10 Best Back Exercises – Follow These Guide

August 5, 2019 by  
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The muscles in your back play a major role in almost all of the functions of your body as they connect your hips, chest, butt, shoulders, and neck. Working out the muscles in your back not only makes them stronger and allows them to support your body better, but it also makes your body look more aesthetic. In this article, you will learn more about back exercises, the benefits they offer, and some of the best back exercises that you can do to get that coveted V-taper.

Back Exercise FAQ

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Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions on back exercises.

1. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BACK EXERCISES?

2. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BACK EXERCISES?

3. HOW TO INCORPORATE BACK EXERCISES INTO YOUR ROUTINE?

How We Reviewed

Woman is lifting a weights to exercise her back

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Our team of reviewers closely worked with fitness experts, bodybuilders, and physiologists to come up with the 10 best back exercises for stimulating growth and increasing strength. We then moved on to review these 10 exercises based on the movement required to execute them and their pros and cons to come up with an unbiased verdict.  

Overall Difficulty Level of Back Exercises

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Image by Pavel Jurča from Pixabay

Many of the back exercises that involve barbells such as the barbell deadlift, standing T-bar row, and the bent-over barbell row are the most difficult to perform due to the necessity to maintain a stricter form throughout the movement. They’re highly risky as they can end up causing back issues if done incorrectly.

Irrespective of that, they’re the best when it comes to building muscle and strength in the back. Beginners should exercise caution while trying to do these back exercises and should stick to low weights till they can get better at achieving the proper form. Some of the exercises such as the close-grip pull-down, single-arm dumbbell row, and cable row are beginner-friendly, easy to perform, and effective at stimulating the muscles in your back.

What We Reviewed

  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row
  • Wide-Grip Pull-Up
  • Standing T-Bar Row
  • Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row
  • Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Row
  • Close-Grip Pull-Down
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Decline Bench Dumbbell Pull-Over
  • Single-Arm Smith Machine Row

Barbell Deadlift

How To Perform

Start off with a loaded barbell on the floor. Step up to the middle of the bar and position your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend down from your hip and grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip (it can either be a pronated grip or a mixed one). Take a deep breath and brace your core. This builds pressure inside your body and protects your spine.

Now slowly lower your hips so that your shins touch the bar. Make sure to always look forward, as looking down can curve your back and can put tremendous pressure on the lower back. With your chest pushed outward and back straight, drive through the heels to lift the weight and stand upright. Lower the bar back down by bending from your hips.

Pros

  • The deadlift is a total body workout and targets multiple muscle groups such as the upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and traps
  • Significantly increases lower back strength and stability

Cons

  • Highly risky as you can end up injuring yourself without proper form and practice
  • Not suitable for people with lower back issues

Bent-Over Barbell Row

How To Perform

Start by gripping a loaded barbell at shoulder-width with a pronated grip. Bend down from the waist, keep your back straight, and your knees bent. Let the barbell hang down in front of you. Now, exhale and lift the barbell to your waist and hold the position for a second, while squeezing the muscles in your back. Slowly lower the barbell back while inhaling. Make sure to look forward during this entire movement as that would help you maintain a straight back. Also, remember to keep your elbows close to your body.  

Pros

  • Perfect for building mass and strength
  • Improves lower back strength and stability

Cons

  • Not advisable for people with back issues

Wide-Grip Pull-Up

How To Perform

Stand in front of a pull-up bar and hold it with a wide pronated grip. Let yourself hang down freely with your arms fully extended. Slowly pull yourself up by bending your elbows and pause for a second once your chin goes above your hands. Contract the muscles in your back and slowly lower yourself down to the starting position.

Make sure to do this exercise in one smooth movement. Do not jerk yourself around or use momentum to complete the exercise. Also, try using an open grip to engage your lat muscles better. This exercise can also be performed using a supinated grip, which will also let you work your biceps.

Pros

  • List ElemHelps build a thicker and wider back  ent
  • Can help increase your grip strength

Cons

  • Beginners might find it hard to do this exercise due to the lack of strength to pull themselves up

Standing T-Bar Row

How To Perform

Start off by securely positioning a loaded bar in a corner to prevent it from moving around. Make sure that you take a wide stance with the bar in between your legs. Now, lift the bar up with a double D row handle positioned near the collar of the bar. Keep your chest up, your back straight, and your arms fully extended.

Slowly pull the bar towards your abdomen by flexing your elbows. Once you reach the top of the movement, pause for a second and squeeze the muscles in your back. Then, slowly get back to the starting position.

Pros

  • In addition to strengthening the back, it also helps develop a good posture
  • Works multiple muscle groups such as biceps, traps, lats, and even your core

Cons

  • You might end up with muscle cramps if breathing is irregular during the movement

Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row

How To Perform

Strap a long bar onto a low pulley row machine. Position yourself appropriately on the machine and hold the long bar with a wide pronated grip. Make sure to secure your feet on the given platform, and do not lock the knees. Pull the bar back by extending your arms fully till you create a 90-degree angle with your torso and your legs.

