2 BOOKS IN 1 – DISCOVER WHAT EVERY MAN WHO WORKS OUT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT STRENGTH TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENTS. Book 1 – St
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2 BOOKS IN 1 – DISCOVER WHAT EVERY MAN WHO WORKS OUT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT STRENGTH TRAINING AND SUPPLEMENTS. Book 1 – St
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2 BOOKS IN 1 – DISCOVER WHAT EVERY MAN WHO WORKS OUT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT BODYBUILDING NUTRITION AND STRENGTH TRAINING.
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2 BOOKS IN 1 – DISCOVER WHAT EVERY MAN WHO WORKS OUT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT BODYBUILDING NUTRITION AND STRENGTH TRAINING.
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DISCOVER WHAT EVERY MAN WHO WORKS OUT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT STRENGTH TRAINING AND MUSCLE BUILDING. In a world that seems t
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The Complete Strength Training Guideoffers a different approach to exercise programming than that typically found in oth
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“It’s Here – The Ultimate 16 Week Strength TRAINING PROGRAM From Multiple World Champion Powerlifter And World Record Ho
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3-stage dynamic dumbbell training system -- Dumbbell preparation -- Stage 1: strength -- Stage 2: functional exercises -
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Table of contents :
Chapter 1: Strength Training 101
Chapter 2: What Makes for a Good Strength-Training Program?
Number of Repetitions
Progressive Overload Principle
Rest and Recuperation
Chapter 3: The Core Lifting Exercises
Chapter 4: Barbell Squats
Practical Benefits of Doing Barbell Squats
How to Perform Squats Right
Maximizing the Strength and Muscle-Building Benefits
Variations of Squats
Barbell Split Squat
Chapter 5: Barbell Deadlifts
How to Deadlift Right
Variations and Modifications
Deficit Sumo Deadlift
Accommodating Resistance in a Sumo Deadlift
Tempo Sumo Deadlifts
Trap Bar Deadlift
Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift
Chapter 6: Barbell Overhead Press
Overhead Pressing Benefits
How to Overhead Press Right
Chapter 7: Bench Press
Bench Press Benefits
How to Bench Press Right
Close Grip Bench Press
Wide Grip Bench Press
Chapter 8: Strength-Training Programs for New Lifters
Importance of Knowing Your Strength Training Levels
Starting Strength Program
5 x 5 Intro
The Power Clean
5 x 5 Program
Stronglifts 5 x 5
Chapter 9: Strength-Training Programs for Intermediate Lifters
How to Choose Assistance Exercises
Intermediate Training Possibilities
Chapter 10: The Ultimate Chest Workout
The Chest Muscles
Things to Do to Build the Perfect Chest
Best Chest Exercises
3 Good Upper and Lower Chest Workouts
Common Mistakes During Chest Training
Supplements to Grow an Ultimate Chest
Chapter 11: The Ultimate Back Workout
Anatomy of the Back Muscles
Simple Science of Effective Back Training
The Best Back Exercises
The Ultimate Back Workout
Chapter 12: Ultimate Shoulder Workout
Understanding Shoulder Anatomy
How to Make Shoulder Training Effective?
The Best Shoulder Exercises
The 3 Best Shoulder Workout Routines
Mistakes Made During Shoulder Training
Chapter 13: The Ultimate Leg Workout
Understanding the Anatomy of the Legs
Simple Science of Effective Leg Training
The 3 Biggest Mistakes In Leg Workouts
Strategy to Build Great Legs
The Best Leg Exercises
The Ultimate Leg Workout
Tips for a Speedy Recovery
Chapter 1: The Top 10 Supplements for Men
Chapter 2: Whey Protein
Uses of Whey Protein
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Chapter 3: Creatine
Uses of Creatine
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Chapter 4: Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Uses of BCAAs
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Best Food Sources of BCAAs
Chapter 5: Arginine
Uses of Arginine
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Chapter 6: Beta-Alanine
Uses of Beta-Alanine
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Food Sources of Beta-Alanine
Chapter 7: Casein
Uses of Casein
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Chapter 8: Carnitine
Uses of Carnitine
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Food Sources of Carnitine
Chapter 9: Glutamine
Uses of Glutamine
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Chapter 10: Fish Oil
Uses of Fish Oil
Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions
Chapter 11: Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements
Uses of Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements
How to Choose the Right MVMs
Vitamin and Their Use in the Body
Chapter 12 - Supplements for Your Brain Power
Benefits of Brain Supplements
Supplements for Better Brain Power
Chapter 13 - Important Vitamins for Men’s Health
Risk Factors for Vitamin Deficiencies in Men
Does Your Diet Provide You with All the Necessary Vitamins?
Your Intake of Seafood, Eggs, Dairy, and Poultry is Rare
History of Digestive Problems that Obstruct Absorption
You are Taking some form of Medication
Chapter 14 - Supplements Guide for Bodybuilding
How can Supplements help Bodybuilders?
Joint Support Vitamins
Green food Supplements
Chapter 15 - Supplements for Building Endurance and Stamina
Chapter 16 - How to Boost Testosterone
Excess Weight Loss
Reduce your Sugar Intake
Chapter 17: Supplement Stacks
What is a Stack?
Benefits of a Stack
Some Precautions About Stacking Supplements
Stacks for Building Size and Strength
Stacks for Building Strength and Endurance
Stacks for Strength Recovery
Stacks for Shredding
Chapter 18: Top 5 Overlooked Supplements
Basics of Magnesium
Role of Magnesium in Your Body
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Availability of CLA
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Benefits of Vitamin D
Benefits of Probiotic Supplements
Side Effects of Probiotic Supplements
Chapter 19 – Top 20 Natural Supplements
Chapter 20 - How to boost HGH Levels Naturally
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
How to Increase HGH Production Naturally
Chapter 21 – How to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
How to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Book 1 Strength Training The Ultimate Guide to Strength Training By Nicholas Bjorn Book 2 Supplements The Ultimate Supplement Guide For Men By Nicholas Bjorn
Book 1 Strength Training The Ultimate Guide to Strength Training Essential Lifts for Muscle Building, Size, and Strength 4th Edition By Nicholas Bjorn
© Copyright 2018 – 2020 – All rights reserved. The contents of this book may not be reproduced, duplicated, or transmitted without direct written permission from the author. Under no circumstances will any legal responsibility or blame be held against the publisher for any reparation, damages, or monetary loss due to the information herein, either directly or indirectly. Legal Notice: This book is copyright protected. This is only for personal use. You cannot amend, distribute, sell, use, quote, or paraphrase any part of the content within this book without the consent of the author. Disclaimer Notice: Please note the information contained within this document is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Every attempt has been made to provide accurate, up-to-date, complete, and reliable information. No warranties of any kind are expressed or implied. Readers acknowledge that the author is not engaging in the rendering of legal, financial, medical, or professional advice. The content of this book has been derived from various sources. Please consult a licensed professional before attempting any techniques outlined in this book. By reading this document, the reader agrees that under no circumstances is the author responsible for any losses, direct or indirect, which are incurred as a result of the use of information contained within this document, including, but not limited to, errors, omissions, or inaccuracies.
