Have you ever thought to yourself that if you only had the time, money and conveniences of a successful competitive bodybuilder you too could achieve a physique of your dreams?
You too could workout when and how you wanted too, prepare and eat all the right kinds of foods and supplements, and get the rest you need to repair and grow new muscle. You say to yourself that you just don’t have the time and resources like those “other guys” do. Those “other guys” have “the life” conducive to the bodybuilding lifestyle. It is so easy for them and you have such a difficult time inching up the ladder scrapping every morsel of time and bit knowledge just to gain an ounce of progress.
Hopefully this article will shed a little light on scheduling your time, finding ways to save money on food and supplements, convenient food preparation, and other little tricks to help you reach your goals a little easier. Sometimes all it takes is a little tweaking to make your workouts a little more effective and to get more out of each set, rep, meal and supplement you take. Being more efficient and effective will enable you to reach those goals all the while saving a little time and money on your journey.
Below is a list of tips and tricks to help you make the road to success a little easier on your schedule and your wallet.
1 . Wheel and Deal
When joining a gym see if the facility is running any specials such as the first month being free or waiving the registration fee. Maybe they have a special couple’s rate for your significant other. Most fitness facilities want your business so they will try to work with you to get you in their door, but don’t be afraid to ask about special offers just in case they were not offered up front. For college students there are ways to utilize on-campus facilities such as recreation centers specifically for students which are usually included in the price for tuition. Many facilities will also offer student discounts.
2. Use Musclesave
We all drink whey protein and take supplements, there are always offers running for various supplements & discount codes. Check out Musclesave.com, I found them earlier this year & they automatically collect all supplement discounts/vouchers off the internet and put them in one place!
3. Buy in Bulk
Get a membership at a local wholesale warehouse. They sell foods in bulk which break down to be cheaper per serving. Remember when buying in bulk to freeze most of your meats and thaw as you prepare them for the week ahead. You can easily buy large amounts of chicken, ground meats, beef, oatmeal, rice, frozen vegetables, milk, and other staples of a bodybuilder’s diet plan. You will have large amounts of food and fewer trips to the store.
4. Clip Coupons
If you do not have access to one of those wholesale stores you can always find ways to save at your local grocer. Many stores have special discount cards, coupons to save 10 or 15%, and 2 for 1 deal. Keep an eye on their deals and what time of the week they are running them.
5. Brown Bag It
Try to prepare your meals at home as much as possible. Take meals to work instead of going out to lunch every day, make smoothies and protein shakes at home instead of buying them pre made, and going out to dinner should be kept to a minimum. This will ensure you are eating all of your bodybuilding friendly meals on a regular basis and will give you consistency and keep you on a schedule toward your goals. Make going to lunch or dinner a treat and something that you do only once a week or so.
6. One at a Time
No one said you had to use every supplement on the planet to guarantee success. Try one supplement at a time to see what effects it will have. You will know if most are working within six weeks or so. This will not only save you money in the long run but will also let you know which ones work and which ones you are wasting your time with. Experiment and stick with the ones that work for you.
7. Spend Your Time Wisely
If you are the type to go home from work before hitting the gym, save some time and pack a gym bag and head to the gym right after work. If time permits you may want to train in the morning before work or class to free up time for other things in your personal life. It takes a great commitment to schedule your time wisely. If time is not on your side when in the gym try supersets and staggered sets during your workout. It not only saves time but will also give you a cardio effect. Do calves in between sets of arms or superset chest and back or biceps and triceps together.
So there you have it, just a few tips for the financially struggling but committed bodybuilder. There are ways to your goals you just have to be creative and careful in your choices. If you want it bad enough you will find resources and creative techniques to get you there without breaking your bank. Good luck.
Author: Brad Borland
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of “bulking” is a 340 pound off-season Ronnie Coleman, or that pic of Lee Priest where he looks so big it’s actually silly. While these examples are certainly the extreme, they represent the basic idea: get as big as possible in the shortest reasonable time.
Bulking isn’t meant to make you look pretty or give you the ideal beach bod (although many skinny guys would actually look healthier from adding a few pounds of fat along with the muscle). It’s designed to allow you to pack on the muscle, along with an acceptable amount of fat that can be stripped off in a subsequent cutting phase.
For some people, bulking is actually fun because you get to eat foods you wouldn’t normally consume. Also, with the anabolic hormone response you get from the excess calories, you may feel more assertive, more attracted to women (is that possible?), more confident, and overall just feel better! Besides, it’s one of the cycles in which you get to see quick results both in terms of the weight that you can move, as well as the way you look in the mirror.
On the other hand, there are the people who hate bulking. This is the group that has zero appetite, the crowd that finds cramming food down their throats to be as painful as watching Lindsay Lohan waste away to nothing. Even the thought of more food makes them feel uneasy, and they make every excuse to get out of eating. Sure, they train hard, and that only makes the situation worse because they’re not getting the results they deserve from the time and effort exerted on crushing the iron.
It’s for these desperate souls that I offer salvation. Through trial and error, I’ve come up with several tips to help you put on muscle at an accelerated rate. The days of bulking terror are over.
Before we jump into the tips, we need to go over some ground rules so that we’re on the same page. The following isn’t about health and fitness. This article isn’t going to help you lose weight for the upcoming family reunion or lower your 5k time.
Here, you won’t read about the “wonders” of soy or how to lower your serum cholesterol. This article is about getting big, plain and simple. Many of you won’t like what you read, but the fact of the matter is that these tips work. For that reason, I make no apologies.
I should at least specify that these tips aren’t for everyone. They’re tailored to the individual who has a hard time putting on weight (classically an ectomorph) and has very little appetite. Also, these tips are not meant to encourage a permanent lifestyle change, but rather an eight week phase when you break the traditional rules and pack on mass. Finally, these are guidelines, not a comprehensive personalized diet.
#1. Focus on nutrition, not training
I’m not sure why, but most of us tend to focus on our training when bulking, not nutrition. This is the biggest and most common mistake people can make.
Let’s face it, most skinny guys are newbies. And when you’re new to working out it really doesn’t take a whole lot to stimulate muscle growth. You could have a horrible program to start (and who among us didn’t?), but in terms of stimulating muscle growth, it’ll work.
We’ve seen this in studies: early muscle growth during a program is greater than when the program has been followed for some time. This suggests that even a sub-optimal program will work well early on.
Another reason why training isn’t a big deal for bulking is the intensity factor. I know from experience that skinny guys, and noobs in particular, often kill themselves in the gym. As mentioned earlier, they may not have the best program, but their sheer desire to put on muscle pushes them through pain barriers that would make a normal man cry.
My Own Noob Training Log
When I first began my “bench and biceps workout,” I trained with the same routine every three days. I’d do eight sets of bench and curls, each to failure. Then I’d follow each set with drop sets and then superset with pec flyes and dumbbell curls. I was so badly overtrained that I despised every minute of it, but my total obsession pushed me through.
Sadly, the 1500 calories I was eating each day did little to support muscle growth, and I didn’t put on a pound all summer. The real tragedy is that I thought the lack of progress was due to inadequate training intensity!
This brings us to the most important reason to focus on nutrition, which is the sheer amount of time and effort required for this aspect of hypertrophy. I mean, any idiot can kill themselves in the gym for an hour a day a few days a week, but it takes real focus and dedication to meet your nutritional requirements every few hours, every single day!
