The chest is composed of large, powerful muscles, capable of withstanding intense force and trauma. That being said, it usually takes extra focus and effort to significantly wear them out and leave you with that lingering, ever-so-sweet soreness.
Since added work is necessary for peak chest stimulation, workouts are often structured with Arnold-style immensity, from the countless numbers of sets, to the fine-tuning exercises that can go on ad nauseum. All of the aforementioned can mean a serious time commitment in the gym, but what about if you only have a few minutes to tear it up before you have to head out?
The answer is: The Nemen (Nee-men) Special, which can reduce your mighty chest musculature straight down to rubble; all in one exercise.
What you will need: A bench, 45 lb barbell, eight – 10 lb plates (these weights may vary due to individual strength), preferably a partner, and a hearty appetite for suffering.
The exercise resembles that of a lightweight bench press drop set, with maximum repetitions being executed at each weight increment. If done correctly, meaning you attack each interval intensely and are 100% unable to complete a repetition on your own, you will be getting double takes from your fellow gym-goers as they walk by and chuckle at the image of you painfully struggling to rep out with just the bar.
Set 1, Four tens per side: To failure.
A spotter should help you with the last one or two reps, then once the bar is racked, remove the weight with as much speed as possible – time is of the essence!
Set 2, Three tens per side: To failure.
Set 3, Two tens…
Set 4, One ten…
Set 5, Just the bar!
By set 5, you should be working up a sweat, perhaps be slightly winded, and defintiely have a hearty exhaustion permeating your upper body. Although the bar is, well, the bar, the load should be adequate enough to reduce your pecs to a whimpering mess and you should get to the point where you need a spot to rack it.
Congratulations, you now know one of the most time-efficient chest nukes; next time you are lookign to quickly shred your pecs before class/work/a night out, give the Nemen Special a try!
As yet another year in the new millennium gets underway, it isn’t a secret that scribbled next to ‘Quit smoking’, or ‘Cut back on alcohol intake’, many a resolute soul jotted down earnest promises regarding the acquisition of fitness and health. In other words:
Get a six-pack.
Pack on ‘x’ amount of lean muscle.
Lose ‘x’ amount of fat.
Complete particular endurance event.
Return to pre-pregnancy body.
Lower blood pressure.
And so on and so forth, et cetera, et cetera.
In fitness terms, an entire year is a long time; definitely sufficient enough to complete a transformation that would make even Voltron blush. However, if the modus operandi is faulty, no amount of time or trendy new exercises and equipment will yield the results you really deserve.
So where do you go for that extra edge? That one X-factor that will separate your killer new routine from the ones that do little more than cause mass boredom and a hopeless staring contest with your anything-but-broken-in running shoes.
What if there was a variable regarding training that most people never considered and ever had the option of seeing listed alongside a workout routine? Not only is this tidbit free to everyone, but also incredibly potent and if learned correctly, can morph any dull exercise into award-winning training and allow an individual to truly succeed with their physical endeavors.
This variable is Pain Tolerance, or, in other words, one’s ability to confront and digest the party platter of discomfort brought about through hard exercise.
Before I go any further, let me clarify that the type of pain in question here is healthy strain derived from proper exercise and NOT joint pain, heart pain, or any other skeletal pain that comes from improper form or poor health and could potentially be dangerous and damaging. Regardless, this distress can take many forms, from a quad-searing burnout on the leg extension to a chest-annihilating giant set on the bench press; even a screaming in the lungs from a personal best at running the mile.
There is a quote that gets tossed around a lot in cycling that simply goes, “To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain.” We may not all be cyclists or even have the slightest inclination to don a skin-tight cycling kit and ride up a few mountains, yet that is the truly great thing about pain tolerance: it applies to everything physical.
Sure, if someone has a great pain tolerance yet goes into the gym and trains like a drunken Richard Simmons, he/she is not going to automatically be on the road to reaching true results, yet when that person does in fact learn to execute their workouts with the precision of science-based routines, it is safe to say they will surpass another doing the same routines due to the fact that they have taught their mind to turn the volume down on that pesky voice in the back of your head screams, “QUIT!”
Pain is tied into working out at the most basic levels. It truly is a physiological variable, although a more scholarly exercise physiologist or personal trainer may use language that disguises pain with smug terms such as ‘lactic acid buildup’, or ’100% VO2 max’ – AKA, “THIS IS BRUTAL!”
Let’s think about some real life exercise situations. When you walk into the weight room and are looking to start off with some bicep training, you may head over to a weight rack, pick up a barbell, then begin doing focused curls. The muscle fibers in your biceps will soon contract and relax in unison with each exertion and your mind perceives this strain as a form of pain.
It hurts, burns, whatever, the main point is that when attempting many exercises, pain is going to a one of the first and most unruly people knocking at the door of your workout party with one goal – crashing it. One of the main things that sets a successful, results-based exerciser apart from one who flounders aloofly and never loses the weight or gets the strength/muscle, is what he/she does when the pain enters the room.
Are you the type of person who begins the repetitions yet drops the barbell and curses, “Damn, that is really painful, let me grab a lighter weight or cut back a few reps”, or do you confront the pain head on and say, “YEAH? SO WHAT? I’m getting this fitness no matter how much you scream and complain,” and proceed to push pain to the side and break through its limitations?
We’ve all seen shows like the Biggest Loser, where a frustrated trainer watches as client after client easily bails on a particular workout and claims they simply can’t go on. When you see something like that occurring, truly analyze what that person is basically saying: it is clear as day that they are not familiar with the physical pain needed to really make results and this unfamiliarity is too shocking for their system to cope with, causing the mind the give up.
The thing is, that is OK! It doesn’t make them a bad or lazy person, it is just that their previous way of life and absence of physicality has left them with a currently very poor ability to digest the stress and pain tied to hard training and it will take some time before they can speak that language.
