Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fad or Flop: Fitness Trends That Are Here To Stay and Which Ones You Should Stay Away From

Between CrossFit, the Thighmaster, and no-carb diets, it’s pretty apparent that we’re not lacking when it comes to fitness fads. As soon as word spreads of a “revolutionary” new exercise regime or some incredible diet that guarantees weight loss, most people are eager to be the first to try it out and see real results. However, between the perceived notions of ripped abs and toned legs that you can achieve in eight minutes, how many of these fads are actually effective or even encourage a healthier lifestyle? We did our own research and compiled a list of fitness trends that are proven to deliver results when you put in the work, as well as those that are just a bunch of empty promises.

Fitness Flops

Toning shoes – Exercising requires you to commit a chunk of your day to fitness, so it’s only natural that everyone hopped on this fad in an effort to get their workout in as they went about their daily lives. Specially constructed with a rocker-style bottom to help you improve muscle tone and strength as you walk, toning shoes became an instant hit when they first showed up on store shelves. Most people probably chose to ignore the ugly and bulky design of shoes like Skechers Shape-Ups in hopes that the results would make up for having to be seen in them.

Sadly, recent studies have shown that toning shoes do nothing in terms of making the walking you already do any more intense, and are actually responsible for causing instability in some wearers. As such, it’s best to forego these and opt for a nice pair of sneakers instead.

Almost everything you see on TV – Television is a great way to engage the masses, so it makes sense that so many exercise products are advertised to people on a regular basis, undoubtedly to more than a few couch potatoes who are willing to pay the extra buck for a quick-fix fitness solution. While products like the surprisingly popular (and regularly spoofed) Shake Weight or the Ab Lounge promise to get you in the best shape of your life with minimal effort, advertisements like this are filled with misinformation, and typically avoid making the point that a toned body requires a balance of strength training, cardio and a healthy diet.

Before you reach for the phone to order this season’s “most effective fat-burning 1-minute workout,” check out some fitness fads that are actually proven to improve your physical fitness.

Fitness Fads

Bodyweight training – While there’s plenty of equipment out there that you can use to get fit, bodyweight training is a convenient and effective method for exercise. Using little to no equipment, aside from the occasional weights, this workout trend requires you to use your own bodyweight to build muscle, improve strength, boost cardio and lose weight. Familiar exercises like crunches, lunges and pushups can all be a part of a bodyweight workout, and with its growing popularity, there are countless variations and exercises that you can perform in combination to keep your workout from feeling stagnant.

HIIT – High-intensity interval training is a great way to pack strength exercises and cardio into a short time span. Especially if you can’t find time to commit to an hour on the treadmill, HIIT can get you in and out of the gym within about 30 minutes. This fitness trend combines short bursts of exercise, typically about 30 seconds to 1 minute, with brief periods of recovery in between. High-intensity drills for a short amount of time force you to train harder, and the short stints of rest give you just enough time to catch your breath before jumping back into the exercise, working on your cardiovascular capacity and burning more calories.

What fitness trends have you experimented with? Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Best Workout Playlists by Music Type

Music is one of the best motivators for athletes and bodybuilders. The right song can take you over the final minutes of a workout to push through with strong intensity. Losing yourself in music often allows you to drive past the sweat during your training regimen, and all you have to do is pump up the volume. We’ve compiled some of our favorite tunes to turn your workout into a motivational dance party!

Is today your HIIT session? Our Hip Hop playlist is ideal for your faster training intervals.

  • Hood Go Crazy – Tech N9ne
  • GDFR – Flo Rida
  • I Don’t Get Tired – Kevin Gates
  • Power – Kanye West
  • Pop That – French Montana

If you’re weight training and need something with powerful riffs and a more aggressive feel, our Rock/Alternative playlist is for you!

  • Giants – Bear Hands
  • Howlin’ For You – The Black Keys
  • Work This Body – Walk the Moon
  • I’m Good – The Mowgli’s
  • Juicebox – The Strokes

Going for a long-distance run? The Pop playlist will energize you over a longer period of time with high vocals and lively melodies.

  • Break Free – Ariana Grande
  • In For The Kill – La Roux
  • Heartbeat Song – Kelly Clarkson
  • Emergency – Icona Pop
  • You Make Me Feel – Cobra Starship

Sprinting or doing some competitive sports playing? Blast our EDM workout playlist for a stimulus boost.