Add on top of this the reality that you’ll likely have to force feed yourself and it’s clear that your focus must be on nutrition.
#2. Forget what you know about traditional “bodybuilding diets”
Traditionally speaking, bodybuilders lived on chicken breasts, egg whites, and oatmeal. While these “clean” foods are great for health, they suck for trying to put on weight. They can have their place in a bulking regimen, but strictly eating “clean” during a bulking cycle is selling yourself short.
Remember, it’s called “bulking” for a reason, and it’s not because you’re supposed to live on brown rice for this period. You’re supposed to jack up the calories in an attempt to stimulate the anabolic response and maximize muscle growth. This doesn’t mean that you eat nothing but cheeseburgers and Pop Tarts, but if you can use these foods to meet your goal of getting big fast, then you should consume them.
While ultra high-fat diets are great, they’re more appropriate for a drug cycle than a food-induced bulking cycle. You can gain a greater proportion of muscle to fat if you combine traditional bodybuilding foods along with higher calorie fare.
Having said that, saturated fat intake is positively correlated with Testosterone levels and is great for calories. It’s also easier to eat foods with saturated fat because they generally taste better — a bonus for those of us who have zero appetite and are trying to overfeed.
Bottom Line: Get more fat calories than you would normally, but know your limits when it comes to this nutrient.
#3. Consume liquid calories
This is a common tip for bulking, but I’d like to take it one step further by saying that at least half of your meals should be consumed as liquids. And no, pre and post-workout drinks don’t count because they simply replace what you lose during training and because of the prolonged elevation in metabolic rate this causes.
Liquid meals are perfect for bulking because they’re generally nutrient dense (assuming you make them so), and take less time to be digested and absorbed. This means that you’ll be ready for your next meal sooner, which equates to getting more calories. Adding sucrose can make these meals taste better, which will help ease the consumption when the last thing you want to do is eat.
This also obviates all of the excuses people have for not eating. Both meal prep time and meal consumption time are low, so you can make and drink these on the go! One quick tip is to prep your drink ahead of time. That way it’s ready when you want it. (And no, you don’t have to worry about the protein degrading.) Making a drink also couldn’t be easier to do, so those of us who are lazy with nutrition really have no excuse for not making them up.
Coming firsthand from someone with no appetite, after two consecutive liquid meals you’ll be craving a solid food meal like you just smoked a big fat bowl! Or so my stoner friends tell me.
#4. Minimize fruit and vegetable intake
Wow, is this really a tip? Do you feel like you’re getting cancer just reading this?
Fruits and vegetables are perfect calorie restriction foods because they’re very filling and provide minimal energy. But if you’re really having issues meeting calorie needs, then fruits and vegetable consumption can be temporarily minimized with little detriment.
While I can already hear people crying about this, keep in mind that you’re not going to get cancer from skipping the “ten servings a day” rule for a couple of months. Again, this is a bulking cycle, not a permanent lifestyle change. Also, micronutrient requirements can be maintained for a short period of time with supplements like Juice Plus or Greens+, as well as the fruit juices from which you should derive your calories.
I think the real danger with this tip is that people may make this a long-term change in their diets, which is of course unnecessary and ultimately harmful. Since eating is largely about habits, and a reduction in fruits and vegetables isn’t a habit we want to maintain, an awareness of this fact is imperative. Likewise, it’s also important to understand that this tip, when used in the short term, isn’t harmful and works well to meet your bulking goals.
To reiterate, this tip only applies if you can’t meet current caloric needs. It should be used for a maximum of two months along with proper supplementation.
#5. The 80 gram casein protocol
Most people cringe at the idea of consuming 80 grams of protein at once, but after Tip #4, this one should be no problem. The most common questions (or rather statements) about consuming this much protein deal with the improbability of digestion or absorption. Sadly, the myth that you can only digest 30 grams of protein at a single sitting is still as pervasive as “muscle turns into fat.”
Rather than worrying about digestion or absorption, the limiting factor of how much protein we can turn into muscle is dictated by oxidation: how much we automatically burn off without using. This means that there are no set limits to the amount of protein we can digest or absorb, but we certainly have limits as to how much gets wasted via oxidation.
Amino acid oxidation is a function of sheer blood quantity, which means that the more we have in our blood, the more likely the amino acids are going to be burned off. Blood concentration is a product of quantity ingested and delivery rate, such that the faster the amino acids get into our blood the more likely they are to be oxidized. This is why we don’t pound back 60 grams of amino acids all at once: because the pre-digested aminos get in our blood so fast that most of them would be wasted by virtue of being burned off.
Casein: Preventing Oxidation
On the other extreme end of the speed spectrum is casein. We know that this protein is great when consumed just before bed because it’ll provide a steady trickle of amino acids to our blood and muscles all night long. This is important because contrary to common dogma, sleep is the most catabolic time for our bodies. Why? Simply because we’re fasting. Our bodies have to start breaking down muscle to fuel the body’s needs.
In a normal situation, 40g of casein before bed is a great way to minimize the catabolism we’d otherwise go through. The thing is, when we’re bulking we’re not just trying to minimize catabolism, we’re trying to stay in an anabolic state as long as possible!
That’s why 80g of casein (particularly micellar casein) before bed is the perfect complement to your bulking regime. It’s released slowly enough into the blood that it won’t succumb to significant oxidation, while the higher dosage will help ensure anabolism throughout the night.
#6. It ain’t over ’til it’s over
Even when the eight week bulking cycle is finished, you still can’t let up. I know you’ll immediately want to start ripping up to show the world your new muscle, but this is the worst thing you can do.
Much like a lifter goes on post-cycle therapy after using anabolics, a sufficient period of time must elapse before you can fully switch over to cutting. You almost have to allow your body to get used to the new level of muscle mass before you start tinkering with low calorie levels.
Think about it. Our bodies are designed to resist change and only adapt when necessary. If you’ve just added ten pounds of muscle in two months, this is a significant deviation from your body’s set point. This means that your body would be all too happy to start dropping the costly and energetically inefficient muscle you just worked so hard to earn. In order to deal with this reversion to the original set point, you have to get your body accustomed to this new level of muscle mass.
This can be accomplished by consuming a maintenance diet, with your full complement of fruits and vegetables. Keep the weights heavy, but be more aware of overtraining. You won’t be in the anabolic state you were when bulking and may be more susceptible to overtraining. Back off if you feel you need it, and don’t worry too much about suddenly losing weight — it’s not like coming off a drug cycle.
Don’t forget that with your new found muscle mass, your maintenance calorie requirement will be even higher than it was before!
5 Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will I put on fat following these tips?
I hope so. That’s why it’s called “bulking” and not “delicately adding lean mass.”
2. Why do we want to put on fat?
If you’re slowly adding a little fat, then it means that you’re in an optimal anabolic state for muscle growth. If you’re adding fat too quickly then you need to analyze what you’re doing and adjust accordingly. Besides, most skinny guys can afford to put on a little fat.
3. Why not gain lean mass exclusively?
From experience with myself and clients, it’s far faster and easier to gain a good quantity of muscle by bulking, then perform a cutting cycle. By trying to gain muscle without gaining fat, you’ll compromise both and accomplish less.
4. What about supplements?
This is the first thing that noobs ask, simply because they don’t understand how muscle growth works. Once they understand that building muscle requires a tremendous amount of food energy, they realize that supplements are meant to be icing on the cake rather than the cause of muscle growth.
