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3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes

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I was in the gym experimenting with a few exercises and training methods these past couple weeks and I feel like I have struck gold with some of these. I want to share one of them with you today! I have tried this with some clients and they have a love/hate feeling for this one haha. I call it “3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes”. If you are tight on your schedule then this could be a great tool for you to use or if you’re looking to add in extra volume or just get a solid pump, this will most definitely get the job done!

I am a huge fan of hitting a muscle from different angles but it can take up quiet some time during training if you are doing a few sets of 10 reps. Nothing wrong with that approach at all but here’s a method that can take far less time and increase the total work volume put in during your workout which in turn can create more muscle damage (in a positive way).

As you can see, to the left I have a picture of the pectoralis major muscle. I wanted to show you this so you can see how the muscle fibers run. The muscle fibers run laterally and insert into the top of the humerus. As we do our incline angle it will target what I have marked in the blue. As we take the bench angle down to a flat bench it will target more of the red area. Then the decline angle we finish with will help target the green area.

As you can see, we can manipulate this exercise to target different areas of the chest. After 1 set your chest will be begging for a break. If you think you can handle a little bit of a challenge try it for 2-3 sets total. Take 1 minute of rest after one whole set is complete. Afterwards I would target a different muscle to ensure to you do not overwork that muscle for the session.

Another key note to take into thought is to properly warm up the body and chest/shoulders to make sure your body is ready for the workout. This is a little more intense so if you are a beginner and have never lifted weights before, I would start off by breaking this down into 2 x 10-15 reps at each bench angle for a few weeks then start with 1 set of the 3 bench angles in 3 minutes and gradually increase sets to 2-3 as you get the feel for it.

I hope you like this one! Try it out and give me your feedback. Have an awesome day!

-Alex Costa-

Simple Eating Plan To Follow

Important Disclaimer

I would like to start this article off by saying that I am not a registered dietitian, so I can not give you a plan and say “do this”, “eat that”, “take this”. That goes outside of my profession. I will say that I do know my fair share on nutrition, supplements and health topics so I am no rookie when it comes to it. This eating plan is used as an example and for content purposes only. Speak with your physician before starting any diet or taking any supplements to ensure you are all good to go. If you use this, I am not at fault, for using anything on this website is YOUR DECISION.

Now that we have that all cleared up, lets get started!!

One common thing I am asked about is “what should I be eating?”, “whats a good option for my meal?” So here in todays article, I figured I would make a super simple example eating plan that you can use to follow along with or use as a template. This plan is not really a “bulking” plan and not necessarily a “cutting” plan either. It is just a basic healthy meal plan with good options. I am not claiming that this is the best meal plan out there, you would need to find one that suits your needs, goals and health history. As mentioned before this is just a plan of healthy options so if you have a hard time eating healthy and you need a first step or just want some more options then this could be for you.

Each meal is listed out below. For some options I put an amount for example “2-3 eggs”. That is something I would use but may not be the same for another persons caloric needs. Keep that in mind, I good option in my opinion for foods like meats are about 4-10 ounces. Veggies for me would be 1-2 cups.

Breakfast: 2-3 eggs, half cup of plain oatmeal with almond milk or water, add cinnamon and berries for flavor. One of the most important meals of the day!

Snack: Cheese stick and an apple. Simple yet delicious!

Lunch: Grilled chicken salad (salad made of baby spinach or kale or both)
Add a very small pinch of cheese, and mixed veggies such as carrots, mushrooms, peppers. If you add dressing, try using a vinaigrette as these tend to be a healthier option.

Snack #2 (if you get a hungry): 1 serving size of almonds or cashews, let me repeat the “1 serving size”. Nuts can be high in calories due to the fat count so make sure you weigh these or measure them out so you can control your portions.

Dinner: Ground turkey (93% lean, 7% fat is a good option in my opinion), veggies ( I like to use broccoli or mixed veggies) and an avocado or baked potato (alternate on different nights. Both are going to add quiet a bit of calories in one serving)

*Please keep an eye out for allergies, this layout has foods that are a common allergy for many such as nuts and cheese/dairy.

So there you have it, this is something super simple and very easy to put together for the week. Just write a list for the grocery store, get everything needed and bring it back and make some food to pack in containers for the week. You can store them in the fridge if you’d like and that way they are ready to take on the go or ready to pop in the microwave for a healthy meal.

