Before and After Photos in Fitness Magazines
Some supplement companies will go to any lengths to prove their products' effectiveness. But sometimes the evidence isn't quite what it's cracked up to be. Before and after photos are the most compelling means by which to convince a person of steroid-like gains.
Often the before photos show the bodybuilder in off-season condition; fat, bloated, with pale skin. Hardly inspirational, but true to life. And photos are sometimes reversed. In one instance a supplement company presented a photo of a fitness model in top condition, declaring it the 'after' photo. Beside it, the apparent 'before' photo showed the model in her last trimester of pregnancy. Anyone who is familiar with the model's history is aware that the before photo was, in fact, the after photo.
The same trick was used by an ex-professional bodybuilder from the 1960s. Interestingly, his jowls sagged more and his face looked older in the before photo. Apparently his supplement line not only increases muscle, it may be the proverbial fountain of youth!
Before and after photos from every day individuals sell a product best. They represent people like you and me... average weight trainees hoping to make dramatic changes in short order. But these photos are also highly dubious. In order to look as bad and as good as possible, the models employ several tricks.
The before photos nearly always have the subject slouching, frowning, pale skin, dull lighting, gut extended, and with no muscle pump. The after photos use harsh lighting with good shadow contrast, tanned skin, upright posture with lats and shoulders spread wide, muscles tensed, smiling with well-groomed facial and head hair, and a muscle pump. It also is known that duct tape has been used to pull back obliques/love handles in order to make waists appear even smaller and shoulders even wider. The same trick works under their arm pits, to make the pec line more pronounced and sharp.
And so, are you truly seeing what the person has accomplished and while on supplement 'x'? Hardly; what you are witnessing is an illusion of posing and photography skills of the model.
One winning competitor in the EAS Physique Transformation contest in 1999 did look good if contrasting his before and after photos, losing twelve pounds of fat. He also, however, lost six pounds of lean tissue! Ignoring the fact that he won, it could be said that his program was a failure and that he did the opposite of what exercise was originally intended to do, e.g., increase lean tissue/function.
But it is to these unhealthy extremes that one sometimes experiences in order to make a dramatic difference in a contest that allows only 12 weeks. After all, 12 weeks is not a long time, particularly for advanced trainees more so than novices. For the advanced, there is not much muscle to gain and to produce good before and after photos requires extreme loss of fat - besides slouching, frowning, and no pump or tan in the before photos.
Unfortunately, many people (particularly novices) who are unaware of the benefits and application of long-term planning will burn out on such an endeavor, perhaps quitting exercise all together. After a 12-week stint of near overtraining (if they haven't done so by the contest's end and if not understanding how to train), they conclude they cannot tolerate another 12-weeks of further self-inflicted torture, let alone another three years.
Not everyone entering these contests understand that it is a short-term solution... to see how far the body can be pushed as quickly as possible. After that point, training must take on a more cyclic structure. This means maintaining most of what was accomplished during the physique transformation followed by 'easier' off-season training and peaking infrequently thereafter. Fat loss may continue after the contest, or prior to another peak, but 100% mental effort and extreme demands may only account for 8-12 weeks total throughout the year once reaching an advanced stage. Training throughout the remainder of the year can still be tough, yet tolerable and never as demanding.
I don't believe most beginner trainees realize the importance of cycling or what needs to be done after a physique transformation challenge. Most magazines don't talk about it, nor do bodybuilding books. They present general ideas and expect you to lift happily ever after. It is for this reason that physique transformation contests and magazines as a whole produce greater failure than success in. The thoughts of maintaining or bettering one's physique after 12-weeks of grueling effort is enough to shatter anyone's motivation. Believing that you must continue training in a similar manner (something to which we have all fallen victim) is the best guarantee to exercise termination.
Interestingly, can you imagine the loss in profits that supplement manufacturers (magazine owners) are encountering due to frustration of their readers and the thousands dropping out of exercise - or perhaps no longer purchasing that magazine and the supplements it endorses. If sound training information were provided, particularly long-term application, there would be more successes and supplement purchases from advanced trainees. Rather, supplement companies are hoping and expecting a new generation of customers to make up for those recently lost ? short-term solutions for a quick buck.