  • Turn Up Da Bass – Goldfish
  • Where Are U Now – Jack U
  • Bangarang – Skrillex
  • Hey Mama – David Guetta
  • Delirious – Steve Aoki

Have a favorite musical genre or song to work on your gains? We’d love to hear about it – share it with us in the comments below!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Male Celebrity Body/Workout Transformations

Today, we are constantly bombarded by claims that “this machine will get you ripped in just two weeks!” and “these supplements are guaranteed to get you huge–with no extra work!” However, the real secret to getting healthy and achieving the body of your dreams is … there is no secret. There is no quick fix. Both losing weight and building muscle takes hard work. While certain workout supplements can help you along the way, you still have to regularly work out, challenge your body and consume a healthy diet to reach your body transformation goals. We’ve come up with a list of some of the most impressive male celebrity body transformations and male celebrity workouts to show you how much work getting huge really takes (even for celebrities).

Christian Bale as Batman

Christian Bale’s Batman physique is impressive, and even more impressive when you learn he dropped 33 percent of his normal body weight for his previous role in The Machinist. Yet, just six weeks after finishing The Machinist, Bale was bulked up and ready for the first Batman screen test. Bale completed such a feat by sticking to both a strict diet and an intense workout routine. Meals were eaten every 2-3 hours, and each meal consisted of a 1:2:3 ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats (or close to it). His workout training program consisted of one active rest day and six days of training with power movements, agility and speed training and compound exercises. Compound exercises require more than a single joint movement, such as a squat or military press, and help maximize the effectiveness of each workout.

Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain

Co-starring with Dwayne Johnson as bodybuilders, Mark Wahlberg gained 40 pounds of muscle in order to look the part in his 2013 movie Pain & Gain. Like Bale, Wahlberg also ate frequently in order to bulk up for the role–up to 10 meals per day –and also trained five days per week, and often even while on set.

"I’d start with benching, and then I’d do my squats and lunges, then I’d do a lot of old-school stuff,” Wahlberg said. “I’d literally do a row of machines at the Sports Club/LA. One set of every single machine all the way down the row. I’d leave the hotel at 4:30 in the morning—just as the nightclubs were letting out on South Beach. I’d walk in the gym as the door opened at 5:00 AM every day."

Gerard Butler in 300

Unlike many actors who bulk up for roles, Gerard Butler did not actually gain that much muscle for 300. Instead, he cut and trimmed down a lot, and “pumped up” before action scenes. While dropping weight may not literally add muscle, it does make you look bigger and stronger. The effect of just 10-15 pounds of fat loss is extremely dramatic. When you cut fat, you reveal the muscle underneath! When you’re in a rush to look lean and mean, it’s much easier to drop weight quickly than build new muscle. Butler cut down on fat by using HIIT (high intensity interval training) and circuit training five to six days per week, and eating only enough for recovery. High intensity training is effective and efficient–it focuses on intense resistance exercises that are designed to allow you to train harder but less often.

The body of your dreams is ready and waiting for you to sculpt it – all you have to do is work for it! Have your own favorite celebrity workout routine? We’d love to hear about it – share it with us in the comments below!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Importance of a Cheat Day for Bodybuilders

For most people, dieting is simply not fun. One favorite thing that many dieters do is use the coveted “cheat day.” These scheduled cheats are days (or meals) that allow dieters to eat anything and everything they want to during that time. While many who are trying to shed pounds fear a cheat day will offset much of the work they’ve done, cheat meals can actually provide many benefits. We’ve complied some of our favorite reasons why you should let yourself enjoy having the occasional cheat day:

Low Calorie Diets Have a Cost – No matter how healthy you eat, when you restrict your calories you begin to create an energy deficit. Over time your body will begin to adjust to the lower number of calories you are eating and your metabolism will drop. Cheat days help trick your body into think it’s going to be receiving a large number of calories again soon and your metabolism will speed back up.

To Balance Your Protein & Hormone Levels – Leptin is a key protein that regulates both your appetite and your energy balance. It is the force behind whether or not you feel hungry, it is what decides how quickly you are burning calories and it is in charge of regulating your body weight and fat mass. When you fast, Leptin levels decrease and cause an increased appetite (making it harder to continue your diet) and decreased energy levels (making it hard to continue exercising regularly).

Ghrelin – a peptide hormone that signals the release of growth hormones – tends to increase with low-calorie diets, also leading to increased food take, and therefore body weight.