Having said that, a good micellar casein like Optimum Nutrition Casein Whey! is invaluable, as is a good pre/post-workout supplement like MP Assault.
5. Why are Pop Tarts so perfect?
Pop Tarts contain an enormous amount of energy wrapped into a small package. You get a big bang for your buck, so to speak. They’re also very sweet, which can encourage consumption for many naturally skinny guys.
These tips are but a sample of what you can do to help yourself pack on weight. When used in conjunction with your training and nutrition programs, you’ll be adding at least a pound a week in no time. As always, stay focused, train heavy, and don’t forget why it’s called bulking!
Author: David Barr
Photography: Alpha Design Photography
If you want to build a better body you absolutely need at least a basic understanding of all the amino acids, both essential and non-essential, since they are involved in so many physiological processes ranging from energy production, recovery, muscular hypertrophy, fat loss and gains in strength. Here we’ve teamed up with Myprotein.com to take a look at amino acids very generally as well more specifically looking at the individual role each amino plays within the body.
So firstly what exactly are amino acids? An amino acid is a molecule that is the basic ingredient needed to create a protein. They link together in long chains to form proteins. Some amino acids are created by the body, but others can only be obtained by eating foods that contain them, such as fish, beef, chicken, dairy products, lentils or beans. They are necessary to all living cells and an inadequate intake of them can not only affect your training in the gym and your recovery afterwards but can also have serious implications on your health. To keep things simple, there are 20 amino acids in total that can be divided into two groups: essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The 9 essential amino acids are deemed ‘essential’ since they must be obtained through our diet and the foods we eat whereas the twelve non-essential amino acids are deemed ‘non- essential’ based on the body’s ability to synthesize them from other amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids
Non-Essential Amino Acids
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
Now how an amino acid is used is very dependent on what the body needs at that particular moment in time and basically as they circulate around the body, each cell is commanded by its own DNA blue print to draw from the common pool of available amino acids to synthesize all the numerous proteins required for its functions. More specifically for those wanting to increase muscle mass, an adequate supply of both essential and non-essential amino acids is needed for protein synthesis to effectively take place. Protein synthesis is a term used to describe the synthesis of new skeletal muscle proteins. When it happens on a larger scale it’s known as muscular hypertrophy and it’s basically the process that bodybuilders and certain athletes want when they are looking to increase the size of their muscles. However if just one of the essential amino acids is missing then synthesis is halted.
Perhaps the most important application to bodybuilding is the short window of opportunity immediately following your workout when your muscles are most receptive to nutrients (since the blood flow remains high and your muscle glycogen levels are depleted which means they possess a sponge like quality where they can absorb more protein and carbs than normal). Unfortunately research shows a high protein meal (or shake) alone will not put significant levels of amino acids into your blood stream until a couple of hours after you eat it, especially if blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract has been diminished by a hard training sessions. It’s for this very reason that athletes take through free form amino acids (in tablet or powder form) since they are free of chemical bonds to other molecules and so move quickly through the stomach and into the small intestine, where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream within 15 minutes. This quick absorption essentially not only prevents muscle catabolism but also more specifically with the essential amino acid leucine for example, stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis by activating a major complex in the anabolic pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) (S.M Phillips, 1997).The mTOR is basically one of the body’s protein synthesis regulators, energy sensors and nutrient sensors of amino acid availability, specifically of leucine. It’s deactivated when leucine concentrations in the body are low and it signals to the body that there isn’t enough dietary protein present to synthesize new skeletal muscle protein. But conversely as leucine concentrations increase, mTOR is activated and signals to the body there is sufficient dietary protein to synthesize new skeletal muscle protein.
Here we more specifically look at individual amino acids and there particular role within the body:
Leucine is important for building and increasing lean muscle mass. It increases insulin secretion for better uptake of protein and carbohydrates, essential ingredients in the building of muscle and providing energy for the body. It is the most effective BCAA for preventing muscle loss because it can be broken down and converted to glucose more quickly than isoleucine and valine. This increase in glucose supply helps prevent the body’s cannibalization of muscle for energy. Leucine also aids in the production of growth hormone, which can help to heal bones and skin and also speed up recovery after exercise. For these reasons, leucine is often recommended for patients who are recovering from injury or surgery. Deficiency in leucine can lead to headaches, fatigue and even depression.
Isoleucine is essential in stabilising and regulating energy and blood sugar levels and is needed for haemoglobin formation. Its primary function is to boost energy and help the body recover from strenuous activity. It has been shown in studies that isoleucine can help to prevent muscle and tissue breakdown overnight and during extreme levels of exercise such as marathons and other extreme distance events. Deficiencies in isoleucine can result in dizziness, confusion and irritability.
Valine helps the body to maintain a good nitrogen balance in the body, allowing muscle growth. Because of its ability to remove potentially toxic nitrogen from the liver, it is thought that valine can be used to help treat the liver as well as other organs that have been damaged by alcohol abuse. It also aids in muscle metabolism and tissue repair, and is therefore great for recovery from strenuous exercise. Valine helps prevent the breakdown of muscle by supplying the muscles with extra glucose for energy production during intense physical activity. Another benefit of valine is that it helps to stimulate the central nervous system, helping the functioning of the brain.
Originally used as an effective treatment for cold sores and herpes, Lysine has since been shown to play a major role in calcium absorption; building muscle protein; recovering from surgery or sports injuries; and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. But perhaps of more interest to bodybuilders at the Electrochemicals Department in America Harold L. Rice et al (1970) found Lysine supplementation enhanced the nitrogen balance in young men, one reason it’s now being heralded as a mass building amino.
Again originally used to treat liver disease as well as benefitting skin tone, elasticity, hair and nails Methionine has since been shown to enhance the production of creatine and therefore favourably enhance the body’s phospagen system and reproduction of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the molecule needed for all muscle contractions). Therefore scientists believe Methionine supplementation could greatly help with short bursts of exercise, especially on large compound movements such as the squat, bench and deadlift.
L-Phenylalanine is one of two chemical forms of Phenylalanine, the other being D-Phenylalanine. Once in the body, these amino acids are transformed into another amino acid, tyrosine. Tyrosine is then converted into key neurotransmitters, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. These are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells, particularly dopamine is needed for cognitive functioning and motivation, norepinephrine which increases alertness, increases attention span, minimizes the sensation of pain and also suppresses appetite. It also is required for the release of Human Growth Hormone (hGH) and stimulates the release of Luteinizing Hormone Releasing Hormone(LHRH) from the Hypothalamus. Lastly of course Epinephrine is more commonly known as adrenaline which is essential to preparing the body for exercise as it opens up the airways, raises blood pressure and quickens the heart rate.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts to 5 HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) which is partially responsible for the production of serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for mood and weight control. It is the intermediate step between tryptophan and serotonin. Proper levels of serotonin are necessary for level moods and the ability to maintain a normal weight.
Threonine is used to form the body’s two most important binding substances, collagen and elastin but more specifically for bodybuilders it’s also essential for supporting a healthy immune system since it helps with the production of antibodies and promoting growth and activity of the thymus (obviously very important for any athlete since the immune system is sometimes detrimentally affected by periods of hard training). Also important for athletes threonine has been shown to assist better absorption of other nutrients, so protein sources containing threonine are more bio-available than others.
