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Archive for October, 2013

Just what is the Paleo diet, and is it right for you? This guide takes a deeper look at the history and principles behind this popular eating lifestyle. Included are sample Paleo recipes.

Complete guide to the Paleo diet

Paleo dieting—where does it come from?

If you haven’t put two and two together yet, the term “Paleo” is shorthand for “Paleolithic” which is an era of human prehistory (e.g. somewhere between 2.5 million to 20,000 years ago) sometimes also referred to as the “Stone Age”. It is said that this period entailed the earliest widespread use of human technology. The reasoning for referring the Paleo era as pre-historic is due to the fact that there are no written records from humans of those times.

Paleo food history

As early humans evolved, so did their lifestyles and methods of survival. Much of the Paleo dieting ideology is founded on the basis of what “hunter-gatherers” ate. It is said that hunter-gatherer humans of the Paleo age derived nearly 60-70% of their energy intake from animal foods.[1] Moreover, without much of the agricultural developments like modern humans have established, it is likely they consumed minimal grains and carbohydrate-laden foods, as well as little dairy. We will get into more specifics about the nutritional habits of Paleo dieters later in this guide.

Who or what started the Paleo dieting “movement”?

When putting a name to the “Paleo face” most people probably assume that Robb Wolf (who wrote the ever-so-popular “Paleo Solution” book) was the instigator of the modern Paleo movement, but modern humans have actually been researching and advocating Paleo dieting habits for decades.

It’s wise to consider that low-carb dieting is not necessarily synonymous with Paleo dieting, but the concepts behind both dieting methods are similar. Many people attribute Paleo conception back to the 1800s and an obese patient of Dr. William Harvey’s—William Banting. It was suggested that he greatly limit his intake of refined carbohydrates and avoiding sugar. While this wasn’t specifically referred to as “Paleo dieting”, Banting and Harvey were still early pioneers of many similar Paleo concepts.

Moving on, one of the most prominent advocates of actual “Paleo dieting” was gastroenterologist Dr. Walter Voegtlin. He published a book in 1975 called “The Stone Age Diet” that insisted human health could be optimized through dieting strategies of the Paleolithic era. In the decades following Dr. Voegtlin’s work, Paleo dieting saw slow but steady increases in interest/following, with a large surge coming in the early years of the 21st century.

It’s hard, if not improper, to pinpoint one individual as a sort of ringleader of Paleo dieting, but it is safe to say that Banting, Dr. Harvey, and Dr. Voegtlin’s work were held in high regard in their time and are still prestigious to this day.

What is Paleo dieting?

Fresh VegetablesIn a nutshell (and this probably isn’t a shocker to most people) Paleo dieting is pretty much just eating the same types of foods that early humans ate. Now where it gets a bit blurry is how we categorize certain foods and determine what really fits the bill, so to speak, of something that would be in the diet of prehistoric hunter-gatherer humans.

Given that modern techniques of food production often include some sort of alteration to the product, whether it’s genetic modification, enrichment/fortification, hormone infusion, etc., people who are “hardcore” Paleo often eat a diet comprised of foods that are “organic” and “natural”. This generally includes the following:

  • Vegetables, especially root vegetables and green leafy varieties
  • Fruits, with an emphasis on berries
  • Meats/Poultry, and quite preferably free-range, hormone-free types
  • Seafood, pretty much any type, but fresh is preferred over canned products
  • Nuts/Seeds (except peanuts), these are crucial on a Paleo diet for their unsaturated fatty acid content
  • Eggs, many people think eggs are a dairy product, but they are in fact dairy-free
  • Oils, olive and coconut oils are often advocated as part of a Paleo diet
  • Tea, this is optional but some people use these as alternatives to water while Paleo dieting

Some gray areas do exist when it comes to Paleo dieting since some people make their own “exceptions” or “approved” foods. For example potatoes, despite being vegetables, may be omitted from a Paleo diet due to their inherently high starch content. Certain high-sugar fruits, especially dried fruits, are another case of foods that may be omitted from a traditional Paleo diet.

Furthermore, artificial sweeteners and foods/liquids that contain them are generally a no-go on Paleo diets. It would seem somewhat contradictory, if not ironic, to say you’re “eating and drinking like a caveman” while slamming a few diet sodas.

Direct health benefits of a Paleo diet (supported by literature)

It may surprise many people to know that little scientific literature has conclusively shown that the Paleo diet is more favorable from a health standpoint then comparative diets (under isocaloric conditions). The main conundrum is that studies that have showed favorable benefits have differing proportions of macronutrients/calories; therefore we can’t assume the effects were derived strictly from Paleo foods.[3,4,5]

This is not to say that eating a Paleo diet has no beneficial effects on health, but rather that the benefits one notices when switching from a traditional Western diet are not necessarily (or inherently) due to a reduction of grains, dairy, alcohol, and other non-Paleo foods.

Indirect health benefits of a Paleo diet (supported by literature)

The word “indirect” in this case denotes that the following evidence of health improvements from a Paleo diet vs. comparative diets are likely due to inherent lowering of calorie/carb intake when switching from a different diet, not necessarily the food types being ingested.

EFA balance and improved blood lipids [3,7]: From a health perspective, it is suggested that Paleo diets tend to be quite a more balanced in their omega-6: omega-3 essential fatty acid ratio than the standard American diet. This seems to be due to the reduction of refined vegetable oils when switching to a Paleo diet. In turn, this improved balance of essential fatty acids appears to improve blood lipid profiles (e.g. increased HDL, lowered LDL) of subjects.

Improved insulin sensitivity [4,5]: Comparative literature has shown an improvement in glucose tolerance/insulin sensitivity when subjects switched to a Paleolithic diet vs. a higher-carb/non-restrictive diet. The main drawback in these studies, as aforementioned, is that the compared diets were not isocaloric (or equal in macronutrient intake).

Reduction of energy (calorie) intake in overweight individuals [6]: Some studies have suggested that a Paleo diet, especially when applied to overweight individuals, reduces total calorie intake (and thus body mass) of subjects who switched from a typical “Western” diet.  The reduction of energy intake could be due to several factors, but likely due to the higher satiety induced by higher fat diets and increase in root vegetable (and thus fiber) intake.

Improved mineral bioavailability–>Better bone & periodontal health [8]: Along with the inherent reduction of phytates and gluten when switching to a Paleo diet comes purportedly improved mineral bioavailability. This, in turn, may improve calcium, zinc, iron and other mineral absorption and bolster bone and oral health. Also, fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, and Vitamin A all generally increase when switching to a Paleo diet.

Seafood

Sample meals on a paleo diet

Just to provide some frame of reference as to what a typical Paleo meal may look like, here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Breakfast—Scrambled eggs with steak, broccoli, raspberries, cup of green tea
  • Lunch—Ground turkey served over romaine lettuce, almonds, apple
  • Dinner—Fresh salmon, cauliflower, sunflower nuts, blueberries

Obviously you would need to adjust portion sizes to fit your dietary goals/macronutrients, but these are just some basic meal ideas on a Paleo diet.

Do supplements have a place in a Paleo diet?

Given the nature of a Paleo diet is that you avoid “processed” and “man-made” foods, it can be a bit contradictory to use a lot of the supplements that are out there given they often contain artificial additives, among other things.

One example is that whey protein on a Paleo diet would be antagonistic to the “no-dairy” rule (not to mention most protein (and powdered) products have added fillers, sweeteners and flavors that don’t fit the Paleo bill either).

I guess I can see a place for things like pure plant/beef protein powders on a Paleo diet, but it still seems a bit ironic to rely on supplements given the nature of this diet is a focus on whole, non-processed foods.

Sample Paleo recipes [9]:

These are just some suggestions to give your Paleo diet some creativity and change from monotonous, bland foods. There are many ways to make appetite-whetting recipes while on a Paleo diet, you just have to be willing to experiment in the kitchen.

