PNBA athlete Rich Frye lists the benefits he’s noticed from natural bodybuilding and staying drug-free.
Some bodybuilders choose to dope while others don’t. And those in natural bodybuilding leagues such as the International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA)/Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) league are prohibited from using drugs such as steroids. Although natural bodybuilders won’t be as muscular as bodybuilders that use performance-enhancers, staying natural has many benefits. PNBA Rich Frye lists the few benefits he’s experienced from natural bodybuilding at 57.
Rich Frye competed at 2021 Natural Olympia and placed 10th in the PNBA Men’s Bodybuilding Grand Master’s class. Rich Frye said:
“Living 57 years of age Natural Competitive Bodybuilder. Benefits of being drug free, I have no injuries, no joint pain, I have a healthy sex drive, my body works efficiently. No tricks or secrets, just consistent good nutrition and training.”
Rich Frye isn’t the only natural bodybuilder to tout the benefits of staying natural. Many other natural bodybuilders have lauded natural bodybuilders for their healing effects. For instance, the INBA PNBA hosts the 2022 International Battle Against Cancer, inspired by INBA PNBA athletes who have battled cancer, survived cancer, or have loved ones diagnosed with cancer. And some participants overcame their struggles with the ailment through natural bodybuilding.
Moreover, other natural bodybuilders have been able to stay in insanely good shape for decades and progressively compete at an elite level. For example, PNBA Hall of Famer Chad Martin acknowledges that there’s an anabolic window for the age that’s best for peak performance. However, he also points out that through staying “forever natural” and living a healthy and natural lifestyle free of drugs through proper training and diet, you can remain fit, healthy, and strong throughout life. He plans to compete in his 19th Natural Olympia this year.
Another PNBA athlete, Michael Ferencsik, a vegan and animal rights activist, says that you can do many things to raise your testosterone levels naturally before considering testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). 2019 Natural Olympia Men’s Physique champion Joseph Ortiz says natural bodybuilding is the fountain of youth.
The INBA PNBA doesn’t take its drug testing lightly. They want to ensure the safety of their athletes and just competition. Therefore, the INBA PNBA vets all their athletes through the most prestigious drug testing guidelines for professional athletes, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
WADA variant labs will detect drugs that may go under the radar through other testing metrics. For example, that happened to last year’s former Women’s Bodybuilding Natural Olympia champ, Jill Kolivoski, before she failed a drug test administered by the INBA PNBA (while passing one in a separate league).
All INBA PNBA competitors who fail a drug test aministered at any time of the year, whether in-season or out of season, will be terminated from competing and have to give up their cash, prizes, and titles. Plus, they’ll be uploaded to the Hall of Shame.
Mike O’Hearn and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon believe red meat is important for long term health – and worry about the current generation being raised on less protein.
Compared to previous decades, non-meat diet culture is more popular than ever before. Whether it is due to moral, climate, or simply health reasons – many people are abandoning red meat from their diet (and even other meat-based proteins). Mike O’Hearn believes this is the wrong direction and has always considered red meat a super food. O’Hearn is obsessed with longevity in health in fitness – so his support of red meat is shocking in modern contexts considering that even Arnold Schwarzenegger has left red meat behind.
That’s why this week O’Hearn brought in an expert to help back up his support of a red meat diet. In Generation Iron and Barbend’s latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon discusses the studies behind red meat and why it’s important for long term health – not a detriment.
If you’ve seen past episodes of The Mike O’Hearn Show, you’re likely already aware of O’Hearn’s stance on red meat. Counter to the rising popularity of non-red meat diets and even the growing popularity of full vegetarian and vegan diets – O’Hearn still values red meat. He has called it a super food on many occasions. And this isn’t just some past generation stubbornness. O’Hearn cares more about longevity while staying fit and muscular more than being unhealthy and a champion in the short term.
In fact, Mike O’Hearn believes that science doesn’t fully back up the concept that red meat is healthy. Modern social media (and even regular main stream media) held onto now-old studies villainizing red meat. Science has since changed and data shows that, when in combination with a healthy lifestyle, red meat is perfectly fine.
Helping him prove his point this week is Dr. Gabrielle Lyon. With 17 years of education in health science, Dr. Lyon received her doctorate in osteopathic medicine from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and is board-certified in family medicine.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she studied vitamin and mineral metabolism, chronic disease prevention and management and the physiological effects of diet composition. Let’s jump into it.
Dr. Gabrielle Lyon states that red meat is not scientifically bad for your health. Contrary to modern belief, she has researched many studies that are not able to absolutely prove the dangers of red meat. Looking even wider out to all meat – protein is a very essential nutrient in your diet. Not just for bodybuilders and athletes – but for all individuals.
Protein is vital for longevity in fitness and health. As is weight training well into middle age. The more on point you are with your diet throughout younger age (including protein) – the less likely you’ll see rehabilitating decline as you get over the hill. The same is true for consistent resistance training.
Why Do So Many Experts Warn Against Red Meat?
