Articles on muscle

How to Train Your Muscles

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
There are numerous exercise that you can workout in a gym. Each exercise is either for a specific muscle called an isolation exercise or compound exercise where multiple muscles are worked together. Which muscle should you train first or what combination of muscles should you take for more training. Training different muscles depends upon what your objective is and your approach to muscle training.There are certain number of things one should keep in mind while training his/her muscles. When lifting weights it is most important and foremost to maintain the right posture and perform the exercise in the right manner. Doing them in the wrong posture could unbalance the symmetrical growth of the muscles and could cause injuries and pain. If you are looking for muscle mass then lift more heavy weights with which you could do only 7-8 reps of the exercise. For defining and better cuts of the muscles don't rush through your session. Change your exercise pattern at times as the body can adapt to the pattern. Rest is important as muscles require time to repair the wear and tear and increase in size and strength.Work Bigger Muscles First: There are various combinations that you can take while building muscles. There are big muscles in the body like chest, back, thighs, abs and small muscles are biceps, forearms, shoulders, triceps etc. If you work on the small muscles first then working the bigger muscles will be straining as smaller muscles assist in training the bigger muscles. If the small muscles get tired then it will be less supportive for bigger muscles. So do the bigger muscles first and then move on to smaller one. This gives more muscle mass and density to the muscles with strength too.Combine Opposing muscles: If you are looking to increase strength in your muscles to lift heavier weights then train opposing muscles to concentrate more on the muscles and provide them enough rest. Opposing muscles are least incorporated while doing the other muscle so its gives you time and strength to work the opposing muscles with heavier weight. This style allows you to work more muscles in a workout. Suppose you work your chest then the biceps don't play much role in it. So it is possible to work the biceps as well with full power and weights.Work the supporting muscles: Work out combining muscle group in one workout. The muscles that support each other. Like biceps and back. Chest and triceps etc. This helps build muscle endurance, gives better shape to the muscles.  Training supporting muscles works the bigger and small muscles as well. It gives a right combination to exhaust the muscles for better and ripped muscle mass.

8 Easy Tips to Prevent Sore Muscles

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
First, let us tell you why muscles become sore after working out?Whenever you engage in an unusual level of physical activity like lifting weights or jogging, or simply moving heavy furniture, you create microscopic tears in your muscle tissue (this is normal). When your body rebuilds the damaged muscle it grows back bigger and stronger than before. This is the same mechanism that athletes and bodybuilders use to become faster, bigger & stronger. As a general rule, the more you exert yourself, the more microscopic tears you create, and the more soreness you feel later on as the muscles are being repaired by your body.So, how can you reduce sore muscles, or even prevent them. We’ve got all the tips for you.Warm up: Warming up before your workout prepares your muscles & your body for the real workouts. It raises blood temperature to flow better to muscles. Better blood flow reduces muscle damage from workouts.Stretch after workout: We told you before, always stretch after your workouts. Post your workouts, your muscles become tight. Stretching them improves blood flow which reduces delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS. In case of a medium intensity workout, stretching post workout can prevent sore muscles completely.Change your workouts: Ensure you are targeting different muscles in consecutive workouts. This gives your muscles time to recover.Eat the right post workout snack: Feed your muscles with the right post workout snack, rich in carbohydrates & protein, so your muscles can repair themselves fast. Keep it in liquid form, for faster absorption.Get a massage: Massages improve blood flow, so they benefit muscle recovery.Light workouts: So, you worked your legs today and your leg muscles get really sore. Do a 2-4 light sets on legs the next day. This light workout gets the blood flowing, warms up the muscles, and reduces muscle soreness.Sleep: Among the benefits of sleep, is that it helps your muscles recover better & relieves muscle soreness. Get 8 hours of sleep for maximum benefit.Rest: If nothing works, just give them some rest and relaxation. It just maybe that your muscles are over-trained, and need a longer recovery period.

