How To Make A Decline Bench – (GYM HACK)

GYM HACK💥

Want to target that lower chest? A decline angle is a great way to start. However you may be in the gym and the decline bench is taken, but need to get going. Take some bumber plates if available and set up a mini stack. I would not do more than 3-5 plates depending on how it is set up. Place them under the lower half of the bench to set up a decline angle.

This is also a great technique for if you have a flat bench at home and want to switch it up. The couple things you need to watch and check are safety factors. Make sure the bench is stable. I typically test this by pushing the bench at that end and sit on it and perform the movement WITHOUT weight first to ensure it will not slide. If you have rubber gym flooring and rubber bumber plates, you should be good. PLEASE use caution when doing this. I would try to get a spotter to help by spotting the weight and have the spotter also keep an eye on the bench to make sure it doesn’t slide.

Share with a friend and get to work! 

-Alex Costa-

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The Ultimate Christmas List For The Fitness Lover

It’s almost time for Black Friday! Which means Christmas is already around the corner. When shopping for someone that’s into fitness, there’s a couple things to pay attention to. 

Some people can be very picky. Not because they are a picky person but because of different factors that are involved in their training. Some things to keep an eye on and maybe ask if you aren’t sure is:

1. What kind of fitness are they into? 

Bodybuilding, CrossFit, powerlifting, yoga, etc. This can really help so you look in the right direction.

2. Supplement favorites?

Are they sensitive to caffeine, does whey protein mess with their stomach, do they have a flavor they can’t stand?

*DO NOT JUST TAKE A STAB IN THE DARK AND GRAB THE FIRST THING AT WALMART.

This can be an area where you might just want to avoid unless you have a really good idea what they use and like.

3. Do they have access to a gym?

This can decide whether to get some items or accessories for the gym or home.

4. Do they have this item already?

If it’s a supplement or subscription box then thats okay because it’s an investment that is made consistently. However if it’s a set of bands, do they have this set already? Do they need another set or should we grab something else?

So what makes the list?

Whether you have a family member, gym friend or you’re doing a random acts of kindness for someone into fitness, I plan of having you walk away knowing exactly what to pick for them! I have created a list of 10 items that you can’t go wrong with! Lets get started!

1) Fitness subscription box

Iron Crate

Every fitness lover finds monthly fitness subscription boxes super exciting! Think about it.. it’s basically a fitness Christmas each month! I love my monthly box I get from Iron Crate. We keep it exciting and fresh each month. We include the most trustworthy and highest quality products on the market. We also include workout programs to keep you busy in the gym and even throw in items that you can use such as shakers, gym accessories and fresh gear to wear!

Why try shopping for stuff and end up getting something they may not like when you can take out the middle man. We hand select the items each month and create a unique monthly Crate for our customers. We even take care of shipping too! 

The best thing about Iron Crate is that the retail value adds up to anywhere from $80-$130 each month but the monthly subscription customers only pay $39.99 a month for a box full of fitness goodies! So you can get up to $130 worth of fitness for only $39.99!

Go grab an Iron Crate for you, a family member or a gym buddy to make their Christmas! You can save 15% off your first Iron Crate with using the code “CRATE15” at checkout! 


Iron Crate

2) Healthy snacks

Healthy snacks are such a great choice! The best part is that it fits all categories of fitness! Iron Crate has you covered again. We also carry amazing snacks packed with protein that make great treats for any fitness enthusiast. One huge favorite is the protein candies we carry from MusclePharm. They taste just like M&Ms but without all the sugar that will affect your blood sugar levels. They are also a great source of protein and the taste is out of this world 🤤 I snack on these all the time when I’m craving chocolate.. which is almost everyday. Grab some items and fill up a stocking for your fitness lover this Christmas!


3) Vitamin D

Out of all vitamins, this one is going to be a huge seller this year. Most of us are deficient in vitamin D. They say that this specific vitamin may help protect against becoming infected with, and developing serious symptoms of COVID-19. 

