Training Heavy and DOMS

aaaTraining for Strength does not just involve weight training…

Although it certainly would be simpler that way, and there’d be an awful lot more strong people out there….

But since it involves three distinct systemic requirements, most people don’t really see a large up-swing in strength even they might work out very hard in the gym for years.

Those three requirements are:

Progressively increasing resistance.

Proper diet and supplementation.

Sufficient recovery and a strategy to deal with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.)

(Although this blog will deal primarily with the third requirement, it might be best to touch upon the first two in brief.)

Progressively increasing resistance means doing a couple of things…
1) using enough weight to work a particular muscle to failure, but not too much as to fail to get a full series of sets.
( example: 3×10, at 70% 1RM)

2) slowly increasing the amount of weight used on a particular movement, during the course of time.
( example: adding 5 pounds every couple of weeks, while keeping the same number of reps)

Proper diet and supplementation refers to keeping those things your body needs to grow and get stronger bio-available during the most-essential times… especially within 1 hour of starting and ending a workout, and first thing in the morning.

Of all the possible scenarios, the minimum rules are these:
a) Never skip breakfast
b) Eat small meals throughout the day
c) Use the 40/30/30 plan
d) Get at least 50g Whey Protein before and after your workout!
before- add 5g BCAA, 5g Glutamine, 5g Creatine, 5g Beta-Alanine.
after- add Carbs, 5g BCAA, 5g Glutamine, 5g Cissus, 3 g Gluco-Chond-MSM.

Recovery and DOMS

If you’re as stubborn and bullheaded as me, you want to workout hard every day.

Of course, you shouldn’t, because growth in muscle and strength is dependent on REST between workouts.

But, if one can squeeze in more intense workouts, by ‘compressing’ the amount of recovery time, well… that’s a different deal altogether.

There have been a number of studies – and a few interesting facts have come to light along the way; these ideas may help you find more time for workouts, while giving your body ample time to recover.

For instance, Glycogen is an essential muscle fuel source for moderate- to high-intensity exercise.

Once depleted, the capacity to perform at these exercise intensities is lost or severely limited.

Therefore, the faster the muscle glycogen stores can be replenished after exercise the faster the recovery process and theoretically the greater the return of performance capacity.

But, interestingly enough, there are studies that indicate that the faster the glycogen stores are replenished, the less muscle fiber damage; indicating the possibility that this is not the best environment for muscle growth… however, this possibility is outweighed by the fact that the faster recovery time means a potentially quicker cycletime for exercise.

“For rapid recovery from exercise, immediately after a workout (strength or endurance), we must:

1. Rapidly replenish the low glycogen stores in our muscles.

2. Rapidly decrease the muscle protein breakdown that occurs with exercise.

3. Rapidly force further increases in muscle protein synthesis.

Failure to accomplish any one of these objectives will lead to a lowered rate of recovery from your workout. And the slower the recovery process is, the less growth you can stimulate!

Studies have found that delaying nutrient (protein and carbohydrate) consumption after a workout can greatly reduce the rate of glycogen restoration and protein synthesis. In fact, the rate of glycogen synthesis is reduced by 50% if nutrients aren’t consumed immediately after a workout.

Furthermore, it’s important to understand that post-workout protein synthesis increases (what will lead to increased muscle mass) are in part due to the rate of glycogen synthesis, increased insulin levels, and increased insulin sensitivity from the workout. As we just saw, delaying post-workout nutrients absorption will drastically decrease the rate of glycogen synthesis, which will negatively affect protein synthesis.

Plus, a few hours after a workout, the insulin sensitisation stimulated by the bout of training will be much lower: there’s a two to threefold increase in insulin sensitivity immediately post-workout. After two or three hours, it’s down to only 44% above baseline. So basically, if you wait too long after your workout to consume a mix of fast absorbing proteins and high glycemic carbohydrates, the amount of muscle you’ll build in response to your session will be significantly decreased.

Another interesting point is brought up by a study by Tipton et al. (2001) which has demonstrated that pre-workout supplementation with proteins and carbohydrates leads to a greater rate of protein synthesis following a workout than simply consuming the same drink immediately after the session.

An ideal post-workout formula would include fast-absorbing proteins, high glycemic carbs, and some additional BCAAs (which have been shown to drastically increase protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown on their own).

I find that 30 minutes of cardio after a heavy weight session dramatically improves my rate of recovery. A recent study looked at two post-workout recovery strategies; Active Recovery (AR)- performing sub maximal exercise, cardio, or posing, to promote recovery from hard-core training sessions, versus Passive Recovery (PR)- collapsing on a recliner from complete exhaustion, in an attempt to catch one’s breath and relax their muscles for the next workout or set in the iron jungle. The study looked at three aspects of recovery: Blood Flow, Lactic Acid clearance, and Post-workout Pain.

This pain was caused by an accumulation of hydrogen ions that stimulate pain nerves located in the muscle. Performance decline is induced by both metabolic and muscular fatigue.