So why is there so much messaging against red meat today? Dr. Gabrielle Lyon talks about how modern fitness and health conversation has become distorted. With the new era of social media and constant information – group think can twist scientific data into a narrative.
The biggest factor behind the fear of red meat is the rest of your fitness lifestyle. Many nutrition studies are done to to represent the average person. So in that sense, many studies will mention that the average participant is sedentary. So while there may herhaps be risks behind red meat with a sedentary lifestyle – the same may not be true if you are consistently fit.
With that in mind, perhaps fearing red meat should be less of a concern. Instead, feat or a sedentary lifestyle should be a priority.
Ultimately, on an individual basis, perhaps red meat still isn’t best for you. It’s important to evaluate your lifestyle overall honestly. Mike O’Hearn can proudly claim to eat red meat and use it a super food. But that’s also because he is one of the most consistent bodybuilders to ever live. He lives his life as fit as possible. He also doesn’t over indulge. Too much of any substance is bad – no matter what it is.
You should also consider other factors outside of health. Perhaps you want to avoid red meat (or all meat) because of moral factors behind factory farming. Or perhaps the climate impact factory farming has on the environment. That’s totally fine. If that’s the past you choose – you should be extra focused on how you get your protein properly for longevity in your health.
Unfortunately, these worries can’t be pushed off until you are older. The most important time to be focus on being healthy is in your teens and twenties. What you do in your youth will have a direct impact on your health in older age. Rather than try and course correct after problems start occurring – start getting focused now so you can feel energetic and capable well past middle age.
Towards the end of the interview, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon discusses the difference between absolute risk vs relative risk determined by research studies. She states that most research on red meat and health only report on relative risk. This means that there is not a direct one to one connection between red meat and health decline.
There are many factors that go into your health and how your diet affects it. Mike O’Hearn and Dr. Lyon believe that red meat is not pure evil. It’s not an absolute risk to have in your diet. But too much red meat, like anything, can be healthy. Also, depending on your current lifestyle and past health issues, the decision to keep or drop red meat may change.
You can watch Dr. Gabrielle Lyon’s full comments alongside Mike O’Hearn in the latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show above. Stay tuned every Friday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.
Flex Wheeler reflected on many aspects of his bodybuilding career.
Bodybuilding legend Flex Wheelerbuilt a reputation on stage as one of the most conditioned and well-rounded competitors of all-time. He continues to work as a coach and trainer while being active in the gym himself. In a recent interview, Wheeler opened up about his mental health during competition years and other aspects of his career.
Wheeler was aesthetically pleasing during his career. He was unable to attain the elusive Sandow Trophy but is a four-time Arnold Classic champion. During his career, Wheeler had some battles with the likes of Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates. Following his career, he has dealt with health issues.
In 2019, Wheeler dealt with blood clots and kidney failure that led to his right leg being partially amputated. Wheeler also battled Covid-19 toward the end of 2021. He has dealt with different issues involving his back and shoulder as well.
In a recent episode of Cutler Cast, hosted by four-time Olympia champion Jay Cutler, Flex Wheeler opened up about some different topics involving his career.
Flex Wheeler Opens Up About Trying To Take His Life
The sport of bodybuilding can be taxing to some when taking the training and supplements into account. Wheeler admitted that he entered the sport with little background and kept improving as he trained.
“I didn’t know anything about bodybuilding, dieting or diuretics, so I took one deca for the show and tried to be the best. I didn’t hit the 90 percentile right away, but I kept getting better,” Flex Wheeler said
“I just emulated other greats, like Phil Hill, who had massive legs and did the splits, and I thought I could do it too, so I taught myself the pose.”
Flex Wheeler dealt with trauma over the course of his career and this led to him attempting to take his own life.
“The first time I tried to kill myself, I was very dedicated to trying to take my life. I look at pictures of myself smiling and I wish I loved myself more. The last time I was in a hospital was just so horrible. My heart did something eight times in a row and I was told I had to keep breathing or else I’d be taken off with the medication.”
Flex Wheeler Discusses “Dark Thoughts”
Flex Wheeler continued the conversation by explaining his thoughts that kept him from sleeping regularly.
“I couldn’t go to sleep because I had dark thoughts about dying. I wondered when people who passed away realized they were not here anymore. I realized I’m not hearing, I don’t want that, so I decided to live as hard as I can and embrace life, the pain and everything else.”
Unfortunately, Flex Wheeler knows he is not the only one who has had these thoughts. He explains how bodybuilders have confidence but many have been abused as children.
“Bodybuilders are often loaded with confidence, but the truth is that a lot of them have been sexually abused and beaten up as children. I fought in martial arts but I couldn’t bring myself to hit someone because I was afraid I would break their nose or ribs.”
Flex Wheeler might have never won an Olympia but he is one of the best Arnold Classic competitors of all-time and built an incredible career. Wheeler continues to be an inspiration to, not just those in bodybuilding, but all who listen to his words.
Nick Walker and Brett Wilkin build up their wheels in a massive leg day training collaboration.
