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        How to Measure Your Bra Size: A Step-By-Step Guide

        How to Measure Your Bra Size: A Step-By-Step Guide

        Surveys show that the majority of people wearing bras are wearing the wrong size. That’s probably because most of us were never taught how to measure bra size. If you were lucky, a parent took you to get fitted for your first bra. From then on, it’s mostly been guesswork.

        You know your size (roughly), you like the look and feel of a bra, and that’s enough to put it in your shopping basket. But this is not how it should be. Knowing your correct bra size is extremely important before you go bra shopping. 

        How do you measure your bra size correctly? Do you need a professional bra fitting? Or can you do it at home with a tape measure?

        The answer is you can absolutely do it at home. Indeed, the best gift you can give yourself today is to perform an accurate bust measurement and make sure your bra fits properly.

        Continue reading for a step-by-step guide on how to measure bra size. I’ll talk about the different bra styles like strapless bras and sports bras. And last but not least, I’ll tell you why bust measurements are so important. 

         

        Why Is A Well-Fitted Bra Important?

        Featured Product: KFT Goddess Bra in Brightest Red

        Slipping straps and gaping cups can be annoying, but aside from being uncomfortable, a poorly fitting bra is also a health hazard.

        Wearing the wrong bra size can cause or worsen neck, shoulder, and back pain. It can also cause issues like poor posture and breast sagging.

        This is because bras support the breasts. Without the proper support, the breasts can sway up to 4 cm even while you’re doing something as simple as walking (crazy, right?).

         

        How Do Experts Measure Bra Size?

        Many lingerie brands no longer use tape measures. Their experts can do it by eye. 

        Sounds impressive, right?

        In the store or online, expert fitters can look at you in your current bra (preferably one that you find particularly comfortable) and tell you, for example, to go down a cup for a better fit. 

        But while specialists are not picking up a tape measure anymore, if you are going to measure your bust at home, you will need one. 

         

        How To Measure Bra Size At Home With A Measuring Tape?

        Before you go shopping for a new bra, learn how to measure bra size. It’s a small investment of your time but it will help you find a bra that fits perfectly.

        Here’s a step-by-step guide to bust measurement at home.

        First things first -- make sure you’re wearing a comfortable, lightly lined or non-padded bra (full coverage bras are best), and keep a measuring tape handy. 

         

        How To Measure Bra Band Size

        1. Wrap the measuring tape around your torso, right below your bra band and directly under your bust.
        2. The tape should be snug, but not pulled so tight that it’s uncomfortable.
        3. Make sure the measuring tape is at the same level all around when you measure your band.
        4. Note down the inches. If it is an even number, this is your calculated band size. 
        5. If it is an odd number, round off to the nearest even number. This is your band size.

         

        How To Measure Bra Cup Size

        1. Place the measuring tape around the fullest part of your chest.
        2. The tape should sit flat and level. 
        3. Note down how many inches. This is your cup size.

         

        How To Calculate For Bra Cup Volume

        1. Subtract your band size from your cup size.
        2. Make a note of the difference in inches.
          1. 1 inch difference = A cup
          2. 2 inches difference = B cup
          3. 3 inches difference = C cup
          4. 4 inches difference = D cup, and so on.

        Example:

        If your band size is 35 inches and your cup size is 36 inches, the difference is 1 inch. This means you have an A cup bust. If your band size is 35 inches and your cup size is 38 inches, the difference is 3 inches and you have a C cup. 

         

        How To Determine Your Actual Bra Size

        Take your band size and your cup size and put them together to get your bra size for the right fit. 

        For instance, if your band size is 36 inches and your cup size is 38 inches, the difference is 2 inches. This means you have a B cup and your bra size is 36B.

        Now all you need to do is check the bra size chart on your favorite lingerie brand labels and pick up the right one for your bust size.

         

        How To Measure Bra Size For A Sports Bra?

        Experts in women’s health say that unsupported breasts can move up to 14 cm during vigorous exercise.

        Yes, that’s right... 14 cm!

        If you don’t wear a well-fitted sports bra you could suffer permanent damage to the Cooper’s ligaments that hold your boobs in place. So, finding the right size in sports bras is equally important. 

        Your sports bra size is practically similar to your regular bra size, however, you must consider your level of activity when picking a sports bra.

         Featured Products
        Top - KFT Freedom Bra in Inky Black
        Bottom - KFT Keep Moving Lined Shorts in Pineapple Party

        Generally speaking, low-impact sports bras support A to B cups, while fuller cups (C to D) might need more support from medium-impact sports bras. If you have bigger than D cups, you’ll need a high-impact bra to make sure you’re breasts are fully supported during your workout.

         

        Is Sports Bra Size The Same As Regular Bra Size?

        For the most part, yes!

        But it can be a little more complicated than just reaching for your regular bra size.

        Sports bras vary depending on the type of physical activity they are designed for, ranging from low impact to medium impact and high impact. They offer differing amounts of support, which means the size metrics can vary. 

        Some sports bra brands are sized according to cup and band size just like normal bras - this is usually true of high-impact sports bras.

        Other brands (usually those offering low to medium support) don’t have band and cup sizes. Rather the bra sizes range from XS to XL.

        Thankfully, most brands do the conversions for you and provide a bra size chart that corresponds to regular bras.

        For reference, here's the sizing guide for KFT's Freedom Bra.

        KFT bra sizing guide

         

        With my regular bras, I'm typically a 34B and I wear my Freedom Bra in size Medium. The KFT Freedom Bra is ideal for low to medium impact activities.

        More information on our sizing here.

         

        How To Check If I’m Wearing The Right Or Wrong Bra Size?

        Congratulations! You now know how to measure your bra size at home from the band and cup.

        But there’s one more thing left to do. You should check if your current bras are the right bra size.

         

        Check Band Fit

        The wrong band sizes can make even the best bras ineffective. 

