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!

Follow me on Instagram
Follow my gym Instagram account
Follow me on Twitter
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel
Add me on SnapChat: Costa_1

Have a great day!!
-Alex Costa-

Are Eggs Healthy?

Are they friend or foe? There has been talk for a long time saying that consuming too many eggs can lead to high cholesterol levels. Is this true, should we slow down on eggs? Let us dig into some research and see what science has to say about this..

Humans have been eating eggs for a very long time, one article says approximately 6 million years and counting. Eggs back in the good ol hunting days were one of the easiest things for us to hunt and gather because unlike the mammoths and wild animals, the fragile egg never wanted to fight back. Hmm to hunt a saber tooth tiger or eggs… decisions, decisions.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is described in this article as a waxy fat substance in the body, particularly in the cells of your body. Cholesterol can also be found in foods we eat such as eggs, fatty meats and cheese. It isn’t always a bad thing however. Cholesterol helps the body by helping the body with producing new cells and hormones as well as helping the body with dissolving vitamins. Most of the production happens in the liver, but researchers say that it isn’t necessarily the amount of cholesterol we consume but how much saturated fat is consumed with ones diet. (MedicalNewsToday.com was a huge resource where I got some of this information above)

The article I read on Medlineplus.gov discusses how too much cholesterol can be a bad thing:

“If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque. Plaque sticks to the walls of your arteries. This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis. It can lead to coronary artery disease, where your coronary arteries become narrow or even blocked.”

Good and Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol is broken down into 2 categories. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). These are important to remember because this is pretty much how we can tell if we have good cholesterol or not. The goal is to have more HDL and less LDL. This is because HDL helps with transferring cholesterol from around your body back to your liver, which is good because as it is moved to the liver, it processes it and gets rid of the bad cholesterol for you. Now on the other hand, LDL is the bad kind because this is the kind we hear about causing heart attacks and strokes due to it increasing a build up of plaque in the arteries.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a mixture of a handful of things. The main things that tend to increase the chances of having high cholesterol is having too many LDL in your body as learned above. Also not being active, eating a lot of saturated fats from items such as deep-fried and processed foods. Smoking also lowers our HDL which is our good cholesterol as it raises the LDL count which is our bad cholesterol, this part is especially true for women according to this article I read. Also pay attention to your family health history, if your family has had problems with cholesterol then take precautions by getting checked by your doctor on a regular basis of his recommendation.

So What About The Eggs?

Eggs do indeed have a yolk that can include up to 200mg of cholesterol which is one of the richest among other foods however eggs also contain a bunch of health benefits including some benefits that can decrease chances of heart disease.

Some things that we like to see in eggs are:

  • Vitamins A, B, B12, D
  • Iodine
  • Folate
  • protein
  • Healthy fat

It is a plus having the option to get eggs in organic forms and cage free which are a good option. If not the normal eggs are still there and for a very good price which makes it a convenient food to have in the fridge.

This is a part of an article I read from Harvard that I wanted to include for those who may have a health history of high cholesterol, diabetes or anything that would need to be discussed with their doctor:
“In studies including the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, heart disease risk was increased among men and women with diabetes who ate one or more eggs a day.  For people who have diabetes and heart disease, it may be best to limit egg consumption to no more than three yolks per week.”

Here is another part of the same article from above, I believe this was apart of their conclusion:
“While eggs may be a much better choice than sugary, refined grain-based options like sweetened breakfast cereals, pancakes with syrup, muffins, or bagels, they may fall short of other options. A bowl of steel-cut oats with nuts and berries, for example, will be a much better choice for heart health than an egg-centric breakfast. Consumption of whole grains and fruit predict lower risk of heart disease, and when it comes to protein, plant sources like nuts and seeds are related to lower cardiovascular and overall mortality, especially when compared to red meat or eggs.”

That is something I do want to point out for your health because I am not saying to go eat a stack of eggs everyday, I am saying to do your research. Talk to your doctor about your cholesterol and overall health and what diet would be best for you.

Conclusion

In any dieting advice you chose to follow, I always recommend talking to your family physician and a registered dietitian to ensure you are healthy enough to participate in any new diet. I also highly recommend getting your blood work done regularly/annually depending on your health. It is a good thing to go over your numbers with your doctor and ask any questions you have as well as discuss any nutritional guidance you should be following.