Healthline.com saysA new study that looked at 216 people with COVID-19 found that 80 percent didn’t have adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood

That is going to be one thing right off the bat that increases sales on this vitamin. Let me explain why this is a great gift idea other than that. Vitamin D is known for helping to have healthy muscles, bones and teeth. It can also help keep your immune system healthy, regulate energy levels and aid in brain health. The benefits of this vitamin are a tool most of us need, making it the perfect item to throw on the Christmas list this year.


At home gym equipment

It’s 2020.. the gyms have been closed down once. Let’s be honest, it won’t hurt to have a couple things at the house just to be safe.

Here’s a list of home gym items I would go with.

4) Yoga mat

This is a good option because for most fitness categories, you will typically want some kind of mat or padding on the floor. This can protect the weights, floor and the lifter.

5) Glute resistance band

Glute resistance band from Ironcrate.co

Let me explain why I LOVE these and think everyone needs one. Our glutes are naturally weak. Especially if we sit at school or at a desk all day. This can cause low back pain and issues with the hamstrings. This glute band can help increase strength in the glutes and hips.

If you are an athlete, this tool can aid you like no other. It can help pre-activate the glutes which essentially turns them on to increase strength during your workout. This can increase overall strength and lead to more muscle activation for bigger muscles and better performance.

I hear the girls in my gym talk about this all the time.. They want better and bigger glutes. This band WILL help if used properly.

I use this band for me and my clients before all of our lower body days in the gym. It is one of my favorite investments and I believe you will be just as happy as I was when you get one.

We sell these for an amazing price on Ironcrate.co , just click the button below and it will take you to the item on my website so you can pick one up before we sell out.

6) Adjustable dumbbells

Going with the adjustable ones compared to the ones that are coming already set at weights will save moolah. It also saves space which is a plus. You can get a good pair from places like Amazon or even Walmart. I would get a set with some kind of iron weights compared to the plastic weights. That is just my personal preference though. If you are on a surface where you need to take care of it, then plastic might be a better idea.

7) Resistance bands

This is a great gift idea. It is highly utilized by many fitness categories and has many functions making it a good tool to have at home.

There are 2 main bands that will pop up when you type this into the search bar. The ones on the left are great for exercise variety. If you don’t have dumbbells or any weights then this may be a better decision because it will give you more options. The bands on the right are very popular for other things. They do not have handles like the other set and are a closed band as to where the other set is open. These are great for athletes that do explosive workouts. It is also a great tool to have added in if you have a squat rack or bench set that can add band resistance. They will typically have pegs for bands on the bottom.

8) A good pair of wireless headphones

Notice I didn’t say Air Pods or Beats? This is one I would ask about if you think that person is picky because just like supplements or flavors, this can be one of those gifts that the person may want a specific pair. If you have the budget, I think Air Pods or Beats are the higher quality ones on the market. However, one of my brothers and sisters has a set of headphones that look just like Air Pods and operate at just about the same level, so if that person isn’t picky, those are a better option if you have a lower budget in mind.

This is personally one of the items on my list this year. I like my normal headphones but I find myself always in a hassle messing with the cord. I do a lot of work involving my headphones and don’t always want to carry my phone on me so I like the thought of not worrying about the wire getting in the way or getting stuck on everything.

9) Shaker bottle custom to their favorite interest

The shaker bottle companies have been changing the game lately with their special series they are always dropping. They have bottles with teams, super heroes, food items and yes even some with avocados working out on them.

As someone that loves a lot of different fitness categories, there is something about having a flashy shaker bottle or one that is custom to what your interest are that makes you feel some type of way. Remember that feeling when you got that fresh new Scooby lunch box back in 1st grade, and you couldn’t wait to show it off? Yea that feeling. So take note of what their interested in and search it up.

10) Smart Watch

Apple, Fitbit and Fossil have amazing smart watch products. No matter what category your fitness lover is into, the watch makes working out so much fun!

This is also a great gift to get a beginner because it can really keeps them motivated by little things like “filling the rings” on the watches. Basically it sets goals for you such as walking distance, calories burned, time standing, etc. As you accomplish the goals, it fills up rings on your watch. This is like checking off something on a to do list. It gives a great sense of accomplishment!

