Monday, July 29, 2013

Flat Bent Leg Raises - Video + exercise description

Hey guys,

Once you are able to perform the target reps of the flat knee raises exercise you should move on to the next harder version of the ab working exercise series - The Flat Bent Leg Raises. This exercise is very similar to the flat knee raises, it's just harder due to leverage. 

Let's come to the how-to-perform explanation:


Lie down flat on the floor or a mat. Keep your arms flat beside your torso and your legs together. Bend your knees approx. 45 degrees (at flat knee raises it was 90 degrees) and lift your feet slightly from the floor (around 1-2 inches). Make sure that your torso stays stable on the floor during the whole exercise (no hollow-back!) and that your abs are contracted all the time. Slowly bring your legs up over your hips until your feet are above your pelvis (remember to remain your knees locked in the 45 degree position). This move should take 2 seconds. Hold the finish position for a count of one. Now move back slowly to the start position (2 seconds) and start the next rep. If it's possible don't allow your feet to touch the ground during the exercise (if this exercise is to hard, you can slightly let them touch the floor every 3-5 reps)! If you can't manage to meet the target instantly, do as much reps as possible until you can do the requested amount. The 2-1-2 cadence is very reasonable for this exercise (ab muscles have mostly slow-twitch fibres). No shortcuts allowed here (same like the other ab exercises)!


Target: 3 sets of 30 reps



Cheers,
Andi

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Kettlebell Circuit Training - Part II of IV (Windmill & High Rows)

Hey guys,

Today we move on with the circuit...in this posting I'm gonna explain the third and forth exercise of the kettlebell routineWindmill & High Row.
Just add them to the previous exercises from the last kettlebell circuit post. Try to do three sets with the mentioned reps without a rest between the four exercises (30 sec - 1 min rest between the sets). Let's ring the "bells"...

3. Exercise: Windmill (one-handed) – 10x right arm, 10 x left arm


- Grasp the handle of the kettlebell and place the „ball“ on your vertically held forearm. Your elbow should be closely to your body.

- Twist the foot of the counterside in an angle of 45° to the outside and place your hip below the weight. 

- To your own safety, it is important that you look at the kettlebell during the whole exercise.

- Now move your hips backwards and bend your trunk forwards at your hips. 

- While you bend forwards, move the kettlebell straight upside and slightly twist your upper body so that the lower shoulder moves in the direction of your knee. Try to reach your foot with your arm straight.

- To get to the finish position move your hip forward again and erect yourself until you stand straight holding the weight above your head in line with your shoulder.

- Remove the weight slowly to the start position and repeat the exercise.


4. Exercise: High Row (one-handed) – 10 x right arm, 10 x left arm
  

- Stand with your feet shoulder-width (or a bit wider) apart and place the kettlebell slightly in front of you (nearby the foot of the side you start the exercise).

- Now squat down a little (keep your back straight and your knees behind your toes) until you can grasp the handle.

- Extend your legs and hips explosively (the „energy“ should be transmitted mainly through your heels) and initiate the vertical path of movement thereby.  

- The momentum generated by the extension of hips and legs should last out to bring the weight at the height of your shoulder, where you pull it slightly towards your shoulder (a small “row” move at the top position). 

- Remove the weight slowly to the start position and repeat the exercise.

Now you already have 4 exercises for the circle. 4 more are following during the next weeks.

Btw: I've published my LLA-method as a paperback (in German) two weeks ago. Just check it out here if you understand German ;) 


Cheers,
Andi

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Fitness and Nutrition is Important for Good Health - Some unconventional thougths about finess and nutrition as the key for freedom

Hey guys,

My friend Bradford Lowry and his amazing Google+ community "Fitness & Nutrition" invited me to take part in their first writing challenge on why fitness and nutrition is vitally important for good health. As, in my opinion, this is a very good topic I decided to write my point of view. I hope that this might help to motivate some of you guys to live a healthier and happier life.