Tips for Relieving Muscle Soreness

Dr. Vishwas Virmani, Physiotherapist
Nothing's quite as rewarding after a tough sweat session like sore muscles—except maybe larger, more defined muscles (but that's a story for another time). What you're feeling anywhere from 12-48 hours after a workout is something specialists refer to as DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It's also the stuff that's got you dreading stairs and struggling to lift your arms to wash your hair in the shower.WHAT IS DOMS It results from microscopic tears within muscle tissues, which is what you're creating when you workout. The pain response is your body's way of signaling to you that repair work is going on and that you'd best leave it be for a few days. Your body is smart like that, and it always lets you know when it's time to get back to it, by way of alleviating the soreness. Interestingly, DOMS seems to be the result of eccentric muscle contractions—as in negative reps—rather than concentric ones. However, since you can't have a negative rep without a positive rep, you're going to experience DOMS if you have any intention of being active in your life.TREAT DOMS There is no tried-and-true treatment for DOMS, but there are several steps you can take to help minimize its severity:Ibuprofen: Low-dose, over-the-counter painkillers—and Ibuprofen in particular, which has specifically been shown to decrease muscle soreness—will help take the edge off of severe cases of DOMS.Gentle Stretching: When muscles are in recovery mode they tend to tighten up, exacerbating feelings of soreness. Slow, gentle stretching of the area will relieve that tight feeling and diffuse the pain.Light Massage: Massaging a sore muscle can help reduce tightness while promoting blood flow, which in turn helps speed recovery, thus shortening the duration of DOMS.Warm Bath: As with massage, warm water will loosen up tight muscles and improve circulation. Better circulation means more oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood coming to the rescue of your aching muscles.Hot/Cold Treatment: Apply an ice pack for 15 minutes, followed by a heat pack for another 15, and back again. Studies have shown alternating cold with hot to be highly effective in promoting both circulation and muscle recuperation.BEAT DOMS In short, you can't. No one has yet figured a way to circumvent DOMS, and maybe that's a good thing. After all, it is the body's signal to your brain that it needs a rest. Plus, you have to admit, there's something supremely satisfying about the feeling you get from having to walk like Betty White for a couple of days after a kick-ass leg workout.

How to Recover From Muscle Pain and Soreness After a Workout

Dr. Vishwas Virmani, Physiotherapist
Let us now come down straight to the ways of recovering self from post workout muscle soreness. Check below the list of post workout recovery steps.Massage The Sore Muscles: massaging prompts enough of muscle relaxation. So, do massage the sore muscles after workout so as to keep the muscle contraction to its minimum and prevent the excessive pain in muscle soreness. Massaging with the jets of hot tub can provide enough of muscle relaxationKeep The Body Hydrated: It is essential to keep safe from being dehydrated. So take adequate amount of water after workout and keep the body hydrated. As a lot of water is lost from the body in form of sweat while workouts, it is important to replace the same with water or other healthy fluids after workouts. Water helps in metabolic functions of the body and assists in improving the enduranceTake An Ice Bath: Many athletes claim that taking ice bath has benefited them from getting rid of the severe muscle soreness after their intense activities. It is believed cold water is essential for improving circulation and reducing the pain and soreness of the muscle. The story behind it is that repeated constricting and dilating of blood vessels help in eradicating the waste products from the tissuesEat Healthy: "Your diet decides the path of your recovery!" Make sure you are eating healthy after workouts. Take enough of protein and complex carbohydrates so as to help repair and build the muscle tissue and grow enduranceDo Gentle Movements For Healthy Circulation: Healthy transport of nutrients in the body and quick removal of waste products from the body helps in easy and fast muscle repair and quick recovery from muscle soreness. This can be done with proper blood circulation which aids in promoting healthy transport of nutrients and waste products. Doing gentle movements after workouts can help you enhance the circulation of blood in a much effective wayPerform Stretches For Muscle Recovery Post Workout: Do some gentle stretches to help relax your muscles after workout. This is one important step to follow after workoutCarry Out Muscle Compression: Muscle compression is also essential in post workout recovery period. Simply wrap the sore muscles with the help of an elastic muscle in a way that it is snug but not tight enough to restrict the blood flow. This will help you limit the muscle movement for some time and help you heal soreness of muscle in a better wayHave Rest At Its Best: "Nothing works as well as rest in the process of healing!" Make sure you are resting enough after workouts so as to allow your muscle get relaxed and keep safe from excessive soreness or pain in muscleTake Quality Sleep: While the body is sleeping, it produces enough of growth hormone in it which aids in muscle and tissue repair. So, it is highly essential to have proper sleep if you are a person doing regular workoutsAdd Meditation To Your Routine: Keeping calm at mind is also essential for having a quick recovery from any physical injury. It is good to practice some mental exercises so as to keep your body and mind relaxed. Adding meditation to your daily routine will benefit you greatly in any kind of recovery

