Double Amputee Jared Bullock Hits The Bodybuilding Stage

During his fifth deployment, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Jared Bullock ran over an IUD in Afghanistan and lost his right arm and leg. As soon as his recovery allowed, he was back in the gym. Just 10 months after hitting the IUD, Bullock ran a 12-mile race.

Since then, he has competed on the bodybuilding stage and completed a dozen more obstacle courses, mud runs, and Spartan races. What could make a man this resilient? Maybe it’s his upbringing, or his military service, or something coded in his DNA. Regardless, his story will inspire anyone who feels limited in pursuit of their fitness dreams.

Bullock and his brother enlisted in the Army in 2003. After two tours of duty in Iraq, Bullock started training for the Green Berets.

From Farm to Special Forces

Bullock himself traces his tenacity back to his boyhood days on his grandfather’s farm in Illinois.

“My twin brother and I grew up doing a lot of manual labor on my grandpa’s farm,” he says. “He was an awesome man, but he didn’t take any shit. [laughing] If you wanted to eat, you had to work. That attitude started there and just kind of grew within me until I joined the Army.”

Bullock and his brother enlisted in the Army in 2003. After two tours of duty in Iraq, Bullock started training for the Green Berets. He earned his beret and deployed to Afghanistan. Exactly one month later, the vehicle he and his team were riding in struck a roadside bomb. Bullock was blown almost 300 feet and lost his right arm and right leg. His best friend was killed, and two other team members were seriously injured. Bullock says that one minute he was driving the vehicle, and the next he was waking up in an Army hospital in Germany.

Redefining Symmetry

After a year of rehab at an army base in San Antonio, Texas, he vowed to himself that he would run an obstacle course within the next year. Remarkably, 10 months later, he did it. After the race, he began to focus on building his strength. His trainers kept telling him to build up his strong side and not worry so much about his injured side, but he didn’t agree.

“I was doing my own research on how to train without all of your limbs,” he says. “At the same time, I was working with child amputees here in the United States and kept seeing how the asymmetrical strength they were developing would cause them problems. I didn’t want that to happen, so I spent a lot of time in my gym working my whole body.”

Bullock had started building his home gym eight years earlier when he had to travel a great deal as a Green Beret. When he was home between deployments, he wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible at home with his wife and son.

“My gym is well-equipped,” he says. “I have a standing calf-raise machine, a lateral-raise machine, and a leg-extension/hamstring-curl combo machine. We have a couple of racks in there for barbell work, dumbbells, various forms of sandbags, a few kettlebells, and some battle rope and plyometric boxes. I have everything I need.”

Strong Side/Weak Side Workout

Bullock started creating his unique workout by copying the exercises a couple other amputees posted on Instagram. Then he just started looking at body movement as a physics problem.

“You need tension,” he says. “You’ve got to have certain angles. I just played with those on machines and using straps looped over a barbell. I figured out how I wanted to do it as I went along.”

He experimented with ways to use what remained of his right arm to do deadlifts and settled on nylon Velcro straps. Having spent part of his time in the Army as a member of a mountain team, he knew a lot about fasteners, which helped him figure out the best way to attach the straps to his barbells. As he worked on his equipment, he also adapted the exercises themselves.

“Every now and then I try to do full deadlifts,” he says. “But I don’t have that great of a range of motion and can end up hurting my lower back if I’m not careful. So I tend to focus on rack pulls. Or if I’m feeling kind of iffy on certain lifts, I’ll use a lot of bands.”

Bullock says he also enjoys doing anything shoulder related, noting that having two beefy shoulders helps him look more symmetrical in front of bodybuilding judges.

“My wife and I invested in a plate-loaded lateral weight machine, which makes it a lot easier for me to set up,” he says. “I use it for front raises on my amputated side, too. I’m just happy my mom gave me such good shoulder genetics.”

Bullock says he can’t do a lot of the raises he did before, and when he does his adapted movements, his workouts take much longer to complete. If he only has an hour, he does a unilateral workout. If he wants to go heavy on his amputated side, he asks a friend over to help him get set up, then act as his spotter.

“I usually like to stick with kind of an upper/lower split,” he says. “Yesterday, I did legs on the calf machine that I use for four different exercises. I set it up so I can do six reps of step-ups at about 200 pounds. Then I’ll do three “finisher” sets at 15-20 reps with a lighter weight to pump in some more blood. For legs, I’ll do heavy single-leg Romanian deadlifts, then I’ll finish off with leg extensions and hamstring curls. I don’t go for in-depth on my left leg; it just grows anyway. I don’t try to beat it too much, because it’s the only one I’ve got,” he adds, laughing.

Bullock says he can't do a lot of the raises he did before, and when he does his adapted movements, his workouts take much longer to complete.

There isn’t much of Bullock’s right leg left—a mere 9 inches. Even so, he’s able to train it using a very low platform to do step-ups, with his robot leg attached. He also does sled walks sideways, pushing off with his right leg to give it a workout.

Of course, he, like every other strength trainer, hates cardio. But it’s more difficult for him because a workout of any length can cause abrasions where his skin meets the prosthetic device.

Bullock says he’s learned to eat much more nutritious meals, and he augments his diet with a pre-workout supplement, protein, vitamins, and fish oil. While other people with disabilities might have a problem with gaining unwanted pounds, that’s not an issue for this high-energy ex-Special Forces soldier.

“I’ve always had a fast metabolism, but now, as an amputee, I burn calories like crazy,” he says. “My robot leg weighs 10 pounds. Dragging that around takes twice as much energy as it would to walk around with a regular leg. I burn through so many calories that I have to eat about 4,500 calories per day.”

