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Without a doubt, you can add muscle simply by eating right and lifting weights. But to truly maximize your growth potential, supplements are a requirement. Hence, we've compiled a rundown of the 11 best mass-gain supplements on which to spend your hard-earned cash. They're listed in order of priority, from the absolute most critical, can't-do-without supplements to the less crucial yet still highly effective ingredients for packing on size. The point is to help those on a tight budget decide which supplements to buy. If money is no object, then by all means knock yourself out and use them all as directed. Because after all, as far as we're concerned, you can never have too much muscle.
Priority #1: Whey Protein Powder
Why it made the list: Whey tops the list of mass-gain supplements because it's the most crucial for pushing protein synthesis. Whey is a milk protein that has a high level of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, No. 4 on our list). Bottom line: Whey takes the crown because it digests fast and gets to your muscles rapidly to start building muscle. Whey also contains peptides (small proteins) that increase blood flow to the muscles. This is why we always recommend consuming whey protein immediately after training.
How to maximize its effects: Take 20 grams of whey protein powder in the 30 minutes before working out, and take 40 grams within 60 minutes after training. Also consider taking 20-40 grams of whey immediately upon waking every morning to kick-start muscle growth. Your best bet is to choose a whey powder that contains whey protein hydrolysates (whey protein broken down into smaller fragments for faster digestion) or whey protein isolate.
Priority #2: Casein Protein Powder
Why it made the list: The other milk protein, casein, squeaks in just under whey. Casein has always played second fiddle due to its very slow digestion rate, yet this makes it ideal as a pre-bedtime snack because it prevents catabolism while you sleep by emptying slowly and steadily. Casein also makes you feel less full, which makes it a great snack for those who want to pack on muscle mass. And new research finds that casein gives whey a run for its money - when it's taken postworkout, casein boosts muscle protein synthesis much like whey does. It's even suggested that a whey and casein protein shake taken after training increases muscle growth better than either protein taken alone.
How to maximize its effects: Choose a casein protein that contains micellar casein (the slowest-digesting casein you can buy) and take 20-40 grams right before going to bed. After workouts, add 10-20 grams of casein to your whey protein. Also, use 20-40 grams of casein in your protein shakes between meals.
Priority #3: Creatine
Why it made the list: Creatine is made from three amino acids: arginine, glycine and methionine. Anecdotal reports and scientific studies alike find that guys who take creatine gain a good 10 pounds or more of bodyweight and increase strength dramatically. Creatine works in a number of ways. For one, it increases the amount of fast energy in your muscles needed to perform reps in the gym. The more of this fast energy that's available, the more reps you can do with a given weight, allowing you to get bigger and stronger in the long run. Creatine also draws more water into your muscle cells, placing a stretch on the cell that increases long-term growth. Most recently, creatine has been found to increase levels of insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in muscles, which is critical for stimulating growth.
How to maximize its effects: Take 2-5 grams of creatine in the form of creatine monohydrate, creatine malate, creatine ethyl ester or creatine alpha-ketoglutarate with your protein shake immediately before workouts. This will help keep your muscles saturated with creatine, producing the rapid energy they need to perform more reps. Then consume another 2-5 grams with your postworkout shake (in addition to 40-100 grams of fast-digesting carbs), a time when creatine will be rapidly taken up by muscle cells and the boost in IGF-1 levels will help prompt further growth. On days when you don't train, take 2-5 grams of creatine with a breakfast that contains carbohydrates.
Priority #4: Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Why they made the list: The term branched-chain amino acids refers to leucine, isoleucine and valine, the absolute most important amino acids for repairing and building muscle tissue. Leucine is the most critical of the three, as research shows that it can stimulate muscle protein synthesis on its own. Yet it's still best to take all three together, since they work in synergy to provide a multitude of benefits, including muscle growth, increased energy during workouts, the blunting of cortisol (a catabolic hormone that inhibits testosterone and increases muscle breakdown) and decreased delayed-onset muscle soreness.
How to maximize their effects: Take 5—10 grams of BCAAs with breakfast, as well as in your pre- and postworkout shakes. Look for BCAA products that provide leucine at a ratio of 2:1 per dose of isoleucine and valine. For example, if you take a 5-gram dose of BCAAs, about 2.5 grams should be from leucine, 1.25 grams from isoleucine and 1.25 grams from valine.
Priority #5: Beta-Alanine/Carnosine
Why they made the list: In the body, the amino acid beta-alanine is combined with another amino, histidine, to form carnosine. Research shows that when muscles have higher levels of carnosine, they have more strength and endurance. Carnosine appears to increase the muscle fibers' ability to contract with more force, and to do so longer without fatiguing. Several studies reported increases in muscle strength and power in athletes who took beta-alanine. One recent study found that subjects who took beta-alanine along with creatine gained more muscle mass and lost more bodyfat than subjects who took only creatine.