Metabolically, a decreased pH causes the inactivation of several enzymes, membrane nutrient transport mechanism inefficiencies, and energy decreased accessibility. All of these factors ultimately lead to reduction in the production of ATP. Thus, decreased performance. Concerning muscular exhaustion, lactic acid promotes the restrain of the actomyosin ATPase, which breaks down ATP so it can provide energy for your body. In addition, H+ interferes with calcium uptake that is essential for muscular contractions. Increased lactate may also interfere with cross bridging. These factors lead to a decline in both the force and velocity of muscular contractions.

Lactic acid can severely inhibit your athletic performance if not cleared out of your system. So finally, how do you help your body clear LA? By far, the most proficient mechanism is oxidation both during, and after exercise. Subsequently, we discuss how to accomplish this via active recovery.

First, Lactic acid is best cleared through oxidation. So any movement that supplied your body with oxygen, would be of great assistance. The optimal procedure for this is low intensity aerobic (with oxygen) movements. Did you notice I said low intensity? Though high intensity aerobics would supply ample amounts of oxygen to your body, it would also induce higher levels of lactic acid, which is counter productive.

Here is an extremely fascinating study. The effects of different recovery regimens on white blood cell count (WBCC) and muscle enzyme activities following strenuous, sub maximal, steady state workouts on a treadmill was examined. 14 athletes participated in an intense run (70-80% of their VO2 max) followed by either 15 minutes of passive recovery (complete rest), or 15 minutes of active recovery (running at 50% of their VO2 max). The results showed that PR was associated with a 35% reduction in WBCC, compared to only a 6% decrease when using AR! They concluded that AR clearly prevents the initial drop in WBCC following strenuous training sessions.

They also performed a study on which type of active recovery was most beneficial for LA clearance. Subjects performed 4 separate cool downs for 40 minutes; passive recovery, active recovery (cycling at 35% VO2 max, or at 65% VO2 max), and interval training consisting of cycling at 65% for 7 min followed by cycling at 35% for 33 minutes. The rate of blood LA disappearance was significantly greater in continuous AR at 35% VO2 max, compared with other intensity levels. They concluded that low intensity; continuous active recovery is most beneficial for LA clearance.

Athletic performance is regularly impaired by soreness. Thus, any application that limits the extent of damage or hastens recovery would be of interest and practical value to soldiers of the iron jungle. Muscular aches often occur after a hard-core training bout. These pains typically peak 24–48 hours after exercise, and are known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is the bane of strength trainers; it keeps one from working a muscle as hard as one might otherwise, it might even keep one out of the gym altogther.

Countless hours of scientific research have been dedicated to optimal recovery from DOMS. Active recovery, once again, shows great promise to the elite athlete. Consider the following studies:

It has been established that a highly effective mean for reducing DOMS is through active resisted exercise of the affected muscle groups. Hasson et al. investigated the use of light exercise in the treatment of DOMS 24 hour’s post-eccentric quadriceps training. A significant reduction in symptoms was demonstrated.

Tiidus et al. is a major advocate of AR for DOMS. Through several experiments he has shown that for elevated muscle blood flow through low intensity exercise would be of great benefit, and would “thereby enhance healing and temporarily reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.”

“Sayers et. al compared a lighter training session (active recovery) compared to pure rest. Eight subjects rested after a taxing elbow flexor workout, while nine performed a lighter training session to aid recovery. The results showed that strength recovery was better after light exercise when compared with just rest. This study confirms, that even if you do not perform split volume training, that a light training session while the muscle is recovering can be very beneficial.”

The results are clear: performing Active Recovery exercise during recovering periods is of great assistance for alleviating DOMS, expediting recovery, and improving athletic performance, as will pre and post-workout supplementation, with protein, carbs, BCAA’s, and glutamine.

Hey- See You in the GYM!

(Note: the following post and any other posts of mine are strictly for entertainment purposes only,
and are not to be taken as medical advice or any other kind of fuckin advice for that matter…………
see your doctor before entertaining any ideas of using any of this entertainment for your own entertainment. Get it? Good.)

Breaking Out of a Training Rut

 

Strength training can take a toll on your body and your mind.

Here’s how to avoid staying in a rut you can’t pull out of.

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Anybody would think that the weight lifting / strength training lifestyle would be good fer ya.

But once you’ve been doing it for a while,
… there are gonna be times when you come to doubt it.

You roll out of bed in the morning with your shoulder poppin’,
and your knees hurtin’,
and your elbows achin’,
and your back screamin’….

Of course, you might just chalk that up to getting old…..

I’m 52, and stuff is gonna hurt just natural from chasin girls all those years.

Naaaah…… 52 is the new 32, din’t ya hear?

Yeah, raht.

We all know that weight training IS good fer ya, especially if you’re over 40 –

it allows you to keep the muscle you already got,
… and maybe even put on some new muscle, too….

it helps keep your body producing vital hormones like testosterone and growth hormone….

it stimulates the mind and helps keep you alert and focused……

it is a vital part of maintaining libido, promotes firm erections, and drives motivation…..

it help keep you looking younger and fitter than most people fifteen or twenty years younger than you….

( it also puts you in close proximity with gym hotties you probably wouldnt get near without tuckin’ five dollar bills in their g-strings otherwise….. )

But some days……… yow.