Alanine and Histidine
Commonly grouped together the non-essential amino acids alanine and histidine have been shown join in the body and form a compound called carnosine, which studies show can reduce the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which in turn, ensures you become less fatigued during your lifts or during your workout as a whole. In a study published in the Journal of Japanese physiology it stated “It has been shown that people whose muscle carnosine was high could exhibit high power during the latter half of the 30 second maximal cycle ergometer sprinting. These results suggested that the muscle carnosine concentration could be one of the important factors determining high-intensity exercise performance.” (Y Suzuki et al 2002.)
Interestingly this is one of few supplements that has been scientifically shown to increase testosterone levels in healthy young men and not castrated rats, elderly men, post-menopausal women, or men suffering from low testosterone. Formed principally in the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and testes it plays an important role in the production of compounds associated with libido, tissue growth and the production of Luteinizing hormone. D Aspartic Acid stimulates the production of signal molecules which in turn enhance the activity in your testes as well as your pituitary gland. From an athletic perspective this allows your body to produce the compounds that help increase lean growth, strength, power and energy. More specifically scientists from Università di Napoli Parthenope e Fondazione in Italy found that subjects consuming D-aspartic acid supplementation for 20 days experienced improvements in testosterone levels compared to those with a placebo, concluding ‘here we demonstrated that D-aspartic acid, which occurs as a physiological compound in the mammalian pituitary and testis, has a role in the regulation of the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone.’ (Enza Topo et al 2009.) In another study, researchers provided a group of males (aged 27-37) a daily dose of 3.12 grams of D Aspartic acid for twelve consecutive days. Testosterone levels in the subjects that received the supplement had risen by 33% after the twelve days.
Glutamine and Glutamic Acid
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that is present in the body in large amounts, in fact at some times it forms 60% of your total amino acid pool. Because it passes through the blood-brain barrier rather easily it’s often called brain-food. In the brain it converts to glutamic acid, which is essential for brain functioning and increase GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid, another popular supplemented amino) needed or mental activities. Furthermore we all know we need nitrogen to get big, but too much nitrogen in the body could cause ammonia in the brain. Glutamine helps to get rid of it by attaching itself to the nitrogen and forming Glutamic acid, then escorts it out of the body. Plus during periods of intense training your body’s immune system is detrimentally affected howeverresearch at the Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research at the University College of Dublin found that the amino acid Glutamine’s repairing qualities were so impressive it’s used to treat patients with inflammatory conditions such as infection and injury. Furthermore it’s been noted within a week of glutamine supplementation your muscles become visibly larger since you have an increase in the amount of water driven into the muscle cells similar to the effects that creatine give. This effect is known as “cell volumization.”
Arginine has appeared in many products of the past couple of years, gaining popularity as a non-prescription treatment for high cholesterol and as an active ingredient in sexual support products. In the pancreas it is used to release insulin, in the pituitary gland, it is a component of human growth hormone. It is required in muscle metabolism and helping with weight control since it facilitates the increase of muscle mass, while reducing body fat.
Cysteine and Cystine
Needed for the efficient detoxification of the body, Cysteine is used in producing antioxidants and protects the brain and liver from damage due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs and cigarette smoke. Also again, bodybuilders immune systems are often compromised due to the amount of stress put on the body by performing strenuous endurance exercise therefore supplementing with cysteine is often considered a good idea. Lastly Cysteine is also considered effective in building lean muscle tissue since it is a precursor to taurine. When blood glucose levels are low, Cysteine is effective for producing energy by converting to glucose. This may help to prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue and enhance endurance in bodybuilding.
Tyrosine has been used to help everything from reduce stress, fight fatigue, depression, anxiety, headaches and allergies. However more specifically for athletes it has also been shown to increase energy and enhance libido. Also tyrosine has also been shown to increase the production of thyroid hormones in the body. Thyroid hormones then increase the rate of metabolism, raising body temperature to normal levels. Obviously increased metabolic rate is necessary to achieve weight loss, and tyrosine plays an intricate part in raising metabolism without any unwanted side effects (which are sometimes associated with certain thermogenics.)
Glycine has been shown to not only slow muscle-tissue breakdown and promote healing after intense workouts but also promote growth-hormone release and enhance cell volumising. Also more specifically performance based, glycine has also been shown to control blood sugar levels and protect against ATP depletion which can help you train at your maximum intensity for longer.
Proline is an amino acid needed for the production of collagen and cartilage. It keeps muscles and joints flexible and helps reduce sagging and wrinkling that accompany UV exposure and normal aging of the skin. Both proline and lysine are considered essential for protein synthesis and both needed to make hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, two amino acids that form collagen. Collagen helps to heal cartilage and to cushion the joints and vertebrae. For this reason, proline is often supplemented by bodybuilders to protect the joints during bouts of heavy lifting.
The body uses serine to make creatine which is essential the reproduction of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which as mentioned before is essential for the efficient contraction of the muscles. It’s also a component of the antibodies and immunoglobulins that fight infections, and it is a component of choline, ethanolamine, sarcosine, and phospholipids involved in the transmission of signals through the nervous system. Lastly it can also be converted to pyruvate, which enables the muscles and the liver to release stored glucose from glycogen. It is also the grandparent of the oxygen transport molecule hemoglobin, the compound that makes blood red and that enables it to oxygenate the whole body. Hemoglobin is made from amino-levulinic acid, which is made from glycine, which is made from serine.
Author: Ross Edgley
Photography: Alpha Design
As any bodybuilder will know, during periods of high intensity training there is a fine line between ‘stimulation’ and ‘alienation.’ Too little and you see no gains, too much and you’re ill for weeks setting you back even further. Here we explore what supports our immune system and what types of supplements are associated with its maintenance.
Subject of huge debate is what effect intense training has on the body’s immune system and whilst there is no clear-cut answer, the general consensus from sports medical journals is that hard, intense, balls to the wall, training to failure training, can make it very difficult for the immune system to perform its normal, day-to-day defense duties. Whilst conversely, light anaerobic exercise can actually strengthen the body’s response to stress and inflammation. Obviously that’s not to say take it easy in the gym and never break a sweat, but instead intelligently take care of your immune system during those intense periods of training so you can continue to improve and grow free of sickness. And here’s how:
Firstly it’s important to explain a bit about the immune system (known as the lymph system). It’s essentially a highly complex system of organs (lymph nodes) and cells (lymphocytes) that work together to seek and destroy anything ‘foreign’ that enters the body (such as bad bacteria or a virus.) These lymph nodes are housed strategically throughout the body, and serve as the checkpoint for fluids that carry the lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are cells that patrol the body for potential threats in the form of bacteria, virus and fungi and without becoming too in-depth, they can be classed as T-cells or B-cells.