Lets WRAP this up, get it.. Christmas.. gifts..HA, not funny, I know

There are a lot of amazing products out there that are going to be brought to your attention due to high marketing around the holidays. This doesn’t mean you have to get the 1st thing you see on the commercials. Next thing you know, you’re getting a shake weight for your grandson that is into powerlifting. So trust me, this is a good list that can really meet expectations for all fitness categories.

Wanna see another list for a specific category such as athletes, cross fit, runners, etc? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you want to see! Also let me know if you have any items that you think should be added to the list!

Have a safe and fun Thanksgiving this week!

-Alex Costa-

Iron Made Arm Workout


I know there’s a lot of stress right now with the election so what better way to simmer down and relieve stress than with a solid arm workout! Stop watching the news all day, take a break and get out of the house to enjoy the weather. Get some exercise, eat healthy food, practice some meditation and yoga. This is a simple way to relive a little stress that may be coming up.

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I put together a video you can watch while you workout so you can see form, sets and reps. I also included exercise tips on the video!

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Barbell curls 5×8

Tricep rope extensions 5×15

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Barbell skull crushers 4×12 

Hammer curls 4×8

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Bodyweight skull crushers 6×10-15

Seated curls 6×15

Band pushdowns 6×20

At Home Vertical Jump Workout

I know it seems hard to get a good workout in without a gym or equipment but it’s still possible! For my athletes that want to increase their vertical and those of you wanting a different workout, I have something for you!

This is a workout that can be done at home! I will be doing some more workouts like this, including speed workouts and more strength building, fat loss workouts!

I hope everyone is having a great day!

-Alex Costa-

My Deadlift Warm up

The deadlift is one of the most taxing exercises. With tons of variations that can be down, it can make it easy to be injured if you don’t warm up properly. I have seen a lot of injuries due to not warming up, so lets break down the warm up for your deadlift in todays article.

Why warm up?

The warm up and cool down are crucial for your workout. Without an efficient warm up, you are opening up your chances to injury. Without cooling down, you are increasing your chances to what is called venous pooling of blood in the lower extremities. This can cause you to be light headed and also cause dizziness especially in higher intensity workouts.

What should your warm up look like?

When I discuss warm ups with someone, I take into account what kind of workout they are getting ready to perform. I also look at a few other factors such as the clients health, previous injuries, age, equipment around the gym and more. That is how important the warm up is and it should be thought of as so.

It would take a long time to go over how your warm up should look if I listed every possibility so that is why I will be talking about warming up for the deadlift.

Every good warm up should have you breaking a very light sweat or right on the edge to start sweating. Starting off on a cardio movement such as a bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc. would be good to start with. Again depending on the workout listed, would vary the warm up time but 3-10 minutes should do in most strength workouts for the cardio. I would like to also list that it should be down at a low intensity such as a 50-75% speed in most machines.

Next I look at performing a self myofascial release method such as foam rolling. 5-10 minutes could be spent here if needed. I like this because this followed up with some dynamics will allow an increase in blood flow in the areas worked. This will help increase mobility for the time being, warm up that muscle and allow a decrease in chances of injury.

Dynamics are next on the list. A dynamic movement is typically described as a movement allowing a full range of motion, in turn giving a light but efficient stretch to the muscle.

I do not typically perform static stretches because this tends to relax the muscle as where the dynamic stretches can ready the muscle to fire for our strength movements.

After dynamics, I work my weakness areas to wake the muscles up to fire properly. This is where the warm up can sometimes be very specific and specialized to the individuals needs. Lets say you have low back pain, or your back is a little tight on a day we are scheduled to deadlift. I would incorporate a couple exercises like the reverse hyper, walking lunges, and back extensions or band good mornings. This would allow more blood flow into the back and assisting muscles to increase the stability for the low back. This portion can be different for everyone most of the time.

Last we have what I call “pre activation work” which is very similar to the strength movement we will do. This may also look like the weak areas we hit depending on the individual. Since we are on the subject of the deadlift, I like to incorporate stiff leg deadlifts, goblet squats, and sometimes a couple sets of pile squats to wake up the adductors (inner thigh muscles) if we have a sumo deadlift day.

