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Self Improvement

 

Mention pole dancing and many people immediately think of table dances, gaudy neon and “making it rain”.  But that’s an image that Jessica Lyn of AVA Fitness (formerly Polenastics Dance & Fitness) is doing a great job of dispelling as she introduces increasing numbers of students to the concept of pole dancing for fitness and competition.

 

As one of the uneducated masses, I wondered “What exactly IS pole dancing in its non-‘exotic’ form?”, and looked for the answer at an intermediate/advanced class in AVA’s New Westminster location.

 

As explained to me by Lyn, pole dancing actually has a highly organized structure under the Canadian Pole Fitness Association, which promotes the sport and oversees competition all the way up to an annual national championship.  And as for the training itself, I was about to discover that it is serious business indeed.

 

Working on the studio’s six floor-to-ceiling poles were women with a wide variety of body types, from slender to curvaceous, whose only common attributes seemed to be remarkable levels of flexibility and athleticism as they maneuvered through techniques with names like “Linguini” and “The Sad Girl Drop”.

 

“As you can see, this really is a serious fitness system,” said Lyn. “There are eight levels in our training structure, after which you get into the competition levels.  The ladies here today are anywhere from Level 3 to 8, but we definitely have classes for novices too, right down to first-day beginners.  It doesn’t matter what your size, body type or starting fitness level is, we definitely have a class for everyone.”

 

That statement is borne out by a brief scan of AVA’s jam-packed schedule (Lyn employs five instructors in addition to teaching classes herself).  “We’re not leaving men out, either,” added Lyn.  “Men are more than welcome at AVA Fitness, and we have a specific method for them that draws from Chinese pole moves that are a little more strength-oriented.”

 

In order to get the full idea of what pole dancing is all about, I even allowed myself to be coerced into trying a “Flag”, a basic position that involves gripping the pole and holding oneself parallel to the floor.

 

Now, in spite of my background in strength sports, I’ve never been particularly adept at the kind of strength needed for pole work, but Lyn’s expert breakdown of the proper technique helped me to get my big ass into position within seconds.  And if I can do it, that means ANYBODY can!

 

Anyone who’s bored with the whole yoga/pilates/fitness club scene and looking for a new and exciting way to get into shape would be very well advised to check out AVA Fitness at their earliest opportunity!

 

For more information, contact Jessica Lyn at www.avafitness.ca

 

 

Steely Springham is a personal trainer, a competition posing prep coach, a lifestyle and nutrition consultant and Figure Athlete.

Steely is the most tenacious, hard-working and dedicated person you will ever meet. To those who are closest to her, Steely loves life and is always a joy to be around. A down to earth, girl next door, who possesses a positive infectious energy and just happens to have a chiseled physique. That however was not by chance nor was it luck.

 

This 8-time winning National Level Canadian Figure Athlete was not always the strong, hard bodied statuesque, poised champion you may have seen glide across BC Figure competition stages. What most people are only coming to find out about her is that for years, Steely battled food addiction, extremely low self-confidence and even lower self-esteem.

 

She battled with dangerous weight-loss and rapid weight gain through yo-yo dieting. As a result, she made poor choices in many areas of her life causing her to jeopardize her health and destructively derail opportunities, relationships, and happiness in her life.

 

Steely will openly share, “I spent my whole life wishing, wanting and praying to be or look like someone else. I would buckle under pressure when opportunities did come my way, or if I somehow managed to step up for an opportunity, I quickly sabotaged myself by listening to the voices in my head of not feeling good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, tall enough, skinny enough or experienced enough…fill in the blank enough. The, “not enough” syndrome was a beating drum in my head day in and day out. I had no belief in myself, no joy in my heart and although I smiled on the surface, I was dying inside. Riddled with fear of inadequacy, I turned to binge eating, starving, bulimia, and dangerous dieting and using pills to try to attain perfection. I was merely hoping to find an ounce of love, solace and peace within and end the self-loathing that plagued me…some people turn to alcohol or drugs, I secretly turned to food and pills and quite literally almost smoked myself to death at age 23.”

 

After landing in emergency and almost dying at the age of 23 from an asthma attack which had been misdiagnosed as ‘chronic bronchitis’ for 3 years prior, she quit smoking cold turkey that day and has never touched another cigarette again. However, health and wellness still eluded her full attention while she continued to struggle with body dismorphia. She pursued her moderately successful music career in the USA with minimal personal fulfillment.

 

She returned to Vancouver in 2008 and at that pivotal point she was already on her way to her own self-discovery and life took an incredibly different and amazing turn. Steely had a chance meeting and then teamed up with her elite strength and conditioning coach, Nico De Feo and her nutrition coach, Nicki Pimm. This union started a new journey for her. What, ‘Fitting in her own skin,’ really felt like, what ‘believing in herself’ looked like and began to tap into the power of aligning fulfillment, empowerment and joy. Steely was not only determined, she was for the first time ever…fearless and believed in herself.

