Build A Cobra Back With Seated Cable Rows

Seated Cable Rows

One of the most important areas on your physique is the back. Not only does having that cobra lat spread look awesome but a strong back is essential for hardcore training. In bodybuilding you are aiming for three things with regards to back seated cable rows development:

First, it’s the thickness of the upper back (traps). Second, it’s the width of your back (lats). Finally, it’s a highly defined middle and lower back (rhomboids, spinal erectors and lower lats).

In this post we’ll look at a back exercise that develops the traps, lats, and the middle back. This exercise has proven its worth to serious bodybuilders for many years and should be a staple exercise in your back training regimen.

It is Seated Cable Rows.

Seated cable rows are a popular compound exercise for the back and can be done using a v-bar handle, straight bar, or with a rope.

It’s important to really concentrate on pulling your back with your lats when doing this exercise. It’s easy to have your biceps dominate the pull so you may want to incorporate straps to help improve your movement.

Another way to really attack the lats when doing this exercise is to hold the peak contraction for 1-2 seconds for each rep.

Your form is key so don’t round your back as you lean forward and definitely don’t hyper-extend as you pull back or you can really cause a serious injury.

Here is IFBB Pro Roelly Winklaar doing a set of seated cable rows:

We all have our favorite exercises for each body part but exercises such as the seated cable row should be a mandatory exercise in our training arsenal.

As you progress through the various stages of training you’ll understand what works best for you and what methods to incorporate with certain exercises.

For example, with seated cable rows change from using a v-bar handle to a straight bar and incorporate various methods such as negative reps or drop sets as a way to shock the muscles.

Variety is the key since our muscles adapt fairly quickly. Stay tuned for more workout tips!

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Top 20 Anti Inflammatory Foods

Anti Inflammatory Foods

Did you know working out can increase free radical production and inflammation in your body?anti inflammatory foods

After those grueling workouts I’m sure you’ve experienced the pain, swollen achy joints and tender muscles afterwards.

Let’s face it we all love to push ourselves and break those pain barriers during a workout. But what can we do to fight off inflammation and recover faster?

The good news is BCAAs and certain foods will be your best ally in the fight against inflammation plus help in muscle recovery.

Taking a BCAA supplement is especially useful if you are on a low calorie diet or preparing for a competition. It’s also a matter of convenience since taking BCAAs via a powder, pill, or liquid drink may be easier for you.

Here is the Top 20 anti-inflammatory foods loaded with antioxidants:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Black currants
  4. Blueberries
  5. Broccoli
  6. Blood oranges
  7. Carrots
  8. Cherries
  9. Citrus fruits
  10. Cranberries
  11. Green tea
  12. Kiwi fruits
  13. Mangos
  14. Oranges
  15. Pineapple
  16. Papayas
  17. Raspberries
  18. Red grapes
  19. Strawberries
  20. Tomatoes

Some other ways to control inflammation and help the recovery process include a nice sports massage, ice, compression garments and of course rest!

At the same time stay away from certain foods that actually activate inflammation in your body. Mainly you want to stay away from omega-6 fats such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and corn oil. Some other foods to avoid include processed foods and those goodies you can pick up at a bakery.

Remember, inflammation is a natural part of the healing process and accompanies hard training. It’s a complex topic, and I hope this post has given you a few tips to help you recover faster while reduce inflammation from those hard core workouts. Until next time!

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IFBB Figure Pro Jessie Hilgenberg Reveals How To Be A Champion

IFBB Figure Pro Jessie Hilgenberg Interview


New IFBB Figure Pro Jessie Hilgenberg has been involved in fitness and sports since a very young age. Being fit and living healthy is what she knows and loves. jessie hilgenberg

Recently, I had the honor to interview Jessie about going pro and what the future holds for this amazing athlete and champion.

Bodybuilding Blogger: Jessie, congratulations on earning your IFBB pro card at the 2012 NPC USA’s. What motivated you to compete in figure competition?

Jessie Hilgenberg: Thank you so much Marco! Growing up I played a lot of team and individual sports – I put most of those on hold during college to focus on my advertising and graphic design degree so when I graduated I really wanted to find a sport that allowed me to still work on my athleticism and compete.

In 2008, I went to a local NPC bodybuilding show to watch my boyfriend (now my husband), Alex, compete as a heavyweight bodybuilder and that is where I first saw women competing in the figure division. I knew right then that I wanted to train to compete in figure!

I continued to train hard and had Alex guide me through the diet process. I knew absolutely nothing going in and had no help with posing. I gave it my best and placed second in my height class. From there, I continued researching online and learned as much as I could in order to improve each time I stepped on stage.

Once I learned what diet and training worked best for me, I stuck with that and dedicated a ton of time to my posing and stage presentation – it needed the most help. jessie hilgenberg ifbb pro

Where I live there is not access to any figure pros or anyone that could help me pose for figure, so I relied on YouTube videos and practiced for hours and hours. Each show I improved and studied my posing so that I could fix any weak points. Eventually, it all paid off and I earned my IFBB pro card by winning my class at the 2012 NPC USA’s.

Bodybuilding Blogger: Wow! Talk about determination! What’s your training philosophy?

