Category Archives: Training

Blogs about Our Training Programs and Exercises

“Do You Know Tabata”

The Muscle Couple talks about dieting and fat burning all the time.

But we’ve never discussed the MOST POWERFUL, FAT BURNING-BODY REDEFINING-PHYSIQUE ALTERING exercise there is?

TABATA INTERVAL TRAINING is the single most effective fat burning form of exercise a Human can perform.  And to top it off, you can do it in less than 15 Minutes every day!

Do This First Thing in the AM on an Empty Stomach 3-4x Per Week and Watch the Fat Melt Off!

Do This First Thing in the AM on an Empty Stomach 3-4x Per Week and Watch the Fat Melt Off!

So what is TABATA?

The Tabata Protocol–named after Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya–is:

“an interval routine consisting of six to seven 20-second full-speed sprints interspersed with rest periods of 10 seconds.”

The reason the Tabata Protocol is so effective are it’s effects on the CNS in improving both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.  Think of it as a form of Cardio training that improves both endurance and power.  A very rare and difficult feat to achieve.  For the average trainer, having both your Aerobic and Anaerobic system taxed this efficiently in such a short time does wonders for Fat Burning and elevating BMR(Basal Metabolic Rate)long after completion of the exercise.

The key to the Tabata Protocol’s effectiveness appears to be the short rest intervals between sprints. Conventional interval-training guidelines suggest keeping a 1:3 work-rest ratio. That is, your rest periods should last three times as long as the duration of your sprints. But the Tabata Protocol’s work-rest ratio is 2:1, which means your rest periods are only half as long as the time you’re working.

Trust us when we tell you there is nothing more effective in reducing bodyfat and redefining your physique in a shorter amount of time. Both of us have used it in two week increments to get into Contest ready conditioning(Sub 6.5%) from 10-12%.

<NOTE> This type of training is for people with a solid fitness base and not for the faint of heart.  Please consult your doctor or health care practioner before starting anything this challenging

If you think you’ve got what it takes to give this type of cardio training a try, here it is:

  • Perform a five-minute warm-up by Running-Cycling or Elliptical at about 40% of your Max
  • Perform Intervals by either- Running on a track or treadmillStationary bike or an Elliptical trainer
  • Alternate 20 seconds of activity at full effort with 10-second rest periods.
  • Each sprint-rest combo counts as one interval. (Do 4 initially progressing up to 7)
  • After the intense section, do a five-minute cool-down in the same way you warmed up

Try to do four intervals at first, then gradually work your way up to seven.  Repeat the workout three to four days a week. Bam-that’s it.  You are done in less than 15 minutes EOD.  

To maximize your Tabata training here a couple of tips:

  • Do it first thing in the AM on an Empty Stomach 
  • Take a Thermogenic supplement (Fat Burner 15 minutes before)
  • Also take 2gms of L-Carnitine with your Thermogenic

Jay has experimented with breaking up this workout into “2-A-Day Tabata’s” by doing 3 intervals in the morning and 3 at night.  The results weren’t much better than just doing one session EOD.

If you are in decent shape and are looking for quick results and noticeable improvement to your physique, give this program a try right away. 

As always, feel free to ask us questions or let us know how it’s going after a couple of weeks. 

And remember!  This isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. It takes willpower and resolve to continue.  Best of Luck!

MIHWCS

Build a Better Body Update #2 With Photos

Another update on Michael Finn’s exploits to improve his physiqe.  It appears things are shaping up quite nicely after only 14 days.   

Here are his own words:

Second week is going strong.  

 Still eating anything and everything I can get my hands on.  Been staying away from fried foods, colas,etc.  Don’t miss it either (which is suprising). 

 So much more energy and overall, quality of life has DRASTICALLY improved. 

I’ve been cranking it into overdrive now since my muscles had a chance to get torn up and recover from last week.  I’ve never been more motivated than I am now especially since I’m starting to see a difference in my body.  And to think it’s only been 2 weeks!  Been going hard on the sets and going until failure on the last set every time NO EXCUSES.  If I can lift my arms over my head, then I haven’t worked my arms hard enough yet!  

