Apha Body Language

Vigorous, muscular bodies tend to speak for themselves; they will invariably improve your appearance and stature.  Not only will a well-rounded physique shape your body into a more attractive specimen, but the confidence that it will bring will manifest itself into better body language.  Nevertheless, there are some body language tips that even the most confident people don’t exhibit.  If taken seriously, these tips can have the effect of immediately enhancing your appearance, no matter what stage in physical development you are in. Here are the do-not do’s:

  • Don’t cross your arms.  Even though it may be comfortable to do so, it conveys the an image that you want to protect yourself.  Its kind of like cuddling up, except to a smaller degree. Remember, your the king in the room, so open up to leave yourself vulnerable.  You have no worries around you, your in control.
  • Similar to the one above, don’t grab your arm with the opposite hand, whether it is behind your back or in front of your body.  You will look sluggish and unconfident.
  • Don’t walk too fast, but still maintain the image that you are a man on a mission.  Fast walkers are unattractive because they have to jerk their body to get speed.
  • Don’t lean in when conversing with someone.  Leaning in tells people that you are giving your devote attention to them and thus lowers your value and raises theirs.  You are pretty much treating them like the Commander-in-chief, always attentive and intrigued by their higher value words.  By all means, you want to pay attention to your interlocutor,  but don’t lean in to do so.
  • An obvious shouldn’t that probably doesn’t need mentioning but is nevertheless important are don’t slouch.  As this post demonstrates, white collar American’s particularly have this problem because of their sedentary lifestyle.  You can keep your body from naturally slouching by strengthening your upper and lower back.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Its not good for your hips anyway. You are not an old man.  And keep those legs wide apart.  Again, scrunching your legs – or any part of your body – makes you look protective and insecure.  You want to look vulnerable and composed, because that conveys that you are confident and in control.  

Whenever you are evaluating whether a motion is good or bad body language, never be afraid to examine yourself in the mirror performing that stance. Or alternatively, you could ask a friend.

Here are some positive body language techniques:

  • Everybody will tell you to keep your head up, but sometimes hearing this thousands of times will numb the importance of it. But it really is important.  Additionally, when you greet someone, you should substitute a level-up sup nod for the traditional level-down nod that really should be only used in submission, usually for your elders.  To see what I mean, just tilt your chin up instead of down to make a nonverbal greeting to someone.
  • When walking, rotate you shoulder inward as you step with the opposite foot.  Okay, this is just cocky walk, but its cool.  Just don’t overdo it.
  • This tip is for standing, and is probably the best body-language tip one can give.  Stand contraposto.  Contraposto is a stance sculptors used on their statures ever since ancient Greece, although it was prominent during the Renascence era.  Michelangelo’s King David is the foremost example.  To do the contraposto stance you place all of your weight on one foot while angling the other  60 degrees.  (For a graphical illustration of this, see King David.) 

Implementing good body language brings a twofold benefit: beautifying your image and elevating your psychological state.  And let it be known, the latter can be just as important as the former.  Twirk your body in a certain way, and you will be a force not to be trifled with.

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The Ten Commandments of Weightlifting

#1   Always integrate progressive overload into your routine in some way or another. If you want to make gains you have to consistently place more and more demand on your body, you cannot go to the gym and perform the same workout with the same weight for the same number of repetitions and expect to look any different.  The key word here is increase, not same.  Force your body to adapt, don’t perform something you’ve ALREADY adapted to.

#2   Get in the gym, do your thing, and get the heck out of there! When you go to the gym or anywhere else to work out, you have to have a plan.  Once you have a plan, execute it and put your 100% attention to it.  It’s not a social club; it’s a place to get you better.   Plus, staying in the gym for over 90 minutes has shown to release stress hormones in your body, particularly one called Cortisol which has proven to lead to fat gain and muscle deterioration.

#3   Exercise with proper form at all times. If you do not know how to do proper form, get someone to teach you.  This is huge.  Improper form leads to poor activation of the muscles and can lead to serious injuries over time.

#4   Base your weight lifting regiment on free weight compound exercises. Machines and other fancy equipment are best for rehabilitation when recovering from an injury.  But for building strength and getting a ripped physique, free weights are superior.

#5   Only perform exercises that are natural movements. Drop the leg extensions and stick to squatting movements.   Purely from natural circumstances, when do your legs ever use that motion under any kind of weight to serve you?  Your body was meant to squat!