        Featured Product: KFT Medusa Bra in Blue Jay

        To ensure comfortable support and a good band size, you should be able to slide one finger underneath the band with about 1 inch of give when you pull the bra away from your rib cage. This ensures the band provides support, not just the straps. 

        Also, the band should stay horizontal all the way around your torso. Keep in mind that with every wash, most bras get looser, so you might want to move from the loosest hook to the second (tighter) hook for a better fit, and then ultimately to the tightest hook.

         

        Check Cup Fit

        If your boobs are spilling out of the bra, your bra cups are too small.

        If, on the other hand, you notice your cups pucker or wrinkle or you have gaping cups, then your bra cups may be too big. 

         

        Check Bridge Fit

        The bridge or gore is the piece that connects the two cups. It should sit midway and be flush against your chest wall, not gaping or lifted off the chest.

        Also, the underwire should extend all the way to the side under the arm so it supports all of your breast tissue.

        The underwire should not be on your boob!

        Rather, it should scoop all your breast tissue in. This is especially important in strapless bras that don’t have the additional support from straps.

         

        Check Strap Fit

        Featured Product: KFT Medusa Bra in Black

        The last thing to check is your bra straps.

        Loose or slipping straps can mislead you into thinking your bra is too big. Tight straps can leave uncomfortable grooves on your shoulders or cause neck and shoulder pain. 

        Adjusting the straps can make a huge difference in bra fit. Your bra straps should be tight enough to prevent slipping straps but not so tight that they dig into your skin and feel uncomfortable.

         

        Bra Sister Sizes

        Another word of advice on this bra size calculator tutorial: It is worth noting that your bra size in one brand may be different from your bra size in another brand.

        Something called bra sister sizes can be useful. This means if your usual bra size is 34C but in a particular brand the band feels tight, you should go up a band size and down a cup size, i.e, try a 36B.

        On the other hand, if the band feels loose, try a sister size of 32D.


        FAQs


        How often should you measure bra size?

        Leading lingerie brands recommend getting measured for the right bra every 6-12 months. But there’s no single right answer to this question.

        I’d say whenever you go bra shopping, but that can vary widely from person to person.

        Or if you’ve recently had weight fluctuations or hormone fluctuations during a pregnancy, then your bust size has likely changed and it’s time to get measured for bra sizes. 

         

        How to ensure the perfect fit in a sports bra?

        The overall fit of a sports bra should be snug without any extra room for movement, but it should not be uncomfortably tight.

        A well-fitting sports bra does not dig into your skin, restrict breathing, or cut off circulation. When you’re trying on sports bras, it’s not a bad idea to jump around a bit to check the fit. The band should stay in place and you should have freedom of movement while feeling supported in your bust. 

         

        Final Thoughts

        Finding the perfect fitting bra can be quite a trial and error. It isn’t just about the complexity of measurement or sizing, but also because our bodies are constantly changing.

        But the good news is, once you’ve learned how to measure bra size and zeroed in on the right bra size, if you’re buying the same brand and your current bras are comfortable, you don’t need another fitting. 

        You just need to make sure they’re comfortable and supportive!

        Types of Leggings: A Comprehensive Guide

        Types of Leggings: A Comprehensive Guide

        Comfortable enough for daily wear, sleek enough to be fashion essentials, and versatile enough for office attire, casual events, and formal occasions - leggings are a must-have in your wardrobe. But not all leggings are made equal. They come in a variety of sizes, styles, fabrics, and lengths.

        So, what types of leggings should you buy? Nylon leggings or cotton ones, printed leggings or disco leggings, animal prints, or neutral tones? Knowing the different types of leggings that are available can help you decide.

        Since leggings have ruled the fashion world for years now, I think they are here to stay. I’ve written this ultimate guide on leggings based on legging length, legging style, and legging material.

        I’m also going to tell you how to choose leggings for a good fit. My goal is to help you wear leggings to make you feel comfortable and look stylish.

         

        Types of Leggings: What’s Available Out There?

        Based on length and cut

        Ankle length

        Ankle-length leggings are also called full-length leggings. They typically extend to the ankles or just above the ankles. This makes them ideal for the winter season.

        They’re pretty versatile, and you can wear them with heels, flats, boots, or sneakers. In particular, it’s easy to wear them with boots because they're skin stretched.

        You can pair ankle-length leggings with anything, including tanks, t-shirts, tunics, and sports bras. Wearing leggings that go to the ankles can give you a sleek look, just like skinny jeans.

        These types of leggings can create an illusion of long legs, making you look taller than you are. So, while they’re great for any body shape, they are a particularly great choice if you have short legs.

        Ankle leg leggings can be smart enough to replace formal pants, for instance, if you choose leather leggings or faux leather leggings and some nice accessories and a jacket or blazer.

        But that’s not all - ankle-length leggings in fabrics like cotton are extremely comfortable and suitable for everyday use. You can also find some pretty unusual ones, such as flared leggings or ripped leggings, if you want to create an eye-catching, stylish look.

        Check out the KFT High-Ly Recommended Leggings for a great selection of ankle-length leggings.

         

        Knee-length

        Knee-length leggings hit the knees or end just below the knees. They are also called short leggings and are available in a range of fabrics such as cotton, nylon, and Spandex.

        These types of leggings are a popular choice as athletic leggings. They are a comfortable fit for yoga, pilates, gym, dancing, and Zumba.

        Knee-length leggings are also great for outdoor activities like hiking in warm weather. However, they may not be suitable for cooler weather because of the incomplete leg coverage.

        In terms of styling, it can look odd if you wear heels with knee-length leggings. They go best with t-shirts and running shoes for a casual look.

         

        Mid-calf

        Mid-calf length leggings end somewhere between the knees and the ankles. They are also called three-fourth length, capri leggings, or cropped leggings.