 

This extraordinary woman with an extraordinary story is now on such a completely opposite path from her past.  She now is unwavering in her commitment to her own health and wellness and that of her clients and others. Not to mention, there is no derailing her focus and dedication to her own training and competing. She hopes that her inspiring story will inspire you to go, as she puts it, “relentlessly after your dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem. For in the impossible lies, “I’m possible.”

 

She did just that in 2011 at the age of 41, deciding to train and diet for her first Figure Competition (which is a form of body building). After Steely got into the best and strongest shape of her life, she competed in 6 shows and won six 1st and 2nd place trophies in 3 different federations, Masters (over 35) Figure and Open Age Figure categories. She is now entering into her second year and has most recently competed at the BC Provincial Championships in New Westminster where she took 1st place in Masters and 2nd place in Open Age category, earning her a spot on TEAM BC and qualifying her for the Canadian Nationals on August 17th 2013 in New Westminster at the Massey Theatre.

 

Steely is living proof that when you make a decision and commit and follow it through with a strong team and a solid game plan, you cannot be anything other than a winner in your own life.

 

Her mission now is to become an IFBB Pro Canadian Figure Athlete, representing our great country on the international stage. Her dream goal is to compete at The North Americans, The Arnold Schwarzeneggar Classic, and Ms. Olympia. Although the trophies are a goal, she is fueled with excitement about the prospect of attaining a professional status in helping others to never have to go through the issues that she did.

 

Steely is an inspiring spirit to men and women. She’s proved that age is no barrier. It’s an attitude and as she says, “the will to win within yourself and transform from the inside out is more than possible, it’s inevitable when you simply decide to be the change you want to see.”

 

She is a true athlete and role model. Steely is the real deal who says, “I want to inspire and be inspired for inspiration is being called to who you are.” (Steely Springham 2011)

 

On her way to compete at The 2013 CBBF Nationals August 17 with the goals to continue on to international levels, you can help support Steely by donating to her ‘On the Road to Pro,’ funding page at www.gofundme.com/229k0g or

www.steely.ca sponsor page.

 

Any and all help is humbly appreciated.

 

Competition photos courtesy of BAM STUDIOS ~ Ali Sohrabzadeh

Studio photos courtesy of Anna Hall Photography

 

BY PAUL “THE MAULER” LAZENBY

 

On May 12th, only weeks after legendary world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield visited the FKP MMA academy, the front-running school joined with Bad Boy clothing to present a members-only seminar with UFC contender and 5-time Brazilian Jiu-jitsu world champion Demian Maia.

The seminar was part of a short western-Canadian jaunt by Maia and his manager Eduardo Alonso, with its sole BC stop being at FKP MMA’s East Vancouver location.

The fast-climbing welterweight’s second visit to our city (in 2011 he battled Mark Munoz in Rogers Arena) inspired praise from the Brazilian battler.

“I like Vancouver,” he said.  “It’s very multicultural.  It is similar to Brazil in that way — in the United States, you don’t see this so much.”

Sponsored by Bad Boy, the seminar was offered to a limited number of FKP MMA fight team members and students, who were taken through a variety of standing and groundfighting techniques.  Surprisingly, the very first move that Maia demonstrated was not a BJJ move, but a wrestling takedown.

“I love to train wrestling,” he enthused, a sentiment that is borne out by the improvements that he has recently shown in that area.

During a few idle moments, I took the opportunity to pick the brains of Maia and his manager Eduardo Alonso regarding Maia’s scheduled UFC 163 battle with former title contender Josh Koscheck.

“Obviously, we feel that Demian’s success since moving from middleweight to welterweight should qualify him for big opponents, and Koscheck is not as big a name as he used to be,” said Alonso.  “But at the same time, Josh is a very dangerous guy and an excellent test for Demian.  We eventually want to see Demian in the cage with Georges [St. Pierre], who has strong wrestling, but we know that Josh’s is better.  If Demian can cope with Koscheck’s wrestling, then we know that he can handle Georges’ wrestling as well.  This is a good way to measure Demian’s wrestling and overall skill, and I am confident that he will pass the test.”

One thing for sure is that the skill of the FKP faithful in attendance went up by a significant margin during Maia’s seminar.  In spite of being initially (and unnecessarily) concerned about communication issues due to the quality of his English, Maia proved to be a more than capable teacher as he passed on a number of innovative grappling maneuvers.

“Visits like this are part of the FKP system,” said academy founder Chris “Mjolnir” Franco.  “This is Canada’s first and best MMA school, and I like to reinforce that by giving the students inspirational examples of how far dedication can take you.  Bringing people like Evander and Demian in and allowing the students to rub shoulders with greatness spurs those students to work toward achieving greatness for themselves.”

Keep your eyes on FILES for news of the next combat sports heavy-hitter to tread the mats at FKP MMA!


www.paullazenby.com/PL

 

 

 

Magnum’s #1 selling product!