Now in a healthy young adult, the immune system functions efficiently and can stop the detrimental effects of any virus before it becomes too severe. However research shows that when you train at a intensity above 90% of your maximum heart rate or near exhaustion, your oxygen usage skyrockets, this in turn causes an increase in lactic acid accumulation in the muscles, which in turn cases your body to pull alkaline reserves from bones and other mineral dense sources. Not to mention muscle tissue being torn and Adenosine Triphosphate levels in the muscles becoming depleted. All in all, the body has a lot to cope with and as a result athletes often experience something known as an ‘immune system crash.’ This is where the efficiency of your immune system is reduced and can last for 3 hours or even 72 hours
The good news is there are supplements that have been proven to help boost the body’s immune system and help keep your training on the right path. Perhaps the most well known being glutamine (one of the most abundant amino acids in the body) which, as well as playing a vital role in cell volumisation and nitrogen transfer, has also been shown to help the body’s immune system and aid recovery. In fact, research at the Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research at the University College of Dublin found the immune boosting properties of glutamine were so impressive, it was used to treat patients with inflammatory conditions such as infection and injury. Experts recommend around 5 grams per day should greatly help to support a healthy immune system during periods of heavy training.
Secondly another aspect to be considered when looking at supporting your immune system is your body’s PH levels since when they drop below 6.0 your body becomes far more susceptible to disease since it becomes an ideal environment for viruses to thrive. This happens because during intense training your body crosses that barrier from aerobic (working with oxygen) to anaerobic (working without oxygen).
When this happens, the body responds by taking other vital systems of their alkaline (acid neutralizing) compounds, therefore producing a more acidic environment (below PH 6.0.) Put simply, you need to keep your body as alkaline as possible and supplementing your diet with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium can do this. That’s why Myprotein.com created Alpha Men a unique and highly effective blend of high potency vitamins and minerals designed to support the body’s immune system. I take these every morning & I’ve seen incredible results – when ever someone is ill in the office I’m the last one to get it if at all!
Next, the most documented and studied mineral that has been shown to boost immunity is zinc. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism it stated ‘zinc deficiency was shown to impair cellular mediators of innate immunity such as phagocytosis, natural killer cell activity, and the generation of oxidative burst.’ Therefore zinc plays an important role in immune function and the modulation of host resistance to infectious agents, reducing the risk, severity, and duration of infectious diseases. Furthermore it was found that zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal.
Another supplement known for its immune boosting properties is the herb Echinacea. In a study conducted at the Nutrilite Health Institute in California it was found that Echinacea had the ability to reduce both the duration and intensity of cold and flu symptoms. And whilst more research is needed to find out the exact medical benefits of this herb, experts believe its Echinacea’s ability of activating white blood cells that leads to its immune boosting properties. Once again I buy this from MyProtein.com as it’s the only place that sell it at an acceptable price in the UK.
Lastly, and relevant to the winter months fast approaching, recent research shows 86% of the population in the UK are deficient in Vitmain D3 since the hours of daylight are vastly reduced (whilst vitamin D can be sourced from certain foods it also functions within the body in response to the skin’s exposure to sun specifically ultraviolet-B rays.) Studies have shown Vitamin D to be a powerful immune stimulant and has been suggested to be a much more powerful tool in combating illnesses and viruses than Vitamin C. People consuming sufficient Vitamin D have also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. From an athletic perspective, sufficient levels of Vitamin D can have a number of performance boosting benefits. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce inflammation in body tissues, often associated with overtraining and intense exercise, which may help bodybuilders recover quicker from exercise. There is also some evidence to suggest Vitamin D levels are associated with the maintenance of power and strength by potentially increasing the size and number of fast twitch fibres. Since deficiency can be associated with stress fractures, chronic musculoskeletal pain, weakened immune function, and inflammation, it is important that bodybuilders seriously consider Vitamin D supplementation. To maintain adequate vitamin D levels, some studies suggest athletes should aim to consume over 2000iu per day.
In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Metabolic Diseases and Dietetics it was found that Vitamin C concentrations in the plasma and leukocytes rapidly decline during infections and stress and that supplementation of vitamin C was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities and the increasing of lymphocytes. Although the dosage of Vitamin C tested varies in each study, experts generally agree that 500mg of Vitamin C per day should be sufficient to help support the immune system.
Zinc Investigators’ Collaborative Group: Bhutta ZA, Black RE, Brown KH, Meeks Gardner J, Gore S, Hidajat J, Khatun F, Mar- torell R, Ninh NX, Penny ME, Rosado JL, Roy SK, Ruel M, Sazawal S, Shankar A: Prevention of diarrhea and pneumonia by zinc supplementation in children in developing countries: pooled analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Pediatr 1999; 135:689–697.
Eby GA: Zinc ion availability – the determinant of efficacy in zinc lozenge treatment of common colds. J Antimicrob Chemother 1997;
Bhandari N, Bahl R, Taneja S, Strand T, Mol- bak K, Ulvik RJ, Sommerfelt H, Bhan MK: Effect of routine zinc supplementation on pneumonia in children aged 6 months to 3 years: randomised controlled trial in an urban slum. 2002; 324:1358–1360.
Peters EM, Goetzsche JM, Grobbelaar B, No- akes TD: Vitamin C supplementation reduces the incidence of postrace symptoms of upper- respiratory-tract infection in ultramarathon runners. Am J Clin Nutr 1993; 57:170–174.
Kennes B, Dumont I, Brohee D, Hubert C, Neve P: Effect of vitamin C supplements on cell-mediated immunity in older people. Ger- ontology 1983; 29:305–310.
Heuser G, Vojdani A: Enhancement of natural killer cell activity and T and B cell function by buffered vitamin C in patients exposed to toxic chemicals; the role of protein kinase-C. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 1997; 19: 291–312.
Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin C, vita- min E, selenium, and carotenoids. A report of the Panel on Antioxidants and Related com- pounds, Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes; Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Washington, National Academy Press, 2000, chapter 5: Vitamin C, pp 95–185.
Carr AC, Frei B: Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on anti- oxidant and health effects in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:1086–1107.
Jimmy Murtaugh: Website
Matt Marsh: Website
So you’ve decided you want to start bodybuilding, there are lots of different reasons that people decide to take up the sport. It’s really important that you be clear about what you want to get out of it, and how much you want to put into it. For some people, bodybuilding is an all-consuming lifestyle, and for others it is a hobby. The more you think about what YOU want out of the sport, the easier it will be to set appropriate goals and measure your own success.
When you set goals it will help you achieve the things that you want to achieve. Set realistic goals, if you don’t you will not achieve them, get frustrated and potentially quit all together. Set goals for the present, midterm, and long term with an end goal. This will enable you to go through the entire process and not get stressed out by constantly looking to the future and one large goal that seems forever away. Enjoy the process, it will teach you a lot about who you are, what you are capable of, and will help you stay motivated for the future.
The people in the gym that have the look that you want; got that way with hours upon hours in the gym, hard work, educating themselves, and asking questions. Their knowledge can be invaluable to your progress. Remember, these people were once like you and asked questions to better understand how to achieve their goals. So approach them and ask them how they do something or what advice they would give you. You may be surprised how much you can learn. There is a lot of know-how in effective bodybuilding. It is not just about lifting a lot of heavy things. So use the resources that you can to learn.
There are many great websites, magazines, and books that offer tons of information that can help you to succeed. A lot of the top athletes have been published and have books dedicated specifically to how they eat, train, and their philosophy on the sport. Websites offer great training articles, interviews, and personal opinions of the sports elite athletes. Magazines also offer an in depth look at the best in the business and have many “how to” parts in them that you can utilize in your training. Education is key. The more you know, the better you will become, and the more you will understand the intricate processes of your own body.