Entree/Main Dish – Maple-Walnut Chicken:

Ingredients

  • 4 (4-6 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

Combine olive oil, thyme, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rub chicken with seasoning and let stand.

In a 12″ nonstick skillet, toast walnuts over medium-low heat 4-6 min or until golden and fragrant, stirring constantly. Note: walnuts may burn quickly if left unattended.

Transfer walnuts to dish, and turn heat up to medium under the hot skillet. Add chicken to same skillet. Cook 12 min or until done, turning frequently. Transfer chicken to a clean plate.

Add vinegar to the chicken drippings in the hot skillet and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add maple syrup and water, and simmer 6-7 min until slightly thickened.  Stir in walnuts and serve on top of chicken.

Lime Salmon

Entree/Main Dish – Chipotle-Lime Salmon:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb salmon fillets, skinless
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil, coconut oil, or bacon grease
  • 2-3 limes (1 per salmon fillet), cut in half
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350℉. Rinse salmon, pat dry, and place on a metal baking sheet.

Rub each fillet with olive oil or fat of choice, and squeeze the juice from one-half lime onto each fillet. Sprinkle fillets with sea salt (if desired) and chipotle, then place a half lime on top of each fillet.

Cook salmon for 12-15 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork.

Entree/Main Dish – Italian Veal Chops:

Ingredients

  • 4 veal chops (4-6oz each)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (optional)
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

Instructions

Season each veal chop with sea salt (optional), oregano and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add coconut oil when hot. Add veal chops and brown on both sides.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic. Continue to cook until garlic begins to brown. Add tomatoes and parsley, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until veal is tender (about 2 hours).

Kale

Side/Snack – Kale Chips:

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash kale and remove tough stems. Cut kale into 2″-3″ sections and place on baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Toss kale to fully coat with oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until kale is crispy. Serve hot.

Side/Snack – Bacon-wrapped Dates:

Ingredients

  • 8 bacon slices, cut in half
  • 16 large Medjool dates, pitted
  • 16 whole almonds
  • toothpicks (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 F. Open up dates gently with a knife.

Stuff each date with an almond, and wrap with half of a bacon slice. Secure with a toothpick if necessary.

Place on a shallow baking sheet and bake, bacon seam down, for about 7 minutes. Flip and bake for another 7 minutes or until bacon is crispy.

Serve warm or cold, and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Side/Snack -Paleo Trail Mix:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup whole cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins (golden raisins suggested)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries

Instructions

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container. No cooking or baking necessary.

Dessert – Almond Muffins:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup pure coconut milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 Tbs coconut sap or raw honey (optional)
  • paper muffin liners

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400℉. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Combine all ingredients and pour into muffin tin.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Dessert – Paleo Ice Cream:

Ingredients

  • 1 (403 mL) can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut sap (or raw honey)
  • Any other ice cream ingredients desired (cocoa powder to taste, spices, frozen fruit, nuts, vanilla extract, etc.)

Instructions

An ice cream maker is needed for this recipe.

  1. Blend all ingredients.
  2. Place in the ice cream maker and wait about 25 minutes.
Dessert – Carrot Cake:

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup raw honey (or less, if desired)
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked and pureed carrots
  • 1 Tbs orange zest
  • 1 Tbs orange juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 3 cups almond flour
  • coconut oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325℉. Beat the egg yolks and honey together in a medium mixing bowl.
Mix in carrot puree, orange zest, orange juice concentrate, and almond flour.

Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff (a hand mixer is recommended for this step). Carefully fold into batter.

Pour batter into a 9-inch springform pan, lightly greased with coconut oil. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wrap-Up

Hopefully this guide has given you a thorough overview of what the Paleo diet is, its history, and ways to implement into your lifestyle and health/fitness regimen. As always, be willing to experiment and try new things/approaches, especially when it comes to diet and training. Paleo dieting isn’t a magical panacea for your health issues, but it does likely have some indirect benefits over a standard American diet laden with processed/refined foods and excessive calorie intake.

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Not building muscle fast enough? Stop looking for complicated solutions and get back to the basics. These 7 tips will turn you from a “no gainer” into a huge gainer.

7 Ways To Build Muscle Faster

 

No one likes slow gains. Feeling like your time in the gym is being wasted isn’t exactly good for motivation.

I know many of you are frustrated. You plan your training, plan your meals, plan your supplements yet can’t seem to make any decent progress. A good percentage of lifters that go through this madness eventually give up.

This article is for you. I am going to give you some tips to help turn things around. Let’s set aside your “no gainer” days, and turn you into a huge gainer.

Tip #1 – Maximize Every Set

Are you focused on progressive overload? Do you push every set for as many reps as possible? Many lifters don’t.

Here’s my advice: push every set for as many reps as possible, stopping that set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep. Add weight when it makes sense.

By doing this you will be maximizing every set of every workout, and improving your gains.

Tip #2 – Build Head to Toe Strength

Muscle building isn’t just about raw, brute strength, but it does require you to get a lot stronger than you are now. Head to the gym with the following goal: to make every body part from head to toe as strong as possible over the next several years.

Placing fancy workout protocols or advanced training techniques before strength additions in the weight room is a good way to fail. These tools have their place, but only when you are using them as a method of building extra strength. For example, supersets alone won’t do much if you are not trying to get stronger while using them.

The goal of getting every muscle group as strong as possible, in concert with hypertrophy-style rep ranges and workouts, will help you maximize the muscle building process.

Barbell Rows

Tip #3 – Embrace Challenging Exercises

Lifters who avoid the most challenging exercises develop a body that looks like they avoid the most challenging exercises. It’s really as simple as that.

It’s not that you need to do every compound exercise under the sun, but rather you need to have a fair amount of quality compound exercises at the center of your program. Movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, barbell rows, military press, stiff leg deadlifts, dips, pull ups, etc.

When you choose the best tools for a job, you make completing the job much easier. This applies to building a house as well as muscle building.

Embrace challenging exercises and you will build a body that looks like it was challenged.

Tip #4 – Start a New Lifestyle, Not a New Program

Lifting is a lifestyle, not an 8 week program. If you think you can build a great chest in 8 weeks and then get on with the rest of your life, you are sadly mistaken.

Even if you could build the world’s most amazing chest and biceps in 8 weeks, and strip away body fat to reveal six pack abs, it would still require a lifetime of work and proper dieting to maintain them. Unfortunately, the premise itself is a fantasy: no one builds a great chest or biceps in 8 weeks.

Instead of approaching weight training as an 8 week program, enter it as a lifestyle change. Understand – and embrace – the reality that to reach and maintain your goals, you will be at this the rest of your life.

Tip #5 – Stop Missing Workouts

Seems like an obvious tip, but you would be shocked by how many lifters:

  1. Miss workouts every week, or every other week.
  2. Never train longer than 6 months without taking an extended amount of time off.

You can’t build an impressive amount of muscle mass if you take extended layoffs with regular frequency. You also won’t be maximizing progress if you manage to miss a substantial percentage of your scheduled sessions.

If you find yourself missing too many workouts, maybe it’s time to train less frequently.

Bicep Curls

Tip #6 – Stop Changing Workouts

This is a huge problem for many lifters. They find a new and exciting program, and just have to try it.

Understand this…there are no magic workouts. Different styles of training exist for different experience levels and age ranges. If you remain patient, eat right, get a lot stronger and stop missing workouts, nearly any reputable program will help you build muscle.

Seek out a program that suits your needs, age and experience levels. You will likely find many programs to choose from. It is best to select a program that motivates you to hit the gym, rather than immediately gravitating towards the one filled with all the bells and whistles.

If you find a program isn’t to your liking, consider evolving it to fit your needs. If you spend your time trying to find a program that fits you perfectly, it may take many months or even years. If you learn from a program and try to analyze and change what you don’t like, or what doesn’t fit your needs, you will be working towards creating a unique system of training that you enjoy.