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Brian D. Johnston is the Director of Education and President of the I.A.R.T. fitness certification and education institute. He has written over 12 books and is a contributor author to the Merck Medical Manual. An international lecturer, Mr. Johnston wears many hats in the fitness and health industries, and can be reached at info@ExerciseCertification.com. Visit his site at http://www.ExerciseCertification.com for more free articles.
Back Exercises For Beginning Bodybuilders
From a bodybuilder's perspective one of the most important body areas is the back. Not only can it be visually impressive but a strong back is essential for intensive training and day to day living. In bodybuilding you are aiming for three things with regard to developing the back muscles:
Muscle Building Tips and Supplements: Dos and Donts
Packing on Muscle mass involves a lot of dedication and care. At times, trying too hard can have its negative effects too. Right guidance and proper techniques make the perfect recipe to MUSCLE BUILDING. Muscle Building is no joke, but at the same time, very much possible. The bottomline is to workout in the right direction and not to harm your body. Here are some Do's and Dont's for Muscle Building.
Bodybuilding Benefits - The Price for Confidence!
Success came to me at an early age. However, it did not come without a price. Bodybuilding found me; I did not go looking for it. At seventeen I knew nothing about weights, eating right, let alone having any sort of discipline. Here are a few things I learned along the way that I believe it takes to make a champion in your own heart.
Know Your Muscles - The Chest And Upper Back
Becoming familiar with the muscles that make up your body has more benefits than simply allowing you to talk shop with your training partners. The more familiar you are with the muscles you're working, the better you'll be able to judge what's needed to make improvements. In this article we'll get to know the muscles that make up the chest and upper back.
Bodybuilding on a Budget - It Doesnt Have to Put Your Wallet in a Wheelchair
As you probably remember the last time you looked at a proposed grocery list or visited the nearest supplement store, you realized you needed to take out an equity loan first in order to get your month's supply of food and supplements.
Maximize The Windows of Opportunity For Explosive Muscle Growth
You have two main windows of opportunity when your training. One is 30 minutes before you train (pre-workout meal) and another comes about 30-60 minutes after your workout is over (post-workout meal). The pre-workout meal should consist of a starchy carb and lean protein. The starchy carb will supply the energy you need to get through an intense workout. The protein provides the much needed fuel for your muscles, so they keep a positive nitrogen balance. A great pre-workout meal would be consumed 30 minutes before your workout and would consist of 1 cup of natural oatmeal with one scoop of protein powder. Try to stick with whey protein. Mix it with some water and microwave the dish for about 2 minutes. Stir it up and eat it with a big glass of water.
Know Your Muscle Building Exercises - The Legs
Every bodybuilder and weight trainer will have his or her favorite exercises for each body part. That's how it should be - as you progress through the various stages of learning you'll understand what works best for you. It is useful, however, to take stock of your progress every so often and carry out an analysis of where you are and what changes, if any, are needed to move onwards and upwards.
Bodybuilding: Effective Ways To Handling Criticism
It's important to set the way we'll respond to different critics throughout the journey of achieving our personal and bodybuilding goals. As are other areas of life, Bodybuilding is a sport of opinion. When we step on that stage, or conduct our daily business, whether with associates or judges, it's our relationships with these people, and their opinions and impressions that will determine our personal and bodybuilding successes and victories.
Gain Weight Fast With These Ten Powerful Tips! Part -2
By the time you finish reading this you will have the basics down to eating to gain weight fast!
Increase Your Training Intensity - Training To Failure
You can only build muscle tissue if you can generate progressively stronger muscular contractions, so this calls for an emphasis on finding ways to increase exercise intensity. This should not be confused with exercise duration as maximum training intensity will actually shorten the time needed to achieve maximal muscular growth.