Pull the bar towards your abdomen, while keeping your back straight. Exhale during this part of the movement. Hold this position for a second and squeeze the muscles in your back. Then, slowly get back to the starting position.  

Pros

  • Places constant tension on the muscles
  • Perfect for beginners and people with lower back issues

Cons

  • Unlike traditional barbell workouts, cable rows don’t work any of the stabilizer muscles

Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Row

How To Perform

Set the smith machine to a height that is just below your knees. Bend over from the waist by flexing your knees and bring your torso over the bar. Keep your back straight and parallel to the floor. Using a supinated grip, hold the barbell at a width that’s slightly more than shoulder-width. Unlock the barbell and let it hand directly below.

Slowly lift the barbell up to your upper abdomen and keep your elbows tucked in and close to your body. When you’re at the top, hold the position and squeeze the muscles in your back. Slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position.

Pros

  • Works your biceps and forearms in addition to your back muscles
  • Ideal for beginners

Cons

  • Not suitable for people suffering from back issues
  • The exercise isn’t ideal due to the fixed and very limited range of motion

Close-Grip Pull-Down

How To Perform

Attach a long bar to the top pulley of the lat pull-down machine and begin by positioning yourself appropriately. Grab the bar with a grip that’s narrower than shoulder-width (you can use either a pronated or supinated grip).

With your arms fully extended, lean back a little and stick your chest out. Exhale and slowly pull the bar down to your chest by bending your elbows. Once you reach the bottom position, hold for a second and squeeze the muscles in your back. Slowly let the bar rise up to the starting position.

Pros

  • In addition to working the muscles in your back, the exercise also emphasizes the biceps
  • Simple and pretty safe, making it the perfect exercise for beginners and people with lower back issues

Cons

  • None

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

How To Perform

You will need a flat bench and a dumbbell of appropriate weight for this exercise. Position your left arm and left knee on the flat bench and straighten your back so that it is parallel to the floor. With your right arm, pick up the dumbbell off the floor and let it hang with your arms fully extended. Slowly pull the dumbbell up to your chest.

Once you’re at the top, hold the position and squeeze your back muscles. Make sure that you exhale during this part of the movement and ensure that your elbows are tucked in close. Slowly lower the weight down to the starting position. Once you’re done with a set, switch sides and perform the same movement.

Pros

  • Very safe, easy to perform, and requires just a dumbbell
  • Helps strengthen multiple muscle groups such as shoulders, core, and biceps

Cons

  • None

Decline Bench Dumbbell Pull-Over

How To Perform

Position yourself properly on a decline bench with both of your legs securely locked. Grab a dumbbell with both of your arms, lift it up, and hold it right above your chest. Your arms should be fully extended and perpendicular to the floor. This is your starting position.

Begin by slowly moving the dumbbell backwards over your head and stop once your arms are parallel to the floor. Pause for a second and slowly bring the dumbbell back to the starting position. Do not jerk the weight around or use momentum.

Pros

  • Works out your entire upper body including your chest, shoulders, triceps, upper back, and the core
  • Works the stabilizer muscles and helps increase flexibility

Cons

  • Exercise is slightly risky as there’s a chance of you dropping the weight on yourself
  • Puts more emphasis on the chest rather than the back

Single-Arm Smith Machine Row

How To Perform

Load the smith machine with the appropriate weight and set it at the lowest position. Stand at a 90-degree angle on the right side of the bar. Bend at the waist by flexing your knee and grab the bar with your left hand. Keep your back straight and look forward. Slowly pull the bar up towards the side of your chest.

Make sure to keep your elbows tucked in. Once you’re at the top, pause for a second and contract the muscles in your back. Slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position. Once you’re done with a set, switch the side and repeat the movement.        

Pros

  • Works your biceps, lats, and shoulders
  • Perfect for beginners and people with lower back issues

Cons

  • None

The Verdict

Man is doing some back exercise

Image by Pavel Jurča from Pixabay

Based on our review of the 10 best back exercises, the barbell deadlift and bent-over barbell rows offer the best overall development of the muscles in the back. Being compound exercises, they work multiple muscle groups simultaneously and help improve posture and stability. They also offer the maximum strength gains among all back exercises.

The only disadvantage that these exercises have is the increased stress that it places on the lower back, making them unsuitable for people with back problems, as they can end up aggravating the issues. Cable rows, single-arm dumbbell rows, and single-arm smith machine rows are great alternatives. These back exercises hit the muscles hard and are good for the lower back.  


Featured Image by Scott Webb from Pixabay

Isopure Reviews

August 4, 2019 by  
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Protein powders are great for building muscle, muscle recovery, and staying satiated while on a low calorie/fat diet. With so many choices on the market today it’s easy to get confused. There are hundreds of types of protein, flavors, and claims by their manufacturers! We took a good look at reviews and research for four top protein powders, breaking them down by the quality of their ingredients, cost, usability, product guarantee and expected results. First up is Isopure, a whey isolate protein powder. Isopure is a good option for most fitness plans because it contains no carbs, sugar, cholesterol or fat and is moderate in calories. Many reviews reported muscle gains and weight loss after using Isopure, in addition to weight training, exercise and a healthy diet.

