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The Fit 5: Aesthetics and Athletics

Our expert weighs in on working out to look better, and perform better.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, we tapped Will Huntington, a certified strength and conditioning coach and CrossFit Level 1 coach to answer your questions about training for "looks" and athletic performance.

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Question One

What are the best exercises to do for muscle building, but also are beneficial in a variety of sports?

“For lower body, squats are the go-to movement for strength and muscle building. Use many different variations including air squats, jump squats, as well as weighted squats with the bar on your back or in front rack position.

For the upper body, pull-ups are great because they activate an enormous amount of muscle fibers in the back. Overall, the great thing about these movements is that they incorporate a large variety of muscle groups so you get the most bang for your buck."

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Question Two

How do I stay flexible while bulking up and gaining weight?

"Staying flexible can be difficult while bulking but it can be done. The key is what you do before and after your workouts. Dynamic stretching before your workout will warm up your body and prepare your connective tissue for heavy lifting. After the workout you should always spend at least 10-15 minutes performing static stretches, making sure to focus on the areas that were stressed the most. Adding yoga as an active recovery once a week will take you to the next level of flexibility."

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Question Three

What kind of running routine would you recommend for getting leaner and increasing my endurance?

"Without a doubt you should be doing high intensity interval sprints. Use a 2:1 work to rest ratio to get the best results and make sure to work near maximal effort, focusing on slightly leaning forward, staying on the balls of your feet, and keeping your stride long. Even though sprints are an anaerobic activity, they will also increase your aerobic endurance. Try doing a 20 second sprint, rest for 10 seconds for 8 rounds. Take a 4 minute break and repeat."

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Question Four

I've heard a lot about recovery and not always going to failure. How do I find the balance between going hard and playing it safe?

"If you consistently go to failure you're body never has the opportunity to fully recover. Max effort workouts are great, but not if they are the only type of routine that you do. Finding balance takes smart planning while listening to your body. Coming up with a periodization schedule, which plans workouts in short and long term cycles, will give your body the rest it needs to build muscle and keep your energy reserves from bottoming out."

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Question Five

Are there any specific exercises that you feel aren't necessarily useful to include in your workouts?

“This depends a lot on what your goals are. I believe the majority of a workout should be built around functional, compound movements. Each workout plan should be customized to the individual and there are certainly some movements that should be omitted. For instance, isolation bicep curls don't make much sense for a marathon runner but a bodybuilder would surely include them in his regimen. However, if you incorporate movements that use more than one joint and multiple muscle groups your workouts will be productive and efficient."

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