A Star Builds a “Smart” Home

Despite all the admittedly badass workouts he posts on Instagram, Bullock admits that he’s only human.

“When I’m worn out at the end of the day, I’ll sit down and rest in a wheelchair,” he says. “It takes a lot of energy to maintain my stability.”

More stability will come soon after Bullock and his family move from their current home in Florida to their new home in Illinois, where both his and his wife’s families live. And it won’t be any old home. The day after he retired from the Army in 2015, he received a call from the actor Gary Sinise, who started a foundation dedicated to helping veteran soldiers, first responders, and their families.

Despite all the admittedly badass workouts he posts on Instagram, Bullock admits that he's only human.

“Gary called me and said, ‘Hey, man, we want to build you a house.’ I was like, ‘That’s awesome. We accept your offer.’ It’s going to be an amazing house,” says Bullock.

All the doorways in the new house will be large enough for a wheelchair. The cabinets will be custom made to pull out and down so Bullock can access the contents without having to stand up. He’ll also be able to adjust the AC, lights, and other systems from his iPad.

By now, Bullock has accumulated so much equipment that he asked for a slightly larger garage to house his home gym. The Gary Sinise Foundation went one step further and built an additional 20-by-20 room that, unlike his current gym, will have HVAC so he won’t “sweat to death” like he does in Florida.

Paying It Back, Paying It Forward

Bullock loves his home gym. But the gym he’s most excited about is the one he’ll build in a yet-to-be-found location near his new home.

“The gym truly is my dream,” he says. “I want to own a business. I want to serve the community. And I want to be able to be successful so I can support all the foundations that’ve helped my family and me. Whatever they gave me, I’ll give back to them so they can help other veterans.”

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Cardoso denies taking EPO, requests B sample test

In the wake today’s UCI announcement that André Cardoso (Trek-Segafredo) tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition control earlier this month, the Portuguese rider has denied ever having used EPO or any performance enhancing drug. Cardoso said he has requested his B sample be tested “as soon as possible.”

Writing on Facebook, Cardoso, who has been provisionally suspended by both the UCI and his team until results of the B sample test return, said he would never let down his team, teammates or the sport.

“Today, I received notification from the UCI that my A Sample, from a urine test done at my home on June 18th, tested positive for Erythropoietin,” Cardoso wrote on Facebook. “I have requested to the UCI that my B sample be tested as soon as possible.”

Cardoso was brought on board Trek-Segafredo this year in part to support Alberto Contador in the Tour de France. This year would have been the 32-year-old’s first crack at the Tour after having raced the Giro d’Italia three times and the Vuelta a España four.

“Getting the chance to ride at the pinnacle of professional cycling is the greatest honor I could ever hope for, and I was looking forward to doing my best for my team and myself at the Tour,” he wrote. “I believe in clean sport and have always conducted myself as a clean athlete, but I realize that this news puts a dark cloud on not just myself but also on our sport and my team, teammates and staff.

“Before anything else, those people are my friends and colleagues for whom I have unlimited respect, and under no circumstances would I ever do something that could put them, their families or their reputations in jeopardy.”

Cardoso went on to write he was devastated by the news and asked his colleagues and fans alike not to judge him too quickly.

“I am fully aware that I will be presumed to be guilty, but it’s important to me to say that I am devastated by this news and I wanted to state that I have never taken any illegal substances,” Cardoso wrote. “I’ve seen firsthand through my career the awful effects that performance enhancing drugs have had on our sport, and I would never want to be a part of that. I’ve always tried to be a constructive influence in the peloton and on young, aspiring cyclists. It is my great hope that the B sample will come back as negative and clear me of any wrongdoing.

“Until then, I hope that those who know me, trust me when I say that I’m innocent, and that my colleagues and cycling fans everywhere don’t judge me too quickly during this difficult time.”

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High Reps, Low Reps? Which Rep Scheme Is Best?

Bodybuilders and strength athletes stop making progress for one reason: They stop coercing their body to adapt. Note how I intentionally use the word coerce, not a connotatively weaker action verb like force. The reason is that once you’ve been in the training game long enough, your body grows wiser and you realize that you can’t simply force it to do anything anymore.

When you continue to push and grunt with no concrete strategy other than “hard work,” you get injured or beat-up. Few things devour reasonable progress faster than what we’ll call “middle ground” training. That is, always training with the same set or rep scheme and with the same intensity. If you default to training in the 8, 10, or 12 rep range, I hate to break it to you, but your growth is simply wallowing in no-gain’s land.

Fortunately, there are tools in the training toolbox that will sharpen up your training. Let’s start with a brief overview and then move on to how these can be applied to your own programming to maximize growth and development.

The Neural-Metabolic Continuum

The first order of business is to focus on a key element of training: The neural-metabolic continuum. It’s a fancy term that allows you to understand whether you actually work your muscles or central nervous system (CNS), based on key variables. For the sake of brevity, here’s a visual breakdown of what it looks like.

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Before your eyes glaze over, let me explain. If you’re chasing more metabolic (i.e. hypertrophic) gains, your, say, squatting program might look something like this:

  • 4 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Tempo: 3 seconds down, no pause in the bottom, 1 second up
  • 60-90 seconds rest between sets

On the other end of the spectrum, where you might be chasing more neural (i.e. strength) gains, your program might more resemble this:

  • 5 sets of 3 repetitions
  • Tempo: As fast as possible
  • 3-5 minutes rest between sets

Are we clear on the layout of the neural-metabolic continuum? Good, now let’s look at why you need to spend time in both ends (and not the straight middle) to maximize your growth and development.