I’ve set my goals into 3 month increments so my motivation right now has been to stack on as much weight (Solid muscle weight of course) as I can while hitting the gym and getting my muscles used to getting beat down. 

I just hit the 180lb mark  for the first time in my life!!!!!  You have no idea how good this makes me feel!.  I am so STOKED!  My motivation is increasing and there is definitely no sign of stopping now. 

Here’s to 190lbs and an increase of 10lbs (at least) per weight exercise next week at the gym.

And Check These Before and After pics to prove he is actually “Making it Happen” after only 2.5 weeks!

Before

Look at the Improved Thickness in His Upper Chest and Arms

Look at the Improved Thickness in His Upper Chest and Arms

Before Flex

The Boy Definitely Getting Thicker in Upper Body-Shoulders and Arms!

The Boy Definitely Getting Thicker in Upper Body-Shoulders and Arms!

Good job brother Finn!  

The Muscle Couple is very pround of you!   Imagine where you will be two months from now? Keep on Keepin on!

What does everybody think of the new site Design?  We encourage your commentary and criticisms of the look and feel.  Please realize it’s a work in progress and we’ll be changing it daily for a bit to try and get what we’re eventually after.  

Be on the lookout for some more articles very soon!

MIHWCS

 

Eliminating Low Back Pain for Life

The Muscle Couple  with an important commentary on preventing and eliminating LBP (Low Back Pain).

One of the saddest things you’ll see in life is an old person who is literally bent over at the waist from a deteriorated spine.  There can be numerous reasons why their body takes on that shape/form in their late ages, but it’s absolutely devastating for their mobility and quality of life. 

This is no condition to find yourself late in life.

This is no condition to find yourself late in life.

Back pain is such a horrible and commonplace malady for people of all walks of life.  And to think it can be easily alleviated if not cured for many with some changes to their exercise routine.  The best way to guard against it from ever happening to you is by strengthening your spine and most specifically your lower back muscles known as the Erector Spinae”.

The Muscles of the back are very closely intertwined easily detailing the complexity of LBP

The Muscles of the back are very closely intertwined easily detailing the complexity of LBP

So many trainees overlook this muscle group in their training in their early 20’s and some even into their middle and late 30’s.  And it will catch up with you quickly.  Neglecting your low back musculature will lead to numerous muscular imbalances in your core, your upper shoulders/neck and your hamstrings.  Adding to the problem is long term seated posture while working, sitting in traffic or in front of a computer half of every day. Before you know it, you’ve got all kinds of problems like Lordosis, a pooch/paunch down in your lower abs/belly and terrible “LBP”. (LOW BACK PAIN)  LBP is the #1 cause of disability in the United States.  

So how do you prevent against it?   It’s actually a pretty simple exercise to insert into your routine  The Muscle  Couple believes the best exercise to strengthen your lower back and improve your Erector Spinae is Low Back Extensions on a Roman Chair.(known also as a Hyperextension)

This Exercise will provide a lifetime devoid of Lower Back Pain

This Exercise will provide a lifetime devoid of Lower Back Pain

 

Your Erectors act as primary  movers extending your back at your hip and allowing you to move your torso  upward.  They also allow your torso to move downward in a controlled fashion to restart the movement. As they become stronger it becomes easier to do multiple reps.  As you progress into higher rep ranges, you can actually begin to use the “Progressive Overload principle of adding weight to the resistance of the movement.  This can be done by holding a weight plate across your chest with both arms or even holding it in your hands with arms extended as you perform the reps.   

Your “Hamstring Muscles” also are involved in this exercise acting as anchors(hip extensors) when your legs are locked into the position provided by the machine.  You should always stretch your hamstrings right after you finish your sets to make them more pliable and to minimize and eliminate tightness from long term seated posture.  Let’s face it, in the internet day and age we can all benefit from increased hamstring flexibility after sitting in front of computers for hour after hour.

