We Love Fitness

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  • Dexter Jackson Plans to Compete in the 2020 Olympia
    Dexter Jackson - Open Bodybuilding - 2018 Olympia
    Chris Nicoll

    Dexter Jackson is already a veritable bodybuilding legend, having won 29 IFBB Pro League shows over the course of his career. Those wins include five Arnold Classics and, most notably, the 2008 Olympia. But the 49-year-old athlete isn't done just yet. In fact, "The Blade" just casually announced that he has every intention of competing in the 2020 Olympia. 

    Alongside a photo of himself ahead of his impressive fourth-place finish at the 2019 Olympia, Jackson made it clear that he'll do whatever it takes to bring a better physique to the stage next year.

    "I damn near killed myself this year. Lol! I will be better next year or I’ll die trying. So if y’all see or hear that the blade passed.. you’ll know why," he joked in the Instagram post.

    View this post on Instagram

    #mvm #motivationmonday I’m so motivated to beat this physique from this past Olympia. My lifetime goal has always been to be better than my previous competition. I worked my ass off this year to achieve this physique... so I can only imagine the hard work I gotta put in next year to be better. I’ll be the big 5O next week so my age ain’t helping. 😳 I damn near killed myself this year. Lol! I will be better next year or I’ll die trying. So if y’all see or hear that the blade passed.. you’ll know why. 😂😂😂 All you guys out there think back or pull out a photo of yourself when you looked your best and make it a goal to be better than that and don’t let nothing stop you from achieving that goal!! Ima be better next year.. are you?? 😉 #dex #dexter #dexterjackson #dexterjacksonclassic #dexterjacksonproductions #mro #mrolympia #mrolympia08 #blade #built #builtbyblade #showmea50yearoldthatbetter #ageaintnothinbutanumber

    A post shared by Dexter "The Blade" Jackson (@mrolympia08) on

    The Blade turns 50 next week, and if we had to guess, he won't rest until he clinches that milestone 30th pro win. His 29th came at the Tampa Pro this past August, and he's already the winningest professional bodybuilder in IFBB Pro League history.

    Jackson's 2008 Olympia win means he's qualified for the competition for life and doesn't actually need to compete throughout the year to take the Olympia stage, but we doubt he'll take full advantage of that perk.

    Follow Jackson on Instagram at @mrolympia08 to keep up with the veteran bodybuilding champ's progress and training wisdom. 

  • Autumn Calabrese: Success is Bigger Than Social Media Followers
    The influential fitness coach tears through the reality of social media and the secret behind success.

    Celebrity trainer and coach Autumn Calabrese explains to M&F Reps her path to success in the fitness industry and tells the story of why she didn’t make a recent magazine cover.



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  • 7 Moves to Avoid in Your Leg Workouts
  • The 11 Strongest Women of All Time
  • 8 Unique Exercises for Better Abs and a Stronger Core
  • Spartan Ultra World Championship 2019 Weekend Recap
    M&F chief content officer Zack Zeigler battled the elements to complete this grueling race.

    M&F chief content officer Zack Zeigler closed out the final Spartan championship race last weekend by completing the 24-hour Spartan Ultra. He had to do six laps of a 5-mile loop within 24 hours in the frigid weather of Åre, Sweden . This is how he did it.





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  • Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's Latest Instagram Shoutout Will Melt Your Heart

    Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson loves his fans, and he's constantly proving it with shoutouts and interactions on social media. In one such shoutout posted on Monday, Johnson recorded a nearly three-minute video for a 3-year-old boy named Hyrum Harris, who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia complicated by Down syndrome. 

    The Rock's video was spurred by Hyrum's mother, who reached out to tell Johnson that her son's favorite movie is Moana, an animated Disney movie that saw Johnson voicing a Polynesian demigod named Maui.

    "In the fight of his life right now and doing his best to stay strong — by watching MOANA up to 10xs a day because the character he loves, MAUI makes him feel strong," Johnson wrote in the post. "According to Hyrum’s mama, his most important thing to say now is, I STRONG. Yes you are big man. Yes you are."