I recently went through a period of time, about 5 weeks, where my training was just draggin’.

Man, I mean really draggin’.

It wasn’t like I wasnt lifting as heavy —
—it just seemed that I was just working a lot harder to get it in.

My joints seemed to hurt more, and my recovery slowed to a crawl.

I wasn’t adding more weight to the stack —
— and I was walking out of the gym every day feeling completely done in.

Now,
…. let’s talk about the several possible culprits here,

———- assuming you don’t just say that I’m past it.

Cause I ain’t.

Nowhere near.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, ask yourself the questions I have listed in BOLD.

The first thing I did when I noticed the lack of progress and the additional soreness, was to have a physical and my blood checked.

What the doctor and I were looking for was a reduction in my T-Levels, or a physiological problem, like with red blood cells or liver function.

And, although I did have raised levels of creatinine
( a by product of creatine supplementation, but also a marker for reduced liver function )

…… and a surplus of Iron —
( mens bodies don’t use much iron, and if this additional iron isn’t cleared from the system, it can be dangerous ),

there wasn’t anything immediately pertinent to the issue at hand…..

T levels looked nominal, red blood cells slightly high but ok.
No infection, nothing that out of the ordinary.

This is the first question one should ask —
— is there a medical condition that could be causing a lag in training?

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Secondly, I looked at my sleep and rest patterns.

Again, somewhat problematic —- I work at night – and sleep a broken pattern–
a nap in the morning, then hit the gym, and a couple hours sleep before work in the evening.

But, the truth is, that really hasn’t changed much in the last coupla years — I see no reason why it would be affecting me much more only now.

I can’t discount the fact that I am lifting more weight — I am working harder — than ever before, and that very well could mean that I need more sleep than ever before, too.

I found an extra half an hour I was wasting in the morning before my nap, and another half hour in the evening – an extra hour of sleep translates into 20% more sleep – which should translate into me being more rested – and boosting my recovery, too.

As far as ‘rest days’ is concerned, I was lifting five times a week, with a ‘compressed all around day’ on Saturday, which included several leg components previously worked that week on Wednesdays ( my regular leg day ), including heavy squats and deadlifts.

Over-training could be a possibility, certainly.

I decided that, for a time, I would delete the Saturday ‘all around’ workout completely, and especially not work my legs on any other day than my regular legs day.

An extra off day shouldn’t affect my strength negatively, as long as I’m hitting it hard the rest of the week.

As you know, your muscles only grow when they’re at rest – so I should actually gain strength in the long run.

So, the second question one should ask —
— Am I getting enough rest, sleep and recovery time?

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Now it was time to look at my nutrition.

I realized right off that my protein intake had been seriously reduced over the last couple months due to a Spring lean-out program I had been following, which stresses fruits and vegetables over meat — very effective at leaning me out, but clearly might be affecting my strength.

( Hey – ya can’t blame me for wanting to look good in my bathing suit, ya know? )

I had not compensated for the reduction in protein with more whey, because I wanted to avoid the calories, instead adding more BCAA’s.

Studies indicate that whole proteins are more effective in this context.

I was also not ‘eating up’ for a training session like I used to… and decided to follow my carb intake more carefully to ensure the necessary fuel for my workouts.

The best strength training diet contains enough calories to run the body and a little extra to build muscle – in the proportion of 40% proteins, 30% carbs, and 30% fat.

A daily caloric restriction below 2500 is not efficient for strength building.

Third Question —
Am I getting enough good calories – at the correct ratio – to fuel my workouts?

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Another important concern has to do with supplementation.

I wondered how resistant my body had grown to absorbing certain supplements I had been using for a long period of time.

Creatine is a good example… I don’t ‘cycle’ Creatine as some people do, i don’t see the point.

However, I did realize that my creatine intake was sporadic- I would take it on my workout days, but not on my rest days… was that causing my creatine levels to be less than optimally loaded?

The fact that my creatinine levels were high makes me wonder whether there’s too much, or too little, creatine being reserved in my cells.

I decided to be more consistent in my creatine intake, and that of beta-alanine as well.

I’ll have another blood test in six months…. we’ll see what the regularity of intake will do to my creatinine levels….. and go from there.

Glutamine is a terrific supplement to aid in recovery — again, it’s used extensively on my workout days, but hardly at all on my off days – and now that I have an extra off day, I will have to make an extra special effort to get it in.

Two supplements that I had taken completely off my list were: Glucosamine/Chondrotin/MSM and Cissus… they were expensive, and I thought I could do without them…..

I realize now that they had been very effective in keeping my joints feeling well, and the pain in check, and have since added them back.

I have also added back a testosterone booster …. I was using X-Test by Xcience, which I found to be excellent, but it was pulled by my supplier, and I have been doing without. I have added a product called “Tribuloid”, and am currently evaluating it. I’ll let ya know.

I guess the bottom line on these supplements is this:
……… you might not feel them working, but you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Fourth Question:
Am I using those supplements that help me attain my goals?

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A lot of guys who find themselves stuck in a rut start with the next question…. and it certainly is an important one…. because of muscle fibers’ uncanny ability to adapt themselves to a workout program….. you’ve got to mix up your workout, and try to keep your muscles off balance— constantly responding and growing.

