MIKE O’HEARN BACK WORKOUT

Want to get big, strong and cut? Part bodybuilding, part powerlifting, Mike O’Hearn’s ‘power bodybuilding’ concept builds muscle and strength at the same time.

This back workout is centered on some crazy-ass, heavier-than-hell deadlifts and only two secondary lifts: one-arm rowsand pulldowns. After you finish these deadlifts, that’s all you’re going to have left in the tank. Trust me.

– 07:28 

This is one example of a Power Bodybuilding workout. Your weights and reps will change depending on where you are in the 12-week program.

Follow that program to the letter, and you too will end up with a big S stamped across your chest. 

The deadlift is the best lift in weightlifting. It hits EVERYTHING. It’s the superhero lift, the beast lift, the man lift. You can cheat a squat by not going deep, but with the deadlift, there’s no cheating. You just grab hold of that bar and rip it from the ground like a freakin’ caveman. 

Take your time. Warm up slowly. Conserve energy. Don’t rush through this. Save your energy for the heavy weights. Wait till you hit the working sets before you really work it.

I don’t use straps. You can’t use ’em in competition, why use ’em here? I switch grip every set. I don’t listen to music. I don’t need that to get psyched. I like the noise of the weight. I like feeling the heavy weight tear down my fibers. Go heavy enough, and the next day, you’ll feel everything hurting – but in a good way.

It’s not a slow pull for me. I rip it up. People ask, “Aren’t you going to hurt your back?” but I don’t know why people think that way. I don’t get hurt. I don’t worry. I just destroy the weight. It’s not the other way around. 

When I deadlift, I’m already putting density and thickness in the mid-back. The one-arm rows hit the lower and outer lat. Beautiful exercise to give you nice wingspan. 

Take a wide-screen grip for pull-downs. You know how to do pull-downs, don’t you? If you don’t, I’m going to come through that screen and slap you silly. Do pull-downs to the chest instead of behind the neck. You get a longer pull down to the chest, more of a squeeze. 

Ready? Go out and be great.

THE “POWER BODYBUILDING”
BACK WORKOUT

Part 1: Back 

Warm-up:

Working Sets:

FOREARM GAINS

Do These 5 Exercises For Big Forearms

1. Barbell Wrist Curls – 4 Sets 30 Reps

Barbell wrist curls are one of the most common forearm exercises and yet most people perform them incorrectly. Don’t let your ego get the better of you while doing this exercise and use weights you can maintain a full range of motion with. The barbell wrist curls work the brachioradialis and flexors.

The best way of performing the barbell or dumbbell wrist curls is to kneel down at the side of a flat bench with your forearms placed on the bench. Grab a barbell with an underhand grip and curl it as high as you can and while lowering the barbell, let the barbell roll down to the tip of your fingers. Doing so will help in recruiting all the muscle fibers in your forearms and hands.

2. Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls – 3 Sets 15 Reps

Barbell reverse curls is another common forearm exercise but is a little harder as compared to the normal wrist curls. Use a wrist curl machine if you have access to it at your gym, or use a flat bench.

You will be lifting lighter weights in this exercise as compared to the normal wrist curls. Grab the bar with an overhand monkey (thumbs over the barbell) grip. A monkey grip helps in better targetting your forearms better. The reverse wrist curls work the extensor muscles.

3. Behind the Back Cable Wrist Curls – 3 Sets 12 Reps

Behind the back cable wrist curl is a great exercise to isolate your forearms. Using the cables will help you maintain a constant tension on your forearms and will fill your muscles with lactic acid.

Stand with your back towards the cable pulley machine and grab a straight bar. Curl the bar and hold the movement at the contraction for a couple of seconds. This exercise focuses on your brachioradialis and flexors.

4. Reverse Grip Barbell Curls – 3 Sets 12 Reps

Reverse grip barbell curls are a compound exercise and will help you in developing muscle mass and strength in your forearms. Holding the barbell with an overhand monkey grip will make your forearms work harder to hold onto the bar.

Keep your elbows pinched to your sides and curl the barbell. Keep the reps slow and controlled and squeeze your forearms and biceps at the top of the movement. The reverse grip barbell curls work the extensors.

5. Farmer’s Walk – 2 Sets of 1 Minute Walk

Farmer’s walk helps in building forearm size and grip strength which can carry over to other exercises. The farmer’s walk is also one of the easiest exercises to perform. Grab a pair of dumbbells and walk around until you can’t hold onto the dumbbells anymore.

Another variation of this exercise is the pinch carries. In pinch carriers, you need to pinch together two plates so they don’t slip. Pinch carries activate your forearms by forcing you to squeeze your fingers so the plates don’t separate.

Tip: Use a Thick Bar or Fat Gripz

Another way to increase the muscle fiber recruitment of the forearm muscles and grip is to use a thicker bar. Conventional barbells and dumbbells have one-inch handles, but you can use thicker bars to make the forearms work harder. Thicker bars also provide a greater stimulus for your forearms to grow stronger and larger.

BENT OVER ROW

Most people tend not to consider their back very much until the day it lets them down and they’re forced to spend hours lying in agony on a wooden floor. Even regular gym-goers will generally focus on more glamorous muscles and spurn the opportunity to address the stress and strain a deskbound lifestyle can place on your back. The problem? Your shoulders internally rotate, and this results in tight pecs and a stiff neck.

This often leads to a weakness in the lower back – at best causing pain and discomfort, at worst risking serious injury – and the problem is only aggravated if you add further stress on the chest and shoulders with endless pressing exercises.

The solution is obvious: place greater emphasis on your back training. Step forward, the bent-over row.

Your back muscles are the primary beneficiaries of the bent-over row, and as they increase in strength your posture will also improve so you don’t slump as much. Directly stimulating your lats, traps, rhomboids and rotator cuffs works wonders for your body. A stronger back with better posture – what’s not to like?

If you’re a bench press obsessive, you should also find that adding this to your weights session helps balance out your upper body muscles – the bench press focusing on pecs and shoulders in contrast to the back-building row.

Bent-Over Row Technique

Form is all important with the bent-over row, and the best way to ensure you don’t get sloppy is to pick the right amount of weight. Slow, controlled movements are of far more value than jerking up a massive weight and twisting all over the shop.

Once you have your barbell loaded, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lean forward from the waist. Your knees should be bent, but your back stays straight, with your neck in line with your spine. Grab the bar with your hands (palms-down), just wider than shoulder-width apart and let it hang with your arms straight.

