Hyperplasia To Build Muscles

When muscles grow, they do so through one of two mechanisms: either by making existing muscle fibers bigger, or through the addition of new muscle fibers.

​Recent research was primarily centered on the second method, which is known as hyperplasia.

While the first method of growth is more or less uniformly known and accepted by scientists, the second method has been more controversial. There are two proposed mechanisms through which individuals achieve hyperplasia, or add new muscle fibers. The first mechanism is when existing muscle fibers split. The second is when your body activates specialized cells known as satellite cells.

The satellite cells then divide and combine to form new muscle fibers. Both of these methods require extreme mechanical stress and damage to induce hyperplasia.

Unfortunately, our ability to detect changes in muscle fibers in humans is quite difficult because we can’t count the number of fibers from pre- to post-training in an entire muscle group. Unlike an animal model where it is possible to count every single muscle fiber, you have to make assumptions from a small muscle sample in humans. However, indirect methods in humans still point toward hyperplasia.One of the best studies on this topic to date was performed by Dr. Tesch and Dr. Larsson back in 1982.3 These scientists found that many of the muscle fibers in highly trained bodybuilders were the exact same size as recreationally trained physical-education students. The fact that the bodybuilders had much larger muscle mass indicated that many of their muscle fibers had been newly created.

So should you duct-tape some weight plates to your arms for the next month? I wouldn’t.

 

Until recently, no human studies had been performed to investigate muscle growth with intermittent stretching protocols. However, two new studies have shown that intense stretching—even without lifting weights—increased strength by greater than 20 percent in only 3-8 weeks.5,6 Because individuals weren’t actually lifting weights, an increase in strength strongly suggests—and other research supports—that the muscle must be enlarging, either by increasing fiber size or quantity.

Our lab recently tried to tie together all the existing research into a training protocol that bodybuilders could use right away. Our study, led by Jacob Rauch and Jeremy Silva, focused on individuals performing seated calf presses on the leg press.

 

The athletes began with a weight they could lift 12-15 times until failure. However, instead of resting between sets, they let the weight from the leg press stretch their calves for 30 seconds. They repeated this process three times, dropping the weight after each stretch.

After 5 weeks we found that the stretching group doubled the muscle gains of the non-stretching group! Here’s what we now believe to be the case:

  • The key to stretch-induced growth is to create both a large amount of mechanical tension and muscle damage.
  • The stretch placed upon a muscle fiber seems to be greatest after an individual has achieved significant cell swelling, or pump.

After this swelling has been increased, we believe that intermittent stretching would have its greatest chance to work.

PUTTING IT TO WORK FOR YOU

As you can imagine, stretching is a part of a normal lift. Specifically, exercises which place a muscle in its extreme range of motion—such as incline dumbbell curls for the biceps—increase mechanical strain, and thus, hypertrophy.7

However, based on the evidence above, it seems clear to us that some amount of weighted intermittent stretching is even more effective at increasing muscle growth, even in muscle groups as stubborn as the calves.

 

But a quick warning: I guarantee that this will be one of the most challenging techniques you have ever implemented, and the pump will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced!

For this reason, it’s crucial that you only perform this technique with exercises where you can stretch the muscle without putting yourself at risk of injury. For example, don’t use dips to stretch your pecs, because your shoulders would be placed in a dangerous position. Instead, try something like lying dumbbell flyes, where you hold the weight in the stretched portion of the lift.

For a one-month specialization program, I suggest performing a variation on the routine below twice a week. Use a weight you can lift for 12-15 repetitions. When you reach failure, let the weight stretch your muscles. At this point, perform a dropset where you strip the weight down by 15 percent and go to failure again. Repeat this process 2-3 more times, and you’ll be—and feel—done.

Here’s how you could use it for specific body parts, and a full month-long specialization routine for the calves.