Tip #7 – Eat to Maximize Muscle, Based on Experience

Natural lifters experience diminishing gains over time. First year gains should be impressive, with second year gains being about half of first year results. Progress continues to be cut in half each year thereafter. The take home point is this…if you ARE experiencing quality gains, you want to bulk less aggressively each year moving forward.

A good plan for your first year of training is to eat about 500 calories over your maintenance level. This should translate to about 1.5 to 2 pounds of weight gain max per month. In a perfect world, 75% of this should be muscle gain; fat gain will be minimal.

During year two aim for one pound of weight gain per month. You may need to drop calories to 300-350 above maintenance to hit this mark.

After year two it’s best to bulk with only about 200-300 calories over maintenance. Gains will be slow, and there is no point in adopting an aggressive bulk. Once you have built up a nice muscular base, eat mostly clean, hit your daily calories, and understand that gains after this point can’t be rushed with massive amounts of food.

Final “Huge Gainer” Recap

  • Maximize every set of every workout
  • Make every muscle group from head to toe as strong as possible.
  • Don’t avoid challenging exercises, embrace them.
  • Approach muscle building as a new lifestyle, not a short term program.
  • Get your back side to the gym and stop missing workouts.
  • Quit jumping from program to program, chasing after magic workout systems.
  • Eat to maximize muscle mass and minimize fat, based on experience levels.
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Believe іt оr nоt, there is a fоrmulа tо muѕсlе аnd fіtnеѕѕ.  I knоw that ѕоmеtіmеѕ the fіtnеѕѕ іnduѕtrу саn bе quite confusing.  Aѕ уоu start уоur ѕеаrсh fоr your fitness ѕоlutіоn, you аrе flооdеd аnd bоmbаrdеd bу аll оf thе “ԛuісkіеѕ”.  If you аrеn’t fаmіlіаr wіth thіѕ term іn rеfеrеnсе tо fіtnеѕѕ, it is рrоbаblу because I ѕtаrtеd uѕіng іt myself.  I use іt іn rеfеrеnсе to anyone thаt іѕ lооkіng fоr a quick ѕаlе, аnd hаvе nо care for trulу hеlріng thеіr сuѕtоmеr gеt thе muscle аnd fitness ѕоlutіоn thаt they wаnt.  I am gоіng tо hеlр уоu to fіnd ѕоmе focus аnd dіrесtіоn tо guіdе yourself thrоugh thе storm to уоur muѕсlе аnd fitness potential.

Muscle and fitness іѕ thе аnѕwеr to your рrоblеm. Sо, уоu аrе expecting me tо go into hоw the Muѕсlе аnd Fіtnеѕѕ mаgаzіnе саn gіvе уоu thе information, tірѕ, аnd trісkѕ tо turn уоur body аrоund, right? Wrоng.  I саn truthfullу ѕау that I am a subscriber tо Muѕсlе аnd Fіtnеѕѕ mаgаzіnе.  I fіnd Muscle and Fitness tо be оnе оf the tор magazines tо uѕе аѕ a ѕоurсе for the lаtеѕt аnd grеаtеѕt fitness іnfоrmаtіоn, аnd еxеrсіѕе techniques thаt give thе best and fastest rеѕultѕ.  Hоwеvеr, thіѕ іѕ nоt thе muѕсlе аnd fіtnеѕѕ thаt I аm ѕреаkіng оf.

Whаt muѕсlе and fіtnеѕѕ аm I ѕреаkіng оf then?  I am tаlkіng about уоur muѕсlе, аnd уоur fіtnеѕѕ.  Thе greatest соntrіbutоr tо уоur body’s fіtnеѕѕ levels оr lасk thereof is уоur body’s muѕсlе соntеnt.  Thе higher реrсеntаgе оf muѕсlе mаѕѕ that іѕ рrеѕеnt іn уоur bоdу, thе mоrе calories thаt you wіll burn іn a day.  Thе ѕаmе саn bе ѕаіd оf having a lower percentage оf muscle mаѕѕ causing you tо burn lеѕѕ саlоrіеѕ.  Thе truth of thе mаttеr is that, wіth a hіgh percentage оf muѕсlе mаѕѕ, you wіll burn more саlоrіеѕ thаn a реrѕоn of the same bоdу ѕіzе аnd weight, wіth a lоwеr muѕсlе mass, whіlе you аrе bоth ѕіttіng on thе couch. Yоur muscle аnd fіtnеѕѕ аrе dependent uроn your muѕсlе dеnѕіtу.

A higher percentage of muѕсlе mаѕѕ doesn’t mеаn bіggеr.  Thе іmроrtаnt thing that you ѕhоuld remember аbоut уоur muѕсlе аnd fіtnеѕѕ іѕ thаt muѕсlе tіѕѕuе’ѕ mаѕѕ is dependent uроn its density.  An іndіvіduаl, whо wоrkѕ out wіth lоw tо mоdеrаtе weight but wіth high repetitions, wіll hаvе leaner and dеnѕеr muѕсlе tissue thаn ѕоmеоnе thаt ѕоlеlу wоrkѕ оut wіth hіgh wеіght аnd lоw rереtіtіоnѕ.  In fасt, bоdуbuіldеrѕ will асtuаllу gо bасk and forth bеtwееn thе two training tесhnіԛuеѕ tо ensure thаt thеу dоn’t lose muѕсlе dеnѕіtу in their рurѕuіt tо gаіn ѕіzе.

Wаnt ѕоmе рrооf? Sоmе оf the bеѕt еxаmрlеѕ thаt I саn give to уоu tо рrоvе how уоur muѕсlе and fіtnеѕѕ аrе tіеd tоgеthеr, аrе еаѕу fоr mе tо gіvе tо you. Thеу are extremely hіgh рrоfіlе, whісh makes mу jоb thаt much еаѕіеr.  Lооk at аnу rеtіrеd NFL аthlеtе оr body buіldеr, whо fails tо mаіntаіn a steady соndіtіоnіng аnd wоrkоut routine tо mаіntаіn thеіr muѕсlе and fіtnеѕѕ.  You immediately wіll notice thаt thеѕе іndіvіduаlѕ’ muscle and fіtnеѕѕ dеgrаdе, especially іn the stomach region. Thіѕ is ѕоlеlу duе to the fасt that thеу have nоt kерt uр wіth the іntеnѕе рhуѕісаl trаіnіng which maintained a hіgh muѕсlе dеnѕіtу durіng their careers.  Their muѕсlе tіѕѕuе hаѕ ѕlоwlу lоѕt its potent dеnѕіtу due tо the decrease іn dеmаnd. Thеіr muѕсlе and fіtnеѕѕ changes are grеаtеr thаn mоѕt due tо thе lаrgе dіffеrеnсе between training levels аt thе реаk of thе саrееrѕ and thеіr retirement.

What ѕhоuld уоu dо about уоur muѕсlе аnd fitness?  Wеll, the bеѕt way tо еnѕurе thе grеаtеѕt роtеntіаl to your muѕсlе аnd fіtnеѕѕ, уоu ѕhоuld еxеrсіѕе rеgulаrlу.  I believe іn a gооd mіxturе оf саrdіоvаѕсulаr еxеrсіѕе, wеіght and resistance trаіnіng, аnd body training.  Bоdу trаіnіng соnѕіѕtѕ of саlf-rаіѕеѕ, рuѕh-uрѕ, ѕіt-uрѕ, рull-uрѕ, аnd flutter-kicks.  Mу саrdіоvаѕсulаr routine іѕ a mіxturе оf ѕwіmmіng, runnіng, аnd the hіll рrоgrаm оn thе еxеrсіѕе bike аt the gym. Mу wеіght training rоutіnеѕ аrе very versatile, doing three еxеrсіѕеѕ fоr each major muѕсlе group, аnd two muѕсlе grоuрѕ реr day. My fіtnеѕѕ tuning techniques are available аt my frее mеmbеrѕhір wеbѕіtе lіѕtеd bеlоw.  Utilize all оf mу frее information tо tunе уоur body tо іtѕ fullеѕt muscle аnd fіtnеѕѕ potential.