#6   Get creative! Do not be constrained to the weight room or any one form of exercise.  Get your body outside of its comfort zone and go swim, run sprints, rock climb, do plyometrics, yoga or anything you can think of!  Just make sure it’s something different.

#7   Make sure you get adequate rest.  Your muscles do not grow while you’re working out; they grow when you are recovering from the workout.  Think of it this way, when you are in the gym putting stress on your muscles, you are creating micro tears and causing the muscle to break down.  Your body then responds to the stress and the micro tears by saying “I am going to rebuild and come back bigger and stronger so that next time I feel that same stress I will be able to handle it”.  But if you don’t give your muscles enough time to rebuild, you are just tearing and tearing them down and wasting effort while not getting any results.  So how much rest do you need?  It’s simple, if you are going back to the gym stronger each time, then you are recovering adequately.  If not, you are either not getting enough rest or too much.  Here are some general guidelines depending on intensity of the workout

For weightlifting workouts plan on giving the particular muscles this much rest – depending on the intensity

Extremely high intensity     4-5 days rest

High intensity     3 days rest

Moderate intensity     2 days rest

Low intensity       1 day rest

 

These are just guidelines!  I challenge you to find your own recovery rate, everybody’s different!

# 8 There is no such thing as a good cookie cutter program. Meaning, do not take a “one size fits all” approach, understand that everybody is different and different people’s body’s respond to different things.  Just because something works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you.  Find out what works best for you and do it.  Experiment, be the scientist who gets away from the equations and gets in the lab.

#9    Mix your routine up once in a while. After a while your body gets used that same exercises that you do in the gym and becomes efficient at them to the point where it doesn’t feel like it needs to grow anymore.  Shock your body with new exercises and rep schemes to avoid this.  And do it often.

#10   Warm up before you workout and stretch after. Before your workout, make sure and do a dynamic workout; don’t stretch.  Static stretching can temporarily weaken your muscles, negatively affecting your workout.   Warm up with the exercises that you are about to do, just with less weight and low reps, but with high sets.  After your workout is when you want to stretch.  For two reasons:  Warm muscles stretch a lot easier, and two; stretching increases blood flow which aids in recovery, you will find that if you stretch a lot immediately after your workout you will be less sore the next day.

-Taylor

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On motivation

The engine that gives you the thrust you need for a successful workout is motivation.  Without motivation, it is doubtful that one can sustain a rigorous workout schedule for long, and the overall success you have in building muscle and getting trim will often be determined by the intensity of that motivation.   This applies in the kitchen as well as in the gym.  When you experience discomfort, your body is constantly rationalizing its way out of it.  Your ability to persist on will be wholly dependent upon the strength of your  desire to endure present pain in order to obtain future gain.

Hence, if one genuinely seeks to attain results in improving one’s physique, one must have rooted in them an inveterate desire to improve.  Much research has been devoted to the study of the causes and origin of motivation within individuals, and while the results have preached many truths, one stands out in particular and it is something that anyone can do.  The answer to the question of how one intensifies inner motivation is that one needs to hang around motivated and ambitious individuals.  You need to feed on them.  For nothing is as inspirational as witnessing human excellence.  How swell it is to taste it, to feel it!

If you want to be successful, hang around those that are successful.  If you desire to get rich, orbit around those that are rich. If you wish to be ripped, gravitate to those that are ripped.  Always surround yourself with high caliber individuals or else you will proceed a swift descent into mediocrity. It has been said that you are only the average of the 5 people who hang out with the most.  Choose those 5 well.

But there is also converse to it all; don’t hang out with the people who only pull you down.  The leeches, those are the individuals you want to politely get out of your life.  There are exceptions, of course, but weigh your cost to benefits.

And in the event that you do find an unusually fine quality person, extract from him all the help he can give you, and cherish him because he is a rare specimen.

So whats the lesson?  Workout with high end people that lift you up.  Feed from their energy; it most certainly will be contagious.

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Progressive Overload: What it is and how to apply it

History has it that the ancient Greek Olympian Milo of Croton trained for the Olympics and gained inhuman amounts strength by carrying a newborn calf on his shoulders every day for years.  The average weight of a newborn calf ranges from 50 to 100 pounds.  So initially, the calf was relatively easy for a reasonably strong man to carry, but each day the calf grew slightly bigger and heavier and in response to that Milo adapted to the growing weight of the animal by growing stronger himself!  The years of consistently doing this and gradually getting stronger by forcing his body to adapt to new heights eventually lead him to carrying a full grown cow on his shoulders.  An average cow weighs 1600 pounds.  In his peak he could carry a full-size bull – the average being 2400 pounds.  The principle that this conveys is that Inch by inch life is a synch; yard by hard life is hard. Milo’s body made micro small improvements each day that on the macro scale of a few years he became insanely strong.