Table of Contents Introduction Chapter 1: Strength Training 101 Chapter 2: What Makes for a Good Strength-Training Program? Optimal Exercises Number of Repetitions Progressive Overload Principle Form Overload Rest and Recuperation Chapter 3: The Core Lifting Exercises Chapter 4: Barbell Squats Practical Benefits of Doing Barbell Squats How to Perform Squats Right Maximizing the Strength and Muscle-Building Benefits Variations of Squats Goblet Squats Front Squat Barbell Split Squat Overhead Squats Chapter 5: Barbell Deadlifts Deadlift Benefits How to Deadlift Right Common Mistakes Variations and Modifications Sumo Deadlifts
Benefits Variations Deficit Sumo Deadlift Accommodating Resistance in a Sumo Deadlift Tempo Sumo Deadlifts Alternatives Trap Bar Deadlift Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift Chapter 6: Barbell Overhead Press Overhead Pressing Benefits How to Overhead Press Right Push Press Push Jerk Chapter 7: Bench Press Bench Press Benefits How to Bench Press Right Push-Up Close Grip Bench Press Wide Grip Bench Press Chapter 8: Strength-Training Programs for New Lifters Importance of Knowing Your Strength Training Levels Starting Strength Program 5 x 5 Intro The Power Clean 5 x 5 Program
Stronglifts 5 x 5 Chapter 9: Strength-Training Programs for Intermediate Lifters Texas Method Wendler’s 5/3/1 How to Choose Assistance Exercises Intermediate Training Possibilities Chapter 10: The Ultimate Chest Workout The Chest Muscles Things to Do to Build the Perfect Chest Best Chest Exercises 3 Good Upper and Lower Chest Workouts Common Mistakes During Chest Training Tips Supplements to Grow an Ultimate Chest Chapter 11: The Ultimate Back Workout Anatomy of the Back Muscles Simple Science of Effective Back Training The Best Back Exercises The Ultimate Back Workout Tips Chapter 12: Ultimate Shoulder Workout Understanding Shoulder Anatomy How to Make Shoulder Training Effective? The Best Shoulder Exercises The 3 Best Shoulder Workout Routines
Mistakes Made During Shoulder Training Tips Conclusion Chapter 13: The Ultimate Leg Workout Understanding the Anatomy of the Legs Simple Science of Effective Leg Training The 3 Biggest Mistakes In Leg Workouts Strategy to Build Great Legs The Best Leg Exercises The Ultimate Leg Workout Tips Tips for a Speedy Recovery About Rest Conclusion
Introduction During one of my breaks from writing this book, I watched the live stream of the finals night of the 2018 Mr. Olympia competition. Mr. Olympia is the Super Bowl of all muscle-bound pageants. If you want to see the limits of the human body in terms of building muscle and fat loss, this is the show to watch. Where else can you see big muscle-bound men in skimpy thongs, posing for the crowd, hugging each other in congratulations, and crying tears of joy? It’s only in bodybuilding, and Mr. Olympia is the event to be in. While practically 99% of the human population won’t be able to duplicate the amount of muscle these bodybuilders have or achieve the same strength levels as theirs, practically anyone can realize their full strength and musclemass potential with the right information, right attitude, and consistent action. Of these three factors, only one comes from the outside: the right information. Two-thirds of what’s necessary for realizing your full strength and muscular potential lies within you: your attitude and what you do with the information given to you. However, it’s often the single outside factor that can make or break your ability to reach your full potential. This is because even if you have the right attitude and consistently apply the information you’ve gathered, you can still fail if the information you get sucks. That’s why I’ve written this book. I want to give you only the very best information on becoming stronger and more muscular and realizing your full potential. The fact that you’re reading this book means you probably have the right attitude and the desire to put in the work. I want to help you make the most of that attitude and desire. In this book, you’ll learn about: ●
What strength training is and why it’s crucial for realizing your full physical potential;
● What makes for a good strength-training program; ●
The key exercises that will help you build strength and muscle, including squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, bench presses and variations of those exercises; and
● The nutritional side of becoming stronger and more muscular.
By the end of this book, you’ll be in a very good place to start your journey toward optimizing your full strength and muscular potential through strength training. You’ll have the tools by then, which means the rest will be up to you. So, if you’re ready, turn the page, and let’s begin!