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A реrѕоnаl fіtnеѕѕ аnd nutrіtіоn trаіnеr саn hеlр you еntеr a race where thеrе’ѕ no engraved сuр or mоnеу аwаrd at the fіnіѕh line. Unlike thе Thоrоughbrеdѕ racing at thе lосаl park, уоu wіll be runnіng for your vеrу life instead. Fіtnеѕѕ аnd nutrition аrе the kеуѕ to a ԛuаlіtу lоng lіfе.

Rасіng fоr Fіtnеѕѕ

Almost 60% of реорlе іn thе Unіtеd States are overweight оr оbеѕе. The соnѕеԛuеnсеѕ оf having too muсh fat оn уоur body can bе ѕеvеrе. Obеѕіtу іѕ a mаjоr cause оf mаnу serious іllnеѕѕеѕ іnсludіng Tуре 2 dіаbеtеѕ, соrоnаrу hеаrt dіѕеаѕе, hіgh blооd pressure and еvеn сеrtаіn fоrmѕ оf саnсеr.

It’ѕ hаrd to mаіntаіn a fіtnеѕѕ rоutіnе оn your own. On top оf thаt you аrе bombarded with advertisements ѕеllіng unhealthy fооd аnd gadgets and іnvеntіоnѕ thаt actually result іn lеѕѕ рhуѕісаl асtіvіtу. Thе реrfесt еxаmрlеѕ аrе kids рlауіng еlесtrоnіс games fоr hоurѕ іnѕtеаd оf bаѕеbаll оr soccer. Thеrе аrе bigger and bеttеr соmрutеrѕ аnd TVѕ рrоmоtіng lіfеѕtуlеѕ with lіttlе exercise tіmе іnсludеd.

Sеdеntаrу lіfеѕtуlеѕ are nоt gооd fоr thе bоdу, аnd neither іѕ junk food. But еvеrуоnе lіvеѕ еxtrеmеlу buѕу lіvеѕ аnd fіtnеѕѕ аnd nutrition оftеn tаkе a lоw рrіоrіtу. A personal fitness and nutrition trаіnеr саn help уоu rеаrrаngе your priorities ѕо you place уоur health top of the lіѕt.

Whеn уоu аrе young, it’s easy tо bеlіеvе gооd hеаlth іѕ fоrеvеr. But аѕ уоu аgе, thе truth is slowly revealed. Metabolisms ѕlоw nаturаllу. Fаt accumulates аftеr уеаrѕ оf eating meals with little nutritional value.

Free radicals fоrm unіmреdеd bесаuѕе thе dіеt has consistently lасk аntіоxіdаntѕ found іn fruits аnd vеgеtаblеѕ. Other dіѕеаѕеѕ еvеntuаllу tаkе root. For еxаmрlе, lack оf exercise іnсrеаѕеѕ the сhаnсеѕ оf developing оѕtеороrоѕіѕ.

Fіndіng Yоur Stride

A personal fіtnеѕѕ аnd nutrіtіоn trаіnеr саn аѕѕіѕt уоu іn a numbеr оf wауѕ beginning wіth an аѕѕеѕѕmеnt оf your current fіtnеѕѕ lеvеl. A personal trаіnеr will wоrk with to еѕtаblіѕh mutual gоаlѕ іnсludіng mеаѕurеѕ of progress ѕuсh аѕ weight lоѕѕ оr іnсhеѕ loss.

Personal fіtnеѕѕ аnd nutrition includes the fоllоwіng:

Evaluating сurrеnt dіеtаrу habits and mаkіng necessary сhаngеѕ

Cаlсulаtіng thе bоdу mаѕѕ іndеx (BMI)

Eѕtаblіѕhіng an еxеrсіѕе rоutіnе that fіtѕ your lіfеѕtуlе

Dеvеlор a ѕtrеngth trаіnіng рrоgrаm

Tracking рrоgrеѕѕ and mаkіng nесеѕѕаrу аdjuѕtmеntѕ as уоu рrоgrеѕѕ

Uѕіng a реrѕоnаl fіtnеѕѕ аnd nutrіtіоn trаіnеr саn hеlр уоu ѕtау mоtіvаtеd аѕ уоu bеgіn the rасе fоr уоur life. Thе ԛuаlіtу of уоur lіfе іn your ѕеnіоr уеаrѕ is directly rеlаtеd tо thе lеvеl оf fіtnеѕѕ уоu mаіntаіn іn your younger уеаrѕ. It bесоmеѕ сlеаrеr with each mеdісаl ѕtudу that рrоblеmѕ аѕѕосіаtеd wіth аgіng аrе аѕ muсh a соnѕеԛuеnсе of рооr nutrіtіоn as thеу are of the аgіng рrосеѕѕ іtѕеlf.

Utіlіzіng the services оf a реrѕоnаl fitness аnd nutrіtіоn trаіnеr only mаkеѕ ѕеnѕе if уоu’rе ready to get ѕеrіоuѕ about уоur health. Rасіng for the grаnd рrіzе of gооd health mеаnѕ fіndіng уоur “fіtnеѕѕ ѕtrіdе”.

Yоu dоn’t hаvе tо wоrk оut 8 hours a dау tо stay fit and hеаlthу. Yоu dо hаvе tо exercise rеgulаrlу and wаtсh whаt уоu еаt. A реrѕоnаl fitness аnd nutrіtіоn trаіnеr саn bе the kеу to уоur ѕuссеѕѕ.

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The Fit Five: Best Body-Weight Exercises for Building Muscle Fast

http://www.mensfitness.com

 

Fitness enthusiasts around the world have always advocated for body-weight exercises, but to the beginner and even some seasoned lifters these exercises may seem trivial. In order to dispel this myth, we asked Andrew Sakhrani, C.S.C.S., 

Build Big Arms Fast – Biceps and Triceps Workout for More Muscle

http://www.mensfitness.com

 

Build huge arms with this intense biceps and triceps workout.

Top Tips To Burn Fat And Build MuscleFast! | New Year of Better

http://bestmusclesbuilder.com/

 

Do you want to start weight training? You can learn to work out more effectively so that you can achieve the maximum muscle growth, rather than wasting time or energy on workouts that don’t accomplish anything. This advice 

Workout Plan To Build Muscle Fast – Tricep Workouts Muscle And

http://coiusl.blogspot.com

 

Workout Plan To Build Muscle Fast – Losing weight may be extremely about essentially the most frustrating and irritating things to accomplish. You will find so several diverse diets and fat loss Tips to pay attention to, but It is 

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Think you’ve heard it all when it comes to shoulder training? Think again! This article from Maik Weidenbach contains 9 delt destroying tips you may never have seen before.

9 Tips For Growing Your Shoulders Into Small MelonsMaik Wiedenbach is the author of the hot selling books, 101 Fitness Myths and 30 Secrets for Bigger Arms.

Bigger shoulders… everyone wants them, but hardly anyone knows how to train for them. The result: overdeveloped front delts, slopped physiques and tendonitis.

Although I was somewhat blessed in that department, I still learned a few things over the years that had a tremendous impact on my shoulder development.

Tip #1 – It’s ok to train shoulders with a lot of volume

Shoulders can handle volume, and I mean lots of it. I believe that part of my quality shoulder development has to do with being a swimmer until the age of 25.

Doing thousands of reps every single day gave me a good base with regards to capillarization and blood flow. When I started lifting weights my shoulders grew immediately.

That being said, if shoulders are a focus of yours, you can definitely train them twice a week, You can also work them once a week as a separate muscle group and then combine rear delts with back workouts, and medial and front delts with chest for a second session.

