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General Exercise

  • The 5 Most Beneficial Movements for Gaining Muscle Mass

    When looking for, or designing, an exercise program, you should always have a few 'golden rules' you should incorporate, especially when the goal is gaining muscle mass. An example of this would be having more pulling movements than pushing movements, to help trainees get into proper spine position.

    When it comes to designing routines with the focus on building muscle mass, you should always find a way to incorporate some variation of a few movements that provide the biggest 'bang for your buck.' Without these, you are limiting progress on yourself or your trainee.

    Chances are this probably won't be shocking news to you. That isn't the intent of this article. Instead, we hope to educate or remind you that these movements should be included in your routine AT ALL TIMES if your goal is to gain muscle.

    Now, with that out of the way, let's take a look at what the best exercises are, and why they have earned their way on to this list:

    The Barbell Squat

    While many fitness professionals will undoubtedly argue about the best exercises, this one is #1 on probably all of the lists.

    Why? Because this movement requires so much effort from your entire body, and it can be easy to build up to heavy loads. Of course, with the heavier the load is, the more stress you are placing on the muscles. Because of the ability to load high amounts of weight onto the body, this exercise is always going to claim the top spot.


    Believe it or not, this one is actually widely debated.

    You see, you often here the deadlift coined as the 'king of all exercises.' This is because it is, like the squat, a common movement pattern we use every day. At some point during the day, everyone has to drop down and pick something up. Now, it may not be heavy, but the deadlift teaches you how to properly brace your body and set up so that you can protect your body when lifting heavy things off the ground. Pretty important, right?

    Well, the deadlift doesn't incorporate an eccentric movement at any point during the lift, which is a problem when trying to build size. It also offers very little time under tension, which is key in producing size gains.

    So why is it on this list? Well, simply put, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

    The deadlift fights for the top spot when it comes to building strength. Much like the squat, it is a full body movement that is excellent at recruiting many muscle fibres, and is also a movement that many can use with relatively heavy weight. Size gains come as a by-product of strength gains, and the deadlift is among the best at producing strength. With the results it has given to countless numbers of individuals, it is easy to see why you fill also find this movement among many coaches' lists.

    Bench Press

    I almost put dumbbell chest press here.

    But I didn't. I stuck with the barbell bench press because you won't find anyone who can bench press 225 pounds with a small chest. It's just not possible. It is also an excellent exercise at building overall strength as well, and is among the most respected of the lifts today.

    But the dumbbell chest press does at least deserve to be discussed. This is because it requires more stabilization, and is more isolated, thus putting a larger emphasis on the chest. But, it is important to remember that the dumbbell chest press is just a variation of a chest pressing movement, so they both serve the same goal.

    Standing Military Press

    To close out the 'Big 4' movements comes the military press, another staple in almost any training program. It is another movement that challenges your body to stabilize, and really hits the shoulders hard, as well as a few other areas.

    This full body exercise will be more a challenge to your ego than any of the others previously mentioned. Your weight isn't going to be as high, and it is far more challenging as the weights increase. But once you can press a good amount of weight over your head, there is no doubt that your physique will show proof of that.

    Pull Ups

    After the big 4 exercises, choosing the 5th becomes a bit more difficult. This one was a toss-up between a few other exercises, such as straight legged deadlifts (which I didn't choose, as they are a variation of the deadlift), and push-ups.

    But pull ups earn their way on to this list because they are difficult to do for so many people, and yet they are so important! Not only that, but they also target the muscles differently depending on your grip, allowing you to focus on the weaker areas of your body just by a slight change in grip style.

    But, regardless of which grip you choose, this exercise will build your back. It is a challenge for almost anyone to even hit 7-8 repetitions with full range of motion, and a startling amount of individuals can't even perform one pull up.

    When choosing your next exercise routine to pack on some serious lean muscle, you need to make sure that it includes these five movements. By doing so, you are guaranteeing that you are placing great amounts of stress on the body, and leaving yourself the opportunity for fantastic gains in muscle. It also helps that these movements are very functional, and all of them will help you in your day to day life.

  • Rest Between Sets

    What length is optimal

    How long to rest between sets is like asking how long is a piece of string, you can come up with all sorts of answers. Two things we do know is that an extremely short rest period can result in premature fatigue & an extremely long rest period can have you cooling down too soon.

    General indicators of when you're ready to hit another set are that you're no longer out of breath, your training partner is an impatient bastard or bitch or a good song comes up on your playlist.

