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Guest Jack

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I started going to the gym again recently and was thinking about the amount of people on here who are interested in losing weight, with that Paul McKenna...diet, or whatever it was. So I was wondering whether anyone on here is also interested in building muscle?

 

It's something a lot of people want to do, but because of a lack of knowledge, in most cases, they tend to not see effective results and quit after a short amount of time. If that's you or you just have an interest in gaining muscle, but no real idea how to properly go about it, post here. It's something I've done for quite a while now and having spent years being around gyms, I know where the majority of people who lack guidance go wrong. Or if you aren't interested but just have any questions about muscle gain, I'll try to help you out with some advice.

 

Just a quick note, the Paul McKenna regime, aside from eating less, is very flawed. I'd imagine a lot of people on that diet will end up with similarly bad physiques to what they had before starting it. Those diets don't ever lead to the type of body you want.

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I learnt about the flaws in the Paul McKenna diet during my initial gym month, mostly thanks to the weight forums on Something Awful. The fundamental idea is sound, but it doesn't teach other more sensible ideas (such as eating something every two hours and still watching your diet) and doesn't go any further with the exercises bar more walking.

 

I've started putting some muscle on and have had my first in-person compliments from people most recently about losing weight, so I know I'm finally starting to get somewhere. I'm just trying to get over the hurdle of inferiority compexing when I'm in the gym lifting light next to the pro's next to me who usually lift quite heavy. It's the man instinct to want to look more manly and not look like such a girl, but at the same time I've always been told that unless you're a bodybuilder, there's no reason to lift heavy - just lift a decent amount and do more reps until it feels too easy and then move up a weight. So I've been doing that, as well as making friends with the cross-trainer machine which is a godsend.

 

I just don't want to get too heavy, nor do I want to make the mistake of spending too much time on my upper body and not enough on my legs. An ex of my Mom did that and he looked ridiculous. So I'm trying to find more exercises to help my legs get bigger.

 

 

If I need any tips on anything, it's push-ups. I am completely and utterly useless at them. Just utterly rubbish. So if you have any tips on improving push up techniques, we can start there.

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Guest Nicole
I really need to sort out my arms. Since losing 3 stone I've been left with awful upper arms. I'm investing in some firming cream to sort out the skin being too elastic problem, but need to sort out the bingo wings fast!!
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that means you've lost it too fast. Skin is really elastic and will stretch when you gain weight. It should shrink when you lose weight, as long as you don't go losing 14 stone in a day, that's when you got saggy skin, because one day the skin is stretched for a reason, then the next minute it's all gone, and it can't adpat that quickly.

 

my problem is not muscle building, more fat burning, I can do more sit ups than my mate who's in pretty good shape, but i still have a belly and flabby man pecs, they just don't seem to want to shift.

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I've started putting some muscle on and have had my first in-person compliments from people most recently about losing weight, so I know I'm finally starting to get somewhere. I'm just trying to get over the hurdle of inferiority compexing when I'm in the gym lifting light next to the pro's next to me who usually lift quite heavy. It's the man instinct to want to look more manly and not look like such a girl, but at the same time I've always been told that unless you're a bodybuilder, there's no reason to lift heavy - just lift a decent amount and do more reps until it feels too easy and then move up a weight.
Yeah, that's true. The fact is, the majority of people in gyms lifting huge weights, aren't making much progress because their muscles aren't strong enough to lift the weight, so they have to resort to other methods to get the ideal 8-12 reps, or 8-15 for legs. I was in the gym the other day and there was only a few people in there and I noticed two doing everything wrong.

 

The first guy was doing his lat pulldowns. Now, what you should be doing is keeping your back pretty much dead straight at all times, yet he was throwing his back into it. Are his muscles doing all the work? Of course not. They're doing a lot of the work, obviously, but by leaning back into the weight, it was his upper body that was doing a lot of the work.

 

Funnily enough, I was just looknig around and found a guy telling people how to do the excercise, doing it wrong.

 

http://www.ironworkout.com/pulldown.jpg

 

His back should be as straight in the second picture, as it is in the first. You can allow for 5% movement, yeah, but to go that far back is completely wrong. What he's doing is making it easier for himself...what you should be doing, is making it as hard as possible on your muscle, byt making it do all the work.