Tip #2 – Add the clean and press to your training

Learn the clean and press. If you have somebody qualified to teach you, the clean and press is a great tool that will stimulate the nervous system.

Doing a couple sets at the start of your shoulder workout will greatly improve the effectiveness of the actual hypertrophy work. There is no need to go heavy. Try 4 sets of 8 at 60%.

Side lateral raise

Tip #3 – Apply inward pressure when pressing

Bend the bar together. All to often, the shoulder press becomes a triceps press. This isn’t wrong, but it’s not what you are trying to accomplish.

If you are working with a barbell, always apply inward pressure as if you were bending the bar together. If you use dumbbells, always keep the thumb lower than the rest of the hand.

Tip #4 – Slow your shoulder reps down

Slow it down. That goes for any exercise, but shoulder training in particular is often done in a sloppy and rushed fashion. This leads to inflamed shoulders, overdeveloped traps and general discontent.

If you initiate the positive phase through momentum or inertia the body does not get a chance to activate the muscle fibers properly. Always create tension on the part of the shoulder you are trying to train before even starting the motion.

Tip #5 – Shorten and tuck your abs

Tuck the abs in. If you watch the majority of people doing seated dumbbell presses from the side you will notice that their lower back is far away from the chair. In fact, they are always in an incline bench position. This is great for chest, but not so great for training shoulders.

Slide all the way back and shorten your abs. This will provide stability and proper shoulder recruitment.

Tip #6 – Initiate medial delt exercises with the elbow

Move the elbow. The elbow, not the wrist, should be the one initiating any exercises targeting the medial delt.

Most trainees think of moving the wrist first. This leads to an insolvent of the traps. The body always registers intention, so if the first muscle moved is not your target muscle, your set is pretty much done (this goes for all exercises).

Instead of ripping up the wrists, imagine having strings at your elbows, pulling them toward the ceiling.

Tip #7 – For side raises, tip your dumbbells

Turn the wrist. The medial delt works best when the dumbbells are angled slightly downward.

So when you start any type of side raise have the dumbbells pointing at one o’clock/eleven o’clock respectively.

Tip #8 – Toss upright rows aside

Do not do barbell upright rows. I know, I know….” I know this dude he is huge and does upright barbell rows, and besides, bodybuilders have always done barbell upright rows.” True, but by that logic we would still travel in horse carriages.

Upright barbell rows are tough on the wrist and shoulder (especially when trainees pull above chest level). Also, they do not allow for the downward angle described in point 7.

Instead try v-pulls. Stand in a stagger step, slightly leaning forward, dumbbells in front you with he palms facing back. Start moving the elbows up and out outward so that the dumbbells follow a V pattern. Drop the thumbs going upward.

Tip #9 – Work your upper back

Do not neglect the upper back. The majority of shoulder injuries comes from overload of the frontal part of the torso through pressing while not creating a properly balanced back. Reverse shrugs, face pulls, j-pulls and wall slides should be done before any upper body workout.

That should do it, give these tips a go and let me know how you do!

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Saturated fats are a necessary part of a well-rounded eating plan, yet most of us are unsure about how much we can safely eat. Learn about proper saturated fat intake.

Fats play a variety of essential processes in humans including but not limited to: adipokine secretion, cell membrane formation, protection/insulation of organs, and storing and releasing energy.

 

Many health and fitness enthusiasts seem to have an irrational fear of saturated fats and seek to greatly limit their intake of them. This generally manifests itself into complete avoidance of foods like full-fat dairy products, egg yolks, butter, fatty meats, coconut, etc. While it is indeed not a good idea to over eat saturated fats, there is still a place for them in everyone’s diet.

 

What are saturated fatty acids?

 

Fatty acids are comprised of hydrocarbon chains that may or may not contain double bonds. Saturated fatty acids differ from unsaturated fatty acids in that each carbon in the fatty acid chain is saturated with hydrogen atoms (i.e. no double bonds exist in the hydrocarbon chain).

 

Why fatty acid chain length matters

 

Further chemical classification of saturated fatty acids takes into account how many carbons are in the hydrocarbon chain; less than 6 carbons denotes short-chain fatty acids, 6-11 carbons denotes medium-chain fatty acids, more than 11 carbons denotes long-chain fatty acids, and more than 22 carbons denotes very long-chain fatty acids.

 

One of the reasons certain fat sources like butter stay solid at room temperature is because the melting point of saturated fatty acids increases as the carbon chain lengthens. On the contrary, foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids, like olive oil, are usually liquid at room temperature (e.g. melting point is lower).

 

In the case of short and medium-chain fatty acids, digestion entails passive absorption into the blood by way of the intestinal capillaries. This differs from long-chain fatty acid metabolism, which are absorbed by villi in the walls of the intestine and subject to further modification. For this reason, SCTs/MCTs serve as excellent energy sources due to their simple metabolism.

 

SCTs are primarily found in the milk fats from cows, goats, and sheep. Coconut is a rich source of MCTs, but if you’re looking for an alternative you can buy MCT oils from various sources as well.

 

How trans fatty acids are made

 

Despite being unsaturated fatty acids, it’s worthwhile to quickly cover the topic of trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are found in some food products naturally, albeit in minute amounts. Most foods with a significant amount of trans fatty acids are the result of a process known as hydrogenation. Essentially, hydrogenation is the chemical modification of a fatty acid so that a “trans” double bond is created in the hydrocarbon chain; these trans double bonds cause the fatty acid tail to maintain a linear configuration and behave differently then normal unsaturated fats, which are primarily composed of “cis” double bonds.

 

Research continues to grow on the deleterious effects of too much trans fatty acid intake in the human body. It is generally advised to greatly limit, if not completely omit, your intake of foods high in trans fatty acids. Risks of significant trans fat intake include: lower HDL, elevated LDL and other cardiovascular maladies.[1]

 

So how much saturated fat should we eat?

 

Saturated fats appear to be correlated with sex hormone (androgen) production in males, so it is generally not a good idea to greatly limit your saturated fat intake.[2] On the flipside, chronic superfluous saturated fat intake may induce insulin resistance and other metabolic maladies, so we don’t want too much either.[3]

 

Given that the calorie needs and goals of individuals vary from person to person there is no preset, unanimous amount of saturated fat that everyone should eat. However, as a general starting point, active individuals should aim to get roughly 25% of their total fat intake in the form of saturated fats. As an example, if you’re ingesting 80g of fat per day, roughly 20g or so of that should be saturated fats.

 

Exceptions to this rule are people who follow strict keto/low-carb diets may have to since their fat intake tends to be exorbitantly high. Contrarily, if someone is on a low fat diet (<30-40g of fat), they may need to eat more like 30-40% of those in the form of saturated fats just to support nominal hormone production, among other things.

As with most diet recommendations, be prepared to do some trial and error with your plan. There is no lone cookie-cutter optimal diet plan out there. Be willing to try different approaches and find what works for you.

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Does caffeine really help your fat burning efforts, and if so, when and how much should be taken? Fine tune your caffeine intake and bolster your fat loss efforts.

You’re likely familiar with the popularity of the stimulant drug caffeine given most people habitually use it in some capacity. Caffeine has been used for decades as an ergogenic aid/performance-enhancing supplement due to its ability to “excite” the central nervous system.  Naturally, the use of caffeine specifically for fat loss is a popular area of research in the health/fitness industry.

Does caffeine really hold potential to enhance your fat burning efforts, and if so, when should one take it to maximize their fat loss? Moreover, what is the proper dosage to take in and what are the pros/cons to continual use of caffeine. These are all questions to be examined in this article, so without further ado let’s move onto the next sections.

Ripped Fitness Trainer

What is caffeine?

It’s pertinent to briefly cover the chemical nature of caffeine and what it actually is. The chemical nomenclature for caffeine is “1,3,7-trimethylxanthine” (don’t worry if you’re not a chem whiz, I’ll try and keep this in layman’s terms). Methylxanthines are alkaline, organic (i.e. carbon-based) substances that stimulate the CNS and heart, and they are naturally abundant in tea leaves, coffee beans, some fruits and other foods/plants.