What Is Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder? 

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Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder is a whey isolate protein powder, ideal for building muscle and aiding in fat loss. Whey isolates like Isopure typically contain very little carbs or sugar and the body can absorb 8–10 grams per hour, making it a viable choice before, during or after a workout. Whey isolate is one of the most common protein forms on the market, and though it’s from a dairy source, it is lactose-free; easily absorbed by the body. Many reviews we found reported Isopure did not cause uncomfortable gassiness or bloatedness experienced with other protein powders. Reviewers also liked the simplicity of Isopure's ingredients, no gluten or chemicals, though soy is added for creaminess. Here’s the breakdown for Isopure Zero Carb Protein powder, which comes in over 17 flavors.

Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder Benefits

  • 25 grams protein per serving
  • Zero sugar
  • 100 calories per scoop
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Zero carbs (2 low carb varieties)
  • Gluten, lactose and aspartame free (contains sucralose, a natural sugar)
  • Zero sugar per serving

Flavors of Isopure

Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder is offered in a wide variety of flavors, including Banana Cream, Cookies and Cream, Mango Peach, Apple Melon and Creamy Vanilla. Isopure makes two low-carb versions, Dutch Chocolate and Toasted Coconut, containing just one gram of carb per 2-scoop serving and zero sugar. Isopure also makes a flavorless variety, which mixes well with other flavors like cocoa powder, peanut powder, or sweeteners like fruit, honey or stevia.

Using Isopure 

Isopure stands out for having no added fillers, made up of a pure whey protein isolate, which mixes easily with water or milk. Isopure recommends a mixture of 6 ounces of water per 2 scoops for a total of 50 grams of protein per serving, but many users say they adjusted the amount of scoops and liquid to their taste and preference. A popular suggestion to make Isopure shakes richer was to replace water with non-dairy milk like almond milk. For an extra bit of flavor, some users said they liked adding cocoa powder, peanut powder or fruits and berries (use a blender for adding fruits). When stored in a cool dry place Isopure protein powder can keep fresh up to a year.

Pricing 

Isopure protein powder comes in three bulk sizes and can be purchased directly at: theisopurecompany.com. Other recommended sellers are: GNC.com, Bodybuilding.com, Amazon.com, and Vitaminshoppe.com. Prices range from about $16 for a 1-pound container to $95 for a 7.5-pound container. Prices average about $1.50 per serving; fairly economical for a high-quality protein powder.

Average Price of Isopure 

  • 1 pound packet (7 servings) - $15
  • 3 pound tub (22 servings) - $40
  • 4.5-pound tub (creamy vanilla only) - $50
  • 7.5 pound tub (55 servings) - $95

How Isopure Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare to Isopure.

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  • BioTrust Low Carb Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder
  • MusclePharm Combat 100% Whey Protein Powder
  • Perfect Keto Chocolate Protein Powder

Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder


At about $1.50 per serving, Isopure is a solid, economical choice for a high-quality protein powder.

Ease of Use 

We gave Isopure Zero Carb Protein powder 4 out of 5 stars. It mixes with easily with water or milk, (similar to or better than any other powder), digests quickly and comes in three different container sizes.

Expected Results 

4 out of 5 stars. Reviews report it doesn’t cause gas or bloating like other powders and helps with weight loss and muscle gain.

Quality of Ingredients 

3.5 out of 5 stars. Isopure contains high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals but the flavored versions added sucralose. (Xanthan Gum, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Sucralose). Also, those with soy allergies should note Isopure does contain soy for added for creaminess.

Guarantee 

Refer to the vendor for its return policy, but most sellers such as Amazon offer a 100% money-back guarantee within 30 days.

Pros

  • Mixes easily with water
  • Economic
  • No carbs, high protein, no sugar, lactose-free
  • Helps with weight loss and muscle gain

Cons

  • Smells a bit strong
  • Contains soy and sucralose
  • Taste could be better
  • Gassiness/bloating reported by some users

BioTrust Low Carb Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder

BioTrust Low Carb Grass Fed Whey Protein powder is made up of 4 types of dairy protein. The company states Biotrust Protein is from grass-fed cows, contains no artificial colors or additives, is non-GMO, soy free and gluten-free. In addition to whey protein isolate and whey concentrate, it also contains micellar casein, which digests slowly, making it an ideal choice for satiation and helping the body repair overnight. Low Carb Grass Fed Whey Protein stands apart for its trademark digestive enzyme blend, ProHydrolase, which enables the easy absorption of all that protein without unpleasant gastrointestinal effects. It is marketed as a weight-loss aid since it helps with satiation (staying fuller longer).

Nutrients and Flavors

A two-scoop serving of BioTrust contains 150 calories, 24 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs (4 grams of fiber), and 2.5 grams of fat, (1 gram of saturated fat). It’s also high in calcium. BioTrust manufactures Low Carb in six different flavors: Milk Chocolate, Vanilla Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Café Mocha, Strawberry Banana, and Peach Mango.