How to maximize their effects: Take 1—2 grams of beta-alanine or carnosine immediately before and after every workout in addition to your shakes and creatine. On nonworkout days, take 2 grams with breakfast, along with creatine.
Priority #6: Nitric Oxide Boosters
Why they made the list: Nitric oxide (NO) is a molecule found throughout the body that's involved in multiple processes. The one that bodybuilders are most interested in is its ability to dilate blood vessels, which allows more blood flow to the muscles for enhanced delivery of oxygen, nutrients, anabolic hormones and water (blood is mostly water). This gives you more energy during your workout, an enhanced muscle pump, and better muscle recovery and growth after the workout. NO boosters don't provide NO, but rather the amino acid arginine, which is readily converted to NO in the body. Research has found that subjects who were given arginine increased muscle strength and growth and lost bodyfat.
How to maximize their effects: Take an NO booster that provides 3—5 grams of arginine in the form of L-arginine, arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, arginine ethyl ester or arginine malate. Also, consider NO boosters that provide ingredients such as citrulline, pycnog-enol and American ginseng, which enhance arginine's ability to increase NO. Take one dose at each of the following times: in the morning before breakfast, 30—60 minutes before training, immediately after training and 30—60 minutes before bedtime. When possible, take each dose without food and consider combining it with 500—1,000 mg of vitamin C, which can help maintain levels of NO for longer.
Priority #7: Glutamine
Why it made the list: This amino acid has been a favorite of bodybuilders for decades because it's central to muscle function and is one of the most plentiful aminos found in the human body. Glutamine provides numerous bodybuilding benefits, such as aiding muscle growth by increasing levels of leucine in muscle fibers, helping decrease muscle breakdown and bolstering the immune system, which helps prevent you from getting sick and missing workouts. Glutamine taken before workouts can help decrease muscle fatigue and boost growth hormone levels. In addition, recent research shows that glutamine might also play a role in fat loss by increasing the amount of calories and fat burned at rest and during exercise.
How to maximize its effects: Take 5—10 grams of glutamine in the morning with breakfast, with your pre- and postworkout shakes, and with your nighttime snack.
Priority #8: ZMA
Why it made the list: ZMA is a combination of zinc, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6. It's an important supplement because hard-training athletes such as bodybuilders are often deficient in these critical minerals, which are important for maintaining hormone levels and aiding sleep (essential for recovery). Intense training can compromise levels of testosterone and IGF-1. In fact, one study found that athletes who took ZMA significantly increased their levels of testosterone and IGF-1 during eight weeks of training, while those who took a placebo experienced a drop in both T and IGF-1. Naturally, boosting testosterone and IGF-1 can make huge impacts on muscle gains.
How to maximize its effects: Use a ZMA product that provides about 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium and 10.5 mg of vitamin B6, and take it 30—60 minutes before bedtime without any food or calcium. Taking ZMA on an empty stomach will enhance its uptake and utilization and improve your sleep quality for optimal recovery.
Priority #9: Carnitine
Why it made the list: Besides being a popular fat-loss supplement, carnitine is now known to enhance muscle growth through a number of mechanisms, all of which are supported by clinical research. For one, carnitine can increase blood flow to muscles, which means it provides similar benefits to NO boosters. It also increases testosterone levels postworkout and the amount of T receptors inside muscle cells, which allows more testosterone to stimulate more growth. In addition, carnitine supplements have been found to increase levels of IGF-1. Add all these benefits together and you have the potential to gain enormous amounts of muscle.
How to maximize its effects: Take 1—3 grams of carnitine in the form of L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine or L-carnitine-L-tartrate with breakfast, your pre- and postworkout shakes, and nighttime meals.
Priority #10: Beta-Ecdysterone
Why it made the list: Beta-ecdysterone is a phytochemical found in plants such as spinach, where its main function is to protect the plant from insects. Russian scientists discovered many years ago that beta-ecdysterone has anabolic properties. In fact, it's similar in structure to hormones found in insects and crustaceans. Yet beta-ecdysterone doesn't behave like a hormone in the body, but rather works by stimulating protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth. Anecdotal reports suggest that it's very effective for producing increases in both muscle size and strength.
How to maximize its effects: To get the most out of beta-ecdysterone, make sure you get a high enough dose and take it frequently throughout the day. Look for products that supply about 100 mg of beta-ecdysterone and take it with meals in the morning, before and after workouts, as well as with lunch and dinner, for a total of 400—500 mg per day.
