In today’s digest we bring you articles on Tip: Don’t Stop the Presses!, The Death of Women’s Bodybuilding, Strong & Lean: 9-minute Workout and 12 Tips from a Corrective Exercise Specialist to Perfect Your Form. Hope you enjoy them…
Tip: Don’t Stop the Presses!
“Stop Pressing!” They Say You hear this a lot from some trainers. Now, sure, you might be in the habit of training your upper traps, front delts, and chest more than your back, and that would be a problem. But the idea that an imbalance in strength or even physique between your front side and […]
“Stop Pressing!” They Say
You hear this a lot from some trainers. Now, sure, you might be in the habit of training your upper traps, front delts, and chest more than your back, and that would be a problem. But the idea that an imbalance in strength or even physique between your front side and rear side musculature means you should “avoid pressing work” is ridiculous.
Many times trainers will say this to steer clear of injury risk. Even though training the pull patterns can definitely play a big hand in improving the strength and stability of presses, the only real way to get stronger at pressing is to press.
There’s a strong chance that your muscles are injury prone and your press patterns and posture suck because you’re just plain weak due to lack of exposure. Look, the human body is as fragile and injury prone as it is strong, adaptive, and resilient.
This implies that we shouldn’t forget either side of the coin; underestimating the body’s potential is the worst mistake we can make when pursuing gains and it’s a big rabbit hole that overly careful trainers or lifters fall into, never to emerge.
The money fix for “avoiding pressing?” Press smart.
Removing a necessary pattern of movement from the picture is different than saying you’re going to stop barbell bench pressing. Instead of prohibiting any particular pressing movement, find ways to bear load overhead and horizontally that won’t cause pain while still exposing your joints to some resistance and load tolerance.
Here are three good examples:
Half-Kneeling Landmine Press
Dumbbell Floor Press
Squat Cage Viking Press
The Ultimate Guide to Landmine Presses
4 Lies Trainers Tell You
Tip: Don’t Stop the Presses! was originally published at LINK
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The Death of Women’s Bodybuilding
Here’s what you need to know… In 2015, the Ms. Olympia was dropped, marking the possible end of women’s bodybuilding. “Man face” is a term used to describe the masculinisation of a female bodybuilder’s facial features. Drugs cause man face, of course, but there are other factors involved. The audience for women’s bodybuilding is shrinking, […]
Here’s what you need to know…
- In 2015, the Ms. Olympia was dropped, marking the possible end of women’s bodybuilding.
- “Man face” is a term used to describe the masculinisation of a female bodybuilder’s facial features.
- Drugs cause man face, of course, but there are other factors involved.
- The audience for women’s bodybuilding is shrinking, but the “schmoes” could keep it alive.
The Demise of Female Bodybuilding
Once upon a time, if men wanted to compete in a physique competition there was only one category: bodybuilding. The same was true for women.
These days, women can compete in bikini, figure, fitness, physique, and bodybuilding. The posing and related requirements are different for each, but the main difference is obvious: muscular size.
But in 2015, something changed: the Ms. Olympia title wasn’t awarded to anyone. It was dropped.
Rewind back to 2005. The IFBB introduced the infamous “20 percent rule.” In a memo, they asked female bodybuilders to decrease the amount of muscularity by a factor of 20 percent.
They didn’t say, “Hey, ladies, back off the drugs, would ya?” or “The audience is shrinking because a lot of people, even bodybuilding fans, think you look kinda gross.” But the message was clear.
The question is, was it the muscularity that was the problem or, for lack of a kinder term, the “man face?”
Time to Face Your Face
There’s been a lot of banter lately about the facial attributes some female bodybuilders adopt when they’re in contest shape.
Sucked out, drawn in, sunken eyes, veins in their foreheads, sharply angled jawline, a bigger nose, and a general coarseness to their dark orange skin that makes an oil tanker’s mooring rope look silky — kinda the way their voices sound too.
Such discussions tend to be particularly unkind.
Inevitably, there will be those who react rather defensively to the issue, particularly if they happen to be one of those women out there on stage sporting such a mug.
But the truth hurts.