This is the ‘muscle confusion’ theory… it’s almost like your muscles are like a repetitive job worker— they get bored of doing the same old work, and just kinda do the minimum required of them. Punch in, do whats required, punch out. Yawn yawn.

If you wanna get stronger, you’ve got to constantly change up your workout- the intensity, the movements, the implements, even the order of when you work certain groups.

The changes can be simple, like alternating wide grip bench presses with narrow grip, or more complicated, like adding dumbbells and machines to overhead pressing with just a bar.

A change like using a straight bar instead of an easy curl bar will force your body to respond, when it has adapted to curls the old way, you betcha. Even if you have to temporarily lighten up the weight.

I modified my workout so that I’m adding new movements, and variations on old ones. I’m alternating stiff legged deadlifts with sumos, for instance, and the variety feels great.

I changed the order of my push-pull sets… and varying the intensity as well.

I needed the change, and it really rejuvenated my whole routine.


Question Five:
Am I constantly provoking my muscles to add strength with new challenges??

This last one is the one most overlooked, and also the one that causes the most people to give up strength training all together…….

It’s not enough to go to the gym, and do the work.

You gotta have the eye of the tiger while you’re doing it.

It’s one part intensity, one part aggression, one part just plain bad attitude.

You gotta know you’re a monster…. and there ain’t a weight made you cant lift.

Call me a jerk, but get outta my way, cause it’s time to hit it.

Pain? I’ll worry about that after I’m done lifting these cream puff weights.

It just boils down to attitude….. you gotta stay fired up – or find a way to get fired up.

And everybody has a different way of doing it, although it really is all self-talk.

By self talk, I mean encouraging yourself through positive statements, and avoiding thinking negative.

It can’t be: ” oh jeez, not time for the gym again…”

It’s gotta be: “oh yes!!! Time for the GYM !!! ”


The last question:
Do I have my mind right???


…………………….. Well, DO YA ?????

HOY!!!

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Supplement Ingredients to Avoid

supplementsAnybody who has read this blog knows that I’m a dietary supplement fan of the highest order.

I’d rather do my own research, titrate and use a supplement than take a hundred prescription drugs…

I don’t trust most doctors (they don’t call it ‘practicing medicine’ for no reason, after all) to give a flip whether a drug is right for me or not;

…..and with the drug companies pushin all kinds of poisons these days just to make a buck, well, let’s just say I’d rather take the responsibility MYSELF.

With that said however, it’s important to realize the importance of knowing thy ingredients!

Many supplements are blends of different ingredients, theoretically working synergistically together; but sometimes this is not the case: it is up to the consumer to determine whether the ingredients in a supplement are safe and efficaceous.

If a product contains L-Tyrosine, you must know WHY it’s in there, and what it does.

And often , you will find a product with ingredients with no good purpose for inclusion, other than filling up the label with impressive looking gobbledy-gook.

Or worse – some products actually contain dangerous ingredients that will maim, cripple, kill, or just mess up yer day.

So, heres a short list of dangerous (or worthless) ingredients in supplements that I have recently spotted on labels.

Remember: READ EVERY LABEL,
Know your ingredients, and Caveat Emptor!

An ingredient that is sometimes found in “muscle volumizers” and “creatine-protein blends” is called Glycocyamine.

The main idea behind its supplementation is that it is converted to creatine by our bodies, so taking in more glycocyamine results in higher creatine and homocysteine levels.

Well, boosting homecysteine levels has been found to be VERY BAD, and the inclusion of it in these products has been shown to neurotoxic ; cause neural misfiring ; increased cardiovascular disease; increased free radicals and oxidation ; enzyme inhibition ; DECREASED muscle contraction, performance and strength. Who needs THAT?

Here’s a real bad one: Aristolochic Acid, sometimes called fang ji (Aristolochia fangchi), or wild ginger (Asarum canadense). It’s sold as part of some diet aids; it’s supposed to be a fat burner, but all it burns is your kidneys and liver….OUT. It also causes cancer – and worse: erectile dysfunction. OH NICE!

Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) is an herb included in supplements purported to promote relaxation, to reduce sleeplessness, and to relieve menopausal symptoms. (Hopefully, that isn’t a problem for you…) Whether or not kava actually does any of these things has not been adequately substantiated. Kava-containing products have been associated with hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure in over 25 reports of adverse events recently, four of these patients required liver transplants. The only good thing about it is you might sleep through all the operations you’ll have to have.

Other dangerous ingredients in “Fat Burners” and “Diet Aids” (and there’s a lot of them out there…) include:
Chaparral, Comfrey, Germander, Scullcap, all of which are known or likely causes of liver failure; Lobella because of its impact on the heart; and Pennyroyal Oil because of possible liver, kidney and nerve damage. None of these have any real effectiveness (for GYM RATS, anyway..) to outweigh their dangers.

One might also include ephedra – but NOT ME – Ephedra is certainly dangerous in the hands of idiots and those people sensitive to it, but it is also extremely effective, and, if used carefully, it’s benefits certainly outweigh it’s downside.