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The Case For High Reps

By now, it’s probably ingrained in you that you need to perform high reps per set (I’m looking at you, bodybuilders). Let me clarify that I define high reps to dawdle in the 8-12 rep range but could be as low as 6 reps per set.

There shouldn’t be anything really earth-shattering here. If you train with high reps, your goal is to build a bigger muscle.

Some folks call this “structural hypertrophy” since the higher rep sets allow you to focus primarily on the muscles themselves. They also lend themselves to fewer total sets per exercise. By virtue of slowing down the movement, coupled with the sheer amount of reps you do per set, you’re going to increase time under tension, which is a necessary stimulus for hypertrophy. No doubt, gains in strength will come along for the ride, but increases in muscular growth will outpace the increases in strength.

But what happens if you spend all your time here? Quite simply, your body will adapt to your training in this rep range if you continue it for extended periods of time. Furthermore, training in that zone will ultimately limit the amount of intensity you can use as well.

Do high-rep sets (15, 20, or more reps per set) have a place in programming? Sure, but they’re probably the exception rather than the rule.

The solution here is clear: Focus on getting stronger! This brings me to my next point…

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The solution here is clear: focus on getting stronger!

The Case For Low Reps

High reps deliver big gains, right? Well, low reps have a place, too!

The low-rep zone can be defined as anything between 1 rep with near-maximal effort and 5 reps in a set. They’re often viewed as being geared more for powerlifting or Olympic lifting, but if you really want to make high-threshold motor units work, you will need to push some serious weight!

This focuses on making your nervous system more efficient. If you switch from sets of 10 to sets of 3, you coerceyour body to unfamiliar, shocking stressors, especially since low rep ranges encourage the use of much heavier weights. Every movement requires more “tightness” and a more intense focus. Further, more motor units and muscle fibers are recruited, and your body gets better at turning off antagonists (or opposing muscle groups) as well.

The result is that you’ll get jacked, but in a slightly different way. Since the goal is more on strength, your body composition will greatly differ from someone who performs exclusively high-rep sets. Powerlifters are strong as hell and can move jaw-dropping weight, but probably lack a bit of the size and definition of a well-trained bodybuilder.

The Perfect Combination

So if high reps promote hypertrophy and low reps facilitate strength increases, then in theory, the marriage of both rep schemes will bring forth muscular and strength development worthy of the Greek gods.

You need to spend dedicated periods of time in both the high-rep and low-rep ranges to maximize your development. High reps build muscle and connective tissue strength, and give your body respite from the grind of low-rep sets, too. Similarly, low-rep sets build neuromuscular and CNS efficiency. When you become more efficient and then go back to your big lifts, you can use even more weight than before, because you’re just that much more efficient and effective.

As an example of what I often do with physique-focused clients, I break down their set-rep schemes into one of two categories:

  • High rep: 8-12 repetitions per set
  • Low rep: 4-8 repetitions per set

These aren’t hard-and-fast rules. There may be times when even higher reps (15-20) could be used. On the flipside, there are other times when you may want to push the weight and work in the 1-5 rep range.

The biggest benefit from switching between these two ranges is that you’ll constantly coerce (there’s that word again) your body to adapt, to grow, and to improve.

Can’t I Just Train Everything At Once?

I know some people really like undulating periodization, in which you hit different set-rep schemes on different days of the week.

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If this is you, perhaps your training looks something like this:

  • Monday: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Wednesday: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Friday: 10 sets of 3 reps

With this weekly program, you hit everything in one training week, thinking it’s smart, efficient training. This is true if you’re newer to lifting or have never tried a protocol like this before. However, as you get more and more advanced, this type of scenario won’t work nearly as well since you’re sending multiple mixed messages to your body.

Monday’s workout would tell your body it’s time to get big, but then Wednesday’s workout will kick your body into a bit of strength mode. Finally, Friday’s workout will run counter to Monday’s and place the emphasis on raw strength. What is a confused body to do?! As you become more proficient, you have to dial up the focus and be the orchestrator to your symphony of muscles (and thus, training).

It’s kind of why an elite level sprinter can’t simply wake up one day, decide to run a marathon, and hope to be awesome at both distances.

While I’m saying that you need to spend time on both ends of the neural-metabolic continuum, you need to have some patience and zero-in your efforts on one at a time. The general rule is to spend at least 4-6 weeks focusing on one end before you even think about heading to the other.

The Final Step: Autoregulation

Hopefully, you’re now alternating between periods of high-rep and low-rep training—awesome! The next step is to alternate the level of intensity over the course of the training cycle. Think of the following quote: “A peak is surrounded by two valleys.” You can’t expect to go at 110 percent intensity every time you train. You’ll only burn yourself out. Layer-in days of high intensity combined with days of low intensity.

The astute reader (you!) might inquire about whether simply wavering between high and low rep ranges might already serve this purpose. It does in a rather unrefined way. Here’s an example of how I’ll set my intensity within a training month:

  • Week 1: 4 sets of 5 reps @70%
  • Week 2: 5 sets of 5 reps @80%
  • Week 3: 4 sets of 3 reps @75%
  • Week 4: 3 sets of 5 reps @85%

As you can see, I’m not trying to move the same weights or loads on a week-to-week basis.

In week 1, I build a base and get a good weight to build my base from. In week 2, I push the limits of my volume. In week 3, I deload. Basically, that means I lower the intensity and volume to make it an “easier” work week, allowing my body to recover and supercompensate. Finally, in week 4, I go for broke with regard to my intensity. Try using this for your squat sometime—it works great!