        Mid-calf leggings are very versatile. They look great with heels, flats, and sneakers, and they pair well with both short tops and long shirts. However, because these types of leggings don’t cover the whole legs, they are not suitable for use in cold weather.

        Some people wear them like underwear for an extra layer under regular pants.

         

        Footed leggings

        Footed leggings end in socks. You can think of them as leggings and socks combined. They cover the entire legs and feet. These leggings are generally worn with ballerina flats, but they can also be worn with boots and high heels.

         

        Stirrup leggings

        Stirrup leggings extend to the ankles and have a loop that goes below the heel of the foot. They are great for dancing and ballet.

        If you want a pair of leggings that do not ride up during movements and looks graceful, stirrup types are definitely worth a look. 

         

        Based on fabric

        Natural

         

        1. Cotton

        The best thing about cotton leggings is that they are very soft and super comfortable. This is a lightweight fabric that’s great for warm or humid weather.

        However, there are some downsides to cotton leggings:

        Cotton can stretch over time and lose its shape, giving a dimpling effect. That’s why many cotton leggings combine fibers like Spandex so that they hold their shape during gym work and are comfortable for daily wear.

        The other problem with cotton leggings is that if you sweat a lot, the leggings can hold water and stay damp.

        My advice: buy cotton leggings in blended fabrics.

        Also, when you choose colored leggings in cotton, go for darker colors so that sweat doesn’t show as much.

         

        2. Wool leggings

        If you live in a place with cold weather, wool leggings are ideal.

        This is a good fabric because it traps air and creates a layer of insulation to hold in warmth, just like fleece.

        The main disadvantage of wool leggings is they can be pretty pricey.

         

        Synthetic

         

        1. Polyester

        Polyester is water-resistant and wicks sweat, so these types of leggings are a great choice for workouts.


        The downside is that polyester leggings can get smelly pretty quickly. You can overcome this problem by picking a pair of leggings in a polyester blend. Also, be sure to wash them out after every use. 

         

        2. Spandex

        Almost every pair of leggings designed to be worn during an exercise regime has at least some percentage of Spandex in it (this material is also called elastane or Lycra). 


        The main reason is that Spandex is stretchy and body-fitting, which makes it ideal for working out. But while it is commonly added to many different fabrics, Spandex is not so great on its own - it can get sticky and un-breathable. 

         

        3. Nylon

        One of the most popular legging fabrics, nylon is both lightweight and durable. It is easy-care and does not wrinkle easily. But despite its many benefits, it can shrink.

        Also, some ladies feel it is not classy enough to wear on a special occasion.

         

        4. Combination

        A blend of 80% nylon and 20% Spandex is an awesome combo of performance and style that gives you the best of both worlds.

        This lightweight, stretchy, durable fabric is great for casual wear and athletic wear - a must-have in your closet.

        The nylon-Spandex blend fabric is commonly used in compression leggings. These are a type of athletic wear that increase blood flow during exercise. Research has shown that compression leggings improve endurance, enhance performance, and speed up recovery from muscle soreness after exercise.

         

        How To Choose Leggings 

        Functionality

        Before you go on a shopping spree, stop for a minute and consider some important factors. The first thing you should consider when choosing between different leggings is what you’ll be using the leggings for, i.e., their function. 

        • Casual wear

        You have a huge choice of versatile pieces in casual wear leggings, and pretty much anything goes. However, you should buy leggings based on the weather where you live. You don’t want to freeze when you’re out running errands.

        Also, if you’re going to wear leggings with short tops or tank tops, a high waistband works well. If your leggings will replace your trousers, choose thicker fabrics that are not see-through. However, if you’re going to wear tights or leggings with dresses or longer tops, sheer materials can work. 

        For everyday wear, look for jeggings - they are a cross between jeans and leggings. Jeggings are comfortable and can take more wear and tear than leggings. They also have added posterior support, and you can get them in fabrics like denim.

        • High impact workouts

        You need durable leggings in a sweat-wicking material. Look out for leggings that have a small pocket for your keys or phone and reflective strips if you’re going to use them for running or cycling outdoors. 

        • Stretching

        If you’re going to wear your leggings to a yoga class where you’ll be stretching and bending, choose natural fabrics like cotton with a stretchy Spandex blend (that’s what most yoga pants are made from).

        Don’t buy leggings that are too tight as they can cut into your skin when you bend and stretch. 

        • Weightlifting

        When you’re doing deadlifts, squats, and lunges in the gym, comfort is key. Choose sporty leggings in an opaque material that are both flattering and fashionable (you’ll be spending a great deal of time in front of mirrors).

        Nylon and Lycra blends are a popular choice. Leggings with a drawstring waist are great if you do both cardio and weightlifting. 

         

        Fit

        The ideal leggings feel like a second skin on your body. They fit snug across the waist, hips, thighs, and calves. The waistband is not so tight that it creates a “muffin top” on your belly.

        On the other hand, it is not so loose that you have to keep pulling up the leggings. 

        While you can choose a loose or snug fit in most other types of leggings, when it comes to workout leggings, always choose a snug fit. You don’t want any extra fabric floating around and getting caught in something at the gym.

        A high waist is also advisable, so you don’t have to worry about flashing your assets when you bend over.

        Avoid calf-length leggings because they can bunch up around the knees, especially after continued use. Most gym-goers prefer solid black ankle-length leggings and pairing them with a nice t-shirt

        The best way to test the fit of different types of leggings is to try them on. Do a few stretches and bends in the trial room and check out what happens.

        Does the waistband creep down over your hips when you move? You might need a smaller size.

        Are the leggings too tight at the thighs? They may be too small. 

         

        Add-ons

        If you’re going to wear leggings for athletic activities, you want thoughtful add-ons that make your life easier.

        For instance, concealed pockets for your gym membership card or keys, a high waist that provides coverage and does not ride down, machine washable and fast-drying materials, and a figure-sculpting fit that flatters all body shapes.

