3 Secrets for Building a Superior Back

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Everyone wants a muscular back. Chicks dig it on a dude, and usually want a toned back for themselves as well! I want to offer you some tools and strategies on how to improve your back training. Read into this article and I will reveal 3 secrets on how you can do this with a few tweaks!

 

Back anatomy:

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#1) ROW ROW ROW

You might want to throw some more rows into your training. These can be great to add some shape in places as well as the thickness. Don’t just stick to normal barbell rows, switch up grips and hand positioning. These will target most of the major muscles on the back like the rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, trees minor and major, infraspinatus, and the biceps as a secondary muscle.

Now don’t forget that you can’t have a COMPLETE back with just rows, you’ll need other exercises like pull ups, deadlifts, planks, face pulls, etc. This is what most people neglect when training for a complete looking back, they forget to train to WHOLE thing.

I personally love doing rows, and switch up the variation quiet frequently. My favorites are:

Bent over rows with a underhand grip-

 

Seated rows with a wide grip on lat pull down bar-

 

T-bar rows with v-bar attachment-

 

#2) Hit different angles on EVERYTHING

I love performing different angles on most exercises especially back day. By doing different angles on something like a bent over row, you could target more of the upper, middle or lower back. The more upright you are the higher the muscle being targeted in a row. You can switch up angles on others things like the bench degree you use. This is something you can do with many exercises like a pull over for example, this can be done on a normal bench or a decline bench to increase the amount of contraction at the end of the lift.

With all of that being said, don’t be a robot and only do rows to the belly button. Try a high pull or row to really hit the upper trapezius, rhomboids and rear deltoids muscles. Try a row variation like this:

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This high cable row back exercise will light up the upper back and really build some quality muscle around the traps and rear deltoids.

 

#3 More time under tension 

Time under tension is something that I have invested a lot of time into while training and studying it as well lately. I have been happy with the results of what it can do for you and the concept. Time under tension is basically this, lets say you are doing a bent over barbell row and you have 10 reps to do. Instead of going through the reps normal and being finished within 15 seconds, try bringing the weight up slow during the concentric portion, contract the muscle at the peak of the movement for 1-3 seconds then releasing it for a slow negative on the concentric portion. What this will do is put more stress on the muscle and give you the biggest bang for your buck when trying to enhance those back muscles.

 

These are 3 secrets to building a superior back, imply these tips and methods into your training and let me know how it works for YOU!

Share this with your homies, gym buddies and on social media for others to try, thank you for the support!
-Alex Costa-

 

 

 

 

Photo source: back anatomy , high row

10 Foods That Will Build Muscle and Burn Fat

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When it comes to gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time, you are going to have to take a hard look into your diet and see if what you are eating is really helping you meet this goal. In this article, I am going to provide you with 10 superfoods that will build muscle and burn fat!

 

By getting all the right nutrients into your body, you can help this goal. The amounts of which nutrients you get from foods and supplements will change with your goal as well. Today we are talking about losing fat and building solid muscle at the same time. During this type of goal, protein will be one of your best friends and this is why..

Protein is going to help you build and repair damaged muscles from working out. Protein also has what I call a “special power”. Protein is thermogenic which means that it can basically burn fat from using more energy to digest it. So this is why I say that protein may help the most but not only protein should make up your diet, it’s a mix of that and other things like veggies, carbs and fats still. So here is my list for you:

 

1) Whole eggs- this is a great source of protein, usually caring around 7-9 grams of protein per egg. These will boost your metabolism which will help with burning fat while getting a decent amount of protein.

 

2) Bison- this is in my list because again, this is a very lean protein with about 20-30 grams in about 6-8 oz. With it being a red meat, this will also carry things such as vitamin B12, iron, creatine and zinc. Those things will help excel what the protein does with it being a food instead of supplement.

 

3) Green tea- this may not be a food but will still give you a large amount of healthy benefits! Drinking ONE cup of green tea can burn up to 100 calories! An article form diyactive.com over thermogenic foods had this statement from Dr. Burns : “it helps to block receptors from making fat” “It pushes food through our digestive tract, inhibiting amylase which aids in the digestion of carbs (meaning you’ll get hungry more quickly)” Not only does this aid us in fat lose but helps memory and fights against cancers as well!

 

4) Salmon- salmon and other fish can help with being very rich in protein and healthy fats! Remember we don’t just need the protein to make this work but other healthy macronutrients as well! Healthy fats are crucial for our heart health and brain function. Eating salmon and other fish usually will offer a lower caloric intake than some other meats out there, which in-turn can help lose weight after a while.