 

  • Biceps: Between sets of standing or incline seated dumbbell curls, let the weight pull you into controlled hyperextension at the shoulder, maximizing stretch and tension on the biceps.
  • Chest: Between sets of chest flyes, allow the weight to stretch your chest while maintaining a slight bend in the elbows.
  • Traps: Following a set a shrugs, allow the weight to keep you in a depressed position without letting the weight rest against your sides.
  • Hamstrings: Between sets of Romanian deadlifts, emphasize the bottom position. Extend your hips back as far as you can with your weight on your heels for maximum tension on the hamstrings. Keep the weight as close to your body as possible.
  • Quads: Between any quad exercise, perform the classic quad stretch. Sit on the backs of your heels and place your hands behind you. Depending on your level of flexibility, you can walk your hands back for increased stretch.
  • Back: After completing a set of pull-ups, fully extend your arms and hang. Keep your feet off the ground for maximal tension.
  • Triceps: Between sets of triceps rope extensions, let the rope pull you back into a stretched position.

 

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THE BEST WAY TO AN INCREDIBLE PEC PUMP


Featuring MuscleTech Ambassador @nourkaaki

Partials, Isometrics and High Reps for One of the Most Blistering Chest Pumps You’ll Ever Create!

 If you’re like me, you want to finish every body part workout with a monster pump, and chest day is no exception. But rather than looking for a magical exercise, let’s instead focus on the magic you create on a basic single-joint chest exercise, the Pec Deck fly.

Nothing special about the exercise really, but today you’re going to arrange each of four sets with a slightly different focus to create one of the most hellacious pumps you’ve ever experienced!

 

A Little Background First

 The Pec Deck fly is a single-joint movement, so it leaves the triceps out of the movement, which allows you to really focus on isolating the pecs. As a machine exercise, it also locks your arms in a slightly bent position, which too many trainers fumble on its free-weight and cable cousins by bending and extending at the elbows.

Hint: Set the seat height so your shoulders, elbows and hands are in the same horizontal plane, and keep your elbows up during the entire motion so all three remain in correct biomechanical position.

With your hands out wide, the Pec Deck blasts the outer pectoral region. When you draw your hands together, the inner pecs are more thoroughly worked. The inner portion is where we’ll focus on this four-set finishing move done at the end of your chest routine.

 

Getting Started

 Each set is constructed differently from the others, which allows you to blast the inner pec fibers in slightly different ways. Each set will also make use of a partial-rep technique that increases the pain threshold – and the pump.

Picking the right load is essential. Choose one in which you can just reach 12 reps, sometimes called your 12RM. You shouldn’t be able to do one more rep with good form.

 

 SET 1

 Do a normal, full-range set to 12, which should be to failure. This also allows you to test whether you’re using the right load. Use a smooth, controlled motion. Adjust the weight on your next set if it was too light or too heavy. Don’t forget your hands should nearly touch in the peak contracted position.
 

 SET 2

 Sticking with the same weight, this time you’ll hold the peak contracted position for a full second. (Not a half second – a full one!) Being able to stop and hold the peak contraction for a count requires using a controlled but strong motion. Work through a full range of motion again, doing as many reps as you can, which will be about 10. If you can’t do 10, reduce the load by 1 to 2 pins.

Form Pointer: Keep a big chest throughout with your shoulders back. Allow your pecs to swell on the negative rep as your shoulder blades pinch together. And remember not to drop your elbows!

 

 SET 3

 Now we’ll start alternating full-range reps with partials. For every full-range rep you do, do another that’s about a quarter. Instead of allowing the weight to pull your hands all the way back, go to a point where they’re just 18 inches apart – no wider! Doing a full and partial rep equals one rep. Do as many as you can, shooting for at least 10. (That equates to 10 full and 10 quarter reps.) If you can’t make it to 10, reduce the weight by 1 to 2 pins.
 

 SET 4

 

Your last set starts like the first one: 10 regular, full-range reps. But that’s where the fun begins! After reaching 10, do as many quarter reps as possible . . . 10, 15, 20, 25, I’ve even reached 30! Take your inner pecs to total failure: Get help from your partner, use a faster rep speed, add a little momentum, do a drop set, just keep going. Once you’re done, your chest is quite literally done!

