3 Tips to Help Skinny Runners Build Lean Muscle

The 3 Muscle Building Essentials To Help Skinny Runners Gain Lean Mass Without Bulking Up or Slowing Down

muscle for runners - muscular runner (male)So, you’re a runner and you want to build some muscle, but you don’t want to end up looking like the Incredible Hulk. And you’re not afraid of short shorts, but you’re not planning on stepping out on stage in a Speedo anytime soon. I get it. You want go muscle, not show muscle. You want to build some lean mass, but you don’t want to “bulk up” and slow yourself down.

The good news is that it can certainly be done. The bad news is that it won’t be easy, but that’s never stopped you before, has it?

Oh, by the way, if you’re looking for a secret or “1 weird trick” to help runners build muscle, you won’t find it here. There is no magic or miracles to building muscle. It takes the combination of a few key factors, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of hard work.

Before we get to the “how to” stuff, let’s dispel a common myth.

Myth: distance runners cannot build muscle.

Truth: building muscle is very hard for anyone, and doing it on top of a strenuous running program is even harder. But it is possible, and with the right approach, you can start to get results immediately – regardless of who you are.

Note: it will be more difficult for females who have lower testosterone levels (among other things) and older runners whose recovery needs are greater (among other things). But it’s still possible for any runner to build lean muscle!

Continue reading 3 Tips to Help Skinny Runners Build Lean Muscle

How to Actually Get the Body of a Spartan Warrior

7 Simple Steps to Get the Body of an Ancient Spartan Warrior

spartan warrios - ready for battle

Ever since the movie 300 came out, I’ve run across a lot of resources on how to become a Spartan warrior. Since then, there have been many popular 300 workout routines, Spartan warrior training tips – Spartan this, Spartan that. You probably remember the huge craze following the movie’s release on how all those guys got such great abs (hint: the makeup, lighting, and special effects helped). Gym Jones got some serious PR for awhile because it churned out a bunch of good-lookin’ dudes. And this trend is still going on. I’m still seeing Spartan-themed workouts, events, and even programs around the web.

And so, I thought I’d put my own twist on this craze in typical Siffer-fashion.

So, here’s how to actually get the body of a Spartan warrior, in seven simple steps.

  1. Choose your [Spartan] parents wisely.
  2. Make sure that you’re born in Sparta roughly 2500 years ago.
  3. Be male.
  4. Don’t get discarded during infancy.
  5. Leave your family at age seven to start military training.
  6. Endure vigorous daily training, incredible hardship, and extremely harsh disciplinary procedures.
  7. Continue such military training until 20 years old, and if accepted into the Spartan army, remain there until age 60.

If you do all of that, then you, my friend, will have the coveted body of a Spartan warrior – the abs, the scars, and all.

What?

Did you really think that finishing a muddy obstacle race was going to do the trick?

My good fellow! It was Plutarch who said of the Spartan warriors, “They were the only men in the world with whom war brought a respite in the training for war.”

So, I hate to say it, but your Paleo bacon poppers probably won’t do the trick.

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P.P.S. Photo credit 1.

P.P.S. Related post: 25 Things The Spartan Warriors Didn’t Need To Get Fit And Prepare For War.

25 Things The Spartan Warriors Didn’t Need To Get Fit And Prepare For War

King Leonidas - Spartan Warrior

The ancient Spartans didn’t have such valuable resources like smart phones, fitness trackers, or fancy exercise equipment. Nor did they have the scientific research on human anatomy, physiology, bio-mechanics, and performance enhancement that we do today. Or, the Internet, for that matter.

In fact, there were a lot of things the Spartans did not have that we do. And yet, the Spartans were some of the most physically capable and feared people in recorded history while we’re some of the least healthy, least fit, and least physically capable people in recorded history.

With that in mind, here are some things the Spartan warriors didn’t need to prepare for war.

  1. They didn’t need Bodybuilding.com, Fitocracy, or Reddit.
  2. They didn’t need Men’s Fitness, Shape Magazine, or Women’s Health Mag.
  3. They didn’t need Crossfit, P90X, or Zumba.
  4. They didn’t need Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Safeway.
  5. They didn’t need to eat low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, etc.
  6. They didn’t need the perfect playlist to psyche themselves up for their workout.
  7. They didn’t need a TV in front of them to workout.
  8. They didn’t need to check in on Facebook and post selfies of their workouts.
  9. They didn’t need to listen to gurus, subscribe to newsletters, or check their blog readers daily.
  10. They didn’t need to count calories, measure portions, etc.
  11. They didn’t need to balance their macronutrients.
  12. They didn’t need Creatine, BCAA’s, or Glutamine supplements.
  13. They didn’t need pre or post-workout shakes.
  14. They didn’t need single digit bodyfat.
  15. They didn’t need cardio machines, Nautilus machines, pulley systems, etc.
  16. They didn’t need ab rockers, thigh masters, or shake weights.
  17. They didn’t need bulging biceps or six pack abs.
  18. They didn’t need minimalist footwear, trail runners, or motion-control shoes.
  19. They didn’t need compression tights, yoga pants, workout gloves, sweat bands, or ear buds.
  20. They didn’t need foam rollers or lacrosse balls.
  21. They didn’t need step-counters, GPS watches, or heart rate monitors.
  22. They didn’t need kettlebell swings, kipping pull-ups, or squat thrusters.
  23. They didn’t need HIT, HIIT, or the AMRAP protocol.
  24. They didn’t need gym chalk, rubber flooring, or air conditioning.
  25. And finally, they didn’t need to talk to their doctor to see if Cymbalta, Lipitor, or Cialis is right for them.