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Chapter 1: Strength Training 101 Also referred to as weight training or resistance training, strength training is a kind of exercise program designed to help people become physically stronger and build muscles. Strength-training programs require people to perform exercises that are specific to key muscles and that move against a specific amount of weight or resistance. These exercises can be classified into two general types: using external weights and resistance, such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands; and calisthenics, in which a person works against his or her own body weight. Between the two, using external resistance or weights is the much better option for two reasons. For beginners, body weight is often too heavy, and using bodyweight immediately can lead to burnout or worse, injuries. With external weights, the people exercising or training can adjust the weight or resistance to optimal levels, i.e., the heaviest they can safely work against given their current strength levels and experience. For more experienced and stronger people who’d like to continuously increase their strength and muscle mass, body weight exercises are limited to their body weight only. When using external resistance or weights, the sky’s the limit when it comes to increasing one’s working resistance or weight. The only limit is one’s strength. When you look at power lifters and Mr. Olympia competitors, none of them got as strong and big using calisthenics or body weight. When it comes to using external resistance or weights, we’ll stick mostly to barbells and dumbbells. They will be the meat and potatoes of our strength training, with more emphasis on barbells. They’re collectively called “free weights” because you can move them freely any way you like, unlike weight machines, which limit your movement to their predetermined lines and ranges of motion. The ability to move weights freely can significantly reduce your risk of injuries because of awkward body positioning as a result of having to “fit” into the machines’ ranges of motion. Using free weights will also make you stronger and, consequently, bigger. Why? With free weights, you’ll need to balance the weights you’ll be working with, unlike with machine exercises, where the machines’ defined range of motion ensures you won’t need to work extra hard just to balance the weights or resistance, and because free weights will require more work to
balance them, you end up using other muscles for support and stabilization, making you generally stronger and more muscular all over. You don’t need to be a professional bodybuilder or a power lifter to benefit from strength training. Everybody benefits from a stronger and more muscular body, while not necessarily becoming bodybuilder big and power lifter strong. For example, if you want to be able to play with your toddlers by tossing them in the air, you won’t be able to do that with a feeble set of lower back, shoulder, and arm muscles. Being strong and muscular can also help you do more things at home, such as moving furniture around or being able to carry more groceries to the car. For the guys, being strong and muscular is always a physical advantage when it comes to the ladies. For me, the most important reason for training for strength is for a much better quality of life compared to most people during the sunset years. Sarcopenia is one of the most sinister enemies of senior citizens and older people. Sarcopenia refers to the body’s natural tendency to lose substantial muscle mass due to aging. Thus, if you don’t have much by way of muscle mass and strength now that you’re still relatively young, you won’t have much left by the time sarcopenia rears its ugly head when you’re much older. However, if you have good enough muscle mass and strength now that you’re still young, you’ll be fitter and stronger come your sunset years than if you don’t start strength training now. To be more specific, here are some of the best benefits of incorporating a good strength-training program into your lifestyle: ●
A Generally Fitter and Stronger Body: This one’s quite obvious, judging by the name of the exercise program. However, while it’s very obvious, the benefits of having such a body escape most people, to the point that they can’t be bothered to do strength training. The single best benefit to having a generally strong and fit body is that you can do much more things compared to people who aren’t fit and strong, like carrying and tossing your children during play, moving heavy furniture when spring cleaning, being a monster rebounder when playing basketball with friends, being able to carry much more groceries home, and being able to carry more luggage when going on out-of-town trips, among others. Having a generally fit and strong body can help you
protect yourself from criminal elements. Between a feeble-looking person and someone who looks strong and fit, who do you think robbers or thugs will pick on? It won’t be the one who looks like he can kick the living daylights out of them, that’s for sure. ●
Stronger Bones and More Muscles: Remember good old sarcopenia, which I mentioned earlier? It starts to rear its ugly head by the time a person turns 30 years old, on average. Beginning at that age, muscle mass deterioration averages between 3% and 5% annually. When it comes to bone degeneration, an October 2017 study published in The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research showed that regular strength training can work wonders for helping strengthen bones. In the same study, it was found that as little as 30 minutes of resistance or strengthtraining exercises twice weekly can go a long way toward making bones stronger, denser, and structurally sounder in women who have already reached menopause and have low bone mass. Even better, such improvements came with no side effects!
Leaner Body: The secret to losing body fat and staying lean is consuming fewer calories than burned or burning more calories than consumed on a regular basis. To this extent, aerobic or cardiovascular exercises can help produce the needed caloric deficits to achieve a lean body and maintain it. However, it’s not as efficient as strength training because over the long run, cardio or aerobics only tend to be muscle wasting, which isn’t great, considering that your resting metabolism is primarily dependent on the amount of muscle mass you carry on your body. In short, less muscle mass means a slower basal or resting metabolic rate, which means less calories and body fat burned on a daily basis.
Strength training, on the other hand, helps preserve and build muscle mass, which can lead to faster metabolism in the long run. That means more calories and body fat burned on a regular basis even while at rest, and because strength-training exercises tend to use more muscles and require more effort to perform, they also burn many more calories than aerobic or cardiovascular exercises for the same length of time performed. Many exercise science researchers believe that the reason behind burning calories
even after training is that strength training increases your EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Obesity, a journal that was published in November 2017, also compared the dieters who did not exercise with the ones who did strength training four times every week, for 18 months. It turned out that the latter lost higher fat amounts (approximately 18 pounds) compared to the non-exercisers (who lost only up to 10 pounds). Lastly, your heart rate – and consequently, your metabolism – continues to stay elevated after exercise longer compared to cardio or aerobic exercises. This means that for many hours after you finish lifting weights, your body continues to burn more calories and body fat than exercises like running, biking, or God forbid, aerobics classes led by Richard Simmons! ● Ability to Move Much Better: When you regularly do strength training, you’ll be able to significantly improve — and maintain such improvements – your posture, balance, and muscle coordination. In one study, the risks of getting seriously injured for old people because of falling accidentally can be reduced by almost half – 40% – just by regularly doing strength-training exercises. How's that possible? Remember that the main reason many people fall accidentally is imbalance, which is also highly dependent on the strength of one’s muscles. So, the stronger you are, the better your legs and upper body will be able to stand upright and remain balanced, which can lead to lower risks of accidental falls. Concerning having denser bones and more muscles, strength training is known to increase coordination, balance, and posture. So, this is great news for the elderly. Balance, after all, depends hugely on the strength of your muscles that keep you up on your feet. ● Generally, Better Health: Regular strength training can help you better manage chronic disease-related symptoms and conditions. An example of this is arthritic pain, which can be reduced substantially through regular strength training. Together with other positive lifestyle habits, regular strength training can help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels, leading to reduced risks of developing type-2 or adultonset diabetes.
● More Energy and Better Mood: Regularly performing strength-training exercises can help your body produce more endorphins, also referred to as the “happy hormones” or the natural, brain-induced opiates, which can make you feel more upbeat and energetic. Moreover, it’s also been shown to help people sleep better at night (just don’t exercise within 2 hours before bedtime), which translates to more energy and better cognitive performance the next day. ●
Strength training doesn’t just make you smile more; it reaches far deeper into your psyche. A new meta-analysis of studies showed that resistance training reduces symptoms of depression and the side effects that are often associated with medications. This is especially true for the patients who had mild to moderate clinical symptoms (Loria, 2018).