Nutrition is one of the most important things you have to have in check if you are looking to make some serious progress. I hope this helps you even if it’s just seeing an example eating plan laid out for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me through email or social media!

Have a great Monday!
-Alex Costa-

3 Exercises For A Stronger Squat

When it comes to adding pounds on the squat, it can get very aggravating. It takes time, practice and a lot of work to develop a stronger squat. One thing that can help speed up the process is picking out the correct auxiliary lifts that will help increase muscle strength in those muscles that we use for the squat. In todays post, I will be covering 3 of my top exercises I use for my clients and myself when we need to add some pounds to the bar.

As I said above, exercise selection is crucial when strength training to increase weight to the main lifts like the squat. When I first stated I would just do a couple sets on the quad extension and seated hamstring curl machine. Don’t get me wrong, those machines are good and have their purpose but I noticed I never really added much to my squat when I only did those exercises and a little bit of calves. As I furthered my knowledge and started experimenting with myself, I noticed a select number of exercises that I would do when my squat would increase. Then I learned how to hit weaknesses for the individual when I got into powerlifting which literally changed the game for me as a trainer. I will get into this in a different article, today I am showing some of the best exercises that will help you develop a stronger squat. So let’s get started.

My first one I have on my list is the GHD. Now not everyone has the luxury to have one in their gym, I didn’t when I was at my previous gyms in the past and I didn’t even have one at my private gym at first. When I researched how beneficial the GHD is and researched countless studies on strength, performance, speed, and injury prevention I knew I needed one in Iron Strength and Conditioning. I dropped the money and got one of the best on the market, the Rogue Abram GHD 2.0 for my private gym. This puppy is one of my favorite pieces of equipment not only for me but for a lot of my clients as well. With the GHD, you can perform glute ham raises, back extensions, side bends, crunches and a lot more when you start to get creative.

The GHD works so well because because it is essentially a bodyweight hamstring curl. It is a difficult move to get down at first if you’ve never done it but it’s worth the practice because this can be one of the best exercises to increase your squat and deadlift. As you get better at these, add more resistance by adding bands or holding a dumbbell.

My second exercise is another solid hamstring/glute exercise. I watched a video of Jeff Nippard’s YouTube channel that goes over a study with a different variation of this exercise being one of the top listed exercises for reaching the highest Electromyographic (EMG) level for the hamstrings. This is primarily due to being a movement that keeps the hips in an extended position which activates the glutes and hamstrings, then as you bring the ball in, it is a knee flexion motion which will active the hamstrings even more. A couple things to remember is to keep your glutes engaged and keep them extended so your butt doesn’t drop down, that will take tension off the glutes and lower back. I also think about digging my heels into the ball as I bring it in as if I were trying to pop the exercise ball. A way to increase difficulty is to do one leg or use ab slider for your feet.

My 3rd exercise I have for you is one of my favorite lower body exercises, walking lunges. I used to use these here and there in my leg training when I started, I would use a barbell variation and do them in the rack but the lunges changed when I learned more from Cory Gregory. I learned that you can use walking lunges as a form of General Physical Preparedness (GPP) which in theory is literally strength conditioning. It is a movement that will work the muscle and be used as a form of cardio when lengthening the distance. This will then lead to increased training volume and increasing weak areas and will have your squat going through the roof. These lunges aren’t just a 3 sets of 12 each leg type of deal, were talking some serious distance. 400-800 meters worth in one session. Yes like the 400 meters that make a lap around a track. Now if you are starting off with these, start with something like down and back a few times in your gym then try increasing to 100 meters, then 200, then 400 and more if desired. I have found that 100-400 multiple times a week worked best for me. I added about 90 pounds to my squat back when I did these just about everyday combined with a squat everyday program Cory came out with. It worked wonders for me, but find what works best for you and don’t be afraid to try new things. That is what has made me a better trainer and let me know my body better as far as what works for me and what doesn’t. I could add on to the lunges and write pages about how beneficial they are but I will save that for another post.

These 3 exercises are not the end all, be all theory that will save your squat but these 3 have been very beneficial for me and my clients I have trained. I have seen multiple clients add 30lb to their squat and even some that had 70-100lbs added in a couple months. That does not mean it will happen for you but this is a perfect example of trying new things because you never know when you will find the perfect list of exercises that will address weak points in your lifts.