    Watch the video, which involves some singing, here:




    There’s a little 3 year old boy out there named, Hyrum Harris. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia which is complicated by Down Syndrome. In the fight of his life right now and doing his best to stay strong - by watching MOANA up to 10xs a day because the character he loves, MAUI makes him feel strong. According to Hyrum’s mama, his most important thing to say now is, I STRONG. Yes you are big man. Yes you are. Hyrum, I know I’m a complete stranger to you - who sounds a lot like your hero, MAUI (only with a very large head), but myself along with millions of other strangers who will watch this video are sending you so much love, strength and mana your way. I STRONG. Love, the Rock aka the dude who sounds a lot like Maui.

    A post shared by therock (@therock) on


    Later on, Johnson posted an update that was even more touching, including Hyrum's reaction to the video.



    The Rock may be a storied WWE Superstar and on-screen tough guy, but it's clear that the gargantuan actor has a soft spot. 

    Follow Johnson on Instagram @therock to keep up with his latest workouts, movies, and fan interactions. 

  • 7 Diet Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner
  • Lou Ferrigno Is Not a Fan of Mark Ruffalo's Portrayal of Hulk in 'Endgame'
    Lou Ferrigno is Not A Fan of Mark Ruffalo's Portrayal of Hulk in 'Endgame'
    Nancy Rivera/Shutterstock

    Lou Ferrigno is angry, and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. 

    The actor and former bodybuilder—who rose to fame by playing Bruce Banner’s alter ego in The Incredible Hulk—recently said he was “disappointed” with how the green monster was portrayed by actor Mark Ruffalo in Avengers: Endgame

    “Because the Hulk needs to be hideous, he needs to be a creature,” Ferrigno said at Canada’s Hamilton Comic Con. “You see in Endgame, Mark Ruffalo — I think it has a lot to do with him and Disney — I didn’t like the way it portrayed [Hulk]. It took away that beauty, that quality of the Hulk. That’s why a lot of people liked the series.”

    In Endgame, it’s revealed that Banner was able to merge his brain with the brawn of the Hulk—an amalgamation of the two known as “Professor Hulk” in the Marvel comics. This breaks away from the idea that Banner can only become the Hulk while enraged. 

    The former Mr. Universe, who portrayed the Hulk in a TV show from 1977 to 1982, said the character should’ve been left untouched. “Because of Marvel and Disney, they’ve taken a different direction. You can’t take it as seriously as the original series.” 

    Ferrigno also voiced the Hulk in some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and said doing so took a toll on his windpipes. “I couldn’t talk for two days afterwards, because [the voice] comes from inside the chest, the strong bellow when the Hulk roars,” he said. “It’s a challenge, it’s work. But I had to almost yell and talk like the Hulk thinks and feels.”

    Neither Ruffalo nor Marvel executives have responded to Ferrigno’s criticisms. 


  • 9 Curve-Carving Exercises to Hit Every Muscle
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  • The Best Supplement Stacks for Every Goal
  • Julius Maddox: From Abusing Drugs to Setting Bench Press World Records
    The bench press phenom is a success story that even he himself can hardly believe.

    Powerlifter Julius Maddox explains how his life turned from drug abuse and drug trafficking to holding the world record in the bench press.


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  • 6 Diet Rules to Follow If You Want to Get Stronger
  • Middleweight UFC Champ Israel Adesanya on How He Became The Biggest Star in Mixed Martial Arts
    Andy Brownbill/AP/Shutterstock / Shutterstock

    Israel Adesanya, the UFC middleweight champion, is the modern blueprint for how MMA fame should be done. The Nigerian native and New Zealand resident took to fighting over a decade ago and has dabbled in boxingkickboxing, and MMA. As a kickboxer, Adesanya amassed an overall record of 75-5. He went 5-1 in boxing, and is undefeated in MMA with 18 wins.

    In mixed martial arts, the UFC is known for making quick work of a potential star. A fighter may have it all—the face, mic skills, and fighting acumen—but find himself on the end of an awry haymaker that sends his body (and confidence) careening to the canvas. Or once they’re at the top, they wrestle with a relentless and draining media circus that takes them from country to country. It’s rough. The fighters who are able to win, cut entertaining promos, and keep their fans hyped are the ones who rise through the ranks and make the big bucks.

    Adesanya arrived in the UFC in February 2018 and put on a striking clinic in each fight, with an amusing post-fight interview and press conference to go along with each. He quickly worked his way up to UFC 243, where he knocked out Robert Whittaker, the then-champ, in the second round on Oct. 6, 2019. Now, Adesanya is sitting pretty as the king of the middleweights—all in just a year and a half time in the UFC. He’s witty. He’s confident. He can fight, and Adesanya appears to be here to stay.