Fast Fact: High-rep sets cause a deep muscle burn via accumulation of metabolic ions, including lactate. The technical name of this hypertrophic mechanism is called metabolic stress, which is linked to increases in anabolic hormones like IGF-1, testosterone and growth hormone. Of note, there are two other mechanisms of hypertrophy: mechanical stress (which disturbs the structural integrity of muscle cells 

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Excelling in Primal Movements

EXCELLING IN PRIMAL MOVEMENTS
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Featuring MuscleTech Ambassador Noureddine El Kaaki (Lebanon)

More often than not, we try our hands at some of the most complex and unnecessary exercises, thinking they are going to propel us to our goals faster.  However, sometimes, mastering what I call the “Primal Movements” is actually more essential. When a workout program is based on these movement patterns, increased strength, conditioning, and overall enhanced athleticism is the result!

Primal Movements have often been called the exercise kin to the Paleo Diet. In essence, performing exercises that focus on functionality and incorporating numerous body parts all at once – similar to the basic functional strength movements humans have been doing naturally for thousands of years. You won’t find isolation exercises in this program (though feel free to add them in on your own). Instead, it’s a program based around pushing, pulling, squatting, carrying, lunging and hip-hinging.

This is my workout program that stresses Primal Movements and, if done consistently, can help you build unstoppable real-world strength, power and conditioning!

 

DAY 1: PUSH, SQUAT, CARRY

Push: 3 sets

  1. Bench Press, 8 reps
  2. Standing Cable Chest Press, 10 reps
  3. Push-Ups, 1 x to failure

Squat: 3 sets

  1. Back Squats, 8 reps
  2. Bulgarian Split Squat, 10 reps per leg
  3. 1 ½ rep Kettlebell Goblet Squats, 10 reps

Carry:

  1. Overhead Barbell Carry, 4 x 25 yds (as heavy as possible)

*Use a weight that allows you to go heavy but still be able to maintain posture and position

 

DAY 2: PULL, LUNGE, HINGE

Pull: 3 sets

  1. Pull-Ups, max reps
  2. Dumbbell 1-Arm Bent Over-Row, 8 reps (per arm)
  3. Barbell Upright Row, 12 reps

Lunge: 3 sets

  1. Barbell Reverse Lunge, 10 reps
  2. Transverse Dumbbell Lunge, 12 reps

Hinge: 3 sets

  1. Romanian Deadlifts, 10 reps
  2. Kettlebell Russian Swings, 10 reps

*Use a weight that allows you to go heavy but still able to maintain posture and position

DAY 3: PUSH, SQUAT, PULL, LUNGE, HINGE, CARRY

Metabolic Circuit: (30 sec work/30 sec rest)

  1. Push-Ups (feet elevated on bench)
  2. Barbell Front Squat
  3. Barbell Row
  4. Forward Walking Lunge
  5. Sumo Deadlift
  6. Zercher Carry
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Squat for It – A Guide to Glute Training

By: Katie Miller, MuscleTech Ambassador

I was never blessed with shapely, round glutes, I squatted for them. You can buy yourself a chest but if you want firm, round glutes you are going to have to work for them.

During my contest prep for my first bikini competition, I was under the impression that shoulder-width squats on the Smith machine, using the leg press, and doing lunges were going to give me the glutes that I wanted. WRONG! With the help of my degree in exercise physiology and my experience as a personal trainer I decided to come up with my own system.

The term “glutes” refers to the gluteal muscles, which are comprised of the gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus and gluteus medius. Abductors also play a large role in glute toning. In order to get the results you want, you must do a different exercise for each muscle. On top of isolating each muscle, you must have excellent mind-muscle connection.

Mind, muscle connection, in my experience, involves reducing the weight and really dialing in and concentrating on the muscle you are engaging with each exercise. Another common misconception I had during my first contest prep was that you must lift as heavy as you can in order to see results. WRONG! My glutes improved significantly when I started lowering the weight, increasing my repetitions and really thinking about my glutes improving during each exercise.

I like to dedicate one whole day to glute training; it is one of the most judged body parts as a bikini competitor. I usually start with a heavier leg day on Mondays which consists of more compound leg exercises. Thursdays, when my legs have recovered, I do more isolated exercises for my glutes. (This is a fun training day and you can get very creative with it!)