That doesn’t mean I necessarily need to say it, but then we’d be ignoring something that is quite literally attached to the giant pink amazon in the room: the “man face.”
It’s a trending topic in the wake of the cancellation of both the Ms. International and the Ms. Olympia. Could this “condition” potentially be part of what’s contributing to the decline in women’s bodybuilding?
“It’s not a beauty contest,” we hear them say. But that’s not entirely true.
Bodybuilding is all about beauty. It’s when we get away from beauty that we get compromised aesthetics, bad symmetry, and big guts.
As far as the women go, bodybuilding has been flogged with an ugly stick. And now women’s bodybuilding is going away.
Does Femininity Draw Fans?
When Corey Everson was Ms. Olympia from 1984 to 1989, the contest was often held in Madison Square Garden in front of a sellout crowd of screaming fans. Thirty years later and it’s a sideshow at the Olympia expo, or at least it used to be.
At first pass, this makes me the bigot misogynist, but it is what it is… or was. It’s not my fault women’s bodybuilding is going away, I’m just saying what happened.
Going into why it happened really makes the goop in the pot get sticky and beg to be stirred.
There’s no shortage of dudes raring to charge at the opportunity to voice their views on femininity and how female bodybuilders have gone about destroying it, and ultimately, their sport.
However true that may seem on the onset, in reality, no man has the right to say that. Personal femininity is defined by each woman for herself and of herself; even if what’s staring at her in the mirror has developed a man face — five-o’clock shadow and all.
Even the seemingly gnarliest of females have an aspect of femininity. As long as she has a va-jay-jay and all X chromosomes, she could make a vintage cigar store Indian look like Cameron Diaz and somewhere in there is going to be a vestige of what makes her feel like a girl.
Now, obviously, there’s a general consensus of what we find feminine, attractive, admirable, etc. It is those attributes that attract an audience willing to support women’s bodybuilding.
Say what you will, but the fact remains that a late 80’s era Ms. Olympia contest could sell out the Felt Forum while today’s Ms. Olympia has already gasped her last breath. Can’t argue with history.
Issues of femininity aside, a female bodybuilder, even with extraordinary muscle, could be hot as hell if her face weren’t busted.
Busted Faces, Shrinking Audience
The degree and pursuit of muscularity has created a facial and physical image no longer appealing to enough of an audience to support it.
This declining interest is what lead to the top two IFBB women’s bodybuilding events being canceled. Apparently, among other undesirable attributes, there were a lot of busted faces up there.
If the top ten of the Ms. Olympia sported a row of faces that looked like the bikini division, Ms. Olympia would probably be alive and well today.
By the same token, if the top ten of every bikini contest had bodybuilder faces, it would go away too.
I’m not saying that all of the bodybuilding pros are ugly. That’s such an ugly word. What I am saying is this: the Corey Everson-era bodybuilder that sold out the Felt Forum would today compete, probably, in figure.
During the course of this evolution, the IFBB has created bikini, fitness, figure and physique, gradually paving the way for the bodybuilders to put more and more distance between them and what’s considered attainable and desirable.
And they did a great job. They freaked the Ms. Olympia right out of existence.
It’s within such an extreme that the ultimate condition of a female bodybuilder’s face can get wrecked if she’s not careful. That’s some tradeoff considering what’s at stake… or was at stake.
So What Causes Man Face?
Prolonged hormone abuse among women tends to cause the ears, nose, brow line and jaw to grow, much like a man’s. But that’s not the whole story.
What turns a previously pretty, arguably feminine face into what’s cruelly termed a “man face?” Several things besides drugs, actually.
Each on their own might not necessarily pose a threat to a woman’s facial attributes, but piled one on top of the other, as would be the case with a competitive bodybuilder, and she could end up with a face that’s a show stopper. Literally.
Right off the bat, the general structure of female skin is thinner and contains less collagen than a man’s skin. This is why women tend to age less gracefully than men.
The older a female competitor is, the greater the propensity for man face. The rapid aging of a woman’s skin is the basis upon which we get gnarlier and gnarlier renditions of man face as the other contributing factors are piled on over the years of a competitive career.
Because women carry more subcutaneous fat, especially on their glutes and hamstrings, they have to diet really hard to lean out those areas to the current expectation. This puts and awful strain on her face.