Price - $$$

Very expensive. One tub (1.2 pounds of 14 servings) = $49 dollars on Amazon. About $3.50 per serving.

Ease of Use 

We gave 4 out of 5 stars for ease of use. Mixes easily with water or milk.

Expected Results 

We gave 4.5 out of 5 stars for its ability to digest easily, ward off hunger, and help with muscle building and recovery.

Quality of Ingredients 

We gave BioTrust 3.5 out of 5 stars for ingredient quality. Seems legit, but hard to know. The company states their protein is from “grass fed, hormone free, happy cows” but does not list the ingredients in their “new breakthrough” enzyme, ProHydrolase.

Guarantee 

BioTrust is listed as Amazon’s Choice product and free returns are guaranteed within 30 days. Refer to each vendor for individual return policies.

Pros

  • Satiating, 4 grams of fiber per serving
  • Mixes easily with water or milk
  • Digests well, does not cause bloating or gas
  • Free-range, hormone-free dairy protein

Cons


  • High in cholesterol and sodium, (180 sodium and 30 mg cholesterol per serving)
  • Expensive - about 3 times as expensive as similar products
  • Bland/chalky taste
  • Mysterious ingredients in its digestive enzyme blend ProHydrolase

MusclePharm Combat 100% Whey Protein Powder


The key feature of MusclePharm’s protein powder is its combination of whey isolate, casein, egg protein and whey concentrate protein which deliver a lot of protein and aid in quick digestion; great for before, during, or after a workout. The product has a lot of rave reviews about its amazing taste, though some said it was too sweet for their liking. The company states they test batches for banned substances and protein quality, and each serving delivers 25 grams of protein. Each one scoop serving has 130 calories, 25 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, (1 gram saturated fat), 5 grams of carbs and 2 grams of sugar. Though there are no artificial dyes or colors and it is gluten-free, it is not lactose-free, contains artificial ingredients and sugars, and makes no statement to be non-GMO.

Ease of Use 

We gave 4 out of 5 stars for ease of use. Reviewers said it mixes great in a blender with water, milk, almond milk, fruits, and vegetables. Like most protein powders, there were complaints it takes a while to mix completely and can leave clumps.

Expected Results 

We gave MusclePharm 4 out of 5 stars for being an easy way to ingest 25-50 grams of protein, especially for fitness buffs. Lactose intolerant users should keep in mind the product does contain lactose!

Quality of Ingredients 

2.5 out of 5 stars. MusclePharm uses artificial sweeteners which we don’t like, as well as cellulose gum, guar gum, xanthan gum, sucralose, acesulfame potassium and soy lecithin. Again, it is not lactose-free, and has no statement about being GMO-free.

Guarantee 

4 out of 5 stars. All MusclePharm sales via Amazon.com are backed by a 30-day, money-back guarantee, but make sure to check each individual vendor for their policy.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Tastes yummy (on the sweet side!)
  • Whey, casein and egg protein for ultimate absorption

Cons

  • One gram saturated fat per serving
  • Artificial ingredients/sweeteners
  • High calorie/cholesterol (130 calories / 35 mg cholesterol per scoop)
  • Not vegan, contains lactose, no statement on GMO testing

Perfect Keto Chocolate Protein Powder


Keto Collagen is advertised as a keto-friendly protein powder derived from collagen, a necessary amino acid for muscle recovery which doesn’t affect blood sugar. The company states their collagen peptides are taken from U.S.A. grass-fed cows and their product contains no artificial sweeteners, coloring, chemicals, or binding agents. Collagen protein is a good source for is supporting connective tissues and improving joint pain after exercise. It is not a complete protein like whey protein and is lower in protein content. That makes it a good choice for those following a ketogenic diet or wanting to repair connective tissue and joints but not ideal for body-builders or those on low-fat diet. Each one-scoop serving has 4 grams saturated fat, 80 calories, and only 10 grams of protein. Current flavors are chocolate, caramel, vanilla or unflavored. Many keto-friendly reviews said they liked to mix the powder into their coffee for an energy boost in the morning.

Ease of Use 

We gave 3.5 out of 5 stars. There were quite a few reports of overstuffed packaging causing spills with each use. Several reviews reported the powder leaves an ugly “scum” when mixed into hot beverages like coffee.

Expected Results 

We gave 4 out of 5 stars. Keto protein powder is advertised to help with joints, connective tissue, hair, skin and nails and many users report positive results in these areas, including increased energy.

Quality of Ingredients 

4 out of 5 stars for quality ingredients. For those who don’t like the Stevia taste in the flavored options, there is an unflavored powder.

Guarantee 

3 out of 5 stars for product guarantee. Amazon states it will honor a Keto protein powder replacement only once and the PerfectKeto.com requires you to contact the company directly.

Pros

  • Collagen-based protein to strengthen connective tissue
  • Tastes good
  • Keto-friendly
  • Paleo, gluten-free, no additives, chemicals or fake sugars

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Messy
  • High fat
  • Stevia taste


The Takeaway

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After reviewing these four products, we gave Isopure the highest rating, with 4.5 out of 5 stars. Isopure is keto friendly, lactose-free, non-GMO, great for building muscle, and aids in weight loss, satiation and muscle recovery. Complaints were few and had to do with taste and occasional gassiness. We feel Isopure is a solid choice for those wanting to gain muscle, lose weight or maintain a lean diet. We also like that it contains no additives or fake sugars and is a great price at $1.50 per serving.