Brace your core and squeeze your shoulders together to row the weight up until it touches your sternum, then slowly lower it back down again. There’s one rep. With a light weight, shoot for four sets of eight to 10 reps.

Bent-Over Row Form Tips

Think Elbows

Once you’re set up for the move – leaning forward a bit, bar in hands – think about pulling your elbows behind you, not pulling the bar up. It’ll help to activate your lats and keep everything tight.

Pause at the Top

Most trainers will tell you that if you can’t stop at the top of each rep, you’ve picked a weight that’s too heavy. Touch the bar to your sternum, pause, and squeeze your shoulderblades together at the top of each rep. You’ll build better posture that way.

Bent-Over Row Variations

Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Row

Reverse-grip bent-over row

By reversing the grip, you place more of a load on your lats and lower traps.

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

An excellent variation on the bent-over row is to sub out the barbell for a set of dumbbells. Having two weights requires a little more coordination, and, more importantly, stops you relying too much on the stronger side of your body for the entire row. Opting for dumbbells instead will help you balance out your strength on each side. Start with the dumbbells just below your knees and allow your wrists to turn naturally during the movement.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

This beginner row targets one arm at a time and is a good stepping stone to the full bent-over row if you’re struggling with the exercise. Put your right hand and knee on a bench, hold a dumbbell in your left hand and let it hang straight down, with your palm facing in. Row the dumbbell up, squeezing your shoulder blade in, then slowly lower it. Do all reps on one arm, then switch to the other side.

Once you’ve got the hang of the one-arm dumbbell row on a bench, you can increase the difficulty of the movement by supporting your body on an gym ball instead. This unstable surface will challenge your core muscle to keep your steady while you complete the movement, which should give you a stronger base when you attempt the barbell version.

Dumbbell incline row

If you want to ensure you’re not rounding your back during your rows, try this variation. Set up the bench at a 45° angle and lie chest down on it holding a dumbbell in each hand, letting the weights hang down towards the floor. Row the weights up to your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together, then lower them again. Make sure your chest stays in contact with the bench throughout so your torso remains in the correct position.

Pendlay row

This tougher take on the standard barbell bent-over row takes its name from Glenn Pendlay, the weightlifting coach who championed it. With the Pendlay row, you bend over so your back is parallel to the ground and lower the barbell all the way to the ground with each rep. Otherwise the form points are the same – overhand grip, shoulders squeezed together at the top of the rep, core braced. You will need to reduce the amount of weight you use with the Pendlay row because of the extra challenge involved in lifting the barbell from the ground with each rep.

Yates Row

This particular variant is named after British bodybuilding icon Dorian Yates. The six-time Mr Olympia was renowned for sporting an impressive, dominating back and attributes that largely to his twist on the classic bent-over row. Keeping your back straight, adopt a more upright stance, with your torso at a 30-45° angle to the floor. Row the bar towards your lower abdominals, pausing at the top of the movement to squeeze your lats. This variation is also useful for mid-lower trap activation – crucial for improved posture.

Bent-Over Flye

This move uses lighter weights but produces a strong scapular retraction (the action of pulling your shoulder blades together). Keep a slight bend in your elbows, then raise the weights straight out to the sides until you reach chest height, without moving your upper body.

One-Arm Barbell Row

If you want to (a) really target your lats with your rows, and (b) look like a bit of a legend in the gym, try the one-arm barbell row. You will need a loaded barbell and a fair bit of space to do this, but people will be impressed and copying you in no time so they won’t begrudge the room you’re taking up. Stand by the side of the barbell and bend over to grab one end near the plates. Staying in the normal bent-over position, row one end of the barbell up, then lower it slowly.

THE NUTRITION AND TRAINING BALANCE

An early-morning run, for example, can leave you feeling fatigued during your working day. A midday training session may become no more than an afterthought if hunger overrides your motivation. And an after-work jaunt may press your dinnertime perilously close to bedtime.

If you are looking for ways to get back into sync, read on. The following advice will help you coordinate your meals with your training schedule, based on the time of day you run.

Early Birds

To eat or not to eat? That is the eternal question of those who like to run as the sun is coming up.

The answer is, if you can, you should fuel up before your morning run. This performs two functions. First your muscles receive an energy supply to help you power through the run. Secondly, your entire body, especially your brain, receives the fuel and nutrients it needs for optimal functioning. It shouldn’t be a surprise that studies support this and that eating before a run boosts endurance compared with fasting for 12 hours. People who eat before exercise rate the exercise as better and as less rigorous compared with those who fast. 

That said, not everyone can eat before a morning run. If you’re the type of person who sleeps until the minute before you head out of the door, you might not be able to fit in the meal before you run. Eating too close to your run may spoil it by causing cramps and nausea. On the other hand, if you’re a true early bird, you may have the time to eat breakfast, read the paper and wash up before you head out of the door. Here are a few refuelling strategies for both types of morning exercisers:

Early risers
Choose high-carbohydrate foods that are low in fat and moderate in protein. Aim for about 400-800 calories, which will fuel your training without making you feel sluggish. Drink about half a pint of water two hours before your run to offset sweat loss. 

Try these 400- to 800-calorie pre-run breakfasts:

  • Two slices of toast and a piece of fruit
  • Cereal with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and fresh fruit
  • A toasted bagel topped with low-fat cheese and tomato slices

    Late sleepers
    Most runners fall into this category and don’t have time to eat and digest a full meal before they head out of the door.If you fall into this camp, experiment to see what you can stomach before you train. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Half a pint of a carbohydrate drink
    • An energy gel washed down with water
    • Half a bagel

      If none of these sits well with you just before a run, then fuel up the night before with a large dinner. As long as you don’t plan a long or intense run in the morning, a high-carbohydrate evening meal should power you through your pre-breakfast run.

      For both types
      Whether you are an early or late riser, your body needs calories from carbohydrate, protein and other nutrients after you have finished running. A recovery meal will help fuel your morning at work, preventing post-run fatigue. Eat within an hour of your training and be sure to include both carbohydrate and protein. Here are some options:

      • A fruit smoothie made with a tablespoon of protein powder
      • Eggs on whole-wheat toast and fruit juice or fresh fruit
      • Leftovers from dinner – pasta, soup, chilli or even vegetable pizza

        The Lunchtime Crowd

        People who run during lunch hours sometimes find that hunger gets the better of them. That’s because if you ate breakfast at 6am, you’ve gone six hours without food. By noon, your fuel from breakfast is long gone and your blood sugar may start to dip. Rather than increasing the size of your breakfast (which may just leave you feeling sluggish), you should bring a light, pre-run snack to work.