    For the serious trainer, rest period duration may not seem to matter too much but. But considering that performing optimally during a set matters a lot as this is the crucial point of a training session.

    Science to the rescue!

    Oklahoma State & Florida University got together 21 well trained young men to participate in an 8-week study to determine the best rest interval for training. Subjects were given 3 full body workouts at 12-15 rep max and these workouts were performed supervised by the researchers. They measured muscle thickness via ultrasound 72hrs before commencing the program and then 72 hours after the end to ensure no intra muscular swelling could affect the measurements.

    Subjects agreed to abstain from using supplements through the duration and not have used anabolic steroids for at least 1 year previous to the study.

    One group had a 1-minute rest between sets (short) & the other group had a 3-minute rest between sets (long).

    Against what was hypothesised the longer rest period yielded almost double the muscle growth than the shorter rest period for all of the muscle groups measured. In addition, there were greater improvements in 1rm across the board.

    It kind of runs along with the idea that the more weight you lift for more reps will result in greater amounts of muscle growth. Resting longer will ensure that you have enough energy back to perform optimally.

    Looks like the guys who sit there and talk between sets, pose in the mirror and sit there looking on their phone more than working out are actually onto something.

    Schoenfeld, Brad J.; Pope, Zachary K.; Benik, Franklin M.; Hester, Garrett M.; Sellers, John; Nooner, Josh L.; Schnaiter, Jessica A.; Bond-Williams, Katherine E.; Carter, Adrian S.; Ross, Corbin L.; Just, Brandon L.; Henselmans, Menno; Krieger, James W. Longer inter-set rest periods enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research

  • 13 Things you should NEVER do at the gym!

    Here are a list of 13 things you Must Avoid doing at the gym!


    1. Breathe excessively!

    Quiet down over there! Some of us are trying to enjoy our time working out, and we needn't listen to you making more noise than a woman giving birth!

    2. Stop breathing

    Looks like you might pass out before you get the bar onto the rack! Don't forget to keep breathing, no matter how heavy the load!

    3. Hyperextend your back when pressing overhead

    I've seen it a few too many times! If you think you might look like you're about to fall over backwards, the weight is too heavy! Keep the bar over your heels and your back straight, strong and tight throughout an overhead press!

    4. Leave weights on the rack/ bar/ machine

    So. Rude.

    5. Be a hog…

    Stop collecting all that equipment and be open to sharing with everyone! Do you really need to guard all those weights or can you move around to them while sharing with your peers?

    6. Correct women's technique to start a conversation…

    Seriously? Get some better game than this! Don't feel entitled, as a dude, to walk up to women to discuss what they are doing wrong at the gym or how they could improve. Lame. Seen it before. Women do not come to the gym to be "helped".

    7. Continuously flex at yourself in the mirror

    It just looks sad and desperate. If you aren't sure if the right muscles are working, you are lying and you have bigger problems. By doing a movement the correct way and paying attention to how your body is moving, you'll surely be using the right muscles. Anyways, do you think no one has caught you staring at yourself?

    8. Copy the biggest dude in the room

    Just don't.

    9. Take your shirt off to take pics or just for attention

    Maybe it doesn't happen everyday, but it definitely happens! Please resist the temptation...

    10. Forget your towel

    Would you want to lie in other peoples sweat? Neither do they! Use a towel. Yes, even for those who think that sweat is a badge of honour, or for those who think that they don't sweat at all. Use a towel and save everyone else from feeling "ewwy".

    11. Drop weights unnecessarily

    It wasn't that heavy, was it? Unless you're lifting using bumpers, and the weights are well over bodyweight, it is hard to justify all that noise. As long as it isn't for attention, I think most people would understand.

    12. Spend more time chatting than lifting your overloaded bar

    Gaggles of gossiping men is highly unattractive to those who are trying to exercise and improve physical performance. Out of the way, bro!

    13. Not wash your gym clothes…

    Last but certainly the biggest of all gym taboos! Wash clothes after every use!! The vast number of people who do not do this boggles my mind! Please wash your clothes after each use! This goes for your towel and wraps as well. Even if you "don't sweat", "don't smell", or "use perfume", you still have to wash gym clothing after using!



    I hope this summary has been useful! Happy training!




  • Exercise makes you live longer, a US study shows

    A US study, conducted by Moore et al and published in the prestigious PLOS Medicine in late 2012 examined the relationships between leisure time physical activity levels, longevity and rate of mortality of 654827 individuals aged between 21-90 from America and Sweden and showed that exercise can indeed affect human life expectancy. In fact, the more exercise you do, the longer you live.