How to Do a Proper Hack Squat

August 2, 2019 by  
Filed under Workouts to Build Muscle

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Hack Squat

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The hack squat is one of the best quad-building exercises you can possibly do. It is a popular exercise that many weightlifters and athletes do for lower-body development. It is typically done on a sled that allows you to squat on a 45-degree angle, and it focuses strength training on three main muscle groups — your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.

The hack squat machine is a staple in most gym and fitness centers. If you’ve seen a person doing it, then you must have noticed that they were lifting several plates — certainly more than they normally use when doing a barbell squat. Since most people use loads when performing a hack squat, it has become quite popular in gyms.

People who are not fitness freaks and who do not go to the gym regularly may not be familiar with the hack squat exercise. As such, if you are one of those people, you might be interested in knowing how to do it properly so you have a stronger, lower body. This article highlights what hack squares are, how to do the exercise properly, as well as how you use a machine or barbells to do them.

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What Is a Hack Squat Exercise?

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In strength training and general fitness training, squatting is a compound, full-body exercise used to strengthen the muscles of your hips, thighs, buttocks, quadriceps femoris muscle and hamstrings. Additionally, hack squats strengthen your ligaments, bones and the connectivity of the tendons in the entire lower body.

Squatting is considered a vital exercise for increasing the size and strength of one's legs besides developing one's core strength. There are many variations of squat exercises. Squatting is one of the three lifts used in powerlifting, along with bench presses and dead lifts. In this article, we will highlight what hack squats are and how you can do them like a pro.

Hack squats can be done using a barbell or on a machine. Typically, the barbell is held in your hands, just behind your legs. The exercise was first known as Hacke (heel) in Germany. It was a squat performed by Prussian soldiers and was popularized in the English-speaking countries by early 1900s by George Hackenschmidt, a wrestler. Other than a barbell, a hack squat can be done using a machine. The exercise is done by using the legs to lift while the weight rests on one's shoulders and the feet are kept stationary.

Since the lower back is locked during the exercise, it can only be used by athletes during strength training in their general preparation phases. However, the exercise is very valuable to bodybuilders who do not care about the functional transfer of hack squats. Both types of hack squats — machine and barbell — respond best to hypertrophy or functional hypertrophy protocols

BENEFITS OF THE HACK SQUAT


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When done using the exercise using a machine, you will derive the following benefits:

  • Since the exercise takes the upper body out of the movement, it removes potential compensations or weaknesses that could otherwise affect your squat depth. You can focus on ensuring that your thighs are parallel
  • You can load up the weight, thanks to the additional control the machine affords you, and the fact that the upper body, including the core, is taken out of the movement
  • It is easy to train one leg at a time to reduce muscle imbalances
  • Since the machine provides a lot of stability, it can be a safer way to start building strength, particularly when you are coming back from an injury
  • The exercise allows you to change the focus on the muscles by adjusting your foot position. Note that a higher foot position will emphasize the glutes more, while a lower foot position gives emphasis to the quads
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DRAWBACKS OF THE HACK SQUAT EXERCISE


Start lifting the barbel inside the gym

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There are downsides, however, when doing these types of squats. These includes:

  • Your knees typically sit far out in front, which results in knee problems, particularly when you use heavyweight loads
  • In traditional barbell squats, your core works overtime in helping you control and stabilize the weight, but with hack squats, you don't get the same benefit
  • It is easy to train one leg at a time to reduce muscle imbalances
  • When doing the exercise, you are locked into a machine, which means that the critical stabilizer muscles (useful to help keep the joints safe) are not engaged
  • When doing these type of squats, you will be forced to work in a fixed angle which is not how sports are played, and this means that the exercise doesn’t train your body specifically for how you move on the playing field
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Barbell Hack Squat Like a Pro

The barbell hack squat is an old-school strength exercise that has been in use for decades by fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders to build strength in the hamstrings, glutes and quads. It also is more low-back friendly since the weight is under the center of mass instead of in front of it. It places ample tension on the entire lower body, including the hamstrings, glutes and quads, and allows the lifter to train both the dead lift and quad pattern at the same time.

Here is how you do the barbell hack squat like a pro:

  1. 1
    Stand straight as you hold the barbell behind you at arm’s length and your feet at shoulder width. A shoulder width grip is best with the hand palms facing back but you can use the wrist wraps for a better grip.
  2. 2
    As you keep your head and eyes up and back straight, squat until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you advance to the floor slowly.
  3. 3
    Press the heel of the foot and squeeze the thighs and as you do so, going back up as you breathe out.
  4. 4
    Repeat the procedure for the recommended repetitions, as recommended by your trainer.

There are several variations. It can be performed with the heels slightly elevated on a small block, which is a good option for beginners and, especially, if you lack flexibility.