Here is an example of what my leg day and glute day looks like:

 

Leg Day (Heavy)

1.    Shoulder-width squats on squat rack – 90 degree

2.    Stiff-legged deadlifts

3.    One-legged hamstring curl, superset with walking lunges

4.    Linear hack squat, superset with weighted hip thrusts on bosu ball

5.    Leg press (I like to use the squat press)

6.    Leg extension (light weight until burnout)

Glute Day (Lighter Weight)

1.    Box jumps to warm up

2.    Wide-stance (sumo) squats on the Smith machine with toes pointed out

3.    Narrow-stance squats

4.    One legged squats on smith machine

5.    Glute kickbacks using cables

6.    Glute kickbacks using the prone hamstring curl machine backwards

7.    Glute stomp using the assisted pull-up machine

8.    Abductor machine until burnout (done very heavy and leaning forward)

*On top of resistance training I ONLY use the Stairmaster for cardiovascular exercise, and I squeeze my glutes with
each step. Remember mind-muscle connection for best results – SQUAT FOR IT!
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Boost The Mind-Muscle Connection By Making One Small Change

The mind-muscle connection: Everybody talks about it, and every lifter knows it can help them lift stronger, grow bigger, and build their body the way they want it, but it’s not always easy to find!
If you’re someone who struggles to “feel” the right muscles working during key movements, listen up. The secret to unlocking the potential of one muscle group could be hiding its antagonist—the muscle which directly opposes it. Antagonist supersets have been around for years—heck, even Arnold trained chest and back on the same day—and they are as popular as ever among today’s fitness elite.

MuscleTech athlete and IFBB pro Santi Aragon recently shared his secret to building a bigger, stronger chest—working in unexpected back and bicep exercises to promote greater gains and keep his physique balanced. 

“As of late,” says Aragon, “I’ve been doing antagonist splits for certain muscle groups, like doing biceps after my chest workout, to move blood around and to stimulate an additional muscle group.”

“By flexing your triceps at the bottom of the curl, it ensures you’re fully extending the biceps,” he explains.

And after a few reps with that full stretch working, you’d better believe you’ll feel your biceps working more.

Here are a few suggestions to mix up your split routine and take advantage of antagonist training. Use these supersets to create a better mind-muscle connection—and build a bigger, stronger, more balanced physique!

Heavy Chest with Light Row: Whether you use push-ups or bench press, supersetting polar-opposite big muscles like chest and back guarantees increased blood flow to each muscle group and improves overall upper-body strength and hypertrophy. Powerlifters are known to superset low-rep bench work with high-rep band pull-aparts, for example. This will help you get your shoulders in a better position, control your shoulder blades during the bench, and activate everything you need to be a bigger bencher.

Dumbbell Press with Chin-ups: Looking for a one-stop upper-body solution? You couldn’t do much better than this. The combination of hanging and upper-back work from the chin-ups can improve your overhead mobility, while also providing a solid, active base to press from. Both exercises will play off of each other, enabling you to do more quality work—and earn both functional strength, and a serious upper-body pump.

And after a few reps with that full stretch working, you’d better believe you’ll feel your biceps working more.

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Once vs Twice A Week Weight Training


There are numerous approaches you can take to gaining muscle size and strength. If you’re just getting started in the weight room, a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness offers interesting insight into workout program planning. 

Thirty untrained men in the early 20s took part in a 10-week program that hit each muscle group once or twice a week. All subjects performed the same volume of training regardless of which group they were assigned to.

At the end of the program, the muscle thickness of elbow flexors increased an average of 1.73 mm in the once weekly group and 2.31 mm for subjects in the twice weekly group. Subjects in the twice weekly group also experienced greater increases in strength.

 

 

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Using BCAAs Limits Lean Tissue Loss During Weight Loss

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​Athletes and active adults always look into maintaining fitness while losing weight and this is best achieved by caloric restriction in combination with exercise. During this process, a risk for lean tissue loss, which can limit performance happens. Many studies addressed this issue to determine the effectiveness of a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement, in conjunction with heavy resistance training and a carbohydrate caloric-restricted “cut diet” on body composition and muscle fitness.

Studies have shows that the use of supplements containing BCAAs while following 8 or more weeks of resistance training program resulted in a greater decrease in percent body fat, an increase in lean mass, and 10-RM strength gains on the bench press and squat vs. ingestion of a whey supplement or a sports drink. In addition, the ingestion of a whey protein supplement resulted in greater lean mass gains than ingestion of a sports drink.