    We caught up with the current champ to discuss his recent fame, his favorite animes, and his future plans in the UFC, which, according to him, include a fight with UFC great Jon Jones.


    M&F: What do you love about being at the top?
    Israel Adesanya: I say, “Fuck fame, but I enjoy the perks.” When I was working a regular job, I’d go into Footlocker and daydream like, man, when I get money I’m going to get that shoe, and that one, and that one. But here’s a plot twist: once you have all the money, everyone gives you stuff for free.

    And what’s one aspect of fame that you dislike?
    The lack of privacy. I think that people lose track of their manners and respect when they meet someone famous. I was at a grocery store, and I normally look homeless when I’m running errands, and someone spots me at check out. He yells, “Oh my God! I’m your biggest fan.” Everyone looks and starts freaking out. I’m just a regular dude at the end of the day, and it’s a little embarrassing when I’m trying to buy groceries and some guy is yelling in my face.

    How do you feel about people getting tattoos of you?
    If someone can look at my journey and take inspiration from it, that's cool. Like I respect that and I appreciate that. You know, but yeah, just don't get a cheap one. I'll just advise you, because this mug is really hard to draw.

    What’s the most overrated and underrated anime of all time?
    The most overrated anime of all time, I’d say is Dragonball GT. I expected more from that and it kind of just didn't live up to the hype. I didn't even finish it. An underrated anime, low-key, is Devilman. It's on Netflix. I liked that and I don't think it gets as much attention as it deserves. So Devilman or Castlevania. No, no—Devilman.

    What would your own anime look like?
    I’d like to be a guy who can time travel and he's going on a quest to assassinate certain people across time and space. Bending time and space. I'll leave it at that and just elaborate later on.

    Out of your seven UFC fights, who has hit you the hardest?
    Kelvin Gastelum, without a doubt. My face looked like a potato after that fight. He hit me the hardest, but I took it all.

    What was the first thing you bought after cashing your check from UFC 243?
    I bought three new properties to add to my already expanding portfolio. You’ve got to make your money work for you.

    How did you think Darren Till looked against Kelvin Gastelum after moving up to the middleweight division from welterweight?
    I thought his performance was very smart, because he’s coming off of two losses where he has been finished and he had to play the game against a beast-like Gastelum. He played a good distance game—he was either way out or very close, attacking with short elbows. I was impressed.

    Till said that he wants to fight you for legacy. What do you think about that?
    We’ve met each other and we’ve always known that we’re going to fight at one point. I said so to him last year when we met in LA and he was still a welterweight. If he went out there and starched Gastelum, I’d heavily consider it, but you know, he played it safe. He just got here. I did a lot to get this belt, so he’s got to do some work as well.

    Are you looking to defend your belt or have a super fight with your Twitter rival, Jon Jones, before he moves up to heavyweight?
    Even if he moves up, I’ll fight him. But for now, I have a lot of work to do. I’m not going to disrespect anyone in particular, but people from this era decide, ‘I have the belt, now I want a super fight.’ What the fuck? Defend your belt first. Clean out your division. Respect the game—I’m not going to hold up a division to just make some fight happen. So yeah, I’m going to do my homework, clean out the division and then move up to heavyweight. I’ve already given the date: 2021, at Raiders Stadium in Las Vegas. I decided in July when I saw it being built across the desert; this is where the fight will be.


  • Julius Maddox Breaks Raw Bench Press World Record, Again

    Bench pressing phenom Julius Maddox has broken his own world record. Over the weekend, the Kentuckian benched an astonishing 744.1 pounds— a little shy of five pounds over the prior world record of 739.6 pounds, lifted by Maddox in late August.

    The lift took place at the Rob Hall Classic in Austin, TX, where Maddox only competed in the bench portion of the competition. What’s more, the 744.1-pound bench was his second lift of the competition — Maddox declined to go for a third, and heavier, lift due to a tight pec.

