Sunday, March 4, 2012

Using Negatives to Increase Muscle Size

One way to help get muscles stronger and increase muscle size in through using negative workouts.  A negative workout is when you focus on slowly lowering a weight down. In the lowering phase of the lift, our muscles extend. By focusing on extension, you'll generate force from a completely new angle, creating the potential for new growth. When you do this it's called negative reps.

Most people take negative exercises for granted.  The best time to do negative exercises is towards the end of your workout when your muscles are getting tired and can't do a complete set of repetitions.  By focusing on the negative and slowly lowering the weight it will stimulate additional growth.  Do a few repetitions until complete failure.  By reaching complete failure (where you can't lift any more of the weight at all) it will stimulate additional muscle growth.

You can use machines to achieve the negatives or use a partner or spotter.  I would recommend a partner or spotter if you are using free weights because eventually, when you do these exercises, you will reach a point of complete failure and you don't want to hurt yourself.

Negative workouts are a great way to stimulate muscle growth and can be done with multiple exercises. Some of the more popular exercises are for bicep curls, chest and shoulder workouts.  You can use them for other exercises too.  It's a good idea to include negative workouts to help gain strength.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How Plank Exercises Benefit You

One of the best exercises to build core muscles is the plank. Core muscles actually consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso. These stabilize the spine and pelvis and create a solid base of support. Plank exercises help strengthen the core muscles and by having a strong core it will help you do other exercises better and easier.

I went to the gym the other day later than I normally do and by that time.  All the benches were taken up and there were not many free weights left.  I decided to do a day of body weight workouts instead so I did push ups, sit ups and planks.  I've seen other people doing planks while working out so I decided to try it and see how it went.

To do a basic plank put your forearms and toes on the ground (like a push up position but on your forearms) and then just hold the position.  Surprisingly, this will work out your muscles that support your abs.  Try to hold it for 20-30 seconds and then rest.  Then begin again. Below is a photo of what it should look like.

You can do side planks that strengthen leg muscles to prevent injuries while running by doing the plank from the side by balancing on one forearm instead of two.

Planks are beneficial in strengthening core muscles that help prevent injuries and improve performance in sports and other exercises.  The exercises are not too strenuous but if you haven't done them in a while it will feel like you've done a good ab workout. Here is a video about planks and core muscles.