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TOP 10 Bodybuilders from History

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[UPDATE] extreme workout motivation - you can do it

Note: I pulled this off of another thread at the beginning of the year which I now cannot find.

Your life is now.

It is not what you did, or looked like, or lifted yesterday. It is not what you will do tomorrow or hope to achieve with your physique in the future. It is now. Do you ever notice that "I really couldn't give 2 wanks and a rats ass" feeling you get when some arrogant, has-been jerk says, "'oh yeah, I used to be really freakin' huge maaaan! I bench pressed 4 million pounds!" As Mr. Personality continues his self centered, biased story of what he used to be, you find yourself extremely uninterested to the point where you'd rather jack off your grandpa! Well, thats how others feel when you and I talk about what we used to do or what we are dead set to accomplish in the world of muscle and fitness. People are impressed only with what you are NOW.

Today is your opportunity to live the real life. Today is your time to get out of the swamp of the status quo. Yes, today is your time to give purpose and drive to your fitness life. Don't keep doing the "Easy" exercises. Don't just do a certain number of reps and sets- no matter if you are straining or not. Don't stop your sets when the burn and pain starts. Remember, now is your time. This is your hour. When I'm in the gym, I see people who are about as focused as a fart. They are all over the road. They'll run many different half-assed exercises together and wonder why they look no different that last year.

Fear can be a bad thing in your life, but it can also yield results.The only fear you need is the fear that you will continue living a life much smaller than your hopes and dreams'.. and awake someday to find yourself past your prime, a product of your mediocre lifestyle as a fitness enthusiast. Or worse yet, you might die unexpectedly tomorrow, next week or next month with your music still in you. Your life is now. Your life is now, or never. When I turned 30, this hit me hard. Up to that point, I was in my 20's. IT didn't matter how late into my 20's I was, I was still in my 20's! Then 30 hit. I realilzed that IF I'm going to be muscular and strong, it had better happen now. Yes, you can be big and strong into your 40's. But I think many agree that the 30's are where its at! I had to decide that the time was now.

You possess unfathomable strength and ability, but you are rarely calling on your tremendous mental and physical resources. They demand to be stretched, exercised and challenged. They demand to be used to their full capacity. The reward your abilities promise is nothing short of greatness and excellence. Have you ever been told you have "potential'" Let me tell you something about "potential"'''. "potential" means that you're not doing it. Think about it'' Would you say that Jay Cutler has "potential?" No, because he's doing it! He's training hard, eating big, and keeping his focus. He is past the "potential" stage. Thats where I want all of us to be. To be to the place where every week we are setting and reaching goals in our fitness. Be it strength, size, or just a funny story from your daily walk as a bodybuilding enthusiast as proof that you are living the life and having a great time doing it!

Let me be blunt, in hopes of making my true point: Everyday you step into the gym, and do not commit yourself to greatness, you are falling asleep, allowing yourself to suffocate in an atmosphere of mediocrity. Is the spirit-killing atmosphere I reference real? Bodybuilding is supposed to be such a positive and demanding sport where just by association with it, you start aiming to better yourself. You only need to look at the newspaper or TV to know we are surrounded by negativity that cares little about inspiring greatness. You are never far from people who care nothing about being different, better, stronger, trying harder, or aiming higher. You know who they are. You get stares and double takes from them at the store when you have to go from the gym, to the store to get more protein for supper. With your swole still in full effect, you got cannonball shoulders bursting out of your sleeveless shirt, and swole chest trying to bust its way out. Furthermore, you're freaking everybody out with pipeline veins crawling beneath the surface of your skin'' so much that it causes all the heroine addicts to orgasm! Yes indeed, you live in an atmosphere of mediocrity, and like poison gas it will dull you, bore you, disillusion you and lessen you if you don't wake up and do something about it. If you are not getting comments from people about your physique, you are still in the mediocrity. If people at work are not tripping out on your disciplined and strict dietary practices, you are still in the mediocrity.

My friend, your life is now. Take a stand against mediocrity, weakness, skinnyness, and obesity. Make your greatness non-negotiable. Put it into higher gear.