    Check out the new world record bench here:

    New ALL TIME WORLD RECORD! Scratched my 3rd attempt due to a tight pec. @Jailhousestrong @tuffwraps Villain Wristwraps ✅ @tuffwraps_uk ✅ @mhpstrongusa powered by @iconmeals Health meal preps @revive.your.life @lockjawcollars @bandbell @c.t.ali.fletcher @official_iron_edge_gym @psychosmellingsalts @benhinders @supremesinglets ➡️ custom singlet —————————————————— #phil413strong #powerlifting #sports #irregularathlete # #powerlifting #weights #strong #beirregular #benchpress #motivation #roadto750lbbenchpress #bodybuilding #muscularlyfat #fitlifestyle #motivate #inspire #hardwork #dedication #fitnessmotivation #trusttheprocess #beastmode #strongman #australia #unitedkingdom #canada #europe

    A post shared by Julius Maddox (@irregular_strength) on

    Not only was this more weight than he accomplished in August, but it was a cleaner lift, too. When he broke the world record the first time— surpassing the former record of 738.5 pounds held by Kirill Sarychev—he had difficulty reracking the bar. No such problems this time around.

    We, and Maddox, know that this is only the tip of the iceberg. In a YouTube video where he can be seen training alongside Strongman Eddie Hall, the American said he originally wanted to set the world record at closer to 760 pounds but was advised against trying that much by his coaches.

    Maddox has made it known that he’s gunning for an 800-pound bench. At this rate, that might happen sooner rather than later. He recently uploaded a video where he’s seen benching 700 pounds for three clean reps.

    In the meantime, Maddox has certainly etched his name into the history books. It’s not often that someone sets a world record, and then proceeds to break that just three months later.

  • M&F 2019 Holiday Gift Guide
  • Dave Bautista Just Adopted Two Adorable New Dogs

    He may be known for his gargantuan physique, but actor and former WWE Champion Dave Bautista's heart is even bigger than his muscles. The Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers franchise star just adopted two new pit bulls who were in desperate need of a new home, and the photos he shared on Instagram are adorable.

    "I needed them, they needed me," Bautista wrote on Instagram. "These beautiful babies spent the first six years of their lives neglected and abused. And now they are going to spend the rest of their lives being spoiled and loved."

    Check out the full post here:



    The two new members of the Bautista family are named Maggie and Ollie, and they came from the Rescue Me Tampa pet rescue.  The rescue itself shared a post explaining the situation and updating followers on the dogs' positive new situation.



    According to the rescue, the dogs were separated after being surrendered to the shelter despite the fact that they'd lived together their entire lives and were bonded. Bautista has always been an animal lover, even getting tattoos of his other dogs, so we're sure the pups are in good hands.

  • Why the Best Diet is the One that You’ll Follow
    We sit down with veteran bodybuilder and powerlifter Stan Efferding for some diet tips.

    The bodybuilder, powerlifter and Vertical Diet guru explains the rationale behind his nutrition plan and why people often fail at sticking to a diet.


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  • Get the December 2019 Issue of 'Muscle & Fitness'
    Get the December 2019 Issue of 'Muscle & Fitness'
    Courtesy of Centr

    The December 2019 issue of Muscle & Fitness has all the workout and nutrition tips you need to finish this year on a strong note, and set yourself up for success in 2020. 

    Chris Hemsworth is known for his God-like physique, and now you too could be worthy of a killer body by using his fitness app, Centr. In our sprawling cover story, we highlight the philosophy behind the smartphone app and feature some workouts and recipes that help Hemsworth look the way he does (well, in every movie except Endgame that is). 

    We also feature John Cena and FitOps’s mission to help veterans looking to enter the fitness industry; take a look at how NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith stays in shape at 50; talk to WWE trainer and CrossFit master Josh Gallegos; and obstacle course racing superstar Ryan Atkins

    In our Train section, world-record holder Julius Maddox teaches you how to improve your bench press; one of our editors tests out a rowing class; we give you advice on how to find the best personal trainer; and we show you how to be the life of the party by hoisting a keg. 

    Looking for nutrition advice? Our Eat section highlights the safest seafood options, examines whether you should go with black or pinto beans, and more. 

    Elsewhere, we take a look at the fitness industry’s biggest stories from 2019, show you how to get bigger pecs, offer squatting advice, and a comprehensive guide on how to pig out this holiday season without putting on unwanted pounds. 

    And since Muscle & Fitness includes FLEX, you’ll also get the latest bodybuilding news, as well as even more workout and nutrition tips. 

    Flex Lewis, the seven-time 212 Olympia champ, recently took the Big Apple by storm and we were there to follow him around, while discussing his upcoming move to Open bodybuilding. We also continue to examine the fallout from Mr. Olympia 2019, and feature a chest workout from this year’s winner, Brandon Curry. 