Jessie Hilgenberg: I stick to traditional philosophies when it comes to lifting – heavy, compound exercises make up the bulk of my training with isolation exercises used to supplement those lifts.

I train the body parts that need to grow the most twice per week and rarely or never train body parts that are already dominant (biceps, triceps, calves, chest and abs). I love my legs to look very balanced so I separate them into 2 days so I can focus on quads/overall legs during one workout and glutes/hamstrings in the second workout.

Bodybuilding Blogger: Nice! What’s your workout regimen like?

Jessie Hilgenberg:

Day 1: Shoulders

Day 2: Legs (quad focus)

Day 3: Rest/yoga

Day 4: Back/shoulders

Day 5: Legs (glutes & hamstrings focus)

Day 6: Rest/yoga

Day 7: Back

Here’s a short promo video:

Bodybuilding Blogger: Awesome video! With a busy schedule with training, coaching, photo shoots, running a successful business not to mention preparing for competitions, how do you stay on track with your nutrition on and off season? What are some of your favorite foods?

Jessie Hilgenberg: It is definitely hard to do! I’ve always operated better in chaos so somehow I make it work. If I ever find myself with free time, I usually end up filling it with something that makes me busy. It makes me nervous to not be doing anything. I’m crazy!

In order to make it all work I have to be very organized, prioritized and structured. This works out perfectly with the fitness competition lifestyle – because it takes organization, prioritization and structure to be a champion. ifbb pro jessie hilgenberg

One of my favorite hobbies is tracking my food in the My Fitness Pal app…I told you – I’m crazy! Even in my off-season, I love knowing exactly the macronutrients that are going into my body every day.

Without the structure, I’d be a disorganized mess. Some of my favorite meals are chicken & oatmeal mixed together, coconut oil & cinnamon in my sweet potatoes, and anything that makes me feel like I’m eating an amazing pasta dish.

I love finding gems like brown rice pad Thai noodles so that I can create a fun pad Thai dish with chicken, hot peppers and peanut butter sauce (heated peanut butter with Bragg’s liquid aminos).

Dang, that sounds good right now!

Bodybuilding Blogger: Tell me about it! Great tips too thank you. What kind of cardio works best for you and how is it different during off-season compared to pre-contest?

Jessie Hilgenberg: For me, this is complicated. My upper body stays lean and gets lean very easily while my lower body takes longer to join the party.

If I spend all my time doing long sessions of steady state cardio, my upper body will get too shredded while I work at bringing in my legs and glutes. So, I focus more on shorter, more intense interval cardio during my contest prep.

I’ll do that about 3-4 times per week along with 1 or 2 steady state sessions on the stepmill or incline elliptical. There’s not much of a change in my off-season except for maybe less sessions.

jessie hilgenberg pro My calories and carbs are much higher in my off-season to support building some more muscle where needed. I like to keep the interval cardio session in year-round because it improves my athleticism and cardiovascular health.

Bodybuilding Blogger: What has been your hardest challenge to overcome either in your personal life or competitive career?

Jessie Hilgenberg: Probably just not having anyone around me that knows more than me about what it takes to be a top figure competitor. I would have loved to have been in a bigger city with access to figure pros and/or qualified competition coaches to help me along the way.

Up until this interview, I have never had a coach so my hardest challenge to overcome was just finding a way to navigate through all of the research I did on my own and figure out what worked best for me through trial and error.

But now, looking back, I believe it is because of that that I am the athlete I am. It was and still is a long process with a lot of learning and experimenting.

Bodybuilding Blogger: You let nothing hold you back. Your journey is very inspiring and motivating! Let’s talk about coaching. As a coach and consultant what is your approach with competitors and non-competitors and what do you see them struggling with the most?

Jessie Hilgenberg: My approach as a coach is to be their mentor and friend throughout the entire process. Like I said above, it is because of my own process that I am the athlete I am today and feel like I have so much to give now.

I didn’t even mean to start coaching – I helped a friend compete in her first show a couple of years ago and it just turned into a full-time job! I just can’t help but spread my love and knowledge for the sport! I only take on a few girls at a time because I take care of my girls the exact same way I take care of my own training – a TON of detail and time.

I go to bed and wake up thinking about their programs – if I could move them into my house and be with them every moment of the process, I would! But I would probably be divorced :). I coach girls all over the country – and even a couple out of the country – and just love that they are getting the best experience possible.

I am completely obsessed with them getting on stage with their physique and posing the best they’ve ever been. I have high expectations of them and it, in turn, gives them high expectations of me. I love witnessing them fall in love with the sport and I am so proud when I see them walk out on stage feeling better and more confident than they ever have felt before! jessie hilgenberg ifbb

What I see them struggle with the most? Every one of them is different. Some are stressed about their work; others have family stress, health concerns, confidence concerns, etc. I love that each one of them is unique and that as a woman and fellow fitness competitor, I can relate to them and help them through it.

Bodybuilding Blogger: Great answer and I can see why you’re so successful! So tell me what’s it like being sponsored by NLA Performance? What are your favorite NLA For Her supplements?