The Dangerous Secret of Extreme Muscle Growth
You've decided to join a gym, but you're not sure the best way to work out, and don't want to pay for a personal trainer who may not really know what he's talking about? Already an experienced weight lifter, but aren't getting the results you want? Read on for the best tips for working out if you have a full gym facility, and the secret to extreme muscle growth.Before and AfterYou should always warm up before lifting any weights. This means a light jog or other low-impact activity that will raise your heart rate and raise your core temperature by a few degrees. This should last at least 5 minutes, preferably 10 or more. After this, you should do joint rotations. This is not a stretch, it is preparing the joint for work by encouraging blood flow. Then, do the resistance training. At the end, stretch all of the joints you have worked that day. Studies have shown that stretching before weight training actually reduces the muscle's capacity, and does not prevent injury as was previously thought. Stretching after the work out will protect the joint and prevent cramping.After working out you will also need an increased intake of protein because that is what muscles are made of.Length of TimeThe resistance training part of your workout should not last longer than one hour. After a warm up, your body is in an anabolic state, meaning that it is ready to "build up" or repair any damage you do to it by running hard or doing other hard work. However, after 45 minutes or so (again, this varies by individual), your body goes into a catabolic state, meaning that your body is ready to "break down" or eliminate anything that may threaten your survival. Entering a catabolic state is good for breaking down body fat and eliminating lactic acid from your muscles, but other tissues are equally damaged by being in a catabolic state. You should be mostly concerned about your kidneys and your muscle fibers that will be compromised if you continue to push yourself. I repeat: working out for more than one hour will hurt your muscles, not help them.The Isotonic WorkoutIsotonics is a fancy word for what traditional bodybuilders do: contract the muscle in order to move a load. In other words, lifting and lowering weights.As for the weight training itself, free weights are excellent because they make your body balance while lifting them. However, many people prefer nautilus machines for exactly the same reason: they feel safer not having to balance the weight. I will not give you weights, sets and reps to do, because there are a myriad of sources of routines written by all sorts of experts. I recommend you experiment with various programs, because although all muscles fundamentally work the same, everyone has different levels of hormones, different metabolism, and different levels of comfort. Pick up the latest fitness magazine of your choice for current work outs.The key to remember when following a routine is this: If you are told to do 10 reps for 3 sets, this means that you should select a weight that allows you to do only 10 in a row, but not 11. You will feel tired at around 6, maybe shake a little at 8, and just pump out the 10th rep with no energy left to do even one more. If you can do 11, then you shouldn't stop just because your routine says 10. Do the 11th and 12th if you can, knowing that you should be using slightly more weight the next time. At the end of each set, rest for about 2 minutes (unless your workout specifies something else) and then do your next set.The Eccentric ContractionMost people who write workout routines emphasize that you lower the weight slower than you raised it. This is partly for safety. But there is a big secret! But before getting to that, let's back-up a little. Concentric motion is flexing the muscle to SHORTEN it under load, and Eccentric motion is flexing the muscle while LENGTHENING it under load. As your arm moves up in a bicep curl, that is concentric, as your arm moves down, eccentric. Here is the secret: Your muscle can create more power in eccentric motions than in concentric ones. So always lower weights very slowly, to keep the maximum tension while lowering weights!But we can take that discovery one step further for ultimate results. Skip the concentric motion because it's holding you back! If you're only working out with weights that you can lift concentrically, you're not using the maximum power possible in your muscles.Warning: the majority of muscle injuries happen during the eccentric phase of motion, and by trying this exercise, you are exposing yourself to risk of injury. So be careful.You absolutely need a spotter for this, because you will need help to raise the weight. Load a bar with a bit more than you can lift. (If you can do 3 curls with 100 lbs, load the bar with 120 lbs.) With the help of your spotter, raise the bar to the top position of a bicep curl. Both of you will likely have to work a bit at this. Then, as slowly as you can, lower the weight to the normal starting position of the curl, with your bicep at full extension. This should take about 3-5 seconds. If your muscle goes slack or you drop the weight, you've put on too much weight. But if you've got the right amount, you should feel a burn like never before. After recovering for 2 minutes, you may want to do a second rep/set... aim for 3 if you can, but if your muscle is still burning and feels weak after two minutes, go on to a different muscle group.And that's it. One rep per set, 1-3 sets. One controlled eccentric