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Doubling Your Reps for Shocking Muscle Growth
By Inbox Fitness
9/24/2014 10:40:00 AM  
Doubling Your Reps

In athletics, as with life in general, there are certain trade-offs. You want to run really fast? You won't run really far. Want to eat junk food seven days a week? Don't expect to outperform someone who's eating clean for six. You want to train with heavier weights? You're not going to be doing higher reps. It's this last example, however, that we'd like to revisit.

What if we told you that you just might be able to lift heavier weights — for more reps — the next time you go to the gym? Cool trick right? Read on, and you can try this technique with your current workout plan, or try it with one of the programs in our blog.

We call this training technique Double Reps, and it's more of a neuromuscular trick than a biomechanical advantage. But if it works even for just a few weeks, why not use it, and then move on to a different method of shocking your muscles into growth-mode.

How To Do It

The concept is quite simple: Do your reps two-at-time, with no break between the two, and then pause for a brief moment before repeating the process until you reach the intended number of reps for that particular set. The rhythm is similar to a heartbeat, where there are two contractions (the diastolic and systolic) in succession, then a momentary pause, followed by two more beats. Another way of looking at it is like doing mini-sets of 2 reps until you reach the desired number of total reps.

Let's use a set of bench presses as an example. Say you are targeting 8 reps for the set, and you are using 80% of your 1 rep max. Some days you can eke out 8 eight reps — other days you can only manage 7 reps before you hit failure. Using the Double Reps technique, the set would go like this:

Unrack the weight, lower the bar to your chest, and then immediately press the weight up to the starting position. Immediately lower it again, and when the bar touches your chest, instantly begin pressing for a second time. Upon completion of this rep pair, take a quick breath, and with no more than one- to two-seconds pause, repeat the process until you complete 8 reps. "But what if I only get 7 reps," you say? Simple: with the help of your spotter, rack the weight, wait 5- to 10-seconds (maximum) then attempt another pair of reps. Whether you get one more, two more, or none, that completes your set.

We have found this technique primes our psychological machinery for seemingly shorter, more intense "chunks" of work, and we particularly like this for sets that range between 8 and 12 reps. One drawback to the Double Reps technique, as pointed out by our tough-as-nails friend, Steve, in the gym a few weeks ago, "It won't work for odd-numbered sets." Yeah, there is that... but for anyone willing to consider even numbers, give Double Reps a try and you'll be surprised how this minor tweak can deliver big gains.

Currently rated 4.5 by 6 people

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The Fast and Furious Workout Experiment...that Worked!
By Inbox Fitness
9/17/2014 8:21:00 AM  
Furious Workout Experiment

The Fast and Furious Workout Experiment...that Worked!

What do you get when you mash up a musclehead and a computer geek? Well... us, actually. And as a result, we are always looking for smarter ways to train, faster ways to build muscle, and better ways to make being an athlete fit into a working-stiff's schedule. So, when the debate arose about which method of training was more effective, unilateral movements or bilateral movements, we read the studies and opinions, we shuffled our workouts around for a few weeks, and we put together a program that is one of the current favorites around here. It can be a quick workout when you're crunched for time, but it allows you spend all the time-under-tension you need to stimulate serious muscle gains. Try it for yourself and let us know what you think.

For starters, bilateral movements are those where both sides of the body work to move the load symmetrically through the range of motion. Think barbell curls: the right and left arms move the weight from starting position to finishing point, together simultaneously — the resistance distributed evenly between each arm. By contrast, unilateral movements, such as a one-arm dumbbell curl, are those where a muscle group on one side of the body moves the load independently from the opposite side — and not at simultaneously with the opposite side.

In fairness, the debate is not so much over which type of movement is superior (because they are both effective components of any well-rounded training regimen), for us the discussion was more about how to best use the two methods given their unique advantages — and given the specific goals we were trying to accomplish.

Factor #1: Pretty much everyone at our office likes to train, likes talking about training, and a bunch of us even train together. During the week however, we also work some fairly long hours, and our families and personal commitments take a top spot in our daily schedule too, so we don't always have as much time to work out as we like. Sound familiar? Weekends provide more time for working out, but we're not going to build the muscle strength and size we want by only hitting the gym two days a week.