Here's what I think about fitness and nutrition for getting a healthy life:

I believe that most of you have already heard about the health benefits of fitness training and good nutrition...it prevents several diseases, makes you look better, promotes the release of happiness hormones, helps to make daily life activities easier and so on. But that's nothing I want to talk about today (even if it all has a connection to my points). That's what many educated trainers and nutrition experts can tell you (me too, but not today). I want to write about a mental thing...the freedom of choice! As bad health is pretty often connected to mental problems, like depressions, burn out etc. I want to take the chance to tell you why I think that fitness and nutrition can prevent those mental diseases through the freedom of choice. If you walk down a crowded road and look at all the obviously unhappy people you see, what do you think is going on in their brains? Many people are stressed out because of their jobs and fear of losing them, money problems and other stuff like that. These people often need a kind of outlet for their stress. Fitness, especially hard and challenging exercises could be this outlet. If you're stressed out and work out hard, you get exhausted and your negative thoughts about the stressor vanish because you have to be concentrated if your exercises are really hard. That's also great for your families health, because unfortunately some people tend to release stress at home instead of enjoying a relaxing family evening. Who else do you see on your walk? Older people who have to use a walking frame. I bet many of them would give away all of their belongings to get back the freedom to go wherever they want, whenever they want. If they had this freedom again they won't be limited by thoughts like "is there an elevator because I can't use the stairs?" or "is the city I want to visit for holidays a flat one because I can't manage to go up and down through small streets?". That stuff limits your choices and that's not good for your mental freedom and health. Who else? Chronically ill people, like diabetics, people with heart diseases, high blood pressure etc. They always have to worry about their drugs and they have to make preparations for the case that something happens to them (e.g. they always have to be nearby a hospital in case of a heart attack). They can only dream about making a trip to a lonely forest with their kids to enjoy the freedom of camping. But that's a choice they couldn't make anymore.  One more group? The obese people. Some aren't even able to walk proper because of their big thighs, every step is a sheer torment, a look in the mirror can sow doubts if they ever find a partner or if they could ever walk down the street again without the pitiful looks of the people surrounding them. Their freedom is often limited by themselves because they are ashamed of their appearance...or because they are just physically not able to do what they want to do. There is one way out to avoid ending up like one of those stereotypes forever...

Proper fitness training & healthy nutrition (with a lot of good proteins and vegetables) can keep you out of trouble and help you to protect or regain the freedom of choice to do whatever you dream about!

These are just some thoughts that crossed my mind after reading the topic (and it's also the end of my article for the F&N contest...I guess I already exceed the word limit...sorry Brad). 

I could go on with this, but these are the major examples that directly came into my head...

I won't finish the post without mentioning that I don't want to attack anyone who belongs to one of the mentioned groups! Of course some are in one of the situations caused by serious troubles they couldn't influence and some are there because of their habits or because of what they have learned about good fitness and nutrition in former days (some stuff that turned out wrong). My target with this writing is to encourage all people who don't have those problems right now that they think about it and do anything to avoid getting in a situation like the ones above. I also want to encourage everyone who already is in one of those states that there is a way out through fitness and nutrition and it's worth a try to get back your God-given freedom again!

Btw: If you haven't done a good deed today, check out Steves charity cycling. He fundraises for really poor kids in the Philippines. It's worth a read! 

Cheers,
Andi

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 11-20 of my German Volume Training (GVT) experiment - Workouts & Results

Hey guys,

The third and forth 5-day cycles are done! When I look in the mirror I definitely see that I've packed on some muscle mass (especially at the chest, arms and legs) and lost body fat. Today in the morning I steped on the scale and I was a bit confused because I actually weigh less than last time...174 lbs (79 kg) - a minus of 1.77 lbs (0.8 kg). As I told you last time I haven't made any other measurements (memo to myself: next time proper measurements!) but I use to trust the man in the mirror more than the scale so I believe that GVT works very good for me. Another proof for the benefits of GVT are my results...I improved my performance in all the major exercises (and I still have sore muscles every single day). Today start the last ten days and I'm really curious about how I'll look like at the end!


Have fun!

Cheers,
Andi

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dietary Fibres - The priceless "road sweepers" of our intestines

Hey guys,
This is an aricle I wrote for HealthMeUp.com some days ago. As I really believe that the power of dietary fibers for your health and fitness is priceless I decided to publish it here at my blog as well.

Article:
Figuratively spoken, dietary fibers are the „road sweepers“ of your intestines. They support your body in removing the „remains“ of your food effectively in a short period and, thereby, maintain the proper functions of your gastrointestinal tract. 

Dietary fibers belong to the macro nutrition group of carbohydrates (they consists mostly of polysaccharides, like cellulose or pectin) , but they don’t cause the negative side-effects (e.g. a strong increase of the blood sugar level and insulin peaks), which occur especially after eating sugar or refined carbohydrates. The reason for this is that fibers are mainly indigestible and get excreted easily. 

But why are dietary fibers so important to you when they get excreted indigested? 