Standout bodybuilders Nick Walker and Brett Wilkin recently joined forces for some epic leg day training. Both bodybuilders pushed each other to the next level and brought out the best in each other as they thrashed their wheels.
Looking to bring something different to the Olympia, Nick Walker has been pushing himself hard throughout his training camp. With challenges like Big Ramy, Hadi Choopan, Brandon Curry, and Hunter Labrada ahead of him, Walker has been pulling out all the stops. He’s been training with the best of the best to get himself prepared for the show, including his rival Labrada. Walker’s thought process is that training along side his rivals will bring out the best in both of them and make for a better competition.
Epic Team Up
This time around Nick Walker is training with the talented Brett Wilkin who has yet to qualify for the Olympia but has all the potential to do so. Both men trained legs with an epic intensity.
The video ya been waiting for!!!! Me and @brett_wilkin smashing legs together!!!!
You can really tell that Nick Walker pushed himself to the absolute limit. His post social media show that his legs look completely swollen with blood from the amount of work he put into the leg day training. Suffice it to say he’s focused on bringing some serious wheels to the Olympia stage.
Brett Wilkin wasn’t one to be outdone. He put in just as much work during the leg day training as Nick Walker and from the sounds of things really did a number on himself. Both men apparently pushed each other past their limits and then pushed a bit more. You can tell a whole lot of muscle gains will be produced from this collaboration.
Got after some legs with the mutant @nick_walker39. We went in on this challenging each other and I know neither of us are walking much today 😂. Looking forward to some more crazy training sessions ahead 🤝
It’s this kind of camaraderie, this kind of collaborative training that will ensure that we see these athletes become the best versions of themselves. While beefing and talking trashcan certainly generate interest and sell tickets, by pushing each other to the next level, it ensures that the fans get the best show possible.
Brett Wilkins may have a bit more to go before he’s sharing the Olympia stage with the likes of Nick Walker. But he’s showing that he has the grit, determination, and the work ethic to potentially step on the Olympia stage this year.
What do you think of Nick Walker and Brett Wilkins teaming up for leg day training?
News and Editorial Writer at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.
Erin Merritt explained information revealed by medical examiners about Jerry Ward’s death.
Bodybuilder and IFBB pro judge Jerry Wardpassed away in July. There have been new details shared about his death following information being received from the medical examiner’s office. Ward’s wife, Erin Merritt, shared the information via social media.
Ward began his bodybuilding career in 1994 the he earned his personal training certificate. He went onto work as a fitness model and dabbled in bodybuilding. Following his career, Ward began gaining attention as a commentator before working as a professional judge.
Jerry Ward became known for his outspoken natures, sharing his opinions on the sport of bodybuilding. While sharing the video, Merritt said that she was going it in “Jerry style.”
Erin Merritt: “I Finally Have Jerry’s Cause Of Death”
There was no cause of death revealed at the time but Merritt shared the information once she received it.
“The fact is the reason Jerry died is he died of a pulmonary embolism as a result of deep vein thrombosis. No, he did not have any surgeries. No, he was not on any long flights. No, he did not complain of any sort of calf or leg issue, there was nothing there. He was fine before he left on his trip on Tuesday,” Merritt said.
Merritt shared a video and wanted to give detail of Jerry Ward’s death because she believes that is what he would have wanted.
“I got a call from the medical examiner’s office yesterday and I finally have Jerry’s cause of death. And instead of everyone writing articles where everyone thinks they know how he died, and also, I’m not a doctor as an article also said, I want to give you some facts because that’s how Jerry liked to operate. Yes, he also had an opinion, but he liked to delve into facts.”
Erin Merritt Wanted To Avoid False Rumors Of Jerry Ward’s Death
Initially, the cause of death was a heart attack but there was no information shared. Because of how Ward was with his opinions and knowing his personality, Merritt wanted to be transparent and end potential rumors that could be false.
“He liked transparency. He wanted facts and he wanted people to know what happened whether he wanted to tell you or not. He always told you the truth and that’s the truth. So, I want to put this to rest.”
That was the only thing that kind of made sense or came to mind, but we now know it was PE. For those of you who know, they tend to be pretty deadly, and they hit like that, and you’re done. It brings me a little bit of comfort to know that he didn’t suffer.”
Erin Merritt confirms that Jerry Ward did collapse on the floor of his hotel room. He was found during a wellness check the morning after when he did not report for his normal duties for the show.
The average person loves benching, but hates warming up. And that’s why they’re average. They strut into the gym,do a few half-ass arm swings before slapping 135lbs onto the bar and pumping out some questionable reps.
Lack of preparation breeds a lack of results. And if you’re looking to bench bigger and feel better while doing so, a proper warm-up is non-negotiable.
Why you need to warm-up before benching:
Maximize your strength potential. Warming up enhances your ability to display your strength by priming the central nervous system (CNS).
Minimize your risk of injury.As you move through your warm-up, synovial fluid builds up between your joints and acts as a lubricant. Thus, reducing unwanted joint friction and “stiffness”while greatly minimizing your risk of injury.