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me over the years, I appreciate you reading this post. Please try to share this with a friend, family member, teammate or coach to help others increase strength.

Have an awesome day!
-Alex Costa-

I’m Competing In The OPBA Competition!!

The OPBA (Ohio Power Bodybuilding Association) is a unique competition created by a couple guys in my area. They have only done a little handful of shows so it is still new and growing! This type of competition is interesting as a competitor because you are not just do a bodybuilding show and not just doing powerlifting, you are doing both, back to back days on the same weekend. Programming for this and dieting can be a challenge. You really have to try to learn what works best for your body.

I have been prepping for about 7 weeks now, so I am doing about a full 10 week prep all together. I have used this prep to experiment with some new training/diet methods. One new thing I have been testing out is carb cycling which I will explain more in a different post.

I am excited to try something new, honestly I have been wanting to try this competition out for the last couple times but now it’s time to go for it! I’ll be sharing more content based off of what I am doing to get ready for the competition. Can’t wait!

Have a great day!
-Alex Costa-

Workout Wednesday – Arm Pump


Happy Hump Day, time for another Workout Wednesday! Today we will be hitting arms. I did this a couple weeks ago and got a solid pump, one of the best arm workouts I have had in a little while. So give it a try!

*If you don’t know how to do some of the exercises, I should have them all in my Vault of Gainz page on my website –>https://costafitness.org/workout-page/

Have a great day!
-Alex Costa-

How Music Can Play A Role In Your Exercise Performance

You ever have your tunes on shuffle and in the middle of one of your last sets, one of three things happen..

  1. music stops out of no where, maybe wifi is messing up in the gym or your app seems to want to make you mad by closing out.
  2. an ad from pandora comes on about weird random stuff.
  3. Taylor Swift comes on, and not that I don’t totally headband with some T-Swift but just not my jam when I am cranking out my heavier sets.

If this has happened to you, welcome to the club. Now obviously not all of us have our music on shuffle when we workout. We tend to have a favorite station, playlist or genre of music we like to listen to. What if I told you that the music that comes out of your earbuds could play a roll in your exercise performance?

There has been studies dated back as far as 1911 when Leonard Ayres, an American investigator noted that people that would cycle were moving faster when a band was playing compared to when it was silent. (This is from the source listed below at the bottom of this post)

Studies show that when we workout to music, we tend to ignore the pain and fatigue feeling that we get which in turn can lead to pushing through more weight, longer runs and more total effort in our exercise.

People that run tend to like songs with beats around 160-165bpm (beats per minute). That is probably cause it is natural for our bodies to want to move to a beat, and the faster the beat, the faster we tend to move.

WTF Fact of the day… I was listening to The School of Greatness Podcast with Lewis Howes and he had Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue, that show is the sheeet. He was discussing about how he would increase the bar music at his own bar from something slower, probably around 90-120bpm to about 140-160bpm. He would do this because he noticed a faster table turnover rate, meaning he could get more customers into his bar and out faster which in turn brings him more chedda. As you can see he is a very smart man when it comes to that but he uses the whole, more beats = more movement thing to actually make himself more money. Knowledge bomb, your welcome.

Back to the article.. as you can see, music can make a huge difference in many ways. But the bigger things we look at when it comes to exercising is that it distracts our pain/fatigue level and make us want to move more (exercise). So go back and make sure you got that playlist bumpin for your next workout!

Here are 5 of my top songs in my playlist currently. I am a huge fan of all music and I enjoy listening to podcast as well but when I need to juices flowing, I go to these 5 songs!

Have an awesome day!
-Alex Costa-

Sources:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychology-workout-music/

https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/10/20/can-listening-to-music-affect-your-workout/

Healthy Recovery Bowl Recipe

Healthy Recovery Bowl Recipe

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! I had a little bit of a busier weekend with it being more of a birthday weekend, woot woot. I finished an ab workout on Sunday and wanted something with a little carbs but not too many, I opened up Instagram and saw a recipe on my guy Dustin Myers page (go follow him @coachmyers_gutcheck). Great guy and amazing strength and conditioning coach. Anyway, it was a little different than this but not by much so I threw my own thing together and it turned out amazing! Full of nutrients and nothing that was going to leave me “too full” whatever that means.