Factor #2: No training program works forever, and we like to change things around to keep the gains up, and the bored down — and while most of us will try any reasonable workout plan, we do expect to get a serious return on our investment. Something new, that works, is a good score around here.

Factor #3: Studies such as the one by Dr Keijo Hakkinen et al reported in the journal Acta Physiologica — along with our own personal experience — suggest that bilateral training builds more overall strength in a muscle group (e.g. upper arm) than unilateral movements. That study also indicated that unilateral exercises were more effective at increasing strength in a specific muscle (e.g. bicep) than bilateral movements. And when it come to forging that "mind-muscle-connection" that's often discussed among top physique athletes, most agree that unilateral exercises have a distinct edge.

Factor #4: Some muscle groups, like chest for example, present a bit of a challenge when it comes to finding unilateral exercises that are safe and effective. For example one-arm bench presses (both with a dumbbell and on a Smith machine), are awkward at best. One-legged squats on the other hand, are a legit hardcore exercise ...when done with good form.

So taking these and other factors into consideration, we assembled the following program that can be completed in 35 minutes on weekdays, and 50 minutes on weekends. Sure it's pretty challenging, but it's a real-deal muscle builder.

Day 1 (We do this on Tuesdays because the gym is less crowded than Mondays)
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Dumbbell Bench Press 4 8 - 12 Chest
Incline Bench Press 3 10 - 12 Chest
Overhead Barbell Press (Standing) 4 8 - 10 Shoulders
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 10 - 12 Shoulders
Cable Pushdown 5 10-12 Triceps
Hanging Leg Raise 2 15 - 20 Abs
Crunch 1 15-20 Abs
Day 2 (We do Wednesdays)
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Squat 5 12 - 15 Legs
Leg Press 5 8 - 10 Legs
Wide-grip Bentover Row 5 8 - 10 Back
Pullup 4 To Failure Back
Two-arm Dumbbell Curl 3 8 - 10 Biceps
Barbell Drag Curl 3 8 - 10 Biceps
Day 3 (Saturday)
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
One-arm Cable Chest Flye(Tip: Using the lowest position for the pulley makes this movement easier to perform with one arm) 3 10 - 12 Chest
One-arm Machine Press(E.g. Hammer Strength Chest Press. Tip: Load weight onto both sides of the machine and use your stationary arm to stabilize yourself by holding the grip/handle) 3 10 - 12 Chest
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press with Neutral Grip(palms facing each other) 3 8 - 10 Chest
One-arm Overhead Press with Dumbbell or Kettlebell 3 8 - 10 Shoulders
One-arm Cable Lateral Raise 3 10 - 12 Shoulders
One-arm Upright Row 3 8 - 10 Shoulders
One-arm Overhead Tricep Extension 3 8 - 10 Triceps
Reverse One-arm Cable Tricep Extension 3 10 - 12 Triceps
Decline Crunch 3 To Failure Abs
Hanging Knee Raise 2 To Failure Abs
Day 4 (Sunday)
Exercise Sets Reps Muscle
Front Squats 4 10 - 12 Legs
Dumbbell Reverse Lunge(Don't alternate — perform all reps on one side before switching to perform reps on the other side) 4 8 - 10 Legs
Seated Single-leg Extension 3 8 - 10 Legs
Lying Single-leg Curl 3 8 - 10 Legs
One-arm Bentover Dumbbell Rows 4 8 - 10 Back
One-arm Seated Cable Rows 3 8 - 10 Back
Wide-grip Pulldown 3 10 - 12 Back
Seated One-arm Dumbbell Curl 3 8 - 10 Biceps
One-arm Hammer Curl 3 8 - 10 Biceps
One-arm Cable Curl 3 8 - 10 Biceps

Currently rated 4.6 by 5 people

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Size Wise
By Inbox Fitness
8/14/2013 8:43:00 AM  
Size Wise

The four most common nutrition mistakes hardgainers make — and how to fix them.

The average person tends to scoff at the idea of someone struggling to gain size. How easy is that, after all, when people unwittingly pack on pounds without even trying? In a country where the obesity rate exceeds a staggering 35 percent of the population, then, the athlete who needs to gain body mass won't get much sympathy for his plight.

However, we at Inbox Fitness know exactly what you're going through. To some, a supercharged metabolism would be a dream come true. But for those who'd like to pack on serious muscle, your body burning calories at a faster rate than you can take in is a frustrating battle.