        Remember the following three points as you run:

        1) Timing Eat one to four hours before your run to allow enough time to food to leave your stomach.

        2) Quantity Eat 100-400 calories, depending upon your body size and what you had for breakfast. 

        3) Content Select foods that are rich in carbohydrate, low in fat and moderately high in nutrients. Try these mid-morning snacks:

        • A breakfast or energy bar with five grams of fat or less
        • One slice of whole-wheat toast topped with fruit spread
        • A 75g serving of dried fruit with a can of vegetable juice
        • One packet of instant oatmeal made with skimmed milk

          Post-run lunch
          The obvious problem with lunch-hour exercise is that you don’t have time for lunch. But you need fluid and food to recover and fuel your brain for the rest of the working day. Packing your own lunch becomes a must – unless you have a work cafeteria where you can grab food for desktop dining. Packed lunches don’t have to take a lot of time. Try these tips:

          • Opt for convenience and shop for lunch items that save time, such as yoghurts, raisins, nuts and cereal bars
          • Always add fruit. Toss one or two pieces of fruit in your lunch bag for a reliable source of nutrient-packed carbohydrate
          • Make the most of leftovers. Choose any food from the previous night’s dinner that you’ve already packed in a sealed container ready for transport, reheating and eating

            Evening Exercise

            After a stressful day at the office, there’s nothing like a run to burn off excess tension. The problem is that you sometimes don’t feel like heading out of the door if you’re hungry or just exhausted. If you do manage to run, sometimes you return home so ravenous that you eat everything in sight as you make your evening meal. Then you might eat dinner as late as 8pm and end up going to bed with a full stomach. 

            What to do?
            It’s very simple – just stick to the following two principles:

            1. Eat healthily during the day to avoid any intestinal upset that might thwart your training plans. Also eat often and enough that you’re adequately fuelled for your session to avoid the ‘I’m too hungry’ excuse.

            2. Eat lightly after exercise to recover well without causing digestion to interfere with your sleep. 

            Here are some tips for evening exercisers:

            • Never skip breakfast. Eat at least 500 calories for your morning meal. For example, quickly throw together a fruit smoothie made with yoghurt, fruit and juice. Or try cereal topped with nuts, skimmed milk and a piece of fruit.
            • Make lunch your main meal of the day. Focus on high-quality protein, such as fish, tofu, lean beef, chicken or bread with cooked grain, along with fresh fruit.
            • Always eat a mid-afternoon snack. Around three hours before your run, eat a snack of fruit or an energy bar together with half a pint of water.
            • Drink more fluids. Grab a drink as soon as you step back through the door after your run. And keep drinking as you prepare your meal. This helps replace sweat loss and may prevent you trying to eat everything in sight.
            • Eat moderately at dinner. Some people worry about eating too close to bedtime because they fear the calories will go straight to their fat cells. That’s simply not true. Your body will use those calories to stockpile fuel in your muscles. On the other hand if you eat more calories than your body needs – no matter what time of day or night – your body will eventually store the excess as fat.

            NO SHOULDER GAINS?

            Do you want wide, meaty, broad shoulders but have failed at every attempt? Do you chalk it up to bad genetics or a lack of the newest piece of gym equipment? Have you tried everything in the book when it comes to shoulder training without an ounce of new muscle to show for it?

            Well, it may not necessarily be something you aren’t doing; it might actually be something you are doing – incorrectly.

            Below are 9 reasons why you can’t build big shoulders. Give some serious, honest thought to your current routine and finally get an idea at what you can improve on and bigger shoulders will be on their way with your very next workout.

            1. The problem: You treat deltoids as an afterthought

            Focusing a great deal of attention on chest, back, and legs is a good thing. After all, these are the biggest areas of the body to give you the most mass and strength. But going to the point of flat out neglecting your deltoids won’t go very far regarding building huge, muscular shoulders.

            The Fix: Start to prioritize your deltoid training. Either train them on their own day or first during an arm workout, for example. Don’t think of your shoulders as small, weak little muscles that don’t require a significant amount of volume. Treat each head (anterior, medial, posterior) as a separate muscle to be trained. When it’s time to train shoulders focus on the task at hand and dig deep into your arsenal for the very best, most effective exercises available.

            2. The problem: You’re using too much weight with poor form

            Are you guilty of turning a shoulder press into an incline bench press and only using half of the range of motion? Bottom line: You’re using too much dang weight! What about dumbbell lateral raises? Are you contorting, swinging, and flailing like a confused moth? How’s that working for you?

            The Fix: The absolute best remedy is to cut your current weight to at least half and practice perfect, textbook form. Yes, I use the word practice here for good reason. Your job is to practice these movements the way they were meant to be done to help your shoulders relearn patterns of movement, proper contraction and control and to avoid injury. Once you focus on these factors, then you will start to see improvements in muscle mass and real, functional strength.

            Ronnie Coleman Exercising

            3. The problem: You’re doing too much anterior deltoid work

            The next time you are in the gym and someone is training deltoids, watch closely. Are they performing dumbbell presses, machine/Hammer presses and some sort of front raise? In reality, that is a ton of front delt (anterior) work. Not only is this overkill, it may also impact other lifts later in the week such as bench presses in a negative way.

            The Fix: Limit a shoulder workout to one multi-joint overhead pressing movement and possibly (if you feel it’s a weak point) a higher rep front raise. This will ensure that you aren’t overdoing it on your front delts so you can put a little more attention toward working on building balanced shoulder development.

            4. The problem: You’re not contracting your deltoids correctly

            This problem goes hand-in-hand with executing proper form. Once you compromise form for lifting more weight the idea of effectively contracting the targeted area goes out the window. If lifting more weight is your top priority you will start to recruit other muscles to help lift the weight and compromise your safety along the way.

            The Fix: Again, by focusing on correct form and deliberate contraction of the working muscle, you will properly stimulate the muscle for better results, period. For example, don’t lean back so far that you turn a shoulder press into an incline chest press. Sit upright, lower the dumbbells until they are nearly touching your shoulders, and then raise the weight without clanging them at the top. Elbows back and in-line with your shoulders, slow and steady.

            Ronnie Coleman Signature Series Supplements

            5. The problem: Your reps are too low

            Unless you are going for a 1 rep max or trying out for a powerlifting meet, there is really no need to pile on the weight and shoot for super low reps for shoulder training. For the average lifter chest and back training provide plenty of the heavy stuff.