Increasemuscle fibre recruitment. As noted, your warm-up is an opportunity to prime the CNS, which ultimately leads to greater muscle fibre recruitment. Your ability to push through the concentric phase of the bench press with maximal effort is a result of a primed nervous system. This can only be achieved through an optimal warm-up. Plus, warming up increases your joints’ range of motion. A greater range of motion means greater time under tension and a higher degree of muscle fibres at work.
Increase core temperature and blood flow. Warming upenhances blood flow and increases core body temperature. It alsoimproves overall core function and stability, which increases your loading potential for the bench press. A stronger core means a stronger bench.
The 8-Min Bench Press Warm-Up (4 Steps)
Step 1: Foam Rolling/SMR (2min)
Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a warm-up technique involving applied pressure to specific muscle tissues and can be used with a variety of tools including (but not limited to) the foam roller.
Foam rolling increases blood flow to the working muscles involved in your training session and, ultimately, gets you moving. This, in effect, raises your core temperature and primes your muscles for loading.
As Mike Boyle puts it, “When done regularly, foam rolling unties the knots in your muscles by breaking down the adhesions and helping to heal the tissues.”
Grab a foam roller and perform 10 slow rolls per side to the following areas:
Lower back: Be sure to lay on your side so the roller is not placed directly on your spine. Rather, you want to roll out the muscles along the side of your lower back.
Triceps: Keep your arm fairly straight and roll along the triceps, between your elbow and armpit.
Be sure to exhale as you apply pressure to these areas and focus on breathing throughout your sets.
Step 2: Mobility (2 min)
Mobility is your joints’ ability to actively move through their intended ranges of motion. Simply put, it’s flexibility in motion.
The bench press places high demand from a mobility-perspective on the thoracic spine (upper back) and shoulders. That said, mobilizing these areas should be an area of high priority during your warm-up.
Perform 10-15 reps per side for each of the following:
Side Lying Windmill: The objective here is to keep your hips straight while rotating at the upper back and shoulders. Overtime, work to touch the floor as you reach overhead while keeping your arm straight.
Banded Shoulder Dislocates: This acts as a mobility drill while also aiding in activation of the muscles surrounding the shoulders and upper back. Many Olympic lifters will perform this with a dowel, but the resistance band offers greater flexibility and added tension throughout the movement, making it a great precursor to the bench press.
Step 3: Activation (2 min)
Now it’s time to get the primary muscles involved in the bench press (triceps, upper back, core) activated and primed for loading.
Perform 2-3 sets ofeach of the following:
Band Pull Apart: Holding a resistance band at shoulder-height with your arms straight, pull the band apart and focus on contracting your upper back muscles. Slowly bring your arms back to the center while keeping tension in the band throughout the entire set and repeat for 15-20 reps.
Triceps Extension with Resistance Band:This is meant to increase blood flow to the primary movers of the bench press (the triceps) while preparing the elbows for loading. Do 15-20 reps.
RKC Plank:The RKC or “hard-style” plank is one of the most effective exercises you can do to strengthen the deep, underlying muscles of the core. It involves maximally contracting every muscle in your body for 5-10 sec at a time while holding the standard plank position. After 5 sec, you “relax” your muscles and continue to hold the plank for 10 sec. Repeat this process 2-3 times for a total of 30-45 sec.
Step 4: CNS (2 min)
Your ability to display strength quickly is a result of priming your nervous system withdynamic and explosive movements prior to lifting. As already mentioned, doing so will increase your total muscle fibre recruitment and result in an explosive concentric phase of the bench press.
You’re not limited when it comes to dynamic movements to perform prior to benching. That said, it’s generally a safe bet to use exercises likeexplosive push-ups or ballistic throwssince they closely mimic the movement of the bench press in a dynamic setting.
Choose one of the following and perform 3-5 reps for 2-3 sets (rest 30-45 sec between).
8 Underrated Methods That Will Transform Your Ab Training
When it comes to ab training there are many different methods in existence. In the pursuit of strong, well-defined abdominals, most individuals concentrate on one specific method.
Some individuals will look at isometric exercises where they remain entirely rigid, others will focus on exercises that move the limbs in a variety of different ways.
Still others believe that weight machines are the way forward while some argue that bodyweight is all that is required for efficient abdominal development.
Regardless of which method you believe to be best, everyone can benefit from learning new abdominal training techniques in order to comprehensively develop the abs.
This article will provide you with 8 ab training secrets that can transform your training and bring about significant improvements in abdominal strength and definition.
8 Abdominal Training Secrets
Before looking at the 8 underrated abs techniques, it must be emphasized that while training these muscles may build strength and improve muscle tone, they will not give you a six-pack (1).
This can only be achieved by restricting calories so that body fat is reduced to the point where the muscles become visible. (2)
While it is clear that it is proper nutrition that will reveal the abdominal muscles, it is still important that we train the abdominal muscle group regularly.