    Speaking of Mr. Olympias, we catch up with eight-time winner Lee Haney almost 30 years after his last win to hear the tale of how he almost gave up after Sandow No. 7. 

    Pick up the December issue for all that and more! Whatever your goals are, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need right here in Muscle & Fitness and FLEX.

  • Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Solo ‘Black Adam’ DC Film Gets Official Release Date
    Dwayne Johnson at Rampage Film Premiere
    Dwayne Johnson at Rampage Film Premiere

    Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is joining the DC Entertainment Universe—as a badass supervillain. Johnson is set to play Black Adam in his own solo film, Black Adam, and now that movie has an official release date: December 22, 2021. Johnson announced the news about playing the antihero on Instagram, announcing an official release and adding some more info about how excited he is to play the character.

    Johnson wrote: “The Man in Black ⚡️Like most kids growing up, I dreamed about being a superhero. Having cool superpowers, fighting for what’s right and always protecting the people. It all changed for me, when I was 10yrs old and was first introduced to the greatest superhero of all time – SUPERMAN. As a kid, Superman was the hero I always wanted to be. But, a few years into my fantasy, I realized that Superman was the hero, I could never be. I was too rebellious. Too rambunctious. Too resistant to convention and authority. Despite my troubles, I was still a good kid with a good heart – I just liked to do things my way. Now, years later as a man, with the same DNA I had as a kid – my superhero dreams have come true. I’m honored to join the iconic #DCUniverse and it’s a true pleasure to become, BLACK ADAM. BLACK ADAM is blessed by magic with the powers equal to SUPERMAN, but the difference is he doesn’t toe the mark or walk the line. He’s a rebellious, one of a kind superhero, who’ll always do what’s right for the people – but he does it his way. Truth and justice – the BLACK ADAM way. This role is unlike any other I’ve ever played in my career and I’m grateful to the bone we’ll all go on this journey together. BLACK ADAM 12.22.21 ⚡️”




    The Man in Black ⚡️ Like most kids growing up, I dreamed about being a superhero. Having cool superpowers, fighting for what’s right and always protecting the people. It all changed for me, when I was 10yrs old and was first introduced to the greatest superhero of all time - SUPERMAN. As a kid, Superman was the hero I always wanted to be. But, a few years into my fantasy, I realized that Superman was the hero, I could never be. I was too rebellious. Too rambunctious. Too resistant to convention and authority. Despite my troubles, I was still a good kid with a good heart - I just liked to do things my way. Now, years later as a man, with the same DNA I had as a kid - my superhero dreams have come true. I’m honored to join the iconic #DCUniverse and it’s a true pleasure to become, BLACK ADAM. BLACK ADAM is blessed by magic with the powers equal to SUPERMAN, but the difference is he doesn’t toe the mark or walk the line. He’s a rebellious, one of a kind superhero, who’ll always do what’s right for the people - but he does it his way. Truth and justice - the BLACK ADAM way. This role is unlike any other I’ve ever played in my career and I’m grateful to the bone we’ll all go on this journey together. BLACK ADAM 12.22.21 ⚡️ Huge thank you to my friends, @jimlee and @bosslogic for this first time ever bad ass collaboration.

    A post shared by therock (@therock) on


    This post has been updated. It was originally written in January 2019.

    After being attached to play the nefarious Black Adam for a few years, Johnson will officially be getting his own standalone Black Adam movie from New Line Cinema and DC Comics, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The original Shazam film will now be split into two projects: one featuring Shazam, and another following Black Adam on his own.

    Johnson teased some major news regarding the character after meeting with DC at their main offices last week, and now it’s safe to say that the sit-down was a very productive one.



    While Black Adam may not have quite the name recognition of, say, Batman or Superman, the character has been around since 1945 and has been a part of the DC comic book world since 1973. He has a wide range of powers, including superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and wisdom, as well as expert skills in hand-to-hand combat. So yeah, it sounds like Johnson is a good fit.

    It’s not really a shock to see Johnson get his own film, considering he’s the highest-paid actor in the world. But the news opens up some very interesting—and fun—possibilities: Will Johnson’s Black Adam interact with Superman (Henry Cavill) in future films? Will be be more of an anti-hero than a villain, considering he’s “The Rock”?