Actually there are several benefits for your health that are induced by dietary fibers. First off, they swell up in your stomach and reduce the feeling of hunger thereby. Secondly, some parts of fibers are capable of binding toxins, cholesterol and biliary salts and help the body to get rid of them. The next very important point is that food which contains a huge amount of dietary fibers can slow down the digestion of carbohydrates in your intestines. Due to this your blood sugar level will only rise marginally after your meal (that is also the reason why your blood sugar level increases less by eating a whole apple [with lots of dietary fibers] than by drinking a glass of apple juice [without fibers]). The last benefit I want to mention here is that dietary fibers, combined with water in the intestines, are responsible for an increase of the bulk of the stools. This causes some additional pressure on the intestinal walls which promotes a fast digestion and shortens the residence time of food in your intestines. 

All mentioned points lead to the fact that dietary fibers can „clean“ your body from food remains and toxic stuff, lower the release of insulin and lower the level of “bad” cholesterol (which can cause cardiovascular diseases if it is too high).

Foods that are rich in dietary fibers are for example:
-Fruits,
-Vegetables/Salads,
-Legumes,
-Flaxseeds and
-Nuts.

Please always remember to drink enough water when you increase the amount of dietary fibers in your nutrition. Otherwise it could lead to constipation. But you should drink a lot of water anyway, because of its healthy benefits and necessity for your body.

In case that you are used to eat food with a low amount of fibers it is very likely that you have sluggish intestines by now. Due to that, the dietary change to food with high amounts of fibers could cause some inconveniences for a short time in the beginning, but these are comparatively small if you take a look at its health benefits). 

Recommendation: Eat a lot of foods that contain dietary fibers and always drink enough water!

Cheers,
Andi

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Kettlebell Circuit Training - Part I of IV (Clean & Press & Snatch)

Hey guys,

As promised in the previous post about kettlebells, I'm going to describe all eight exercises of my kettlebell circuit during the next weeks. Today we start with the first two exercises - Clean & Press and Snatch.
You should try to do three sets with the mentioned reps without a rest between the single exercises (30 sec - 1 min rest between the sets). Party on...

1. Exercise: Clean & Press (one-handed) – 10x right arm, 10 x left arm


-Stand with your feet shoulder-width (or a bit wider) apart slightly behind the kettlebell. Now bend at the knees and hips (your back has to be straight the whole time!) until you can grasp the curved handle of the weight with an overhand grip. Straighten yourself again with the kettlebell in one hand.

-Start to swing the Kettlebell just a little bit forward and then dip down slightly and let it swing back under your hips (between your legs). 

-Explosively extend your legs and hips and raise your upper body upright simultaneously when the kettlebell starts its forward movement again.

-When the kettlebell reaches about the height of your hips pull it towards your body. Therefore you have to bend your elbows and let it roll softly onto your forearm while you continue the move nearby your body. 

-The kettlebell should land softly on your forearm while your thumb is located at the outside of your sternum and your upper arm is close to your chest (see the third picture below).

-Now press the weight over your head (at the end it should be in line with your shoulder with your palms showing to the front)

-Remove the weight slowly to the start position and repeat the exercise.

Variation: If you aren’t able to press the weight up with a straight back, bent your knees a bit and press the weight explosively while extending your legs simultaneously (keep your back straight). 

2. Exercise:  Snatch (one-handed) – 10x right arm, 10 x left arm

-Stand with your feet shoulder-width (or a bit wider) apart slightly behind the kettlebell. Now bend at the knees and hips (your back has to be straight the whole time!) until you can grasp the curved handle of the weight with an overhand grip. Straighten yourself again with the kettlebell in one hand.

-Start to swing the Kettlebell just a little bit forward and then dip down sligthly and let it swing back under your hips (between your legs). 

-Explosively extend your legs and hips and raise your upper body upright simultaneously when the kettlebell starts its forward movement again.

-When the kettlebell reachs the higth of your shoulders, pull it slightly towards your body to bring the handle below the “ball”.

-Directly perform a „boxing punch“ in the direction of forward-up to place the „ball“ smoothly on your forearm and press it simultaneously above your head. Use the momentum created from your legs and hips.

-At the end the kettlebell should be in line with your shoulder and your palms should show to the front.

-Remove the weight slowly to the start position and repeat the exercise.

Enjoy gaining strength!

Cheers,
Andi

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Kettlebell Circuit Training - Prolog: The benefits of kettlebell training

Hey guys,

Over the next weeks I'm going to show you a detailed description of my full body kettlebell circuit routine (broken down in 4 posts). To get you in the right mood for trying kettlebell workouts in your training routines I start with a small chapter of my new ebook "The LLA-Method - How to get really healthy, fit and sexy for a lifetime" (you can get a copy on amazon).