Not only is it the first product in the world you will FEEL before the cup leaves your lips, the mixing itself is a wild experience!!

When the light pink powder hits water, it turns a crazy vibrant GREEN and bubbles up!

 MAGNUM OPUS® IS FOR:

Anyone who uses weights in their training

Any athlete

Anyone looking for lean muscle growth

Anyone looking for fat loss

Anyone in high-intensity or contact sports

 MAGNUM OPUS® WILL:

Fire up your cells to work – but is stimulant free!  (You will feel an incredible buzz)

Build lean muscle

Allow athletes to train longer and harder from the very first workout

Create perfect hydration in the muscle

Balance pH in the blood for an increased anabolic environment (allowing for greater muscle gain and more fat loss)

Repair muscle quickly

Dramatically improve blood-flow

 

SCIENCE

 

OPUS Instabolic pHuel™

Instantized Micronized L-Leucine – creates a positive nitrogen environment for muscular growth, activates a major anabolic pathway called the mTOR pathway, which stimulates muscle protein synthesis, is easily converted into glucose and used as energy during intense activity and can also decrease the feeling of fatigue by blocking tryptophan uptake by the brain

Instantized CarnoSyn® Beta Alanine – increases strength, elevates muscular endurance, allows you to train with greater intensity, & boosts intra-muscular Carnosine levels, which are used by your Type II muscle fibers for explosive movements like weight training and sprinting, helps activate enzymes responsible for generating muscle contractions

Instantized L-Citrulline Malate – increases production of energy, improves stamina and fatigue resistance, improves recovery and energy levels, increases blood flow and amino acid delivery to skeletal muscle leading to increased protein synthesis (muscle growth)

Instantized L-Glycine – is used to help create muscle tissue and convert glucose into energy, Glycine retards muscle degeneration by raising the bodies natural Creatine levels

Instantized Calcium and Sodium Bicarbonate – decreases nitrogen excretion by increasing blood pH (makes the blood more basic) this decrease also lowers net muscle catabolism and increases muscle growth

 

OPUS Hydrating Energy Blitz™

Krebs Cycle Acids (Citric, AKG, Malic, Fumaric, Succinic) – These acids are intermediate compounds that are found in the Krebs’ cycle and are necessary to generate cellular energy for muscle fuel

Phosphates (Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Dicalcium Phosphate) – Phosphates buffer the build up of lactic acid, improve the delivery of oxygen to working muscles, and make ATP and Creatine Phosphate for more energy within the actual muscle cell

Vitamin B Complex (Pyridoxine HCI (Vit B6), Thiamine (Vit B1), Riboflavin (Vit B2), Pantothenic Acid (Vit B5), Pyridoxine (Vit B6), Cyanocobalamin (Vit B12) – The B Vitamins act as a catalyst in the chemical reactions that transfer energy from the basic food elements to the body.  Vitamin B6 specifically is an essential co-factor that helps to drive metabolic reactions necessary for BCAA utilization and energy production at the cellular level.

 

For more information on Magnum Nutraceuticals Inc. visit www.hardmagnum.com

 

 

New Body™ is an extreme thermogenic fat burning formula that helps control your appetite, and gives
you energy and focus. New Body is a breakthrough in weight loss technology it uses the most recent
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you safely and effectively reach your ideal weight.

Benefits:

Advanced Fat Burning Formula
Intense Thermogenic Power that Helps Burn Body Fat into Energy
Boosts Energy & Mental Focus
Infused with Green Tea, powerful antioxidant support

NUTRITIVE SUPPORT:
Instead of looking to “energy” drinks for a boost, you can count on NEW BODY™ to provide the
energizing vitamins without all the fattening sugars. New Body™ supports adrenal health, digestive
functions and blood sugar control.

THERMOGENIC MATRIX:
New Body™ provides an explosive blend of Green Coffee Bean Extract, Green Tea Extract, Guarana
Extract, Cissus Quadrangularis, Yerba Mate (Leaf), and Fucoxanthin. This intense combination of
thermogenics causes the body to ‘heat up’ and burn stored body fat into fuel.

MOOD AND FOCUS COMBINATION:
Having a positive mental state is necessary when trying to stick to an exercise program and/or dietary
restrictions. Certain amino acids can facilitate this by helping the body to build neurotransmitters that
keep our mood elevated.

Taurine is used by the central nervous system to maintain calmness, which is why it is found in most
“energy” drinks, to try to balance out the excessive synthetic caffeine that they contain.

The amino acid L-Tyrosine is a building block of neurotransmitters, regulating the mood and as well
works to stimulate the metabolism. Mood regulation helps to prevent food cravings and by increasing
the metabolism, by way of the thyroid gland, Tyrosine can help to burn off stored body fat.

Another amino acid in this formula is ALC, a form of L-Carnitine. Carnitine helps the body to move fat
from the bloodstream into the mitochondria of the cells, where the fat is burned for fuel.