         

        Material

        If you are looking for leggings that will compliment your long tops and make a great outfit, the biggest thing to watch out for is good quality material.

        And if you are looking for clothing to wear to the gym, then Elastane (Spandex or Lycra) is your stretchy and durable friend.

        People who want to avoid synthetic materials in favor of natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and bamboo should keep in mind that while they are super comfortable, the sweat-wicking capacity of these fabrics is limited. 

         

        Style

        Whatever style of leggings you choose, remember that too-loose leggings can look sloppy. If you want something loose, choose a pair of slacks or wear skirts or capris.

        If you’re going for leggings, a snug fit looks smooth and chic. 

         

        FAQ

        How can you tell good quality leggings?

        The fabric of the leggings is the most important thing to check in terms of quality. Look for stretch, compression, breathability, and shape retention. Also, check care instructions. 

         

        Do leggings stretch out over time?

        Yes, leggings can become stretched after multiple washes. They can also shrink. How well your leggings will retain their shape depends on what they’re made of and how you care for them.

        To prevent leggings from stretching out, wash them in warm or hot water. Hot water has a shrinking effect and can counteract any stretching that occurs with repeated use.

        Should I go by hip or waist measurement for leggings?

        I would say waist. If you buy a size too big that is loose on the waist, the leggings are going to be pretty much useless for you.

        As long as the fit is snug and comfortable on the waist, a little extra compression or looseness in the thigh and hip area can usually work out okay. 


        What’s Your Favorite Pair of Leggings?

        The types of leggings that we’ve covered in this guide can be a great addition to your wardrobe.

        Whether you need them for fitness, hiking, or just because they look so darn good on Instagram, there is something here for everyone!

        We hope you found the information helpful and will use it as a starting point when deciding what type of leggings best suit your needs. 

        We highly recommend checking out our KFT High-ly Recommended Leggings available in 4 solid, vibrant colors. They’re sure to keep you looking and feeling great all day long, especially during your most intense gym days.

        How Do Deadlifts Change Your Body? Benefits and How-To Guide

        How Do Deadlifts Change Your Body? Benefits and How-To Guide

        The deadlift is one of the most popular exercises among people who are serious about strength training. But, like with other exercises, a proper deadlift technique is important to get the most out of your workout routine and avoid injuries. 

        You might be wondering how deadlifts change your body. The short answer is deadlift training can be transformational– whether you do a sumo deadlift, a Romanian deadlift, a single leg deadlift, or any other deadlift variations.

        In this article, I will outline the key benefits of the deadlift exercise. I’ll also talk about which parts of the body this exercise will help you build muscle. Last but not least, I’ll describe the correct deadlift form so that you don’t injure yourself while performing deadlifts.

         

        What Is A Deadlift?

        A deadlift is one of the most popular compound exercises because it works several different muscle groups and shows results.

        To perform a deadlift:

        1. You take a barbell.
        2. Add as much weight as you wish.
        3. Then lift the barbell from the ground to hip level.

        The correct deadlift starting position is to lean forward at the hips, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, and bring your torso parallel to the floor. 

        When you lift, your torso comes back in line with your body. More on the ideal deadlift technique below.

        You can perform a deadlift using dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, or a trap bar.

        The two most common deadlift variations are conventional deadlifts and sumo deadlifts. These are done using a barbell, and they recruit the maximum number of muscles.

        But whatever style you choose, a deadlift will have a positive effect on your strength training.

        Pick any deadlift variation but make sure you lift heavy enough to make the effort meaningful.

         

        What Muscles Does Deadlift Work?

        As mentioned above, the deadlift is a compound functional exercise. It works on several upper body and lower body muscles, including the following:

        • Calves
        • Quads
        • Hamstrings
        • Inner thigh muscles (adductor magnus)
        • Gluteus maximus
        • Rectus abdominis (abs)
        • Lower back, mid back, and upper back
        • Spinal erectors
        • Latissimus dorsi (lats)
        • Trapezius (traps), and
        • Levator scapulae (shoulders) 

         As you can see, this great exercise recruits all the major muscle groups in the body. It is a full-body exercise and should be a critical component of your strength training to develop strong core muscles, build muscular strength, and promote weight loss.

         

        How Deadlifts Change Your Body

        1. Deadlifts Increase Muscle Mass

        Deadlifts promote muscle growth because they involve heavyweights and a compound movement that engages many muscle groups.

        If you include deadlifts in your fitness program and do them correctly, you’ll gain more lean muscle mass in your legs, back, arms, and shoulders. You will also develop better core strength.

        Bigger muscles and core stability will translate into more power and endurance and better sports performance. 

         

        2. Deadlifts Improve Muscular Strength

        One of the key benefits of deadlifts is that they increase overall strength in the whole body.

        Deadlifts are a compound movement, and they use multiple muscle groups. You get more results for your efforts during strength training if you do deadlifts. 

        The effects of deadlifts are evidence-based, with several case studies supporting its benefits on strength training.

        They help you build more strength in key muscles like the quads, glutes, and abs, develop core strength, improve hip stability and mobility, enhance grip strength, and give your body more definition. 

         

        3. Deadlifts Correct Muscle Imbalances

        Most of us have muscle imbalances, and consequently, poor posture. For instance, in many people, the quads are the dominant muscles in the legs, and the hamstrings are weak.

        This can negatively affect the entire body, including a weak core, underdeveloped glutes, hunched shoulders, and lower back pain.

        Deadlifts can correct these muscle imbalances and give you a better posture.

        This compound exercise also has a low back pain benefit. It strengthens the muscles involved in spinal support (erector spinae), thus giving you stronger muscles around the lumbar spine and making you less prone to back pain and other back issues. 

         

        4. Deadlifts Help You Burn More Calories

        Deadlifts engage many large muscle groups in a single compound movement. This means the body has to work harder to perform the movement, causing you to burn more calories and body fat.