Now that you know what strength training is and why you should get into it, the next thing to learn is when is the best time to get into it. My answer is simple: Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow’s too late. Today’s the right time.
Chapter 2: What Makes for a Good StrengthTraining Program? While strength-training programs are all about lifting weights, not all weightlifting exercises or programs are created equal. A good strength-training program is one that will optimize your chances of continuously increasing strength and muscle mass, and such a program has key characteristics.
Optimal Exercises By simply lifting heavier and heavier weights, you can get stronger and muscular. However, there are other things to consider. For example, how strong can you get with certain exercises? What specific body parts will be strengthened? Is it safe? How quickly can you get stronger and more muscular with certain exercises? These are some of the things you’ll need to consider in determining the optimal strength-training exercise on which to build your strength-training program. So, what are the most optimal strength-training exercises that need to be the foundation of your strength-training efforts? These are squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and bench presses, about which we’ll get into more detail later on.
Number of Repetitions The number of times you’ll have to perform a specific strength-training movement per set is called repetitions. For most bodybuilders, the ideal number of repetitions per set is between 6 and 12. The lower end of the range focuses more on strength and power while the upper range focuses more on muscular endurance and strength. Your muscles will respond differently according to different stimuli, which you can vary by changing the number of repetitions performed per set, the weight you’re lifting, or the speed at which you perform the movements. What’s important when it comes to repetitions per set is that you reach muscular failure within the 6- to 12-rep range or your chosen range depending on your primary goal (power and strength or muscular endurance and strength).
If you choose to prioritize power and strength, you should do a minimum of 6 repetitions per set and a maximum of 8 reps only, which means you reach muscular failure (can’t perform another rep on your own) by the time you reach 6 to 8 reps. If you reach failure before the 6th rep, it’s too heavy. If you reach more than 8, it’s light for power and strength purposes. If you choose to prioritize muscular endurance and strength instead, you should be able to perform a minimum of 8 repetitions and a maximum of 12. If you reach failure before the 8th rep, it’s too heavy, and if you’re able to do more than 12 reps, it’s too light for purposes of developing muscular endurance.
Progressive Overload Principle This means that, if you want to continue making gains in strength and muscle mass, you’ll need to progressively increase your muscles’ working load, i.e., weight or resistance level. However, you shouldn’t be piling on the weight as fast as you can empty your plate at a buffet. Remember that you must do it in ways that are safe for your body. So, when should you start adding more weight? Remember the guiding principle I shared in the section on repetitions. If you’re able to do more than 8 to 12 repetitions, it’s time to add some more weight that will let you reach muscular failure between 6 and 12 repetitions.
Form Overload While increasing weights or resistance is the key to getting stronger and bigger, it’s governed by a greater principle – safety. The best way to avoid getting injured is to use proper form when executing the strength-training movements in your program. Aside from repetitions, another guideline to use for determining the optimal weight to use is good form. If you’re not even able to execute the movement using good form, it means the weight is too heavy, even if you can perform up to 12 repetitions using poor form. Aside from safety, proper form optimizes the strength-building and musclegrowing benefits of the strength-training exercises you’ll be performing. Why? Proper form ensures that the muscles intended to be worked out by exercises will be optimally worked out. If you use improper form, you will be reducing the load carried by the intended muscles and spread a good portion
of it to other muscles that you do not intend to work out. Take for example the bench press. Proper form entails that all throughout the movement, your shoulders must be drawn back to make sure that the weight is carried by your chest and that the shoulders will just be stabilizing the weight. Many make the mistake of using poor form, i.e., shoulders pushed forward, which takes a large chunk of the weight off the chest and onto the shoulders. That's why many people who can bench press heavy weights don’t have the corresponding chest development that should go along with benching such heavy weights.
Rest and Recuperation In most cases, many people who strength train – amateurs mostly – never let their feet off the pedal and continue lifting the heaviest possible weights all year round. These are the same people who wonder why their muscle and strength-building results have plateaued. They maintain the same intensity and consistency all year round, thinking that the more (weight), the merrier all year round. However, the reality is that it’s practically impossible to push one’s body in a balls-to-the-walls pace and intensity all year round and experience continuous gains in size and strength. Why? The human body is limited, and part of it being so means it has to have time to recover, too. By recovery, I mean the intensity at which it’s pushed during strength training and the amount of weights lifted during such must be cycled throughout the year in such a way that it has time for lighter workload and, in some instances, complete rest from training. If you don’t believe me, look no further than legendary bodybuilder Kevin Levrone, one of the perennial top contenders for the Mr. Olympia crown in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Kevin Levrone takes several weeks off every year from lifting weights so that his muscles have time to recover from the year’s heavy lifting. By giving his body such rest every year, he also prevents it from completely adapting to the stresses of heavy lifting, which means his body never stops adapting, growing, and becoming stronger. If he does it, you should, too. If you’re an avid fan of the NBA, NFL, and MLB, consider the fact that they have off seasons in which their athletes take time away from the sport to rest and recover. Without such breaks, these athletes would probably have burned
out and been injured frequently. Considering you’re not a professional athlete, bodybuilder, or power lifter who does nothing else for a living but train, your body’s ability to be pushed to the limit is much lower. Hence, a good strength-training program should take into consideration cycling the intensity and load you’ll be lifting year-round.