I personally eat eggs almost everyday, I try to substitute 1-3 days with a different alternative. After reading all of the articles and studies, I will try throwing other healthy options such as the steel cut oats with berries and nuts. I still believe for me personally, eating a few eggs on a regular basis shouldn’t hurt but I will be discussing topics like this with my doctor to get a professional opinion.

I hope this article helps you, I know cholesterol can be an important topic for many. Especially with an alarming number like 3,000,000 cases each year having high cholesterol. So please share this on social media and with friends and family because this could really help someone with their health and wellness.

Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!
-Alex Costa-

Resources:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323001.php
https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html

My Next Competition

You may have noticed my competition countdown on the homepage of my website, if not let me explain…

I was super excited to see a local gym and buddy of mine throw a powerlifting meet for his gym. I love competing and having a date on the calendar to get ready for. I also enjoy supporting local fitness businesses and other gyms.

I have decided to compete in a push / pull powerlifting meet on June 1st. I have been prepping for about 2 weeks already. A push / pull meet is a powerlifting meet where only the bench press and deadlift will be performed. The best lifter in each weight class will be the winner, most meets have an overall best lifter which is the strongest pound for pound lifter. I am sitting around 151-153lbs so I am going to try making the 148lb weight class for meet day.

I will be breaking down strength content pretty heavily this month. Especially for the deadlift and bench because of the meet.

I am super excited to compete! If you are in the area, check out the meet! You can find more info on Alpha’s gym page.

Hope everyone has a great Monday!
-Alex Costa-

Pros And Cons Of Supplements

The fitness and supplement industry has bombarded us with advertisements and have recorded 122 billion in sales as of 2016. That number is expected to grow up to 278.02 billion by 2024, at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 9.6% from 2016 to 2024, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Yea and we’re talking billion with a B. That is insane!

Now the big question is, what are the goods and bad of supplements? Well in my opinion, it depends on your goal, health status and what you’re looking for. Technically you could get gains without supplements but I do believe they have their part and can help speed up the process.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons here…

Pros

Helps speed up results
Depending on what you are looking for and what you purchase, the results can be introduced a little faster. A main reason for this is because of most common supplements holding an ingredient blend for recovery. For example BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) hold ingredients such as L-Glutamine, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine and so forth. These are ingredients that can help in regulating the blood-sugar levels, promote the recovery of muscle and bone tissues, as well as the production of growth hormone. So they can add some nice benefits there.

Quality supplements are gold
Ask anyone who has been with the same supplements or company for a long time. Quality supplements and service are a great combo. When you get taken care of and are happy with how the products work and taste, it commonly ensures you that your purchase was worth it and they will continue you deliver good products with a high quality service as well.

Correcting nutrient deficiencies
For some out there, supplements are best to help with nutrient deficiencies. An article I read says “One analysis of US national survey data (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2006) found that children and adults with high intakes of added sugars (>25% of energy intake; the upper limit recommended by the National Academy of Medicine) had lower dietary intakes of several micronutrients, especially vitamins A, C, and E, as well as magnesium. An estimated 13% of the US population have added sugar intakes above this cutoff level for added sugars and may be at risk for micronutrient inadequacies.” This is alarming, not only are our eating habits falling drastically and have been declining each year more and more but this type of habit leads to vitamin and nutrient deficiency. That can lead to a number of things, mental health being one big one. Mental health such as anxiety and depression can really be triggered by nutrient deficiencies. Another part of the article mentions “Very low dietary intake of a vitamin or nutritionally essential mineral can result in deficiency disease, termed micronutrient deficiency. Micronutrient deficiencies, especially iron, vitamin A, zinc, iodine, and folate, are prevalent in the developing world, affecting an estimated 2 billion people worldwide. They are a major contributor to infections and associated with severe illness and death”

Now let us look at some cons…

Cons

Bye bye money
As you seen in the opening paragraph of this article, the supplement industry has definitely made its way into our wallets. Some places you go, you’ll see supplements for higher prices so if you do want supplements go somewhere where they have a good price on them or look for deals going on. Bodybuilding.com and MuscleandStrength.com always have some pretty good deals. I get most of my supplements from MaxEffortMuscle.com which also runs quiet a few deals.