Thyroid hormones are also affected by caloric restrictions. These hormones play many roles within your body, including helping regulate your metabolic rate and growth throughout your body (like bone growth). Low calorie diets can cause lower thyroid levels, resulting in a lower metabolic rate. Weekly cheat days help your body re-balance and re-energize.

You’re More Likely to Stick with Your Diet – When you allow yourself cheat meals, it no longer means there are certain foods that are completely off limits. Instead, there are only specific times when it’s appropriate to eat them. Mentally, this makes dieting much easier for most people. Because results take time to see, it’s important you allow yourself regular breaks and rewards for sticking with your plans. Planning cheat days allows you to enjoy your indulgences rather than feel guilty about them.

Remember: cheat days are useful and enjoyable when they are scheduled and occasional. Too many cheat days (or too much overindulgence on your cheat days) will likely hurt your weight loss and muscle building efforts. For some people, regular cheat days may do more harm than good. If you find you have trouble sticking to your diet after a cheat day, try to limit your cheat days and set strict boundaries for your cheat meals so you can still enjoy the benefits of a cheat day without the adverse effects.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Best Bodybuilding Gyms in the World

While today 24 Hour Fitness and Planet Fitness type gyms can be found in just about every major city in the US, that doesn’t mean those are the only type of gyms there are. We’ve compiled a list of the best gyms in the world to help showcase the fact that a quality gym doesn’t have to be your typical brick-and-mortar structure – it can be just about anything, anywhere! The best gyms in the world are unique gyms that include new technology, a great atmosphere and the best bodybuilding equipment in the world:

#3 – Gold’s Gym: Venice, CA

Fan of the movie Pumping Iron? If so, this gym should definitely be on your bucket list! Arnold Schwarzenegger and the 1977 movie forever set in stone this Venice, CA Gold’s Gym’s status as the “Mecca of Bodybuilding.” Originally founded by legend Joe Gold, who trained at the world famous “Muscle Beach,” today Gold’s is the most known name in fitness and serves more than 3 million members in 28 countries around the world. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Dave Draper, Frank Zane and many more bodybuilding pioneers having graced this Gold’s Gym location, it’s safe to say it is the dream of many bodybuilders to lift here.

#2 – The Original Temple Gym: Birmingham, UK

20 years after being founded in 1962, current owner and 6x Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates transformed Temple Gym into one of the best bodybuilding gyms in the world. Set in a basement, the original Temple Gym is famous for its hardcore dungeon-like setting and is notorious for its reputation as a serious weight training facility. Accepting of anyone and everyone who seeks positive body changes, this gym includes equipment with the latest technology and is home to original Nautilus equipment!

#1 – Metroflex Gym: Arlington, TX

The Metroflex Gym caters to serious, competitive bodybuilders and encourages intense and aggressive training. As the training ground of choice for over 100 bodybuilding and powerlifting champions, including Branch Warren and 8x Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, this gym is guaranteed to help anyone serious about lifting sculpt the body of their dreams. Its equipment includes dumbbells up to 250 pounds, 450 pound lat pull downs and leg presses that will hold up to 2,500 pounds.

All around the world you can find gyms dedicated to serious bodybuilders. Whether you’ve been working out for years or you’re just now starting to lift, what’s important is you’re out there working to better yourself. Have your own favorite bodybuilding gym that’s not on the list? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How Mobility & Dynamic Stretching Exercises Can Benefit You

Even through warming up your body before engaging in any physical activity is one of the most stressed things in fitness, it is often one aspect that gets looked over the most. Our bodies are dynamic and have a full range of motion, but it doesn’t take much for your body to stiffen up, so it is important to perform stretches and exercises that engage your entire body to prepare for the workout ahead. The brief guide below will introduce you to several ways you can begin to regain your mobility and how paying attention to your body pre- and post-workout can actually improve your training session as a whole.

Before getting started, it is important to point out that there are two different forms of stretching: static and dynamic. Static stretching is the kind you probably were forced to do in gym class – stationary stretching exercises where you hold a position for a designated amount of time to stretch and lengthen particular muscle groups. While stretching has always been encouraged because of the perception that it can help prevent injuries, studies now show that there is little evidence that static stretching is preventative and instead boast that dynamic mobility exercises are much more engaging and beneficial for the body.

Be Dynamic!

Dynamic stretching is basically stretching through movement and is much more engaging of your whole body. While static stretching is limiting, dynamic exercises allow for your entire body to loosen up through a variety of different movements. Dynamic stretching is ideal for pre-workout, as you can prep your body for the kind of activity it will be doing later on.