The Secret to Better Muscle Growth

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Many people spend hours at the gym lifting heavy weights, expecting it to be the only way to build muscle mass. But it is only a combination of a healthy diet and exercise that works for effective muscle growth. If you are unable to see any substantial muscle gains, even after spending hours at the gym, then you should consider the following.1. Eat balanced mealsProtein is really important for your muscle growth but removing carbohydrates from your diet can have a negative effect on the growth of your muscles. Your body utilizes carbohydrates as a source of energy and needs protein for repairing wear and tear of the muscle tissues. Therefore, a balance between carbohydrates and protein is required when you are trying to build muscles. Include protein packed food in your diet to build muscles. Also, drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. The recommended intake is 10-12 glasses of water in a day. Lack of water can inhibit increase in muscle mass.2. Proper exercise routineYour exercise routine should include a warm up initially and stretching at the end. Stretching should not be done to cold and stiff muscles as this can lead to injury. It should be done at the end of the workout. Also, instead of spending hours at gym, limit your workout schedule to 45 minutes to 1 hour. This will help you in avoiding negative effects of over working and tiring your muscles out. Always keep increasing the intensity or frequency of your exercises. Don't waste time at the gym.3. Avoid stress and sleep wellStress increases the production of the hormone cortisol, a hormone that encourages your body to store fat and burn muscle tissue. Therefore, try to keep yourself away from stress. A bare minimum of 8 hours of quality sleep is important for muscle growth. It is during sleep that your body repairs torn muscle tissues and secretes hormones for muscle growth. Giving rest to your muscles is also important because if you don’t rest it can lead to muscle wasting.4. Avoid alcoholAlcohol is very high in calories and when consumed in excess, can even have negative effects on the hormone balance. If affects the release of the growth hormone testosterone which is really important for muscle growth. The growth hormone is predominately secreted during the early sleeping hours of the night and because alcohol tends to disrupt natural sleep rhythms, it will decrease the amount of growth hormone released. Also, when you consume alcohol it leads to production of a substance in the liver that is toxic to the release of testosterone. This substance decreases the concentration of testosterone in the body, resulting in lower muscle mass and definition.5. Eat whole fruits instead of juiceWhole fruits provide you with fiber, vitamins and minerals, which are lost once they are converted into juices. In fact, packaged fruit juices are a hidden source of sugar, as sugar is added in high amount while packaging, to maintain the tasteand to preserve them for a longer shelf life. Include 2-3 servings of whole fruits in your day. You need these essential nutrients for fast muscle tissue repair and growth. You can add sliced fruits to a cup of low fat yoghurt and can include it as a healthy snack option. This will also give you a punch of protein.For an average person, effective muscle growth is only possible with a proper diet and exercise plan. You cannot have an erratic exercise and diet plan and expect to see results. Keep the above points in mind while creating your plan. 

Can Building Muscle Help to Live Longer?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Everyone wants to have a good looking and toned body, young and old alike. Scientifically, it has been proven that a person with low fat levels and high muscle mass is much healthier than someone who has lower muscle mass.According to one research at the Health Sciences Department of the University of California - Los Angeles, it was found that The more muscle mass older Americans have, the less likely they are to die prematurely. The findings add to the growing evidence that overall body composition -- and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI -- is a better predictor of all-cause mortality. Also, one Swedish scientist claimed that a person who has low strength, especially in arms and legs will be more susceptible to an early death in comparison to a person who keeps themselves strong and maintains good muscle mass.As our age progresses, our muscles become weaker and sooner or later this affects our life expectancy. Frailty, as a condition results in lower levels of physical activity, decreased muscle strength, increased fatigue, slower walking speed, and unwanted weight loss or weight gain. Weaker elderly people also tend to fall more frequently and have greater difficulty standing up from sitting or lying positions.There are two things which lower the effect of muscle and life expectancy. According to Gerontologists, our defective mitochondria (the powerhouses of our cells) are to be blamed. As we age, our mitochondria start to degrade, resulting in weaker cells and muscle fibers and the elderly experience this as decreased levels of endurance, strength, and function.Another fundamental problem of aging is our decreased production of telomerase. Telomerase is a crucial enzyme that maintains and repairs the little caps on the ends of our chromosomes. When we can't produce enough telomerase, our genetic integrity is compromised, and so too is cellular division. Chromosomal degradation acts as rust in our body and affects our muscles.In order to beat these complications, it helps to have a leaner and muscular body. To have a leaner and more muscular physique, muscle strengthening and endurance exercises are a must, which will not only build strength and endurance, but will even increase longevity.