Benefits of Kettlebell Workouts

Kettlebells[1] are like small portable gyms[2]. Even if you don’t have a lot of space you can train every muscle of your body with them (around 22ft² [2 m²] is sufficient). With kettlebells you can work out inside or outside, improve strength, speed and endurance simultaneously and, additionally, lose plenty of body fat in a short period. Exercising with kettlebells is one of the best ways to improve your functional fitness, because almost all exercises force lots of different muscles to work together[3] as a unit (like in “real” life situations). They are also capable of eliminating muscular misbalances[4], tension (especially those in your neck) and their negative after- and side-effects (e.g. headaches). By including several muscle groups simultaneously kettlebell exercises are very demanding and, thereby, improve your cardiovascular system and increases fat burning as well[5]. Those exercises also improve your endurance and „equip“ you with enormous strength without  you bulking up too much[6]. The swinging parts of the exercises are especially good at activating and strengthening your rear kinetic chain which is needed for a trouble-free power transmission from your lower to your upper body (important for walking, dancing, stair climbing and so on). The rear kinetic chain is often a very weak part of the body for white collar workers which is an explanation why this group often suffers back pain and a tense neck. Another big advantage of a strong rear kinetic chain is that it normally comes hand in hand with a well-shaped crispy butt[7]. Vulnerable joints (like knees, shoulders, hips) benefit from exercising with kettlebells, too. The motion keeps them smooth and the muscles around them get stronger and can protect them better. The only critical aspect of kettlebell training is that you have to be very careful in the beginning! You shouldn’t start using higher weights until you are able to perform every exercise perfectly with a “lighter” kettlebell. The risk of injuries is high if you have a bad posture during the exercise (especially if your back isn’t straight). You should never forget that the “impact” on your body is not only caused by the weight of the kettlebell but also by the kinetic energy generated by the ballistic movements, which can be much stronger. Which, if performed right, is capable of increasing the effectiveness, but could lead to serious injuries in case of mishandling.  

Nevertheless, you should realize that the advantages of kettlebell training far outweigh its disadvantages (the only „real“ disadvantage could be eliminated easily by learning the right techniques; and they are not that complicated).



[1] Btw. Kettlebells have already been used in former times as training tools. In the so called „Western World“ they almost vanished from the focus of trainers and trainees for about 100 years due to the development of training machines. In the last decade they regained popularity in Western countries (they were continuously used by the Russians!), as the society slowly bethink of useful, functional strength training again (instead of just appearance-orientated training).
[2]Caused by their little need of space you can store them almost everywhere.
[3] This supports the release of natural growth hormones, which help you to get results faster.
[4] E.g. if your right shoulder is stronger than your left one.
[5] Especially if you follow the LLA-Diet (see my upcoming book “The LLA-Method Part I: Nutrition”). With this diet you are almost always in a mode of fat metabolism.
[6] Through the fat burning and the constant contraction of your abs/legs you will approach a „sixpack“ as well as toned legs and a nice rounded butt.
[7]For many personal trainers the kettlebell swing is the perfect exercise for a well-shaped butt.


I hope you liked this chapter of my book and, of course, I hope you now want to read some more about kettlebell exercises in the next weeks.

Cheers,
Andi

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The first 10 days of German Volume Training (GVT) - Workouts & Results

Hey guys,

I've started the GVT program 10 days ago (read more about GVT here) and I can tell you it's brutal. Everyday some of my muscles are sore...after chest/back days I have sore muscles, after leg days my legs are shaking and after arm/shoulder days I have problems lifting my glass waterbottle...good feeling ;)

I mesured my weigh before I started and it was 173.5 lbs (78,7 kg).
Now, after the first 10 days it's 175.9 lbs (79.8), a plus of 2.4 lbs (1.1 kg).
As I haven't changed my diet it should be pure muscle mass (propably a bit more as it's very likely that I've lost some body fat additionally).

Unfortunately I haven't done any other measurements than using the scale and the mirror (my main benchmark was and still is the look in the mirror).

Here's what I've done:


So the first two 5-day cycles are done, 4 more to go! I'm really excited how the story continues...
 
Cheers,
Andi

Monday, July 1, 2013

The ultimate method to bulk up fast naturally - The incredible German Volume Training!


Hey guys,

Today I want to talk to you about a very interesting method that can help you to add up to 10 lbs (5 kg) lean muscle mass in 30 days without the use of steroids or other stuff! You read it right, 30 days/10 lbs without drugs! Sounds crazy doesn't it?

According to my own experiance and the words of the famous strength coach Charles Poliquin aka “The Guru of GVT” this is actually possible. The magic method that can get you there is the so called German Volume Training (GVT)!