Machine Hack Squad Like a Pro

Machine hack squats require a strong development of the vastus medialis muscles and good stability of the knee joints to be effective.

Here is how to do them on a machine:

  1. 1
    Place your back against the back pad of the machine and hook your shoulders under the machine's shoulder pads
  2. 2
    Position your legs on the machine taking a shoulder-width, medium stance with the toes slightly pointed out. Ensure that you always keep your head up and maintain the back on the pad at all times
  3. 3
    Place your arms on the machine’s side handles and disengage the safety bars (done by moving the side handles from the facing front position to a diagonal position.)
  4. 4
    Straighten your legs without locking your knees. This is how you assume a starting position.
  5. 5
    Begin slowly by lowering the unit by bending the knees as you maintain a straight posture with your head up. Continue down until the angle between the calves and the upper legs becomes slightly less than 90 degrees. Inhale as you perform this movement. If you do it correctly, the front of the knees should make an imaginary straight line with the toes that are perpendicular to the front. If the knees are past that imaginary line, then you are placing undue stress on your knees.
  6. 6
    Begin raising the unit as you exhale by pushing the floor with the heel of your feet as you straighten your legs again and go back to the starting position.
  7. 7
    Repeat the process for the numbers of repetitions recommended by your certified personal trainer.

You should emphasize the glutes instead of the quads by moving the feet forward on the platform, or hit your leg adductors using a wide stance and then turning your toes forward.

Conclusion

barbell black and white

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Squatting is a compound and full-body exercise that is used in training the muscles of the hips, thighs, buttocks, quadriceps femoris muscle, hamstrings, strengthening the ligaments, bones and insertion of the tendons in the entire lower body. The hack squat focuses on the lower body. However, the lower back is typically locked in the exercise. This means that it can only be used by athletes during their strength training in general preparation phases. the hack squat is a highly valuable exercise for bodybuilders.

There are two versions of hack squats are the machine and the barbell. The barbell hack squat is an old-school strength exercise that trains the hamstrings, glutes and quads and allows the lifter to train both the dead lift and quad pattern at the same time. Machine hack squats require a strong development of the vastus medialis muscles and good stability of the knee joints to be effective. For the machine version of the squats, you can emphasize the glutes instead of the quads by moving the feet forward on the platform.

We hope this article has thoroughly addressed what the hack squat exercise is, what it is best used for and how to do the exercise properly and safely in both its variations by using a machine or barbell.

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The Ultimate Guide to Female Bodybuilding

August 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Body Building Goals

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Woman showing a female bodybuilding routine lifting a barbell

​Image Source: Unsplash

Our bodies are amazing things. They circulate air through our blood, digest our food into energy, protect and encase the experience machine that is our brain, and they are even capable of reproducing themselves (well, with a little help from a friend that is). But not all bodies reach the same potential. Neglect the body and its vitality will fade, and then you will soon find yourself much more hindered by your mortal coil than enabled by it. But the opposite is also true—pay attention to the needs of the body, take advantage of the best ways to build the body, and you will soon find yourself sporting a form that makes the other ladies jealous. That’s right, we said “ladies.” Bodybuilding isn’t just a boy’s game anymore. Countless women are improving their bodies every day through the sculpting process that is female bodybuilding.  

In fact, today the internet is full to bursting with articles proclaiming the benefits and methods of female bodybuilding. So many that it’s nigh impossible to know whose advice to trust. For that very reason, we have compiled this article of what we consider the most essential bits of bodybuilding advice for ladies. Your body is likely fairly different from those men whose pecs grace the covers of health magazines, and you need bodybuilding advice that takes that into consideration.

Join us on this journey of body sculpting and self-discovery as we explore The Ultimate Guide to Female Bodybuilding, which begins by humbly asking...

What Is Female BodyBuilding?

a woman showing her strong biceps

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Getting shredded, building meat, maintaining mass, erecting a hominid, there are so many ways to express the sentiment, but female bodybuilding is simply about a bunch of women who want to get fit in a particular fashion.

Why Get Fit with Female Bodybuilding?

There are many ways to get fit and fulfill your body's destiny to look and feel great, but the best reason to build over other methods of fitness has to do with health. Most female bodybuilding experts know a fit body is a healthy body and building your ultimate form takes time and effort.

Best Weight Training Program

A woman in the gym showing a female bodybuilding workout

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The best weight training program for female bodybuilding is tailored for each individual trying their hand at sculpting their body. The reason for this is the wide diversity of bodies, histories, and futures. There are no two people who mirror one another, so there should be no two workouts with a perfect tandem.

However, there are general rules you can follow. You need to be doing different workouts every time you head toward the gym. Alternating the type, duration, strength, and general inclination of each workout can help to aid your game. There should be diversity here.

Keeping it simple is a great way to begin. Start every workout with a warm-up phase that includes stretching and lunging. Then, end every workout with a cooldown phase. Warmups and cooldowns are standard practice across disciplines.

A Weekly Routine for Anyone

The following is an award-winning routine for female bodybuilding that is recommended for those wishing to get into shape. As with any routine, you may need to start slower and work up to the full tilt of the routine.