Bodyweight exercises like squats, lateral shuffles and lunges are great for engaging your body through controlled movements while also giving you a light cardio workout.

Relieve Muscle Soreness

Muscles become easily contracted and tight following physical activity, so it is important to know how to give them a little bit of extra TLC to loosen them up and keep them ready for the next work out. Tape together a few lacrosse balls, use a large PVC pipe, or invest in a foam roller to help you roll out your muscles when you’re sore. This deep tissue massage is called self-myofascial release and will effectively break up scar tissue and improve circulation throughout your body. Resistance bands are also great for applying tension to muscles through extension.

Start Seeing Improvements

By following a consistent dynamic stretching regime, you will begin to see noticeable improvements in your range of motion. Be sure to assess yourself and any problem areas you have when it comes to mobility before you begin so you can track your progress more effectively and target your individual needs. As stretching becomes a part of your workout, you should start to see improvements in your body positioning, allowing you to train more effectively than before. And remember – if you do end up doing static exercises, do them after your workout when your body has stopped moving so freely.

Treat your body like the mobile and free-moving entity it is and you will see results! What are some of your favorite dynamic exercises to perform before you hit the training floor? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bodybuilding Competition Dos and Don’ts

Getting ready for a bodybuilding competition is already difficult enough as it is, but it can take an even bigger toll on your mind and body if you are not properly prepared to handle the strain and strict conditions of the training process. Preparation is strenuous, and it can become overwhelming thinking about everything you need to consider, so we have compiled a list of basic dos and don’ts for your training and diet that will keep you on the track to success!

If this is your first crack at a competition, find someone who has participated in an event before you get started to help you get a better idea of what lies ahead. First-hand expertise is invaluable, and you will likely be able to get a lot more out of your experience.


DO reduce training when you’re dieting. When you’re cutting out certain aspects of your diet and manipulating the intake of nutrients, it can be difficult for your body to put up with the strain of certain exercises. When your body doesn’t recover like it should, you can do irreversible damage to it. Avoid movements that are overly complicated, and instead rely on basic exercises to build and maintain your muscle mass.

DO include cardio in your training regime. While bodybuilding may appear to be all about bulking up and toning, cardio is exceedingly important to give your body greater range of motion than what you get from basic weight training. Start out your training with a cardio session in the morning and then later introduce a second session in the evening following your weight-heavy workout.

DON’T over train! While it may be tempting to spend over an hour at the gym in hopes of getting cut a little faster, training for too long can actually send your body into a catabolic state where the body begins to fail and makes for a useless training session. Pushing your body to extreme limits can actually weaken your immune system and will make it difficult for you to handle your strenuous regime. Combat overtraining by limiting your workouts to around 45 minutes and by ensuring that you have a solid nutritional plan in place..

DO stay focused. It can be daunting to implement a new regime and abide by certain dietary restrictions, but keep your head up and know that it will pay off in the end! Even if you find yourself losing steam halfway through, don’t let all of your hard work go to waste and keep your end goal in mind.


DO keep protein intake high by eating protein-rich meals and supplementing with protein shakes. The metabolic cost of proteins is high, meaning the more proteins, the more calories the body must burn in order to digest them.

DO reduce fat consumption and rely on essential fatty acids as a source of fat and energy in your diet. Things like flaxseed oil and olive oil are a great supplement.

DO reduce carbohydrates, but be sure you are still consuming an adequate amount. Carbs give you energy, and you will likely find yourself feeling completely depleted if you cut them out of your diet. To ensure your body is using them in the best possible way, consume carbs for breakfast for a boost in the morning and also after a heavy training session when your body is burning through its resources.

DO take supplements to help keep your body’s nutrients in check while your diet is less than regular. This can be as simple as taking a multivitamin every day.

DON’T reduce too much too fast! Cutting down heavily on your caloric intake will cause you to drop weight at a rate that will also deplete your muscle mass. Ensure that you make steady progress by carefully manipulating your caloric intake to optimize weight loss at about 1 to 2 pounds per week.

DON’T be afraid of a cheat meal every now and then. Designate a day throughout the week where you allow yourself to give into your cravings. You’ll be satisfied with your decision and will also kick start your body’s metabolism, so everyone wins! Be warned that you will probably have to cut out your cheat day several weeks out from competition, so take advantage while you can.

Now go on and get training!