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You can’t expect to go at 110 percent intensity every time you train. You’ll only burn yourself out.

You could also do something far simpler, which yields amazing results when you just get started:

  • Week 1: 3 sets of 10 reps @70%
  • Week 2: 3 sets of 8-10 reps @75%
  • Week 3: 3 sets of 8 reps @80%
  • Week 4: 2 sets of 8 reps @70-75%

In this example, I use a stair-step approach to prepare you for week 3. After that, you deload and get ready to run the cycle again on week 5.

With these examples, the point I’m driving home is that you can’t go hard every single week. Instead, “wave” your intensity and build up to a series of big workouts, then back off to allow your body time to recover.

It’s All About Smarter Training

If you want to get the most out of your training, you not only need to work hard, but you need to work smart. By training on both ends of the neural-metabolic continuum and incorporating undulating waves of intensity into your training cycle, you’ll not only see better results but you’ll incur fewer bumps and bruises along the way.

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2017 Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships: Day 1 Finals Live Recap

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2017 USA Swimming Nationals is sponsored by TritonWear. Visit TritonWear.com for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check event coverage page.

The first night of the 2017 USA Swimming National Championships will feature six total finals with World Championship berths on the line in all of them. Olympians Hali Flickinger, Chase Kalisz, Simone Manuel, Nathan Adrian and Katie Ledecky will all be in action tonight. The 200 fly, 100 free and the original Olympic distance events will be on the schedule for tonight.

Live Results

Heat Sheets

Tonight’s events:

  • Women’s 200 Butterfly
  • Men’s 200 Butterfly
  • Women’s 100 Freestyle
  • Men’s 100 Freestyle
  • Women’s 800 Freestyle
  • Men’s 1500 Freestyle

Women’s 200 Butterfly

Men’s 200 Butterfly

Women’s 100 Freestyle

Men’s 100 Freestyle

Women’s 800 Freestyle

Men’s 1500 Freestyle

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‘I’m a clean athlete’: André Cardoso denies using EPO in statement

The Portuguese rider pens emotional statement after being notified of his failed test

Trek-Segafredo‘s André Cardoso has written a statement denying that he used EPO, after the UCI notified him that he returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the blood booster on Thursday.

>>> Seven things to look out for at the 2017 Tour de France

The Portuguese rider, in his first year with the American team, was set to support Alberto Contador at the upcoming Tour de France which begins on Saturday, but has since been replaced in the line-up by veteran Basque rider Haimar Zubeldia after being provisionally suspended.

Cardoso, 32, has denied any wrongdoing and requested a testing of his B sample, saying in his statement on Thursday night: “I have always conducted myself as a clean athlete.”

“Today, I received notification from the UCI that my A Sample, from a urine test done at my home on June 18th, tested positive for Erythropoietin,” Cardoso wrote on his Facebook page.

“I have requested to the UCI that my B sample be tested as soon as possible.”

“Getting the chance to ride at the pinnacle of professional cycling is the greatest honor I could ever hope for, and I was looking forward to doing my best for my team and myself at the Tour,” he added.

“I believe in clean sport and have always conducted myself as a clean athlete, but I realize that this news puts a dark cloud on not just myself but also on our sport and my team, teammates and staff.”

Cardoso, who rode for Cannondale before moving to Trek-Segafredo, said that he was devastated by the notification of his positive test and said he’d “seen first hand” the negative effects of doping on cycling.

“I am fully aware that I will be presumed to be guilty, but it’s important to me to say that I am devastated by this news and I wanted to state that I have never taken any illegal substances,” he wrote.

“I’ve seen firsthand through my career the awful effects that performance enhancing drugs have had on our sport, and I would never want to be a part of that. I’ve always tried to be a constructive influence in the peloton and on young, aspiring cyclists. It is my great hope that the B sample will come back as negative and clear me of any wrongdoing.

“Until then, I hope that those who know me, trust me when I say that I’m innocent, and that my colleagues and cycling fans everywhere don’t judge me too quickly during this difficult time.”


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10 Best Muscle-Building Ab Exercises

Let’s come clean from the start: We’re not here to sell you on the single “best ab exercise ever.” Too many organizations and authors have tried that, and the profusion of “winners” out there can make it confusing—especially because the studies backing them are always limited in one way or another. A few years ago, it was the bicycle crunch. Then it was the traditional crunch. Then it was the pike, the plank, the roll-out… We could go on.

Instead, we’ve put together a full slate of top-level choices in no particular order, along with some explanation about what make each one great and the research backing them up, when available. When building this list, we considered bodyweight and loaded exercises, EMG studies, anti-rotation movements, and much more so that no ab exercise was left behind. That said, it’s time to meet the crème de la crème of the core!

1. Hanging Leg Raise Or Knee Raise

Why it made the list: There are many reasons to like leg raise variations, but one is their scalability. You can start doing bent knee raises in the Roman chair or ab straps to focus on the lower core, work up to straight leg raises, and then move to a hanging bar. By the time you can do full straight-leg toes-to-bar raises, your entire core will have strength for days.

That’s not the only way to progress, though. You can also increase the degree of difficulty by holding a medicine ball between your knees or ankles, which allows you to train in a lower rep range. No matter the variation, get your legs as high as possible on each rep without using momentum to swing them up.

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Hanging Leg Raise

In your workout: Do this move first or second in your routine for 3 sets of 10-15 reps. If using a medicine ball, try a dropset simply by letting go of the medicine ball when you hit failure.