 

5) Broccoli- this should be one of your main goto veggies for weight loss. 6oz of broccoli may contain only about 50-60 calories! It also offers great benefits because it fights cancer and is high in fiber which also helps with weight loss.

 

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6) Apples- “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and in this case it keeps the weight away too! Apples are full something called pectin, which will limit the amount of fat your cells in your body can absorb. These will also help you feel full longer by the amount of fiber in them as well as the vitamins.

 

7) Beans- As I have said in a few foods on the list, fiber is a positive and will help you have the “full stomach” feeling for a longer period of time. Beans are loaded in fiber and protein which is just what we are looking for! Mix the beans and meat together for a meal chock-full of protein and fiber to help reach your goal!

 

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8) Whey protein supplement- I know that this is not a food but there are all kinds of protein blends out there so I want to give you a helpful tip when picking some out for building muscle and burning fat. It is packed full of protein and usually should have a lower number of carbohydrates and sugars. Whey protein is thermogenic like we talked about earlier and can be added into your nutritional eating plan as a snack. I usually recommend it being consumed along with a piece of fruit.

 

9) Whole oats- Whole grain carbohydrates can be one of many tools in the fat burning shed. When eating a “whole”food like whole oats, this will burn twice the amount of calories just to digest the food! So I would recommend whole oats for breakfast.

 

10) Hot peppers- this one is kinda funny because HOT peppers BURN fat haaa. On a real note, by including hot peppers into your diet this will actually increase your body temperature which can be why some of us sweat when eating them. This is another way to increase thermogenesis in the body which aids the fat loss part. Hot peppers contain something called capsaicin. This helps with everything I mentioned above and suppresses the appetite as well.

 

This is my list of 10 foods that will help you build muscle and lose fat! Mix and match some of these into your diet and see what results you get!

-Alex Costa-

 

Photo source: Minion ,apple ,protein

Stay Away From Gym Viruses With These Tips

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It’s that time of the year again.. The flu is hitting us in full force. In this article, I am going to show you what you can do to steer clear of germs in the gym, where the germ hot spots are and how to decrease the chances of getting sick!

 

{TIPS TO STAY CLEAR OF GERMS} 

As you could probably guess, the gym can be home to many kinds of germs and viruses. Now just because there are a large amount in gyms does not mean you can’t fight them off. Here are some of my top tips for staying clear from those pesky flu germs:

  • Use the sanitizer bottles around the gym to spray off the gym equipment BEFORE and AFTER use
  • Don’t touch your face around the mouth and eyes during sets
  • Try carrying a mini bottle of hand sanitizer in your gym bag and use it throughout your workout
  • Wash your hands after your workout
  • Cover ANY open wounds or sores on your body especially if they are to come in contact with a piece of gym equipment
  • Try to keep dirty clothes you just worked out in, in a different gym bag or in a couple plastic bags

 

{GERM HOT SPOTS IN THE GYM}

There are a ridiculous amount of germ hot spots in a gym, who would have figured… I am going to give you some of the top HOT SPOTS to keep in mind!

  • LOCKER ROOM- The locker room can be home to almost as many germs as in the actual gym section itself. With the steam from the showers and the dampness of the room sometimes, this can be a hot spot for staph, strep, and MRSA. Sitting naked on the bench can be a bad idea as well. In the article “Germs at a Gym” by  Maridel Reyes, there is a study that found “traces of vaginal yeast there, which can put you at risk for an infection.” So always wear a towel before sitting naked on the bench in the locker room.
  • FREE WEIGHTS- This is a no-brainer here. Hundreds of hands full of who knows what germs grabbing the dumbbells, barbells and weights EVERYDAY. These can easily lead to viruses like the common cold and other infections so again if you have even a paper cut, bandage it before entering the weight room! A study that was in the article “How Going to the Gym Can be Bad for Your Health” by Lisa Ryan stats a fact that may shock you! It says the “average set of free weights has 362 times more germs than a toilet seat” This is why you carry germ sanitizer and spray your machines and weights before and after.
  • EXERCISE MATS- The mats in the gym can be a huge hot spot that carries great amounts of germs. This goes back to cleaning your equipment before and after. This decreases the chance for these germs significantly. Exercise mats are more commonly used now than before. They are used for yoga, fitness classes and a lot of ab workouts I see are done on the exercise mats. This can lead up to anywhere around %50 of the members in your gym using them. This can lead to viruses like skin infections, athlete’s foot, colds and hepatitis A.