This demonstrates the core principle of weight training and what the writer’s on this blog believe should be the foundation of your exercise program and an unrivaled method to gain muscle and build strength.  Here is a formal definition of progressive overload – Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training. BodyBuilding.com does a great job summing up seven ways to apply progressive overload.

1.      Increase resistance

2.      Increase sets

3.      Increase repetitions

4.      Increase frequency

5.      Increase exercises

6.      Increase intensity

7.      Decrease rest time

If your goal is to improve you have to make each workout tougher than the previous one in some way.  Personally, I find that increasing resistance and repetitions works best.  An example of this is how I gained 30 pounds on the bench press in 3 ½ months.

I worked out my chest once every five days; the workout consisted of one weight exercise and one body weight exercise.  I always did the weight exercise first in the workout and my first set (not including the warm up sets) was always the heaviest and the one I compared to the previous workout.  My goal for the bench press was to hit at least eight reps, if I hit eight reps this workout I added five pounds to the bar in next one and sought to hit eight reps then.  Once I had a workout with no improvements at all, I stopped doing bench press and switched to dumbbell chest press and did the same thing.  Gains usually came quickly and only when they stopped coming would I switch back over to the bench press.

In addition, actively applying progressive overload to your workout has two beneficial side effects.

1.       A psychological edge

2.       A Motivational boost

The psychological edge gives you confidence that you are stronger, which enables you to perform with more weight or more repetitions.  It goes like this, because I bench pressed 180 lbs for six reps last workout and I’m fully recovered (I hope) and therefore stronger,  I know that I can bench 180 lbs for at least seven or eight reps.  In essence, because you know you can do more, you can do more.

The motivational boost comes from the prospect of doing more than before and getting closer to your goal.  If you know that it is in your capability to rip out a more challenging set than you’ve ever done before, chances are you are going to go for it and seek the satisfaction it gives you.  Timothy Ferriss in his book “The Four Hour Body” sums up the motivation factor excellently saying “You don’t need better genetics or more discipline. You need immediate results that compel you to continue.”

Conclusion:  Always integrate progressive overload into your routine in some way or another.  If you want to make gains you have to consistently place more and more demand on your body, you cannot go to the gym and perform the same workout with the same weight for the same number of repetitions and expect to look any different.  The key word here is increase, not same.  Force your body to adapt, don’t perform something you’ve ALREADY adapted to.

-Taylor

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The science of lifting

Proprietors here at this elite fitness blog maintain that human beings’ muscular systems are different, and thus respond differently to different environmental stimuli (read: working out).  The differences at times, however, are exaggerated.  And it is a poor rationalization used by unthinking fitness denizens in order to justify their own sub-optimal workouts.

But regardless of this, there really are differences among body types that translate into a diverse (even if the spread of diversity is overestimated) set of subjective optimal workouts.  Hence, any fitness product that advertises a one size fits all approach is inherently flawed.

The solution?  Take in all the fitness advice you can muster and examine it with a critical eye.  Use reason to evaluate it, but rely on your on anecdotal experience as well.  But most importantly, act as a scientist going into the lab and empirically testing his hypothesis.  Much like a pick-up artist going INTO THE FIELD to see what works and what doesn’t, the fitness aspirator must proceed through the swell gates of the gym to test and see.  This, in the end, is the hallmark of a truly curious and ambitious individual.  Reading blogs like this one is great, even neccessary, but there is no subsitution for your own real experimentation that is informed by reason and evidence.

Much as economics is a discipline that is based on the tendencies of human behavior and physics the study founded upon the uniform principles that underlies the behavior of objects, working out is a science that is informed by human physiology and anatomy which, I note,  can be readily observed to those that have a mind for the scientific method.

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On Bicep Curls

It is common for weight lifters to make only marginal gains for Bicep curls.  This is primarily due to improper form.   To make the weight easier to lift, lifters end up using their back and shoulders, and thus not isolating the biceps for maximum reward.

