, Alderton recommends that you test your main-lift maxes every 2-3 months to monitor progress and ensure you’re lifting heavy enough during your day-to-day workouts. You might be stronger than you realize, but if you fail to test, you’ll never match your potential.

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Use a Workout Log

When it comes to making solid gains, tracking your training sessions is essential. “Make sure that you log your sets and reps, as well as the amount of weight you are lifting in each session,” Alderton insists.

Having a log to look at each time you hit the gym will not only inspire you to do your best, but it will allow you to double-check that you are, in fact, doing more than you did last workout. It’s hard to know where to go if you don’t know where you’ve been, so write down your sets and reps so you can beat them in your next session!

A photo posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

If you don’t log your lifts or cardio sessions, it’s much harder to tell if you’re moving forward. And if you keep using the same weight day after day, you’re simply maintaining the status quo. A good workout log can help prevent this.


Fuel for Every Workout

Simply put, if you want to have a great workout, you have to fuel for peak performance. Training on empty can leave you feeling weak and underpowered during your workouts, and failing to fuel after a session can hamper your recovery and long-term growth.

So, what’s the perfect pre-workout meal? Well, that depends on your meal frequency and other factors, but a mix of complex carbohydrates and roughly 30 grams of lean protein 1-2 hours before you lift is ideal. Getting in another 20-30 grams of protein after you lift can spur muscle protein synthesis and help you build muscle over time, so don’t overlook either crucial period.


Limit Your Cardio Activity

Incorporating moderate-intensity cardio is great for improving your aerobic capacity and enhancing your ability to work hard for a prolonged period during weight training. However, when muscle size and strength are your top goals, more cardio isn’t always the best solution. If you do too much cardio, it can make it harder to achieve the size and strength gains you desire.

A photo posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

Cardio places additional stress on the body, which means you have more to recover from, and it can sap calories that could have gone toward your muscle-building efforts.

To experience optimal muscle growth while training your heart, keep your cardio to 2-3 times per week and limited to 20-30 minutes per session at a low-moderate intensity.


Don’t Get Married to One Equipment Type

When it comes to lifting, remember that your body will respond best to a variety of stimuli. Avoid getting too focused on lifting with just one type of equipment at all times. You might favor barbells and dumbbells, but that doesn’t mean you should never lift using cables or weight machines.

A video posted by Jamie Alderton WBFF Pro (@grenadejay) on

Change up your routine every so often to place the muscles under a new type of stress.

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5 Ways to Make Your Workout Harder And More Effective!

Your body changes according to the level at which it’s stressed. If you’re not seeing results, the solution is simple: Make things more difficult! Here are 5 ways to do it.

Some things you just don’t do. Like spitting into the wind. Or pulling on Superman’s cape. Or ending a workout without giving it everything you’ve got. After all, your body is an adaptation machine, and it will only change if you give it ample reason. In other words, you can’t just show up at the gym; you have to push yourself to grow!

If you’ve been stuck at the same level of strength and muscular development for way too long, you may just need to make your workouts more demanding. Here are five quick tips, techniques, and strategies to help you dial up the difficulty.

These techniques run the gamut from simple to borderline brutal, but I recommend you try them all to see what works best for you!


Attach bands or chains to a barbell movement

Sometimes you have to use unconventional methods to make your workouts more challenging, and chains are one such method. If you haven’t been using chains to jump-start your progress, you just might be letting one of the best tools in the gym pass you by.

When training with bands, the further the stretch, the greater a band’s resistance becomes.

With most exercises, the weight of the object you’re lifting doesn’t change: what weighs 90 pounds at the bottom of the lift weighs 90 at the top. Chains, however, provide linear variable resistance training (LVRT)—as the range of motion increases, so does the load. And when you’re at your strongest biomechanically, toward the top of the movement, the “chains + bar” are requiring the most of you. When training with bands, the further the stretch, the greater a band’s resistance becomes.

In the bottom portion of the squat, bench press, or deadlift, most of the chains are resting on the floor (or the band is loose), but as you lift, more links come off the floor, and the weight increases as you go higher. So as the weight gets heavier, you obviously have to (and are best able to) recruit more muscle fibers—especially the fast-twitch variety that allow for greater gains in power, strength, and size—over and above what you might be able to recruit doing standard dumbbell and barbell movements.


Extend your sets

In extended-set training, you use multiple versions of the same movement in one set, but you quickly change your body position after hitting failure to make the movement slightly easier as the set progresses. Different versions of the same exercise are placed in order from hardest to easiest to allow you to get the most out of each extended set.

With this style of training, you’re able to continue doing reps at the same weight after failure because you adjust your body position to gain a mechanical advantage every time you hit failure, which lets you get more reps of the same movement. This is one reason this type of training is also called a mechanical dropset, or mechanical-advantage dropset.