            The Fix: If you’ve been on a heavy weight binge lately, lighten up a little and try performing some higher reps for a change. Notice I said higher reps and not easy reps. The fact that you will go a bit lighter doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park. You will still work to failure on each set. Shoot for 10 to 20 reps for a while. You will quickly find the higher reps will put you more “in touch” with your muscle fibers and you’ll get a huge pump along the way.

            6. The problem: You’re not working the medial deltoids enough

            Muscular shoulder width is largely determined by the size of your medial (middle) deltoid heads. These are the heads that give you that wide, V-tapered look. However, a lot of gym-goers don’t give their medial heads their due. Instead they focus on presses and then throw in a few lateral raises for good measure.

            The Fix: If wide is what you want then it would be wise to prioritize your medial delts more than any other deltoid head. Standing and seated side laterals, barbell and dumbbell upright rows, dumbbell and cable one-arm side laterals and various side lateral machines are all at your disposal. Include at least 2 medial deltoid head exercises in your program in order to ramp up gains.

            7. The problem: Your program isn’t balanced

            Many points above all come down to balance. Training your shoulders with tons of presses, a little lateral work and virtually no posterior (rear delt) work isn’t considered a very comprehensive, balanced program. Additionally, if you stay down that road of imbalance your physique will show it – out of proportion and forward-hunched shoulders.

            The Fix: If you are one of the guilty ones out there who press too much then the answer is fairly simple. In addition to performing 2 medial delt exercises, add in 2 posterior delt exercises as well. Doubling-up on these areas will slowly get your physique in balance and proportion all the while getting you the muscle mass you need in the right areas.

            Ronnie Coleman

            8. The problem: You’re not using supersets and giant sets

            Are you stuck in the straight set mentality? If so, I bet your shoulder training is quite boring if not mind-numbing. It’s hard to stimulate any new growth with the same ole routine week after week. Your delts are screaming for something new!

            The Fix: Deltoid work is one of the best opportunities to take advantage of supersets and giant sets. Since most exercises can be performed with dumbbells gym space and monopolizing equipment aren’t issues. A simple giant set could look something like this: Standing dumbbell side laterals, bent-over dumbbell rear laterals, Standing dumbbell overhead presses, dumbbell upright rows. Do 3 to 5 rounds of 10 to 20 reps each, rest 2 minutes between each giant set.

            9. The problem: Your frequency is too low

            Another factor to give serious consideration to is your frequency training shoulders. Once per week seems to be the norm for most gym-goers these days. I’m sorry to say, that just won’t cut it if your goal is to prioritize a weak point. Why wait an entire week to train your delts again?

            The Fix: Let’s do the math: If you train shoulders once per week you will have 52 chances per year to stimulate growth. If you train them twice per week you instantly increase those chances to 104. Which will get you to your goal of better shoulders faster? Sometimes all you may need is a bit higher frequency in order to get those gains going. Additionally, the fact that you will train them twice per week will actually require a little less volume in your routine since you’re hitting them more often.

            QUADZILLA

            Your quads might not be in need of work as much as your glutes and hamstrings — but that doesn’t mean that you should totally ignore the front side of your upper legs to completely focus on your posterior. 

            Even though quads are sometimes an accessory or afterthought for leg days, the muscles are still a major key to a strong, shapely lower body. Hammering the group with a specialized workout can do wonders for your gains — especially if you’ve been avoiding the types of moves that typically address the lower body.

            If you’ve suffered from knee pain for any length of time, you start to avoid the exercises that cause this pain: moves like squatting, lunging, running, and jumping.

            Over time, this doesn’t help your knees. You just get weaker and your quads get smaller. The result is actually more knee pain and diminished performance!

            Even if you don’t suffer from knee pain, building quads of the gods is one of the best ways to prevent knee pain. The quads work as key decelerators that absorb shock from your knees when landing from a jump or lunge or when quickly changing direction on the court or field.

            From an aesthetics standpoint, an impressive set of quads is a complete game-changer. For some quadspiration, check out this photo of legendary bodybuilder Tom Platz, who was known for having the greatest quads in history.

            Now, don’t expect to look like Tom. But do expect to make some serious gains.

            I’ve created a routine that compiles everything I used to make my very own quad transformation shown in the photo below.

            Follow this program, and you’ll be on the road to transforming your quadriceps into octaceps. 

            HOW IT WORKS:

            Perform this routine 2 to 3 times per week exactly as outlined below. You can see me demonstrate every movement in the video above.

            Hit your other muscle groups 1 to 2 times per week with just 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps of a single exercise, stopping 1 to 2 reps short of failure on each set during this time frame.

            Conventional training wisdom has you start with compound movements first and save the isolation moves for later. But our goal here is not performance—it’s to build as much muscle as possible in a short period of time.

            Therefore, we will be starting with a strategic single-joint movement to enhance the mind-muscle connection and pre-fatigue your targeted body part. This will allow you to “feel” the muscle working more throughout your training session.

            The Quads Specialization Workout

            Mobility Warmup: Do a couch stretch for for 2 to 5 minutes on each side.

            1. LEG EXTENSION

            The objective here is to pre-fatigue your quads and flood your knees and muscles with as much blood as possible. This will warm you up and improve your mind-muscle connection so that you “feel your quads” more throughout the remainder of your workout.

            Flex your quads as hard as you can for 4 seconds at the top of each rep.

            Perform 3 to 5 sets of 10 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

            Weeks 1 and 2: 3 sets
            Weeks 3 and 4: 4 sets
            Weeks 5 and 6: 5 sets

            2. 1.5-REP BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT

            With 1.5-rep training, you do twice as many reps in the bottom position of the exercise, where you are weakest. It also extends your overall time under tension to spark new muscle gain in your targeted region.

            Lower all the way down into the Bulgarian split squat, come up half way, go back down again, and then come all the way up. That’s 1 rep.

            Perform 2 to 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each side. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sides.

            Weeks 1 and 2: 2 sets
            Weeks 3 and 4: 3 sets
            Weeks 5 and 6: 4 sets

            3. ECCENTRIC SINGLE-LEG SQUAT

            This move is designed to overload the eccentric/lowering portion of the exercise to spur muscle damage and subsequent growth.

            Plus, by working one leg at a time, you’ll shore up weaknesses and imbalances between sides. After all, symmetry is key to aesthetics.

            Lower for a full 5 full seconds, then stand back up.