I also want to mention that when doing any strength movement, especially the deadlift, START LIGHT and do a couple warm up sets to check technique and get the right muscles firing.

My deadlift warm up routine

Bike

Foam roll

Leg swings

Hip circle walks – front, back, sides

Stiff leg deadlift w/ dumbbells

Iso Glute raise with band pullovers

Start with lighter weight to check technique

That sums up the majority of the things needed to be covered today but if you have any questions on warming up, please reach out to me and ask some questions! I hope you all have a great day and enjoy this article and video!

-Alex Costa-

5 Of My Favorite Arm Exercises (Workout Included!)

Summer is around the corner which means the t-shirts and tank tops will be making an appearance. Let’s start working on those arms to make sure you’re looking good by the pool!

I’m a meathead at heart so of course I always have some workouts ready for an extra arm day here and there. There are a couple main things I have learned about training my arms that have made a huge difference.

  1. Using a progressive overload method will almost always win in the long run.
  2. It’s not always about the pump, but the pump is nice to see and motivates you.
  3. There is a time to heave the weight up and arm training is about 90% the opposite. Make sure you work form strictly.
  4. Don’t be afraid to hit arms heavy here and there.
  5. Increase frequency to increase size and strength.
  6. Don’t forget the triceps!! The triceps take up about 2/3 of the arm.

I will write an article on arm training and include these but for now lets get to what you want… the exercises and workout!

Exercise #1 The cheat curl

This is a classic exercise used back in the golden era bodybuilding days to really create some mass. I have learned a couple twist and tweaks to make it even better!

Start with a straight barbell and load it to a desired weight. Take an underhand grip right outside shoulder width and unrack it. Curl it up, as the bar gets a little heavy, you can use your body to get a little momentum helping the bar go up. (Don’t over extend your lower back, that is how you can hurt yourself.) Once you get the rep to the top, squeeze your bicep and when you go to let the bar down, we are going to take it down nice and slow, preferably about 4 seconds on the way down. The muscle damage happens during the eccentric portion of the lift or in this case, when you lower the weight.

This is an exercise I usually try to work a little heavier in weight with. This will really help build some mass for your biceps.

Exercise #2 Close grip bench

This in my opinion is almost the same effect for your triceps as the cheat curl is for the biceps. This is another exercise I tend to work a little heavier in to overload the triceps.

Set up on a bench just like a standard bench press, except instead of taking your normal grip width, bring the grip into about shoulder width. (Picture of my setup shown below) Take the bar and wrap your hand around it, unrack weight and bring it down just like a bench press. The main difference is that your grip will be closer and your elbows will come down by your sides closer than a normal bench. You can do touch and go reps or pause reps if desired.

My close grip bench setup

This is a great exercise to add some size to your triceps and add strength to get a stronger bench press.

Exercise #3 Bench dips

This makes my list because I love loading up with weight to increase the difficulty. Standard dips can be a little stressful on my shoulders at times so this is another variation that you can use to hit your triceps.

Start by going to a flat bench and sit on the side. Bring your hands in to your sides so that your thumb is right underneath the butt when you are sitting down. That is the width I use to really target the triceps. From there, walk out your legs or put your legs on another bench a few feet away from you. This will leave you in a starting position with your body being held up by your arms. Your arms will start to bend and you will descend into a dip. Don’t go to far forward during your dip as this can stress the shoulders. Think about keeping your back sliding along the side of the bench as you go into your dip. When you get your arms to about 90 degrees (depending on your mobility) you will use your triceps to push yourself back up to complete the rep.

I have always noticed that when I include this exercise, my arms look more defined and my bench is stronger than usual.

Exercise #4 Overhead tricep extension

The tricep anatomy. Picture is from http://www.physio-pedia.com

The overhead tricep extension is a great exercise that has a solid purpose. Your tricep is composed of three muscles, hence “tri”. One of the muscles called the tricep brachii or the long head of the tricep connects to the scapula. (Shown here with a circle) That is important to remember when we use the tricep to function. We can really hit the long head when we lift the arms overhead for an exercise like this when we use an extension of the elbow.