 

The second bunch of lads were just doing a benchpress. Three lads, who were all helping each other out. Literally. One would sit down and the other two would be lifting the weight at either end. Not spotting him, but actually lifting as well. It's stupid. Aside from that, the other mistake was to put too much weight there. They did a warm up on a 20kg bar and not one lifted it properly. All three locked their arms out at the top, which you shouldn't do, and were at least 8" away from their chest, when they brought the bar back down. What you was to do is straighten your arms as much as possible without locking out and when you bring the bar to your chest, just make sure it touches and then push up again. Another mistake was speed. You want to go really steady, but these lads were all throwing the weight up as fast as possible and that doesn't work the muscle as much as it should. Finally, when they were lifting proper weights, they put way too much on and couldn't lift it. Instead of pushing themselves and lifting a weight that was actually possible, but properly, they cheated and forced themselves to lift a good 20kg more than they should have done.

 

People don't realise that it's not about the weight that you're lifting, it's the technique you use to lift the weight which is what really builds muscle. What you should be doing are relatively slow, but steady repetitions that will work the target areas.

 

The thing is though, you're right. When you're in the gym and you see guys who are younger or the same age as you who look great, you allow the macho side of you come into play and you try to do more than you should be doing. You just have to remember that if they have a really good physique, they started on the same small weights you did and it works. The other side to this, are those people who are physically unimpressive, because they rushed and did it the wrong way, like the three lads I mentioned.

 

I just don't want to get too heavy, nor do I want to make the mistake of spending too much time on my upper body and not enough on my legs. An ex of my Mom did that and he looked ridiculous. So I'm trying to find more exercises to help my legs get bigger.
1. Lying leg curls

2. Leg extensions

3. Leg press

4. Calf press (On the leg press machine)

 

The technique for the first two is easy. You can't really go wrong with those. However, when you do your leg press, it is very important to have the seat at the right angle and to make sure your lower back is touching the back of the seat. If it's not, you're putting your lower back in a weak position and a lot of people injure themselves this way. Place your heels about an inch away from the bottom of the plate you push on and try to keep them planted at all times. Another thing to remember, is that you have to lower your legs a lot. A lot of people have their legs at about 90°, but you should go further than that. Again, you want to work the muscle as much as possible, so only bringing your legs back to 90° isn't doing that.

 

When you do your calves, put your feet in a position, so that the bottom of the plate is in the middle of your foot. You don't have to be on your toes and you don't want all your feet on the plate either. Make sure your feet are only half on the plate and make sure you bring the weight down slowly and as far as it can go, and push forward as much as possible as well.

 

Do you have an actual regime for when you go? I do chest and triceps on Monday, legs on Wednesday and then back and biceps on Friday.

If I need any tips on anything, it's push-ups. I am completely and utterly useless at them. Just utterly rubbish. So if you have any tips on improving push up techniques, we can start there.
That's fine. Your body isn't strong enough to lift yourself yet, so don't worry about it. The only things you can really do to make it easier, is to make sure you're lifting less weight. You can do that by either doing the push up at a different angle (Even standing), or by taking some of the weight away, usually by resting your lower legs on something, at around the point of the knee and then what that becomes easy, just keep making it harder for yourself.

 

I'm not really keen on push ups though. I feel they put too much pressure on your joints, so I wouldn't advise people to do them, especially whilst they're struggling. When it becomes easy, it's really an aerobic excercise.

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I really need to sort out my arms. Since losing 3 stone I've been left with awful upper arms. I'm investing in some firming cream to sort out the skin being too elastic problem, but need to sort out the bingo wings fast!!
How long did it take you to lose that weight? You will have lost the weight too soon, I think. The best way to get rid of them, is just steady excercise. I don't really know anything about firming cream, so I wouldn't have a clue if that will work, but if it doesn't, just regular and well rounded excercise will. Edited by Jack
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Another mistake was speed. You want to go really steady, but these lads were all throwing the weight up as fast as possible and that doesn't work the muscle as much as it should. Finally, when they were lifting proper weights, they put way too much on and couldn't lift it. Instead of pushing themselves and lifting a weight that was actually possible, but properly, they cheated and forced themselves to lift a good 20kg more than they should have done.

 

I'm going to be very general here, but just about ever 16-19 year old lad I have ever seen in the gym always does that. they ramp up the weight, and then bash out 10 reps in about 8 seconds, meaning they've effectively done the equivalent of picking up a can of coke! They then get up panting and walk away, chest puffed out like they've just won Mr Universe or something. it's actually quite funny, even though they don't mean it to be.