Priority #11: High Molecular-Weight Carbs (Vitargo)
Why they made the list: Molecular weight is a term that refers to the mass of one molecule of a substance. Therefore, high molecular-weight carbs (HMCs) are essentially made up of very large, heavy molecules. HMCs such as the patented Vitargo brand are typically made from waxy maize (corn) starch. What makes these carbs so special is their ability to rapidly pass through the stomach to the intestines where they can be absorbed and enter the blood. Research shows that HMCs pass through the stomach at a rate almost 100% faster than sports drinks. This is important after exercise because consuming carbs at this time blunts cortisol levels, prevents muscle breakdown and raises insulin levels to help promote muscle growth and replenish muscle glycogen levels.
How to maximize their effects: Taking 60—100 grams of HMCs mixed in your postworkout shake will help push muscle recovery and growth, and the insulin spike it causes will drive more amino acids, creatine and carnitine into your muscle cells. In other words, HMCs will not only boost muscle growth themselves but they will help your other mass supplements work even better.
Rest periods between sets is an integral and often overlooked contributor to the success of any strength training program. Chances are, you are not optimizing this crucial variable.
So what is the trick to get the most out of your rest? Well, it depends on your training goals and level of conditioning. Optimal rest periods between sets can vary from 30 seconds or less up to 5 minutes!
We know that it takes 2.5 to 3 minutes for the phosphagen (Creatine Phosphate / ATP) stores to fully recover from a set of intense exercise1.
Contrary to what you might think, resting for this time period to allow complete phosphagen recovery is not optimal for all athletes. Let's take a look at some of the facts about rest intervals. I have grouped the information by training goals in order to make it more reader-friendly.
Absolute Strength Athletes
First, let's define who you are. You are training for explosive, low repetition activities of short duration. Muscle hypertrophy and endurance are not your primary concerns. Weightlifters, powerlifters, sprinters, football players, sprint cyclists and any other athletes in a sport emphasizing high intensity/short duration activities, this is you!
Optimal Rest Period
- Your optimal rest period range between sets is 3 to 5 minutes.
- One reason for this longer rest is to allow full phosphagen recovery before you begin the next set. Full recovery allows you to produce the greatest muscular force possible for each set performed, and thus receive the greatest absolute strength gains from your training.
Higher Testosterone Levels
- Another good reason for this rest interval is that when combined with heavy training loads, it appears to produce greater testosterone levels in experienced strength athletes incorporating large muscle group exercises in their training2. A higher testosterone level equates to greater gains in strength.
Hypertrophy & Endurance Athletes
Who are you? You are an athlete training for muscular size and/or to increase your ability to apply near maximal muscular force over a time period. Bodybuilders, fitness buffs, long-sprint runners/swimmers/cyclists, wrestlers, soccer players, and sports similar in intensity, this is you!
- Your optimal rest period range is 30 to 60 seconds.
- Keep in mind that whatever you are training for, beginners need more rest between sets then the seasoned veterans. If you are just starting out, stay in the conservative end of your range.If you are experienced you will benefit more from a shorter rest period. In addition, athletes coming back from periods of detraining due to injury or otherwise should increase the amount of rest between sets until you are back in your normal physical condition.Circuit TrainingTraditional circuit training incorporates a rest period of typically less than 30 seconds, or a work-rest interval a fair margin greater than 1:1. So where does this fit into an athlete's training? One has to understand that circuit training is designed to provide a happy medium between strength and aerobic training.Due to the short rest interval between sets, strength gains are less than optimal with circuit training (30 to 50% less) when compared to traditional strength training1. However, modest gains in aerobic capacity can be achieved.In ConclusionSo who benefits from circuit training? Athletes that require a balance of both strength and cardiovascular endurance for their sport, athletes and fitness buffs with limited time and anyone wishing to add variety to their training would all benefit from circuit training.No matter what your sport or fitness passion may be, understanding the science of rest between sets will put you in the driver's seat on the road to your training goals.As you can see, not all athletes benefit from waiting the full three minutes for complete phosphagen recovery. Different periods of rest can produce very specific results. It is up to you as the athlete to decide which approach will be of greatest benefit to you.Link http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/issa111.htm
Another way to look at this is to shoot for a work-rest ratio of 1:1. This means that you spend the same amount of time resting as it took you to complete the previous set. Athletes whose sport demands 1 to 3 minutes of all out effort with little or no rest may benefit from a work-rest ratio of 1:1 or slightly higher.
This means that you spend the same or less time resting than you do performing each set of exercise1. In either case, the principles behind the practice are the same.
Higher Lactate Levels
- Using this rest interval between sets creates high lactate levels in the exercising muscles3. This forces the body to improve its ability to buffer the accumulating lactate, thereby improving your ability to sustain moderate, near maximal or maximal contractions over a given time period.
Increased Growth Hormones
- High volume, short rest period training has also been found to increase human growth hormone levels when compared to training with longer rest periods 2.
- In addition, muscular hypertrophy (growth in size) will be maximized using the 1:1 work-rest ratio in conjunction with high training volume and a weight load between your 8 and 12 repetition maximum. 1.