Preventing and Treating Muscle Cramps

Dr. Vishwas Virmani, Physiotherapist
Muscle cramps are nothing new, nor are they limited to the world of athletes. You can get cramps simply because you slept wrong the night before. There are many things that can cause cramps, but there are simple ways to prevent this.You've rushed all day. You rushed to work, rushed through a less than nutritious lunch. You rushed about so much that you forgot to pack your water bottle with you. By the end of the day you are ready to call it quits, but your mood improves when you remember that it's biceps day at the gym. You're on your way out the door, when the boss tells you to come to his office for a late meeting. You suffer through another pointless hour of rhetoric and dribble before you can finally leave work.And you fear you are going to be late for your workout. On the way to the gym, an accident has traffic tied up for several miles. You beat your head against the steering wheel in frustration. Finally, after an hour and a half of delays, you come rushing through the doors of your gym. Your workout partner has long since warmed up and has been waiting impatiently for you to show up.ExcusesNot wanting to waste time with excuses, you rush to the locker room and change clothes. After a couple of light reps, you immediately start with you first set of dumbbell curls. On your sixth rep, your right arm seizes up and you drop the weight, clutching your arm. You realize that you have a really bad cramp.Muscle cramps are nothing new, nor are they limited to the world of athletes. You can get cramps simply because you slept wrong the night before. There are many things that can cause cramps, but there are simple ways to prevent this.CAUSE: Overexertion.Remember, your muscles need time to rest between sets. If you are rushing too fast through your workout, your muscles will not have time to recover and will start to spasm.CURE: Make sure you give yourself ample rest time between sets. A minute to a minute and a half is usually adequate. However, if you are doing extremely heavy weights on a total body exertion such as squats, give yourself about two to three minutes between sets. Also massage the muscles between sets, especially when doing a high volume of reps, or extremely heavy weight.CAUSE: Dehydration / Lack of vitamins.Vitamins, especially Potassium are key to helping prevent muscle cramps. Also remember that a large percentage of your muscle tissue is water. If you are dehydrated, you will cramp up that much more easily.CURE: Ensure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day, not just before your workout. If you have doubts as to whether or not you are dehydrated, examine the color of your urine the next time you go to the bathroom. If it is clear, you are properly hydrated. If it is a dark yellow, or worse yet you can't even remember the last time you had to go to the bathroom, start consuming water immediately. Also avoid sodas and coffee.They will dehydrate you faster than not drinking anything at all. A good rule of thumb is: if you are going to have a soda or cup of coffee, immediately consume twice the amount you drank in water. Also make sure that you are eating enough fruits that are high in Potassium. Bananas are probably the best for this. If nothing else, make sure that you take a multi-vitamin once a day.CAUSE: Lack of stretching / warm-up.For most people, this one is a no brainer. However, you would be surprised by the number of people who head straight from the locker room, and start immediately with their heavy sets. Not only do they risk muscle cramps, they also risk tearing the muscle and causing injury.CURE: No matter how much of a hurry you may be in, always make the time to properly stretch and warm-up. Spend at least 20 seconds on each rep while stretching. Also perform at least one complete set of a light weight for 15-20 reps before you start your heavy lifts. A warm-up should not tire your muscles out, however it should get the blood pumping to ensure proper circulation.CAUSE: Excessive heat.This is probably one of the most common causes of muscle cramping, especially during the summer. When your body heat rises above what it can cool down, your muscles start to overheat. Think of it like a car engine without oil or water that is ran excessively. Like the engine, your muscles will seize up and fail to function.CURE: This goes hand-in-hand with staying properly hydrated. Whenever your environment heats up more than usual, make a conscious effort to keep drinking water. If the area you are working out in is hotter than normal, you may want to slow down the pace and make sure you don't overheat.Summary:The keys to preventing muscle cramps can be summed up as follows.Give yourself proper rest time between setsMaintain good hydration and nutritionMake the time to warm-up and stretch before working outBe conscious of the temperature where you are working out.By no means am I saying that you shouldn't work up a good sweat and train with speed and intensity. Just exercise a little common sense. Like the car engine, make sure your muscles are properly taken care of, and they will serve you well.