        The body burns fat during training, but the benefits of deadlifts extend beyond your resistance training session.

        Lifting weights and incorporating deadlifts into your training plan speeds up your basal metabolic rate (BMR) - this is the amount of energy you spend at rest. Meaning, you continue burning calories long after your deadlifts work is done. 

         

        5. Deadlifts Activate Your Hip Extensors

        A deadlift, when done with the proper technique, can train your hip extensors with a single exercise.

        The hip extensors include your hamstrings and gluteus maximus. These muscles not only have a functional but also an aesthetic appeal. 

        Squats and split squats are the most commonly performed exercises to train these muscles. However, research suggests that deadlifts may actually be superior compared to squats. Check this source for more information.

        If you want to build an enviable physique, it’s a good idea to include both squats and deadlifts as part of a well-rounded fitness program.

         

        6. Deadlifts Improve Athletic Performance 

        One of the benefits of deadlifts is that they help you develop lower body power. This exercise works on the same muscles you use for sporting movements like jumping and sprinting.

        By doing traditional deadlifts or variations like a trap bar deadlift, stiff-legged deadlift, or posture deadlifts, you can generate muscle forces that will take your athletic performance to another level. 

         

        7. Deadlifts Release Anabolic Hormones

        Since deadlifts work on multiple muscle groups, they lead to the release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.

        This can have benefits such as increased strength, power, energy, and libido.

         

        8. Deadlifts Build Endurance

        If you increase your rep max (number of repetitions) and reduce the rest periods between reps while doing a standard deadlift, you can build cardiovascular endurance. 

        This may not be possible with the heaviest weight you can lift (and you shouldn’t try it because you’ll risk muscle damage), but you can do it with lighter weights without risking back injury.

         

        9. Deadlifts Improve Grip Strength

        A deadlift works to help you build a stronger grip because you’re lifting weights during the movement. This carries over into many other exercises that you do during your workouts.

        Indeed, the strength of your grip is an indication of your overall health status. It is even used as a marker to identify older adults who are at risk of health issues. 

         

        10. Deadlifts Allow You To Lift Heavier Weights Without Risking Injury 

        Heavy deadlifts carry a lower risk of injury than other exercises like a leg press. 

        This is because this compound exercise does not involve raising the weight overhead. It means that in the event of a failed repetition, you can safely drop a heavier weight without risking injury.

        This is in contrast to exercises like a bench press, where you cannot risk going too heavy because a failed rep could crush you.

        Therefore, when done correctly, deadlifts can aid muscle growth by allowing you to add heavier weights to your training safely.

        There are many benefits of deadlifts, including improving bone mineral density and reducing your risk of fractures. Yet more benefits include the fact that you only need basic gym equipment (a barbell and some plates) to perform this extremely beneficial compound movement.

         

        How To Deadlift Properly?

        Whether you’re a newbie wanting to build more muscle mass and starting with lighter weights, or you’re a seasoned powerlifter who does heavy deadlifts, you should learn to do it with the proper form. 

        A traditional deadlift is dead simple if only you know how.

        The problem is that many people who are new to lifting don’t know the correct posture for this exercise. And many weightlifting experts have developed the wrong form early on and stayed with it. 

        Not to worry. I’ve got you covered. Here’s a step-by-step guide to performing deadlifts with great form.

        There are three main steps to a deadlift:

        1. The setup
        2. The pull, and
        3. The lockout 

         

        Deadlift Setup

        1. Start in the standing position in front of a barbell with your feet kept hip or shoulder-width apart. Your shins should rest against the bar with a slight bend at the knees.
        2. Push your glutes back and hinge forward from your hips, making sure your spine is extended.
        3. Grip the bar with an overhand grip. This is an alternate grip in which one hand is palm up and the other palm down. This mixed grip is safer as it prevents the bar from rolling away. 
        4. Sink back into your hips and prepare to pull your back down, engaging your lats. This is necessary for stabilizing muscles in the low back. 

         

        Deadlift Pull

        1. Plant your feet firmly into the ground, straighten your legs, and bring your chest up as you lift the weight. 
        2. When standing up, pull your knees back and push your hips forward. 

         

        Deadlift Lockout

        1. Keep your spine straight, and your shoulders pulled back. Pause momentarily at the top of the movement before lowering the weight.
        2. Use your legs to counteract the pull of gravity and slowly push your hips back, ensuring that your spine and chest are lifted. 
        3. Drop the weight, reset your hips, and repeat. 

        Here's me deadlifting a 195-lb barbell, featuring the Lacey Cut top in Cardinal.

         

        Transform Your Body With Deadlifts

        Deadlifts are often called the most efficient compound exercises for good reasons. 

        Making deadlifts a part of your routine can enhance the efficiency of your workouts and transform your body. Deadlifts can help take major muscle groups in your body to the next level.

        You can use deadlifting to fine-tune your body composition with fat loss and achieve the physique of your dreams.

        10 Accessory Exercises to Maximize Your Workouts

        10 Accessory Exercises to Maximize Your Workouts

        Over the years, I realize that the best strength training programs are a combination of main lifts and accessory exercises.

        But what are the best accessory exercises that can maximize your workout? Certified personal trainers swear by a few accessory movements which, if performed correctly, can help you build a powerful and impressive physique.

        If you want to get the most bang for your buck out of your strength training program, keep reading. I’m going to describe 10 accessory exercises that will help you achieve your training goal, whether it is to run faster, prepare for football season, lift heavier, correct muscle imbalances, or become the best powerlifter in your gym.

        Here’s my in-depth guide on accessory exercises.


        What Are Accessory Exercises?

        As the name suggests, accessory exercises are “accessories” or complementary to your main lifts. They complete your strength training and help you gain muscle mass in the same muscles that are worked by the primary exercises.

        Doing the movement patterns of these accessory exercises along with your main lifts will help you gain strength, shed fat, build muscle, improve range of motion, and gain core stability, shoulder stability, and hip mobility. 