Chapter 3: The Core Lifting Exercises As mentioned earlier, the top reasons for getting into a strength-training program is to get stronger and build and maintain muscle mass, both of which can lead to other health and aesthetic benefits in the long run. While there are many strength-training programs out there, the one similarity they all share – at least the ones worth their salt – comprises the core-lifting exercises. These core exercises are a staple of the best strength-training programs of many of the world’s top bodybuilders and power lifters simply because they work best in terms of making people stronger and more muscular. They burn the most calories, too, which also makes them a staple of many fitness models’ training programs! The core lifting exercises any good strength-training program should include are the squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and bench presses. Even if you do no other exercises apart from these, you will definitely be able to build significant strength and muscle mass because these are what we call multijoint or compound exercises. Remember our discussion in the previous chapter on what makes for a good strength-training program? If you do, then you’d remember that these types of exercises are an essential part of any solid strength-training program. Why are they so crucial for any serious strength-training program? It’s because these are exercises that use more than just one muscle group in order to not just lift but also balance the weights. Unlike a chest isolation exercise, like dumbbell flys, which only work the chest, the bench press works the chest and other muscles, like the triceps, the core muscles, and to some extent, the shoulder muscles for stability and balance. Moreover, unlike an isolation exercise, such as the leg press machine that only works the thighs, a barbell squat works the thighs, the hamstrings, the calves, the lower back, and abdominal muscles. As a beginner, start by performing 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions per set per exercise. Why 10 to 12 repetitions, and why only 3 sets? If you’re a beginner and haven’t had any weight-lifting experience, your muscles need to develop muscle memory, particularly lifting using proper form. If you aim for less than 10 repetitions per set, this means you’ll be lifting weights that may be too heavy for you as a beginner who is still learning to develop the habit of
proper form. Why 3 sets only? It’s because your muscles are still not capable of very high intensity or workloads as a beginner. After 3 to 6 months of working out with 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps per set, you can start going lower on the repetitions, higher on the weight, and higher in the number of sets up to a maximum of 5 per exercise. You can also start incorporating other weightlifting exercises, including isolation exercises, to your program to supplement your core lifting exercises for even greater strength and mass gains. In the next few chapters, we’ll be taking a more detailed look at each of the core lifting exercises.
Chapter 4: Barbell Squats The barbell squat is considered as the king of all strength training and powerlifting exercises because it’s the weight-lifting exercise that incorporates the largest muscle group – the legs – as well as the highest number of muscle groups in just one movement. Moreover, it’s the movement with which you can lift the most weight. As mentioned earlier, you get to burn more calories and become generally stronger when you perform strength-training exercises that involve the largest muscle groups, as well as the highest number of muscle groups. A very cool characteristic of the squat is that you can lift very heavy weights using a barbell or very light weight using your bodyweight only. However, of course, your goal is to become much stronger and more muscular, so bodyweight squats are out of the picture.
Practical Benefits of Doing Barbell Squats A much better overall athletic performance is one of the greatest and most practical benefits of doing barbell squats. Sports where you can perform much better with barbell squats training include basketball, American football, sprinting, volleyball, and high jumps, all of which involve explosive bursts of jumping or running. Simply put, stronger legs allow you to run faster bursts and jump higher. This is why no serious professional sports training program ditches the barbell squats. It’s just that darn important. Another practical benefit of doing barbell squats is significantly enhanced body mobility and balance. Let’s face it: our mobility and ability to balance our bodies – especially when standing up – are largely dependent on the strength of our legs and our core muscles. As we get older, our muscles shrink, and we get weaker, unless we train them regularly so that the loss in muscle mass and strength at old age won’t be as bad. When our leg and core muscles get weaker, our mobility and balance are negatively affected. Barbell squats provide very solid strength training for the legs and the core muscles, i.e., lower back and abdominal muscles, which are all crucial to mobility and balance. By regularly performing barbell squats, your legs and core muscles can stay stronger even until old age, which means your mobility
and balance won’t deteriorate as much as compared to if you didn’t do them. When you’re able to maintain good mobility and balance even during old age, you minimize your risk for accidental falls. Even if you’re still relatively young but are active in sports that require a lot of explosive bursts of running or jumping, a strong set of wheels and core muscles can minimize your risks for injuries like pulled muscles or torn ligaments. Barbell squats, in particular, can help strengthen your leg muscles and improve their flexibility, too. The last practical and aesthetic benefit of doing barbell squats include a very tight butt and small waistline! As it works the legs and butt muscles, barbell squats can give you a very shapely pair of buns! As for a small waistline, remember that being the king of compound lifting exercises, it burns the most calories, and the more calories you burn, the more body fat you burn, too. That can lead to a very small waistline.
How to Perform Squats Right As with all the other lifts in this book, always keep in mind that proper form is key to both optimizing your strength and the muscle-building benefits from this movement, as well as minimizing risks of getting injured. To perform the barbell squat with proper form: 1. Start by putting your traps and shoulders directly beneath the barbell, which is mounted on the rack. 2. Using your leg and butt muscles, push the barbell up from the rack and use your arms, traps, shoulders, and arms to balance and steady the barbell. Take a step or two away from the rack. 3. Begin to bring your body down by squatting or pushing your hips as far behind as possible. Bend at the knees and hips – keeping your lower back straight at all times – until your hamstrings and thighs are parallel to the floor. At this point, your knees should never exceed an imaginary vertical line running up from your toes to minimize risks for knee injuries over the long run. 4. Then, push the barbell back up through your heels, straightening your legs and body. Stop short of locking out at the knees to
prevent your knees from carrying the load and to keep constant tension on your legs, butt, and hamstrings. That’s one repetition. 5. For the first 3 months, perform 3 sets with a maximum of 10 to 12 repetitions (to failure) per set. This is to give your body – as a beginner – the opportunity to build strength and muscular endurance before increasing the difficulty of the exercise via increased sets. After 3 months, and when you feel you’ve gotten significantly stronger and have mastered the proper form without even thinking, you can start working toward increasing your sets to 5.
Maximizing Strength and Muscle-Building Benefits Once you’ve gotten the hang of the barbell squat and have gotten at least 6 to 12 months’ worth of squatting in, you can perform different varieties of this exercise to focus more on certain areas of your legs. One variation is the front barbell squat, where instead of placing the barbell on your traps and shoulders at the back of your neck, you put it on top of your front shoulders and upper chest while crossing and raising your arms in front of you by putting one hand on top of the other shoulder. This variety puts more emphasis on your quadriceps muscles (quads or thighs). Another way by which you can put variety in your barbell squats is by changing the width of your stance. If you want to put more emphasis on the thigh muscles, narrow down your stance and if you want to emphasize your butt, hamstrings, and adductor muscles more, assume a wider stance, but regardless of the version, always make sure that all throughout the movement, your knees never exceed your toes and your lower back is always straight.