1) Round The Back
For almost every single resistance exercise, rounding the back is something that is to be avoided. In fact, it’s likely that you’ve spent much time teaching yourself how to keep the spine neutral.
It is absolutely imperative that the spine is neutral during exercises like deadlifts, squats, rows and any bent-over exercises. It is done in order to prevent injury occurring to the spine.
For exercises that target the abdominals however, you may have to unlearn this skill as maintaining a flat back will limit the degree of abdominal contraction.
It’s not uncommon to see gym-goers performing exercises, like the cable crunch, with a flat back which causes them to bend at the hips rather than the waist.
By bending at the waist, the rectus abdominis shortens and fully contracts whereas bending at the hips causes an isometric contraction and the abdominals remain the same length.
You may have heard it said that spinal flexion exercises are risky, however, often the risk is overstated. Your spine is designed to bend and therefore, exercises like crunches are entirely legitimate.
Simple crunches will not cause lower back pain if performed properly, however, performing the same abdominal workout for months and months may cause overuse injuries or low back problems.
Therefore, variety is extremely important for abdominal training. Ensure to add in some sagittal and lateral abdominal work as well as performing crunches.
2) Target Specific Areas
Isolation exercises can be useful when it comes to developing the abdominals. An isolation exercise is simply an exercise that entirely focuses on working one muscle.
While it may not be entirely possible to isolate particular portions of certain muscles, it is possible to emphasize one area over another.
Core training tends over the past few years have revolved around developing the core overall with a particular focus on the transverse abdominis.
While this is undoubtedly a good focus to have, there is value in targeting the upper and lower portions of the abdominals.
For the upper areas, use exercises that stabilize the lower body and focus on curling the back so that the ribcage is pulled down towards the hips.
To effectively target the lower areas, flip it around. Stabilize the upper body and bring the pelvis up towards the ribcage.
The cable crunch is an example of an effective “upper ab” exercise whereas a hanging leg raise serves a great example of a “lower ab” exercise.
A few ab exercises actually involve the pelvis and ribs move towards each other simultaneously to bring about a peak abdominal contraction. This type of exercise targets the upper and lower abs equally.
Finally, all exercises which involve twisting, rotation or lateral movement will effectively work the oblique muscles. Side bends are a great example of an effective oblique-focused exercise.
3) Use Progressive Overload
When performing ab routines most individuals use the same amount of sets, reps, and weight every time.
The problem with this is that the muscles have adapted to the point that they comfortably deal with the stress of this workout, therefore, they fail to adapt further.
Consider the other work you do in the gym. With heavy lifting, you are always aspiring to improve by lifting heavier or for a greater total volume. The same principle should apply to your ab training.
Progressive overload is the process of gradually adding more load over time to ensure that the body continually adapts. It is absolutely foundational to all strength training (3).
When considering ab training, you should program, execute and apply progressive overload in the same way as you would with other resistance exercises.
Here are the 3 most common methods of applying progressive overload:
– Increasing the weight
– Increasing total volume (sets x reps)
– Reducing rest periods
Look to improve in one variable at a time and ensure that the increments are gradual. Focusing on all three and overloading too quickly will more than likely cause regression rather than progression.
4) Start with Loaded Resistance
The abdominals are primarily made up of slow-twitch muscle fiber (4) which are particularly resistant to fatigue, however, this should not mean that you use high-reps only.
Although there is a greater percentage of slow-twitch, the abdominal region also contains many fast-twitch fibers that respond best to low-to-moderate rep ranges.
Keeping this in mind, to develop these fast-twitch it may be useful to start your routines with weighted ab exercises using a low-to-moderate rep range.
A useful recommendation is to use a weight that brings you to the point of muscular failure while still allowing you to perform 8-12 reps.
If using bodyweight exercises, you can still increase this resistance by manipulating your body position. The best examples of this are seen in ab / TRX rollouts.
5) Use Holds
Peak-contraction training involves consciously squeezing the muscle at the top of the rep for a short period of time. Adding this method to a number of ab exercises can increase the overall intensity.
Let’s say you can comfortably complete 12 reps of the hanging leg raise. Adding a 1-second hold at the top of the leg raise will suddenly make the 12 reps feel much more challenging.
By using the peak-contraction technique you may find that you perform fewer reps than before simply because the muscles are put under a greater load – this is totally fine.
Remember that movement quality and exercise intensity are much more important than reaching a predetermined rep target.
6) Maintain Time Under Tension
When using machines, if the weight makes contact with the stack, muscle tension immediately dissipates and the training stimulus disappears.
While it may be evident when this occurs with machine-based exercises, it may be less clear with bodyweight exercises.
During all bodyweight exercises which involve lying flat on your back, look to keep the shoulder blades off the floor as resting them on the floor will reduce the time under tension.
Again, don’t concern yourself too much with the number of reps you perform, instead, focus on maintaining muscle tension throughout the exercise.
7) Be Aware of Your Hip Flexors
The hip flexors are the muscle group responsible for generating movement around the hips, as the name suggests. For a number of exercises it is possible to work the hip flexors instead of the lower abs.