A diet strict enough to striate a woman’s hamstrings is going to affect her facial features. One would need to travel back in time and visit Auschwitz to find a more scary rendition of facial architecture.
Such repeated forays into the land of shreds will etch deep lines into a woman’s face that no amount of Restalin is going to fill.
Facial hair is a direct side effect of some of the drugs many female bodybuilders use. Some women shave off the hair, some use laser, but the fact remains, it’s there.
Conversely, perhaps a cruel jest by mother nature, the more male hormones a girl uses the more her body converts to DHT, attaches to follicle receptors, and induces male pattern baldness.
If only the hair destined to grow on the face would only grow on the head! Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?
Take off the ubiquitous wig, add the five-o’clock shadow to the deep furrows where cheeks used to be, and you approach the kind of face not even a mother would love. But it can get worse.
Sebum is a skin oil we secrete that makes the skin soft and supple. Men tend to secrete more than women, but when a woman hits menopause it really dries up.
This causes the skin to look coarser and drier as the woman ages. Adding testosterone to a woman mimics some of the signs of menopause — depleted levels of sebum is one of them.
Women using male hormones will likely secrete less sebum and therefore have drier, older looking skin. Remember, to begin with, women have less collagen in their skin. Combine this with their thinner skin and less sebum, add male hormones, and the condition is exacerbated.
So basically we have a situation where women are naturally predisposed to dry, coarse, thin skin as they age.
Magnifying those characteristics with drugs, both anabolic and ancillary (clenbuterol for example, used in contest prep to assist fat burning) really has a leaning effect on the face.
Add over-dieting to the extreme level required today and there’s little hope in getting around man face. Put all of these deleterious conditions together and you have a recipe for something that most people will find socially repugnant.
Given the paltry pittance awarded even to the winner of the top IFBB shows, and the grievous hindrance to her beauty, one can only speculate, why?
Can Fetishists Save Female Bodybuilding?
Interestingly, there is a subculture that finds these extreme cases of masculinized women attractive and/or desirable. We tend to label these people “schmoes” — men who sexually fetishize female bodybuilders.
I used to look at these men in disgust for their perverse nature, booking private sessions for “posing” and “wrestling” and other general kinkiness. But, in respect to the female bodybuilders out there still intent on pushing the envelope, I’m going to change my mind.
These guys have shown their worth in saving some semblance of the upper echelon of female bodybuilding by putting their money where their whack-off lube is.
In 2015, there’s a new show for top female pros called Rising Phoenix. Promoted by Tim Gardner and supported financially by the schmoes, this show offers the opportunity to fatten the bank accounts of the erstwhile disenfranchised female pros with a $50,000 prize plus a Jeep worth $55,000.
This beats the top Olympia prize in its heyday. I see this as potentially damning for numerous dermatologists and a boon to the juice sellers.
Looks like man face is in for a nice payday. And that’s a very good thing.
We all deserve the opportunity to pursue our dreams and aspirations. And it’s always nice to have a venue in which to showcase and be rewarded and recognized for your effort.
It doesn’t matter if the masses accept it, just as long as enough do to support it.
If such promotions continue and female bodybuilding becomes fan supported, then it will have proved that it is in fact not a beauty contest, and the women so inclined can just go for it.
Power to them.
Pro bodybuilders and Big Guts
5 Reasons Why You Should Never Compete
Steroids: The Birth of a Demon
Strong & Lean: 9-minute Workout
I am doing one 9-minute workout today with warm up and cool down. So the whole workout is going to be just 15 minutes. Warm Up: Hip Circles, Twist & Reach, Pointers, Saxon Tilt, Down Dog to Cobra Workout: S Reach, Starfish Bounce, Squat Thrust Jump Cool Down: A Frames * This article was originally […]
I am doing one 9-minute workout today with warm up and cool down. So the whole workout is going to be just 15 minutes.