It is similar to a situation where a shredded workout guru with the utmost masochistic prowess suddenly makes a resolution to become versed in Russian History, yet on their first lesson with the professor, flounders under the heavy course load and cries out at the amount of focused, relentless studying needed to master the material. It isn’t that they will never be able to give a brilliant oration on Rasputin and the Tsars, it’s just that most human beings need time to adjust to the stresses necessary for seriously excelling above the norm.
So how does one gauge his/her pain tolerance? You probably already have a good concept of this, yet here are two great ways to get a feel for it:
Leg extensions: (Even better if done at the end of leg day). Set the weight to about 50% of your one rep max and begin doing focused, squeezing-at-the-top reps, and continue this until that familiar discomfort starts growing out of your quads and attempting to smack your motivation around.
Preacher curls: Grab a similarly graded weight and begin doing concentrated reps. Preacher curls and leg extensions are great ways to gauge pain tolerance because they are completed in a fixed motion and do not require any real form. For instance, if two people were doing squats, there would be a whole myriad of factors that may throw off the delegation of work to the muscles.
With these exercises, and many others like it, you can easily become familiar with what true physical and mental exercise strain feels like, and acclimating yourself to such an extreme will do wonders for every other motion you attempt to do work with.
There have been countless cases of athletes who, according to high-tech lab tests and pages of results, shouldn’t have outperformed their counterparts yet did so because there is no number or test that can quantify a humans ability to dig deep and really desire something.
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” -Vince Lombardi.
That’s it for now. Remember, when trying to fulfill your fitness goals this year, try taking a little detour from browsing the newest workouts or equipment and instead focus on being comfortable with the uncomfortable – your workouts will thank you.
Being fit in middle age may not ad years to your life, however, fitness can help you to avoid chronic illness as you age.
Better quality of life, less time spent treating and healing from illness and time to enjoy your old age are the perks of being in great shape now.
Previous studies have shown that people who are more physically fit have a lower risk of dying early than those who aren’t as in shape, but the current analysis, led by Dr. Jarrett Berry of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, is the first to expose a connection with chronic diseases. Berry and his colleagues compared data on fitness levels of 18,670 healthy men and women in their 40s and 50s to Medicare claims for chronic disease treatments a couple of decades later, when the participants became eligible for coverage after age 65. Each of the volunteers performed a treadmill test, during which the researchers measured the length of time they exercised to exhaustion as an indicator of their fitness. For every one-unit improvement in fitness, measured as metabolic equivalents, the volunteers enjoyed a 20% drop in the incidence of the eight conditions the scientists tracked.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is generally used to assess overall fitness, however, a new study has found that weight concentrated around the middle can be more harmful than obesity itself.
The waist to hip ratio is proving to be a better predictor of heart disease and other illness than BMI alone.
Participants were divided into six groups based on which of the three BMI groups they fell into, and whether they had a normal or high waist-to-hip ratio. Men whose waist measurement was 90 percent or more of their hip measurement were considered to have a high hip-to-waist ratio. The same was true of women; those with waists that were 85 percent of their hip size were classified as having a high hip-to-waist ratio.
Participants with normal BMI but a high waist-to-hip ratio had the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, and the highest risk of dying from any causes among the six groups.
The risk of cardiovascular death was 2.75 times higher, and the risk of death from any cause was 2.08 times higher among normal-weight people with “central obesity,” compared with normal-weight people who had a normal waist-to-hip ratio.
“The high risk of death may be related to a higher visceral fat accumulation in this group, which is associated with insulin resistance and other risk factors,” said study researcher Dr. Karine Sahakyan, also of Mayo Clinic.
Men can be highly susceptible to accumulating belly fat and inactivity, poor diet and stress contribute to visceral fat.
Keeping your abs toned and your middle “whittled” is the best way to avoid disease and keep your heart strong.
Be careful when you fool around you might just fall in love.
Scientists have found that the same part of the brain which is stimulated by lust is also the part of the brain responsible for bonding and love.
In order to map out the location of sexual desire and love, researchers reviewed 20 studies that used fMRI technology. First, they looked at the regions of the brain that lit up when sparked by love. They then compared the findings of all the papers to see what regions were activated when someone felt aroused or amorous.
What they discovered was a bit surprising — love and sexual desire both activate the striatum, showing a continuum from sexual desire to love. Each feeling impacts a different area of the striatum.
Sexual desire activates the ventral striatum, the brain’s reward system. When someone enjoys a great dessert or an orgasm, it’s the ventral striatum that flickers with life. Love sparks activity in the dorsal striatum, which is associated with drug addiction.
If you need a little inspiration to hit the gym and define your abdominal muscles then the new film, “Magic Mike”, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum, might be just the ticket to get you off the couch and away from the carbs.
White says diet is the first step to turning yourself into a lean, mean, stripping machine.
“When it comes to losing weight and getting ripped abs and a flat washboard stomach, you need to control your portion size,” he says. “Most men eat big portions so they need to watch that. Plus they need to make sure their carbohydrates are at a moderate level and that they’re not white, refined or processed carbohydrates.”
Morning cardio and afternoon full body workouts, three times a week, should get you in shape in 5-6 months if you’re the average guy.
Everyone knows that cutting down on salt is advisable. Men’s Fitness has a good article on the subject with 5 helpful tips. Here’s two of them:
- Always ask for the sauce on the side: For example, 1 tablespoon of Teriyaki sauce contains 1/3 of the daily recommended amount (1 tsp of salt). One portion of Chinese takeout often has over five times this amount
- Stay away from frozen meals: One Lean Cuisine has about 500 mg of sodium (about 1/3 of the daily recommended amount)
Check out the rest of the article for more, along with previous posts on low sodium diets.