        Main lifts, also known as core lifts, big lifts, or primary exercises, are compound movements.

        They help you in building muscle and gaining strength.

        Examples of main lifts include:

        • Squats
        • Deadlifts
        • Bench presses
        • Overhead presses

        Here’s the thing... Most people who are training to be powerlifters focus on 3 main lifts in the weight room — the squat, the deadlift, and the bench press.

        There is no doubt that these compound movements are the primary focus for lifters.

        But to do only these main lifts is not the right approach. To overcome your weak points and improve upon your strengths in primary exercises like deadlifts, you also need to do a range of accessory exercises or secondary movements.

        This gives you a more rounded workout and helps you add weight to your main lifts.  

        To make true progress in your strength training program, you need to train the same muscle groups that are used in these primary exercises with accessory exercises.


        Why Do You Need Accessory Exercises?

        Accessory exercises are beneficial for several reasons.

        Firstly, they bridge any gaps in muscle development left by a primary exercise. 

        Secondly, they add variety to your workouts, thereby strengthening any weak links. 

        Thirdly, they strengthen accessory muscles, thereby preventing injuries.

        Fourthly, accessory exercises increase training volume and enhance your overall performance.

        Here’s a scenario to demonstrate all these benefits.

        For instance, let’s say you are doing squats as your main big exercise for the lower body. Now, while squats have many benefits, they are limited in that they work the quads more than the hamstrings.

        So, if you do only squats to train your legs, you can end up with muscle imbalances (stronger quads with weaker hamstrings).

        Over time, this can undermine your lockout strength and overall performance in the gym.

        If you include an accessory exercise like Russian kettlebell swings in your workout, however, you can increase hamstring strength and muscle mass. Therefore, Russian kettlebell swing is considered an effective accessory exercise to squats.


        Best Accessory Exercises

        1. Pull-Ups

        How-To:

        1. Grip an overhead bar.
        2. Lift your body until your chin is above the bar. 

        Muscles Trained: The main muscle groups worked by pull-ups are:

        • Latissimus dorsi (the large upper back muscle)
        • Trapezius
        • Infraspinatus
        • thoracic spine muscles

        This accessory exercise also strengthens the arm and shoulder muscles and improves grip strength.

        How It Helps: Pull-ups are essential to increase the power of your bench presses. This is because pull-ups strengthen back muscles and back muscles help you control the weight when you’re lowering the barbell during wide or close grip bench presses.

        2. Side Lunges

        How-To:

        1. Take a big step to the side.
        2. Turn the leading foot so that it is at a 90-degree angle to your standing foot.
        3. Twist around so that your chest is facing sideways from the original position.
        4. You then lower your body until the knee of your leading leg is bent at about 90 degrees, making sure to keep the trailing leg straight at all times. 

        Muscles Trained: Side lunges work your:

        • Quads
        • Hamstrings
        • Inner thigh muscles
        • Glutes

        How It Helps: Just like hip thrusts, side lunges or lateral lunges help you achieve hip stability and improve leg strength. This is helpful in exercises like leg presses and squats.

        3. Reverse Lunges

        How-To:

        1. Step back with one leg.
        2. Bend the back leg so that the back knee is nearly touching the ground and the front knee and thigh are parallel to the ground.

        This exercise works on the leg that is planted in front. 

        Muscles Trained: Reverse lunges work you:

        • Quads
        • Hamstrings
        • Glutes
        • Calves 

        How It Helps: Reverse lunges help you develop core stability and strengthen the legs without putting too much stress on the joints. This is useful when you do primary exercises like squats and deadlifts. 

        4. Stability Ball Hamstring Curls

        How-To:

        1. Lay down on the floor with your feet on a stability ball and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
        2. You then lift up your hips off the floor and extend your legs out in front of you
        3. Curl your legs back in, pulling your heels towards your buttocks and moving the ball nearer to your body until the soles of your feet are touching the ball. Make sure your hips stay up throughout the entire movement and you squeeze your abs.
        4. You finish the exercise by extending your knees and lowering your hips. 

        Muscles Trained: Stability ball hamstring curls primarily target the hamstrings, but to a lesser extent also work on the glutes, abs, and lower back muscles.

        How It Helps: If you have weak hamstrings, this is one of the accessory exercises that you must add to your workout. It can enhance your squat performance by strengthening the weakest link in your body. 

        5. Dead Bugs

        How-To:

        1. Lie face up on an exercise mat with your arms raised above your torso and your legs in the air with your knees bent at an angle of 90 degrees.
        2. You then slowly lower the opposite arm and leg towards the floor in a controlled manner. 
        3. After you return to the starting position, you repeat the movement with the opposite arm and leg. 

        Muscles Trained: Dead bugs target the:

        1. Deeper core muscles
        2. Abs
        3. Spinal muscles
        4. Pelvic floor muscles

        How It Helps: By strengthening and stabilizing your core, dead bugs help to improve posture, balance, coordination, and range of motion, which will be beneficial in every main lift you do during strength training.

        6. Bent Over Rows

        How-To:

        1. Lift the bar from the rack.
        2. While keeping your back straight, bend forward at the hips with a slight bend at the knees.
        3. You then lower the bar towards the floor until your elbows are straight, keeping your back flat as you pull the bar towards your torso.
        4. To finish the exercise, you lower the bar slowly to the starting position and repeat.

        Start with less weight and build up as you get stronger.

        Muscles Trained: The main muscle groups worked by bent over rows are the back muscles, including:

        1. Lats
        2. Traps
        3. Rhomboids

        How It Helps: Bent over rows train many different muscles and improve strength in the upper and lower back, hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders, all of which can be sticking points in the big lifts.

        These accessory exercises help to improve your performance during upper body primary exercises like bench presses.

        7. Kettlebell Swings

        How-To:

        1. Pick up a kettlebell and move it like a pendulum between the knees, raising the bell to eye level or overhead.

        This exercise can be done with either one hand or both hands. 