Warm Up: Hip Circles, Twist & Reach, Pointers, Saxon Tilt, Down Dog to Cobra
Workout: S Reach, Starfish Bounce, Squat Thrust Jump
Cool Down: A Frames
12 Tips from a Corrective Exercise Specialist to Perfect Your Form
Whether you’re an absolute beginner, or a seasoned gym-goer, chances are you have at least one muscular imbalance or form issue that needs fixing. These tips from a corrective exercise specialist will not only help to decrease your risk of injury, but also improve your performance for even greater results! Jumping into a fitness routine […]
Whether you’re an absolute beginner, or a seasoned gym-goer, chances are you have at least one muscular imbalance or form issue that needs fixing. These tips from a corrective exercise specialist will not only help to decrease your risk of injury, but also improve your performance for even greater results!
Jumping into a fitness routine after a long hiatus can be a major wake up call. You may realize that your body just doesn’t move like it used to. As we age, our flexibility and range of motion decreases (especially if we don’t regularly work on it!) Even if you consider yourself a gym regular, you may have some repetitive-use issues that you don’t even realize are there. Regardless of how long you’ve been working out, these tips below will help with your overall form!
12 Tips from a Corrective Exercise Specialist to Help Perfect Your Form
1. Maintain good posture at all times.
You would think proper posture while exercising goes without saying; however, my experiences in the gym over the years say otherwise. No exercise, be it warming up, walking, running, squatting, push-ups, planks, etc., should ever compromise good posture. Doing so can lead to all kinds of injuries. A helpful rule of thumb: If you’re too tired to maintain good posture, you’re too tired to continue.
Good Posture Cues: Through every exercise, keep your head in a neutral position (not up or down), shoulders back (think pulling your shoulder blades together), chest slightly out, and core tight. If you need to look up (when dead-lifting, for instance), look up with your eyes, not your head.
Check Out: 3 Simple Ways to Fix Your Posture
2. Run on the balls of your feet, not your heels.
Improper running form can take a toll on the joints of your ankles, knees, hips, and even your back. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is landing on your heels and not the balls of your feet. Consistent, heavy impact to the heels is not only loud, but can also lead to all kinds of injuries. This can include ankle sprains, shin splints, and severe knee pain. On the other hand, landing on the balls of your feet allows your body to absorb the impact and protect your joints better. This also applies to jumping exercises like box jumps, jump rope, jumping jacks, and more!
Related: 9 Tips to Improve Your Running Form
Bonus Training Tip: It’s okay to hold on to the treadmill handles if you’re unsteady. With that being said, if you need to hold on because you have the treadmill speed set too fast or on an incline, you need to lower the speed and/or incline. Holding onto the treadmill handles during power walking, or leaning back when walking on an incline defeats the purpose. Aim to feel challenged without having to hold on for support. If you want to keep speed and incline up, try letting go of the handles, swinging your arms, and leaning forward, towards the handles. You’ll feel a huge difference in the workout!
3. Core exercises should be concentrated and controlled.
All too often I see people in the ab section of the gym flailing about. Aside from the fact that doing so can hurt their neck, lower back, or both, using too much momentum can take away from the muscles they’re trying to target.
For example, supporting your head and neck with your hands during a sit-up is completely acceptable (and even advised.) However, once you start to pull at your head with your arms to force yourself up, you take the tension out of your abs and place it into your arms. Additionally, any twisting ab movements, like Russian twists, should be slow and controlled. It’s not a race. Performing the exercises faster is not going to work your abs any harder. Breathe, concentrate on the muscles being worked, and control the movement.
Try: 14-Day Beginner’s Core-Building Workout Challenge
4. Learn proper breathing technique.
Speaking of breathing, learning how to breathe properly during an exercise can greatly improve your results. When performing cardio, focus on deep belly breaths, not shallow chest breathing. Also, it is completely acceptable to breathe through your nose, mouth, or a combination of both. During resistance training, inhale on relaxation and exhale on exertion. In other words, when performing a push-up, breathe in while lowering down and breathe out when pushing up.
5. Improve balance by… standing on a stable surface.
Standing on a Bosu ball while performing a bicep curl to shoulder press may look fun, but it can be quite dangerous if you haven’t yet mastered the exercise. Many people believe that performing exercises standing on an unstable surface will improve balance and core strength, however it actually just opens you up to injury. Trying to balance on a “half-ball” while you have dumbbells overhead is not the greatest idea and again, can take the focus off the muscles you were trying to train in the first place!