rep will stimulate your muscle to grow more than 3 sets of 10 reps because you're using the maximum overload possible.Why? Muscle overload is key to adaptation. When you're using the absolute peak muscular output, it doesn't have to last long. And since the peak is only possible during eccentric contractions, only do eccentric contractions.I feel obliged to repeat the warning: always use a spotter, and only use weights that you can manage. If you are working out for the first time, get used to good form by doing traditional isotonics, and learn how much you can usually lift to determine your baseline. Also, some exercises are more dangerous to do eccentrically because the bar will fall on you if you go slack: bench-press, squats, military press, etc. For those exercises, use a "Smith Machine" where the bar travels on vertical tracks, and you can set safety measures to keep the bar from falling below a certain height.HydrationAlways remember while doing resistance training that water is your best friend. Drinking water will keep you from dehydrating, will keep your energy high, will encourage your body to cycle water and fluids throughout your body, and keep your joints healthy while exercising. The main cause of muscle cramps is insufficient hydration. For more information on the importance of Water, read the article all about it on my site.CautionFor the beginner: start easy. Start at your core and move outwards. Work big muscles before small muscles. Fat burning happens most in the largest muscles (legs and back), so encouraging them to grow will give you the fastest fat-loss results. After your first workout, you will be sore. It would be best to avoid going to your full overload potential the first week, to allow your joints time to adjust to your new activity. However, soon you will see growth, and best of all, you'll see the fat start to melt.The second-best resistance training (after eccentric contractions) does not even require weights, so you can do it at home without a gym membership. Read my article on the Weightless Workout on my site.
Exercise The Right Way - The Machine Shoulder Press
Other articles in this series looked at a number of exercises, mainly from the perspective of developing a comprehensive muscle building program. Sometimes we take things for granted, especially when it comes to performing the basic exercises that constitute the core of most bodybuilders' training regimes.
Are You Over Training in the Gym?
Every set was taken to positive failure, with three or more forced reps on top of that and if that wasn't enough I would throw in a few negative reps to top it off. This type of training would leave me totally exhausted and render me sore for days after every session.
Two Major Training Mistakes You Must Dump Immediately!
The number of myths about natural bodybuilding are too numerous to mention. For every guy who knows the principles of effective bodybuilding, there are countless others who don't. Those lacking the knowledge to train properly will argue until their strides split open or until Frankie No-Gains asks them for a spot. I don't argue anymore. I just figure they can either take it, or leave it.
Ab Sculpting Exercise - One Of The Most Productive Exercises For Your Abs That Is Hardly Ever Used
Before I talk about one of the most productive and forgotten Ab Development exercises ever developed, you will need to know how your abdominal muscles actually work. I know for a fact, if I don't offer some pretty convincing evidence, it will be very difficult for you to believe such a claim so here is where a little education will go a long way to prove my point.
Exercise The Right Way - The Hammer Curl
Other articles in this series looked at a number of exercises, mainly from the perspective of developing a comprehensive muscle building program. Sometimes we take things for granted, especially when it comes to performing the basic exercises that constitute the core of most bodybuiders' training regimes.
Current Dietary Recommendations in Strength Training
Efforts to expand the limits of human strength and endurance have kept the scientist and the athlete occupied for centuries. The quest for another pound of muscle, or to lift next couple of kilos has been relentlessly pursued in the gym and the laboratory alike. As the questions and conquests became more challenging, the answers have become more elusive and complicated. Few concepts and conclusions have withstood the test of time in exercise physiology. Even as we tackle the metabolic and genetic basis of skeletal muscle response to strength training, there are only some things that we know for sure.
The Importance Of Sets In Your Muscle Building Program
In an earlier article we looked at how repetitions contribute to the muscle building process, but is the position regarding sets just as clear cut? Unfortunately, the answer to this is no as some experts feel one set to failure is sufficient, whereas others argue that multiple sets are needed to ensure maximum muscle gains.
The Superset Advantage
Supersets give you the most bang for the buck. They give you more muscle in less time, and don't bore you from how long it takes to actually do the exercises.
Outer Triceps Workout
The outer triceps is an awesome muscle. It sticks out like a slab of muscle on your outer arm and makes your arm look thick from the front. When your standing side on the outer triceps looks like a half moon sitting there on your arm and screams POWER!
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