 

The thing is though, you're right. When you're in the gym and you see guys who are younger or the same age as you who look great, you allow the macho side of you come into play and you try to do more than you should be doing. You just have to remember that if they have a really good physique, they started on the same small weights you did and it works. The other side to this, are those people who are physically unimpressive, because they rushed and did it the wrong way, like the three lads I mentioned.

 

That's a fair point, everyone starts somewhere, but there's also the point that a lot of them aren't in as good a shape as it looks. My cousin looks absolutely fantastic, he's got a six pack and his arms are mega-defined, barely any fat on him. Yet we ran from the pub entrance to the car the other day, only about 50 metres, and he was out of breath. It's not always just about being strong and looking good, you gotta be fit as well.

 

 

that means you've lost it too fast.

 

How long did it take you to lose that weight? You will have lost the weight too soon, I think.

 

 

so I did know what I was talking about!!

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Guest Nicole
Taken me 6 months to lose 3 stone, the last stone came off in around 3 weeks. Its not like drastic disgusting skin, but if I pinch it I can pull it out a good inch and my arms just need to be firmer.
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Guest Michael89
How much cardio and what type of cardio would you recommend to someone lifting weights 2 - 3 times a week? Can running/jogging burn off muscle mass?? Bearing in mind I want to mantain/gain muscle..
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How much cardio and what type of cardio would you recommend to someone lifting weights 2 - 3 times a week? Can running/jogging burn off muscle mass?? Bearing in mind I want to mantain/gain muscle..
You don't really need to do that much. I can't really say, as it depends on how much cardio you actually want to do and what physique you want to have, but you shouldn't need to go over the top with it. Seeing as you go to the gym, I'm guessing you want to be muscular, so try to limit it. You won't need to go over the top with your cardio because if you do, you'll end up with the wrong type of physique.

 

Also, the best type of fat burning excercise is walking. The general idea is the more energy you put into it, the better the results, but this is wrong. Power walking, running, cycling etc. won't work as well as a walk. The best time for a walk is before breakfast, as your body has used your energy from food during the night to gain muscle, so it's the perfect time before giving it more energy, to lose fat. After 20 minutes or so, you pretty much reach your limit, so you don't need any more than that. Again, there's a misconception that is widely believed, yet wrong, that if 20 minutes is good, an hour must be better. A calm 20 minute walk before breakfast each day, a good diet and working out 2/3 per week should be enough to build the physique you (probably) want.

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Guest Michael89
You don't really need to do that much. I can't really say, as it depends on how much cardio you actually want to do and what physique you want to have, but you shouldn't need to go over the top with it. Seeing as you go to the gym, I'm guessing you want to be muscular, so try to limit it. You won't need to go over the top with your cardio because if you do, you'll end up with the wrong type of physique.

 

Also, the best type of fat burning excercise is walking. The general idea is the more energy you put into it, the better the results, but this is wrong. Power walking, running, cycling etc. won't work as well as a walk. The best time for a walk is before breakfast, as your body has used your energy from food during the night to gain muscle, so it's the perfect time before giving it more energy, to lose fat. After 20 minutes or so, you pretty much reach your limit, so you don't need any more than that. Again, there's a misconception that is widely believed, yet wrong, that if 20 minutes is good, an hour must be better. A calm 20 minute walk before breakfast each day, a good diet and working out 2/3 per week should be enough to build the physique you (probably) want.

 

Thanks a lot for the tips, it'll be a big help in the future :xyx.

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No problem, at all. Anytime you need a bit of help, I'm more than happy to offer some advice.

 

Just a quick note, as I forgot to mention this earlier, when you're doing an excercise and you reach your limit, you can 'cheat' to get the extra repetitions in. It's not ideal, but if you're working to failure and you can't get anymore reps from lifting the weight properly, it's ok to use other methods. In the picture above, the guy is putting his back into the weight and if you're doing that from the first rep, that's not great, but if you're on your tenth rep and you want twelve, then doing what he's doing, is fine. He shouldn't advise people to lift like that all the time as it's simply wrong.

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Guest Michael89
Yeah, I was like that guy when I first started out, and I was wondering why I wasn't gaining anything, but you live and learn I guess, but I'll bare that tip in mind though.
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Guest Drake

I gotta give this thread 5 stars. I've been going to the gym for about a year now (although not religiously) and I've gained quite a few pounds of muscle but I still have that feeling that I could do a lot better than I'm doing right now.

 

The problems I have right now are the following

 

-Upper Chest

 

-My neck (I have a defined upper body, but I feel that my neck is too thin in comparison with my body and head and I want to do some excersize (sp?) for it but don't know which ones.