An exercise where this is commonly seen is the hanging leg raise. During the leg lift, if the lower back remains entirely flat, it is likely that the hip flexors are doing the work.
For exercises that involve anchoring the lower body, it is also possible to drive through the thigh muscles rather than engage the abdominals to pull the torso up.
Often, the hip flexors will become too heavily recruited when exercise technique is incorrect or less than optimal. Therefore, it is important to assess your technique regularly.
8) The Importance of the Plank
The plank plays a part in many gym-goers ab workouts – and rightly so! It is one of the best core exercises for strength, stability, and function.
Let’s consider the movement patterns and requirements for a number of heavy compound lifts – deadlifts, squats, bench, bent rows, overhead presses and so on.
Bracing and maintaining a strong torso is pivotal to all of these exercises and certain points of specific exercises actual resemble a plank and activate ab muscles in a similar fashion (5).
Check out our Abs Exercise Guide here for exercises and further instructions.
Abdominal training does not have to be boring or mundane. Utilizing these methods, varying your abdominal workout on occasion and effectively applying progressive overload will yield excellent results.
1-Vispute, Sachin S.; Smith, John D.; LeCheminant, James D.; Hurley, Kimberly S. (2011-09). “The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25 (9): 2559–2564. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181fb4a46. ISSN 1533-4287. PMID 21804427.
2-Redman, Leanne M.; Ravussin, Eric (January 15, 2011). “Caloric Restriction in Humans: Impact on Physiological, Psychological, and Behavioral Outcomes”. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. 14 (2): 275–287. doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3253. ISSN 1523-0864. PMC 3014770. PMID 20518700.
3-Lorenz, Daniel S.; Reiman, Michael P.; Walker, John C. (2010-11). “Periodization”. Sports Health. 2 (6): 509–518. doi:10.1177/1941738110375910. ISSN 1941-7381. PMC 3438871. PMID 23015982.
4-Häggmark, T.; Thorstensson, A. (1979-12). “Fibre types in human abdominal muscles”. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. 107 (4): 319–325. doi:10.1111/j.1748-1716.1979.tb06482.x. ISSN 0001-6772. PMID 161688.
5-van den Tillaar, Roland; Saeterbakken, Atle Hole (June 13, 2018). “Comparison of Core Muscle Activation between a Prone Bridge and 6-RM Back Squats”. Journal of Human Kinetics. 62: 43–53. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0176. ISSN 1640-5544. PMC 6006542. PMID 29922376.
Dorian Yates pushed Mike Thurston to failure with his latest leg routine.
Dorian Yatesbecame known for his massive back during his time on stage. His overall passion and motivation in the gym built a championship physique. Yates continues to work in the gym and lead some intense workouts. Fitness star Mike Thurstonjoined Yates for an insane leg workout.
Yates won the Olympia title six consecutive times from 1992-1997. He is now 60 years old and maintains a shredded physique in retirement. Thurston has built a huge following on social media eclipsing millions of followers. This is not the first time that the two have gotten together, hitting a chest and bicep workout previously.
Below, checkout the full details of the workout between Dorian Yates and Mike Thurston.
The warmup portion of the workout was a deep wall squat. This was to stretch out the muscles before taking on some heavy weight. To get the most out of the warmup, you should keep your legs close together.
“You can feel the bottom of the glutes stretching. You’re just going to sit there for two minute. Well, I tend to do the static stretching more after the workout these days. When the whole body loosens up, then I’ll do some mobility movements with you.”
Lying Bent Over Knee Oblique Twist/Leg Raise Twist
The next exercise was done by swinging hips side to side. Dorian Yates led Mike Thurston through this part of the workout and demonstrated it himself.
“It’s working around your lower back and your glutes, it’s warming that up. Now we’ll start with the first one now.”
Leg Extension Machine
Following two exercises that could be categorized as warmups or stretches, Yates and Thurston hit the major parts of the workout. It began with the leg extension machine. Yates suggested that you remain standing following sets on this machine.
“If you sit still, you delay the recovery because you’re just sitting there and letting all the waste sit in your legs. If you move around a little bit and breathe.”
Dorian Yates explained that he does 10 minutes of cardio per week. Also, during leg day, Yates focuses on performing strong reps rather than a high number. This is why he focuses on reps before hitting failure.
Lying Leg Press Machine
The lying leg press machine is up next. This is an exercise that hits hamstrings, quads, and glutes. There are certain instances where legs can be hit all at once and this is one of those workouts.
“You’re going to get more out of this as far as quad work. You’re going to feel this a lot more. We’re not going to need to warm up too much, one or two sets to warm up, and then all-in.”
Yates is an advocate of warming up before workouts but he believes there is such thing as “excessive warmups.”
Hack Squat Machine
The hack squat machine is one of the best to activate the quads. To get the best out of this machine, it is beneficial to work slowly on the way down before exploding up.
“Find your foot position, it’s going to be dependent on your leg length generally. We’re going close yeah. Toes are bent out like that. We’re going to go down deep here.”