For those trying to gain size and failing, there's hope. What you need to do is take stock of your approach, and see if you're making one of these four common errors. Could be, a simple tweak or two might be all you need to pack on the type of mass that — let's face it — most people could stand to have a little more of in this country: Healthy, metabolism boosting muscle mass.

  1. Underestimating your total calorie intake.

    Studies have shown that people have a hard time estimating how much they eat, usually undershooting the reality by a significant margin. As a hardgainer, the tendency goes the opposite route, as you think you're eating plenty of food. If you're not adding size, however, the simple truth is this: your "calories in" are not keeping pace with your "calories out."

    The only way to solve this dilemma is to track everything you eat, either via the old fashioned pen and notebook method or an app like Calorie Count or Daily Burn, available for Android, iPhone and iPad. To start, keep 3-5 days worth of data, eating exactly as you have been. Calculate the calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat (you can use a calorie book or a source like the USDA nutrient database at http://ndb.nal.usda.gov). With that, you'll have a specific overview of what's not working, and what you need to improve.

    Going forward, increase your calorie intake in steps, 300 to 500 per day (no more), continually measuring your weight and bodypart measurements. You'll know you've hit the right target when you start seeing positive changes — and you'll know you've gone too far if you're getting bigger, but in all the wrong places. (By the way, a good starting point calculation for mass gain is to take your bodyweight and multiply it by 11, which will give you a rough estimate of how many calories you burn per day; start by adding 500 to that total for your daily calorie goal.)

  2. Thinking that "any mass is good mass."

    "Want to get huge? Just eat Big Macs every day, with a side of ice cream!" Some so-called experts will actually tell hard gainers this, and with a straight face to boot.

    And while there is something to increasing your caloric level and "shocking your body," settling for junk will compromise your lean muscle gains (and health) in the long run.

    Moderation is key — on a mass gain diet, you can have foods that would otherwise be off limits to someone struggling to stay lean. But the bulk of your calories should come from lean meats, eggs, protein powder, vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

  3. Relying too much on carbohydrates and fat, and too little on protein.

    If you're studiously trying to increase calories, without an eye toward the macronutrients content of your food choices, you'll more than likely end up skimping on protein. It's just a lot easier to get your hands on carb-rich (and in some cases, fat-rich) foods.

    Good protein, to be blunt, just isn't as portable or easy to cook as, say, cereal and pasta, to name but two examples. That's where your nutrition journal (yes, we're saying it again, it’s that important) comes into play. You want to strive for 30 percent to 40 percent of your daily total calories from protein.

    Why? Well, protein is the main building block of muscle, and is necessary for tissue repair after workouts. If you're lagging on protein, your results will suffer.

  4. Not eating enough meals throughout the day.

    Ask a typical hardgainer what he ate today, and he may list a panoply of foods. They may even be good ones, like chicken breast, oatmeal, a veggie omelet, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. Not bad.

    Now, ask how many meals he ate. "Well, I missed breakfast, but made up for it with a big lunch and an even bigger dinner." In other words, the perfect recipe for burning muscle tissue for energy while plumping up your fat stores.

    Meal timing is an often-overlooked element of packing on muscle. You simply have to ensure your body has the fuel it needs at all times, day and night. You can’t "make up" for long stretches of not eating with one massive meal. Your digestive system has limitations on what it can process at any one time, meaning excess is cast aside or stored as fat.

    You want to instead eat 5-7 medium sized meals per day, spaced about two and a half to three hours apart. That ensures a constant flow of nutrients to your growing body.

    And, as your mother told you, breakfast truly is the most important meal, because it actually "breaks the fast" you've been on since you went to sleep. Never, ever, skip breakfast.

There you have it. Four nutritional strategies to put you on track to building dense, powerful muscle, even if your progress has been derailed by a fast metabolism. Now get growing!

Currently rated 4.8 by 6 people

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Shoulders: Stand and Deliver
By Inbox Fitness
7/30/2013 2:34:00 PM  
Shoulders: Stand and Deliver

Push yourself past frustrating sticking points and add more power and muscle with this delt-expanding workout.

Thankfully for those of us who want thick, strong, powerful shoulders, there is no shortage of effective exercises to make that goal a reality. From a range of presses to the variety of raises to target each individual head of the deltoid — anterior, middle and posterior — to the upright row, you have plenty to choose from.

