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Yoga for Musclemen  

Yoga for Musclemen  


The Advocates: Expert advice on life -- as you live it.

Assuming the position can help you up your poundages in the gym.

If you're trying to pack on a few pounds of extra muscle, I'm guessing you haven't considered yoga to help achieve that goal. The age-old practice conjures images of skinny swamis more often than quarterbacks, but yoga can be an excellent addition to a weight-training regimen.

Yoga strengthens the body's smaller stabilizer muscles -- in the core, knees, hips, and shoulders -- areas not typically targeted by weight training. And once these smaller muscle fibers are activated, they facilitate growth in the larger muscles, adding shape and size when you hit the weights. Yoga also develops increased range of movement, which is vital to boosting strength levels and avoiding weight-training plateaus.

Which yoga class is the right one for bodybuilders? Beginners should go with hatha, a meditative practice in which one can learn the essential postures and breathing techniques. However, if you're not a newbie and are ready for more of a challenge, try the more aerobic ashtanga, or power yoga.

Ladies: Armed and Dangerous You don't have to be Jessica Biel or Pink to have sexy, toned arms. The secret is to work your arm muscles from several different angles. Here's an effective two-in-one exercise for biceps: Begin with a hammer curl, holding the dumbbells down at your sides, palms facing in. Without changing hand orientation, curl the weights up to your shoulders, hold for a second, then return to the starting position. For the second rep switch to a biceps curl, rotating your forearms outward as you bring the weights up so that your palms are facing your shoulders at the top of the movement, hold for a second, and return to the starting position. Continue alternating until you've completed at least 12 reps total.

Now on to triceps: Hold one dumbbell with both hands and position the weight behind your neck, with elbows pointing up. Extend both arms fully until the dumbbell is overhead, then return to the starting position and repeat.

In no time at all you'll be looking for excuses to go sleeveless!

Shake It Up: A Protein Powder Primer While the normal diet provides enough protein for most people, the more active among us -- especially those trying to build muscle -- require supplemental protein. Enter protein powders, an efficient way to jack up your protein intake. The problem is, there are so many products to choose from, you could end up with one that doesn't meet your needs. This is where those nutrition charts on the back of the container come in handy.

If you're trying to lose fat, look for a low-carb, low-calorie protein powder to maintain muscle mass while reducing fat storage. If you're trying to gain muscle, a high-protein, high-calorie powder with minimal sugar and fat is best. Most powders contain both whey and casein proteins. Because whey is quickly absorbed by the body, powders that contain a higher proportion of it are especially beneficial after a workout, when your muscles are starved for nutrition. Casein is absorbed slowly, providing sustained nutrition over a longer period, ideal for breakfast or just before bed to help you preserve muscle mass as you sleep.

To determine the true protein content of a powder, multiply the number of grams of protein per serving by 4 to find the total number of calories from protein. Then divide that number by the total number of calories per serving. If this number is around 0.8 (80%) or higher, you have a high-protein winner on your hands.

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Toby Massenburg