            Perform 2 to 4 sets of 5 reps on each side. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sides.

            Weeks 1 and 2: 2 sets
            Weeks 3 and 4: 3 sets
            Weeks 5 and 6: 4 sets

            4. DOUBLE KETTLEBELL PAUSE FRONT SQUAT AND BOX SQUAT JUMP SUPERSET

            Front-loaded squats allow you to stay more upright, which works your quads more.

            Pausing at the bottom of the squat eliminates your stretch reflex, or the rubber-band-like tendency of your muscles and connective tissues that helps power you through movements. The pause also extends your quads’ time under tension and sets the stage for movement mastery.

            Following a loaded strength movement with an unloaded power movement for the same muscle groups—known as contrast training—is a research-proven method to increase force production. The phenomenon is known as post-activation potentiation.

            Ultimately, it translates into greater gains.

            Perform 8 to 12 reps of squats, holding the bottom of the squat position for 4 full seconds on each rep. Then immediately perform 10 box squat jumps.

            That’s 1 superset. Repeat the superset for the corresponding number of sets.

            Weeks 1 and 2: 3 sets
            Weeks 3 and 4: 4 sets
            Weeks 5 and 6: 5 sets

            5. TEMPO LEG PRESS

            Your quads have a lot of slower-twitch endurance muscle fibers that you need to hit if you want to max out your muscle growth. That’s where these 2-minute work sets come into play.

            Though the leg press may not be as functional as squatting, it provides the extra stability you need to push past your comfort zone as safely as possible.

            Perform as many reps as you can in 2 minutes, using a continuous 2 to 3 seconds down, 2 to 3 seconds up tempo. In order to put continuous tension on your quads, don’t fully extend your legs at the top of the movement.

            Do 1 to 3 sets. Rest 1 minute between sets.

            Weeks 1 and 2: 1 set
            Weeks 3 and 4: 2 sets
            Weeks 5 and 6: 3 sets

            6. SINGLE-ARM ALTERNATING FORWARD LUNGE

            Without question, one of the most important parts of my leg transformation (particularly for my quads) was continuous lunging for 10 or more minutes.

            You’ll bulletproof your knees, improve hip mobility, and shred up your legs.

            It’s that sweet spot where strength meets conditioning—a legitimate metabolic magic act. I think it’s the perfect finisher!

            By holding a dumbbell on one side of your body at a time, you enhance the work for your core, hips, and thighs and give your grip a break so you can keep going non-stop without setting the weight down.

            Hold a dumbbell in one hand by your side and continuously perform alternating forward lunges for 5 to 10 minutes, switching hands every 30 seconds.

            MEN’S HEALTH

            Week 1: 5 minutes
            Week 2: 6 minutes
            Week 3: 7 minutes
            Week 4: 8 minutes
            Week 5: 9 minutes
            Week 6: 10 minutes

            MUSCLE UPS

            Part 1: Muscle-ups

            Muscle-ups require both pulling and pressing strength. Our fail-safe progressions will prepare your body for each element, so you’ll be ready to conquer the rig with a gymnast’s grace and power. 

              Chest-to-bar Pull-up: 4 sets of 6 reps 

              Your first step is to develop the strength to perform a muscle-up. This can be done with controlled pull-ups. Hang below a bar with an overhand grip, just wider than shoulder width, and your arms fully extended. 

              Keep your legs tight together and bent at 90 degrees as you pull your chest up to touch the bar. Hold for a second at the top, before lowering back down under control.

              Straight Arm Pull-down: 4 sets of 8-10 reps

              Take tension away from your biceps and isolate your larger back muscles. Loop a resistance band around the bar and adopt an overhand grip on the band at hip width. Step away from the bar, so your arms are straight and your lats stretched. Pull the band down without bending your arms to bring your hands to your hips. Hold for a second, then reverse the move.

              Hip-to-bar Pull-up: 3 sets of 3 reps

              Generating enough power to bring your hips to the bar is hard to master. Start in the pull-up’s hanging position, then squeeze your shoulders back and down. Swing your legs to create a “kipping” motion. 

              As your legs move forward, raise yourself using the same movement as a straight arm pull-down, driving your hips to the bar. Push away and swing your legs back for rep two. 

              Straight Bar Dip: 4 sets of 6 reps

              Not only will this dip upgrade develop your shoulder, triceps and chest strength; it will also teach you to keep your core tight. 

              Set a barbell in a rack at the height of your upper abs. Extend your arms and bring your shoulders over the bar. Dip your shoulders, then bend your elbows to touch your chest to the bar. Push back up to lock out. 

              Part 2: The Bar Muscle-up

              The bar muscle-up is an advanced move, but follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll learn to execute it with tight technique. Soon, you’ll be able to string together multiple reps to accomplish this toughest of workouts. 

              Phase 1: First, create an “active” hang under the bar by squeezing down your lats and shoulders. From here, generate the kip swing by tensing your glutes and abs, while thinking about opening and closing your shoulders. Your legs should move in front (the hollow position) and behind you (the arched position), but your torso should stay centred. Now, it’s time to pull hard. 

              Phase 2: From the hollow body position, pull down on the bar using your back and shoulders, your arms straight. Lift your hips to reach your hands, then drive your head forward over the bar. Whipping your head is crucial if you want to generate enough momentum to carry you over the bar. Get in the swing of it.

              Phase 3: With the trickiest part of the move completed, your muscle-up is only a press away. From the bottom of a dip position, call on the strength you built in the final progression move to press your body upward. Keep your core tensed and your legs in front. Take some time at the top to revel in how far you’ve come.

              HANDSTAND

              You’ve always wanted to do a handstand. Or, you’ve been working on improving your handstand and you’ve gotten stuck. Whatever your reason for stumbling on this tutorial, we’re going to help you reach your handstand goals. 

              Hand balancing skills are in vogue in the fitness community, and you see some incredible hand balancing artists out there now. 

              Learn how to do a handstand

              The ability to do a straight-line handstand–or to move within the handstand–is one of the most beautiful demonstrations of strength, control, and grace. So it makes sense that handstands have become such a popular skill to chase after. 

              But handstands can be incredibly frustrating to train for if you don’t have a good plan, or if you don’t know what to expect. 

              This tutorial is designed to help everyone from total beginners to more seasoned handstand practitioners looking to improve their skills. Wherever you are in your handstand journey, let’s get you toward your goals. 