So how often should you perform these exercises?  It really doesn’t hurt to do them every day in your home or concurrently with your Ab training when at the gym.  The Muscle Couple perform 3 sets every day after our cardio. You most likely will see the same benefits doing them EOD.   You can buy one of these machines at most Exercise Equipment stores for less than $150.  It doesn’t take up much space in your home and its usage will provide a lifetime of benefits.

When we say these exercises are CRUCIAL TO IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF YOUR LIFE LONGTERM, WE MEAN IT!  

After only a few weeks, you will find this exercise has revitalized your lower back. Your back stiffness and fatigue  from sitting in traffic or at a desk all day will all but vanish.  Furthermore, your risk for injury will be significantly reduced, and your posture will dramatically improve.  And eliminating the chronic spasms and debilitating effects of low back pain is something you can’t put a price on.

The Muscle Couple is more than happy to discuss a program with you (regardless of your fitness level) to eradicate these symptoms from your life.

MIHWCS

Do You Know How to Contract Your Rectus?

<NOTE>–<You will  also find this as the FEATURED ARTICLE on the #1 Mobile Fitness site in the world-Gym Technik>

So you want a set of rock hard abs?  You’ve figured out how to diet and lowered your bodyfat to single digit levels.  But for some reason, you don’t have a visible “6 pack” of your Rectus Abdominus?   Honestly, getting to ultra low bodyfat levels is hard enough let alone figuring out how to create “visible abs”.  So what’s going on?

The Austrian Oak definitely understood how to contract his Rectus

The Austrian Oak definitely understood how to contract his Rectus

The reason most people never attain this condition is because they don’t understand how to contract their rectus.   Don’t believe anyone who tells you your fiber typing will prevent you from ever developing a strong visible set of abs.  Anyone can have them.  You just have to learn how to get them and then continue to train them for life productively.

I can walk into any gym and watch people perform rep after rep of sit-ups and crunches and never once see them contract-squeeze and hold their Rectus to produce results.  There are people who can perform 100 sit ups in quick fashion and barely even give their abs a workout due to strong hip flexors and momentum taking over. Strong hip flexors and psoas muscles overpower their abdominal musculature and along with the momentum of rocking up and down, they never isolate their Rectus in correct fashion

It’s hard for me to explain proper technique in words but many-many trainees don’t know how to relax their spine into a neutral position and then curl with only their abdominal musculature performing the concentric and eccentric portion of the movement.  We’ve added a video and photos below to better demonstrate how to perform this movement. In addition to viewing the video, you can also observe professional caliber physique folks or consult with a quality personal trainer to show you how to execute the movement.

The best way to start out is by lying on the floor and practicing a simple Knees up- Hands to the side -Elbows up- Ab Crunch.

Knees up- hands to the side -elbows up-Neck and Shoulders slightly off the floor

Knees up- hands to the side -elbows up-Neck and Shoulders slightly off the floor

Try and focus keeping your upper shoulders/back off the floor slightly and maintain a neutral position of your spine to the floor.

Notice how my neck and shoulders are slightly raised and spine is neutral to the floor

Notice how my neck and shoulders are slightly raised and spine is neutral to the floor

Now focus performing the movement only using your midsection to crunch upward, hold for a count of two squeezing the rectus and then lower in the same controlled fashion.

The Apex of the Movement-Counting to 2-Squeezing the Rectus and then back slow without shoulders or neck touching the floor keeping spine neutral to floor

The Apex of the Movement-Counting to 2-Squeezing the Rectus and then back slow without shoulders or neck touching the floor keeping spine neutral to floor

Now watch and listen to the video as Jay demonstrates how to effectively recruit the Rectus Abdominus.

If you are doing this right and actually feeling the movement and squeezing the muscle, you shouldn’t be able to perform a lot of reps.  Especially if you are a newbie.  I’ve seen 15 year advanced lifters fail at 12 reps due to their midsection being weak and failing to ever isolate and contract their rectus correctly.