    DC has a ton of possibilities to explore—and now they have one of the most popular actors in the world in their stable of superpowered characters.

  • Best Movies and Shows to Stream on Disney+
    Best Movies and Shows to Stream on Disney+
    Ivan Marc

    The launch of Disney+, the latest streaming service to hit your smart TV, has made hundreds of movies and TV shows available to the masses with just a few simple clicks. If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably spent the past few days binging the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a few classic Simpsons episodes (like the one where Homer joins a gym and gets buff).

    And while we encourage you to forget about the gym and training every now and then, your TV time could also be used to further motivate you on your fitness journey. 

    While you won’t find Pumping Iron or Rocky on Disney+, there are plenty of fitness-inspired movies available on the service that’ll get you pumped up and ready to hit the gym or run a 5K. 

    Here are some of our favorite picks available on Disney+


    • Anything from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — because seeing Chris Hemsworth and Brie Larson in killer shape will motivate anyone to lift some weights.

    Strongest Man in the World — This 1975 movie tells the story of a college student, played by Kurt Russell, who gains super strength by eating a chemically-enhanced cereal (no, not steroids). 

    Invincible — Nothing is more inspiring than seeing Mark Wahlberg defy the odds to become an NFL player. 

    Moana — Because it’s Disney, we had to include one musical — plus, it has a singing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in it. What can we say except you’re welcome? 

    Heavyweights — A group of fat camp kids fight back against their overzealous trainer, played by Ben Stiller, but in the end make the transformation they were looking for. 

    Avatar — Well…this doesn’t have too much to do with fitness but it’s an awesome movie. 

    Miracle — 'Merica. That is all.  

    Breaking 2 — Before Eliud Kipchoge broke the sub-two-hour marathon barrier in October 2019 (yes, it did count), he attempted the feat in Italy with two other runners. 

    Free Solo — Free climber Alex Honnold attempts to scale the 3,200-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park — without a rope. 

    Remember the Titans — For those moments you need inspiration, but a good cry at the same time.

  • John Cena Revealed an Unexpected, Candy-Related Pre-Match Superstition
    John Cena at WWE Summer Slam at Barclays Center 2016
    John Cena at WWE Summer Slam at Barclays Center 2016

    John Cena is known for his shredded physique, among other things, so one would assume that he has all the diet self-control of a top-notch bodybuilder. But during a recent appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, he admitted that one of the side effects of his WWE lifestyle used to be an unexpected addiction: Tic-Tacs.

    First, Cena explained that he and his WWE Superstar colleagues try to keep the body odor to a minimum when they step into the squared circle. When Clarkson asked him whether it was feasible to weaponize body odor in the ring, Cena revealed that he’d never even thought of that. Instead, he always made sure to freshen his breath before adjusting his fellow Superstars' attitudes.

    “My thing was always Tic-Tacs,” he told Clarkson. “It’s a nervous superstition that I always have before we go on a broadcast, and I’ve had to wean myself off of them because I was up to like three boxes a day. And it’s right in the 20 minutes before broadcast…it’s pretty much 10,000 calories in straight sugar.”

    It’s unlikely Cena actually downed 10,000 calories’ worth of Tic-Tacs, considering one of them contains about two calories and a 1-ounce box contains about 60 Tic-Tacs. But either way, that’s a lot of candy to eat in a day, let alone in the 20 minutes before laying the smack down in a WWE match.

  • Study Suggests Lifting With Your Feet in the Air for a More Effective Bench
    For the Best Bench Press, Try Lifting With Your Feet in the Air
    milanzeremski via Shutterstock

    We’ve written plenty about the bench press, and thought we were giving you some pretty sound advice for building up your pecs: back firmly on the bench and feet flat on the ground. But perhaps we, and most other weightlifting coaches, have it all wrong. 

    A study published in PLOS ONE found that there were higher levels of muscle activation when people benched with their feet suspended, hips flexed, and knees bent at 90 degrees. 

    Here's a photo of the position from the study:

    Photo: © 2019 Muyor et al.

    Yup, you read that right. If you want the most bang for your buck on bench, at least according to science, lift those feet up. “The bench press exercise with active hip and knee flexion at 90° significantly increased activation … compared with the bench press exercise with the feet on the ground, with the same load in both positions,” the researchers wrote. “For this reason, to perform the bench press exercise with flexed hips could be recommended for training in sports where the upper limbs and hip flexor muscles are required.” 