              Comprehensive Handstand Training: Physical Preparation, Technique, and Troubleshooting

              There is a LOT of information in this tutorial, but we’ve structured it so that it’s very easy to navigate. If you start at the top and work your way down, you are going to make great progress toward your handstand in no time. 

              Here’s what you can expect to find in this tutorial: 

              With this approach, you’ll be following the fundamental structure laid out in the GMB training methodology. Our method might be a bit different from what you’ve seen before, but we’ve used it to help tens of thousands of clients achieve their goals, and it will help you toward yours too. 

              The Best Way to Learn a Perfect Handstand

              I’ve seen countless ways of teaching the handstand, and the way we teach this skill is pretty different from other approaches out there.

              That’s not to say our way is necessarily betterthan other ways–that’s entirely dependent on why you want to do handstands, and what you want to get out of your handstand practice. 

              For instance, our friend Yuval Ayalon is a master hand balancer, who specializes in handstands. In his own practice, he’s aiming for perfection–because he needs to. He teaches other high level hand balancers how to get as close to perfection in the handstand as humanly possible. 

              Handstand Comparison

              So, of course, his approach to teaching the handstand is going to be quite a bit different from what we teach.

              Our goal is to help you feel comfortable on your hands, so that you can do whatever you want to with your hand balancing skills. 

              We emphasize motor control with our approach to the handstand, and by training for the handstand in this way, you’ll be building overall body control, which can be applied to just about any other skill. 

              The approach outlined in this article helps create the building blocks needed to get you comfortable in your handstand: strength, control, and balance throughout the body, along with mobility through the wrists, shoulders, and hips.

              Essential Handstand Concepts

              Spotting a Handstand correctlyThere are about 1,000 things I could talk about when it comes to handstands. I’ve been doing handstands for almost my whole life and I’ve taught them to thousands of people at this point, so you could say I’m pretty passionate about the topic. 

              In this video, I’m going to go over the most important concepts I think everyone should understand as they begin or continue along on their handstand journeys. 

              I’ve seen plenty of people struggle with the handstand for years, and once they’ve got a good understanding of these concepts, it changes everything for them. Things begin to click, and it just makes the journey a lot smoother. 

              I know that looks like a lot, but you don’t have to try and absorb it all at once. These are just general points to keep in mind as you practice, and we’ll return to most of them as we go on.

              Step 1: Assessing Your Ability to Do a Handstand

              If you’re not used to practicing handstands (and really, even if you are), the positioning of the wrists, shoulders, torso, and even legs in the handstand can be quite different from what you’ve done in the past. It’s important to assess where your body is at right now to see how ready you are for the work ahead. 

              In this video, Rose will demonstrate some movements to assess how well your body is able to get into the positions needed for the handstand. Since every day will be different with the handstand, it’s a good idea to repeat this assessment regularly. 

              Here are the assessments shown in this video:

              Remember: it’s okay if you can’t do all of these perfectly yet–these assessments just help you get a clearer idea of what you might need the most work on as you practice

              Step 2: Addressing Weaknesses and Learning Proper Technique

              The assessment drives this next part of the process, where you address the weak points you’ve found. 

              Rather than just trying and failing, over and over, until you’re frustrated beyond belief, the “address” portion of your training session will be focused and specific. In this video, I’ll give an overview of what you can expect from this part of your handstand journey:

              When we plan a training session at GMB, we break things down into five sections: Prepare, Practice, Play, Push, and Ponder. 

              5P Framework

              Let’s look at each of these in detail, with exercise recommendations, and see how each is essential to your handstand journey.

              Prepare: Get Your Body Ready for Handstand Training

              We’ll start with some exercises and stretches to Prepare the body for the handstand work you’ll be doing. 

              Handstands place a LOT of strain on the wrists, which most people are not prepared for without specifically working on this area. You’ll also need a good amount of shoulder mobility to get yourself into good alignment, and leg strength is key.

              Put all those pieces together, and it’s clear that jumping right into your handstand practice for the day probably isn’t the best idea. 

              This preparation routine will get your body ready.

              Here are the Preparatory exercises shown in this video: 

              Practice: Develop Proper Technique with Correct Progressions

              Locomotion Exercise to improve HandstandsEvery part of the 5Ps is essential to nailing down the skills you need for the handstand, but the Practice portion is probably the most important–and most neglected–part of learning any skill. 

              If you’ve ever learned to play an instrument, you know the key to mastery: practice, practice, practice. 

              Think of the handstand like learning to play the violin. You’re going to have to practice the foundational parts of the skill, over and over, until you’re ready to move on to more complex variations. 

              In this video, I’ve included variations starting from a rote beginner level, leading all the way to the freestanding handstand. 

              Here are the variations shown in this video: 

              • Elevated A-Frame
              • Frogger
              • High Frogger
              • Elevated L-Stand
              • Wall Entries
              • Wall Float
              • Wall Line Work
              • Split Leg Kick Up
              • Straddle Handstand
              • Full Handstand Entries

              Rather than think of these exercises as step-by-step progressions, try to approach them like the pieces of a Tetris board. If you’re an absolute beginner, you’ll definitely want to start with the first variation I show, but as you progress through them, you may need different pieces than someone playing on a different board. 

              The pieces don’t necessarily go “in order,” although they certainly can be followed that way.

              Just make sure not be too rigid in your approach to these variations.

              Play: Explore Variations to Solidify Your Skills

              Serious practice is important, but playful exploration within and around the skills you’ve just practiced is a key to mastering those skills.

              It’s impossible to tell you exactly what you should be doing for the Play portion, since everyone is at a different level, and feels comfortable with different things, but in this video, we’ll show you some examples of Play.

              Here are the key points covered in this video: 

              • Practice happens at the edge of your ability; Play happens at the core of your competence. What that means is you’ll play with variations with which you are completely comfortable. 
              • Play at whatever level you’re at, and find different ways to explore those variations.

              As an example, let’s say you’ve been working on wall kick-ups. To Play with this skill, you may try kicking up against the wall and then moving your head around in different directions to see how it changes things. Or you could play with different ways of breathing, or with where you place the pressure through your palms.

              No matter what level you’re at, you can–and should!–prioritize Play in your training sessions. 

              Push: Condition Your Body to Perform Safely & Consistently

              Next up is the Push session. This is the part of the session that will feel most like a “workout,” but their real purpose is to strengthen your body and give you range of motion to hold a straighter handstand for longer.

              The key is to work at a lower level of skill, so that the quality of your movement remains high. 