APPETITE CONTROL AND SATIETY BLEND:
Part of any good weight loss program is dietary control, especially avoiding sugars and refined
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more than this, the body needs the neurotransmitter serotonin in order to prevent an excessive desire
for sweets and refined carbohydrates. NEW BODY™ covers both these bases.

Inulin is a soluble fiber derived from chicory root. It helps to curb the appetite by creating a feeling of
satiety.

Glucomannan is a soluble fiber derived from the Konjac root. It curbs the appetite by helping one to feel
full, and has also been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, and to aid in maintaining bowel regularity

L-Theanine is an amino acid derived from green tea leaves that promotes a calm and relaxed mood. L-
Theanine quickly raises serotonin levels in the body reducing agitation and calming the nervous system.

When combined with caffeine, L-Theanine works to promote an alert, focused mental state, without the
jitters. This way the formula can be energizing without being agitating.

NEW BODY™ CONTAINS:

Serving Size: 1 Scoop (8.75 grams)
Servings per Container: 40

NUTRITIVE SUPPORT – 110.3mg

Pantothenic Acid, Chromium Picolinate, Vitamin B-12 (Methylcobalamin), Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine hcl).

THERMOGENIC MATRIX BLEND- 850 mg

Green Tea Extract (98% polyphenols), Guarana Extract (22% caffeine), Green Coffee Bean Extract (45%
chlorogenic acids), Cissus Quadrangularis , Yerba Mate (Leaf), Fucoxanthin.

MOOD AND MENTAL FOCUS BLEND- 2150 mg

L-Taurine, L-Tyrosine, Carnitine L-Tartrate, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Caffeine Anhydrous, Picamilon,
Huperzine A.

APPETITE CONTROL AND SATIETY BLEND – 5200mg

Inulin, Glucomannan (Konjac Root), Garcinia Cambogia (50% HCA), L-Theanine, BioPerine.™

Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Natural Flavour, & Stevia, Malic Acid, Natural Red Colour.

 

Joint Recovery™ is a potent pain relief formula that quickly reduces pain and inflammation in joints
while strengthening and repairing cartilage, synovial fluid and connective tissue. Joint Recovery™ is a
total body recovery solution for people seeking relief from joint pain, inflammation, injury, surgery and
over training. Our formula works synergistically with your body to actively improve joint function.

Benefits:

Potent Pain Relief Formula
Supports Healthy Joints and Range of Motion
Protects Against Joint Deterioration
Builds Healthy Cartilage
Contains High Potency Ingredients

HOW DOES JOINT RECOVERY™REDUCE PAIN & INFLAMMATION?

MSM (Methylsulfonymethane) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound. Clinical studies have shown it
to inhibit pain impulses along nerve fibers, and to reduce inflammation in joints.

Natural COX 2 inhibitors reduce pain and inflammation without the dangers associated with
pharmaceutical COX 2 inhibitors. Natural COX 2 inhibitors found in Joint Recovery™ include Boswellia
Extract, Turmeric Extract and Ginger Root.

HOW DOES JOINT RECOVERY™ REPAIR DAMAGED TISSUE?

MSM strengthens and repairs tendons and ligaments. Joint Recovery™ uses the worlds purest MSM-
OptiMSM®, clinically proven to support joint health and mobility and offers a new approach to exercise
recovery. OptiMSM® helps combat exercise-induced inflammation and promotes connective tissue
repair and regeneration by reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.

Glucosamine repairs and rebuilds cartilage and synovial fluid in the joints. Glucosamine Sulfate is used
in the formation and the repair of cartilage. It helps protect joint cartilage by limiting breakdown and
helps to build up healthy levels of cartilage.

Joint Recovery™ contains Boswellia Extract (65% Boswellic Acids) shown to increase blood supply to
inflamed joints, and enhances the repair of local blood vessels damaged by inflammation.

WHAT MAKES JOINT RECOVERY™ DIFFERENT?

Turmeric Extract was added to our formula because it contains Curcumin a powerful natural anti-
inflammatory equal to, but safer than, pharmaceutical pain relievers. Curcumin is also a powerful
antioxidant that protects the liver. We have added Bromelain to aid in the absorption of Curcumin. The
bonus is that Bromelain itself is also a good, safe anti-inflammatory. Ginger Root speeds the delivery
of the formulation throughout the body by enhancing circulation and it functions as an effective anti-
inflammatory as well.

Hyaluronic Acid eases the flexing in joints especially in your fingers and knees by providing increased
cushioning.

WHO SHOULD TAKE JOINT RECOVERY™?

You will benefit from taking Joint Recovery™ if you experience joint pain, neck and back pain, hip pain,
shoulder pain, wrist pain, knee pain, foot/ankle pain, pain from overtraining, surgery rehab, and arthritic
pain. If you want to protect your body from injury, feel more youthful, overcome pain, swelling and
spasm, increase circulation let Joint Recovery™ assist you.