2. Machine Crunch

Why it made the list: In our opinion, ab exercises with added resistance don’t get enough love! They spur growth in the fast-twitch fibers like almost nothing else, and they can really build up the “bricks” of your six-pack. By adjusting the load, you can also train to failure at just about any rep target you want. A pin-loaded machine also works well when doing dropsets.

In your workout: This works great as one of the first exercises in your ab routine. Use a challenging weight for a lower rep target. Of course, it also works with lighter weight as a burnout at the end. In either case, do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

3. Cable Pallof Press

Why it made the list: This increasingly popular movement trains your abs to do what they’re supposed to do: stabilize your skeleton. Pallof presses serve as an anti-rotation movement, meaning the body is actively fighting rotation throughout the motion. By utilizing exercises like this, you can increase core stability in various planes of movement and reduce likelihood of injury.

There are many ways you can do this move, even including a Pallof press with rotation, but most start at a cable stack with a D-handle just below shoulder height. Grab the handle in two hands, take 4-5 steps away from the pulley, and turn so that your side is facing the plate stack. Without rotating at the hips, press the D-handle straight out, and return back to center; all the while, you’ll fight against turning toward the pulley. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine and keep your shoulders down during the entire pressing motion.

In your workout: There’s no need to go heavy here; all it will do is compromise the quality of the move. Do these after your most difficult ab move of the day, and use a weight that allows you to manage 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side.

4. Kneeling Cable Crunch

Why it made the list: The primary strengths of this crunch variation are its versatility—you can do it on any cable stack—and the way it allows you to use any level of resistance to train for a target rep range. Still, lots of people perform them wrong.

First off, it’s easy to sit back while doing this move, letting your hip flexors do much of the work. Second, if you keep a flat back, it limits the degree to which you can hit the upper abdominals—your back has to round! And finally, your hands should stay in the same relative position next to your head for the duration of the set. Letting them drift away on the eccentric and then pulling them back again beside your head brings a lot of shoulder and upper body into the move.

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Kneeling Cable Crunch

In your workout: This is another good first or second exercise that can be done for a low-to-moderate number of reps. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps. To do a dropset, just change the pin when you reach muscle failure.

5. Decline-Bench Crunch With Medicine Ball

Why it made the list: Decline-bench crunches amp up the challenge by increasing the range of motion over standard crunches, and you can dial up (or down) the degree of difficulty by adjusting the angle of the bench. Adding a medicine ball or weight plate against your chest adds a further level of customizable resistance. This also allows you to manipulate where you want to fail: low, medium, or high reps.

But you can still go wrong. Because your feet are hooked, it’s all too easy to pull through your thighs. Nor do you want to go all the way down to rest on the bench between reps; stay well off it. If you’re not feeling a wicked burn, drop all the weight, put your hands on your belly, and really focus on the contraction at a slower pace. You can also introduce a cross-body movement, angling your elbow to the opposite-side thigh, to better engage the obliques.

In your workout: Position this one in your routine after you’ve built up some fatigue from a really challenging first exercise. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps. If you find 15 reps too easy, simply increase the angle of decline, or use a heavier ball or plate.

6. Squat

Why it made the list: Yes, a leg exercise made the top 10 list for abs. Anyone who has ever pushed their potential in the squat knows exactly why! Sure, squat variations work the legs and lower back, but they also crush the abs. Both front and back squats force your abs and spinal erectors to work overtime to maintain a neutral, upright position. If both were not firing at high rates, you’d fold under the weight or drop in a split second.

Oh, and forget what you heard about standing on a BOSU ball to increase the work of your stabilizers. Research has shown that if you just go heavy with your squats on the floor, you’ll get all the ab stimulus you want.[1]

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One recipe for a great midsection is to do your squats on leg day, whether the bar’s in front of your torso or behind.

In your workout: Regularly implement both back and front squats into your program. To keep it from becoming mundane, you can rotate through them in four-week waves, or alternate weeks between back and fronts. It’s best to do your focused ab training on a day after your heavy training days for the week. The last thing you want is residual soreness that forces you to decrease the weight on the bar.

7. Decline Russian Twist With Medicine Ball

Why it made the list: This harder version of the Russian twist works the obliques while requiring the upper abs to contract isometrically. To recruit the obliques, you either need lateral flexion (bending to your side), trunk rotation (twisting), or sucking in your belly. Doing your twists works the trunk-rotation function of the muscle, so really focus on the contraction. Try to get a little crunch on either side after the rotation to up the ante.

Your biggest danger here is letting your arms wave across your body and out of line with your torso. Turn at the waist, not your shoulders. In addition, avoid pulling through your thighs (hip flexors) on the decline bench here as well.

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Your upper abs are contracting to maintain your body position, while the rotation involves the obliques.

In your workout: Do this exercise toward the middle of your routine for 3 sets of 15 reps per side. Increase the degree of difficulty by increasing the angle of the bench or using a heavier ball.

8. Ab-Wheel Roll-Out

Why it made the list: Those infomercials got one thing right! Some EMG data suggests that using an ab wheel may beat out hanging leg raises, sit-ups, and reverse crunches for the top muscle activator. This movement capitalizes on the concept of anti-extension perfectly; as you roll out, your trunk must actively fire (eccentric motion) to maintain a neutral spine without collapsing under your body weight and gravity.[2] Watch that you don’t risk your back by allowing it to droop into extension at the bottom, though!