Here’s a quick throw together recipe you can do within 5 minutes! All you need is:

These are the ingredients I used here above in the picture
  • Oats (half cup)
  • Almond milk (about a half cup or full cup depending on preference)
  • Almond butter (1 tablespoon)
  • Chia seeds (1 teaspoon)
  • Blueberries (I did a mini handful)

First you can take care of the oats and milk by mixing them and throwing them in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes. After you take them out, let it cool for just a moment then place a tablespoon of almond butter on top. Afterwards, I threw the blueberries in on one side, then came the chia seeds to top it off.

This snack is full of vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients to kickstart your day and give you some energy! This was delicious and only took a few minutes to put together. Try it out and let me know how you like it!! Also feel free to throw in different fruits and toppings to match what you are craving!

Have a great Monday!

-Alex Costa-

Super Bowl Sunday Smoothie

One of the biggest sports events of the year… The Super Bowl.

A day where millions of chicken wings and potato chips will lose their lives… Let’s save some chicken and some temptation by giving our body something that will fill it up a little bit.

Let me introduce to you The Super Bowl Sunday Smoothie. Totally not my recipe, I used some ideas off of Mel’s awesome blog. Check it out here.

The ingredient list is quiet simple:

- 1-2 handfuls of blueberries
- 1 medium size banana 
- 1 big handful of spinach
- About a half cup of Greek yogurt ( I used Vanilla)
- About a half cup of milk ( I used protein nut milk)
- About 1 TBSP of honey
- Some ice to give it a little cold crunch 

From here, it is pretty self explanatory. I put all of these into my blender and blended for about 1 -2 minutes. I love the taste of it, not too sweet and not too bland.

My banana was pretty ripe which can sometimes play a role in how it can taste. So if you are picky about that, pay attention to how the banana looks.

I usually count macros and give my audience a look at about the total of everything but I didn’t get a chance to weigh anything. My smoothies probably around 300 calories or so just cause of the greek yogurt, and milk. You can use a low sugar alternative for the yogurt or almond milk to reduce calories and sugar.

Try this smoothie out, I think you’ll really enjoy it! Plus it is better than greasy wings and potato chips that a lot of us will regret eating tomorrow.

Have an awesome day and enjoy the Super Bowl!!

How to Shovel Snow Properly

There are about 11,000 injuries due to shoveling snow each year. A lot of back pain/injuries from incorrect movement patterns when shoveling are drawn from that number. I want to help by teaching you how to shovel properly so you don’t have to suffer any pain during the winter! .Share this so you can keep your friends and family clear of back pain this winter season!

5 Health Benefits of Eating Avocados

Where my avocado lovers at??

Avocados are such a great food to use in your diet, at least in my opinion. They have so many health benefits so I wanted to share 5 awesome benefits to enjoying an avocado!

Avocados are high in fiber. This helps with your digestive health and helps process foods as they break down in your bowels.

High in potassium. We hear all about this but what exactly does that mean? Yes it can lead to less muscle cramps for athletes but that’s not it! It can help build muscle as protein gets broken down. It helps with blood pressure, muscle strength and bone strength. I could go on and on but you get the point, get that potassium in!

Avocados are high in fat…healthy fat that is. Avocados contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which aid heart health as well as healthy brain function.

Healthy eyes! This one was a new one for me. Studies have shown that avocados contain something called lutein and zeaxanthin which helps to keep your eyes healthy as we age.

Avocados can lower blood pressure. Cardiovascular disease as of 2018 takes a life every 38 seconds. This is insane and a big portion of the reason is what we are eating. Foods such as avocados can help reduce blood pressure but I also highly recommend some kind of daily activity or exercise and a diet such as the DASH diet. For more information on this topic, please feel free to reach out to me and ask me any questions. I will answer what I can but a registered dietitian will have the answers as well.

Next time you stop at the store, grab some avocados and make healthy guacamole or slice it up as a snack. You will be consuming a high quality food and may experience some of these health benefits! Share this with someone that needs to see this!

-Alex Costa-

Sources:
https://www.heart.org/-/media/data-import/downloadables/heart-disease-and-stroke-statistics-2018—at-a-glance-ucm_498848.pdf

https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/recipes/2014/12/5-surprising-health-benefits-of-avocados