Physiologically speaking, the ingestion of methylxanthines postpone the breakdown of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) via inhibition of phosphodiesterase (PDE) enzymes; thus caffeine is considered a PDE inhibitor. Since cAMP and cGMP are crucial messengers in cell signal transduction, the metabolic processes in the cell are sent into “overdrive” after the ingestion of PDE inhibitors.

Does caffeine help fat loss efforts, and if so, how?

There is some speculation that caffeine may enhance fatty acid oxidation through increases in catecholamines (such as adrenaline).[2] While research on caffeine’s ergogenic effects in athletic performance is abundant, there remains to be conclusive evidence that caffeine ingestion significantly alters substrate metabolism in muscles during exercise.[1] That being said, there are other possible mechanisms for caffeine to enhance fat loss, so we can’t write it off as useless just yet.

One of the proposed mechanisms for caffeine enhancing fat loss is through an increase in 24-hour energy expenditure (via increased metabolic rate). Moreover, the thermic effect of meals ingested with caffeine are more pronounced than meals ingested without caffeine. [3]

Despite the relatively short half-life of caffeine, the duration of its effects may last for several hours after ingestion. It appears that caffeine, when coingested with carbohydrates, does enhance carbohydrate oxidation during endurance training, but this likely mediated through enhanced intestinal absorption as opposed to increased catecholamine levels.[4]

The most compelling evidence, in my opinion, for caffeine use enhancing fat loss is actually through its effects on exercise performance. What I would argue, based on the research, is that since caffeine has been shown to augment both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, as well as lower the rate of perceived exertion (RPE), that the “extra” fat loss achieved is a secondary effect due to the increased exercise output.[5,6] Essentially, after taking caffeine, you generally have an increased athletic performance capacity, thus you can work harder and longer than those who workout without caffeine use beforehand; this in turn would likely increase caloric burn from exercise.

When should caffeine be taken for fat loss and at what dosage?

Most studies examining caffeine’s effect on athletic performance are carried out roughly 1-2 hours after ingestion caffeine. It’s impossible to give all-inclusive dose timings for trainees since different individuals may metabolize caffeine at different rates. Furthermore, caffeine absorption may be slowed with concomitant ingestion of nutrients.

As a starting point (and to assess your tolerance), try taking caffeine on an empty stomach about an hour before training. If you prefer to take caffeine with a meal, give yourself a bit more time before hitting the gym. If you find your performance in the gym is indeed bolstered after caffeine ingestion, than there is little reason to alter your approach. On the contrary, if you notice no change or a decrease in performance, you will either want to adjust your dose and/or manipulate the dose timing.

Dosage wise, it is generally recommended to take 1-3mg per kg of bodyweight (remember: 2.2lb=1kg).[7] If you’re a 180lb (~81kg) athlete, your dose range will land around 80 to 240mg. Do not go too crazy with caffeine dosing since there isn’t much extra benefit to superfluous amounts and it can in fact be lethal/toxic at high enough doses (>5g). Be safe and methodical with caffeine; it is a drug, so treat it as such.

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Everyone in the bodybuilding and figure world is talking about metabolic damage and how it is a diet killer. This article explores the current “epidemic” of this condition.

One of the big buzz terms in health and fitness subculture as of late is “metabolic damage”. It seems like quite a few “nutritional coaches” have come out and taken a firm stance on one side of the fence or the other, insisting that it’s either a valid phenomenon or a myth. While the literature on the topic of metabolic damage is still relatively scarce, the next few years should prove interesting since more and more research is being focused towards this concern.

In a nutshell, metabolic damage is terminology used to denote a state where the body doesn’t respond proportionally and appropriately as one would expect with respect to energy input and output. For example, someone may put their body through hours upon hours of cardio and restrict their calorie intake yet notice little to no weight/fat loss, which seems theoretically impossible, but as many people know, this can indeed happen. When a person has reached such a critical point, they are generally believed to have “metabolic damage”, to some arbitrary degree.

Measuring metabolic damage

However, therein lays the main conundrum with classifying metabolic damage, since it’s rather ambiguous to just say, “I have metabolic damage.” Ideally, we would want to put a tangible/measurable amount on the severity of the “damage” and seek to reverse it, but the trouble is that there is no real accurate/precise way to track such a quantity at this point.

The next best medically plausible way to verify that metabolic damage has occurred is probably various hormonal assays such as thyroid hormone levels/function, leptin, and others. The reasoning for this is that one of the key regulators of metabolic rate is the thyroid gland. Generally, individuals who exhibit hypothyroidism are noticeably heavier (and/or tend to put weight on easily) and have a tough time losing fat.

This isn’t to say that metabolic damage is entirely relegated to thyroid issues, nor other endocrine maladies, but from a physiological standpoint it is safe to assert that such issues do indeed influence one’s metabolic health.

What convolutes the issue of metabolic damage is that there is no foolproof way (yet) to pinpoint what exactly has gone awry and started the vicious cycle of having a lowered metabolic rate. Some people may have metabolic damage despite their blood work showing nominal values, in which case there has to be some other factor(s) influencing the individual’s metabolic rate.

An example of this would be someone with normal thyroid levels and functioning, but yet can’t lose weight to save their soul and has already gone to extreme measures as far as calorie restricting and cardiovascular exercise goes. It’s at this point that we know metabolic damage is occurring due to other physiological factors. Uncovering those factors is what much of the research will likely be focused on in the coming years.

Body Composition

What metabolic damage is not

I think one of the more important things to discuss pertaining to metabolic damage is the issue of it being “over diagnosed” by people who compete in any sort of physique competition. Just because you have competed in a bodybuilding or figure (or whatever event) show doesn’t necessarily mean you’re automatically in a state of “metabolic damage”. Yes, your metabolic rate is likely reduced since it’s pretty much common knowledge that during times of decreased energy input your body naturally lowers its energy output; that being said, metabolic damage is not the same as having a reduced metabolic rate.

Given this, don’t be so hasty to jump on the metabolic damage bandwagon just because you are eating less, exercising more, but still not losing weight like you hope. Metabolic damage is an extreme condition induced by extreme behavior.

We’re talking extreme in the sense that some people can be eating <600-700 calories per day, doing 2-3 hours of cardio, and still not losing weight…It’s safe to say that at that point metabolic damage has occurred. Contrarily, just because you cut calories to, say, 1600 calories per day and are doing 45 minutes of cardio without any weight loss doesn’t exemplify a “damaged” metabolism. I think people just need to tread cautiously when putting a label on their metabolic health; reduced metabolic rate is not synonymous with metabolic damage.

Correcting metabolic damage

As much as people want to believe there is some magic formula or treatment they can find for metabolic damage, the reality of it is that in order to reverse the “damage” you pretty much just need to do the opposite of what you’ve been doing. Essentially, this means doing less cardio, eating more, resting more, and focusing on weight training.

Don’t forget that muscle is more metabolically demanding then adipose tissue, so by building more muscle, you are increasing your metabolic capacity. This is the reason that many bodybuilders can stay in such good shape with little to no cardio in their regimen, since they’ve developed such a high metabolic capacity that it becomes rather hard to “out eat” their metabolism (pretty good “problem” to have if you ask me).

I’d be leery of people who claim that some certain supplements or food will suddenly resolve your metabolic damage. This isn’t to say supplements can’t help you, but the focus should ideally be on the big factors like your diet and training regimen. Get those back on the right path and then worry about micromanaging the other less important factors.

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Is cheating, English and explosivity effective, or are controlled reps best for muscle mass? Find out when it’s ok to set strict form aside in this article by L.J. Walker.

One of the lesser-known dichotomies in the gym is the split between form perfectionists and those who just focus on moving more weight regardless of how bad their technique is.