 

 

{HOW TO DECREASE THE CHANCES OF GETTING SICK}

Well I think you get the point by now but just incase you don’t here are my favorite tips to staying healthy and decreasing your chances of getting sick:

  • WASH YOUR HANDS
  • CLEAN THE EQUIPMENT USED
  • CLEAN AND DISINFECT YOUR GYM BAG
  • BRING A NEW TOWEL DAILY WHEN USING IT
  • COVER UP ANY OPEN WOUNDS
  • TAKE VITAMINS
  • EAT HEALTHY

 

Alright so lets wrap this up. On this closing note I also want to say that if you are a person that is interested and wants to make sure they pick the cleanest gym they can then try doing some research on the gyms of your choice. I also recommend going and taking a tour of the gym you are looking into, this will be a good chance to see if the gym is clean enough for you and if its what you’re looking for. Also try seeing if they have cleaning stations and if so, how many. This is a common indicator to see if they take the cleaning and gym sanitizing seriously.

I hope you enjoyed this article and learn something new! Try staying away from those viruses and diseases with these tips! Have a great Monday and enjoy your week!!

-Alex Costa-

 

 

 

Photosource: Scooby 

3 Box Jump Variations VIDEO and Tips

Box jumps have been around for quite some time now. They have been used by athletes and gym goers. They’re great benefits while doing these but what if I told you, these few tips and video will blow your mind and leave you with some fun ideas to try?? Lucky for you, this post will have just that!!

While performing a box jump, you will be engaging your glutes and hamstrings during the eccentric portion of the jump. You will hinge at the hips and stick your butt back, however you will not go into a full squat before jumping onto the box. You will squat about half way of a full squat, shoot your arms through the jump and land softly on the box.

The first thing that is extremely beneficial is that the box jump can create more explosion for athletes. As an athlete, you want every movement to be smooth and explosive. Not only do I provide one video underneath but it will have 3 variations of a box jump to maximize your ability to be more explosive.

The next big tip that performing box jumps provide are making your legs crazy strong. By performing a jumping exercise, this will increase strength as well as tone up the lower body.It does not stop there though, because you have to use so many muscles to make sure you get to the top of the box. You will also work your upper body slightly.

The last big thing I want to discuss is that this can be a great tool for weight loss and burning fat. Doing a box jump while force you to use many muscles to insure you get the movement complete. It is a good compound movement which will be great for losing weight and melting that fat off! So throw some box jumps into the training because this could be one tool you are lacking!

 

3 Box Jump Variations Video

Aj’s Progress

One of my great friends has had some great results off of one of my programs. I asked for his permission to share this information with you and I got the okay so I’m going to be giving the story in a little more detail today.

Aj is a hard worker and always looks for a way to better himself so I knew he would be great at tackling this lifting program. He wanted a little bit of a change and to get stronger so I put him on a program that has been similar to mine but with some minor tweaks.

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This is his transformation from week #1 to week #4. He made some great progress within the first week! As his body changed, so did his strength. His bench went from 235 to 265, which is a 30 pound PR! His deadlift went from 405 to 415 for a 10 pound PR. His squat has been a hard one to measure because Aj has been dealing with a few knee pains, but we are trying to work on that. My goal when I work with someone is to get them to their fitness wants and needs as SAFELY and QUICKLY as possible.

Here is a testimonial written by Aj himself:

” In Alex Costa’s 4 week muscle gaining program has changed me for the better. It changed me from how I look, to the way I think about myself and in life in general.

Before getting back into lifting again, I was a middle school football coach. I was going to school, coaching, school work and sleeping. I was lazy, and I had an excuse for everything. I remember Alex asking me if I’ve been to the gym and I would tell him no and that “I don’t have time.”

After the season ended, I wanted to workout. But every time I got the chance, I had an excuse for not working out. Not only I was lazy, I was also drinking a lot as well because I just turned 21. Finally I just say screw it and I went to the gym. I found a program online to help me get back into it. I did that program for a couple months, it didn’t work well for me. After Alex got his personal training certificate, I went to him asking him for a program. Not only he gave me this program, he also gave me advice on life and to be more positive. During this program, he was giving me positive feedback on how good I was looking, and it gave me confidence again. I began eating right and lifting and I never felt better.

After this 4 week program, not only I feel better, my mentality is better too. I’m more positive about myself, I just found my confidence again. If I could recommend anyone, I would go with Alex. Not only he’s my best friend/brother, he’ll help with whatever it is you need and help you to reach your goal.”