JOINT RECOVERY™ Contains:

OptiMSM®………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1500 mg

Glucosamine Sulfate…………………………………………………………………………………………500 mg

Glucosamine HCL………………………………………………………………………………………………500 mg

Serrapeptase 60,000 IU…………………………………………………………………………………….250 mg

Citrus Bioflavonoids…………………………………………………………………………………………250 mg

Turmeric Extract 95% curcuminoids………………………………………………………………..200 mg

Bromelain 1000 GDU………………………………………………………………………………………200 mg

Vitamin C (Magnesium Ascorbate)………………………………………………………………….150 mg

Boswellia Extract 65% Boswellic Acids……………………………………………………………150 mg

Ginger Root………………………………………………………………………………………………….100 mg

Hyaluronic Acid……………………………………………………………………………………………..25 mg

By WILL TURNER

Welcome to Plateau-ville, population: Me. If you asked me how things were going a week ago, I would have replied: “phenomenal.” I was in the gym almost every day,eating fruits, vegetables and lean meats like a champ. Over the course of the last few weeks, we had some great programming, and some truly humbling workouts, the highlight of which included the following:

 

Five rounds of:

 500m Stationary Row

50 Double-Unders

30 wall-balls (20lbs medicine ball thrown to 10m height).

 

It sounds simple, doesn’t it?  It took me the better part of a half an hour, and I was working in a pool of sweat by the end of it.

 

My knee is still a bit weak, but the pain has faded, and I’ve started to put it through more rigorous motions. However, while the knee has been recovering, I managed to develop bursitis (inflammation) in my shoulder. I still have a good range of motion, but anything that requires me to hoist weight over my head results in a sharp pain that is deep in the joint. So, you can kiss virtually every Olympic lift goodbye. Dips? Forget it.

 

What is encouraging is that I can still push, and pull, so I’m trying to work around it, but it has been tough and – most of all – mentally fatiguing. It is hard to have so many setbacks. I wish I was 20, because I recall being invincible.

 

But enough about the bad news, nobody wants to hear too much complaining and moaning. The good news is that I was finally able to get back on the mats, and enjoyed a good workout with the Carlson Gracie Team. They have a high number of quality competitors, so I was not surprised by how good they were.

 

So here we are, approaching the years end.  I just need to get back to the grind, which now includes regular physiotherapy, and learn the hardest lesson of all – recovery time is arguably more important than the workout.

Wonder what could be keeping your gains to a minimum? It may not be protein or carbs. Learn about cortisol, and how it might slow your progress.

 

 


Ever wonder what could be keeping your gains to a minimum in the gym. It may not be the protein or carb amounts. Let’s think deeper. This hormone alone could be devastating any opportunity you may have to seeing serious muscle development.

This is the unscientific, condensed version…hang around.

Cortisol is probably one of the most over looked hormone when it comes to training and seeing results. Everyone seems to be more worried about their protein, carb and creatine intake than anything else. Believe it or not if you don’t start training from the inside out your gains will be minimal if at all. I don’t care how much you eat or how heavy you lift.
What is it: cortisol is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands and released by your hypothalamus during times of stress. Not all cortisol is bad but high levels from chronic stress can have a serious effect on your body. Small amounts of cortisol are released during what is known as the “fight or flight” response, these smaller amounts can actually have great benefit such as bursts of energy, strength, etc.
What I want to focus more on is the reality of 85% of most lifters. Cortisol is killing you.

Well maybe not killing YOU but its trashing any possibility for serious gains when it comes to your training. You see, due to such high levels of stress these days people are not trying to find ways to deal with and relieve this stress. They just learn to cope with it.

Their bodies just keep pumping out this stress hormone that in high amounts and often, can do some serious damage. Long periods of this release can lead to what is known as “Adrenal Fatigue”. This is where your adrenal glands are over stimulated for too long and start to shut down.

This is where your training is affected.

Chronic high levels of Cortisol can have a negative effect on your muscle tissue as well as growth. Cortisol is what is known as a catabolic hormone (this just means it’s the driving force behind the breakdown of certain nutrients and substances in your body) High levels of cortisol will not only break down muscle tissue but it can blunt the release of growth hormone (the natural get big juice your body puts off). This means the intense workout you just did is worthless. Yes, high levels of cortisol is counterproductive to any gains you want to see in the gym.
Even your style of training can be responsible for the release of high levels of cortisol. If you train at high volume or intensity 99% of the time, odds are you’re trashing your body and killing your chance of recovering properly. So when you add the stress of your daily life, work, lack of sleep and you’re over achiever workouts….you’re basically wasting your time.