    Twenty men, with experience with weightlifting, benched 8 reps with 60 percent of their one-rep max in both positions. Researchers measured the muscle activation of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps brachii, forearm, rectus abdominis, external oblique, and quadriceps during both exercises. All muscles had higher levels of activation when the feet were suspended and hips flexed, with the quads and obliques showing the highest levels of activation (not necessarily the muscles you have in mind when going for the bench). 

    So does this mean you should change your benching routine right away? Well, that depends. As Justin Ochoa, owner of PACE Fitness Academy in Indianapolis, IN, points out on Stack.com, the subjects only lifted with 60 percent of their one-rep max. That's not really the heaviest of loads for strength or hypertrophy purposes. 

    We imagine that by removing your feet from the floor, therefore decreasing your stability, you’d have a much harder time lifting your training max, or indeed your one-rep max. 

    Secondly, even though suspended feet might activate more muscles, it’s certainly less safe, especially if you’re lifting with a big load. If you really want to try this on your next bench day, we recommend having your most trusted spotter nearby.


  • From the Ashes: Ms. Olympia's Return
    From the Ashes: Ms. Olympia's Return
    Robert Reiff

    When the Ms. Olympia was discontinued after the 2014 Olympia, it was the end of an era for women’s bodybuilding, and a painful reminder that women were seen as second-rate in the sport. For many female competitors, their options were slim— change their training to become a women’s physique competitor or accept that they no longer had a home at the biggest bodybuilding event in the world.

    It hit especially hard for eight-time Ms. Olympia winner Lenda Murray. “I really felt for the women who were currently competing,” she says. “I wondered, ‘How would I feel if I were the current champion or up-and-coming and now there’s suddenly no space for women’s bodybuilding?’ That would be really challenging.”

    Rising Phoenix

    But one person believed that women still deserved a place on the main stage, and he was determined to bring the women’s open category back to the Olympia. Wings of Strength co-founder Jake Wood discovered his love for bodybuilding after a chance encounter with Stacey Bentley at the gym when he was 16. “It was a paradigm shift for me,” he says. “I didn’t realize that women could do that, and I thought it was beautiful.”

    As an adult, Wood linked up with renowned bodybuilding promoter and judge Tim Gardner to create several pro shows, but he saw that female bodybuilders weren’t getting the same level of support as their male counterparts. “It was a travesty that women’s bodybuilding was falling apart,” Wood says. In an effort to right this wrong, he created Wings of Strength, a bodybuilding promotion geared toward women that hosts the biggest female bodybuilding event, the Rising Phoenix World Championships.

    Setting the Stage

    Murray immediately signed on as Wings of Strength spokeswoman and champion for fellow female bodybuilders everywhere. “It was time for female bodybuilders to stand firm in knowing who they are—to fight the fight and have a voice,” Murray says. “This was going to show how strong we are and how committed we really are to our passion.”

    This year, Wood and Murray fully realized their ultimate goal—bringing the women’s open category back to the Olympia. “To make women’s bodybuilding viable again, we have to promote it to the general public,” Wood explains. “How can you do that if you don’t have women’s bodybuilding at the Olympia?” Now, thanks to Wood, Murray, and the entire Wings of Strength family, the Ms. Olympia will be returning to the 2020 Olympia. “There has never been a lack of interest; there has only been a lack of promotion,” Wood says about the return.

    New Era for Women’s Bodybuilding

    Women in bodybuilding have always had to deal with a unique set of challenges, especially around body image. It’s a challenge Murray understands very well. “It was difficult to make that shift from being a cheerleader and focusing on this image of what society said was beautiful to transition into having big biceps and shoulders,” she says. But that definition of beauty and femininity is evolving. “My mission is to communicate with women bodybuilders today: Your challenge is unique, and I’m really proud of the women who sustained through this extended hiatus. We wouldn’t be where we are if they didn’t continue to show up.”

    Wood echoes Murray’s sentiment. “Wings of Strength’s goal is to change the world a little bit—to make it accept that women can look the way they want to look. If they want to be muscular and physically big and powerful, that’s OK,” he says. But their biggest goal is to make sure bodybuilding—for both women and men—always has a home. “People don’t realize that if women’s bodybuilding can go away, so can men’s, and I don’t want to see either one of them go away,” Wood says. Thanks to him and Wings of Strength, it looks like bodybuilding’s legacy is safe.