In your workout: Build up to 3 sets of 8-12 reps, rolling all the way out and back. If you can’t do all the reps prescribed, reduce the distance, then slowly work to extend it over a few weeks. Once you feel confident starting from your knees, the next level of difficulty is going from your toes.

9. Exercise-Ball Pike

Why it made the list: It turns out the ball is good for more than just sitting and waiting for your partner to finish his set! A research team from California State, Sacramento demonstrated that the pike movement is one of the most effective total-ab workouts.[3] It topped their EMG list for upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. This movement may be the heavy hitter that’s been missing from your daily routine. While not exactly the same, the pike can also be done using a TRX system with similar results expected.

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Exercise-Ball Pike

In your workout: Since it targets a large degree of the muscle mass of the abdomen, the pike can either be used to get your routine started or as a really brutal way to finish it out. Shoot for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. If you can’t complete reps with good form, start with exercise-ball knee-ups.

10. Plank

Why it made the list: The plank is an isometric hold that really focuses on the core. According to the EMG sources we checked, this movement is a mid-tier activator of both the rectus abdominis and obliques.[3] It’s also a great transverse abdominis move, but that muscle is deep, so can’t be measured by EMG.

We put this on the list because of how easy it is to manipulate the degree of difficulty. If a regular plank is too easy for you, lift an arm, or a leg—or an arm and a leg. Put your feet into a TRX and give that a whirl. Still too easy? Take your feet out, and put your forearms in. Each one of these progressions leads to a greater training stimulus to the abs.

In your workout: You can do these last on ab day, but you can also do them at home just about any time you want. Since it’s an isometric move, shoot for time rather than reps. Doing 3-5 sets of 30-90 seconds in whatever variation is toughest for you should get you shaking!

References
  1. Willardson, J., Fontana, F. E., & Bressel, E. (2009). Effect of surface stability on core muscle activity for dynamic resistance exercises. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 4(1), 97.
  2. Escamilla, R. F., Babb, E., DeWitt, R., Jew, P., Kelleher, P., Burnham, T., … & Imamura, R. T. (2006). Electromyographic analysis of traditional and nontraditional abdominal exercises: implications for rehabilitation and training. Physical Therapy, 86(5), 656-671.
  3. Escamilla, R. F., Lewis, C., Bell, D., Bramblet, G., Daffron, J., Lambert, S., … & Andrews, J. R. (2010). Core muscle activation during Swiss ball and traditional abdominal exercises. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 40(5), 265-276.


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10 Best Ways To Lose Weight Faster

I’m sure everyone has that one friend who is so genetically blessed that he can blink an eye and magically drop to sub-10-percent body fat. Everyone else has to dial in their diet and tweak their training.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, fat doesn’t evacuate from your body as quickly as you’d like. The first instinct might be to dramatically increase calorie deficit and caloric expenditure, but that can bring about detrimental long-term effects on your body.

Instead, try weaving in one or more of these techniques to tell that final layer of fat to take a hike. Not all techniques are meant to work for everyone, but finding one that works for you should help you see the changes and progress you desire.

1. Utilize Intermittent Fasting

Many folks, particularly men, have seen great success with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting allows only a small feeding window—typically, eight hours— before and after which you don’t eat anything. The idea is that the practice would force your body to subsist on body fat storage for fuel during the fasting window, improve insulin sensitivity, and allow you to eat more diverse foods during your feeding window.

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I make sure to eat my last meal of the day at 6:30 pm. Then I wake up in the morning and do my cardio in a semi-fasted state, after thirteen and a half hours have taken place.

BPI co-founder, James Grage, reveals this to be one of his top strategies when he’s preparing for a show. “I make sure to eat my last meal of the day at 6:30 pm. Then I wake up in the morning and do my cardio in a semi-fasted state, after thirteen and a half hours have taken place. Only after that do I eat my breakfast—the first meal I’ll have consumed since the night before.”

You may not want to do this all the time since its long-term effects on hormones, especially in women, are somewhat dubious at this point. However, for a period of one or two weeks, it can speed things along.

2. Carb Cycle

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Carb cycling means you’ll eat your target carbs on training days and approximately 50 percent of your normal carb intake on non-training or light cardio days. This strategy helps blunt fat storage on resting days and restores muscle glycogen in a supercompensated fashion. It also combats the metabolic crash associated with conventional low-calorie diets and keeps a strong satiety signal throughout the body.

If you find yourself at a loss for what to eat on training days, whey protein is a great way to keep up with your protein macros. The fiber will also keep you full, decreasing the likelihood you’ll binge on empty carb-loaded calories when a craving hits. Choose a whey that’s low in carbs on your training days, and reserve the mass-gainer protein for days when you want to carb load.

3. Do Dropsets

Dropsets can also be an effective way to turn up your metabolic furnace. To perform a dropset, you simply perform an exercise at a heavy weight until failure, then immediately drop the weight and bang out more reps until failure.

Continue this pattern until your muscles scream in agony. When incorporated correctly, dropsets will tear into your muscle glycogen, which will then create a greater post-exercise metabolic response from the intensity and will need to restore your body’s sapped glycogen.

Just be wary that too many dropsets can make Timmy a dull boy, too. This is especially true if you don’t get enough carbs throughout the day; use this technique wisely.

4. Make Your Meal Plan Mindless

You need to ditch your habits of weighing your food to the gram at your desk and crunching numbers throughout the day. The less you stress about eating, the better are your chances to stick with your eating plan and avoid making decisions that could set you back. After all, it just takes one giant binge to completely erase a week’s worth of effort, so make every bite count.