              Here are the exercises shown in this video: 

              • Band drill
              • A-Frame shrugs
              • Hollow body hold
              • High frogger

              You’ll notice that these exercises are drills that focus on particular parts of the handstand.

              This is pretty different from trying to jump up into a handstand and just hold as long as possible (not very helpful advice, especially for someone just starting out with handstands). By approaching your “conditioning” in this way, you’ll get a lot more out of your skills practice.

              Ponder: Reflect on Your Practice and Learn from Mistakes

              This is the final piece of the puzzle that can make or break your progress with the handstand: mindful reflection. 

              In this video, I’ll talk about what it means to “Ponder” about your handstand practice, and how it will dramatically improve your overall performance and experience with the handstand. 

              Here are the key points covered in this video:

              • Taking a few minutes at the end of your session to reflect can make all the difference in your handstand journey.
              • Think about what you learned from the session–good or bad–and how you can apply that to the next session.
              • If you’re not enjoying the process, you need to reexamine your approach. 

              As you go work on your handstand, you’ll see that progress is anything but linear, and if you don’t know what to expect, it can really mess with your head. It’s easy to start feeling down about your progress if you get too caught up in day-to-day fluctuations in your performance.

              By taking a few minutes throughout and at the end of your session to mindfully reflect on how things went, where you struggled, and any big wins you had, you’ll start to see the bigger picture over time.

              And it will help you figure out what to focus on in your next session, so that you get the most out of that.

              Step 3: Apply Your Skills

              Handstand Snake Down Bodyweight ExerciseThe application of your handstand skills is really what this is all about.

              There’s nothing wrong with doing handstands for the sake of doing handstands, but through working with tens of thousands of clients, we’ve found that, when a skill is tied in to a bigger picture goal, it has a lot more meaning for most people. And that makes training for that skill a lot more enjoyable. 

              So, there are two primary applications when it comes to your handstand skills: 

              The application is really your why for practicing handstands, and keeping that in mind as you practice will help you continue to make progress and keep moving forward in your handstand journey. 

              How to Practice Handstands: Develop Your Best Training Plan

              Handstands OutsideAll that goes into mastering the handstand may feel a bit overwhelming. But when all the pieces are put together, this approach should streamline your handstand practice, and make it a lot more directed and focused.

              Because the handstand is a skill, you’ll benefit from frequent practice, even if you can’t do long sessions each time.

              Basic Practice Tips:

              • Practice 2-4 times a week so your central nervous system can acquire the skill efficiently.
              • I recommend 45 minutes if you’re super serious, but for most people, 15-20 minutes is a lot more realistic.
              • It’s impossible to say how long it’ll take, because we’re all different. Just keep with it, and you’ll improve.

              BENEFITS OF STRENGTH TRAINING

              The health benefits of strength training extend far beyond weight management and aesthetics.

              Yep. Although most people get into exercise purely for cosmetic reasons (i.e. to build muscle, lose fat and increase their physical attractiveness), there is a substantial body of scientific evidence pointing to numerous health benefits of strength training.

              But first, what is strength training?

              Strength training (also known as weight training or resistance training) is a type of physical exercise which uses resistance to oppose the force generated by muscles through concentric and eccentric contractions.

              While most people associate strength training with lifting weights (barbells and dumbbells), it can also be done using other equipment (e.g.: bands, suspension ropes, gym machines, etc.) or using no equipment at all (e.g. body weight exercises, such as push-ups and pull-ups).

              Why doesn’t everyone lift weights?

              Until recently, insufficient evidence to support the role of strength training in health promotion coupled with the belief that it should only be done by strength athletes and bodybuilders meant that the general population saw little reason to ever engage in resistance training. Thankfully, all that has now changed and people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds are hitting the gym to lift weights!

              So, without further ado, here are 10 science-backed health benefits of strength training.

              1. Boosts metabolic rate

              One of the most well-known health benefits of strength training is that it increases the body’s metabolic rate which, in turn, can help protect from obesity and from all the health conditions that accompany it. This happens in two ways:

              1. Acutely for re-modelling purposes
              2. Chronically for ongoing tissue maintenance

              Acutely, strength training causes muscle microtrauma which requires energy-intensive re-modelling.

              Simply put, strength training results in tiny injuries to the muscle fibers and connective tissues of the muscles used which the body then has to “fix”. This process is called re-modelling and requires quite a bit of energy to be carried out.

              In fact, according to scientific research, regularly-performed resistance training will increase Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) by 5-10% for re-modelling purposes. With the average person’s RMR being around 1600 calories per day, that’s an additional 80-160 calories burned per day.

              Chronically, properly-performed resistance exercise results in an increase in muscle mass, which requires more energy for ongoing maintenance and which, in turn, increases the body’s metabolic rate.

              To put this into numbers, a 10 pound increase in muscle tissue will raise Resting Metabolic Rate by around 60 calories per day. While this increase is by no means huge, it can certainly add up over time.

              Brad Schoenfeld - Health Benefits of Strength Training Quote - Myolean Fitness

              2. Improves physical function

              Aging coupled with physical inactivity gradually results in a reduced ability to perform basic activities of daily life, including walking around, getting out of a chair, picking up things, and reaching for things in high shelves.

              According to research, the health benefits of strength training include that it can slow down and even reverse many of the negative effects of inactive aging, including:

              This is achieved partly because of the positive effects that strength training has on muscle and strength as well as on body fat levels.

              3. Helps prevent/manage type 2 diabetes

              Physical inactivity, poor dietary habits, obesity, and age-related declines in insulin sensitivity all contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

              The health benefits of strength training include that it can help with the prevention and management of diabetes by:

              The above are supported by a number of scientific studies, including by this meta analysis by Flack et al.

              4. Improves cardiovascular health

              Although there are a number of risk factors which are associated with cardiovascular disease and which we have no control over (such as age, gender, and genetics) there are a few ones which we can control.

              These modifiable risk factors include, but are not limited to:

              • obesity,
              • type 2 diabetes,
              • resting blood pressure, and
              • blood lipids.

              Obesity has been linked to a number of risk factors which contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. According to scientific research, strength training can help in the management of obesity, with studies showing that it can result in a significant decrease in fat mass. Research also suggests that strength training causes significant reductions in subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat.

              Type 2 diabetes is also a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. As mentioned above, resistance exercise is known to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially in people who are at higher risk of developing diabetes in the first place.