On the first day of the week, in the morning, the routine starts with a focus on cardio, chest exercises, and tricep exercises. Around 35 to 45 minutes of low-intensity cardio exercise is recommended.

  • Incline Dumbbell Press - 2 x 8-12 (SETS) x (REPS)
  • Flat Barbell Bench - 2 x 8-12
  • Dips - 2 x 8-12
  • Cable Crossovers - 2 x 8-12
  • Skull Crushers - 2 x 8-12

​On Tuesday anytime during the day, it is recommended that the bodybuilder workout focuses on the quads, hamstrings, and calves. Take a breather because there is no cardio on Tuesday!

  • Squats- 2 x 8-12
  • Seated Leg Curls- 2 x 8-12
  • Walking Lunges- 2 x 8-12 (Each Leg)
  • Straight Leg Dumbbell Deadlift- 2 x 8-12
  • Seated Leg Extensions- 2 x 8-12
  • Standing Calf Raises- 3 x 12-15

On Wednesday in the morning, cardio and abs are the focus. Around 35 to 45 minutes of low-intensity cardio is one of the set goals. Other goals are listed below.

  • Exercise Ball Crunch- 2 x 20-25
  • Machine Crunches- 2 x 20-25
  • Hanging Leg Raise- 2 x 10-12
  • Bicycle Crunches- 2 x 20 (Each Leg)

On Thursday in the morning, it is recommended that the individual commence in cardio, and exercises focusing on the back, biceps, and forearms. The cardio should be around 35 to 45 minutes with a tilt toward being low-intensity cardio. Additional exercises are listed below.

  • Lat Pull-downs- 2 x 8-12
  • Barbell Rows- 2 x 8-12
  • Good Mornings- 2 x 8-12
  • Preacher Curls- 2 x 8-12
  • Incline Dumbbell Curls- 2 x 8-12
  • Barbell Wrist Curls- 3 x 10-12

For Friday morning, we suggest the routine targets cardio and a focus on the delts and traps. This will consist of 35 to 45 minutes of low-intensity cardio determined by the individual. Other recommended exercises are listed below.

  • Dumbbell Military Press- 2 x 8-12
  • Cable Front Lateral Raise- 2 x 8-12 (On Each Arm)
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise- 2 x 8-12
  • Smith Machine Shrugs- 3 x 10-12

On Saturday, in the morning it is advised to do some cardio. Around 35-45 minutes of low-intensity cardio would be best. This can take the form of jumping jacks, jogging, or anything your heart desires.

On Sunday you can celebrate your achievement of a job well done and take the day off. Don’t mistake this for an excuse to eat your weight in donuts, but do make it a celebration. After this week of intense workouts, you will be grateful for the day off and the brief respite before the next one.

Remember that this is an advanced workout and not absolutely necessary for all beginners. You can start slowly and work up to the full tilt of this intense routine.


Nutrition and Tips for Female Bodybuilders​

A glass of leafy vegetable smoothie

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Humans are calculators. Well, at least your gut bacteria are calculators. If you put in more calories than you spend in your daily routine, then you gain weight. The converse is true of eating too few calories—you will lose weight. Now, I am not telling you to go out and have a big old plate of celery. Quite the opposite, You should be eating calories if you want to gain muscle.

If you are looking to get shredded and build up your body like a sand castle on a beach, then you need to know your nutrition. Vitamins, minerals, and the occasional massive sandwich are your friends. However, before beginning your journey to the gym, you might consider consulting a doctor about the general guidelines you should follow rather than use a guess and check method.

Intermittent Fasting Is a Key 

For those of us looking to appear in the world like long, lean goddesses, intermittent fasting can be a great addition to the tool belt of any female bodybuilding routine. This tiny trick can help boost your immune system, heal your muscles after a workout, and it requires no effort. Believe it or not this is not a gimmick. All you have to do is not eat, rather, all you have to do is eat a lot—but only when in the non-fasting phase of intermittent fasting.

The only rule is to eat for an 8-hour period during the day and at no other time. For example, if you wake up at 7 and eat breakfast at 12, then you can eat as much of anything as you want until 8 PM. However, after 8 you cannot eat or drink any more calories. Yes, this includes beer; I am sorry to say.

The reason this works has to do with the stages of our digestion. When you eat from sunup to sundown and sometimes afterward, then you leave no time for your body to turn its attention toward things other than digestion, namely healing your sore muscles. That is why intermittent fasting is the key to female bodybuilding. So make like the flash and get fasting.

Vitamins You Need to Be Consuming

Knowing what your body needs and when is a real hat trick of human evolution culminating in the 21st century. B vitamins, or a B complex, will make you feel great and give you the energy you need to hit the gym with the full force of your female bodybuilding furry and fervor. You can take them in a pill or in a drink. The drinkable version comes packaged with vitamin C, another essential nutrient.

Vitamin C helps with almost everything. Most Americans are deficient in it, so even if you are not a fan of female bodybuilding you should be taking more of this. You can get it in pill form as well. It is not terribly expensive and well worth the few bucks it costs. Additionally, you can get it in some fruits, including oranges, lemons, and limes. This may be your only excuse for another tequila shot by the way.