        Muscles Trained: This exercise targets the:

        1. Pecs
        2. Shoulders
        3. Abs
        4. Glutes
        5. Hamstrings
        6. Quadriceps

        It can also benefit your grip strength (you can use the kettlebell to do farmer’s walks as well for this purpose).

        lady doing bilateral kettlebell swings

        How It Helps: Kettlebell swings provide a full-body workout that benefits many muscle groups. These accessory exercises are helpful in most of the big lifts, such as a bench press, split squat, and deadlift with heavy weights.

        8. Dips

        How-To:

        1. Sit on the edge of a chair or weight bench.
        2. You grip the bench next to your hips with your fingers pointing towards your feet.
        3. With your legs extended, feet hip-width apart, and heels touching the ground, you slowly lift your body and slide forward so that your buttocks clear the edge of the bench.
        4. Then, you lower yourself until your elbows are bent at an angle of 45-90 degrees.
        5. To finish the exercise, you push yourself back up until your arms are straight.

        Muscles Trained: This accessory exercise trains the triceps and strengthens the arm and shoulder muscles including the deltoids in the arm, the pecs in the chest, and the rhomboids in the upper back.

        How It Helps: Dips can help you lift heavier weights during a bench press and improve athletic performance in sports.

        9. Cable Lifts and Chops

        How-To:

        There are many different ways to perform cable chop and lift accessory exercises.

        A cable machine is the best piece of equipment with which to perform chop and lift accessory exercises. This equipment allows you to pull up a cable from a low pulley or pull down a cable from a high pulley.

        You do not need heavier weights for this exercise because it involves many muscles. The diagonal movement patterns of the upper body are done in the half kneeling or tall kneeling postures.

        Muscles Trained: The chop and lift moves recruit the muscle groups of the core as well as the lower and upper back. 

        How It Helps: Cable lifts and chops can help you develop power, build strength, improve stamina, improve stability, correct muscle imbalances, and at the same time strengthen the core and lower back.

        Most lifters find these movements help to improve maximum weight during a deadlift. 

        They help you add more weight to upper body primary exercises like the bench press, shoulder press, board presses, and row variations.

        10. Glute Bridges

        How-To:

        1. Lie facing up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
        2. You then slowly lift your hips off the floor until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line.
        3. You squeeze your glutes and draw in your abs to avoid overextending the back.

        Muscles Trained: The main muscle worked by glute bridges is the gluteus maximus, the biggest muscle in your butt.

        How It Helps: Glute bridges help to tone your glutes and build strength in these muscles, which is beneficial during lower body primary exercises like squats and split squats.


        The Takeaway

        Only a small handful of people who are into powerlifting understand the immense importance of accessory exercises.

        By including them in your own workouts, you can overcome any weakness you might have, build on your strong points, reach your fitness goals faster, and elevate your training program to a new level.

        Doing accessory exercises will also help you avoid injuries while lifting by strengthening all the different muscle groups involved in your big lifts.

        Plus, performing accessory exercises adds fun and variety to your workouts. Ultimately, accessory exercises will go a long way in making you the bodybuilder and athlete you aspire to become.

        Why You’re Not Gaining Muscle: 10 Possible Reasons

        Why You’re Not Gaining Muscle: 10 Possible Reasons

        Are you working out, eating right, and still wondering - why am I not gaining muscle?

        Here’s the thing. You could do weight training until a point of exhaustion and follow a diet plan religiously, but unless you do it right and make some changes to your overall lifestyle, you won’t gain muscle mass. 


        So, what do you have to do for lean muscle growth? Gaining muscle mass can be tricky, but it is possible. If your goal is muscle building and getting rid of excess fat, you’ll have to fine-tune your diet and learn exactly what type of workouts to do.


        Continue reading to find out the many reasons you’re not gaining lean muscle mass and what you can do about them.


        I’ll share some tips and tricks to build muscle mass that are simple and easy to incorporate into your daily workout routine and nutrition plan. 


        1. You’re training inconsistently.

         

        Consistency is key if you want to accomplish your workout goals, whether it is building more muscle or something else.

         

        Muscle growth is a slow and steady process - it doesn’t happen overnight. When you exercise inconsistently, your body has a harder time adapting. It is more challenging to form good habits. 

         

        Consistent training, on the other hand, helps you increase your stamina. You start exercising with greater efficiency and can achieve the muscle gain that has been eluding you. 

         

        The best way to go about it is to set a realistic goal. Planning to hit the gym six days a week may be a tall order. Instead, aim for something like exercising 3-4 days a week and building up from there.

         

        As you see results in skeletal muscle tissue growth, you’ll become motivated to be consistent.

         

        2. You’re not lifting heavy enough.

         

        You probably know that lifting weights is the best way to gain muscle. But did you know that you need muscle hypertrophy for building muscle?

         

        In other words, you need muscle tissue growth at a cellular level.

         

        The easiest way to accomplish this is by lifting heavy weights with fewer reps because muscle hypertrophy occurs when the skeletal muscle tissue enlarges through resistance training. 


        If you find you can easily do 12-15 reps with lighter weights, it’s time to move on to a heavier weight.


        Experts recommend doing pyramid training when you lift weights. A pyramid workout means you start weightlifting with a weight you can easily lift for 8 reps, then move on to heavier weights that you cannot lift for more than 6 reps, 4 reps, and so on.


        Bottom line is, if you can’t do more than 4 reps, it’s too much weight. If you can easily do more than 10 reps, you should add more weight.


        3. You’re not allowing enough recovery between sets.

         

        To build muscle, you need to perform multiple sets of resistance training. However, you also need to sit it out for a while and avoid overtraining. This gives time to the muscle fibers to recover.

         

        Muscles recover pretty quickly, getting back up to 85% of maximum capacity in under 20 seconds. 