Trust me, this movement is not something you can just learn thru observation.  You will need to practice the movement and develop your abdominal musculature over time. When working on your technique, remember Commandment #8 of theMind Muscle Connection.  Visualizing and feeling your Rectus being activated before performing the movement.   

Once you are able to understand how to recruit your rectus, you will be amazed at how much faster you’ll develop a strong-functional set of abs.  And even more amazing will be that every Ab Exercise your perform will be more productive due to your body understanding how to contract and feel your abs in every rep and set.

Lastly, one very important thing to stress is the “Progressive Overload Principle”.

Your abs are muscles like any other, and to make them stronger-harder and denser, you need to force them to work harder under more weight or resistance.  As you progress, choosing exercises that require heavier resistance will definitely force your abs to grow harder-thicker and stronger and eminently more visible and defined.

There are numerous ab exercises when done with correct technique that will provide excellent results.

The Muscle Couple always tries to train abs in a 3 prong method.

  1. The whole abdominal musculature(Rectus Abdominus)
  2. The lower Abs(Psoas)
  3. The side(Serratus and Obliques).

We usually perform abs at the end of every workout making sure every different workout allows us to focus on one of the 3 different areas.

Our favorite ab exercises are Hanging Leg Raises(Lower Abs-Psoas), Decline Bench Crunches with a twist(Obliques-Serratus and Rectus Abdominus)and Cable Crunches(Rectus Abdominus).

Now that you have a better understanding how to recruit and effectively train your Rectus Abdominus, the abs you’ve always wanted are within your grasp.

Make it happen!

MIHWCS

Build a Better Body Update #1-“10 Days In”

 

Michael on his way to looking like this?

Michael on his way to looking like this?

I wanted to give everybody an update after receiving a status report from Michael Finn today after his first 10 days.   Here it is in his own words.

“Workout routine is going great!

Hit it super hard at 5:30 this am on Full body 2.  Love the Skull crushers 🙂  

Monday-Wed-Fri are my workout days and am religious on it. The routines are intense. 

It’s great because even though I’m only in 3 days a week,  The Full Body Routine you put together is hitting all the muscles consistently on those days. 

Weight is around 174lbs as of this AM. (Gain of 9 Pounds from start)  

Been eating anything I can get my hands on.  Haven’t gone more than 3 hours without getting anything in my system.

I have protein bars and Shakes on me at all times for the hunger urge.  Not really counting the calories or protein intake but I know it’s more than enough. 

Staying away from fast food, fried shit, cokes, ect.

Drinking about a gallon of water a day as well. 

Just have so much more energy and is a killer start to my day

I’ll take some pics end of next week so I can get another round of the routine in.”

Thanks Michael.  It appears you are well on your way!

We’ve gone ahead and highlighted certain passages from his comments where we thought appropriate.  

For anybody following along from home and considering doing something similar, these should be helpful to you.

We’ll post pics later this week to confirm his commentary.

Be on the lookout for an INCREDIBLE ABDOMINAL ARTICLE coming soon.

We hope everybody has a great day!

MIHWCS

Training Update

The Muscle Couple hasn’t offered a training update in a while.   We figured it was time for an update.  

Ever since the hard core dieting and preparation for WMC in Miami, we’ve been eating relativey unrestrained.  We’re still training intensely and doing our cardio but the peak look we had in late March, early April is gone.  

We’ll probably go thru another “Look Great Phase” sometime in the next 45 days in preparation for Summer.   For now,  here is what our Training looks like:

3 Day Split:

  • DAY 1-CHEST-TRICEPS-LOWER ABS
  • DAY 2-BACK-BICEPS-RECTUS
  • DAY 4-DELTS-THIGHS-HAMSTRINGS

Anh is doing her Cardio @ Gold’s Gym about 4-5 days a week.  She drops off the Muscle B at the Kids Club and gets about 45 minutes in between the Stair stepper, Walking Lunges and some abs.  

