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Warning! Your Rest Days Could Be Ruining Your Gains

If you set aside a couple of days per week to rest and recover from your workouts, then you’re on the right path. Generally, the concept of a rest day is a good idea and will benefit you. It’s not healthy to workout every single day, you’ll overtrain and damage your muscles, leading to no gains at all.

I won’t have a go at you for being a tad confused here already. Clearly, the title says that rest days could be ruining your gains. But, I just said they were good…so…what’s all that about then? The keyword in all of this is ‘could’. Your rest days could be ruining gains, but only when they’re not used properly.

Now, you will be surprised to know how many people wrongly use their rest days. Which is hilarious considering how easy a rest day should be for you. All you really have to do is rest and recover, how can you possibly go wrong? Well, I’ve written this article to show you some of the bad things you might do on your rest days that lead to a lack of gains in the future. Give them a read, and follow any advice that might help you stop doing the wrong thing.

Eating Too Much

The thing about a rest day is that you shouldn’t do much physical activity at all. As a consequence, you won’t burn many calories on these days, but that’s okay! This only becomes an issue when your food intake is large. I know so many people that sit at home on a rest day and just binge eat. They think it’s a chance to have a cheat day and just fuel up on food ready for their workout the following day.

The logic behind this is fairly well thought out, so I’ll give you credit if you do this. To prepare for your next set of workouts, you consume a lot of calories and carbs to provide more energy and get you nice and refuelled. A bit like stopping your car overnight and filling up the tank, right? However, as I said, you aren’t burning many calories on a rest day, so all that food is just going to pile on, with very few calories coming off. It makes it harder to lose weight and could be why you’re not doing so. Instead, you need to follow a low calorie diet, particularly on rest days. Try and reduce the calories, even more, when you aren’t working out. This prevents any unnecessary calorie overloading and will keep you on the right path to fitness success.

Doing Your Cardio

Bizarrely, quite a few people set aside their rest days for cardio. I know, it doesn’t make any sense, it’s not a rest day if you’re exercising. People do this as they think you only need a rest from generic training. If you train using weights, then cardio counts as a rest, correct?

No, it doesn’t. You’re still working your muscles, you’re still putting your body through some tough work, it’s not a rest. You’ll run the risk of overtraining, which is exactly what you should avoid by taking a rest day. Do cardio either on the same day as your regular workouts or on another day. Rest on your rest day, don’t work out in any way!

Not Stretching

So, there are certain things you’re doing that you shouldn’t be doing, and there’s one thing you need to do that maybe you aren’t. Stretching is essential if you want to keep your muscles healthy and feel less sore. If you lengthen your muscles, you become more flexible, less prone to injuries, and will see more gains in general.

You should set aside time during your rest days to really go through a full body stretching and mobility routine. The reason you do it on your rest day is because you should have a good hour or so spare where you’d normally work out. Get a solid stretching session in to prepare your body for your workouts and keep it in good health.

After reading this, it’s maybe more apparent how your rest day can go totally wrong. If you’re eating loads, still doing workouts, and not stretching, then you’ve really messed up your rest day. I can’t stress enough how important one or two proper rest days per week will help you. Use them properly, or you will see issues with your gains. If you feel like you’ve maybe hit a wall recently, then this could be the problem.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Exercise Mistakes that Can Wreck Your Health

A lot of people don’t seem to recognize it, but the fact is that exercise can actually be pretty dangerous. If you take the time to think about it, of course, it will probably become clear what the potential problems are. After all, exercise sees you taking on a lot more physical exertion. You’re putting new demands on your body.

 

So you need to be very careful when it comes to exercise. If you’re not doing it properly, then you put a few aspects of your health in danger. We’re going to take a look at some of the most common mistakes that can have the precise opposite of the positive results on your body that you’re after!

 

Doing the wrong exercises

 

Some of the most popular exercises out there are actually not all that great for you. Some are these considered to be very basic exercises, go-to workout elements for beginners. Many are even taught to children at schools. Sadly, some of them do more damage than good.