If you're training hard Tendinitis is often an uncomfortable symptom that you are more than likely to come across as you put your body through the paces. Don't fret as the painful symptoms do subside with time, however, as always there are steps that you can take to alleviate the symptoms and speed up recovery.....
To treat tendinitis at home, R.I.C.E. is the acronym to remember — rest, ice, compression and elevation. This treatment can help speed your recovery and help prevent further problems.
- Rest. Avoid activities that increase the pain or swelling. Don't try to work or play through the pain. Rest is essential to tissue healing. But it doesn't mean complete bed rest. You can do other activities and exercises that don't stress the injured tendon. Swimming and water exercise may be well tolerated.
- Ice. To decrease pain, muscle spasm and swelling, apply ice to the injured area for up to 20 minutes, several times a day. Ice packs, ice massage or slush baths with ice and water all can help. For an ice massage, freeze a plastic foam cup full of water so that you can hold the cup while applying the ice directly to the skin. For more chronic tendon conditions, heat can be helpful in increasing blood flow to the muscle and tendon. This includes deep heat, from a therapy such as ultrasound.
- Compression. Because swelling can result in loss of motion in an injured joint, compress the area until the swelling has ceased. Wraps or compressive elastic bandages are best.
- Elevation. If tendinitis affects your knee, raise the affected leg above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
Although rest is a key part of treating tendinitis, prolonged inactivity can cause stiffness in your joints. After a few days of completely resting the injured area, gently move it through its full range of motion to maintain joint flexibility.
You can also try over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), in an attempt to reduce the discomfort associated with tendinitis.
What Is It?
How Does It Work?
How Safe Is Creatine?
Is It Necessary To Load On Creatine?
Is It Necessary To Cycle Creatine?
What Is The Best Time To Take Creatine?
Will Taking Creatine Before A Workout Give Me More Energy?
Does Liquid Creatine Work?
What Is The Best Type Of Creatine?
As amazing as it may seem, it is possible to boost your metabolism with metabolism foods. Since metabolism is basically how fast and efficiently your body burns the calories you eat every day, the idea is to eat only what your body needs for optimal cell function on a daily basis. That means choosing foods low in caloric value, but high in nutritional value. In addition, some of the foods found in nature can speed up your metabolism and help with fat burning.
9 foods that boost metabolism are:
Water is a natural appetite suppressant that will help increase your body's metabolism by 30% after drinking just 17 oz of it. Your can stay hydrated for your workouts and keep your metabolism high by drinking 6 glasses (8 oz.) a day.
Grapefruit has unique chemical properties that, for the last 30 years of studies have shown, promotes weight loss. This citrus fruit, that is full of vitamin C, will reduce insulin levels which ultimately promotes weight loss. One thing to remember is that grapefruit can interact with medications. So check with your doctor before adding it to your diet.
Oatmeal is a great fat-soluble fiber that fills you up quickly, gives you lots of energy for working out, lowers cholesterol and is high in nutrients.
Broccoli is high in the vitamin C our bodies need to effectively absorb the calcium we eat. And studies indicate that calcium aids in weight loss. Plus, broccoli also has phytochemicals that boost immunity and protect against disease--all while being very low in calories!
5- Green Tea
Studies show that green tea boosts metabolism, has great antioxidants and may help prevent some forms of cancer. It's also famous for being a mood enhancer, which is great for helping you get in the mood for that workout.
6- Hot Peppers
Hot peppers speed up your metabolism and cause you to burn more calories by releasing the chemical Capsaicin (found in cayenne and jalapeno peppers) into your system. In response, the body temporarily releases stress hormones that speed up your metabolism. So you burn more calories as your body copes with the spicy, tasty food.
7- Low-fat Dairy
Low fat dairy is high in the essential calcium needed for fat burning and weight loss. In addition, it is high in nutrients and great for a healthy digestive tract.
8- Lean Meats
Lean Meats are great sources of protein, and they take longer to digest than fruits and vegetables. They also give you more energy for exercise, so you get twice the metabolism benefit from one food.
9. High Fiber Foods
High fiber foods, like beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, keep your insulin levels steady, which helps your body prevent fat storage that leads to weight gain.
Some metabolism supplements will speed up your metabolism, but aren't as healthy as the metabolism boosting foods found right in nature. They can contain animal thyroid that can have unhealthy side effects like nervousness, diarrhea, increased heart rate, tremors, excessive sweating and bulging eyes. Never take a supplement or without first consulting your physician.
Most experts agree that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, accompanied by healthy exercise, will help stablize the metabolism. However, if you have difficulty either gaining weight or losing weight, and you currently lead an active lifestyle that includes and exercise, it could be a sign of metabolism issues. Consult your personal physician to discuss medical testing that will eliminate those possibilities before making significant changes to your diet or exercise program.
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