I am riding my bike first thing in the AM for 15-20 minutes depending on my mood, the Music on my Crackberry or how hard the Thermogenic has kicked in.  😉

Here is some Detail from DAY 1 of our training(we did this today)

CHEST

  • Hammer Incline Press x3 Sets 10 Reps-10 Reps-Failure
  • Dips on the Assisted Dip Macine x3 Sets Reps to Failure each set
  • Cable Flyes x3 Sets 10 Reps-10 Reps-Reps to Failure

TRICEPS

  • Cheat Bar Skull Crushers x3 Sets 10 Reps-10 Reps-Reps to Failure
  • Overhead Rope Extensions with a Twist x3 Sets 10 Reps-10 Reps-Reps to Failure
  • Reverse Tricep Pressdowns x3 Sets 10 Reps-10 Reps-Reps to Failure

LOWER ABS

  • Hanging Leg Raises x3 Sets of Failure Each Set

As I’ve typed recently,  there is MAJOR NEWS coming from us in the very near future.  Good stuff for all of our readers.

See you tomorrow!

Quick Pic of the Muscle B!

Look at the Water Buscuit!

Look at the Water Buscuit!

MIHWCS

Form Is of the Essence

After 20 years of resistance training and progressing from a newbie to intermediate and now advanced lifter, I can honestly say nothing is more important to building a solid physique than practicing perfect form on all your lifts.     

Visualize, Concentrate and Control

Visualize, Concentrate and Control

I can walk into any gym today and immediately point out 75% of the trainees executing lifts with poor form.  Lack of bend in the knees, arching back and shoulders ,improper stances and grips, too much weight on the bar, will all hinder and prevent you from ever building a structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing physique. 

It’s very difficult to learn and execute proper form due to the stress of peer pressure.  Many lifters see their friends lifting heavy weights and quickly develop a “more is better” mindset always trying to add more weight to the bar instead of focusing on their technique in executing the movement.  What comes next are major muscle imbalances most noticeably over rotated and extended front deltoids.  This often results in a misshapen upper body.  Walk into any gym and notice the guys who appear to walk around with their shoulder girdles in a state of constant flex and you will know exactly what I’m describing.  😉  It’s very commonplace but easily corrected with a changed mindset of visualization, concentration and controlling the weight in perfect form.

How does one learn to execute perfect form? 

There are many ways to learn, but the tried and true way is thru continuous practice in the gym.  The Muscle Couple learned from watching others execute lifts who had physiques we admired and constantly reading commentary and books from Exercise physiologists.  It doesn’t hurt to ask questions and consult folks in your gym about form and technique.  And depending on your finances, you can always hire a personal trainer.  You have to be careful as many trainers get into a rut of going thru the motions and not concerning themselves with your form.  There are also plenty of places on the web to watch videos of trainees executing correct form including Gym Technik.

Lastly, let’s analyze my earlier statement: 

Executing perfect form in a lift requires VISUALIZATION, CONCENTRATION and CONTROLLING THE WEIGHT.

Visualization requires you to picture yourself executing the movement beforehand and allowing your mind to truly see and feel the exercise before  you perform it. 

Concentration requires you to eliminate all distractions and focus 100% of your energy on finishing your exercise/set

Controlling the Weight requires you to use a weight you can control , executing each rep and set in perfect form.

<NOTE> These principles are discussed in the “Mind Muscle Connection” in commandment #9 in my 10 Commandments of Physique Improvement

Nobody will learn or execute perfect form when exercising on the first day they enter a gym.  It will take months and sometimes years of consistent and focused training to perfect your form. 

If you try and remember the acronym V-C-C (Visualize-Concentrate and Control)and make it a focal point when performing your lifts,  you will be well on your way to attaining the physique you seek.

Happy Training!

<Note>You will also find this article at Gym Technik along with a library of others.

MIHWCS