Also avoid HIGH DOSE herbs, mineral and vitamins in products like:

Vitamin A (in doses of 25,000 or more International Units a day)
Possible Health Hazards: birth defects, bone abnormalities, and severe liver disease

Vitamin B6 (in doses above 250 milligrams a day)
Possible Health Hazards: balance difficulties, nerve injury causing changes in touch sensation

Niacin (in slow-released doses of 1000 mg or more a day or immediate-release doses of 1500 mg or more a day)
Possible Health Hazards: range from stomach pain, vomiting, bloating, nausea, cramping, and diarrhea to liver disease, muscle disease, eye damage, and heart injury

Selenium (in doses of about 800 micrograms to 1,000 mcg a day)
Possible Health Hazards: tissue damage

Geranium (a nonessential mineral)
Possible Health Hazards: kidney damage, possibly death OR WORSE

L-trytophan (an amino acid)
Possible Health Hazards: eosinophilia myalgia syndrome, a potentially fatal blood disorder that can cause high fever, muscle and joint pain, weakness, skin rash, and swelling of the arms and legs

Gentian (sold as an appetite suppressant -actually an appetite stimulant )

Carveol (sold as a fat burner – it just doesnt work.)

Isopimpinellin (sold as a fat burner – it’s a coumarin – a blood thinner)

Diiodothyroacetic Acid – ( it’s a thyroid metabolite – causes increases in the retention of body fat )

Also remember to check the flavoring and sweeteners used:

AVOID Aspartame (Nutra-sweet, Equal, Spoonful)
Possible health hazards: retinal damage, anxiety, depression, confusion, headaches, forgetfulness and chronic fatigue disorder.
AVOID SOY proteins and/or soy derivatives whenever possible; unless you WANT to look like you should be wearing a tube top and heels.

Now, this list is BY NO MEANS all-inclusive; these are simply some of the ones I have seen recently. I will add more to the list as I see them or as readers send me the studies.

Check your labels carefully, and if you don’t know what a certain ingredient does—— ,

Email me, look it up, or ask somebody who knows.

Remember: It’s YOUR body.. take charge of it’s care and feeding!

(Note: this post and any other posts of mine are strictly for entertainment purposes only, and are not to be taken as medical advice or any other kind of fuckin advice for that matter… see your own doctor before entertaining any ideas of using any of this entertainment for your own entertainment. If you’re a minor, supplements aren’t for you.. you’ve still got growth issues and bone development things, and this stuff could interfere with all that shit and mess you up good….. , and you shouldn’t be reading this blog anyway, so don’t read another word…… just go get some exercise – play some ‘find the weasel’ with Sara Jane, play football or baseball – or if all else fails, Nintendo- but get off the Internet. Get it? Good.)

Protein Supplementation for Muscle and Strength

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Ever read a muscle magazine?

It’s bizarre…

There’s usually about 20 pages of articles of how to build muscle

—- and about 174 pages of ads… mostly for supplements.

One of the most commonly over-advertised item is Whey Protein.

I say over-advertised not because it isn’t important.. it is….

… but because there are so many companies selling the same product claiming that theirs somehow magically works better than everybody else’s.

Man, take it from your ole Uncle Nuts…

If you buy pure 100% Whey Protein Isolate– (compare and get your best price!!) — you’ll get 100% of what you need, and 0% of what crap somebody wants to put it in it to make it more profitable.

Let me tell you why supplementation with Whey Protein is important in the first place.

There’s no doubt the average shmoe gets more than his daily requirement of protein, -along with way too much fat – consuming products like Big Mac’s, Hot Dogs, BBQ, fried cheese sticks, shakes, ice cream, etc.

He doesn’t work out, so he doesn’t build muscle- he wastes it.

His body doesn’t need supplemental protein.

One morning dose of a BK fastfood breakfast sandwich, and Mr. Average Softbody’s got a high fat-carb artery hardon, for Chrissake!

But if you’re working out pretty hard, you’re probably not eating that crap anyway, and your body needs GOOD QUALITY protein for muscle synthesis (new muscle fibers)– as much as 2 grams per pound of body weight.

(1-1.5 g should be ok unless you work out like the Governator, or want to bulk up real quick.)

It’s important to remember that while Carbohydrates are necessary for the proper operation of the Central Nervous System and for energy to workout—

————     Protein is the stuff that makes muscle.

Whey Protein provides plenty of BCAA’s – Branched Chain Amino Acids – nutrients that are essential for all sorts of functions in the mind and body… one of them, leucine, a key agent in strength and recovery.

It provides glutamine- used throughout the gastrointestinal system to insure healthy digestion and waste disposal – as well as being another key agent in exercise recovery.

Supplemental protein also enhances glutathione production – an antioxidant which slows the aging/mutation of cells.

It has anti-inflammatory properties, and boosts the strength of your immune system.

And it’s another extremely important element in post-exercise recovery.

There are no side-effects that have been documented with moderate use of supplemental protein, either.

Why wouldn’t every hard-working gym rat want to supplement with it?

I got no idea.

Ok, now- here’s the curve: not all proteins are created equal.