 

Perhaps the most popular exercise that is known to do bodily damage is the humble crunch, otherwise known as a sit-up. You may think that this is a staple of any good bodybuilding exercise, but it’s actually best avoided; it does damage to your spine and your stomach muscles, which are the precise areas they’re supposed to be strengthening! Yes, crunches can help build up your abs – but your spine will be damaged in the long run. Planking is much better! Research the steps in your exercise routine; find alternatives if you need to.

 

Ignoring muscle strain

 

You’ve probably heard the saying “no pain, no gain” at some point in your life. It’s not just a classic quote in the world of body-building and general exercise; the saying dates back to spiritual writings as the second century. This saying is often taken to a bad end. There’s this idea among many fitness enthusiasts that by getting to a point where exercise is causing pain, and then working out through that pain, you’ll be gaining muscle and stamina in ways that simply aren’t possible otherwise. But this simply isn’t true.

 

Any pain you experience should be tended to as soon as possible, and your exercise regime may need to be altered as a result. For example, ankle, shin, or thigh pain may require the use of compression socks for a while. It’s true that some pain is inevitable, but this comes in the form of general aching from muscle fatigue and development. Profound pain isn’t going to help you get fitter!

 

 

Combining exercise with a small diet

 

There’s this common misconception that people who exercise must eat a lot eat less than people who don’t. After all, isn’t exercise mostly about weight loss? How else can they keep skinny if they’re not eating less than you?

 

Actually, people who exercise frequently probably eat more than they did before they exercised (unless they actually did have to lose weight!). You have to pay special attention to what you eat; you need to get a lot of nutrients, and most of the energy you need to exercise consistently will come from your food!

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

What is Clean Bulking?

Getting in shape doesn’t always means slimming. For those that are already slim, it can often mean bulking up. Clean bulking is a way of combining diet and exercise to build muscles mass. It’s most popular amongst men wanting to tone up, but recently many women wanting to develop a fuller figure have developed an interest in it too.

Much like slimming, clean bulking require discipline and a lot of motivation. If you’re eager to start here are some of the steps you’ll need to take.

Fixing up Your Diet

You can’t bulk up unless you’re upping your calorie intake. This can scare many people off that fear they’ll get fat as a result. However, if you’re complimenting extra eating with lots of exercises, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Like any slimming diet, the key is still to eat healthily, so that all energy is converted into muscle. Instead of processed carbs like sugary snacks and fried foods, consider eating lots of potatoes, rice, and pasta. Protein is also essential to muscle growth and many people will take supplements such as protein shakes. Organic meats, eggs, nuts and milk can be another great unprocessed source of this protein.

On top of eating the right amount of food, you’ll need to consume a healthy amount of water. Other minerals can also help with a progress. You can find many dietary tips and meal plans for clean bulking online.

It’s all Connected to the Core

A healthy core will affect every other part of your body. It’s what helps you to balance and keep you upright. Most people assume that the core simply means the abs, but it actually incorporates all your torso muscles.

Individual exercises can help with many core muscles. Dips can help build your pecs – you’ll find help online on how to do dips at home for the chest. Sit ups, crunches, Russian twists, and leg raises meanwhile can be great for the abs. Endurance exercises such as the plank meanwhile are great for strengthening your whole core and good additions to add at the end of a workout.

Working Your Arms

There are many ways to bulk up the arms. Push ups and pull ups are great for testing most of your arm muscles. Specific exercises meanwhile can be catered to more specific arm muscles groups such as bicep curls and tricep dips. Gyms will often have all the specialist equipment, but you can often achieve the same result simply by buying a pair of dumbbells and working out from home, as well as getting imaginative with furniture (a couch is brilliant for tricep dips and elevated push ups).

Leg Day

Many people, specifically men, will pay little attention to their legs when bulking up. Forgetting leg day however will make you look disproportioned and have a knock on effect later as your legs aren’t able to support the rest of your body.

Many activities are great for building leg muscle. Cycling works out all your muscles groups from your quads to your calves to your glutes. Other exercises are more focused such as deadlifts and squats that specifically target your quads. If you have a gym membership, you’ll find many machines that can further build up your legs.