Not the same as real food
There is no way around this one. Supplements are just that, they supplement the body. They are not whole nutrients from real food. A lot of dietitians and health experts will say that you can’t get the type of nutrients whole foods offer from a supplement, I agree. Whole healthy food is numero uno.


Some supplement companies aren’t 100% truthful with the ingredients
An article I read revealed that “calorie counts on food labels, for example, can be off by 20% in some cases and still be in compliance with FDA regulations.” FDA stands for Food and Drug Administration.

With that being said, another article says “The FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe BEFORE they go to market.” I wanted to include this to give some background information on the FDA because it seems like they always get a bad rep. However when a supplement contains an ingredient that is new to the market, the FDA must be notified by the supplement companies manufacturers about it. The FDA will review the ingredient for safety, not effectiveness which is something that stuck out to me.

Conclusion
In my personal opinion, I enjoy supplements and believe they surely have their place depending on a couple factors. I wouldn’t solely rely on supplements to get you to your goals but think of them as a helping hand, aiding in recovery and other small task that can make a huge difference.

Whatever you decide to do, supplements or no supplements, I would do some research and talk to someone that has knowledge on supplements, vitamins and nutrition such as a registered dietitian or a doctor. Make sure you check with your physician and ensure you are all good to start any diet plan or taking any supplement.

Thank you for reading todays article, I hope this helps you! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me and I would love to help you out.
-Alex Costa-

Additional resources:
-healthresearchfunding.org
-https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview

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-

10 Ways to Manage Stress

Stress is a constant knock on the minds door that can be hard to shake. It can beat you down if you let it and I fell victim to it for such a long time. I still do from time to time but I have learned many techniques and skills to cope with stress and anxiety. Let me help you by sharing 10 of my top ways to fight back and get rid of some of that stress and anxiety you have bringing you down.

  • “75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year – American Psychological Association.”
  • “Stress is a top health concern for U.S. teens between 9th and 12th grade, psychologists say that if they don’t learn healthy ways to manage that stress now, it could have serious long-term health implications – American Psychological Association.”

These are some alarming statistics I got from Gostress.com and if we don’t fix this, we could be in for some trouble down the road. So let’s get started.

#1 Exercise
This is a no brainer and I hate to be a broken record player because you have probably heard this a thousand times. This really helps though and if you haven’t tried it, I recommend you get out and exercise. This doesn’t always have to be strength training, it can be running, boxing, taking a class, working with a trainer, walking with your dog (which is a double whammy -see #5) or a friend. Just get out and move. This boost self-esteem and self confidence and also gets blood flowing which helps send more blood to the brain to help process thoughts easier. This also releases endorphins in the brain which is basically like sending love to your mind, body and soul to help relax and reduce stress. So what are you waiting for, get out and move around!

#2 Meditation
I used to think meditation was the biggest waist of time until I made myself do it for a month straight. Since then I try to mediate in the morning right after my workouts everyday.

Meditation may not get rid of all thoughts but it will help immensely with coping with the thoughts and making the mind feel more at ease with it. Trust me, this helps so so much. I went through such bad anxiety and when I started to use meditation for just even 5-10 minutes daily, it played a huge role in being able to fight back. I highly recommend HeadSpace. It is a guided meditation app that you can get on your phone and it has worked wonders for me as well as millions of others I’m sure. It’s a FREE app so go delete some photos to make more storage and download it!! There is also a subscription you can get for more options.

#3 Yoga
I did yoga back in high school during football and track but not daily. It helped a lot with flexibility and nerves before big games. I started doing daily yoga at the same time I started my daily meditation and they go hand in hand. These first three things on my list are literally how I start everyday and I can’t put into words how beneficial it has been for me with managing stress and anxiety on a daily basis. Yoga is a great form of mindfulness and mobility work for your body to stretch and strengthen muscles you probably forgot you had.

I highly recommend Sarah Beth’s yoga YouTube channel, it’s what I use everyday. I do a 10 minute yoga session everyday and usually try to switch it up each time. She knows her stuff and makes it so easy to follow along. Go get ya yoga on!