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7 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFT STRENGTH

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Partials, isometrics and high reps combine for one of the most blistering chest pumps you’ll ever create!
You may have taken up lifting to get bigger and stronger, and as a beginner it’s nice to experience a double dose of each. Seeing week-over-week improvements is incredibly motivating to keep you coming back and training harder.
But soon enough those strength and size gains begin to stall. You can keep doing more of the same – with, not surprisingly, diminishing results – or you can start to tailor your workout to more specific goals. If you’re looking to build serious strength, you’ll realize that your approach in the gym starts to differ from those who are looking to maximize muscle size.
Strength training and bodybuilding use the same tools in the gym, but they have very distinct approaches. Whether you’re looking to train like a powerlifter, a bodybuilder undergoing a strength phase, or you just want to focus on building your strength on individual lifts, it’s important to know the critical parameters that set a strength-focused approach apart.
If you’re a bodybuilder, there’s one big advantage of including strength phases: Once you switch back to a musclebuilding-focused routine, your baseline of strength will be higher than what it is now. Instead of being able to complete 8 reps with 225 lbs. on the bench press, for example, you can now do 10, or conversely complete 8 with 245 lbs. In that sense, strength leads to size.
Here are some key pointers on building strength.

1. Recognize strength training isn’t the same as training for muscle size.

Sure, they both use many of the same exercises and types of equipment, but that’s where each discipline starts to veer from the other. Exercise combinations and the variables involved – including choice of exercises, number of sets, load and rest taken between sets – differ for each. Learn and respect those differences to maximize your gains. Pursuing two distinct goals simultaneously ensures you’ll come up short with each.

2. Focus on a few key multi-joint moves.

The basic powerlifting moves are the bench press, squat and deadlift. Strengthen these and you strengthen just about every body part because each of those movements engages so many different muscle groups. You could also include a shoulder press and bent-over row with your strength-focused moves for a bit more variety.

What’s more, you always want to do these highly demanding multi-joint movements early in your workout when your strength levels are high. Because the exercises require multiple muscle groups to work in coordination, you can handle serious loads. That better triggers your natural release of testosterone and growth hormone, both of which help you maintain and build strength and mass.

If you’ve done traditional bodybuilding-style training in the past, you probably think of working each body part individually. For now, you’re going to have to adjust that perspective. With a strength-focused workout, the goal is to increase the amount of weight you lift on the one main lift of the day (squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, row). Secondary exercises are included to strengthen any weak links among the muscles involved in the main lift rather than working the target musculature from various angles.

Finally, don’t try to use a strength approach on single-joint exercises, like cable crossovers or leg extensions, which put a huge amount of stress on a single joint. With relatively heavy loads, you want to spread the stress across multiple joints, a safer and smarter approach. So when training arms, for example, opt for weighted chin-ups (a multi-joint movement) on biceps day, or close-grip benches or weighted dips for triceps.

3. Increase the weight and reduce the number of reps.

Exercise scientists have weighed in on the load/reps relationship, but all you basically need to do is watch how a powerlifter trains. To build strength, you train with heavier weights for fewer reps. That means on your first (main) exercise, after warm-ups, choose a weight you can do for 1 to 6 reps.

Such a low rep target corresponds to about 85% to 95% of your 1-rep max (1RM). Compare that to a bodybuilder training to optimize muscle size: his intensity is typically 70% to 85% of his 1RM, equivalent to a rep range of 6 to 12.

The total number of reps (counting all sets) you do for the main exercise, not counting warm-ups, should fall within the 10 to 20 range. Your total sets, therefore, could be arranged like this:

▪️2–3 sets of 6

▪️3–4 sets of 5

Once you get to a weight that’s above 90% of your 1RM, which is a weight you can do for no more than 4 reps, drop the total reps for the exercise to 10 in such a manner:

▪️2 sets of 4

▪️3 sets of 3

▪️4 sets of 2

Using your 1RM weight – the max load you can lift on a given exercise – isn’t the best way to build strength but is rather a measure of strength. Use those other combinations in a strength phase. When it comes to testing your limits, that’s when you’ll do 1RMs.
4. Add assistance exercises that help strengthen the main lift.