People seem to cling to one extreme on the form spectrum, but is either side really better than the other? Well, not so unlike many other topics related to health and fitness, there is a balance to be found here.

Being overly strict with your form and focusing purely on technique usually inhibits the trainee because they have to greatly reduce the load they put on the working muscle(s). These people usually tout “quality over quantity”, which does have some bearing in the weight room, but there is still a fine line when it comes to worrying about perfect form/technique.

On the other hand, trainees who are more about quantity as opposed to quality may be so reckless with their form that they’re greatly increasing their risk for injury and wear-and-tear. We’ve all seen those guys in the gym that put way too much weight on the bar and just throw technique out the window.

Again, this end of the spectrum isn’t completely “bad”, but it’s far from ideal.

So what is proper lifting technique?

Rather than focus on specific lifts and their execution, it’s worthwhile to just give a general overview of how to approach lifting weights as far as intensity and form goes.

While there are certain situations in which very methodical, slow-paced lifting techniques help, more often than not you don’t need to be scrutinizing over your every move. About the only times I can think of where someone should focus purely on form is if they’re either elderly, untrained, or rehabbing an injury. Essentially, these individuals stand to benefit from focusing on proper technique as it will greatly reduce the chance of injury and the load being put on the working muscles is secondary.

Now, for pretty much any other trainee, especially intermediate/advanced lifters, it becomes necessary to stop restricting yourself and limiting the weight on the bar due to worries over perfect form. Instead, it becomes useful (and proper) to put some intensity and aggressiveness in your lifting technique.

An example of what I’m driving at here is many “form Nazis” will complain of lagging back muscles and they wonder why they notice little to no growth despite doing tons of barbell rows. Lo and behold, the people who loosen up a bit and put some “body English” into their rows usually notice significant improvement in their back muscles.

Basically, the excessive focus on form is what holds people back in many instances.

EZ Bar Curls

Using “English” when lifting

I hesitate to call “body English” cheating because I fear people will get a bit too carried away if they read that they should cheat the weight up when they lift. There is a more practical way to “cheat” and that is what we refer to as “using body English”.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when lifting weights is that you are going to need to overload the muscle (in some capacity) to stimulate growth, there is no way around this; if you’re not sufficiently challenging the muscle(s) then you’re probably shortchanging yourself. Weight lifting isn’t all sunshine and roses; it will hurt and it will take some aggression and passion.

How many people do you know walk up to a bar loaded with 700lbs and politely deadlift it, focusing on perfecting every inch of their form? Odds are not many. If you plan on packing on some serious size and eventually moving some serious weights, you’re going to need to learn how to lift seriously.

I’m talking serious in the sense that you put some violence and enthusiasm into your training. Quit pussyfooting and worrying about perfect form and get amped up a bit. I’m not saying go ballistic and screw form completely, but rather find the balance of using good/decent technique and mixing in some aggression and “body English”.

The benefit of doing this is simply that you can put more overload on the muscle(s), and more overload means more growth. Sometimes it just pays better to loosen up your form a bit and bump up the poundage; you’d be amazed at how quickly you break plateaus once you stop scrutinizing over perfect form.

Different lifts, different form

A last thing to note before wrapping up this article is that certain lifts benefit more from “body English/cheating” than others. The main exercises that come to mind are:

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Barbell/Dumbbell Rows
  • DB Laterals
  • DB Flyes
  • Overhead presses
  • Pull ups/chin ups

Obviously there are a few other lifts to consider, but these are just the primary movements I would consider “cheating” a bit on.

As for pure isolation exercises, like cable curls, tricep pressdowns, leg extensions or leg curls, abdominal crunches, etc. you don’t need to worry so much about “body English” so much as you should focus on really establishing the mind-muscle connection. Again, this doesn’t mean being anal about your form, but just don’t get sloppy and use it as an excuse to overdo the weight you lift.

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Frequent feeding teaches no more than 30-50 grams of protein per meal. Many assume that the body can’t handle more than this. Find out the truth about protein digestion.

Muscle Building MealsOne of the more common questions that many gym enthusiasts bring up is “How much protein can the body digest at one time?”

For some odd reason this purported, arbitrary amount of protein seems to land somewhere between 30-50g for all humans, regardless of body mass.

If that supposition isn’t already asinine enough, allow me to elucidate you about why the body can handle quite a bit more protein in one sitting then people seem to give it credit for.

Early phases of protein digestion

Before we dabble in protein quantities and tangible figures for you to implement, it’s worthwhile to have a rudimentary understanding of how protein is actually metabolized by the human body. Granted the entire scope of protein digestion is a field of research in and of itself, we will still go over the gist of how it works.

Firstly, as you likely already know, the ingestion process begins in the mouth which is primarily responsible for the physical breaking down of foods. After you’re incisors and molars do their dirty work, the broken bits of food/nutrients (in this instance, protein) make their way to the stomach where the digestion process kicks in.

The stomach is a rich source of gastric juice, which is composed of hydrochloric acid, sodium chloride and potassium chloride. These acids initiate the chemical breakdown (denaturation) of proteins and activate the necessary digestive enzymes to further the process of digestion. One of the key enzymes in protein digestion is pepsin, which is why some naturopaths assert that those who eat a large amount of protein should supplement with this enzyme, but that remains to be investigated for efficacy.

Late phases of protein digestion

Moving on, after the protein has been denatured sufficiently; the eluting polypeptides make their way to the duodenum, which is the anterior segment of the small intestine. The duodenum is the site of the majority of protein digestion and amino acid absorption. The plethora of digestive enzymes present in the small intestine serves to further cleave the polypeptides into isolated amino acids and minute amounts of di-/tri-peptides.

Towards the end of protein digestion, the isolated amino acids are destined to either entrance of the intestinal cells or passing through circulation towards the liver. Once in the liver, amino acids are finally subject to the proper metabolic pathways in accordance with the body’s energetic requirements (e.g. utilized for protein synthesis, used as a substrate for gluconeogenesis, etc.)

So how much protein can the human body really digest in one sitting?

With the basics of protein digestion covered, let’s take a pragmatic look at the theories and research behind how much protein can be digested at a given time. It should be noted here that this question is asking about how much can be digested, which isn’t the same as asking how much can be used for muscle protein synthesis (MPS); digestion and MPS aren’t interchangeable terms like some people seem to believe.

Back on topic, the idea that the human body has a rather random “protein cap” at the 30-50g mark just doesn’t hold up from an evolutionary nor biochemical aspect. Essentially, the supposition that your body doesn’t (read: can’t) absorb/digest more than 30g-50g of protein at once is inherently suggesting that you are just excreting any amount of protein over that mark in your feces.

So in essence, instead of your body digesting the “excess” protein, it magically bypasses the highly conserved/intricate digestive process that we covered in this article and sends the extra protein to your colon. Hmmm…we’d be pretty screwed from a physiological standpoint if that were true, not to mention people would be living on the toilet.

Moreover, there is little-to-no literature that confirms the body doesn’t absorb more than 30-50g of protein at a given moment. In fact, the literature supports that the body can indeed digest quite a large bolus; it just takes longer than a smaller dose.[1]

Basically, rather than just redirecting excess protein to your colon, the rate of digestion compensates to reduce the supply of nutrients being sent to the anterior small intestine (i.e. the stomach delays gastric processes).

For the absolute extremists who like to propose rather absurd circumstances, like eating 200g of protein at once, would the body be able to digest all of it? Well frankly, yes, but not all of that will be put to “good use” so to speak.

Protein can indeed be converted to fat, but the pathways to do so are inefficient biochemically so the significance of this conversion is trivial. Most likely, the majority of protein that isn’t used for MPS or other anabolic processes is probably subject to hepatic gluconeogenesis and subsequently stored in the form of glycogen.

So there you have it, you can eat quite a bit of protein at any given time, just don’t be too extreme about it if you want to effectively utilize the amino acids.