Yeah, I know what I said earlier about competing products…

………….. but that’s not what I’m talking about.

There are several forms of protein available in supplement form…

Milk proteins (like Whey, Cassein), egg proteins, and soy proteins.

While all three of these types are considered high quality bio-available proteins, Whey is considered by most body builders as the most readily synthesized..

— although if you’re one of those alternative veggie types, Soy should work almost as well until you (hopefully) evolve into a carnivore like nature intended.

(Good luck with that… in the meantime, might I suggest you take a Savate course, instead?… Oh, and keep those soy farts outta MY gym. Thanks.)

Seriously, Soy Proteins are high in certain phyto-estrogens, so it’s not a great first choice, —-

Unless, of course, you’re trying to look good in tube top, pumps, garter belt, and a micro skirt.

I can’t see it, myself.

To make it more difficult, many protein supplements aren’t 100% protein.

Remember- buy 100% protein isolate– no fillers, no junk.

I know the price has skyrocketed recently, but repeat – Don’t buy CHEAP CRAPPY PROTEIN!

You want the “isolates” instead of concentrate, if only to avoid extra lactose and fats… the cost difference is nominal.

“Hydrolysates” are fancier and much more expensive than either concentrates or isolates…

………but their easier digestibility doesn’t really make up for the cost difference.

Watch the ingredient list on the brand you’re looking at… a few carbs in the mix might serve to help get muscle synthesis going..

….  but more than a few grams will just add unwanted calories to the equation.

If I’m gonna intake carbs, I want to taste them…..

….. not gulp em down like you’ll end up doing with every protein shake you’ll ever take regularly.

YUK..

why can’t these companies make a protein supplement that doesn’t smell or taste like the inside of a bovine intestine???

Jeezzz.

In all fairness, the protein companies have ramped up the tastiness of their products in the last coupla years…

Back in the bad old days, all we had wuz smelly, gloppy egg protein powder…. and that -wuz indescribably horrific- in comparison.

I personally find Optimum Nutrition’s (ON) French Vanilla flavor not too terrible at all .. and it mixes well with all the other crap I throw in with it. “Designer Whey” tastes pretty damn good, too.. but it’s not all isolates.

There are ‘pre-mixed’ bottles of protein drinks – you’ve probably seen these in the cooler at the gym.

Again, look for a lot of added stuff… and since these are ‘pasteurized’, much of the protein has been denatured- so less of the protein is really bio-available.

And considering the taste of these products…. I think Elmer’s glue tastes better – it’s not worth the price to me.

There are protein products made for hard-gainers… these contain mucho additives, mostly in the form of carbs and fats…

Sure, they’ll put weight on ya, but eating two of mom’s lemon meringue pies a day will too.

I’m not saying these are worthless.

I’m just saying I’d rather have pie .

Here’s another curve:

There are sometimes when you might want a slow absorbing protein like cassein, instead of a quicker absorbing protein like Whey; for instance, at night before bed.

All nite long while you are sleeping ( theoretically sleeping… you might be doing all kinds of stuff other than sleeping… how the hell should I know… but if it involves more than 3 redheads, and you need help, call me )…. your body is rebuilding your muscles and creating new muscle fibers. It uses protein to do that.

But, if you took Whey at 10:30pm, by 2 am it’s all absorbed – and your protein gauge is on E.

However, Cassein takes about 4-6 hours to absorb, it’s kind of like a time release deal…

So, you got protein to burn until it’s time to tell all them girls to go the hell home.

Some guys try to get around using whey protein powder by taking AMINO tabs, BCAA’s, and Glutamine.

While I readily admit that I use these supplements myself, I use them to kick up the value of the protein powder which I also use.

They’re not a substitute for whole protein strands… which is what your body looks for to build muscle.

Interestingly enough, though…

BCAA’s are being studied because of their ability to be burned directly as fuel for a workout, when carbs are depleted.

I swear by em…. but, again they’re not a substitute- they’re a add-on.

The bottom line of Protein is this:

 You gotta have it if you’re gonna build muscle.

Too much is too much, but enough is just right.

But prepare yourself; it’s not gonna smell or taste like the girl next door.

Tough it out, buddy.

oh…., and STAY AWAY FROM THE SNACK BAR!!!

What happened to Jack3d?

The FDA and the media have been at their little wheels again, spinning fairy tales and fables about how dangerous JACK3D was….

So much so, that the manufacturer, USPLabs, has called it quits and discontinued the product.

They released a “new formula”, sure.

It sucks.

Dammit.

So…. the tens of thousands of gym rats who used the product without a single side effect worth mentioning lose another effective supplement because some kid who was using it died.

They don’t know why he died exactly, or whether it had anything at all to do with the supplement, or even HOW MUCH HE TOOK of it.

He died, so BAN IT.

Uh huh.

The FDA says that an ingredient in the original formula, called DMAA, or 1,3 dimethylamylamine, is an unregistered, ” illegal dietary supplement “.

There’s no doubt it’s a stimulant, much like caffeine, but the TOTAL adverse event reports about DMAA, numbered less than a hundred, for a product that literally tens of thousands were using on a regular basis.