I love using this exercise to hit the tricep and add some nice looking definition to my arm.

Exercise #5 The preacher curl

I couldn’t do this list and not add this exercise. This is one of the main exercises a lot of people do in the gym just because the machine is there and easy to use. I love this exercise because it can really help you isolate the bicep without cheating the rep. This adds a lot of stress to the biceps, in a positive way.

This exercise hits what is called the brachialis and the biceps brachii. This exercise can put immense tension on the biceps so be sure to warm up with lighter weight for 1-2 sets before adding anything heavier.

You can add this in for a finisher at your gym if it is a machine and switch weight a lot faster!

The Workout

Time for the workout… We learned what each exercise does and how to do it if you watched the videos. Now let me go over a few important side notes to ensure you have a solid arm workout.

Cheat curls and close grip bench should be a little heavier but still make sure you have good form. For the overhead extensions, I want you to do 1-2 warm up sets to get the joints ready for the movement. After that I want you to start with a heavy weight that you can control for about 10-15 reps. Do your reps TILL FAILURE then rack that weight. Immediately pick up 5-10 pounds less and go till failure again. Now do that same thing 2 more times so you end up with a total of 4 sets right back to back with each other. This is a great arm finisher just make sure you either have a spotter or have a spot to drop the weight safely if you are able to do so.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have enjoyed creating it! Please give me feedback and let me know how you liked this article and if you want to see more post like this!

Follow me on my social media links shown below for even more helpful tips including exercises, workouts, nutrition, increased athletic performance and so much more!

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Have a great day!!
-Alex Costa-

3 Killer Low Ab Exercises You Need To Try

One of the most common areas I get asked about around this time of the year is the lower abs. This can easily be the trickiest part of the body to work for so many because a lot of us especially males tend to hold fat around this spot so it can sometimes be one of the last areas to have noticeable results. My advice is simple, eat in a caloric deficit, train abs often especially the lower abs with the right exercises like what I am about to show you and stay consistent with this because it will take time but it will be worth it!

#1 – Hanging leg raises


I watch a lot of Jeff Nippard’s YouTube channel and I believe he had an science explained video on abs. He went over how the lower ab exercise that hit the highest on the EMG scale was the hanging leg raise variations.

I enjoy this (not really) because this exercise, when done correctly really works core strength and makes those low abs start to pop. It can be a more difficult exercise for beginners so just start with low reps such as 5 and do as many as 5-10 sets until you start getting better at these, then start doing 10 or more each set.

#2 – Scissor kicks to a leg hold


This is one I started doing when I was in the gym experimenting with core work. I then implemented it with clients and got feedback. Of course they hated it so I kept doing it. They don’t pay me to take it easy on them. They love the challenge though! I like to do these towards the end of the workout to burn out the core. I will typically do 2-5 sets of 20 seconds on scissor kicks then straight to 10 seconds of leg holds. We will do this a few times without rest and then try to push out a couple more sets.

#3 – Hanging scissor kicks

This is one I came up with a while back and it burns the abs like a mo-fo. I like to just hold on to the pull up bar when I do these but you can also use the arm slings if it is more comfortable for you. I like to do these for 50 total reps or for 30-60 seconds. I will do about 3-5 sets of these.

Bonus AB Training Tip

Abdominal muscles are a little different compared to the rest of the muscles in the body because they are constantly firing and being used. I mean think about it, you drop your pen on the ground and go to pick it up and the first thing that fires is your core. With that being said, you can handle more training frequency with your abs then some of your other muscles so you could technically train them everyday, which has been a great tool for me. I have done it before and I know plenty of other fitness experts that have done it.

I would recommend switching the exercises up each day. Have a list of 10 ab exercise you want to hit for a couple weeks straight and split them up evenly through the week. Do a total of 100 reps all together each night for the exercises you picked.

You could also use my Iron Core Challenge to go off of. It is a month of different ab exercises that you do 100 reps each night. They can all be done at home by the way! It has videos and the lay out plan on that page. I loved it, and so did a lot of others around the world that tried it!