Must read:

9 Body Hacks to Naturally Increase Testosterone

1.   Lose Weight
If you're overweight, shedding the excess pounds may increase your testosterone levels, according to research presented at the Endocrine Society's 2012 meeting. Overweight men are more likely to have low testosterone levels to begin with, so this is an important trick to increase your body's testosterone production when you need it most.
If you are serious about losing weight, you have got to strictly limit the amount of processed sugar in your diet, as evidence is mounting that excess sugar, and fructose in particular, is the primary driving factor in the obesity epidemic. So cutting soda from your diet is essential, as is limiting fructose found in processed foods, fruit juice, excessive fruit and so-called "healthy" sweeteners like agave.
Ideally you should keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day and this includes fruits. This is especially true if you have insulin resistance and are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.
In addition to eliminating or severely limiting fructose, it will be vital to eliminate all grains and milk (even raw) in your diet. Milk has a sugar called lactose, which has been shown to increase insulin resistance so it will be wise to avoid it if you are seeking to lose weight.
Refined carbohydrates like breakfast cereals, bagels, waffles, pretzels, and most other processed foods also quickly break down to sugar, increase your insulin levels, and cause insulin resistance, which is the number one underlying factor of nearly every chronic disease and condition known to man, including weight gain.
As you cut these dietary troublemakers from your meals, you need to replace them with healthy substitutes like vegetables and healthy fats (including natural saturated fats!). Your body prefers the carbohydrates in micronutrient-dense vegetables rather than grains and sugars because it slows the conversion to simple sugars like glucose, and decreases your insulin level. When you cut grains and sugar from your meals, you typically will need to radically increase the amount of vegetables you eat, as well as make sure you are also consuming protein and healthy fats regularly.
I've detailed a step-by-step guide to this type of healthy eating program in my comprehensive nutrition plan, and I urge you to consult this guide if you are trying to lose weight.
The foods you choose to eat will be the driving force behind successfully achieving your weight loss goals -- high-intensity, short-burst-type exercises, such as my Peak Fitness Program, two to three times per week, combined with a comprehensive fitness plan, is important too, and has an additional benefit as well (see below)!
2.   High-Intensity Exercise like Peak Fitness (Especially Combined with Intermittent Fasting)
Both intermittent fasting and short intense exercise have been shown to boost testosterone. Short intense exercise has a proven positive effect on increasing testosterone levels and preventing its decline. That's unlike aerobics or prolonged moderate exercise, which have shown to have negative or no effect on testosterone levels.
Intermittent fasting boosts testosterone by increasing the expression of satiety hormones including insulin, leptin, adiponectin, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), colecystokinin (CKK) and melanocortins, all of which are known to potentiate healthy testosterone actions, increase libido and prevent age-related testosterone decline.
Having a whey protein meal after exercise can further enhance the satiety/testosterone-boosting impact (hunger hormones cause the opposite effect on your testosterone and libido). Here's a summary of what a typical high-intensity Peak Fitness routine might look like:
  • Warm up for three minutes
  • Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should feel like you couldn't possibly go on another few seconds
  • Recover at a slow to moderate pace for 90 seconds
  • Repeat the high intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times
As you can see, the entire workout is only 20 minutes. Twenty minutes! That really is a beautiful thing. And within those 20 minutes, 75 percent of that time is warming up, recovering or cooling down. You're really only working out intensely for four minutes. It's hard to believe if you have never done this that you can actually get that much benefit from four minutes of exercise. That's all it is.
Keep in mind that you can use virtually any type of equipment you want for this – an elliptical machine, a treadmill, swimming, even sprinting outdoors (although you will need to do this very carefully to avoid injury) -- as long as you're pushing yourself as hard as you can for 30 seconds. But do be sure to stretch properly and start slowly to avoid injury. Start with two or three repetitions and work your way up, don't expect to do all eight repetitions the first time you try this, especially if you are out of shape.
You can find more information about this in an article previously written on intermittent fasting.
3.   Consume Plenty of Zinc
The mineral zinc is important for testosterone production, and supplementing your diet for as little as six weeks has been shown to cause a marked improvement in testosterone among men with low levels.1 Likewise, research has shown that restricting dietary sources of zinc leads to a significant decrease in testosterone, while zinc supplementation increases it2 -- and even protects men from exercised-induced reductions in testosterone levels.3
It's estimated that up to 45 percent of adults over the age of 60 may have lower than recommended zinc intakes; even when dietary supplements were added in, an estimated 20-25 percent of older adults still had inadequate zinc intakes, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.4
Your diet is the best source of zinc; along with protein-rich foods like meats and fish, other good dietary sources of zinc include raw milk, raw cheese, beans, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk. It can be difficult to obtain enough dietary zinc if you’re a vegetarian, and also for meat-eaters as well, largely because of conventional farming methods that rely heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These chemicals deplete the soil of nutrients ... nutrients like zinc that must be absorbed by plants in order to be passed on to you.