Jessie Hilgenberg: Being sponsored by NLA Performance is incredible! They seeked me out in August of 2012 and our relationship has developed into a great partnership since then. They value me and I stand behind their supplements. I work closely with their women’s line of supplements, NLA For Her, and use every one of the products.

My favorite is probably the pre-workout, Uplift. I’ve always kept my supplements simple and have struggled with finding a pre-workout that doesn’t have heavy stimulants.

Uplift is formulated with women in mind with only mellow, clean stimulants but also includes BCAA’s and light N.O. boosters so I still have the extra blood flow to my muscles during lifting and feel just enough of the extra energy boost and focus that help so much.

Some days I only have one scoop and other days I have two or three – either way, I never get that “cracked out” feeling I get with other pre-workouts and love it. And if you haven’t tried their whey protein powder yet – it’s AMAZING! It has a great amino profile and great, healthy, medium-chain triglyceride fats that I already include in my diet every day.

Did I mention it tastes like a chocolate éclair?? I even use it to make protein pancakes and other yummy treats. Those are just my two favorites. I use their Her Aminos for an energy boost all day and the fat burner, Shred Her, during my contest or photo shoot prep. jessie hilgenberg pro athlete

Bodybuilding Blogger: Now you’re really getting me hungry! If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring figure pro, what would it be?

Jessie Hilgenberg: If you’re looking to start competing, find a coach that has experience in the organization you want to compete in. A lot of people and trainers call themselves a coach, but you get a one-size-fits-all program and often they have never even competed in that organization (or at all).

Do your research! Meet and/or talk with them many times before getting started. You must have a good connection with them because you will go through a lot of different things during the process and you should be able to be open with them.

If possible, spend the extra money for a truly full-service coach that has the credentials to provide you with custom training, nutrition and all the things that come along with competing (proper posing, organization rules/regulations, posing suit selection, etc.).

Bodybuilding Blogger: Great advice! Jessie, thank you so much for sharing your time with us and for being such an inspiration.

Bodybuilding wants to personally thank our good friend Jessie Hilgenberg for this in depth interview. She is a passionate, dedicated, hardworking athlete and coach with a drive to help others become the best they can be. You can connect with Jessie on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, plus view her pics on our Facebook fan page Bodybuilding Worldwide.

*As a special gift for Bodybuilding readers get 10% off your order of NLA Supplements by using the code ‘Blogger 10’

Photography credits Pete Rezac Photography
Video credit Steve Salerno Productions

For workouts tips, pro interviews, discount supplements, custom workout/nutrition plans, support and motivation submit your name and email below plus pick up an advanced FREE copy of “Your Bodybuilding Journey – How to Get the Body You Always Wanted” including a FREE Customized Muscle Mass & Ripped Supplement Stack Report ($297 value) =>

How Many Calories Should I Consume to Lose Weight?

Number of Calories to Consume to Lose Weight

In the previous post we covered body fat calculation so you can determine how much weight to lose to achieve your desired body fat level, now let’s cover caloric intake. how many calories should I consume to lose weight

You’ve probably heard the old-fashion way of calculating this which is basically to cut 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your diet which would result in losing a pound a week.

As you know one pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories so if you cut your calories by 500 each day for seven days then in theory you should lose one pound at the end of the week. Double that amount to 1,000 calories less per day then you will lose two pounds per week.

I wish it was that simple but it doesn’t work out that way. Did you know that if you cut calories drastically you can actually slow down your metabolism and even gain weight!

Our bodies are extremely smart and they adapt to extreme conditions. When you starve yourself your body will go into starvation adaptation which means it will slow down its metabolic rate to allow the body to survive longer.

The good news is reducing your daily calories by 300 (women) or 400 (men) keeps your metabolic rate high enough to burn fat while saving muscle at the same time. So don’t starve yourself!

For bodybuilders, here is a suggested formula to determine calorie intake for fat loss and muscle preservation:

First you will need to know your weight in kilograms so use this conversion calculator:

Secondly, determine the Intake Calorie # to use.

*For Fat Loss use Intake Calories of 35 to 38

*For Rapid Fat Loss use Intake Calories of 29 to 32

Finally plug in the numbers using the following formula:

Body weight (kg) x Intake Calorie # = daily caloric intake for fat loss

As an example, let’s say your weight is 195 pounds (88.6 kilograms). Here’s how to figure your calorie requirements to lose fat:

88.6 X 35 = 3,101 calories per day

If you wanted a more aggressive fat loss then use 29 as your intake calorie #. Let’s do the math:

88.6 X 29 =2,569 calories per day

If you still need a calorie deficit to continue to lose fat or break a plateau then reduce your calories by about 300-400 calories a day and increase cardio. Remember, a 300-400 calorie deficit is the ideal number to lose fat while maintaining muscle.

In the next post we’ll cover what your calories should consist of for maximum results. Stay tuned!

For workouts tips, pro interviews, discount supplements, custom diet/workouts, support and motivation submit your name and email below plus pick up an advanced FREE copy of “Your Bodybuilding Journey – How to Get the Body You Always Wanted” including a FREE Customized Muscle Mass & Ripped Supplement Stack Report ($297 value) =>