The penultimate workout was prone leg curls. This is another workout to hit hamstrings. Dorian Yates explained to Mike Thurston that he does not have to go to failure in every exercise.
“The lesson to be learned there is: you don’t necessarily need to go to absolute failure beyond failure with every single body part.”
Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift
To end the day, the duo hit barbell stiff leg deadlifts. The workout lasted close to an hour and both were exhausted at the end. Dorian Yates continues to be an influential name in bodybuilding and shared his wisdom with Mike Thurston during this workout. Now, others can take it on and see how taxing it can be.
PNBA World Championships athlete Angelica shares a 6-year bikini natural bodybuilding transformation.
Many women avoid lifting weights and opt for cardio to transform their bodies. Still, countless women have had natural bodybuilding transformations where weightlifting was a key component of their transformation. Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) bikini pro Angelica is one of them.
Angelica recently shared her 6-year bikini natural bodybuilding transformation on Instagram. She stated (translated from Italian to English):
“The real change happens when
we accept our imperfection.
Only then, by recognizing it, can we begin to strengthen our weaknesses,
fortify them and thus make them armor.
That doesn’t mean eliminating them: more
it simply means protecting them.
And we protect them with our strength, whose real job is to support frailty.
An eternally incurable fragility, but which, if supported, does not break, it resists.
Like us, who no matter how fragile we are, by training, we learn not to give up.”
Angelica represented Italy at the World Championships. She competed in the INBA bikini division, receiving first place and earning a PNBA pro card.
INBA PNBA World Championships took place in Florence, Italy, on June 25, 2022. It’s one of the major competitions and part of the Road to Natural Olympia series. Many INBA PNBA competitions have competitors from around the world, but the World Championships especially have many diverse athletes from different countries.
The World Championships is a show each athlete wants to place well in to put their country on the map for natural bodybuilding. And many prominent PNBA athletes competed at this event, including Kayla Rowling, Veronica Malloy, and Tommi Thompson.
Below is a full clip of Angelica performing at the World Championships.
Below is a GI-exclusive inside look from the World Championships.
Since the World Championships, the INBA PNBA also had another significant natural bodybuilding show, Natural Universe. Natural Universe took place in Tampa, FL, on September 2-3, 2022–the first prestigious natural bodybuilding show to be held here. Over 30 athletes competed this year, including past champions: Mike O’Hearn, Kiyoshi Moody, Philip Ricardo Jr., Michael Waddington, Rob Terry, and Ivan Puga. And each athlete had a chance to earn prize money, other prizes, PNBA Elite World Tour Points, and social media exposure.
Denny Kakos, INBA PNBA founder, started Natural Universe back in 1990. This was the same year he founded the PNBA. Ultimately, Kakos would love to see natural bodybuilding in the Olympics.
Next year, Natural Universe will be held in September in Bucharest, Romania. Until then, athletes are less than 12 weeks from the most significant natural bodybuilding show, Natural Olympia.
Natural Olympia takes place November 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nevada. John Hansen was the first athlete to win the Men’s Bodybuilding Natural Olympia title in 1998. Now, it’s Paul Krueger who reigns as the Natural Olympia champ.
Combining an effective strength training program with moderate cardio and a proper nutrition plan is the best way to burn fat. But sometimes, you need an edge to burn additional body fat if you have reached a plateau, can’t get rid of stubborn belly fat, or want to speed up the process. That’s where fat burners come in. Fat burners aren’t a magic pill for weight loss, but a quality one will help you burn fat.
The right fat burner has caffeine to boost workout performance and speed up your metabolism, along with other beneficial ingredients that support weight management and increase focus and energy for better workouts. This article will dive deep into the premium fat burner Myprotein THE Thermo-X to see if it’s worth taking.
A quality fat burner will help you burn stubborn body fat and speed up the fat-burning process.
Myprotein THE Thermo-X has the potent combination of caffeine and theacrine to increase your energy for explosive workouts and to speed up your metabolism.
This supplement has additional beneficial ingredients for weight loss, such as CapsiMax, which contains the herb capsicum from red hot peppers, which research supports boosts your metabolism.
What’s a Fat Burner?
Fat burners, as the name implies, are supplements that contain ingredients to help you burn fat. These products contain natural or artificial ingredients to increase your resting metabolic rate. Since you’ll burn more calories at rest, you’ll slim down and lose weight. Of course, assuming the fat burner has quality ingredients.
Components of a Good Fat Burner
Caffeine is a must in fat burners. That’s because caffeine stimulates your nervous system and puts you in a thermogenic state–generating more heat and energy from food digestion–to help you burn calories. Caffeine also blunts your appetite, so naturally, you’ll consume fewer calories. Plus, caffeine will also give you a boost in energy and mental focus to increase your workout performance.
A quality fat burner will also contain other beneficial fat-burner ingredients, such as capsicum and Bioperine. CapsiMax is a form of capsicum from hot red peppers that supports weight loss. And Bioperine, a black pepper extract that increases nutrient absorption.