Creating a Routine

Bulking up requires a good routine. If you’re working out every day, a sensible option is to cycle between core, legs and arms. This will allow you to focus on each group whilst also allowing enough recovery time. Another approach is to exercise your whole body in one session but to give yourself a day’s break between each session.

A personal trainer may be able to help you create a routine that fits around your weekly schedule. As soon as your routine becomes comfortable, you can then start to up the stakes by increasing the number of reps, the time or the weight.

Whilst most of your exercise regime will be strength-based, it’s good to also include some endurance in there. Cardio exercises strengthen the heart and a healthy heart is much needed when bulking up to provide the extra muscle mass gained with the blood and oxygen it needs.

Staying motivated

Keeping motivated is the biggest challenge. Often the best way to stay motivated is to have a tangible target. This could be a target body shape, a target strength that you wish to be able to reach or a clothing size. From week to week, you should also be setting yourself micro-goals. These could be anything from beating your time at the plank to managing an extra weight.

Tracking your progress is important. Some gyms will have machines that do this for you so that you can keep on target with each week. If you’re training at home, you may be able to use apps to measure your progress. Having body stats available can greatly help to spur you on.

You can also take photographs in the mirror. These will show you how far you’ve come and may provide you the motivation to keep going.

Blogging and social media reporting also helps for some people. From week to week you can report your progress so that others can read and get inspired or simply spur you on.

Some people also find that training with someone else helps. This could involve training with a friend or could involve hiring a personal trainer to help put you through your paces. Make sure that if you are training with a friend or family member that you’re still sticking to your routine. Exercise classes may work for some, but probably not for the majority – whilst the likes of CrossFit incorporate many weight exercises, they do not stick to a routine from week to week and focus more on general fitness. Bulking requires specific training catered to the individual in most cases and you’re unlikely to be able to follow this working with a group of people with different goals and needs. That said, such as exercise groups can be still good to do on the side and have been known to introduce many people to weightlifting and new exercise ideas.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Load Your Guns: Best Arm Strengthening Exercises

Lots of runners focus on strengthening their legs and improving their cardio when they are busy training. Very few think about working their arms and improving upper body strength. But no matter what type of exercise you prefer, even if it is running, you should always work on strengthening your entire body, even the parts you don’t use that much. For instance, when we run we use our arms to help propel our whole body forward. Plus, if you have strong arms, you will be able to carry your water bottle with you on your runs without feeling any aching in your arms and shoulders!

Ready to load your guns? Here are the best arm strengthening exercises for giving your arms plenty of power.

Biceps Curl

What you need: dumbbells

How it’s done: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold tightly onto your dumbbells in each hand. These can be as heavy as you like but it’s best to work your way up rather than starting off with very heavy weights. Have your arms down by your side with the palms facing the thighs. Then just bring your arm up and bend at the shoulder. You should rotate the hands so that the palm is facing you and level with your shoulder. Pause here for a minute before lowering and repeating with the other arm. You should do this for about 15 reps on each side.

Pull Ups

What you need: pull up bar.

Are you wondering what about pull up bars? This is the most common equipment used to strengthen arms, and here’s how you can use them. You just need to grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up until your chin touches the bar and then lower yourself slowly down. You should aim to do this for ten to fifteen reps. When you find this gets too easy, try to lift and lower yourself slower, as this works the muscles more.

Plank Press

What you need: yoga mat, dumbbells

First of all, position your dumbbells so that they are at the head of your mat. Next, get into a plank position. Ideally, your feet need to be slightly wider than shoulder-width. The dumbbells should still be on the mat, within your line of sight. Now you need to lift one of your hands and pick up a dumbbell. Make sure your hips stay still so that you engage your core muscles. Bring the elbow up so that you are now holding the dumbbell right next to your shoulder. Now simply extend the arm forward, so it is straight out in front of you. Then bring the arm back to the bent position, so the dumbbell is back by your shoulder. Repeat this for ten reps and then move onto the other arm.

You will find that most exercises that work the core muscles will also be very beneficial to your arm muscles. But hopefully, the three exercises I have mentioned will help you to greatly improve your arm strength, which can, in turn, improve your running ability!

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

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