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Building Muscle

Posted on July 2, 2012 at 11:17 AM Comments comments (29)
 Building Muscle is simple, but it’s not easy. It takes time and dedication to your workout regimen and your diet. Many people have the dedication to their workout down pat; however, diet is where their dedication falls short, and with appearance, whether you’re trying shed body fat or gain muscle, 80% of your results will come down to your diet. Here’s the first thing you have to know: you cannot gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously. It’s impossible. If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will lack the nutrients to build muscle. Many people overlook this fact and think that if they lift, they’ll simply get bigger. It’s not going to happen unless you’re a totally untrained individual, and those gains won’t last for long, about three to six months at the most.

You must be in a caloric surplus; meaning you’re eating more calories than you’re body needs in order maintain your current weight. If you’re not in a caloric surplus, you’re not going to get any bigger. It doesn’t matter how much of your diet is protein. Your body has the ability to turn protein into glucose via glucogenises to satisfy it’s energy needs, so you need to be in a caloric surplus so your body can utilize as much dietary protein for protein synthesis as possible.
One common mistake that people make when trying to build muscle is loading up on protein thinking that more protein equals more muscle. Wrong, more calories equal more muscle because more protein is available for protein synthesis; less protein (dietary protein or actual muscular tissue) is being converted into glucose. What you really need to increase when attempting to build muscle is your intake of carbohydrates. They’re protein sparing; they also will give you the energy you’ll need to fuel the intensity of your workouts.
Here’s the thing: you’re always losing and gaining muscle, even when you’re bulking. If you go for a long period of time without food, like sleeping for an example, your body still needs energy. Where do you think that energy is going to come from ? It’s going to come from you ? You’re probably thinking, what about body fat ? Why can’t my body just use body fat and for energy ? It can, and it will, but the process of turning fat into glucose isn’t as easy of a process for the body as turning protein ( in this case muscle mass) into glucose, and some parts of your body, like your brain, run on carbs, not fats, so muscle loss is inevitable.
Building muscle is similar to running a business. If you make more than you spend, you’ve made a profit. If you’re at a positive protein balance, that means you body is taking in and synthesizing more protein that it’s turning into glucose, and you’re gaining muscle. Now remember, to do this you have to be at a caloric surplus. Ideally, you want to get in a gram of protein per pound of body weight, and make sure you’re taking in 100 to 300 calories above what it takes to maintain you weight.
Oh, I almost forget. You have to be prepared to put on a little fat. Putting on muscle without any fat gain what so ever is either impossible or it’s extremely difficult. Since you are taking in more than your body needs, fat gain is inevitable. What you want to do is eat clean foods like chicken breast, lean cuts of beef, eggs, and fish along with healthy sources of  carbs such as sweet potatoes, rice, oat meal, broccoli, and pasta. Supplements can assist you in getting enough calories (without eating junk food) throughout the day. It can be difficult at times to get in all those calories with whole foods. Sometimes you lack the time; sometimes you lack the appetite.
Remember, after you're satisfied with the amount of size that you’ve gained, you’re going to want to see all of the gains that you’ve made, and the cleaner your diet is while bulking, the less work you’ll have to do you to shed the all the fat you’ve gained during your bulk. 

The big five

Posted on July 1, 2012 at 11:04 PM Comments comments (4)
When it comes to resistance training, there are five exercises that should make up the core of  you routine no matter what type of resistance training you’re doing. It could be Pilates; you could be doing bodyweight exercises, but whatever you do, you better be incorporating these five lifts or your program is lacking.   

 The five lifts are : the bench press, the military press, rows, deadlifts and squats. These five lifts will target every muscle group in the body. The bench press will target the chest, the anterior deltoids and the triceps. The military press targets the anterior and medial deltoids as well as the triceps. Rows target the traps, lats, biceps, and hamstrings; deadlifts target the entire posterior chain with an emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes, and squats also work the posterior chain like the deadlifts, but the quads come into play a lot more.  Now, you probably wondering, “what about core exercises ?” Core exercises are overrated. Every compound exercise you do will hit your core. You core is targeted by basically anything you do whether it’s running, jumping, or lifting. If you don’t believe me, after a tough abs workout go do some standing barbell curls and see if you can’t feel it in your abs.   

 Focusing on these five compounds lifts will develop a balanced physique. Too many times people get hung up on isolation exercises, and too many isolation exercises can complicate things. Certain muscle groups can become neglected to some extent. When starting out concentrate on these five exercises or movements. I would even go so far as to say that beginners should only do these lifts (and nothing else) to perfect their form. This will do two things for you: the first thing it will do is give you a solid strength base. The second thing it will do is reveal where your genetic weaknesses are. Most of us have some muscles that seem reluctant to respond due to genetics. That’s where isolation exercises come into play. For example, let’s say your biceps aren’t at big as you’d like and aren’t growing at the same rate as other muscle groups. Rows will hit your biceps, but if you’ve already done rows you’ll risk fatiguing or even injuring your back if you do extra sets of rows, or any other compound pulling movement, in an attempt to stimulate more growth in your biceps. That’s where isolation exercises come in. They allow you to isolate particular muscle groups without overtraining secondary muscle groups that are involved in compound lifts.   

 Now, these five lifts can come in different forms. For example, when I refer to the bench press I don’t just mean the flat bench press. You can do incline bench presses, decline bench presses, dumbbell bench presses, dips or push ups. Exercises that can serve as substitutes for the Military press are: the standing dumbbell press, seated barbell press, the seated dumbbell press, and handstand pushups. If given the option between standing shoulder presses and seated shoulder presses, I prefer standing barbell ( or dumbbell) presses due to the extra stress they place on the core. For Rows, there are bent over rows, Pendlay rows, upright rows, t-bar rows, cable rows and lat pull downs. To make it simpler, for  upper body exercises, incorporate heavy compound pulling and pushing movements from different angles. For example, what’s the difference between the flat and incline bench press ? It’s the angle that you’re pressing the weight in relation to your body. What’s the difference between an upright row and a bent over row ? Again, it’s the angle that you’re pulling the weight into relation of your body.   It’s that simple. Deadlift, squat, and push and pull from different angles.