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  • The Rising Phoenix Emerges from the Ashes of the Ms. Olympia
    The Rising Phoenix Emerges from the Ashes of the Ms. Olympia
    Courtesy of Wings of Strength
    Sponsored Content

    On Friday, September 6, over 100 female competitors gathered inside the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler, AZ, for the first all-women’s bodybuilding weekend. As the sun set during the afternoon athlete check-ins, competitors and fans gathered to welcome and celebrate the fifth annual IFBB Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championship in conjunction with the Arizona Women’s Pro, and kick off the inaugural NPC Women’s Extravaganza.

    The energy was palpable as competitors from around the world embraced, complimenting one another and graciously wishing each other luck even though they would compete on the same stage in less than 24 hours. The solo sport of bodybuilding can feel like a lonely road; you might prepare for the stage with the help of a coach or team, but you ultimately stand on stage alone. However, the entire weekend was marked by camaraderie and sportsmanship that people often overlook in bodybuilding.

    It was a true demonstration of women lifting each other up. The ladies were welcomed with a round of speeches that continued this theme. Wings of Strength VP of US Operations Alex Sacasa thanked the competitors for their participation at this all-women’s event and shared how honored she is to work with a team of amazing women who make every event a true labor of love. Emcee Sara Hurrle described the vibe as a “total love fest,” and reminded attendees that lighting another candle does not diminish your own light and to keep illuminating other women to help this sport and all women’s events grow brighter with love and support.

    On Saturday, the stage was set. The large 20-foot video wall served as a resplendent backdrop, illuminating the competitors’ muscular silhouettes. The show opened with the Yellow Bird Apache dancers, a Native American tribe in Arizona who presented the unique spirit of the American Indian with energetic music and specialty hoop dancing. Then, the fans cheered as each bodybuilder posed on stage for a chance to win prize money, sponsorships, as well as qualify to compete on the Olympia stage the following year.

    Bodybuilding shows are usually filled with athletes’ friends, family and fans, and this intimate crowd was no exception. The attendees included partners, parents, and children of all ages— there were many heartwarming cheers of, “Mommy!” It was the highest paying female bodybuilding competition in the world, and the crowd felt even richer with love and support.

    While each division competed for prize money, the female bodybuilding division was competing for the coveted grand prizes: a $50,000 check, a brand new 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye, and the priceless title of 2019 Rising Phoenix World Champion. This honor was made possible courtesy of Jake Wood and Wings of Strength, who created the division in 2014 to fill the absence of the Ms. Olympia. The Rising Phoenix World Championship serves as a forum where female bodybuilders could compete and be recognized for their accomplishments.

    Wood often says that Wings of Strength supports all athletes in all divisions—sponsoring and promoting multiple shows year-round—because, as he is quick to remind the audience, if women’s bodybuilding can go away, so can men’s bodybuilding. A bodybuilding stage should exist to support all competitors who wish to compete.

    As the event reached its climax, the time had come to crown a new Rising Phoenix winner—but not before the women received special awards. Each of the 19 competitors submitted a video sharing what drives them to compete in bodybuilding along with a stage routine to express themselves artistically. Nicki Chartrand won the best video award and Janeen Lankowski won the best routine award. The final battle for the title came down to two former champions who had both won the Rising Phoenix World Champion title before—Margie Martin (2015 & 2016) and Helle Trevino (2017).

    The crowd roared when the new 2019 Rising Phoenix World Champion was announced: Helle Trevino. After losing her mother unexpectedly earlier this year, Helle considered dropping out of the competition, however through hard work and a support system that included Wings of Strength, she remained focused and driven. She joked that she knew she would win a car that had her name in it, aptly nicknaming her new Dodge Challenger Hellcat, the “Hellecat.”

    The 2019 fifth Annual Rising Phoenix had the highest attendance to-date. What started out as a show that had to light its own way, turned into a celebratory all-women’s event bringing female athletes from all over the world together to shine brightly enough to eclipse all obstacles. Wings of Strength is excited to announce that through the hard work of their team and all participating female competitors, the Rising Phoenix will carry the torch to the Olympia stage in Las Vegas and welcome the long-awaited return of the Ms. Olympia in 2020.

    This content is sponsored by Wings of Strength.

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We Love Fitness - 2013