If you search the internet for GVT you can find several articles about GVT including some of Charles Poliquin (e.g. here) and one that I've recently written for HealthMeUp.

In this post I'll provide you with the knowledge to do GVT like I do it, which is similar but still a bit different from the commonly used method (mainly because I switch/exchange some exercises from the "normal" workout design). Normally GVT consists of 2-3 stages, but as we aren't professional weigthlifters or hardcore budibuilders the first stage is enough for spicing up our regular workout routines. I recommend to integrate the first 30 day stage of GVT in every training year once (but not before you have at least 1 year of training experiance because it's really hard and you have to be safe with free weigths).

About the origin of this method exist several rumors but all of them have in common that it first got pretty famous in the 70s in Germany (which is the reason why it’s called German Volume Training).

The main principle of GVT is to use an extensive volume (10 sets of 10 reps) with some basic exercises (4 exercises each session) in a 3-day split which works your muscles so hard that they are forced to grow rapidly to stand the load.

Here’s how it works:

Guidelines – In every training session you should perform 10 sets of 10 reps of two main exercises as supersets (meaning 1 set of exercise 2 is directly following 1 set of exercise 1 then 90 seconds rest) and then 3 supersets of 10-12 reps of two supplementary exercises (only rest 60 seconds between the supersets here). If you don`t want to train with supersets,you can do the exercises with normal sets, what means you do exercise 1 with 10 sets followed by exercise 2 with 10 sets (in that case rest time should be only 60 seconds between the sets). Use 60% of your 1 rep maximum load (the load you can lift only once) for the main exercises (which represents approximately the load you can lift 20 times to failure). For the supplementary exercises use the load that you can lift around 10-12 times to failure. Don’t change the weight during a session, even if you think it’s too light during the first sets (what you probably will think when starting with the first sets of the main exercises) or too heavy (probably the case in the last sets of the main exercises). If you can’t manage the 10 rep target in the last sets that won’t be a problem (in fact it’s quiet normal in the beginning). Once you’re able to perform 10 sets of 10 reps properly you should increase the load by 4-5% and go on.

Regarding the cadence: 4020 for example means that you lower the weight for 4 seconds (eccentric part) and directly lift it for 2 seconds (concentric part). No short rest at any position.

My (adapted) 30 day plan of GVT:

Day 1 – Chest & Back:

Main exercise 1 – (Decline) Dumbbell presses (or Bench Press); 10 sets of 10 reps; cadence 4020

Main exercise 2 – One-Arm Dumbbell Row; 10 sets of 10 reps (each side); cadence 4020

Supplementary exercise 1 – (Incline) Dumbbell Flyes (or Cable Flyes); 3 sets of 10-12 reps; cadence 3020

Supplementary exercise 2 – Chin-Ups (or Lat Pulldowns if you can’t do chin-ups); 3 sets of 10-12 reps; cadence 3020

Day 2 – Legs & Abs:

Main exercise 1 – Barbell Squat; 10 sets of 10 reps; cadence 4020

Main exercise 2 – Lying Leg Curls; 10 sets of 10 reps; cadence 4020

Supplementary exercise 1 – Hanging Leg Raises (or Bent Leg Raises); 3 sets of 10-12 reps; cadence 2020

Supplementary exercise 2 – (Seated) Calf Raise; 3 sets of 10-12 reps; cadence 2020

Day 3 – Off

Day 4 – Arms & Shoulders (I decided to start with the supplementary exercise here, because handstand push ups need all your concentration and shouldn't be done with tired muscles):

Supplementary exercise 1 – Handstand Push Ups (or Inverted Shoulder Press); 3 sets of 10-12 reps; cadence 2020 (find an explanation here)

Main exercise 1 – Parallel Bar Dips; 10 sets of 10 reps; cadence 4020

Main exercise 2 – Hammer Curls; 10 sets of 10 reps; cadence 4020

Supplementary exercise 2 – Reverse Cable Flyes; 3 sets of 10-12 reps; cadence 2020 (find an explanation at Steves blog here)

Day 5 – Off

Start again with Day 1 and continue this 5-day-cycle for 6 times.

I advise you to use a stop watch to control rest times and to use a training log to control improvements!

After 30 days you can either follow another workout routine or you can continue with GVT. I used to switch to another routine afterwards, but if you want to continue you can find a lot of possible workout designs in the internet.

Btw.: If you follow the GVT it is important that you eat a lot of good proteins and that you rest and sleep enough for getting the best results!

Have fun bulking up!

Cheers,
Andi