Something you could do with these 3 low ab exercises is set it up like the following:

Monday:

-Hanging leg raises 5 x 10
-Hanging scissor kicks 5 x 15 seconds
-Scissor kicks to a leg hold (15 seconds – scissor kicks, 15 seconds leg raises) 5 sets

Wednesday:
4 sets of 30 seconds each – no rest at all, get through it and you’re done for the day.

Hanging leg raises
Scissor kicks to a leg hold (15 seconds each)
Hanging scissor kicks

Friday:
As many sets as possible in 12 minutes

Hanging leg raises — 10
Scissor kicks to a leg hold –(20 seconds each)
Hanging scissor kicks –40 total reps – 20 each leg

Thank you for reading todays article, I hope you found it helpful! If you have any questions, reach out to me and I would be happy to help you out!

Have a great Tuesday!!
-Alex Costa-

10 Ways To Increase Muscle Recovery

Your alarm clock goes off in the morning.. You get up to hit it and almost fall off of your bed due to how sore your legs are. The legs start to tense up and every step you take, you feel the bittersweet leg day soreness.

The last thing you can think about is trying to stretch out your legs when you feel like you can barley walk after training. Well let me discuss with you in todays article 10 ways to increase your muscle recovery so you can get through the soreness and back to the gym for the best performance possible.

#1 – Mobility work

Deep lunge stretch


When I have a set plan, mobility takes up a good portion of it for a couple reasons. One being that it helps my mobility in exercises and for my performance. Two, it helps with my recovery. I warm up for 10-20 minutes which includes the bike, foam rolling, dynamic stretches and pre activation work. My night time mobility consist of foam rolling, a few dynamic stretches and static stretches. This has been a game changer I have noticed when I stay consistent with it.

#2 – Supplementation
Do you need supplements? Not really but do they help with muscle recovery? Yes, yes they do. Some of my go-to supplements I take for my muscle recovery include BCAAs, protein and creatine monohydrate.

These will reduce muscle soreness and aid with the construction of the muscles when they are broken down and in need to recover.

#3 – Contrast showers
You know when you take a shower and it’s warm for like 2 minutes then gets super cold? Yeah, welcome to a contrast shower. Some people need their plumbing fixed and some people are just crazy like that.

This is a unique method that not a lot of people have the will power to do. It sucks and there is nothing exciting about it. However it does aid in recovery of the muscles. A contrast shower is when you utilize the cold and hot temperature of the water to exert different blood flow through the body. This essentially allows the blood to rush through the body for increased recovery and the heat acts as a method to loosen up some tightness as well. You go from as cold as you can stand it for 30-60 seconds and then to as hot as you can stand it for the same time. I only do this for 4-6 minutes at the most.

I wouldn’t necessarily do this everyday but include it 1 or 2 times a week here and there if your muscles are a little sore.

Here is my article on Contrast showers.

#4 – Sleep!
So I have mixed opinions on this but at the end of the day, it is extremely hard to fight the science on this topic. Research says for best results, you should really try to aim for about 8 hours of sleep a night. Now does everyone get 8 hours every night? Probably not. Do I get 8 hours a night? probably not. Will this make or break you? Ehh maybe but probably not.

Look, for 2-3 years I went almost everyday on 4-5 hours of sleep because I would stay up to work really late and be up by 4:30am everyday to go to the gym. I am not saying this is the right way by any means but I will say I was able to withstand that and felt okay. My anxiety was getting super bad and I would sometimes have a hard time sleeping but I dealt with it.

Recently I have really tried to get 6-8 hours a night and holy cow, I feel way better. Literally a night and day difference. An article I read said that “sleep deprivation can have a significant negative effect on performance and recovery.” It also touches on how when you sleep, your body can undergo protein synthesis and help the recovery process.

#5 – Deep tissue massage
This is very similar to foam rolling, basically the same concept. Now before you go and set up an appointment for a deep tissue massage, I just want to be clear that this isn’t the type of stuff you see in movies where you are relaxed and completely loving every second. This is painful, but a good pain. They are getting deep into the muscle to release tension and allow a better blood flow to happen so for that to work, they will typically use their hands and some massage tools. It is great if you can afford them or just even doing a couple a month is something you could try. Not necessary for recovery though, so feel free to foam roll instead if you’d like.