In addition to switching between barbells, dumbbells, cables and machines, and varying the angle of an exercise, another common way to change an exercise is to perform it standing or seated. Standing usually allows for the use of a little momentum in the form of a small knee bounce, just enough to get a weight past a sticking point, while seated exercises take that option out of the equation.

Now, you don't want to "cheat" your way through all of your training sessions. That's counterproductive to the nth degree. However, when used judiciously, a little cheat to finish the last few reps of a set can be just the assist needed to push past a plateau. Your muscles are forced to do just a little more work, prompting a positive response in the form of growth to be able to meet that new challenge next time.

The following workout is designed to take advantage of the benefits of standing and seated exercises. Interspersing both, you can incorporate some momentum (only when needed to overcome a sticking point as you tire), then follow up with some strict seated sets to fully fatigue the muscle.

Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Barbell Press 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 12, 10, 8
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 8-12
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise 2 8-12
Bent-Over Dumbbell Raise 3 8-12
Seated Bent-Over Dumbbell Raise 2 8-12
Standing Barbell Raise 3 8-12
Seated Alternating Dumbbell Raise 2 8-12
Barbell Shrug 4 10-15
Seated Dumbbell Shrug 3 10-15

Currently rated 4.6 by 7 people

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Beginner's Guide to Fitness Nutrition
By Inbox Fitness
7/16/2013 3:06:00 PM  
Beginner's Guide to Fitness Nutrition

Get started on solid footing with these quick tips and meal plan.

You've made the choice to take control of your diet to build muscle and get healthy. So now what?

So much conflicting advice exists when it comes to sports and fitness nutrition. A magazine or website will tell you that you need to reduce your protein intake in favor of carbohydrates, then another article comes along telling you the exact opposite.

In my experience, there are some simple guidelines that can lead you through the confusion. Three to start with:

  1. Steer clear of any diet that tells you to focus on one food group and discard another completely.

    Instead, create a well balanced diet by choosing a variety of foods from all of the food groups. The key isn't avoiding certain foods, it's the proportions you have of each group. Fat intake should be kept low, while the bulk of your calories come from healthy proteins (chicken, turkey, lean steak, fish, and eggs) and carbohydrates, including whole grains and vegetables.

    For a general guideline, think about aiming for 40 percent to 50 percent protein, 30 percent to 40 percent carbs, and 10 to 20 percent or less fat on a daily basis.

  2. Don't beat yourself up over food setbacks.

    The thing is, eating "clean" isn't easy. After a while, it does get less challenging (and you even begin to crave healthy foods, trust me) but that doesn't mean you aren't tempted. Have a few slices of pizza? Cake? A bowl of ice cream? The key is, don't obsess over it. Move on. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, because over time, if you get back on track, it'll all even out. A slip-up here or there is definitely not enough to sabotage you in the quest for your physique goals.

  3. If you're trying to lose weight, you should monitor your sodium intake, trying to stay under 2,300 mg per day.

    It's not easy in a world where the average serving of Chinese food has that much sodium in one dish, and pretty much everything packaged contains excess sodium. It admittedly may be difficult at first for you — salt adds flavor, and people tend to crave it — but wean yourself off slowly if necessary, over the course of a few weeks.

    For those who'd like a little extra kick start, the following sample diet is built for a 175-pound to-200-pound male new to training who is seeking to add lean muscle mass. You can use it directly for a few weeks to a month, or at least as a guide to create your own diet that includes your favorite (healthy) foods.

    Meal 1: Breakfast

    • 6 egg whites, cooked
    • 1 cup instant oatmeal
    • ½ cup red raspberries
    • 2 medium (7-inch) bananas
    • ½ cup white potato/home fries

    Meal 2: Snack

    • 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread
    • ½ cup raw carrots
    • 1 protein shake (mixed with water, 35 grams protein)

    Meal 3: Lunch

    • 1 cup instant white rice, cooked
    • 1 medium (2 ¾ diameter) apple
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 3 ounces canned tuna in water

    Meal 4: Snack

    • ? cup almonds

    Meal 5: Dinner

    • ½ cup cooked broccoli
    • ½ lean sirloin steak, broiled or baked
    • 1 cup instant white rice

    Meal 6: Snack

    • 1 medium (7-inch) banana
    • 1 protein shake (mixed with water, 35 grams protein)
    • 4 grams flax seeds

Daily Totals: 2,673 calories, 192 g protein, 69 g fat, 321 g carbs

Currently rated 4.4 by 16 people

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Top 5 Workout Tips You’ll Hate - But They Work!
By Inbox Fitness
6/25/2013 4:24:00 PM  
5 Workout Tips

If you're into training you no doubt have received a lot of tips from different people to increase your rate of results.