As previously noted, assistance or secondary exercises in a strength-focused workout are ideally chosen to target weak points – to build them up, so your main lift improves. However, using the same very heavy approach can overwhelm your nervous system. When following a high-intensity approach (the load relative to your 1RM) in a strength workout, you can’t also use high volume. With those assistance exercises, you’ll do fewer exercises, fewer sets and fewer total reps than you might when training for size.
Weak areas might be at the bottom of your range of motion, part way up or even at the top in the near-lockout position. Strength coaches have developed techniques that help you attack a sticking point utilizing such methods as chains or bands, partial reps, pauses at the bottom of the lift and isometrics – all of which can be done in a power rack for safety. The mechanics of doing each properly is beyond the scope of this article but are proven winners to increase strength!
For assistance exercises, pick two to four movements. Limit yourself to 15 to 25 total reps for each exercise (all sets counted), using loads that are 70% to 80% of your 1RM, which corresponds to a weight you can do for 8 to 10 reps. Sets and reps sequencing may, therefore, look like this:

▪️2 sets of 8, 9 or 10 reps

▪️3 sets of 8 reps

 

Further Reading >>>

Romanian Deadlift vs Standard Deadlift [Comprehensive Guide]

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2-Week 10-Session HIIT To Exhaustion


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to be as effective as longer duration steady state cardio for promoting fitness. A new study published in the journal Medicina dello Sport looks at what can be accomplished with a relatively short 2-week period of HIIT where recreationally active women trained 5 times each week to exhaustion. 

Subjects had a variety of values measured before and after the training program. They also took Wingate anaerobic tests twice during each workout. Peak power, time to exhaustion and peak carbohydrate oxidation increased, while rates of maximal fat oxidation remained the same.

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The Science of Performance: Stretching Routine

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Stretching after training is a great way to jump-start the recovery process and could actually speed your muscle growth. Right after training is an ideal time because your muscles are pumped, and manually stretching helps them expand the connective tissue and fascia that surrounds the muscle. This can also improve their shape and enhance muscle separation – here are some key stretches for all your muscle groups.

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Adaptations from HIIT to Endurance Training


One reason High-Intensity Interval Training is so popular with busy adults is the reduced time it takes to get in a good workout. That’s an attractive benefit, but are you giving anything up in the tradeoff with steady state endurance training? A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise put both workouts to the test.
 

Researchers used high-density surface EMG and motor unit tracking to compare changes in vastus medialis and vastus lateralis muscles after 6 training sessions spread over 14 days. Sixteen cyclists were assigned to perform 8 to 12 intervals of one minute at 100% of capacity with 75 seconds of active recovery or 90 to 120 minutes of continuous cycling at 65% of capacity.

 

Compared to measurements taken before the training sessions began, HIIT improved maximal oxygen uptake, a key measurement of fitness, by 5%. Endurance training improved oxygen uptake by 6.7%. HIT improved knee extension torque by about 7% while endurance training increased time cycling to failure by around 17%.

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Cold Water Post Workout Recovery


You can experience a decrease in strength and muscle soreness for a day or two after a demanding workout. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance looks at a couple different methods for speeding recovery to get back in the game.
 

Researchers had 10 physically active male subjects perform 5 sets of hamstring eccentric exercises for 15 reps. Right after completing the workout, some were immersed in 50 degree water for 10 minutes. The others experienced whole body cryotherapy at -166 degrees for 3 minutes.

 

At 24, 48 and 72 hours into recovery, subjects performed single and double leg countermovement jumps. They also rated levels of muscle soreness and their progress on recovery. Countermovement jump performance was higher and reports of muscle soreness were lower for the cold water immersion group.

 

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THE DO’S AND DON’TS FOR BIGGER BICEPS

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SAY GOODBYE TO TINY ARMS

When starting a muscle building program, one of the key body parts that most people put a large focus on is the biceps. It tends to be one of the highly noticeable muscle groups, and if you have nice biceps, people will know that you’re on top of your game. To achieve bigger and better biceps, here are the do’s and don’ts.

 

COMMON MISTAKES

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