Journalize your progress. Write down your workouts, your diet, and supplementation. If you were asked today what you ate three days ago, could you give an exact account of what you had consumed? Most people would say no. If you don’t know what you’re putting in your body, how can you make change? Diet is the biggest part of the equation, so if you don’t get this down you will never have a solid foundation to build upon. Determine how many calories, how much fat, and how much protein you should consume daily. The same applies to your supplementation. The supplements fill in the gaps where your nutrition lacks. Make sure to take your supplements as directed, and that you are on a regimen that works well with the goals you have set in place. Writing out your workouts can be fun and motivating. You keep track of your weights used, reps, and sets and if you are like any other person out there with a goal you will always try to best yourself that next week. This will make your workouts fun, enable you to share them with more experienced lifters for help “this also applies to diet and supplementations”, and will help keep you on track with a more balanced workout and plan of attack. If a body part is lagging you can look at what you have been doing and change it, it’s that simple. If you get all of this working together you will see the progress you want, in turn that will add confidence and motivate you to set the bar higher. You can do this!
A lot of beginners live and die by the bench press. They see their friends doing it and do the same. Somehow the bench has become a direct reflection of how strong someone is, the truth is its not. Some beginners will do chest upward of 3 to 4 times a week. This is something you should never do. You want to have a balanced physique, and this most definitely isn’t the way to it. Split up your week into various body parts.
- Monday - Chest
- Tuesday - Arms
- Wednesday - Legs
- Thursday - Shoulders
- Friday - Back
- Saturday - off
- Sunday – off
Without a balanced routine you will end up with a disproportionate body. You will not reach your full potential, you will be injury prone, and you will not achieve your goals. Find a plan that works towards your goals. If you want to bulk up, find some articles and workouts that support it. Also compare articles and find the one that fits you best. There will be varying opinions and workouts demonstrated, so find one that works for you.
Don’t forget about the heart and lungs. While some individual’s goals may be to put on muscle, you should not forget to add cardiovascular training into your workout routine. The standard is about 30 minutes of cardio activity per day. This can include activities such as running for distance or time, jumping rope, swimming, or even walking at an elevated pace. Doing aerobic activities helps to build up endurance, or in other words how long you can perform an activity. On the other side of things, high intensity exercises such as sprinting or HIT cardio is considered anaerobic activity. This type of cardio helps to build up how much intensity you can exude during an activity, such as more reps in less time. It’s important to add in both cardiovascular activities into your workout schedule.
If you ask most people whether or not they build muscle in the gym or at home, most will tell you in the gym. The fact is you build them when you are resting; you break them down in the gym. This has been proven by many researchers. Try to get in at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Also consider taking a short nap or two during the day. While you are at rest, protein synthesis takes place. Your body is then able to work more effectively on the muscles that were used the most in that days workout, therefore allowing for more growth and better recovery.
Diet is 80% of the equation when it comes to succeeding in bodybuilding. If you are like most people, you eat once or twice a day and probably consume a lot of fast food, or foods that may be convenient for your schedule, but not effective in helping you achieve your goals. The type of diet you need to be on to achieve the body you want may be completely different to what you are used to. To begin follow these easy steps to success below for an example.
- Eat 5-6 times a day
- Eat lean proteins- Fish, chicken, turkey, beef
- Eat more vegetables- Broccoli, asparagus, and green beans
- Eat good carbs- Sweet potatoes, Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa
- Limit your sugar intake, this includes fruits
- Limit or eliminate processed foods
- Eat good fats- Nuts/ peanut or almond butter, avocados
- Drink more water
- Watch calorie adding condiments
Measure you against you
It is easy to get frustrated as you are getting started. There are always guys in the gym who are bigger and stronger. Don’t try to compete with them, or match them for strength. It is often better to lift less with better form than to do more weight with no form at all. Give yourself time to develop, and one day you will be the guy responding to the questions of someone who is just like you used to be.
Author: Bodybuilding.com Athelete - Brandan Fokken
It’s getting to that time of the year where the summer cut is finally coming to a close and now the fun begins. It’s time to bulk gentlemen (and ladies…)! For those of you just starting out, this is probably all new to you and you really don’t understand the concept of cutting and bulking and why things happen during certain times of the year.
For most, fall/winter is the time to bulk and put on some slabs of meat. If they add a little fat during this time, so be it. They will be wearing a lot of long sleeve sweatshirt types of clothing; therefore, they can hide whatever fat they might gain.
Then come spring/summer is the time to cut and drop the fat that you might have gained during the cold months to show off the new lean mass you added. Not to mention most people go to the beach or go on vacation these months so it naturally makes sense to diet and hit some cardio during this time to get in the best shape of the year.
Bulking during this time will have you looking slightly heavier/bloated than if you were cutting. Not to mention fat gains with bulking will be apparent especially when in a bathing suit.
Now onto the good stuff! We all start from scratch. We aren’t placed on this planet to know everything without learning it. So here I am to the rescue! The rest of this article is especially for the new guys who need some tips on how to effectively bulk. The following are ten tips (in no particular order) to help you on your way to packing on some muscle.
Here is a compilation of things that you should have on your grocery list (you may pick and choose the foods in those categories that you like):
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
- Tuna (water packed)
- Fish (salmon, sea bass, halibut)
- Extra Lean Ground Beef or Ground Round (92-96%)
- Protein Powder
- Egg Whites or Eggs
- Rib Eye Steaks
- Top Round Steaks or Roast (aka Stew Meat, London Broil, Stir Fry)
- Top Sirloin (aka Sirloin Top Butt)
- Beef Tenderloin (aka Filet, Filet Mignon)
- Top Loin (NY Strip Steak)
- Flank Steak (Sir Fry, Fajita)
- Eye of Round (Cube Meat, Stew Meat, Bottom Round, 96% Lean Ground Round)
- Ground turkey, Turkey Breast Slices or cutlets (fresh meat, not deli cuts)
- Oatmeal (Old Fashioned or Quick Oats)
- Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
- Beans (pinto, black, kidney)
- Oat Bran Cereal
- Brown Rice
- Farina (Cream of Wheat)
- Multigrain Hot Cereal
- Rice (white, jasmine, basmati, Arborio, wild)
- Potatoes (red, baking, new)
- Green Leafy Lettuce (Green Leaf, Red, Leaf, Romaine)
- String Beans
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
Other Produce & Fruits
- Green or Red Pepper
- Fruit (if acceptable on diet): bananas, apples, grapefruit, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
- Lemons or Limes
- Natural Style Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
- Olive Oil, Safflower Oil, Almond Oil, Flaxseed Oil
- Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnut)
- Nuts and seeds (butternuts, flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans) – Omega-3
- Fatty coldwater fish (mackerel, salmon, bluefish, mullet, sablefish) – EPA and DHA
- More fish (menhaden, anchovy, herring, lake trout, sardines, tuna) – EPA and DHA
- Olive, Canola, and Peanut – Monounsaturated Oils
- Safflower, Sunflower, Corn, Soybean, and Cottonseed – Polyunsaturated Oils
- Leafy veggies, seeds, nuts, grains – Omega-6
- Veggie oils (Safflower, Sunflower, Corn, Soybean, and Cottonseed), and poultry fat – Omega-6
- Oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean, walnut, wheat germ; canola or soybean oil) – Omega-3
Dairy & Eggs
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Low or Non-Fat Milk
Calories & Meals
While bulking you want to eat more calories (more than maintenance) and also eat more often. So in essence, you will be eating smaller meals than you would if you were only eating three each day (like normal humans). These meals will consist of protein, carbs, and fats.