Your goal should not be to trash your body every time you enter the gym. Don’t confuse intensity with results. You need to give yourself weeks of training where you focus more on form and less weight as well as challenging yourself with heavier. Taking every set to maximal failure then having your buddy drag two more reps out for you is also a great way to trash your Central Nervous System(which plays a big role in your growth and recovery as well….we will talk about that another time). If you want to find out your 1RM then a little face redness, shaking and grunting is aloud. After that you want to see how many reps you can bang out under perfect form as heavy as possible…by yourself.

For example: I may be on a bench with a weight I could probably do at least 12 times with some help. I will probably only rep out 10 or 11 depending on how I feel. I do this to save the strength in my CNS for the rest of my workout and recovery. The average person will shoot for 12 or more with the same weight and end up getting a buddy to help squeeze out the last two. This is where your CNS gets over worked.
I don’t want a trashed CNS when I need a fresh one to start pumping out all the muscle building hormones I need to start repairing my body….make sense?
So we covered what cortisol is and how it can affect your training and every day life. These are some of the best ways to naturally lower your cortisol levels fast!
Cortisol is not something that you wake up “feeling”. It’s not necessarily something that you can tell when it’s higher on a specific day. It’s something that just naturally happens in your body but can end up hurting you if the levels are too high for too long.
A few common symptoms of high cortisol levels may be increased skin irritation such as acne, increase in abdominal fat, being more prone to infections or diseases etc. These are just a few of the possible symptoms. I don’t want you to focus so much on those considering that high levels of cortisol have more of a long term effect on people. The symptoms are more gradual than anything.

My main focus was to give you a few things you can start doing NOW to lower your cortisol levels dramatically.

1. Stop training so hard: I talked about this before but lower the intensity of your training sessions and drop the length to no more than an hour. Learn to train smarter not harder.

2. Eat more protein: Research suggest that lower protein consumption leads to elevated cortisol levels. Eat more lean cuts of meat.

3. Eat more Omega 3: Omega 3 fatty acids are known to lower inflammation and cortisol levels in your body.

4. Go gluten free: Gluten which is found in most breads and pastas can lead to intestinal inflammation which leads to higher cortisol levels in the blood stream.

5. Get a Vitamin C I.V: Maybe not an IV but take more of it. High stress levels decreases the level of Vitamin C in your body and Vitamin C helps reduce cortisol levels.

6. Sleep More: I know it’s hard but push for 8 hours of sleep…at least. Sleep is the only time your body is 100% at rest and able to heal itself from past workouts and loads from stress.

7. Chill out: Get away from things in life that stress you out. Maybe its the workout load, relationship, job, hobbies etc. Life is to short to be in something that causes more stress than joy.

8. Go blank: Do 30-45 minutes of something that brings you the most joy with the smallest amount of energy required. For me this is sitting in a dark room with nothing on. Try not to even think about anything just lay or sit there and go blank. I tend to fall asleep :)

High cortisol levels can be a direct reflection of the life you live. If you stay stressed, worry a lot and hate the people you hang around. Odds are your cortisol levels are high.

Refine your bench press technique, improve your chest workouts, train your upper body for maximum performance, and eat so you can press some real BIG numbers.

 

 

How much ya bench? If you’re like most of us the answer to that question is “not enough.”
The bench press can be a frustrating exercise. A small percentage of lifters are naturally able to press a ton of weight, while the rest of us struggle to hit 225 pounds for reps. Is there anything you can do to improve your bench press numbers? Absolutely.
Read on. The following 20 tips are guaranteed to help. They certainly helped me. My bench press started at a paltry 95 pounds for reps and peaked at nearly 430 pounds years later.

Tip #1 – Row The Bar
Row the bar? Yes, row the bar. Row the bar towards your chest. We all know that keeping a tight back is an essential aspect of good form. To help achieve a tight back, concentrate on rowing the bar towards your chest as if you were performing a barbell row or lat pull down.

Tip #2 – Plant Your Feet
One of the hidden keys to a bigger bench press is leg drive. Stop shuffling your feet, and learn to plant them firmly in a position of leverage and power. Start each bench press rep by driving fromthe floor. If you focus on turning the bench press into a full body exercise, your pressing numbers will improve.

Tip #3 – Be Patient
Stop expecting to add 20 pounds to your bench press each month. This isn’t going to happen. Instead, focus on small steps like trying to knock out an extra rep per set. Over time these small steps add up to big gains. You’re better off pushing for consistent improvement rather than putting an extra 50 pounds on the bar and trying to grind out forced reps.

Tip #4 – Get Racked!
No spotter? Bench press in a squat rack. Adjust the pins to a safe depth that can catch the bar a hair below chest level if you fail on a rep. And if you have no squat rack and are without a spotter, avoid the Smith machine at all costs. You’re better off doing dumbbell bench presses.

Tip #5 – Beef Up Your Back
When training for a big bench press you also want to build up your back strength. A powerful back assists your pressing drive, and will also help prevent injuries. When you only train “push” movements and ignore “pull” movements, you create muscular imbalances. The back is your bench press table. Beef it up with heavy rows.