This over-reaction sounds more like the rumblings of the pharmaceutical companies not getting their cut than any concern for public safety.

I really think maybe we should be able to exercise personal choice in this kinda stuff.

We’re big boys… grown up and all..

Shouldn’t we have a say?

What’s the story on Creatine ??

Creatine isn’t a steroid, or a dangerous chemical —

it’s as natural as your body,

and can ramp up your muscle and strength BIG TIME.

1

Creatine Monohydrate

Since this supplement was popularized in the early 90’s,
Creatine is often the first thing guys try when they want to bulk up with lean muscle

— and it definitely has its value when taken properly.

It helps hydrate and ‘bulk up’ muscle fibers,

making longer and heavier workouts possible,

— thereby (indirectly) helping to build permanent lean muscle.

The strength and weight trained athlete has the most to gain here.

Those involved in high cardio , endurance activities will not see nearly as much benefit.

Five grams per day is more than sufficient;
–any more than that and the body converts the excess into creatinine
(a semi-toxic by-product made in the gastroentestinal system)
— thus creating nothing but expensive urine.

Some users suggest cycling 90 days on/ 90 days off
and using ‘loading’ doses at the start of each cycle;
— but loading seems unnecessary according to recent studies.

As for cycling itself, well, I think that makes some sense.

After using it for a while, you’ll probably start noticing some bloating and water weight…

– and the edge will start to wane as well..

….. so a rest period might be called for.

Like many sports supplements,
you will have to use your own judgement about what works best for you.

Be sure to use the powder though; never the liquid.

Creatine loses its effectiveness very quickly after it is diluted,
— so mix it and drink it within 15 minutes.

Most guys I know take it right after a workout.

A lot of gyms will sell it by the scoop at (what is euphemistically called) the ‘juice bar’, and even mix it for ya.

“Barkeep.. another sasparilla with a creatine chaser, and make it strong this time.”

As for specific brands, well, as long as you’re buying it from a trusty source like Vitamin Shoppe, SupplementWarehouse, ProSource, National Discount Nutrition, etc.,
— you’ll find very little real difference in effectiveness of the brands they carry.

I like 1 scoop of MuscleTech ‘Cell-Tech’ orange flavor,
because it mixes well with orange juice…. it’s relatively expensive, though.

Feel free to ignore the loading and 2 scoop directions..
— as I said previously, 5 grams is plenty.
(I bet they sell a hell of a lot more that way….. )

I also like to use EAS Phosphagen HP when I’m on a budget.
For about 20 bucks, you’ll get about a 45 day supply, and it goes to work right away.

Creatine works best when taken with a 10:1 ratio of simple carbohydrates…
so some guys mix it with grape juice for this reason.

Hell buddy, if it works, why not champagne?

That’s just fancy grape juice ain’t it?

Make that stuff taste a whole lot better and go down a whole lot easier, too.
(Pay me no mind)

OK, maybe not.

I just throw the Creatine Mix in the blender with 5g of pharmaceutical glutamine, 5g BCAA and 1 scoop of ‘Glycerlean’ slow absorb protein mix and I’ve got me the worst tasting Creamsicle shake you’ve ever tasted.

Yum.

(Take a deep breath,
then drink it all down in one gulp and you’ll barely even want to throw up.
Enjoy.)

So why bother, you may ask?

Man, I didn’t put it first on my supp list ’cause I like spellin’ it…

It really does seem to help me work out harder and longer.

And I am definitely STRONGER – maybe 10% stronger.

Yep- it does make a huge difference in my bench press.

I have done the cycle thing enough times to know.

Now, I just stay on it.

I can’t afford to give an inch (or a pound) to the competition.

But, if you don’t want to work out hard, you don’t need it
… it won’t do a blessed thing for you except give you cramps and water bloating.

OH… did I mention very minor but noticable side effects?

Well, them’s iz it…
-abdominal cramps,
-water bloat,
-and gas like a methane plant only with no blue flame on top of the tower to burn it off with.

(It’s ‘hey, kid.. pull my finger’ on your dad’s worse day… kid you not!)

Used in moderation, there are no serious side effects I am aware of.

… And, if you’re using one of the newer formulas,
you might see a reduction in these,
however, the Ethyl Ester form is less effective than monohydrate,
so it kinda washes out.

One thing, though…
creatine usage absolutely requires one to insure proper hydration at all times:

DRINK PLENTY OF WATER! (At least 8 glasses a day.)

As previously mentioned, there are several varieties of creatine supplements available.

Creatine AKG- (Creatine Alpha-Ketoglutarate) is one of the newest varieties.

Those who use it claim it reduces the GI side effects, while increasing absorbtion.

I take Glutamine along with my Creatine mono, so I’m not sure the additional cost is worth it, but if you’re not using Glutamine, it might be a good choice.

Creatine Ethyl Ester is an invention of pro-hormone chemists who thought the ester form would be easier to absorb… but it’s probably just a waste of money.

Oh… and did I mention the results of the latest study on Creatine?

It can make you healthier and live longer.

Yep.