The proper body form while doing the Bicep curl is to keep your back straight and shoulders back, minimizing shoulder and back involvement.  As you curl, hold your elbows to your side and do not lift them up during any moment of the curl.

Applying correct form will often come at a price, as you may have to lower the lifting weight by 5 pounds or so.  But it will allow you to obtain optimal bicep growth.

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A method that you can use to diversify your bicep workout is curling with one arm 3 or 4 reps, while working out the other arm by holding another dumbbell midway.  And then switch arms after the one arm has completed 3 or 4 reps.

As you will see, this can be extraordinarily difficult and most certainly require you to lower the weight.  It is, however, extremely rewarding.  And diversifying exercises is one of the most powerful tools to making dramatic gains.

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The benefits of fruit

The Fitness Black Book has an article that documents the compelling benefits of fruit.  He shows that while it is generally known that fruit is healthy, its salutary effects have been significantly underrated, particularly within the pop fitness/health culture.  He writes:

There was a study done in South Africa quite a few years ago where a group of people ate a diet of nothing but fruit for 6 months. This study was done by Prof. B. Meyer of the University of Pretoria. The experimental group ate nothing but fresh raw fruits and nuts for six months. They were compared to a control group, who ate a typical diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat.

The Results Were Very Surprising to Say The Least!

What they figured was that the group that ate nothing but fruit would be wasting away. What they found was that this group had virtually become disease-free. They didn’t have any nutritional deficiencies and each one of these people in this group was in superb health. Even more surprising was that when the experiment was over, almost every person in the fruit eating group decided to stay on this diet. They all claimed to feel more energetic and alive then they did in their youth.

This, of course, doesn’t prove that our diet should wholly consist of fruit, mainly that it should be the primary aspect of it. Its easy for me to believe this because, on an anecdotal level, fruit has always been what makes me feel vivacious.  What is significant about this study is that it flies in the face of the diet camp that insists fruit causes weight gain and should be relegated as perhaps the 4th or 5th source of calorie intake. As it happens, in short time the writers of this blog will present a recipe that makes fruit into a primary part of your breakfast. He goes on:

Are We Naturally Fruit Eaters?

A gentleman by the name of T.C. Fry asks us to imagine ourselves 60 million years ago, when we didn’t have tools…before we had fire and cooking as well. Would we take a rabbit and crush it in our hands and bite into the fur and enjoy getting blood smeared all over our face like a true carnivore? Would we get down on the ground and get under a cow and suck milk out of their teats? Would we be root grubbers and dig raw roots out of the ground, dust off the dirt and eat them? Would we be true herbivores and eat leaves and weeds? Probably not!

In the Perfect State of Nature, Humans are “Frugivores”

While I’m not completely convinced that fruit should be the only part of our diet, I am convinced that it probably is the perfect food for our body. T.C. Fry says that fruit is actually the only food in nature that appeals to our senses. It is bright in color, has a great texture, and appeals to our natural sweet tooth. The seeds didn’t taste this way and were meant to be discarded…which in turn would cause more fruit to grow. The “mother plant” actually wants us to carry the fruit away and discard the seeds…which causes another plant to grow. The same can’t be said of any other food or plant.

In other words, fruit is the perfect food for Man…. I have been an avid fruit eater for years and I NEVER suspected – or even thought of – that this would be the case.  The main objection, in my mind, was that there was not enough protein in fruit.  While this is true, there is more to it than the superficial nutrition numbers that underlies our perceptions of food.

Get this…fruit actually provides 5% protein by total calories consumed…this is the same as mother’s milk. Another interesting fact…the protein in fruits is predigested and comes in the form of free-form amino acids that don’t need to be broken down by the body. One more amazing fact…the protein in raw fresh fruits is uncooked, which makes it more bioavailable and usable by the body…so we need less of this type of protein each day to get the same effect as other proteins. In fact if you consumed all your calories in fruits, you would have twice the daily required needs of amino acids.

Don’t let this fool you into believing that fruit can supply you with all the protein you need, not if you are training to enhance your muscular physique.  But it provides a much more significant source of proteins that is commonly believed as the commonly cited low protein numbers are rendered irrelevant.

The fitness black book also notes that fruit also keeps you hydrated, as much of it is water.

The members of this blog are not exhorting you to take up an all-fruit diet – that would be insane.  We merely remind you that fruit can dramatically enhance your health and immunity, tighten your waist, keep you hydrated, and yes, build muscle.

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