Just take one day of the week—say, Sunday—and spend all day in the kitchen, preparing and portioning out all your food among towers of Tupperware. While your friends and family may snort at the sight, you know a week’s worth of muscle-fueling, fat-bashing food will be within arm’s reach.

5. Supplement With L-Carnitine

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L-carnitine might just be one of the hottest fat loss supplements around. I don’t recommend you put all your eggs in this fat-loss basket, but supplementing with carnitine if you practice vegetarianism, veganism, or otherwise have a low dietary carnitine intake from meats might help you with fat loss.

When paired with exercise, carnitine supplementation can boost activity of the beta-oxidation pathway when paired with exercise. Basically, you could be increasing the body’s fat-burning potential.

James likes to pair 1.5 grams of carnitine with a capsule of the fat burner, B4, which helps further stimulate fat loss while increasing energy levels and focus.

6. Perform Compound Supersets

Many people default to a full-body workout program to include intense compound exercises and make workouts more efficient. Why not add compound supersets?

By pairing two major exercises back-to-back like this—the squat and bench press, for example—you end up recruiting many more muscle fibers over a shorter period of time. You’ll not only burn more calories during your workout, but you’ll continue to burn more once it’s over.

7. Master The Energy Balance Equation

Fat loss responds best to the most reductive nature of this calorie balance equation: Calories consumed must be less than calories burned. In order to hit that deficit, James Grage uses cardio to achieve proper balance in his routine.

“My steady-state cardio in the morning is the first layer of the foundation, and I’ll do anywhere from 25-35 minutes on the elliptical, five days a week,” he explains. It doesn’t stop there.

James doubles up his workout with a resistance training session later and squeezes in 90 seconds of high intensity cardio between his sets. He prefers the jump rope; he can carry it around from exercise to exercise. If he does 18-20 sets in a session, this adds up to an additional 30 minutes of cardio training. Cardio does not need to be performed continuously on a machine for it to be “cardio.”

8. Get Your Omegas In Order

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Using fish oil supplements isn’t unique to weight loss. Studies have shown the benefits of omega fatty acid supplementation regardless of your physique goal. A good omega 3/6/9 blend containing CLA is part of James Grage’s not-so-secret arsenal, as part of his daily supplement stack. He pairs 1000 mg of CLA with the omegas for maximum results.

“CLA is not only helpful for reducing body fat,” he explains, “but omega fats are also crucial for enhancing your overall health.”

Remember, even though fat loss may be your primary short-term goal, health optimization should never take a back seat.

9. Dial-In Form

As you move closer and closer toward your ideal body fat count, your energy levels may start to waver from the accumulated energy deficit. You might not be able to sustain as much volume in the gym as you’re used to since you’re not eating as much and your muscle glycogen is never fully saturated. Overall, you’ve just seen better days.

This isn’t permission to allow some slack. Rather than cheating every rep, concentrate harder on perfecting your form. By focusing on each muscle contraction and isolating the working muscle group, you can maximize the training benefits you get from each working set. This makes a lower volume workout that much more effective.

10. Skip A Day

While you definitely don’t want to get into the habit of regularly skipping workout sessions, you might benefit greatly great from taking a full rest day. Listen to your body. If it’s bludgeoning you over the head with various aches and discomfort, let your body rest, for crying out loud.

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Listen to your body. If it’s bludgeoning you over the head with various aches and discomfort, let your body rest, for crying out loud.

No matter if you’re trying to get lean or strong, an adequate rest is an integral part of the process for results.

If your gym session isn’t going to be productive because you’re not feeling great, you’ll only do more harm than good by unnecessarily pushing yourself. Rest up and go harder the next day!

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2017 Phillips 66 Nationals Photo Gallery: Day 1 Prelims

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2017 USA Swimming Nationals is sponsored by TritonWear. Visit TritonWear.com for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check event coverage page.

The 2017 USA Swimming Nationals, or Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships, splashed into action today in Indianapolis, Indiana! Swimming World’s chief photographer, Peter H. Bick, was on hand all morning capturing the action and excitement.

Notable swims from the first morning of action include Zach Apple’s top seed upset in the men’s 100 free, Mallory Comerford posting the fifth fastest 100 free time in the world for 2017, and Hali Flickinger flying to the top of the women’s 200 fly field.

The action continues tonight with finals beginning at 6 pm EST.

Splash through day one prelims photos:

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5 Health Benefits Of Dandelions: It's More Than Just A Weed

We curse the gods (and our neighbors) every time a taraxacum officinale pops up in our lawn. Viewed in other parts of the world as medicinal, the plant commonly known as dandelion is nothing but a pesky weed to most Americans.

But, if you put aside your prejudice, you may be surprised by the lowly dandelion’s benefits. Dandelion root is often found in teas or consumed whole to stimulate appetite and modulate gallbladder function. The leaves, always a great addition to salad, act as a diuretic that helps your body get rid of excess fluid. And the dandelion flower is believed to be able to keep LDL (bad cholesterol) levels within normal range.

Whether you add the leaves to your salad, grind up the roots, or transform its flowers into wine, you’ll do well by making this pervasive and, yes, invasive, plant a part of your new, improved diet.

A Pharmacy in Your Front Yard

Although traditional Chinese medicine has been using dandelions as herbal medicine for thousands of years, there are only a handful of scientific studies about its medicinal value—and the most of those have be done with animals, not people. But we do know that this plant is a rich source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.[1] We also know it can be used in a number of specific ways.