Tip #6 – Squeeze The Bar
After finding your proper grip width, squeeze the bar and pretend you are trying to bend the ends of the bar inward towards your feet. This will help you keep your elbows in a better position, improve your eccentrics, and assist with keeping your upper body tight and strong.

Tip #7 – Don’t Forget The CNS
The CNS, or central nervous system, plays an integral role in moving heavy iron. If your CNS is not properly warmed up, the weight will feel overly “heavy”. There is a way to help make a weight feel lighter. Instead of adding a lot of weight to the bar for each warm up set, jump by smaller increments – say 30 pounds – and perform only a few reps per warm up set. This will help prime, or prepare your central nervous system for your heavier sets.

Tip #8 – Take Your Time
Take your time in between heavy sets. It may be necessary to rest as long as 3-5 minutes between each intense effort. When training heavy, give your body a chance to recover before having at itagain. Remember, you are training for strength and not for speed or endurance.

Tip #9 – Eat!
If you want to get strong, stop undereating and worrying about your abs. Add some food to the plate. No one is asking for you to get fat, but you do need to eat enough daily calories and protein so that you can properly build strength (and muscle).

Tip #10 – Train Your Triceps
The bench press is not just a chest movement. To be a strong presser you also need to have powerful triceps. When working the triceps directly make sure you use quality compound exercisessuch as close grip bench presses and board presses. Even exercises such as dips will help build tricep strength, and are a much better choice than tricep extensions or dumbbell kickbacks.

Tip #11 – Don’t Max Out
You don’t need to max out each and every session. In fact, you really don’t need to max out at all. Pick a rep range you enjoy, generally between 5-12 reps per set, and focus on doing more reps per set each workout. This will build strength. Once you have built a substantial amount of strength it may be beneficial to use lower reps, but until that point, stop maxing out!

Tip #12 – Bench First
Sounds like an obvious tip, but it needs to be stated. If you want a beefy bench press, make sure it’s the first lift you perform that training day. Devote all your energy and strength into the bench press, and then move on to other exercises.

Tip #13 – Eyeball The Ceiling
After unracking the bar, keep your eyes on the ceiling. When completing each rep try to press the bar back to the same spot on the ceiling each time.

Tip #14 – Stop Flaring Your Arms
This is by far and away the biggest bench press mistake. Stop flaring your arms! This is horrible on the shoulders, bad form and not good for strength. It is far better to have your elbows at approximately 45 degrees from your torso. This is a good starting point, and minor form adjustments can be made from here.

Tip #15 – Focus On Form
If you want to get strong, stop trying to “feel” your chest working when pressing. Train the lift, not the muscles. When you focus on chest, and only chest, you are taking your attention away from proper form. And when you stop thinking about form, you open yourself up to decreases in strength and the possibility of injury. No one ever masters form. You must be giving form your constant attention. Forget about the “mind muscle“ connection and train the bench press as a lift.

Tip #16 – Explode!
Power involves speed, and speed requires an explosive force. Stop trying to baby or power each rep up. Instead, focus on pressing the bar in an explosive manner. This will not only help complete an extra rep or two, but will also help build strength in the long run.

Tip #17 – Practice Proper Alignment
When the bar is at chest level, your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor. Also, make sure your wrists are directly over your elbows, and that your knuckles are pointing towards the ceiling. This is proper bench press alignment.

Tip #18 – Work Your Sticking Points
Where are you the weakest? Is it off the chest, or do you have a hard time locking out each rep? Learn to train your weaknesses. If you are weak off the chest, try using pause-reps. If you have a weak lockout, incorporate some board presses or pin presses.

Tip #19 – Gain Some Perspective
Youtube is full of videos featuring powerlifters benching 800 to 1000 pounds. These guys are using bench press shirts that add hundreds of pounds to their lifts and are competing in non-drug tested meets. For a natural trainee a 300 pound raw bench press is a great accomplishment. A 400 pound raw bench press is rare, despite all the bro-speak and posturing on forums.

Tip #20 – Work The Rear Delts And Traps
Don’t forget the rear delts and traps. Small and weak upper body muscle groups can limit your pressing power. If you want to bench big, build stronger rear delts and traps.

 Guess what women, if you are trying to gain weight or build muscle you must play by the same rules that men do. Learn how to reach your goals.

Everyone wants to lose weight; for females this is even more so. There is so much information available regarding weight loss, but what if you are at the other end of the spectrum? What if you are a woman who wants to gain some weight and build muscle? You heard that right! Some of us actually want to gain weight and bulk up. Where do you turn?