In many cases, you may further deplete the nutrients in your food by the way you prepare it. For most food, cooking it will drastically reduce its levels of nutrients like zinc … particularly over-cooking, which many people do.
If you decide to use a zinc supplement, stick to a dosage of less than 40 mg a day, as this is the recommended adult upper limit. Taking too much zinc can interfere with your body's ability to absorb other minerals, especially copper, and may cause nausea as a side effect.
4.   Strength Training
In addition to Peak Fitness, strength training is also known to boost testosterone levels, provided you are doing so intensely enough. When strength training to boost testosterone, you’ll want to increase the weight and lower your number of reps, and then focus on exercises that work a large number of muscles, such as dead lifts or squats.
You can “turbo-charge” your weight training by going slower. By slowing down your movement, you’re actually turning it into a high-intensity exercise. Super Slow movement allows your muscle, at the microscopic level, to access the maximum number of cross-bridges between the protein filaments that produce movement in the muscle.
5.   Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. In one study, overweight men who were given vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in testosterone levels after one year.5
Vitamin D deficiency is currently at epidemic proportions in the United States and many other regions around the world, largely because people do not spend enough time in the sun to facilitate this important process of vitamin D production.
So the first step to ensuring you are receiving all the benefits of vitamin D is to find out what your levels are using a 25(OH)D test, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
A few years back, the recommended level was between 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), but more recently the optimal vitamin D level has been raised to 50-70 ng/ml.
To get your levels into the healthy range, sun exposure is the BEST way to optimize your vitamin D levels; exposing a large amount of your skin until it turns the lightest shade of pink, as near to solar noon as possible, is typically necessary to achieve adequate vitamin D production. If sun exposure is not an option, a safe tanning bed (with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields) can be used.
As a last resort, a vitamin D3 supplement can be taken orally, but research suggests the average adult needs to take 8,000 IU's of vitamin D per day in order to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the absolute minimum for disease prevention.
6.   Reduce Stress
When you’re under a lot of stress, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone actuallyblocks the effects of testosterone,6 presumably because, from a biological standpoint, testosterone-associated behaviors (mating, competing, aggression) may have lowered your chances of survival in an emergency (hence, the “fight or flight” response is dominant, courtesy of cortisol).
In the modern world, chronic stress, and subsequently elevated levels of cortisol, could mean that testosterone’s effects are blocked in the long term, which is what you want to avoid.
My favorite overall tool to manage stress is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), which is like acupuncture without the needles. It's a handy, free tool for unloading emotional baggage quickly and painlessly, and so easy that even children can learn it. Other common stress-reduction tools with a high success rate include prayer, meditation, laughter and yoga, for example. Learning relaxation skills, such as deep breathing and positive visualization, which is the "language" of the subconscious.
When you create a visual image of how you'd like to feel, your subconscious will understand and begin to help you by making the needed biochemical and neurological changes.
7.   Limit or Eliminate Sugar from Your Diet
Testosterone levels decrease after you eat sugar, which is likely because the sugar leads to a high insulin level, another factor leading to low testosterone.7
Based on USDA estimates, the average American consumes 12 teaspoons of sugar a day, which equates to about TWO TONS of sugar during a lifetime. Why we eat this much sugar is not difficult to understand -- it tastes good, and it gives us pleasure by triggering an innate process in your brain via dopamine and opioid signals.
What it is doing to us on both a physical and emotional level is another story entirely, and most people stand to reap major improvements in their health by cutting back on, or eliminating, sugar altogether from their diets. Remember foods that contain added sugar and fructose, as well as grains like bread and pasta, should all be limited.
If you're struggling with sugar addiction and having trouble dealing with cravings, I highly recommend trying an energy psychology technique called Turbo Tapping, which has helped many "soda addicts" kick their sweet habit, and it should work for any type of sweet craving you may have.
8.   Eat Healthy Fats
By healthy, this means not only mon- and polyunsaturated fats, like that found in avocadoes and nuts, but also saturated, as these are essential for building testosterone. Research shows that a diet with less than 40 percent of energy as fat (and that mainly from animal sources, i.e. saturated) lead to a decrease in testosterone levels.8
My personal diet is about 60-70 percent healthy fat, and other experts agree that the ideal diet includes somewhere between 50-70 percent fat.
It's important to understand that your body requires saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources (such as meat, dairy, certain oils, and tropical plants like coconut) for optimal functioning, and if you neglect this important food group in favor of sugar, grains and other starchy carbs, your health and weight are almost guaranteed to suffer. Examples of healthy fats you can eat more of to give your testosterone levels a boost include:

  •  Olives and Olive oil
  • Coconuts and coconut oil
  • Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk
  • Raw nuts, such as, almonds or pecans
  • Organic pastured egg yolks
  • Avocados
  • Grass-fed meats
  • Palm oil
  • Unheated organic nut oils

9.   Boost Your Intake of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) from Foods Like Whey Protein
Research suggests that BCAAs result in higher testosterone levels, particularly when taken along with resistance training.9While BCAAs are available in supplement form, you'll find the highest concentrations of BCAAs like leucine in dairy products – especially quality cheeses and whey protein.
Even when getting leucine from your natural food supply, it's often wasted or used as a building block instead of an anabolic agent. So to create the correct anabolic environment, you need to boost leucine consumption way beyond mere maintenance levels.
That said, keep in mind that using leucine as a free form amino acid can be highly counterproductive as when free form amino acids are artificially administrated, they rapidly enter your circulation while disrupting insulin function, and impairing your body's glycemic control. Food-based leucine is really the ideal form that can benefit your muscles without side effects.

Must Read :

7 Ways to Get Rid of Belly Fat

Belly fat. Ugh. The one thing standing between you and your swim suit. Unfortunately, sometimes it
takes more than just sit-ups to slim down your waist.

And stressing about it isn’t going to help you at all! Stress is one of the primary culprits for high levels of cortisol secretion. Then, we start to gain weight in our midsection when our cortisol levels spike. When this happens cortisol breaks downs lean muscle (the type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently) and also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region.
To make matters worse, crash diets have been shown to increase cortisol levels, making no change in belly fat even with calorie restriction.
So how do you shape up and look nice in your swimsuit? (In addition to simply becoming healthier in general?) Incorporate these 7 things below and you will be on your way to a flatter belly in no time!

1. Sleep
Getting a full night’s rest (at least 7 hours) is important to getting and keeping a healthy body shape. If you work late at night, you mess with your body’s natural biorhythms. Losing sleep alters hormone production, affecting your cortisol levels that cause insulin sensitivity, which leads to belly fat. When you’re tired you produce more ghrelin, which triggers cravings for sugar and other fatty foods. Not only that, but you end up eating more to sustain you as you’re working in front of the computer.
2. Interval Training
Yes, crunches may get you strong abs. But what about the ‘pillow top’ resting on top of those abdominal muscles? In addition to the sit-ups, do exercises in short bursts of speed. Run or cycle as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Then take a 90 second break. Continue this 7 more times. That’s it. Dr. Mercola gives you the reason why this works!
3. Stop Eating Sugar
Sugar wrecks havoc on your health, in addition to leading to additional belly fat. A big part of fighting belly fat comes from eating a healthy diet. Fill up on fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains (or perhaps skip the grains entirely! Did you read that link above?). Replace sugar-laden snacks with healthy ones. Next time you’re craving ice cream, try instead a frozen fruit version. Instead of a mega mocha venti latte filled with syrup and sugar and unnatural ingredients, why not make your own latte where you can control the ingredients?! 