    The world health organization recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise or an equivalent combination of both for health benefits. Moore et al found that a high level of leisure time physical activity is associated with lower risk of mortality and a longer life expectancy compared to people who do no exercise at all. Leisure time physical activity is the activity OUTSIDE the context of job, housework, transportation and other essentials of daily living. Working hard at your job is NO substitute for real exercise.


    The study found that any leisure time physical activity is beneficial to your longevity and reduces the risk of mortality. People did leisure time physical activities at any levels below the recommended minimum experienced an average gain of 1.8 years of life expectancy compared to people who did not exercise at all. Keeping activity levels at or slightly above the recommended minimum would further reduce the risk of mortality and increased average life expectancy by 3.4 years. Doing twice the recommended minimum amount of leisure time physical activity would give a 4.2 year gain in average life expectancy and doing 3 or more times the recommended minimum would give a 4.5 year gain. The amount of life expectancy gained as well the reduction in rate of mortality from doing exercise appeared to plateau at around 2-3 times the recommended minimum level. The trends described above applied to all age groups, genders, racial backgrounds, education levels and BMI groups in the people tested albeit with slight variations.


    The study also found that the benefit of doing leisure time physical activity is more pronounced in former smokers, and people with a history of heart diseases and cancer. Obesity (BMI: 30+) was found to be associated with a lower life expectancy in all physical activity groups compared to those with a BMI between 18.5 - 29.9 (normal weight and over weight). Obese people who did not exercise lived 7.2 years shorter than people with normal weight (BMI: 18.5 - 24.9) who did at least the recommended minimum level of exercise each week. However, the interesting finding was that class I obese people (BMI: 30 - 34.9) who did more than the recommended minimum level of physical activity had an average of 3.1 years longer life expectancy compared to people with normal weight but did no exercise at all.


    So what do all these mean? The study shows us that any leisure time physical activity is beneficial to your health and longevity. In fact, the more exercise you do, the better. A lack of physical activity is associated with an increased mortality rate and reduced life expectancy, especially when combined with obesity. The world health organization recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise in order to be beneficial to health. Doing 2-3 times that amount has been found to be the most beneficial. Having an active life style is not just for the looks, your body will thank you for it.

  • The curse of overtraining

    The saying "No pain no gain" has its merits. It is no secret among athletes that you have to work hard in order to improve your performances and attaining your goals. Our body works like a fine tuned balance, on which everything has its designated place, timing and amount. Too much or too little of anything will disrupt that balance, and your body will eventually suffer. We all know that regular exercise is good for health, but too much exercise can also be harmful. Improvements from exercise only occur during the resting period after hard training, where your body tries to compensate the stress exerted on the cardiovascular and muscular systems by improving the efficiency of heart, muscles and energy production/utility, resulting in a higher level of performance. This process is called over-compensation, the body's way to keep itself in balance with demand.

    Doing exercise without sufficient rest will not allow the body to have enough time to recover and regenerate, and consequently preventing the occurrence of over-compensation. This imbalance between excessive exercise and inadequate rest will eventually results in fatigue, decreased performance and "staleness". If not corrected, prolonged imbalance will stress the athletes to the point where resting is no longer adequate for recovery, this state is called overtraining. The symptoms of overtraining differ from daily fluctuations in performance that all athletes experience, it is characterized by a state of exhaustion that persists even after a period of recovery.

    The most common symptom of overtraining is fatigue, but it does a lot more to your body than just making you feel tired. Overtraining can also alter your psychological state and immune system, increases the level of stress hormones in your body, decreases testosterone levels, increases muscle breakdown, and causes adrenal insufficiency. It may take from a few days up to months of resting to recover from overtraining depending on the severity of the symptoms. During this period many will experience exercise withdrawal and therefore should do moderate amount of exercise to manage the symptoms.

    Exercise can be chemically addictive due to its effects on hormone levels in the brain. This may result in the fixation/dependence on exercise, which can lead to overtraining. A stressful training plan that does not incorporate enough recovery periods can also cause overtraining. As with everything in health, prevention is the best guarantee to a good life. Understand your body and be discreet with your training plans will do wonders to your health. Sometimes, having a good rest won't ruin your fitness, quite the contrary, it might just be the missing ingredient required to attain your next goal.

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