Work on This Muscle to Burn More Fat

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Do muscles burn fat?The human body will burn more calories to maintain a pound of muscle than it will to maintain a pound of fat. Therefore, the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will naturally burn each day at rest, and this will improve your overall fat loss progress.How Many Calories Does Muscle Mass REALLY Burn?Muscle is an active tissue that is constantly renewing itself, therefore requiring energy (calories).One pound of muscle burns approximately 5-6 calories per day at rest. This would mean if you build 10lbs of muscle it would lead to energy consumption of 50-60 extra calories per day.There are 2 larger main muscle groups of the body. If you work on these muscles, you can keep your metabolism high.1. LegsLeg muscles are the biggest and strongest muscles of our body. They are the largest muscle group. For most people it is quite hard to gain immediate muscle mass on the legs. And unlike biceps or chest, you never see immediate ‘pump’ in your legs post workout, so it can be quite frustrating at times. But working on your leg muscles will make it easier to keep the fat off and metabolic rate high. In fact, strong legs even contribute to muscle gain for the rest of the body. Most of cardio or aerobic exercises are concentrated on the legs. These exercises will help in toning the muscles of the legs. Aerobic exercise is very important for overall health, stress relief, and conditioning of the muscles. You should even focus on heavy weight exercises for the legs such as leg presses and weighted squats for substantial benefit.2. The Back:The back muscles are the other large muscle group in our body. These muscles are very important to our health since they increase overall upper body strength, other than keeping away back pains and age related injuries. Strong, active back muscles burn fat effectively since they are a large muscle group. They even give good overall shape to the body. Focus on basic movements like deadlifts, pull-ups, chin-ups and rows for maximum gain and benefit.Which of the two muscle burns more fat?There is simply more muscle fiber packed into the body from the hips down, and this includes the muscle group that enables the legs to perform vital movements. Leg muscles have the potential to burn more fat because of their size. So focus on your leg muscles to increase your fat burn. But back muscles are also important, so do not skip those either.

3 Exercises to Help Your Strengthen Your Core Muscles as You Age

Dr. Vishwas Virmani, Physiotherapist
Our core muscles help us maintain balance and stability. When we suddenly trip or someone pushes us, our core muscles help us hold our ground.The expression bracing yourself against a fall refers to the activation of these muscles, which counteract the momentum created by an external application of force and/or the pull of gravity. The core muscles criss-cross the torso and traverse the arms, sides, and back, as well as the buttocks and legs. These muscles are activated when pulling, pushing, and lifting objects.Strong core muscles can help prevent lower back pain and improve our posture. Better posture opens up the diaphragm, making it easier to breathe; and eliminating back pain is its own reward! As we age, these muscles experience the same wear and tear as the rest of the body. Here are some exercises to strengthen core muscles in the elderly. Floored! Lie flat on your stomach, on a mat or on your bed, with your arms by your side. Inhale deeply, and as you do so, tighten your pelvic and lower abdominal muscles, and stretch your arms out in front of you, as if you're Superman. Count to two as you hold this pose, and then slowly lower your body to the ground and your hands to your side. Repeat at least 5 times. This exercise will strengthen your pelvic and lower back muscles, and buttocks.The Leaning Tower of Your Torso! Sit on a chair, with your feet flat on the ground, or on the floor (if you're able to.) Raise your right hand and stretch it over your head and to the left, slowly bending your torso in the same direction. Make sure your right butt cheek is planted firmly on the chair's surface. You will feel a subtle stretch as you execute this move. Hold this position for 2 to 3 beats and return to your original position. You Put Your Right Leg InStand next to the backrest, and place your hand on it. Slowly raise your right leg, while pointing your foot to the ground. Hold for a few seconds and relax. Repeat with the other leg. Over time, try and use the chair's backrest less and less, till you're able to do this exercise on your own without support. The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen your core abdominal and back muscles. Embrace the 'core value' of core exercises. Your back will thank you for it!