4.Vitamin C
When you’re under extreme stress, your body secretes cortisol which messes with your insulin production leading to belly fat. Vitamin C helps to balance cortisol spikes. In addition, Vitamin C is good for your and boosts the immune system. There are plenty of food sources that are full of vitamin C including: bell peppers, kale and kiwi.
5. Eat Fat (good fats, that is)
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it takes good healthy fats to burn fat. Good fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, and salmon. These foods are not only rich in Omega 3’s but are full of nutrients to keep you satiated throughout the day and reducing your hunger cravings.
6. Detox
We store certain toxins in fat cells (like pharmaceutical drugs and pesticides) to protect our bodies from their harmful effects. If you have a high level of toxicity in your body, you will hold onto extra fat as a protective mechanism. Therefore, by engaging in a cleanse a couple times a year you are helping your body to release stored toxins, and as a result, release stored toxins. My favorite quarterly cleanses (performed 4 times a year) are the liver flush and a juice cleanse. But rest assured there are plenty of ways to cleanse. Simply by following an organic, plant-based diet are you already allowing your body to detoxify.
7. Breathe
As a yoga instructor, I can tell you that most of us are not breathing with our full potential. We’re using maybe 20% of our lung capacity. What happens when you feel uptight, stressed-out or upset? Your breathing patterns changes. You start to breathe shallowly or hold your breath. Instead, next time you feel uptight, consciously alter your breathing. Slow it down.
Remember that high stress levels lead to belly fat (via cortisol and insulin)? Slowing down your breath instantly calms you down, getting rid of stress and stress-hormones before they begin.

Must read:

How to Gain Weight for Skinny Guys (with Weight Gain Diet)

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Skinny guys often say they can eat anything they want without gaining weight. They think they're blessed with a fast metabolism. They'll say: "I make women jealous with my metabolism. I can eat junk food all day without gaining weight".
Truth is you can eat anything you want without gaining weight because you're not eating a lot. I know you think you do, but you're not. Otherwise you wouldn't be skinny. Here's how to gain weight for skinny guys.

1. Track Calories
. Skinny guys often overestimate what they eat. Read the labels, use a food scale and track your daily caloric intake using You need at least your body-weight in lbs x 20kcal daily to gain weight.
A rule of thumb is at least 1kg for each cm above 1m (use this converter). Anything less you'll always look skinny. There's no upper limit, if you want to weigh more go for it. Examples of minimum goal weights:

  • 1m70/5'7" at least 70kg/154lbs
  • 1m75/5'9" at least 75kg/165lbs
  • 1m80/5'11" at least 80kg/176lbs
  • 1m85/6'1" at least 85kg/187lbs
  • 1m90/6'3" at least 90kg/200lbs

3. Eat Every 3 Hours
. You need at least your body-weight in lbs x 20 kcal to gain weight. That's 2700kcal/day if you're 135lbs. If you have a physical job or move a lot, you'll need even more. Eat every 3 hours.

  • Breakfast. Get calories from the first hour. Read how to build the habit of eating breakfast and try these breakfast recipes.
  • Lunch & Diner. Prepare double portions while making breakfast. 1 portion for work/school, 1 portion when you get back.
  • Snacks. Mixed nuts, fruits, dried fruits, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, sandwiches, milk, protein shakes, ...
  • Post Workout. Physical activities burn calories. Eat post workout to get that energy back. Check this post workout shake recipe.