For example, let’s say you’re doing lateral raises. To extend this set, you’d start with the most difficult version of the movement, which is a seated dumbbell lateral raise. Choosing a weight you can do for about 10 reps, you’d take that set to failure. But rather than dropping the dumbbells, you’d immediately stand up and complete the standing dumbbell lateral raises with the same weight.

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The exercise is now slightly easier because you’re able to generate a bit of body English through your knees and hips that you couldn’t when you were seated. With this mechanical advantage, you can continue doing reps until you reach failure one more time.

In this example, the extended-set technique has just enabled you to do a pair of sets of the same exercise with the same weight without rest! You can knock out even more variations of the same movement—like a cable fly from the low, middle, and high pulleys—in one extended set, too. This is brutal and effective stuff, and it’ll help you grow in no time!


Stop, drop, and grow

Dropsetting or “stripping” is an advanced training technique that’s both easy to learn and very effective at adding difficulty to your workout. Let’s say you’re using 225 pounds on the bench press for a maximum of 10 reps. You may not be able to complete an 11th rep with the 225 pounds, but you could probably perform a couple more reps with 165 or even 185 pounds.

In a dropset, as soon as you complete your last possible rep with 225 pounds, you quickly rack the weight and take off 25-35 pounds per side, then continue repping to a second point of muscle failure. Keep your rest period to an absolute minimum while reducing the weight, and have a training partner strip the plates to help speed things up even more.

In a dropset, as soon as you complete your last possible rep with 225 pounds, you quickly rack the weight and take off 25-35 pounds per side, then continue repping to a second point of muscle failure.

Voila! That’s a dropset.

Dropsets are not limited to barbells. You can do the same with dumbbells, but have all sets on hand before starting—you don’t want to waste time searching for one during the middle of a set. You can even have multiple drops, or perform a technique that’s commonly called “running the rack” with dumbbells. Just start heavy and work your way down the rack until you hit total failure.


Improve the density of your training

If you do abs or calves at the end of your workout, you’re probably guilty of skipping over them as you grow more fatigued over the course of your training session. Why not train these smaller muscle groups—which can even include middle delts or forearms on leg day—between sets of other muscle groups you’re already training? This approach is often called “density training” because you’re doing more work in the same amount of time.

This extra work isn’t meant to lengthen your workout, but it does allow you to address a lagging body part or one that you’re prone to skipping. For example, instead of taking your standard rest between bench-press sets, throw in sets of calf raises. Likewise, you could do a set of forearm curls between sets of leg presses. This lets the major body part recover while you hammer another.

When staggering your exercises, keep in mind there are combinations that don’t work well together. Doing forearms between sets of back or even chest movements will interfere with your gripping strength. Staggered sets for calves may throw your leg workouts off. Make sure the muscles for which you’re performing extra work don’t interfere with the primary muscles being trained.

You can even use this kind of density training for fat loss.


Get off the machines

Machine training has a number of benefits, but in general, it’s easier to do than its free-weight cousin. That’s because machines dictate the movement path for you, so you often just have to get set in position and lift the weight in the only direction it’ll go.

With free weights, more of your body’s musculature is involved in stabilizing and balancing the weight. These assisting muscles are required to complete the movement, making it more difficult and burning more calories.

Switching over from machine movements to free weights—whether it’s bench pressing, squatting, or doing rows and other big lifts—increases the level of challenge, which can pay big dividends in terms of increasing the circulation of muscle-building hormones, like testosterone. When you can, choose the free-weight version to spur new growth!

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5 Ways To Gain 15 Pounds!

Hardgainer or not, we can all use advice when trying to pack on new muscle mass. Flip on the growth switch with these nutrition tips and the Plus 15 training plan! Articles

6 Ways Fitness Improves Your Life

The time has come to put random workouts aside! Get serious about fitness and reap benefits that will improve your entire life, from crushing your favorite sports to building instant confidence. Articles

5 New Ways To Raise The Human Flag!

What could possibly be harder than holding yourself parallel to the ground for a few grueling seconds? Simple: These 5 insane human flag progressions from flag-master Danny Kavadlo! Articles

The 4 Most Effective Ways To Burn Fat

Want to be a #rippedfreak? Add one of these intense fat-burning protocols to your training regimen! Articles

5 Ways Your Brain Is Sabotaging Your Fat Loss

Building your best body takes hard work. But hard work with the wrong mindset can actually leave you further away from where you want to be. This list is where real fat-loss progress begins! Articles

5 Ways To Fuel Up For Sports

Nutrition plays a huge role in athletic performance. No matter your sport, you'll be a lot better once you implement these 5 nutrition tips! Articles

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