It doesn’t have to be anything big; it could be something as simple as an apple with peanut butter. But you should strive for at least 6-8 small meals a day. By eating more often you will have a constant supply of fuel throughout the day which is a constant supply of nutrients to your muscles to help them grow.
Not only will it do that, but it will also help keep your metabolism up so you don’t start adding body fat. You should also be striving for 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight you have. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you want to get between 150-300 grams of protein a day. Each of these meals can be spread out 2-3 hours apart.
Here is a list of supplements which are great during anytime of the year, including while bulking. Note, I do not recommend supplementation for anyone under the age of 18, nor is supplementation a replacement to a good diet:
Whey Protein (Concentrate Or Isolate):
Protein is the building block for muscle. Without it, you won’t make the gains you are looking for. You can use whey protein at anytime of the day and it won’t hurt you. There are many different brands and flavors out there, find one that suits your taste buds and isn’t overly priced.
You can use it pre-workout, post-workout, as a snack, or add some fruit and throw it in the blender to it and use it as a meal replacement. It is a quick and easy way to get your daily protein intake.
Casein protein is the best protein you can get to keep you anabolic throughout the night. It is a slow digesting protein which slowly breaks down over a span of around 6-8 hours. The last thing you want to do is go into a catabolic state and lose your hard-earned gains. This protein comes in especially handy before bed when compared to whey.
It is a necessity to purchase a good multivitamin. You need to get proper vitamins and minerals which you can’t get from food alone. A multivitamin is essential to help with everyday activities and give you exactly what your body needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Creatine will help you not only recover better, but it will help you gain some lean mass quicker. Creatine is one of the most widely studied supplements out on the market today. There are no harmful effects from creatine and it can be used safely before and after workouts. Creatine can safely be used for both pre and post workout. There is no need to do a loading phase nor cycle creatine.
Fish oil gives you EFA’s which are the “good fats” that we all need. Fatty acids are a necessity which most people don’t understand. They are important for cellular, heart, and metabolic health. We do not get enough “good fats” in our diet each day so supplementing with fish oil is a must.
Amino acids are the building blocks for protein. Without protein, gains are minimized. Amino acids are also used to help the brain function properly. Everyone needs BCAA’s to help build muscle and recover. Yes, protein powder has amino acids in them, but look at the nutrition label and if they are in low doses, then it is best to get yourself some BCAA’s.
3. Compound Movements
Compound movements are what makes you grow. Isolation movements are more for shaping of muscles rather than jacking up the growth hormones in your body and gaining some mass. Compound movements are the squats, deadlifts, barbell presses, military presses, and similar movements.
They are any movement that requires more than one muscle to execute an exercise. These are the foundation to bodybuilding and bulking.
It’s a fact that you don’t grow while in the gym. You grow while you rest outside of the gym. Sure when you have a nice hard pump in the gym and your muscles are swollen and look larger you think your getting bigger and bigger by each set. You are incorrect. That nice pump that we all long for is only temporary.
After about an hour those effects start to diminish and you will be about the same size as you were before you stepped into the gym that day. You need to rest your muscles and get adequate sleep at night to help increase growth hormones in your body which in turn help you gain lean muscle mass. You should be getting no less than 8 hours of sleep a night. Anything less and you will be cutting yourself short with your gains.
5. Post Workout Meal
Post-workout meals are very important. You can think of it as an old coal train. You throw a whole bunch of coal in to start the train and then you stop giving it coals, what eventually happens? The train stops. Same goes with your body. The food you eat pre-workout gets used as fuel for the body during exercise.
hen as your workout comes to an end, the fuel has surely run out and it will be starving for more to grow. If you don’t feed your body, it can’t grow. And it is especially needed post-workout because that is when your body absorbs nutrients best.
Your body is literally starving for nutrients at the end of your workout and if you don’t feed it then it simply can’t repair itself and grow.
The post-workout meal you need to be taking in around 45-50 grams of protein. Add in one to two times that amount of carbohydrates (90-100 grams). If you are a hard-gainer, make it closer to 2 with most all of them coming from simple sources. If you tend to gain weight easily, then it’s better to stay closer to the equivalent of the amount of protein and make it half simple, half complex sources.
6. Keep Cardio To a Minimum
This one isn’t rocket science; you don’t need a Ph.D. to understand. Obviously when you do cardio, you use up fuel (calories). Calories are what you need to grow. You take away calories, you take away gains. Now I’m not saying to stop cardio all together, because you don’t need to.
Cardio is actually a good way to keep from putting on body fat during a bulking phase and an excellent way to keep the heart healthy.
Cardio also increases your appetite so you will be able to down some extra calories to make up for the loss you experienced during your workout. You can get away with doing some low intensity cardio without losing lean mass gains so do not be afraid to do cardio while bulking.
7. Increase your Calories
In order to gain weight (muscle), you must increase your calories. This does not mean you can eat McDonald’s or Wendy’s every meal since you would be increasing your calories. You could do that, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to look like a blimp.
An easy way to do this (especially if you are stuck at the same weight) is to track your calories. When you find out how many calories you are eating which maintaining your weight, add 250-500 calories each day and by the end of the week see if you gained any weight.
Don’t forget that 3500 calories is equal to one pound. So theoretically, if you increased your calories by 500 each day for a week you should gain a pound. Now let me explain something to you, this isn’t as easy as you may think. You can’t just eat some Twinkies or eat a cake.
You still need to be eating clean to ensure you don’t gain fat. Yes, during your bulking phase, you will gain some fat. But do not get worried about this unless you are gaining a lot of fat in which case you need to look at your diet and clean it up more. It would be a smart idea for you to write down your weight once a week on the same day and at the same time.
This will help with the accuracy of your results. You can also get your body fat measured once a week to see how much fat you are gaining. Like I mentioned before, if you are gaining a lot of fat, re-evaluate your diet.
Water is a key no matter what you are trying to accomplish. Staying hydrated increase protein synthesis so you will make better use of the protein you ingest. Water is also a good way to stay hydrated without adding all the sugary drinks like soda and tea.
Strive for at least a gallon of water a day. If you sweat a lot during your workout you definitely should be striving for more than a gallon a day. An easy way to track your water intake is to carry around a gallon jug wherever you go.
When it’s empty, you know you got your gallon in. At that point you can refill and start over. Water also keeps your metabolism up due to the oxygen content in the water.
Most people have the mentality that more is better. This is not the case with training. Most of the time the people who have that mindset are overtraining and in turn minimizing their gains. Depending on your exercise level, you could train smartly with 3-6 days in the gym.
You want to keep your workouts short but intense. This means that you should ideally keep your workouts less than 1 hour. Anything more and you are lowering your natural testosterone levels which you don’t want to do. The key is to experiment and find out what training style works best for your body.
Some people respond very well to lower rep sets while others find higher reps sets are the way to go. Some people can get away with a low number of sets while some people need to complete many sets to get results. I would actually recommend starting with lower sets, evaluate your progress and adjust it accordingly.
If you find you aren’t growing with the number of sets you are doing, gradually increase the sets and see how you respond to that. When it comes down to it, there really is no one way to train. Everyone is different. The fun part is trying new things to see what works best for you.
If building the body of your dreams was easy, then everyone would look good. It takes hard work and determination. Keep training hard and never be afraid to switch things up. Hitting the muscle differently is what sparks new growth which is what I’m sure everyone is trying to accomplish.