It serves as a potent anti-oxidant, preserving the integrity of cells that would otherwise be damaged by normal aging, stress, and especially, intense workouts.

To sum it all up into language even I can understand,
—Creatine gets a 9 on my ’10 is impossible scale’.

It works when you work.

Your mileage may vary.
But probably won’t.

ARMS: Building Biceps and Triceps Over 40

aaaMature Muscle– ARMS

Articularis cubiti muscle

Triceps Brachii Muscle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Building Biceps and Triceps

I do get a lot of questions at the gym.

But most of those questions,

at least from men,

have to do with building ‘big guns’,

especially in relation to the biceps.

To me,

it’s interesting how much focus people put on such a small, relatively insignificant muscle group.

I say ‘insignificant’ because bicep size usually only constitutes less than 35% of arm circumference, and even less in terms of strength.

If you really want to grow your arms,

you gotta focus on developing not only the biceps,

but more importantly, the triceps–

(and don’t forget the forearms).

But this isn’t as hard as it sounds.

It simply requires the right amount of resistance,

applied in the right way,

…..  added to the right nutrients,

… the right hormones

and the right rest.

Right?

Easy.

Oh sure.

Well, ok….

It does require some effort.

And, you kinda knew it would, right ?

I teach the ‘push-pull’ system to my mature clients, and it certainly works, without causing the kind of exhaustion, pain and recovery issues of other methods.

If you’re 20, maybe you don’t need push-pull — if you’re 50, you’d better use it.

Here’s how it works:

In terms of the push-pull system of implement rotation,
every set you ‘pull’ using your arms, you’re working your biceps,
every set you ‘push’- your triceps.

So, to use the push-pull rotation, you might do
three sets of bench presses (triceps) ,
then three sets of curls (biceps) ,
then three of military presses (triceps) ,
then heavy rows (biceps), and so on, etc.

Of course, you’re working other groups here as well, but you get the operative principle.

Just remember – push (triceps) , pull (biceps).

A partial list of triceps movements would be:
push-ups, benches and inclines, mp’s and shoulder presses.

A partial list of biceps movements would be:
pull ups, rows, pull-downs, and curls.

A real consideration here will be your choice of weight (resistance).

While it’s not necessary to use a great deal of weight when growing these groups, the resistance level should be enough to stimulate growth, with 3 sets of 12 reps in the 55-65% of 1RM range.

Injuries to the tendons and joints are common- so don’t lift with your ego.

That said, I like to use elbow wraps when I do go heavy.

Watch your form – don’t slouch, slop the weight around, cheat, or hyperextend.

The arm is not just bi’s and tri’s, though…

Despite the fact that most everything you do when working your bi’s and tri’s also works your forearms, the muscles of the forearm must also be targeted in order to achieve the perfect arm symmetry.

This is accomplished through the flexing and extending of the forearm muscles through the wrist, using movements like wrist curls and squeeze grips…

(This will have the added advantage of strengthening the grip, which will be of great use in amping up your workouts in general),

…… and curls folcrumed at the elbow, like hammer curls.

Again, careful attention should be given when selecting the training weights, though….

— the wrist is easily injured through sloppy form, shock, too much resistance, etc.

Wrist straps can be helpful in this regard.

But-
what about all those guys who work their arms extremely hard,
and get no size increases at all?

Increasing the size of ANY muscle group isn’t JUST a matter of a willingness to work them hard.

There are three other things to consider…..

Remember the first rule of building muscle size:

you don’t grow when you’re working out…

you grow after you’ve worked out- during your recovery.

If your muscles haven’t had time to recover, they can’t grow.

So, number one– rest is just as important as work.
Don’t target a group more than twice a week.

Two – remember your muscles need food to grow – lots of proteins.
Supplementing with whey protein before and immediately after will provide the basic building blocks your body needs for muscle hypertrophy.

Three– the proper metabolic state to build muscle must be present- this includes having the necessary balance of hormones and enzymes.
Getting the proper amount of rest will help keep your growth hormone and testosterone levels in the right range, and there are perfectly legal, wholesome supplements available to further assist in this….

I always recommend Creatine Monohydrate to people wishing to increase muscle size, not only because of the dramatic volumizing and strength gains, but also due to it’s very low incidence of side effects. It’s safe and effective for the vast majority of people. I like EAS’s Phosphagen HP.

I train mostly for strength, so I also like Beta-Alanine… eventually, strength gains translate into size if you train hard enough, in which case, you might want to try it, too.

Don’t forget your BCAA’s for workout fuel and Glutamine for recovery.

There is also a valuable supplement that I highly recommend if you can afford enough of it — HMB — β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid, otherwise known by the brand names “Juven” or “ReVigor”.

It’s basically a metabolite of the branched chain amino acid Leucine, but acts somewhat differently in this form.

It works by conserving existing muscle after workouts, promoting additional muscle growth, faster muscle development and better overall recovery.

The problem is that it’s kinda expensive, and you’ve simply got to take enough for it to work—-  so, figure about .03 grams per pound of body weight.

For those of you (like me) who hate math, this equates to 4.5 grams for a 150 pound adult.

For more on supplements, see my extensive post on the subject.

Now, go get it.