4. Eat Calorie Dense Foods
. 100g raw rice is 380kcals. 100g raw spinach is only 25kcals. Getting your daily calorie intake is easier if you eat foods high in calories. Your best options:

  • Pasta. 100g pasta is 380kcal and easier to ingest than 100g rice. Whole grain pasta is healthier, but takes longer to digest. Eat white pasta.
  • Whole Milk. If you don't bother gaining some fat, drink 1 gallon whole milk per day on top of your current food intake. I've seen guys gaining 60lbs/year drinking 1 gallon per milk per day while Squatting 3x/week.
  • Nuts. Mixed nuts & natural peanut butter have +500kcal/100g, about 50% healthy fats and 25% protein. Use mixed nuts as snack & throw peanut butter on sandwiches for work/school.
  • Olive Oil. Protects against heart diseases & cancer. Sip it like vodka (it's not that bad, really) or use it for tomato pasta sauce. 1tbsp is 100kcal.

5. Get Stronger. 
You want to go from skinny to muscular, not from skinny to chubby. Get into strength training. More strength is more muscle. If you don't know where to start, check StrongLifts 5x5. Some tips.

  • Free Weights. Force you to stabilize the weight and allow for natural motions. Start light, focus on technique and add weight progressively.
  • Compound Exercises. Do exercises that work your whole body. Squats,Deadlifts, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Pull-ups, Dips, Barbell Row, ...
  • Squat. Leg exercise stressing your whole body. When you can Squat1.5x your body-weight for 1 rep, you'll no longer be skinny. Squat often.
  • Rest. Muscle grow when you rest, not when you workout. Don't train daily. Sleep, drink 1 gallon water daily and eat fruits/veggies.

    6. Plan. 
    Failing to plan is planning to fail. You don't have time to cook 3x/day, and the food at work/school is often low quality/more expensive. Prepare your food in advance and take it with you.

    • Do The Grocery. Avoid skipped meals because you don't have food available. List everything you need for 1 week and go buy it.
    • Cook in Advance. Prepare all your meals once per day: while preparing breakfast or while preparing dinner. It takes about 40mins.
    • Keep it Simple. Make double portions, take leftovers with you, use cans of tuna & mixed nuts, 1 gallon milk per day, ...
    • Take Food with You. Food containers for work/school, mixed nuts at the movies, eat before going to town, take protein shakes to the gym, ...

    7. Track Progress. 
    Success breeds success. Knowing that you're losing your skinny look will keep you motivated. Track everything.

    • Track Calories. Continue tracking your daily caloric intake using FitDayso you get a confirmation of how many calories you're eating.
    • Weigh Yourself Weekly. Gaining weight? Don't change anything. Not gaining weight? Increase your daily caloric intake by 500kcal.
    • Take Pictures. The mirror is subjective. Pictures don't lie. Shoot pictures bi-monthly so you have objective measurements of your progress.
    • Track Strength Gains. When you can Squat 1.5x your body-weight for 1 rep, you'll no more be skinny. Use the StrongLifts 5x5 spreadsheet.

    Weight Gain Diet.
     3500+kcal example diet for a skinny guy who wants to weigh 180lbs/81kg. This can be too much at once if you're only 135lbs/61kg or not enough if you're very active. Individualize the diet based on your needs.

    • Breakfast: 100g oats, 50g raisins, 1scoop whey
    • Snack: 100g mixed nuts or 1 liter milk or tuna sandwich
    • Lunch: 200g white pasta, bolognese sause, parmesan cheese
    • Snack: 100g mixed nuts or 1 liter milk or tuna sandwich
    • Post workout shake: 1.5scoops whey, 60g oats, milk, banana
    • Dinner: 200g white pasta, bolognese sause, parmesan cheese
    • Pre bed: cottage cheese, berries, flax seed, fish oil

    The 5 Best Leg Exercises You're Not Doing!

    It's leg day. You're tired. You're tempted to take it easy and wander through a few sets of leg pressextensions, and curls. Sure, you could attack those exercises with sufficient intensity and make short-term progress. Eventually, though, your development will get top-heavy and you'll be the guy stuck in sweat pants, hiding your peg legs. Real men and women—the kind with bulging quads and hanging hamstrings—can pull off short shorts.
    This one's for you, brothers and sisters in the sweats. Over time, we tend to get into a training groove. We hit the same exercises with the same intensity, so our progress slows, crawls, and eventually stops. Don't get comfortable; get uncomfortable! Try some new exercises—like the five leg legends below—to challenge your patterns and kickstart new gains.