10. Have Fun!
For most of us, bodybuilding isn’t our full-time job. And for majority of us, that is a good thing. Being a professional bodybuilder isn’t for everyone. The determination and hard work isn’t for the faint at heart. Sure, anyone can say they are a bodybuilder, but to be good at it, you need to stick with it.
You need to find something that motivates you and go with it. Set some short and long term goals for yourself and check on your progress and re-evaluate things. Make things fun, try new things. You do not want to dread going to the gym every day.
By evaluating your progress and seeing the improvements, that should be enough to make you want to keep hitting the gym. Sure there are days where everything around you is going wrong and you really don’t feel like going to the gym, but once you are there everything changes.
The weights don’t complain, they don’t yell at you (unless you have some serious mental issues). It’s a great way to release stress. Bodybuilding isn’t just a weekly or monthly thing. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle. Where it takes you, no one knows. But what do you have to lose by having fun in the process? Living the bodybuilding lifestyle is a great way to stay healthy and achieving the body you always wanted. Your first step begins now…
Author: Matt Weik
Photography: Alpha Design/Fivos
A number of studies have demonstrated that CLA reduces fatty mass while increasing lean body mass. And whilst there are plenty of thermogenics, stimulants and thyroid stimulators of notable merit, few supplements on the market today have been backed by as much research as CLA. Lets take a look at the facts and studies surrounding this latest fat loss supplement to see if it’s worthy of a place in your supplement cupboard.
What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)?
Essentially it’s a naturally occurring fatty acid and whilst it can be obtained through your diet by eating beef, cheese and certain dairy products it’s only present in these foods at very low doses. It would be pretty hard to get the recommended 4.2 grams per day as suggested by A. Smedman et al (2001) who, in a study conducted at Uppsala University in Sweden, discovered that supplementing 4.2 grams of CLA per day in 53 normal healthy individuals led to a significant decrease (3.8%) in body fat compared with individuals not taking CLA.
It’s believed CLA lowers your body fat in 3 ways; firstly in a study conducted in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of País Vasco it was discovered CLA interferes with a substance in your body called lipoprotein lipase, which is partly responsible for helping store fat in your body. Secondly the same study also concluded that CLA helps your body use its existing fat for energy. Therefore studies show CLA not only inhibits the storing of fat it also enhances the burning of fat.
Third and finally and perhaps most important for bodybuilders, CLA has been show to increase muscle mass which in turn can increase your metabolism and the amount of calories you burn at rest. This of course has the added benefit of not actually making you lose weight, but rather changing (and improving) your body composition. Most recently a 1 year human study showed a 9% reduction in body fat and 2% increase in muscle mass (Gaullier, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79(6): 1118–1125 (2004.) Whilst the previously mentioned study at Uppsala University in Sweden also showed a slight net increase in body weight, but a net decrease in body fat.
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Face it, some of us simply can’t be stuck behind a desk all day long in a tiny cubicle staring at a computer monitor until our eyes cross. For those of you who are on the road majority of the year, I feel for you and I understand the stresses that come along with it.
Besides the obvious stress of being away from home and your loved ones, you have to deal with traffic for 8+ hours a day, deal with changing weather conditions during those hours, find a place to sleep each night based on the area you are working, and the topic of this article – proper nutrition while working out of your car.
I’ve been in the fitness industry for quite some time now, but have only been a true “road warrior” for a little over a year. Traveling isn’t as bad as people make it out to be – you get to see new places, sight-see while traveling, and meet a lot of new people. The fork in the road comes when it’s time to eat. Most people grab something quick from a fast food restaurant – hence why a good portion of the US is overweight. If you don’t plan out each meal ahead of time you are setting yourself up for disaster. Consider this article your map to find your way to a healthy body even when you feel like you took a couple wrong turns on the way.
Let’s start off with the essentials. You need to grocery shop, and do it often. You should try and find a hotel that has a room with a refrigerator, freezer, oven, stove, and microwave. Personally, I enjoy staying at the Residence Inn (a Marriott property) if possible. They offer a full kitchen with a nice office/desk area to get work done (perfect for writing these articles). Find the closest grocery store once you get to the hotel. If they have a “bonus card” or something similar that offers you savings, sign up for one-majority of them are free. More than likely during your travels you will run into another one of these grocery stores and the savings will definitely add up even after your first visit.
Fresh whole foods are always the way to go over supplements when you are able to fit them in. Protein shakes and bars are perfect for when you are in a pinch or want something quick between meals but you should still strive for at least 5 whole food meals during the day. If you want to fit in an extra 1-2 meals that consist of protein bars or shakes that will do. When grocery shopping try to pick up as much fresh food as you can. Remember, if you have a hotel room with a fridge, you can store these foods for the next day if you are there for more than one night.
If you only stay there for one night you can buy just enough for that day/night and then grocery shop again the following day. Or, you can use a portable mini fridge/warmer. I personally have a Coleman car fridge which doubles as a warmer as well. I’m not telling you Coleman is the only way to go, but this is the one I purchased and I have no complaints. I am able to store my food in there that needs to be kept cold or I can set it to keep foods warm which I prepared that morning or the night before. This allows me to grab hot whole food meals while on the road and avoid fast food all together. If you are staying at a hotel which doesn’t have an oven or stove, I highly recommend purchasing something like a George Foreman Grill so you can prepare your chicken/fish/beef products.
Below you will find a list of great food options when you are grocery shopping:
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
- Tuna (Water Packed)
- Fish (Salmon, Sea Bass, Halibut)
- Extra Lean Ground Beef (92-96%)
- Protein Powder
- Egg Whites or Eggs
- Rib-eye Steaks or Roast
- Top Round Steaks or Roast
- Top Sirloin
- Beef Tenderloin
- Top Loin (NY Strip Steak)
- Flank Steak
- Eye of Round
- Turkey (Fresh meat, not deli cuts.)
- Sweet Potatoes or Yams
- Beans (Pinto, Black, Kidney)
- Oat Bran Cereal
- Brown Rice
Vegetables & Fruit
- Lettuce (Green Leaf, Red, Romaine)
- String Beans
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
- Fruit (If acceptable on diet
- Lemons or Limes
Healthy Fats & Dairy
- Natural Style Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
- Olive Oil, Safflower Oil, Almond Oil, Flaxseed OilPeanuts, Almonds, Walnut
- Fatty coldwater fish (Mackerel, Salmon, Bluefish, Mullet, Sablefish)
- More fish (Menhaden, Anchovy, Herring, Lake Trout, Sardines, Tuna)
- Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
- Low or Non-Fat Milk
In terms of hydration, I am a huge fan of water. No matter where I am I carry a gallon jug of water. I highly recommend that you do the same thing every day. Not only is water the best option in terms of what to drink in order to stay hydrated, but it is also free of calories, sugars, and carbohydrates. Also, by using a gallon jug it allows you to monitor your water intake each day. You want to strive for at least a gallon a day. I will say this, when on the road and drinking a gallon of water, be prepared to make some extra bathroom breaks
After a few weeks of being on the road and utilizing some of the things in this article, you will find yourself settling into your own routine and how to stay on track nutritionally while on the road. The key thing to remember is to plan ahead. If you don’t plan ahead, then you are planning for failure.
Author: Matt Weik
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