We've listed the top 5 tips that get neglected for one simple reason - people hate to hear them. But the truth is, as much as you may try to avoid them, they produce results and make your time spent in the gym much more productive.

  1. Train your legs

    Many people neglect training their legs for one reason - it hurts. Training your legs can have an overflow effect on the rest of the body. And, being the largest group of muscles, building your legs will increase your metabolism more than any other body part.
  2. Rest

    If you're a hardcore gym goer there's a good chance that someone advising you to take a break from the gym won't go over too well. The one mistake a lot of trainers make is overtraining. Rest is when our bodies recover and grow - not in the gym. Take the time to recover, you're body and results will thank you.
  3. H.I.I.T

    High Intensity Interval Training, or H.I.I.T, is an intense form of cardiovascular exercise where you do a short-period of intense anaerobic exercise followed by less intense recovery periods. This style of cardio produces improved athletic endurance as well as increased fat burning, however it burns and hurts more than steady-state cardio - probably why you don't see it being done in most gyms. But believe us; because the workouts are relatively short, H.I.I.T is a great way to get a killer workout in when you're tight for time.
  4. Leave your ego at the door

    Too many lifters these days lift with their ego instead of their muscles. Doing an exercise with proper form will have a greater impact on results than lifting a lot of weight using improper form, never mind it also lowers the risk of injury. Only lift the amount of weight for each and every exercise that allows you to do a full range of motion with perfect form.
  5. Warm up, cool down and stretch

    Most people walk straight through the front doors and right to the first exercise of their workout. And leave as soon as the last set is finished. Warming up before you train, and cooling down and stretching after you train, will help you avoid injury and will actually produce better results than avoiding them. These should be a fundamental part of any training program.

Incorporate these tips into your workout - whether you love 'em or not. They're sure-fire ways to build a better body faster!

Currently rated 4.3 by 7 people

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Country Blueberry Smoothie
By Inbox Fitness
12/20/2012 9:20:00 PM  
Country Blueberry Smoothie

This high-protein treat will remind you of Grandma’s blueberry cobbler!

You can make a smoothie out of almost anything that fits in a blender, but making it truly nutritious takes a bit more than "Load 'er up," and "Liquify." To take the guesswork out of the process, here is a delicious recipe that’s jam-packed with nutrient value -- and as a bonus, the cinnamon will help you stay lean by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels!

Nutrient Information

Makes 4 servings
Calories 353
Protein 36 g
Carb 50 g
Fat 1 g
Fiber 4 g


  • ½ cup of cold water
  • ½ cup apple juice (choose the no-sugar-added variety)
  • ½ cup ice
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup non-fat vanilla greek yogurt
  • 10 grams of unflavored whey protein isolate (You can also use vanilla flavored protein, just replace the vanilla yogurt with unflavored)
  • ¼ teaspoon (a few good dashes) of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)


  1. Place the first four ingredients in the blender and blend for 30 seconds on a medium setting. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 30 seconds more. Enjoy!

Currently rated 4.7 by 3 people

Tags: Smoothie, Recipe, Shake, Drink, Healthy Drink
Categories: Nutrition, Healthy Living, Recipes
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Ciclotte: Coolest. Bike. Ever.
By Inbox Fitness
12/3/2012 12:53:00 PM  

Are things ever really as good as they look? Well, in this case -- Yes!

The Ciclotte stationary bike is categorically different from any other exercise bike or piece of home fitness equipment. With its beautiful architecture, it sits like art work in your home, and is as functional as it is unique. Completely designed and made in Italy, manufactured with exceptional materials like carbon, steel and glass fiber, combined in a unique and innovative mix, the Ciclotte offers the most extreme in quality and durability, for even the most avid cyclists and athletes. And at $10,795 it's an ultra-luxury that will make you sweat before, and after, you buy it.

  • $10,795

Currently rated 4.2 by 6 people

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