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It’s time to improve your barbell squat form and performance. These 16 tips by mammoth raw squatter Steve Shaw will help you get your squats on track in no time.

16 Squat Tips To Improve Form, Strength And SizeThe barbell squat is the king of all exercises. This has been said a million times in a million ways for one simple reason.

It’s true.

Besides being an incredible muscle builder, the squat is also a man-maker (or woman-maker). It is brutally hard, mentally challenging and exhilarating all at the same time. Many of us love squats, but we also fear squats.

The barbell squat is also a difficult exercise to learn. A healthy portion of the Youtube squat videos I see feature blatant squat form flaws. I also notice a heavy dose of what I like to call form lock.

Form lock is a condition that results from watching too many squat videos and/or reading too many squat articles. Lifters will take in a tip and start to approach the squat in a mechanical, unnatural way.

I do not want any of the following tips to make your squat form worse. Whatever you do, concentrate on making your squats feel natural. I also recommend that if you try to tweak your squat form in any way, don’t do so with heavy weight on your back. Practice squat form changes with a moderate and safe weight.

Tip #1 – Hips move back with the squat, not before the squat

I see this quite often with less experienced lifters. Somewhere in the netherworld known as the Internet people learn about the concept of driving their hips back as they squat. Instead of this becoming a fluid part of the squat eccentric, it is turned into a clunky, good morning type of lower back killer.

What you see is this: a lifter will break up the hip drive and squat eccentric into two very distinct, separate and mechanical components. They will initiate the squat by thrusting their hips backwards. Then, from this near good morning position, they will begin the squat eccentric.

By driving the hips back before you initiate the eccentric, you put yourself in a precarious position. You are leaning forward as you descent, and will tend to remain far less upright as you sink. This places addition stress on your lower back, and reduces leverage and power.

Barbell Squat

Tip #2 – Pick up the quarter

If you are having a hard time hitting squat depth I want you to try this tip.

Stand with your feet in a natural position and place your hands near your chest. Now pretend there is a quarter 6 to 8 inches in front of your feet on the ground.

Using both arms, reach down between your legs and touch the pretend quarter (ground). Your legs will naturally flower open, and you will likely have an easy time hitting squat depth. Now replicate this with a barbell on your back.

It’s nearly impossible to pick up this imaginary quarter without opening your legs. The reason that this is important is because far too many lifters keep their legs forward when squatting. This makes it much more difficult to hit depth.

Tip #3 – Drive your shoulders into the bar

When coming up out of the hole, focus on driving your shoulders into the bar. This will help you lead with the head and assist you in staying more upright.

Standing up is also a more natural movement. It will encourage better leverages and improve your squatting power from the hole.

Tip #4 – Use a natural width and toe angle

How wide should your squat stance be? What should your toe angle be? Here is a good place to start.

Position yourself like you were about to jump vertically into the air. Now look down at your feet. You will likely find that your toes are pointed out slightly, about 15 to 30 degrees.

This width and foot angle will be the most natural place to start squatting. You can make minor needed adjusts from there.

Tip #5 – Squat to parallel, it is better for the knees

Squats above parallel are bad for the knees.

A high squat places the bulk of the strain on your anterior chain, which is basically the front of your body. The involvement of powerful muscle groups such as the hamstrings, glutes and back is minimized.

This type of anterior-dominant squat places an unwanted amount of sheer stress on the patellar tendon, making it far more dangerous for knee health than parallel squats.

Barbell Squats

Tip #6 – It’s generally ok for the knees to come in slightly during the concentric

It’s generally ok for the knees to come in slightly when coming out of the hole, as long as the knee buckling is not extreme or creating a huge risk of injury. I certainly don’t recommend trying this if it’s not already occurring, but if your knees are moving in a bit, don’t panic.

Knees coming in might be a sign of a weakness, but this is not unusual. This issue will likely fix itself over time as your lower body strength improves.

Tip #7 – Build core strength without spinal flexion

Conventional ab strengthen work focuses on exercises that involve spinal flexion, such as crunches and situps.

Set these exercises aside. Instead focus on planks, side planks, planks on a stability ball and ab wheel rollouts. These movements will build an impressive amount of core strength and stability without taxing the lower spine.

This can only help your squat.

Tip #8 – Keep that upper back tight to stay upright

Head over to Youtube and watch a few squat videos that involve 6 to 20 rep sets. Odds are you’ll start to notice a trend. After a few reps many lifters will start to lean forward, placing a far greater amount of stress on their lower back.

What’s going on here? Lack of discipline. Specifically, they are not focusing on keeping their upper backs and arms tight. Because of this, as the reps mount their elbows begin to fly up.

When your elbows fly up, your head will tend to move forward. Both of these movements will have a tendency to lean you forward while squatting, putting more weight on your toes.

You will then begin to good morning your reps.

After each rep make sure that you have a death grip on the bar, and that your back and arms are tight and locked into position. This will prevent flying elbow syndrome and make your reps more consistent. It will also save your lower back some abuse.

Tip #9 – Shoulder or bicep pain? Widen your grip

Many lifters feel pressure to keep their grip as narrow as possible. This isn’t always the best option if you are old, or have a substantial amount of girth and/or muscle mass.

I struggled with crazy shoulder strains for one year before finally taking my grip out to maximum width. This change immediately relieved the pain, and I have been squatting like this ever since.

Barbell Squats

Tip #10 – You do not need to squat wide stance

Forget what you read or see on the Internet. There are far more raw powerlifters using a conventional stance then there are wide stance squatters. This might go against what you believe to be the norm, but it’s true.

A wide stance squat is technically more difficult. Spend time with a conventional stance, building up your strength and quad power. Then, after a couple of years if you feel like you might have quality hip mobility, slowly start to move your stance out.

Tip #11 – Use proper breathing

Take a deep breathe and hold it while sinking. Exhale while exploding up from the hole.

Tip #12 – Video your squats and watch for bar over toes

Find a way to record your squats and watch the bar path. The barbell should stay over the center of your foot at all times.

If not, typically it’s due to one of the form flaws listed above: knees not out enough when descending, loose back with elbows flying, driving your hips out before you descend, etc.

Tip #13 – Don’t obsess over “ass to grass”

I’ve seen more than a few squatters complain about a lack of ankle flexibility. Most of the time when I look at their squats they are going down way beyond parallel.

Ass to grass squats are not needed. Parallel squats are. The point isn’t to show China your back side; the point is to build leg size and squat strength.

Sink to a natural depth and then stand back up.

Tip #14 – Boost your size and power with paused squats

If your squat strength or leg size is in a rut, try paused squats. Sink into the hole normally, making sure to remain tight, and make a slight pause before coming up.

This minor change will leave you in pain the next day. A good kind of pain.

Paused squats are brutal, effective, and a great tool that can help you bust out of a plateau or slump.

Tip #15 – Keep your lower back tight

While you do not want to hyperextend your lower back inward, you do want to keep it tight. This tightness will help with stability and improve the consistency of your squat reps.

Tip #16 – There is no perfect form

If I had a dollar for every lifter who told me I have great form, I could retire. This is nonsense, and dangerous.

Never assume your form is ok. Form can always be improved. You should constantly be working to improve your form and squat consistency on every rep.

If you have no idea where to turn, take a video of your squats and allow a seasoned squat veteran to critique your lifts, looking for any major errors.

Final Thoughts

This is not a comprehensive overview of the squat but it should help you to fix most major issues. Before closing this article I would like to leave you with 2 thoughts:

  1. Everyone squats differently. First and foremost you want your squat reps to feel natural, within the bounds of the tips listed above. If someone tells you there is only one way to squat (high bar, low bar, wide, or narrow), ignore them. Even if it’s me.
  2. Don’t make more than one squat change at a time. Make your adjustment, and practice it with moderate weight. It is best to tweak one thing at a time except when the multiple adjustments are simple to make.

 

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