Natural Diuretic

Bodybuilders and weight-class athletes looking to drop the last few pounds of water weight sometimes use dandelion juice to help them get ready for a show or competition. The dandelion plant acts as a diuretic, stimulating urination to quickly release excess water and sodium.[2,3]

Yes, you get shredded. But you can also deplete your body of important minerals and electrolytes—and cause dehydration, which inhibits performance. That’s why I don’t recommend using dandelion to keep your overall water weight down. It’s okay to use it prior to a competition, just make sure it doesn’t become part of your long-term weight strategy.

Appetite stimulant

Appetite Stimulant

Hardgainers, listen up! If you struggle to finish off your meals (I honestly have no idea what that feels like), consider putting a few dandelion leaves on your next salad or having a cup of dandelion tea with your meal. The leaves have been said to stimulate appetite, improve digestion, and reduce flatulence. Don’t expect to gain weight from just eating a few leaves, but you may find yourself having an easier time digesting food.

Gallbladder Health

Preliminary research shows dandelion may increase bile production. Dandelion leaf extract has been shown to increase bile secretion in rats by 40 percent.[4] More research is needed to see if this same benefit would extend to humans, but it’s worth noting.

Inflammation Relief

Dandelions’ anti-inflammatory qualities may help relieve inflammation associated with exercise. Again, this research was done with animals.[5] But the plant does contain flavonoids, and flavonoids can reduce inflammation. So it may well be that dandelions reduce problems associated with excessive post-exercise inflammation.[6]

Cholesterol Control

Early animal studies also suggest that, because of the antioxidant properties of the vitamin C it contains, dandelions may help control total cholesterol and triglycerides levels, while raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels.[6]

Should You Be “Wary of the Weed”?

Assuming you’re healthy and don’t have any underlying medical conditions, you can safely use dandelion-based products every day. If you’re allergic to ragweed, marigold, daisies, or iodine, avoid dandelion to prevent potential allergic reactions.

If you’re currently taking other medications, wait 2-3 hours before consuming anything with dandelion in it, since the plant’s diuretic effect could cause certain medications to leave your body too quickly.

Dandelion-based products are available as powders, capsules, liquid extracts, and teas. Find the product that meets your needs. Just be sure to check the ingredients, as you would with anything you put in your body.

References

  1. Escudero, N. L., De Arellano, M. L., Fernández, S., Albarracín, G., & Mucciarelli, S. (2003). Taraxacum officinale as a food source. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 58(3), 1-10.
  2. Clare, B. A., Conroy, R. S., & Spelman, K. (2009). The diuretic effect in human subjects of an extract of Taraxacum officinale folium over a single day. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(8), 929-934.
  3. Hook, I., McGee, A., & Henman, M. (1993). Evaluation of dandelion for diuretic activity and variation in potassium content. International Journal of Pharmacognosy, 31(1), 29-34.
  4. Chabrot, E., & Charonnat, R. (1935). Therpeutic agents in bile secretion. Annals of Medicine, 9, 1463-67.
  5. Jeon, H. J., Kang, H. J., Jung, H. J., Kang, Y. S., Lim, C. J., Kim, Y. M., & Park, E. H. (2008). Anti-inflammatory activity of Taraxacum officinale. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 115(1), 82-88.
  6. Choi, U. K., Lee, O. H., Yim, J. H., Cho, C. W., Rhee, Y. K., Lim, S. I., & Kim, Y. C. (2010). Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root and leaf on cholesterol-fed rabbits. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 11(1), 67-78.


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Roman Gonzalez-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai rematch to headline super flyweight triple-header on September 9

23/06/2017 17:33

Former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs) will attempt to regain the WBC flyweight title in a rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38 KOs)  on September 9, likely to take place in Los Angeles.

The rematch headlines an all super flyweight tripleheader, which features the US debut of Japan’s two-weight world champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue  (13-0, 11 KOs), who will be defending his WBO 115 pound title against American challenger Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, 9 KOs).

A possible showdown between Gonzalez and Inoue is one of the most exciting fights that could be made in boxing and looks very likely in the future if both are victorious.

Also, former WBC super-flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras (36-1-1, 27 KOs)) faces fellow Mexican and former unified flyweight world champion Juan Francisco Estrada (35-2-0, 25 KOs) in a world title eliminator to become the mandatory challenger against the winner of Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai.

Gonzalez, the only fighter from Nicaragua to win world titles in four weight divisions, lost his WBC belt and status as the widely regarded pound-for-pound number 1 fighter in the world, when he lost to Thailand’s Sor Rungvisai by majority decision in March.

In a brutal bout, Gonzalez battled back from a first round knockdown and two bad cuts from head clashes before losing by scores of 114-112, twice and 113-113, although most observers felt Gonzalez won the fight.

“I’m ready to go back into battle and reclaim by WBC championship from Sor Rungvisai on September 9,” Gonzalez said. “I know what I have to do to become victorious and with God’s help I will be champion once again.”

If Gonzalez regains the world title, he looks set for another rematch in his next fight against either Cuadras, who Gonzalez outpointed in a competitve fight in September to win the WBC 115 pound title, or Estrada, who lost an action-packed bout to Gonzalez by unanimous decision in 2012.

However, Sor Rungvisai plans on beating Gonzalez again and keeping the belt.

“I’m honored to share the ring again and defend the title against Roman Gonzalez. He is a legend and the best fighter I have faced,” said Sor Rungvisai. “I’m training hard to be the winner of this rematch. Boxing fans around the world will get to see another great fight between us, and I will win and take the WBC world championship title back for everyone in Thailand.”

The venue of the card is yet to be determined.

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