 

-Back (I get frustrated with this because I feel like I'm doing the workouts wrong and getting a biceps excersize instead of a back one)

 

-Forearms and wrist (gotta work those SOB's

 

Another part that gets me really frustrated is the freaking diet! I know that I have to eat a lot of good meals with a good share of proteins but sometimes I just don't know what the **** to eat.

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Also, the best type of fat burning excercise is walking. The general idea is the more energy you put into it, the better the results, but this is wrong. Power walking, running, cycling etc. won't work as well as a walk. The best time for a walk is before breakfast, as your body has used your energy from food during the night to gain muscle, so it's the perfect time before giving it more energy, to lose fat. After 20 minutes or so, you pretty much reach your limit, so you don't need any more than that. Again, there's a misconception that is widely believed, yet wrong, that if 20 minutes is good, an hour must be better. A calm 20 minute walk before breakfast each day, a good diet and working out 2/3 per week should be enough to build the physique you (probably) want.

 

Is this from personal experience or knowledge given to you?

 

My own experience is that any sort of cardio works but it depends of what you're trying to achieve.

 

I must admit I'm baffled at how a calm walk is going to get you the best results.

 

You will lose weight (and it will be a higher % of fat you're losing than say a jog) but it will take a lot more time.

 

Walking is only better for the reason your will tap into the fat stores first rather than muscle or sugar.

 

20 minutes of calm walking won't do a lot - need to up it to power walking to expect anything worth a damn.

 

General rule for me has always been moderate-intensity long cardio (jogging for an hour or more) will lose the most weight. Unfortunately if your goal is muscle building it's a bit counter productive as you will be losing fat, sugar and muscle tissue. Therefore you will end up (after a year) looking like a marathon runner ( not a very good look to me.)

 

I prefer HIIT (Interval) training which works the best I feel for everyone. Walking with sprint intervals up to 15 to 20 minutes - power walking that is. And when I say power walking, I don't mean walking like some sort of reject from School going from class to class to avoid getting bullied, I mean a brisk walk with intensity high enough to get you sweating a little.

 

If you were to do HIIT training 3 times a week you'd get the best results for a better looking body. HIIT also puts your body into after-burn which is fantastic for keeping your metabolism buzzing throughout the rest of the day.

 

So to be honest if your goal is to build muscle and cut fat (change the body composition) I'd do HIIT rather just a calm walk. If it's to lose weight full stop, then do long ass cardio at medium level intensity but don't be surprised if your body looks like shit come the end of a few months down the line.

 

All in all, to me while a calm walk before breakfast (with glucose levels low) will work to a certain extent, it's a bit lacking when trying to lose weight.

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I gotta give this thread 5 stars. I've been going to the gym for about a year now (although not religiously) and I've gained quite a few pounds of muscle but I still have that feeling that I could do a lot better than I'm doing right now.
It sounds like there is a problem with your regime. If you're just not going often enough, then that would be it, but if you feel you are doing a lot and aren't seeing enough progress, there's a few things you could do to change it. How often do you go to the gym? Did you take any measurements before starting, and if so, can you tell me the improvement you've made?

 

It's fine if you haven't noted it down. The one thing I'd suggest without knowing how much change you've made, is just to ensure that you are really strict with your repititions. Make sure that you're doing them properly and you should see a difference. After that, if you can get to the gym regularly and your diet is sorted out, you will improve, without doubt.

-Upper Chest
What excercises do you currently do? The ones I'd recommend are the bench press and cable flyes, to focus mainly on the chest. These are the best to you can do. Cable flyes mainly focus on the middle of the chest, so if you're doing those right, you should end up with a well defined chest.

 

http://www.funfitnesssolutions.com/cable%20flye2.JPG

 

What you should do here, is just bring the cables to your stomach and stand in the middle of the weights. Put your feet together, unlike the woman is doing, and lean forward slightly. Slowly allow the weight to bring your arms out to the side and bring them back together in one smooth motion. A lot of people make the mistake of having their arms too bent. They should be at about 25° and it's important to keep your wrists locked. If you can, try and make your hands cross over when they meet in the middle, just to get a little bit more out of it.

 

The bench press is easy to do, but you really have to be strict with it. It's important to not lock out, bring the weight all the way down to your chest and then push up fairly slowly. If you rush, you won't see a great improvement.