Variations of Squats Squats are one of the best compound and all-round exercises that one can perform to strengthen and develop muscles in the lower body. Squats help to develop the muscles in the butt and the front of the legs. Some variations of squats, because of the depth of the squat and the different positions of the legs, can also develop and strengthen muscles in the gracilis and adductors inside the upper legs and the back of the upper leg. As mentioned earlier, it is
important that you maintain good form and always adhere to safety measures when you squat. As you read earlier, you can perform squats with barbells, but you can also perform them with dumbbells, kettlebells, Smith machine, plates, and varying leg positions. You can also perform squats with bodyweight alone. This section will look at some variations of squats. ● Barbell front squat ● Dumbbell squat ● Dumbbell lunge ● Split squat ● Single leg squat ● One-leg split squat ● Hack squat (with barbell and machine) ● Wide stance squat ● Low to ground squat ● Pistol squat
Goblet Squats If you are a beginner to strength training, you should try this form of squat before you move onto barbell squats. This movement is a progression from an air squat, and it adds resistance to your exercise. It also helps you perfect your form since you can learn what mistakes you should avoid, like letting your knees cave in or leaning too much to the front. The best thing about this exercise is that it helps you move with a wide range of motion. Having said that, this exercise is not only for a beginner but also for any level. It can be used as a warm-up exercise before any lower body workout. One can also use this exercise to progress to performing the barbell front squat. This squat, like every other squat, focuses on major muscle groups in the lower body. This exercise translates to everyday functional movements as it mimics getting out of bed in the morning or squatting down to pick something off the floor. You can easily get through the day with more energy and strength when you train with movements or exercises that mimic day-to-
day activities. Benefits As this squat is like every other squat form, it also targets all the muscle groups in the lower body, including the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. This exercise also engages the spinal erectors in your back, your core, forearms, and your upper back and shoulders to some extent. Your shoulders and upper back are targeted as you need to keep your back straight and chest up throughout the movement. In simple words, this exercise is a full-body workout. When you perform this exercise, you need to hold a kettlebell in front of your body. This exercise will engage your quadriceps a little more than other squat variations where the resistance is only carried by the back. You should perform this movement if you want to build some extra strength in your quadriceps. Squat Form One of the many benefits of performing this exercise is that it helps you improve your form. Everybody is familiar with the regular squat, but there are many mistakes people make when they perform this squat. These mistakes can lead to many injuries, including injuries in the knees or back. When you perform this exercise, you can work on some common mistakes and fix them before you move onto barbell squats. Given that you will be holding the weight in front of you, you must become aware of your torso. You must keep your torso straight and engage your core while you move through the squat. Many people begin to tip forward when they begin to lower themselves into a squat. They tend to lean their chest towards the ground, and this will compromise their position. When you hold the weight in front of your body while you perform this squat, you will realize that you must tighten your core and keep it engaged, roll your shoulders back and keep your torso upright when you squat. This will help you maintain your balance and not fall forward because of the weight of the kettlebell. Alignment You must ensure that your elbows always touch the inside of your knees
when you lower your body into the squat position. This squat variation will encourage you to align your knees with your toes. Most people angle their knees when they squat down, and this is called knee valgus. This will become even more pronounced when the person lowers themselves into a full squat. This alignment is improper and can lead to potential injury or pain in the knees because you will be placing more stress or weight on your knees while performing the exercise. When you ensure that your elbows touch the inside of your knees when you lower yourself into the position, you will need to keep your knees in line with your toes. As your elbows are in between the knees, even when your knees are slightly angled when you lower yourself into the squat, you can quickly correct your form. You can ensure that your knees are in the right position before you return from a squat into the standing position. This will help reduce the likelihood that you will collapse when you perform this exercise, thereby protecting you from any injury or pain. Instructions You do not need too many things with you when you perform the goblet squat exercise. All you need is enough space and a dumbbell or kettlebell. You need the space so you can move comfortably when you stand with your feet, either shoulder or hip-width apart. 1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your toes should be angled outward. 2. Hold a kettlebell in front of your chest in both hands. Grip the handles as tightly as possible like you are gripping a goblet. This means that you need to place one hand on either side of the kettlebell. 3. Bend your elbows and ensure that the kettlebell is at your center. 4. Now, take a deep breath and engage the muscles in your core. Look straight ahead and keep your back straight. Make sure that you always look ahead when you perform this squat. 5. Hold your glutes tightly and press your hips back. Now, slowly bend your knees and perform the squat.
6. Inhale deeply when you perform this squat. 7. Always keep your back straight and your chest up high while you continue your movement. You should lower your body down slowly and continue to press your hips back. Make sure that your weight is distributed evenly across your feet. Make sure that you do not lift your body on your toes when you squat. The objective is to lower your body until your hips are in line with your knees. 8. Make sure to check your form when you lower yourself into a squat. Your elbows should always be positioned in the inside of your knees, especially at the deepest point of your squat. This will ensure that your knees are always aligned with your toes when you move into this position. 9. Press your heels firmly on the ground, and slowly lift your body to the starting position. Exhale deeply when you rise, and ensure that your hips are pushed forward at the top of the squat. This will help you engage your glutes fully. 10. Complete the rep and a full set. Always start off with lesser weight, and avoid dropping it from your hand. Mistakes Holding the weight away from your body When you are performing this exercise, ensure that the kettlebell or dumbbell is always close to your chest. You must ensure that your elbows are fully bent, and the weight is close to you. This position will ensure that you engage your biceps and use your muscle strength to hold the weight in place. If you hold the weight very far from your body, you will need to engage your forearms, biceps, or even the portion of your shoulders, so you prevent your shoulders and chest from tipping or moving forward when you squat down. This will put you off balance. This will not only make it hard for you to maintain proper form, but it will also limit the amount of weight you can use when you perform this exercise. Your legs are stronger than your biceps, so you must ensure that your arms are not doing too much work when you hold the kettlebell while performing this exercise.