Mushrooms and How They Help

Besides possibly curing cancer and helping to clear the cobwebs from your mind, mushrooms can help to heal your body and boost your energy. There are several companies that sell them. Paul Stamments and Joe Rogan both do a great job. We are also huge fans of the mushroom, tea, and coffee supplier, Four Sigmatic, whose products include anti-carcinogenic coffee and nervous system supporting elixirs. The list of mushrooms and their uses is much too long for a single article, so research about the benefits of each one yourself. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to steer clear of portobellos and eat all the others.

Energize Me: How to Get That Extra Pep in Your Step

By far and away the biggest bodybuilding complaint we receive is that it simply leaves the bodybuilders too tired either to complete their workout or to finish their regular chores afterward. Energy drink companies want you to believe that the only way to get that extra kick is to consume a 24-ounce can of sugar, “electrolytes,” and industrial sludge. This is obviously not the case. The caffeine these energy drinks provide has been shown to be beneficial for athletes undergoing intense or grueling workouts, but the sugar and other nastiness is literal poison for your body.

If you need that extra caffeine kick why not reach for good old-fashioned coffee? The added stimulation will perk you up and the anti-hunger effect of a cup of joe will help prevent your tummy from rumbling when you’re pumping iron. Here’s a great tip for amping your coffee to the next level: combine it with L-theanine and a fat. Yes, that’s right, add butter to your coffee. It may sound counterproductive, but research shows that the fat helps the caffeine to better cross the blood-brain barrier as does the L-theanine. L-theanine is the active ingredient in green tea and can be found in pill form if you aren’t keen on drinking a coffee on the heels of a cup of tea.

Caffeine is by no means the only healthful, legal “perk me up” available to aid your bodybuilding adventures. Guanine, a chemical cousin of caffeine and the active ingredient in Yerba Mate tea, is a great alternative for those for whom caffeine has just lost its kick. In fact, many people have found that guanine provides a “cleaner” buzz than caffeine and have never gone back.

If you’re seeking a less jittery type of boost, we highly recommend apple cider vinegar. It may have a strong astringent taste by itself, but once watered down a bit and garnished with lemon, it becomes one of the tastiest tiny boosts you can drink. The vinegar will jump-start your metabolism, the acidity will aid your digestion, and the malic acid it contains provides a laundry list of healthful benefits.

Adding More Calories

One of the mistakes those new to female bodybuilding make is not increasing their calorie count. If you want to get ripped and gain muscle mass and you are really shredding on those weights at the gym, then you need to be increasing the amount of food you are eating. This makes intuitive sense after the first glance. Additionally, if you are not trying to build mass, then decreasing or even maintaining the amount of food you are eating is fine.

Greens, Greens, the Magical Food

The more you eat, the more you can do. Dark, leafy greens will be important for consumption as you move forward on this journey. They are jam-packed with essential nutrients and a great way of cleaning out your system. The name of the game here is fiber. The best way to look for these little guys is in the vegan section of the grocery store. Keep an eye out for the leaves with purple edges and extra-dark veins. Those are great signs of vitamins.

Training outside Your Program and Why

Often the best athletes train outside their area of expertise. Wonderful and accomplished football players practice yoga or ballet as often as they train in the gym with weights. Your muscles are like rubber bands and they need to be stretched in all directions to gain flexibility and strength. The better the complementary exercise the more disparate the activities.

The recommended complement to female bodybuilding is yoga. Any practice, even at home will do, but the best combination will be the addition of hot yoga. This is yoga that is strength and flexibility focused. Fair warning, the room will be unbearably hot, but you will leave feeling great all over and the next time you hit the weights you will feel like a million bucks.

As you begin to change your routine with female bodybuilding and working out, you will notice other changes in your life. You will apply the principles you learn at the gym to your practices of other activities, including work, school, play, and around the house.

Mass vs. Lean

The expectation is that bodybuilding will transform the female form into a Hulk-ette, but this is not the case for every body type. Spending hours doing the wrong workout can be a real problem for female athletes in general.

In truth, most females don't have the hormonal tendencies like men do, helping them to gain muscle mass in a particularly masculine way. The hormone testosterone is the determinant of why men look the way they do. Women simply do not have as much of this muscle building chemical.

So don’t worry about growing chest hair as you learn to bench press double your body weight. However, if looking like the hulk is your ultimate goal, then you are in for years of dedication, practice, and most certainly a gym membership.


Conclusion

Woman in the gym looking at the mirror while holding a dumbbell

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The best way to get results is to tailor the workout, diet, lifestyle, and goals to your individual needs. Through this individualization process, you can achieve whatever you set your mind and body to. The only gatekeeper is your own endurance, which luckily, you can increase over time with female bodybuilding.

In the end, we are all just here to be happier and healthier, so do whatever method or routine that floats your boat.  It's all a journey, and it takes a whole village. Remember to eat your greens and keep your meats lean, but ultimately the best you can do is your best.

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