It’s true that we have more knowledge and resources at our fingertips than ever before. But we can still learn a lot from those who have come before us. And in this day and age, we need every bit of help we can get. Just food for thought.

Now, what would a Spartan Warrior think if they landed here in the USA today? And what if we took them to Planet Fitness?

Planet Fitness - Leonidas - Madness?

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P.P.S. Hat tip goes to Ross Enamait for inspiring this post with his often-witty remarks.

P.P.P.S. One last thing…caption this:

Leonidas at Planet Fitness

Photo credit: 1, 2, 3 (note: changes were made to 2nd and 3rd photo…obviously.).

How to do a Plank: Proper Plank Form

Learn How to do a Plank With Proper Form Using This Summary of the Most Important Technique Tips

how to do a plank: proper plank form (female model)

Other than the elbows placement being a little narrow, this is an excellent visual example of proper plank form. Photo credit goes to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/livingfitnessuk/8949005525

The plank is a fairly straightforward exercise, but a lot of people don’t perform it properly because they’ve never been taught how. You can think of the plank as creating an arch with your body. That is, you’re creating a strong, stable, structure with your body that is capable of supporting a large load.

Now, I’ve already created a very in-depth, thorough guide to proper plank form and posted it here: The Right Way to do the Plank Exercise. But I also know that some of my readers have requested shorter (and simpler) training instructions. So, I’ve created this short and sweet guide on how to do a plank.

Only the basics here, folks, but it should be enough to get you started.

How to do a Plank: Video Summary


Continue reading How to do a Plank: Proper Plank Form

33 Things The Best Athletes Do That You Probably Don’t

trio of female runners

Are you going to be a winner or a loser? Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/15229173247

There are two kinds of people in the world of fitness and athletics: those who succeed and those who don’t, the winners and losers, the achievers and the wannabes. And you can usually spot them from a mile away. Here are some hints on how to tell the difference…

  1. They workout. We train.
  2. They do things like drink red wine and eat dark chocolate to stay in shape. We don’t believe in fairy tales.
  3. They get about 6 hours of sleep every night if they’re lucky. We get at least 8 hours because we manage our time.
  4. They try to get a good workout in once in awhile, or when they feel like it, when it’s convenient, when it’s sunny, blah blah blah. We do our work daily.
  5. They give up when things get hard. When things get hard, we get started.
  6. They get fast food or some other junk after a hard workout. We get fuel fast after a hard session.
  7. They drink alcohol. We drink coffee or tea.
  8. They have a little coffee to go with their sugar and cream. We take our coffee black.
  9. They try hard for a few days or weeks. We work hard enough for as long as it takes.
  10. They go out and party on the weekends. We stay in and achieve our goals.
  11. They buy into weight loss scams to help them lose weight. We don’t even have to worry about body composition.
  12. They live for the weekend or their next vacation. We live for the present and don’t feel the need to escape our daily lives.
  13. They “wing it” and never get anywhere. We plan, execute, and adjust as necessary.
  14. They hate exercise. We love what we do and we don’t even call it exercise.
  15. They worry about what they’re eating. We don’t have to.
  16. They look for quick-fixes. We look for sustainable results.
  17. They hit the snooze button over and over again and eventually drag themselves out of bed. We don’t need to.
  18. They take off-days or “cheat days” when they need a break. We’re always training, always recovering.
  19. They eat food-like substances most of the time (e.g. fast food, junk food, processed food, etc.). We eat real food most of the time.
  20. They drink sodas, juices, mocha-chinos and energy drinks. We drink water – just water.
  21. They think that working up a sweat and burning some calories is the sign of a successful workout. We think progress is a sign of a successful training session.
  22. They rarely even get the basics covered. We know that the details matter.
  23. They are always yo-yoing with their diet and workout program. We are always sticking with our plan.
  24. They chase after physique goals like getting abs or slimming/toning/etc. We chase after performance goals and get the looks to go with them.
  25. They buy into the latest fads, trends, and crazes. We stick with what works – what’s always worked.
  26. They give up at the slightest hint of failure. We pick ourselves up again and again.
  27. They fixate on unimportant details. We look at the big picture.
  28. They procrastinate. We started years ago and we’re still going.
  29. They go easy. We go hard.
  30. They accept defeat. We adapt.
  31. They seek comfort. We seek out the uncomfortable.
  32. They do whatever is easiest. We do whatever is best.
  33. They can’t win. We can’t lose.

And in the end, we always win.

So, yes, there is a big difference between the achievers and the wannabes, and it’s really quite simple. It all comes down to the choices we make. And the good news is that anyone can choose to improve themselves starting right now. So, who are you going to choose to be – starting today?

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P.P.S. Hat tip goes to ETP.

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