         

        For efficient muscle building and an enviable physique, it’s a good idea to allow at least 2-3 minutes between sets. 

         

        4. You’re doing too much cardio.

         

        If you are eating too little, adding cardio to your workout regimen will mean you are expending more than your calorie intake. This will make gaining muscle mass near impossible.

         

        Of course, doing the right type of cardio is essential to build muscle mass and lose body fat, but your priority needs to be resistance training

         

        Feel free to add in a cardio session once in a while, but don’t do it at the expense of recovery for whatever muscle group you’ve worked on.

         

        5. You’re training wrong.

         

        Whether you’re working with a personal trainer or going solo, if you are not able to gain muscle, here are some things that could negatively impact your workout.

         

        One, you could be lifting heavy and doing too few reps in the gym.

         

        Second, there may be a big gap between your workout days.

         

        Third, you might not be consuming enough calories.

         

         

        Before you move on to lifting heavier weights, make sure you are doing between 3 and 12 reps. Here’s why.


        Less than 3 reps will help you gain strength and power but not build muscles. More than 12 reps will increase endurance but limit the growth of muscles.


        Ideally, you should aim for around 6 reps during your workouts.


        Also, ensure that there are no more than 3 rest days between training. You should be working out 2-4 days per week. If you are not consistent in this, muscle building will occur at a much slower rate.


        Lastly, make sure you are eating enough. Err on the side of a small surplus in calories rather than a deficit.


        6. You’re not eating enough protein.

         

        To stimulate the growth of muscles, you need an adequate amount of protein. Proteins contain amino acids that are the building blocks of muscle cells. Yet, most people don’t eat the amount of protein they need to stay healthy, let alone build muscle.

         

        Indeed, protein is one of the most deficient macronutrients in diets across the world. People think they consume enough protein but they’re wrong. 

         

        The recommendations for protein intake are 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight for overall health maintenance. However, in athletes and in people who want to build muscle, the body needs 1.3 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

         

        You should eat enough and include a variety of proteins into your post-workout nutrition, such as:

         

        • Eggs
        • Greek yogurt
        • Lean meats
        • Chia and flax seeds
        • Whey protein isolate

         

        In general, natural food sources and animal proteins tend to be better choices than supplements like casein protein.

         

        7. You’re not eating enough carbohydrates.

         

         

        This might sound counterintuitive because fitness experts routinely advise people to cut carbs from their diet. In fact, it’s a sticking point with many fitness gurus. So you might be under the impression that eating healthy means cutting carbohydrates because they prevent you from gaining muscle.

         

        However, the truth is that high-intensity weightlifting requires energy, and carbs are the body’s fuel. A low carbohydrate diet can lead to low glycogen levels and impact your athletic performance. 

         

        In order to gain muscle and keep energy levels up, make sure you eat enough carbs. They are crucial to gain strength and repair and build muscle cells. You can work with a registered dietitian if you find you’re not making progress. They will help you find the right amount of carbs to consume on a daily basis.

         

         

        8. You’re not drinking enough water.

         

        When you don’t drink enough water and stay well hydrated, you starve your muscles of a critical nutrient.

         

        Water plays a key role in the transport of nutrients that form protein and glycogen for muscle growth. It is also needed by nerves which control muscles.

         

        Staying well hydrated should be your first priority when fine-tuning your health.

         

        How much water should you drink to gain muscle? A good guideline is 50 mL or 1.7 fl. oz. per kilogram of body weight consumed throughout the day. Or aim for 16 cups or a gallon of water. 

         

        Pro tip: A gallon might seem a lot, but if you drink 2 cups with each meal and snack, it should be doable. And try to get your water intake done earlier in the day, so you’re not waking up during the night to pee.

         

        Also, keep in mind that alcohol is dehydrating. It also suppresses the central nervous system and immune system. Studies have shown that when you drink alcohol, it interferes with protein synthesis pathways as well. This is all bad news if your goal is muscle building.

         

        Skip the drinking sesh with friends and opt for something healthier. If you do have a few drinks, be sure to pay attention to your nutrition to make up for the damage.

         

        9. You’re not getting enough sleep.

         

        A healthy diet, focusing on one muscle group at a time, and high intensity training are all very well, but if you’re not getting enough shut-eye, you’re going to have trouble increasing muscle size.

         

        Getting adequate rest is a critical component of healthy functioning!

         

        Sleep is the time when your muscles recover and repair themselves. The levels of human growth hormone are highest when you’re sleeping. Stress hormones are known to break down muscle, and a high stress hormone level (cortisol) is directly linked to lack of sleep.

         

        When you are sleep deprived in the long run, it is at the expense of your recovery. This is why it can be impossible to gain muscle if you’re not getting enough rest. 

         

        Focus on not only the amount of sleep but also quality sleep.

         

        Pro tip: Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Stick to a fixed time for going to bed and getting up. If natural methods don’t work, consider taking a supplement like melatonin. 

         

        10. You’re gobbling down your food.

         

        It may sound silly, but when you eat too fast, you prevent yourself from building lean muscle. 

         

        Here’s what happens: When you eat super fast, your body doesn’t get enough time to process hunger cues. As a result, you don’t realize you’re overeating and end up with a calorie surplus. 

         

        You probably know that how many calories you eat plays a critical role in muscle building. While enough calories are necessary to build muscles, more calories can be detrimental.

         

        TL;DR -- don’t eat to the point of gastrointestinal distress.

         

        Slow down, switch off the TV, stop looking at your phone, and truly savor your food. Chances are you will eat less crap and feel fuller sooner.

         

        The Takeaway


        Dedication and more frequent trips to the gym are not the only things that will help you with lean muscle growth. You need to pay attention to the full range of nutrition and exercise to increase muscle mass and make gains effectively.


        Now that you know the common reasons for not building muscle mass, you can fine-tune your workout, diet, and lifestyle to get the results you want.