Leaning Forward Most people make the mistake of tipping or leaning forward from their waist when they perform this exercise. This will change your alignment, and you will most likely lose your balance when you lower yourself into a squat or even rise up on your toes. The weight of the kettlebell will pull you forward when you lower yourself into a squat. If you want to manage your posture, you should perform this exercise in front of a mirror. Before you lower yourself into a squat, you should roll your shoulders back and draw the blades toward your spine. Now, inhale and engage the muscles in your core while you begin to lower yourself into a squat. Press your hips backward while you lower yourself into a squat. As you do this, look at yourself in the mirror. If you see that your shoulder or chest collapsing or that you are leaning forward, you should stop lowering yourself. Look up slightly and engage the muscles in your chest, core, and your shoulders to keep your back straight. If this is the first time you are doing this, you may not be able to lower yourself into a deep squat. This is okay. You can work on increasing your range of motion. You must ensure that you do not lean forward too much. This will help you improve your range of motion, resistance level, and also your form. Rising Up on Your Toes As you will be holding the kettlebell in front of you while you perform this exercise, you will have some issues with your form. We have covered two of these issues above. You may also make the mistake of rising on your toes when you lower your body into a squat. This will throw you off balance, prevent you from increasing the resistance, and hurt your knees. Remember that your weight should always be distributed evenly across your feet. Make sure that you do not use your toes to support your weight. When you lower your body into a squat, you must ensure that your torso and chest remain tall and upright. You can try to wriggle your toes as you squat to remind your body of your center of gravity. Knees Caving Inward The goblet squat is one of the best exercises since it helps you correct your
positions and also iron out any issues you may have with performing a squat. It is important that you let your elbows touch the inside of your knees when you lower yourself into a squat. This will help you train your body to lower itself into a squat while keeping your knees aligned with your toes. This position will remind you to check whether your knees are caving inward or outward when you lower yourself into the deepest position of the squat. This will happen right before you stand up again. This is the point where people always experience knee valgus, which is a problem that needs to be checked. When you squat lower, your knee caps should be aligned with your second toe while you perform this exercise. If your knees are angled inwards, you should engage your hips and glutes so you can pull your knees outward. Variations and Modifications Modification If it is difficult to add some weight when you perform this squat, you can perform it without using any weight. You can do a simple air squat. You should, however, hold your hands together in front of you like you are holding a kettlebell. You should move in the same way as you would when you perform this exercise with the kettlebell. Ensure that your elbows are always inside your knees when you lower your body into a squat. As your body grows stronger, you can add a kettlebell to this movement. Challenge This squat is a step above the air squat and one step lower than the front barbell squat. Like the front squat, you will need to add resistance to the front of your body at shoulder level rather than placing it behind you. The latter is the position used when you perform a traditional back barbell squat. This position has been described at the start of the chapter. If you are ready, you can perform the front barbell squat described below. Precautions and Safety The goblet squat is the perfect squat for any beginner. This is an effective and safe squat to perform, and it helps to correct and identify any mistakes that you may make with your form. An individual with back or knee pain will experience more pain if they perform the goblet squat. Ensure that you
always limit your range of motion when you first perform this exercise. Try to increase your range of motion as you grow stronger. This will help you improve your strength. If you feel any sharp pain while you perform the squat, stop immediately.
Front Squat This exercise will strengthen your hips and legs, particularly your butt (glute) muscles and thigh (quad) muscles. The front squats are similar to the back squats (mentioned in the section above); however, the barbell will be placed across your shoulders and not on your upper back. In this exercise, the center of mass will shift forward. This will allow you to keep your back straight, which means that this is a spine-friendly lift. This exercise will also shift some of the strain from the glutes to the quads, which makes this exercise perfect to strengthen and build muscles in the quads. In this section, we will look at how you can perfect your front squat technique. How to Perform the Exercise Keep your back straight, and place the barbell on the stand at your shoulder level. Now, move closer to the barbell and lift it off the stand. Ensure that the barbell is only on the front side of your shoulders. Now, place your arms outside of your shoulders and place your palm under the barbell. Slightly bend your elbows so that your fingertips are under the barbell. Take a deep breath and push your chest forward. Maintain a tight core and bend your body at the hips and knees. Lower yourself into the squat position and keep your thighs parallel to the ground. Ensure that your knees do not cross your toes. Slowly straighten your knees and hips and move to the first position. Placement of Barbell Ensure that the barbell is always across your shoulders. It should not be lower or higher. One way to tell if the equipment is in the right position is to perform a straight-arm test. When you place the barbell across your shoulders, straighten your arms. Make sure your arms are parallel to the ground. If the barbell does not move, it means that you are holding it correctly. Now, you can choose the grip you want to use. Remember that your hands are not there to hold the weight, but only to control or stabilize
the movement. Your torso should hold the weight. The following are the different grip options you can use: Clean Grip Most people use a clean grip when they perform the front squat. This is the same grip you use when you perform the hang clean. Place the barbell across your shoulders and your fingertips below the bar. Most people prefer to place their fingertips under the bar when they perform this exercise, but you do not have to do this if you are not comfortable. Make sure your fingertips are slightly outside your shoulders. Make sure your elbows are at the shoulder level to ensure that your upper arms are parallel to the ground. You must also ensure that your body does not bend to either side. This means that your arms should be parallel to each other. You will need to hold this grip throughout the exercise, so make sure you are comfortable. If you do not have sufficient mobility and do not hold the barbell correctly, you can hurt your wrist. If you are someone who relies on your wrists, it is recommended that you do not use this grip. If you have large biceps or poor shoulder mobility, you cannot move into this position easily. Clean Grip with Straps Dr. John Rusin, a physical therapist and strength coach, often uses this variation to help his patients. If you want to use this grip. You should wrap a lifting strap on either end of the barbell. Make sure that these straps are placed shoulder-width apart. Now, hold each strap close to the barbell. Place your arms in the same way that you would if you were using a clean grip. This is an easier variation as you do not put too much pressure on your wrists. The straps offer immense support, which makes this variation easier to perform. Cross Grip This grip is another popular grip that people use to perform the front barbell squat. All you need to do is hold the barbell across your shoulders and cross your arms in front of you. You should grip the bar in front of you and move your elbows up. You must ensure that your upper arms are always parallel to the ground. As there is no limitation on mobility, you can easily perform this