#6 – Keep hydrated
Keeping hydrated is crucial for too many reasons to write about. However when you are dehydrated, you are putting your body at risk for many things, recovery being one of them. I read in an article that “exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself” So carry a jug and a bunch of water bottles and sip on it through the day, especially before, during and after a workout.

#7 – Limit alcohol
I read this in an article and it was different and stood out to me so I wanted to include it into this post. It goes over how studies say that more than 1-2 drinks after working out could impair the bodies chance to recover. I honestly never knew that until I read that, so it is something I wanted to incorporate into todays article.

#8 – Ice bath
This brings me back to the good ol high school days where we would jump in an ice bath after football and track practices. I have done some research on this topic and I found an article that actually goes over how ice baths may not be as good as we think for recovery. However it shouldn’t hurt if you use it here and there after intense workouts. It is said that the cold water constricts blood vessels and flush waste products from the muscles.

I would use ice baths once in a blue moon to help with muscle recovery.

#9 – Static stretch after working out
I have always followed this protocol as a cool down method and to help relax the muscle from being tense. I found a very interesting article that mentioned “Static stretching initially reduces blood flow, capillary region oxygenation, and the velocity of red blood cells to the muscle, but this is significantly increased after the stretch.” This personally makes sense to me because of the mechanical strain being placed on the muscle when stretching and lengthening. This is just like what was mentioned in that article above, it will compress the vascular system. They said there is still research still needing to be conducted for further evidence. In my opinion, I would throw some static stretching in after training for its ability to relax the muscle and cool down the body after exercise.

#10 – Stress management
I got a lot of positive feedback on the article I wrote last week, it was called 10 Ways To Manage Stress. I highly recommend you read that and learn a few techniques.

Another article I read said “When intense workouts are thrown into the volatile combination of high chronic stress and an already overworked body, you are asking your body to eventually break down in the form of lackluster results or, worse, severe injury. Any form of stress in your life is going to take a toll on your overall well-being and your body’s capacity to take on anything further.”

Take some time and manage stress, it will help with recovery and living a happier, healthier life.

Now that we have talked about what we can do to help increase our recovery, it is time to utilize this information and share it with a friend. Pick some of these out to try or do them all! Don’t forget to tell your gym buddy or a friend to help them with their recovery!

Have a great Monday!
-Alex Costa-

Workout Wednesday (Chest and Back Pump)

Welcome to another Workout Wednesday! Today we are hitting chest and back! We are going to use the “3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes” technique that we saw in yesterdays post.

Start this workout with a good warm up. Here is an example warm up I would perform before this workout:

Bike – 5 minutes
Shoulder swings – 10 each way, 20 total
Band pull aparts – 2 x 15
Push ups – 2 x 10

Now that we have a warm up in, lets get started with 3 sets of pull ups till failure. If you can not do a pull up, do assisted pull ups if possible for at least 8-10 reps each set. If you have no access to assisted pull ups, do lat pull downs. Set the weight stack to your body weight and do as many as possible.

After that comes the dumbbell bench presses. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post on the 3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes then check it out so it all makes sense for you. You will do 2-3 sets with 60 seconds of rest after a whole set is complete.

We are making our way to the cable machine after for some reverse cable flys to target our rear delts.

Picture was used from google images.

We will then hit seated cable rows with a close grip. We will start heavy and decrease the weight as the reps increase. The catch here is that after every set you complete, switch weight and get right back to work. This will pump the back up before you leave the gym.

All in all, this workout should be something you can complete in 30-40 minutes if you get to work and don’t get distracted. This will be a solid workout though, use your better judgment for the weights you pick. Do something challenging but nothing that will break down form.

Try this one out next time you go to the gym and let me know what you think! Have a good Wednesday!

-Alex Costa-

3 Bench Angles in 3 Minutes

Click here for the video!

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-