Instead, stand on a stable surface (like the floor) and perform the exercise. Once you have the movement down pat, you can up the challenge by increasing resistance or standing on one foot (still on the ground.) Please, leave the standing Bosu exercises to the trained acrobats.
6. Bend those knees!
When it comes to performing exercises in the standing position (or even leg presses,) never lock your knees. Locking your knees transfers tension and weight from the muscles to the joints, which is a big no-no. Keep a slight bend in your knees when performing standing resistance exercises like shoulder presses, front raises, lateral raises, and more. This will keep tension in your muscles and minimize impact on the joints.
7. Don’t cut your rest periods short.
Rest periods are incredibly important for not only reducing risk of injury, but also allowing your muscles to recover enough to successfully complete the next set(s). It is recommended that your rest periods be no shorter than 30 seconds, but no longer than 90 seconds.
What about active rests? Taking an active rest means performing a light cardio movement between strength or resistance exercises (i.e. jumping jacks or high knees). We’re huge fans of active rests and encourage you to perform them, especially if weight loss is your goal. Just make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time (30-90 seconds).
8. Learn proper form before piling on extra resistance.
If you’re unsure of what your form should look like, there are dozens of resources to learn from! Google it, watch instructional videos, ask a trainer or someone else that you trust to guide you through the exercise properly. Under no circumstances should you add resistance before you have a firm understanding of proper form.
9. Don’t let any one muscle group take a back seat.
Men and women alike have a tendency to focus on the muscles they can see. These are often referred to as our “aesthetic muscles.” Men tend to focus on the upper body, ladies oftentimes target the legs, butt, abs, or arms. But what about the chest and back? How about those deep stabilizing and functional muscles that we can’t see?
We need to look at our body as a whole and train every single muscle group equally. Allowing one or more body parts to fall behind will no doubt lead to imbalances and injury. Imbalances follow the “domino effect” meaning if one joint or muscle falls short, another is bound to follow if left uncorrected. Targeting every major muscle group will keep us safe and allow us to build a beautiful, symmetrical physique.
10. Learn the joint checkpoints for the main, basic movements.
Watch the instructional videos for the Top 4 Barbell Exercises for an Athletic Figure. (This includes: Squats, Bench Press, Deadlifts, and Shoulder Press.) Note: even if you don’t use a barbell, the set-up is the same for bodyweight exercises! Also, learn How to Do a Push-Up the Right Way. Mastering these 5 movements will ensure joint health, increased muscular strength & toning, and an incredible looking body!
11. Maintain a neutral spine.
What does this mean? A neutral spine is the natural curvature and alignment of your spine. This oftentimes comes into play with exercises that require you to bend over, such as bent-over rows, tricep kickbacks, or deadlifts. When performing these exercises, you should never over arch your back or go “hunchback,” as I like to call it. This can place tension on your joints and compress your spine, potentially resulting in neck or back injury.
Follow the steps in the first tip on the list to maintain good posture. Watch yourself in the mirror, have a trainer spot you, or ask someone that you trust to advise you. If you notice your spine falling out of alignment in either direction, decrease resistance until you can get your form right.
12. Know the difference between soreness and pain/injury.
“No pain, no gain” is not a rule that you want to follow. Believe it or not, there is a difference between exercise related soreness and actual pain. When you exercise consistently, your muscles may feel tight, achy, or sore. This is a normal side effect of exercise that will pass in a few days.
On the other hand, don’t ignore sharp, shooting pain during a movement; this may indicates an injury. If you ever experience this, discontinue the exercise immediately. If pain persists, consult your doctor. Pushing through actual pain will only lead to greater injury, and keep you out of the gym longer.
If you believe you’re only experiencing exercise-related muscle soreness and tightness, you may want to consider yoga, foam rolling your upper and lower body, or even scheduling a massage. These are all great ways to recover quickly!
Which one of these tips from a corrective exercise specialist did you find most surprising? Did you find them helpful? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.
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12 Tips from a Corrective Exercise Specialist to Perfect Your Form was originally published at LINK