              High resting blood pressure (hypertension) is another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Hypertension stresses the body’s blood vessels, causing them to become weak and clogged. Numerous studies have shown significant decreases in resting blood pressure in subjects performing regular resistance training for a few weeks. In fact, a 2005 meta analysis reported that blood pressure reductions associated with resistance training averaged around 4.5-6.0 mm Hg for systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

              Health Benefits of Resistance Training Bodyweight - Myolean Fitness

              5. Reduces blood pressure

              Hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure) is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other health problems.

              Sadly, approximately 85 million Americans (around one third of all US adults) have hypertension.

              The good news?

              A number of studies have found that two or more months of regular strength training can reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in subjects with hypertension.

              This study, for example, which included more tore than 1,600 participants aged between 21 and 80 years old, found that strength training twice or three times per week significantly reduced systolic blood pressure readings by 3.2 and 4.6 mm Hg, respectively, while it also reduced diastolic blood pressure by 1.4 and 2.2 mm Hg, respectively.

              Moreover, a 2005 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by Cornelissen and Fagard reported reductions that averaged 6.0 mm Hg in systolic and 4.7 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure, and concluded that resistance training could become part of a non-pharmacological intervention strategy to prevent and combat hypertension.

              6. Improves blood lipids

              A typical blood lipid profile usually refers to the blood levels of:

              • total cholesterol,
              • high-density lipoprotein (HDL), i.e. the “good” cholesterol,
              • low-density lipoprotein (LDL), i.e. the “bad” cholesterol, and
              • triglycerides.

              Undesirable blood lipid profiles, also known as dyslipidemia, usually mean that LDL and/or triglyceride levels are high and that, sometimes, HDL levels are low, and are one of the recognized risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

              Although some research has found no significant changes of strength training on blood lipids, most studies, such as this one, this one, and this one, have shown that the health benefits of strength training do actually include improvements in blood lipid profiles.

              According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) position stand on Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults, the available scientific evidence suggests that strength training may increase HDL cholesterol by 8% to 21%, decrease LDL cholesterol by 13% to 23%, and reduce triglycerides by 11% to 18%.

              7. Helps manage chronic pain

              Chronic pain, often defined as pain that lasts over 12 weeks, is a major public health problem. According to a 2011 report by the the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the prevalence of chronic pain in the United States has been estimated to be close to 116 million, which means that approximately half of all American adults are living with chronic pain.

              The health benefits of strength training include that it can treat several types of chronic pain, including low back, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia pain.

              Low back: A large number of randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews have found that exercise reduces pain and improves physical function in people suffering with low back pain. The efficacy of strength training alone has been examined in fewer trials, with a quantitative review by Hayden et al. revealing that strength training is as effective in reducing pain and more effective in improving physical function than aerobic training in those suffering with low back pain.

              Osteoarthritis: Research suggests that exercise of all types is effective in reducing osteoarthritic pain, with quantitative reviews, such as this one by Roddy et al. and this one by Pelland et al., that looked at trials utilizing strength training alone, showing a moderate-sized, positive effect of strength training for reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis.

              Fibromyalgia: Randomized controlled trials that have examined the effects of strength training alone on pain in fibromyalgia patients have found pain reductions that range from moderate (e.g., in this study) to large (e.g. in this study), with the evidence supporting the conclusion that strength training alone effectively reduces pain intensity among patients with fibromyalgia.

              8. Increases bone mineral density

              Bone mineral density (BMD) refers to the amount of bone mineral per unit of bone tissue, and, essentially, reflects the strength of bones. Low bone mineral density (osteoporosis or osteopenia) means that bones are weak and, therefore, more prone to fractures.

              Osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan, with more than 8.9 million fractures worldwide caused by osteoporosis.

              According to research, adults who do not perform strength training may experience up to a 3% reduction in bone mineral density every year of their life.

              On the positive side, a number of longitudinal studies as well as a recent review by Going and Laudermilk, have found significant increases in BMD of up to 3% with strength training%.

              Moreover, although much of the research on strength training and bone mineral density has used older women as subjects, there is evidence which suggests that young men may also increase BMD by up to 7.7% through resistance training.

              Overall, the majority of studies in this area suggest that the health benefits of strength training include an increase in bone mineral density in both younger and older adults, and may have a stronger effect on BMD than other types of exercise.

              9. Enhances mental health

              According to the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services, mental health includes people’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Since it significantly affects how we think, feel, and act, it’s no surprise that it’s considered to be hugely important at every stage of our lives.

              Cognitive abilities: A number of scientific studies, such as this one, this one and this one, have found that strength training results in significant improvements in cognitive abilities. Moreover, a meta-analysis by Colcombe and Kramer showed that an exercise regimen involving both strength training and aerobic activity resulted in significantly greater cognitive improvement in older adults than did aerobic activity alone.

              Self-esteem: Although self-esteem is relatively stable over time and less likely to be affected by exercise, positive changes of strength training on self-esteem have been reported in numerous studies, including this one in older adults, this oneyounger adults, this one in cancer patients, and this one in participants of cardiac rehabilitation.

              Depression: A number of studies have examined the effects of strength training on depression levels as well as on symptoms of depression. Although the results have been mixed, O’Connor et al., in a review of the literature, concluded that there is sufficient evidence to support strength training as an effective intervention for helping to reduce the symptoms of depression in adults with depression.

              Anxiety: Randomized controlled trials that have investigated the effects of strength training on anxiety (such as this study and this study) have found an overall small, but statistically significant, reduction in symptoms of anxiety, with moderate intensity training (50-60% of 1RM) showing the strongest positive effect. Overall, the available evidence suggests that strength training consistently reduces anxiety symptoms in healthy adults.

              Taken together, the studies above on the the different components of mental health suggest that the health benefits of strength training include an improvement in mental health.

              10. Reverses aging factors

              Finally, some interesting research which has investigated the effects of strength training on muscle mitochondrial content and function suggests that resistance training can increase both the mitochondrial content and the oxidative capacity of muscle tissue.

              Moreover, some research on older adults with a mean age of 68 years showed a reversal in mitochondrial deterioration that typically occurs with aging, with the older participants experiencing gene expression reversal which resulted in mitochondrial characteristics similar to those in moderately active young adults with a mean age of 24 years.

              Overall, the available scientific evidence to date suggests that the health benefits of strength training include a reversal of aging factors in skeletal muscle.

              Conclusion

              So there you have it.

              When properly performed, research suggests that the health benefits of strength training are numerous and, often, unique to this specific type of exercise.

              Just remember, however, that it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen, as well as to get guidance by a certified fitness professional regarding proper training programming and the correct execution of exercises.