 

I have been on that end of the spectrum in search of a plan to help me gain weight and get ‘bigger.’ I found so much information on fat loss for women and muscle building for men, but not much for women who wanted to get bigger.
The information on muscle building I implemented that into my nutritional and workout program. Ladies the same basic rules do apply. It is my hope that sharing my experience will provide you with the necessary information you need to get started.
When I first started weight training, I assumed I was eating enough calories. We tend to ‘overestimate’ our daily caloric intake. I have found just as someone who wants to lose weight tends to ‘underestimate’ their daily calories, we tend to ‘overestimate’ our daily caloric intake.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is being honest with yourself about the number of calories you consume daily. Keep a food journal for several days to see what you are eating, the times you are eating, and this will show you the gaps in your daily meals. At the end of each day, add up your total calories.
Are you eating enough calories? The answer is usually, no. I bet you will be surprised at how you fall short for your daily caloric intake. With my own experience and with clients doing this for several days, it becomes obvious that the harsh reality is that the numbers don’t lie.
You also have to be honest with yourself and realize the only way you are going to grow and put on muscle is to eat. You need an abundance of clean calories throughout the day. As women we tend to be scared of carbohydrates and worried about getting fat, but you have to consume an adequate amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to build muscle.
Yes, you may gain a little fat, but you need this to put on muscle, you will never accomplish your goals if you don’t eat. Now that you are in reality and realize that you have been in a caloric deficit, the only way you will grow and build muscle is to be in a caloric surplus. Start to take the steps to increase your daily caloric intake slowly.
Begin by adding an additional 200-300 daily calories for a week. For example, if you are currently consuming 1,600 calories a day, increase it to 1,800 calories a day for a week. At the end of one week, reassess where you are at. Go slow increasing the calories; too quickly will result in unwanted body fat.
Shoot for a weight gain of 1-1½ pounds. 2 lbs being the maximum a week. You will be more satisfied with these results. I know it is a slow process, but in the long run you will be more satisfied.
As for myself once I realized I was in a caloric deficit wanting so badly to get bigger, I increased my calories too quickly and some of it was stored as fat. Don’t be scared of carbohydrates; this is where the additional 200-300 calories should come from.

 

Once you decide on how many calories you need on a daily basis you, must stick with it for a minimum of thirty days to see results. Don’t get frustrated or short change yourself; you must stick with the plan to see results.

Remember I was saying some of the basic rules apply for men and women wanting to get bigger? As you can now see, you need to eat enough clean calories to grow. Let’s take a look at your pre workout meal.
What does it include? I would suggest you include 20 grams of whey protein and some fast carbs such as a big bowl of cream of rice or a white bagel.
You will grow outside of the gym not in it. If you are an exercise junkie, I know it is hard to change your mindset, but more is not better. You will not get your dream body by being in the gym 5 days a week. As a hardgainer when I was in the gym less, the results came quicker. Depending on your schedule instead of training 5 days try 3 days, M,W,F.
My preference is 2 days on, 1 day off. This gives my body an adequate amount of rest and if you are truly training with intensity, it is really hard to go 5 days a week.
You may also want to limit or give up cardio for a while. I know this is not normally recommended, but I started to see more results when I eliminated my cardio all together. This will enable you will keep your hard earned muscle.
Spend no more than 60 minutes in the gym. Keep it intense, but brief! Eat, rest and you will grow. It may feel good to train more, but keep in mind your goals. Overtraining just won’t get you the results. After so many minutes, your glycogen stores diminish and you are no longer being productive.
At this point it is better to turn your attention to your post workout nutrition. Get that shake in you. Your post workout shake should include 20-40 grams of whey and some fast digesting carbohydrates such as a banana and some cream of rice. And within one hour of your post workout shake, I would recommend a solid meal including some slower digesting carbohydrates and protein. This could include some eggs and egg whites with oatmeal or chicken and a sweet potato.
Stick to the basics. As women we are determined to do the butt blaster and isolation exercises. Again, what’s your goal? No girly moves here! If you want to be BIG, you must do the basics squats,deadlifts, presses and lift heavy.
For extra calories before bed, drink a casein shake this will keep your muscles catabolic during the night. I would make up another casein shake and put it in the fridge so when I would get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I would drink another shake! I also saw significant growth from doing this.
Remember what I said about keeping your weight in check 1-2 lbs a week. Once you have reached what you thought was your ‘ideal weight,’ you may want to keep going. I know for myself and others I have worked with, we have a magic number in our heads, but once we reach that we may not be satisfied.
My suggestion is toss that scale. You may want to keep going and the sky is the limit. Don’t be so focused on the number on the scale as how your body looks in the mirror, and how you feel. The mirror is one of the best indicators as to how you are doing.
Take a weekly assessment of yourself and then you can make the necessary caloric adjustments. If you are gaining body fat too quickly, decrease your caloric intake by 200 calories a day. If you are gaining too slowly add an additional 200 calories.
It is really a simple formula eat, rest and grow! We tend to make it more complicated. There is no better feeling than accomplishing your goals. It does not happen overnight, but you will see the changes in the mirror over time and smile.
Stick with it and stay focused and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s really a simple formula. Stick to the basics!

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