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10 Workout Hacks for Building Muscle

10 Workout Hacks for Building Muscle

    One of the best aspects of your daily routine to apply a life hack to are your personal fitness goals. This is something we’ve covered in past posts, but today we’d like to expand the list.

    By carefully selecting the time of your workout, the combination of techniques, and the proper post-workout snacks, you can maximize your workout to build muscle. Here are the essential tips you need to know.

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    1. Work out at the right time of day

    The time of day when you choose to work out can make all the difference when it comes to working out to your maximum potential. According to Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert in back pain, you should avoid working out first thing in the morning. This is because the discs between your vertebrae fill with fluid during your sleep, making you more susceptible to injury in the morning.

    2. Weights before cardio

    According to the minds behind Dumb Little Man, “trainers, serious athletes and bodybuilders do weights first: this way, your heart rate goes up and when you lift, your body is in more of a fat burning mode. Doing the opposite means that your muscles are already tired by the time you get to weight-training.”

    3. Eat frequently (and take in more calories)

    Keep your energy up and give your body plenty of fuel for building muscles by eating small meals every three hours or so. Make sure to eat plenty of protein, ideally the equivalent amount of protein in grams as your current body weight in pounds. For example, a 150-pound man would aim to take in 150 g of protein per day.

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    Diet and Fitness Expert Dr. Melina Jampolis adds, “Your body can build at most about a half-pound of muscle each week, so if you eat too many extra calories trying to build more muscle, you will gain fat, too. I would suggest consuming an extra 250 to 500 calories per day.”

    4. Eat a snack immediately after your workout

    According to Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., senior sports nutritionist at Healthworks Fitness Center in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, protein-heavy snacks should be eaten within 15 minutes of wrapping up your exercise routine. “It might optimize the healing of the tiny muscle injuries that happen [normally] while people exercise,” she says. “Also, protein is satiating”…and that means you won’t be tempted by junk food later on.

    Men’s Health also agrees with the need for protein, but argues that it needs to be balanced with carbs as well. “Although you might think that the carbs will slow weight loss, the opposite can be true. Carbs plus protein helps build muscle (especially if you eat the combo just before and after exercise), and that can indirectly enhance fat loss, because muscle is metabolically active tissue that helps burn more calories around the clock.”

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    5. Stay hydrated

    The last thing you need complicating your workout is a cramp or fatigue, so drinking water before, during, and after your workout for best results.

    6. Never skip the warm up (or the cool down)

    Stretching prevents muscle strain, gets your blood pumping, and can help lower cholesterol when done as part of a yoga or pilates routine. Muscles also need to realign themselves after an intensive workout, which a few minutes of stretching can help to accomplish.

    7. Combine compound and isolation movements

    While isolating certain muscles is important, you need to alternate compound motions as well, which will target multiple muscle groups at once. Compound workouts are good for beginners and for toning certain parts of the body.

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    However, fitness expert Mark McManus argues that compound exercises do have a downside. “ If one muscle within the group being worked is quite weak, it will be responsible for the termination of the set before the other muscles obtain the requisite intensity to stimulate growth. With compound movements, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Take the lat pulldown for example:  the weaker biceps and forearms will fatigue before the more powerful lats do, meaning you didn’t thoroughly stimulate the body part you intended to when you selected this exercise!”

    8. Gradually increase your weights

    Increase the weight you’re lifting on each exercise by 5 percent each week. If you bench-pressed 100 pounds this week, for example, then next week you should try doing 105 pounds. This gradual increase will yield the best muscle building results without overly straining your body.

    9. Budget the correct amount of time for your workout

    The team at Muscle Hack argues that timing is of the essence when planning your workout. “You shouldn’t train for much longer than an hour at any one time,” they say. “At the end of the day, if you’re not willing to spend an hour in the gym, you haven’t got the right mindset for success.”

    10. Get narcissistic

    By which we mean, of course, to do all your weight lifting in front of a mirror. That way, you can correct your posture and make sure you are fully extending your muscles. Correct form means means maximized results.

    What tips can you share to help build lean muscle? Tell us in the comments below, follow us on Twitter, or take the conversation over to Facebook.

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    Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

    Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

    There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

    “For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

    Primal Therapy

    Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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    How it Started

    “During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

    It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

    “I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

    Delving deeper

    Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

    Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

    Some Methods To Practice Screaming

    If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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    • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
    • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
    • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
    • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

    After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

    Scream Sing

    Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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    • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
    • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
    • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
    • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
    • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
    • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
    • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

    If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

    Scream into a pillow

    Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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    Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

    Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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