#4 Essential oils
I know, I sound like a hippie for this but don’t knock it until you try it! I added a lavender essential oil roll on to my bag after I had a massive break down a couple years ago with my anxiety and panic attacks. I still use it to this very day. I like the roll ons because I am on the go a lot and I can put it on my wrist for a smell I can easily have access to when needed.

They have a bunch of different scents and essential oil forms so go out and check it out and pick one that you enjoy. Lavender is popular for its calming effect but each smell has its own unique spot to help you so research and try it out!

#5 Seeing animals


This will most likely be everyones favorite part of this article. You might as well get in the car after you read this and go to a local pet store and play with the dogs. Studies show that being around an animal such as a dog can reduce stress, fear and anxiety. It does so by releasing oxytocin, which is a chemical in the brain the can increase your mood positivity.

Here is one of the studies I read about : “The effect of social support by a dog in comparison to support by a friendly human during a social stress test on the cortisol levels of children with insecure attachment representations was investigated by Beetz et al. (2011). The support by a friendly dog during the experiment was associated with significantly lower cortisol levels than support by a friendly human.”

Who doesn’t love spending time with a good boy/girl? Go give your dog some love, it will be beneficial for both of you.

#6 Talk to a friend or family member

My family are some of my best friends and I would never trade them for the world.


Although it may not be as good as an animal based off of what we just read, sometimes being able to interact with another person like a good friend or close family member can be a good way to have a person to help for advise and to listen to your problems.

A study discusses how having a low quantity of social support may increase mental health effects such as depression and anxiety, this is more common in high stress situations such as low income household in the study. So find some friends and family and hangout because friend networks can gives a sense of belonging which can help get through the harder times.

#7 Reflect on positivity
I know when you are stressed or going through any kind of anxiety attack, the last thing that comes to mind is about how thankful you are to have some bomb cold pizza waiting in the fridge at home for you.

On a real note, try to write some of the things and people you are thankful for each week and carry it with you so you can reflect on positive thoughts when you get a little stressed. These can be things such as family, friends, a date with your girlfriend or boyfriend, a task that was completed, an event you have coming up, nice weather, anything really that brings enlightenment or excitement. Take 5 minutes and just reflect on some positivity, it can lighten up the mood.

#8 Write and rip
This is a little quick and easy technique you can use if you need to get a little stress anger out. Write the topic down on a small piece of paper and rip it up. Do it 2 times if you need to, just make sure you try to recycle paper if you do this more than a handful of times each day or just try one of the other 9 techniques.

#9 Laugh & smile

Taylor and I laughing as we have a stranger try taking our picture


This kinda ties in with seeing animals in a way. When you smile and laugh it basically tricks your brain into thinking you’re happy.

There are a million ways to crack a smile and laugh. Go do something fun with your friends, family or boyfriend/girlfriend. Listen to a comedy podcast, watch comedies on Netflix, I recommend Chris D’elia, Kevin Hart and Sebastian Maniscalco. I also watch “What The Fit” Kevin Harts YouTube series, it is hilarious and you’re bound to get a laugh out.

Laughing will help relax your muscles from being tense due to the stress, so laugh it up just like Taylor and I in the picture above. I think we were laughing about the pumpkin and how giant it was, definitely was probably something else.

#10 YOUTIME
This may be one of the most important ones on the list and it is always overlooked. When you have a busy schedule, work a crap ton of hours, full time student, anything along those lines, you need to make time for yourself. I have a solid 2-4 hours of ME TIME almost everyday. I wake up at 4-5am, go to the gym by myself, comeback and then meditate, do yoga and then I’ll usually make breakfast and then watch a youtube video before I start my day. I get that almost everyday and it is super nice to be able to gather my thoughts and prepare to whoop the days a$s.

Start getting a little YOUTIME even if it’s a 20 minute walk in the middle of the day.

I really hope you find some takeaways that will help you because this is a subject that is important and needs more attention. Please share this with friends and family that it might help so we can decrease the amount of stress and anxiety the world fights on a daily basis. Have a good Thursday!

-Alex Costa-

Other resources:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress

anxiety#section16https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19331256

STRESS FACTS



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-

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-