Fat burners must also have other components that increase your physical performance, cognitive ability, and energy, so you can crush your workouts to burn more calories. So other beneficial ingredients a good fat burner would contain include theacrine and Rhodiola.
THE Thermo-X Highlights
THE Thermo-X is produced by Myprotein, which only puts on the market premium supplements, such as Myprotein Impact Whey Protein. This supplement is formulated with the proper dosage of caffeine. And it contains CapsiMax to support weight management, thermogenesis, and lipolysis (breakdown of fats).
THE Thermo-X separates itself from other fat burners because it’s blended with ingredients that also increase your focus and energy, which are critical to getting an effective workout to burn body fat. Furthermore, it contains the active ingredient theacrine, which works synergistically with caffeine to boost energy levels without the side effects of too much caffeine, such as anxiety and jitteriness.
Ingredients to Burn Fat and Increase Focus
THE Thermo-X contains many ingredients that control your weight and increase your mental alertness.
Caffeine: Caffeine speeds up your metabolism and increases workout performance (1).
Theacrine: A patented form of theacrine that works synergistically with caffeine. And it may boost cognitive and physical performance since it affects adenosine signaling (2).
Alpha-GPC: This is a cholinergic compound that increases levels of acetylcholine in your brain to boost cognitive ability and explosive performance (3).
Rhodiola: Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that may prevent fatigue (4).
CapsiMax: A patented form of capsicum, a derivative of hot red peppers that help you lose weight (5).
5-HTP: This is from a West African shrub seed that boosts serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your appetite and mood (6).
Theobromine: This ingredient in cocoa is similar to caffeine and increases your focus and alertness (7).
Bioperine: BioPerine is a patented form of black pepper extract which increases nutrient absorption. Of course, the more nutrients you absorb, the more effective they are. So this ingredient can help the other components work better (8).
Featured Fat Burner: Myprotein THE Thermo-X
Many fat burners are out there, but we recommend Myprotein THE Thermo-X. This supplement has the proper dosage of caffeine and other cognitive and physical performance ingredients like theacrine to ensure you get the most effective workout possible to boost fat loss. Plus, caffeine boosts your metabolism, so it makes weight loss effortless. But because caffeine and theacrine work synergistically, this fat burner gives you all the benefits of caffeine without the negative side effect that a supplement with too much caffeine may have. Also, it contains other beneficial ingredients specific to weight management, such as CapsiMax.
THE Thermo-X Nutrition (Per Serving)
How to Best Use Myprotein THE Thermo-X
Myprotein recommends taking one capsule of THE Thermo-X daily with 8oz of water for the first week to see your tolerance level. And if your body is tolerable, increase the dosage to two capsules daily. They also recommend not to exceed four tablets in 24 hours.
Myprotein THE Thermo-X has everything a quality fat burner should have with additional benefits. This supplement has caffeine to speed up your metabolism and boost workout performance. But it has theacrine, which acts similarly to caffeine to offset the potential side effects of consuming too much caffeine. And it also has the potent herb from red hot pepper, capsicum, to support weight loss. Overall, it’s a premium fat burner that will help you lose weight and boost physical performance and cognitive ability.
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Doherty, M., & Smith, P. M. (2005). Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: a meta-analysis. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 15(2), 69–78. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2005.00445.x
Kuhman, D. J., Joyner, K. J., & Bloomer, R. J. (2015). Cognitive Performance and Mood Following Ingestion of a Theacrine-Containing Dietary Supplement, Caffeine, or Placebo by Young Men and Women. Nutrients, 7(11), 9618–9632. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7115484
Bellar, D., LeBlanc, N. R., & Campbell, B. (2015). The effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strength. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 42. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-015-0103-x
Ishaque, S., Shamseer, L., Bukutu, C., & Vohra, S. (2012). Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 12, 70. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-12-70
Rogers, J., Urbina, S. L., Taylor, L. W., Wilborn, C. D., Purpura, M., Jäger, R., & Juturu, V. (2018). Capsaicinoids supplementation decreases percent body fat and fat mass: adjustment using covariates in a post hoc analysis. BMC obesity, 5, 22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40608-018-0197-1
Halford, J. C., Harrold, J. A., Boyland, E. J., Lawton, C. L., & Blundell, J. E. (2007). Serotonergic drugs : effects on appetite expression and use for the treatment of obesity. Drugs, 67(1), 27–55. https://doi.org/10.2165/00003495-200767010-00004
Martínez-Pinilla, E., Oñatibia-Astibia, A., & Franco, R. (2015). The relevance of theobromine for the beneficial effects of cocoa consumption. Frontiers in pharmacology, 6, 30. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2015.00030
Fernández-Lázaro, D., Mielgo-Ayuso, J., Córdova Martínez, A., & Seco-Calvo, J. (2020). Iron and Physical Activity: Bioavailability Enhancers, Properties of Black Pepper (Bioperine®) and Potential Applications. Nutrients, 12(6), 1886. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061886