-Aj Oiler-

With Aj’s programming, we were changing a couple things up each week but not a whole lot. He did the following lifting schedule:

Monday- Back 

Tuesday- Chest

Wednesday- Legs

Thursday- Shoulders 

Friday- Arms 

Saturday and Sundays would be rest days to let the muscles get the time to recover.

This lifting schedule was designed to give him the maximum hypertrophy possible within the shortest amount of time. In other words, he had a workout that would totally damage the primary muscle that was being worked that day. When putting the right stress on a muscle, this can cause “damage” to it but in a good way. This is how your muscles grow and develop.

Again this plan I designed for him was supposed to make him stronger and build solid muscle which it has. I was very happy to see the results after just one week which is in the picture below:

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He did not have an exact goal with his weight so we did not go over a whole lot of dieting material but I did make sure he was eating better for the most part. He maintained about the same weight which as you can see, he transformed his body and looked a lot more solid at the same weight. Sometimes it’s not about how fast you lose weight but in what tools you use to look your best!

Aj did a great job and that is why I am wanting to share this with you, I helped him get started and made sure he kept it going! If you need some extra help in the fitness game, please feel free to contact me on the “CONTACT” page via email. I am a NESTA certified fitness trainer and can help you reach your full potential!

Send me an email and lets get your change started TODAY!

Email: CostaFitness1@gmail.com

10 Ways to do Cardio Without Knowing

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Time for cardio…sigh

If this is your reaction to cardio, then I might not only have 1 solution to your problem but 10 solutions!

Spring break is upon us and most people choose to start cutting and toning up. This usually leads to countless hours of boring cardio. Don’t you wish you could get cardio in without doing it? I am one that has never been a fan of cardio. The thing with cardio is you can still get the time in without realizing it. I am going to give you 10 ways underneath on how you can feel like you are “cheating” the system while still weeping the benefits!

 

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#1) Pick up basketball games are a great way to get your daily cardio in without feeling like you have to be stuck on a treadmill for 45 minutes. The good thing about this is even if you don’t have enough people to play a game, you can shoot around. By chasing the ball around for 30-60 minutes you will be surprised by the amount of calories you will burn!

#2) Take a nice swim day! I personally believe that swimming in a pool can be one of the best ways to burn an excess number of calories without even knowing!! Have kids? Take them out for a nice day at the pool and swim a few laps every 5 minutes or so! When I say swim day, I don’t mean that sitting poolside getting your tan on counts as swimming. Even just doing an extensive amount of walking or running in a pool will burn those extra calories!

#3) Beat up on your punching bag.  Have you ever noticed how Rocky was ripped or for matter of fact, almost all boxers. Boxing workouts can be a great way to take out some frustrations and torch fat right off! Throw some gloves on and start punching!

#4) Dance! Yes of course I had to put dancing on the list. With the compound movements that are involved in dancing, this sets you up for a ton of fun, hefty amounts of calories being burned and a fresh style to bring to the dance floor when you go to a wedding. Try some dancing classes with your significant other or a group of friends!

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#5) Climbing can be a great activity that can be a great exercise and cardio movement. With some practice, I guarantee this will leave you with a strong and toned back. This can be a great date to take your significant other on if you are looking for something with a little more adventure. This is something great to pick up and take on in the real world, my friend Max has went on some great climbing trips in Colorado and hits up the indoor wall climbing all the time for fun.

#6) Taking the dog on a walk or jog is one way for you and your best bud to stay fit! Start of with 5-10 minutes walking then turn it into a slow jog, I guarantee the dog will love it and you’ll be forced to keep up with the pup. You can always do runs for 5 minutes and walking for 5 minutes for a grand total of 40-60 minutes and you will get a nice cardio sesh in.

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#7) Kayaking is so much fun and is a tremendous workout! I have had the chance to kayak in the great state of Michigan and it can be beautiful depending on where you are. I recommend this when you go on vacation around lakes or a safe body of water, it is a great way to stay active and get a vacation of cardio in!

#8) Riding a bicycle is one of the most common ways to stay active and get some extra cardio in. You can increase the difficulty with riding up hills for part of the bike ride. Take a buddy with you and ride around the bike path to get that cardio in!

#9) Throw the good ol pigskin! Throwing can be a form of light cardio, the more cardio you want to get in, the worse the opposite thrower should be. If you have that one buddy that has never thrown a football in his life then you could be looking at a high intensity cardio session. This is simply because he probably could not hit you right on the spot so you will be chasing the ball half the time. Now on the other hand, if you want a good workout then set up a quarterback and line up at receiver to run routes. Run about 5-10 routes then switch places! This is a great way to burn fat due to the short durations of speed you are running. So what are you waiting for? Call your dude and grab a football!