    / Zercher Squat

    This is one of my favorite all-time movements, especially for strength athletes. Zercher squatseliminate many of the problems that immobile people have with back squats. I've seen shoulders so jacked-up that people can't get their hands on the bar when squatting.
    Bad hips, weak hamstrings, and a bad back can all contribute to complications with back squats. The Zercher is a great alternative while you fix your jacked-up crap. It heavily recruits the upper back and posterior chain, is relatively easy on the spine, and the bar position makes it simple to squat correctly.
    As you start, you may find cradling the bar to be uncomfortable. There are a couple of solutions to this—along with sucking it up, of course. You could use a thick bar, such as a strongman axle. The increased surface area will radically reduce the discomfort.
    You could also use a barbell pad, such as those the weak might use during a back squat. Regardless, rotate the Zercher squat into your program. It's fantastic.

    / Bulgarian Split Squat

    single-leg squat not only adds a limited amount of instability to your squat (more similar to what you would see on an athletic field than a two-legged squat), but also allows you to train with a lighter load. This has its place, like when you want to give your spine a break from those disc-crushing poundages. It's easy to get someone doing this movement correctly with intense loads, and injuries are unlikely. That makes a rear-foot-elevated split squat a great addition to any program.
    The most common issue with the split squat is incorrect placement of the front foot. Most will place the front foot too close to the rear, causing excessive knee displacement and potential discomfort. Get more glutes and hamstrings involvement, with less knee pain, by moving the front foot to a position that keeps the knee directly above the ankle. If the movement causes too much of a stretch in the hip flexor as you descend, use a shorter bench or box.
    I recommend beginning with dumbbells until you have mastered the set-up. It won't be too long before your weights move up drastically. Once you have graduated to a barbell, I would recommend doing this movement in the comparative safety of the squat rack, on the off chance you lose your balance. You also might consider using the safety-squat bar for this move.

    / Donkey Calf Raise

    This is a great movement because, unlike some of the more popular calf moves, it keeps the gastrocnemius into a heavily stretched position as it crosses the knee.
    This iconic movement brings back images of Arnold with several women on his back. If you can pull it off, that is definitely the way to go! But you can use training partners as an external load, use a machine, or set it up with a weight belt.
    However you "ride the donkey," there is one issue you will run into with this movement: the load. Your calves can handle considerable weight. Whatever load you use, you may not encounter much of a challenge. Don't write yourself off as an uber-strong badass. Instead, do your calf raises one leg at a time.

    / Glute-Ham Raise

    This might be the most underrated movement on this list. As good as it is, few gyms carry the proper equipment needed to perform this movement. It's difficult and requires good technique, which often makes it the odd machine out in commercial gyms.
    The glute-ham raise hits your entire posterior chain-your calves, hamstrings, and back all contract strongly during this movement. Progressing this heavy-hitting movement will radically improve your squats, deadlifts, and even your vertical jump! Just pay attention to good technique.
    On a strictly performed glute-ham raise, most people will struggle with only a few bodyweight reps. It is tough.

    / Good Morning

    There are few movements as effective for your posterior chain as the good morning. There are a lot of ways to perform it, but the key here is the hip hinge. People tend to use a lot of back and quads in posterior chain movements, which leads them to perform the exercises incorrectly.
    When teaching this movement, I usually start by having "Assistant Coach Wall" instruct the athlete. Stand six inches in front of a wall with your feet in your squat stance, and push your hips back until your butt touches the wall. Maintain a neutral to slightly arched spine, and ensure that you aren't facilitating the movement with knee displacement. Your knees should stay directly above ankles, or even behind if you can manage it.
    After you've achieved the form, move forward an inch or two and repeat the drill. Continue doing so until you reach the limit of your flexibility, with your hips fully displaced and your hamstrings feeling like they're going to rip off. Add a barbell to your back, perform the above movement, and you've hit a perfect good morning.

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