 

On another note, one thing you can do, is make your actual ribcage bigger. You see a lot of muscular guys, who have small ribcages and it doesn't look great. As you're only 20, you can still make your bigger as the cartilage in between your ribs isn't fully set yet. When you're doing your bench press, make sure you breath in as the bar comes down towards your chest and you'll end up with a bigger chest. It makes a big difference.

-My neck (I have a defined upper body, but I feel that my neck is too thin in comparison with my body and head and I want to do some excersize (sp?) for it but don't know which ones.
Your neck should go at a similar rate to the rest of your body. It's one of those muscles that even if you don't focus on, will grow, just because every muscle around it is as well. I wouldn't worry about it too much, but if you think it's an issue, you can buy a harness to put on your head and attach a weight to it. Lie on a bench and just lift your head up and down, left and right with the harness on and that will help. I wouldn't recommend any of these stupid excercises wrestlers do, where they lie on their back, lift all their body weight onto just their feet and head and then start to move. It's too dangerous, so avoid that. A harness will be your best bet, I think. Your gym may have one, but most don't, so you may need to buy it yourself.

 

-Back (I get frustrated with this because I feel like I'm doing the workouts wrong and getting a biceps excersize instead of a back one)
What excercise do you do to work your back? The only other muscle I feel when doing my back, are my forearms and that's because my back is so much stronger than my grip, so that's natural. You shouldn't feel your biceps though, as you don't want to be moving your arm at the elbow when excercising your back.

 

Lat pulldowns are great:

 

http://www.1fit.net/images/products/156l.jpg

 

Although if you do them, your arms should not be that wide. It makes the excercise unnessecarily hard, so bring them close to your body.

 

 

 

There's also the T Bar, which is really good for the middle of your back. When you lift the weight, your arms should be parallel to the rest of your body.

 

http://www.trygve.com/tbar02.jpg

 

 

 

I'm not sure what the machine is called, but there'll be something which looks a lot like a rowing machine, except with weights. Just sit down so your legs are at about a 15° angle and pull the weight to your stomach. You can move forward 5° before you pull and when you're bringing the weight back, another 5° back, just to make it a little harder. You want the 'V' shaped grip for this, so your hands are really close together when you pull the weight in.

 

These three excercises will work all parts of your back and if you're doing them properly, you'll see a big improvement.

-Forearms and wrist (gotta work those SOB's
Forearms aren't something you need to focus on, as you use them so much. They'll grow without doing anything to them, just because they are used so often when you're working your back, biceps etc.. Even when you do your legs, carryign 20kg plates or whatever, will work them. If you want to do more, you can get a standard bar with some light weights on and only move your hands up and down to work them, but most bodybuilders won't focus on their forearms as they get enough use from when you work other body parts.

Another part that gets me really frustrated is the freaking diet! I know that I have to eat a lot of good meals with a good share of proteins but sometimes I just don't know what the **** to eat.
Yeah, it can be hard. Eggs, chicken, red meat, fish, milk etc. is all great. Do you ever have a protein shake? If not, you should have one of those.

 

Ideally, you want to have about 100g of protein each day. There's 6g in an egg, so it's a lot. You will get about 30g from a protein shake though, so have plenty from milk and good meat, and it's doable.

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Is this from personal experience or knowledge given to you?
Both. I've done something pretty similar to what you've done and found it held me back with my muscle gain. It's something both Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates support and where I originally found out about it from.

 

So to be honest if your goal is to build muscle and cut fat (change the body composition) I'd do HIIT rather just a calm walk. If it's to lose weight full stop, then do long ass cardio at medium level intensity but don't be surprised if your body looks like shit come the end of a few months down the line.
Yeah, I'd actually agree with this. It basically depends on what you are trying to achieve. I think if you're after pure muscle building, a 20 minute walk each day, combined with everything else you are doing, is enough. I don't believe you need to do more than that. If you are after really good conditioning, then you have to work for it, obviously, and you aren't goingto get that from just a 20 minute walk.

 

I think the majority of people are given incorrect advice as to how much cardio is needed, though.

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What about abs? I don't need a six pack or anything, but I'd like more endurance in that area.

 

I can do about 30 situps a session, and do 'em at a slow smooth pace, back straight, hands behind the head without throwing my elbows into it. Should I keep that up? Daily? Every other daily?

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Guest Fiona

Actually Jack I don't want to gain muscle I just want to tone my arms, legs, butt and thighs. Is there anything I can do to just firm up these areas?

 

I walk about an hour a day and that isn't doing the trick. I really hate the gym so it would have to be something I can do at home.

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