#10) Golfing without a cart is a great way to get that extra cardio milage in. I know what you are thinking though, that’s probably a lot of walking and yes you are correct. It adds up to a pretty good amount of steps but it beats running in place on a treadmill for an hour, plus you can be having fun, relaxing and getting the health benefits as well!

 

I think that everyone should do cardio even if its lighter cardio. It has great benefits for a healthy heart! I don’t do a lot of cardio currently but I would not mind knocking some of these activities off the list!

Picture source: track ,basketballclimbingkayaking

3 Warm up Exercises for Your Hips

If you’re like me and many others out there, then I’m guessing you have tight hips or a pinching feeling in it when you move around a lot or go to squat. One of the main reasons for this is because of the sedentary lifestyles so many of us have. Wether it is sitting in front of the tv all day, sitting at the office all 7-9 hours of the day or classes having you in a seat most of the day. It is not uncommon for these feelings you may have in your hip. It does not help that it is winter time and most of the time it is colder out so we naturally would rather stay inside and watch tv or sit on our phones.

When sitting long hours on our butts, this leaves our hips in a flexed position for a lengthy amount of time. When this happens, the hip flexor tends to get shortened which can lead to pinching and tightness. This can sometimes leave your abductors (outside of hip) and adductors (inside of hip) tight as well.

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In this video below, I share 3 of my top favorite hip warmups. These are great to do  before your leg days especially before squatting. I have always had tighter hips, when I started to perform these exercises my hip tightness was cured! This may be great for runners and athletes as well for priming up the hips and pelvis joints before making a lot of lower body movements!

These 3 exercises will primarily target your adductors and abductors.

Photo source: minions

Tips for coming back from injuries

Suffering any injury can be quite devastating, I know from personal experience. However you can not let this take a toll on you mentally or physically, so I am going to give you 2 big things in this video that helped my rehab process speed up slightly and boost my confidence!

I am not a rehab specialist in no way, shape or form but I do know the basics and still studied it. This is solely from my experience and I am sharing it to you because this worked for me.

I hope this video can help any and everyone that is going through an injury! Have a great day!

-Alex Costa-

3 Reasons Your Training Could be at A Plateau

Plateau- “a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress”

Everyone has come to a plateau at some point. I’ve had it happen plenty of times, and I’m sure you have as well. In this article, I am going to give you 3 reasons you’re hitting a plateau and how you can avoid it!

 

You can literally plateau on anything. Whether its your bench stuck at a weight, your body weight is stuck and won’t continue decreasing/increasing weight or even muscles not growing very much. As a certified trainer, I have read a lot of things in my certification and many articles on this subject and here are some of the main examples and reasons you are at a plateau. Each will come with a quick and easy solution.

REASON #1) If I had a nickel for every time I have heard “my bench is stuck and won’t go up” I would be rich. This is one of if not, the most common plateau of them all in fitness. I here this a lot but see the same mistakes. This person will be doing a 3×10 on bench for months! This is one of the biggest mistakes when training, is doing the same exercise for the same reps and sets for a long period of time. Your body tends to get used to a stimulus when doing the same thing over and over. This is why it is crucial to change sets and reps. I am not saying come in and do 5×3 one week then 2×25 the next but give it a slight change like 4×10 one week then 5×8 the next week.

 

REASON #2) I often hear people tell me that they have fallen into a rut with losing or gaining weight. It happens to the best of us, but there is a way to fix this so don’t worry! When I run into this problem, I will grab a 98 cent notebook and start writing everything I am eating through the day as well as the weight. If I need to lose some weight, I may try reducing portions first to see if it helps. If I am gaining weight, I will need to increase the portions a tad. I highly recommend this method first because it can work wonders for weight plateaus.

 

REASON #3) A big goal most clients and gym goers have is to get stronger. When you plateau here, there tends to be one big thing you can do.. ADD MORE WEIGHT. Most of us going through this plateau never try doing more weight. Sometimes we need to over load the muscle but do so properly.  I recommend getting a gym partner but not just any gym partner, one you know will push you. It is always good to have a spotter on some lifts to help get some “forced reps” which is just one way of over loading the muscle.

 

These are only 3 reasons and examples today. There are plenty of plateau problems we all come across. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is the same thing that works for one, may not always work for another so mess with it a little till you get that change! I hope you all have a great day and as always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

-Alex Costa-