Simply knowing where you stand can help your efforts tremendously. In exchange for a few bucks and a little pain, you'll receive health benchmarks on things like cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting glucose, and perhaps bone density for older women. These are concrete, quantifiable areas where you can track progress and see your hard work translate into results.
Our body needs a breather. When we rest or when we sleep is the time when our body conducts a synthesis of proteins, that is, the breakdown of proteins which results in the reconstructive process of muscle building and repair. Regular and adequate rest is needed in order to gain muscle. Also, metabolism takes place during the night when we sleep, and fat is burned during this process as well. This makes sleep the most effective tool when it comes to fitness and health, and we must give our mind and body 48 hours of rest before hitting the gym again, as this is the optimum time for muscle recovery.
If you decide to join a gym, know that you're not expected to know how all of the equipment works right off the bat—or what to do with it. Be sure to take advantage of the free orientation so you can learn how to properly use everything that's offered and set up a basic strength-training program. At the gym, machines are preferred for beginners, because they're quite safe: Most require little coordination and offer more stability than free weights while performing the movements.
Arnold used single-joint movements to complement overhead presses and isolate each delt head individually. Here, too, he sought subtle differences that would, over time, build better overall size. For example, the cable lateral raise in front of the body has a slightly different feel than when the cable runs behind you. Knowing how to do a given movement pattern on different pieces of equipment is, according to Arnold, essential for a bodybuilder to take his physique to the next level.
"Making strategic changes to your workouts keeps plateauing at bay," agrees Grenade's Vinny Russo. "Once you get comfortable, you tend to stay there. This limits your physical potential, because you're no longer progressing. Get out of that comfort zone and push your limits. Once you become accustomed to that style of training, manipulate another variable to keep making it a challenge!"
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The benefits of resistance exercise are well documented, and ongoing research continues to prove that it's an important activity for Americans to be engaged in. Long ago in hunter-gatherer societies, humans' muscles got a workout by building shelter, hunting, farming, and all the other manual chores necessary to live. Today, however, we have engineered inactivity into our lives with labor-saving devices to the extent that our muscles rarely need to be pushed very hard. We don't rake leaves or cut grass or shovel snow by hand; we don't climb stairs or even walk in airports (people movers do it for us!); we don't wash our clothes or our dishes or even push a vacuum by hand (Have you seen the robotic vacuum Roomba?), and we spend more and more time in front of our computers and televisions than we do outdoors raking leaves, playing touch football, baseball, soccer, hiking, or participating in any other recreational activities. Research shows that physical inactivity is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and it's literally killing us.
Overload Management. The basis of strength and conditioning is progressive overload. It takes some skill to judge the point at which overload—increasingly heavier weight—is building capacity yet not making you too sore, ill or fatigued to continue. That’s why it’s very important to start slowly and build. When in doubt, take a rest, miss a session but don’t alter the program detail, the reps, and sets, if you can help it. The squat and deadlift can be very taxing, so be careful not to lift too heavy for a start.
When lifting it is essential to focus your mind completely on the muscle group you are attempting to work on. This makes sure that you are actually using the target muscle to lift the weight rather than accessory muscles or even momentum. This skill will develop with time, and as you progress in making that mind to muscle connection, your workouts will become much more productive and efficient.