movement. That said, the grip may not be as stable as the clean grip. When it comes to a front squat, you must ensure that you have a squat rack at home. Place the barbell on the pins at chest height. This will allow you to get under the bar and place the bar across your shoulders. If you do not have a rack, you can perform a hang clean. Here, you perform a deadlift to lift the bar off the floor. Make sure to get the bar up to your shoulders. This will, however, limit the amount of weight you can add to the barbell. Front Squat Foot Position Once you have the barbell across your shoulders, take a step back from the rack. Now, you should set your feet and prepare yourself for the first squat. Place your feet shoulder or hip-width apart. Make sure to point your toes outward. You can narrow your position, depending on what feels more comfortable to you. Before you begin the exercise, experiment with a lighter weight, so you know what works best for you. The Technique 1. Once you have the barbell in the right position, take a deep breath. Now, pull your shoulder blades back and down. Tighten the muscles in your core. 2. Lower your body down slowly. Move your hips back and slightly bend your knees. Lower yourself into the squat position. Ensure that your elbows and chest are always up. 3. Continue to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Ensure that your knees do not cross your toes. 4. When you want to get out of this position, stand up like you are pushing the ground away from you. Your glutes and quads should do most of the work. While you pull yourself out of the squat, squeeze the glutes, and extend your hips. This is a very simple exercise to perform, but there are some mistakes that people often make. 1. You are holding the barbell across your shoulders, so you must
ensure that your arms are not supporting the barbell. If you see that your forearm is vertical, you are doing the position wrong. If you are unsure of the grip, read the section above on how to place the barbell. 2. Your elbows should always be kept up. If your elbows drop, the barbell will move off your shoulders and slide forward. You cannot perform the exercise if your elbows are too low. 3. Make sure that your knees do not move inward. This is extremely dangerous. You must always make an effort to push your knees out when you lower your body into the squat position. This is the only way you can align your knees to your ankle. This is a safe position because your body can handle all the heavy weight. 4. You breathe out and release the muscles in your core. You should tighten the muscles in your core like you are about to get punched. You must hold this position until you finish the rep. If you do not do this, you may tilt forward and drop the bar.
Barbell Split Squat The barbell split squat is a very popular lower body movement that is used by fitness, strength, and power athletes. This movement is unilateral and helps to increase muscle mass, injury resilience, and strength. This section discusses the split squat, the muscles worked, and some benefits of this variation. Muscles Worked The following muscles groups are targeted when you perform this variation of the squat: ● Hamstrings ● Quadriceps ● Gluteal Muscles You can emphasize one muscle group by increasing the intensity of the knee flex, the split, or even a combination of the two.
Proper Form You must ensure that you follow the steps mentioned below if you want to enhance muscle strength, mass, and injury resilience at the hips and knees. 1. Start by putting your traps and shoulders directly beneath the barbell, which is mounted on the rack. 2. Using your leg and butt muscles, push the barbell up from the rack and use your arms, traps, shoulders, and arms to balance and steady the barbell. Step a little far back from the rack, so you have enough space to move your feet forward. 3. Place your feet hip-width apart. 4. Now, place your right foot in front of you. Place your foot at least two feet away from your body. Now, drop your left foot slightly and bend your knee until you are almost in the kneeling position. Remember to place your left knee slightly behind the imaginary line. Your left knee should be perpendicular to your right heel. 5. When you lower your body into the squat, leave your right foot flat on the floor. Bend your front knee, so it is slightly over your toes. You must keep your torso upright. Do not bend forward. If you find your body bending slightly forward, take a deep breath, and hold your core muscles tight. 6. Your right knee should point in the same direction as the toes. Ensure that your knees do not collapse inward. 7. When you are coming up, try to focus on balancing your weight between the feet. Your torso should be upright. Use your front leg, especially the glutes and quads, to come up. 8. Let your right leg be slightly extended when you come up. Now, move your leg back and push your left leg forward, and repeat the above steps. This will complete one rep. Benefits Unilateral Training Unilateral training will help athletes and trainers address some asymmetries
in movements. It also helps them increase motor unit recruitment rates and muscle mass in the limbs. Additionally, it also helps with the following: 1. You can correct any muscular imbalances and movements. The athlete or trainer can focus on proper joint alignment, muscular involvement, and tracking in both gross and specific movement patterns. As you focus only on specific muscles when performing this squat, you can uncover any muscular imbalances or movement asymmetries. 2. Athletes are required to perform multi-directional movements, demonstrate proprioception and balance, and also support themselves asymmetrically. When you train in unilateral movements, your trainer or coach can challenge you neuromuscularly to promote awareness, multi-planar movements, and balance. This will prevent most injuries at the knees, ankles, or hips while improving performance. 3. Unilateral training helps to improve motor unit activity and muscular stimulation. Studies show that unilateral training will activate muscles, thereby strengthening them. This can improve performance and increase muscle mass. Muscle Hypertrophy This variation is not a replacement for the basic barbell squats, but it is a highly beneficial exercise. Most trainers and athletes perform this exercise if they have any hypertrophy and accessory training segments. These segments aid in muscle growth. Hypertrophy training is very important for fitness, power, and strength athletes. Given that you perform single-leg movements when you do this exercise, you will increase muscle strength. This will help you perform larger exercises like back squats, deadlifts, front squats, etc., in the future. You can also improve and strengthen the muscles in your legs using this variation without exhausting or harming other muscle groups. This will also improve your performance.
Overhead Squats Overhead squats are one of the most demanding movements in strength or
weight training. An overhead squat is a technically demanding movement, too. It has positive effects on squat depth, mobility, stability, and back strength, and this will translate to every other lift. This is a difficult variation, and you must practice this exercise to master this movement. This section will detail the steps to follow when you perform the overhead squat. If you follow the process mentioned in this section, you can master the movement. We will also look at some common mistakes people make when performing this exercise. You cannot approach this movement lightly, and if you have a poor range of motion, you should not try this exercise. Cues You should keep the following points in mind before you perform this exercise. Grip How you hold or grip the barbell will determine how your muscles will work when you perform this exercise. If you maintain a narrow-hand grip, you can move your shoulders freely. This grip also allows more flexibility, and this is an important factor for an overhead squat. If you are performing this exercise for the first time, you should try to maintain your elbows at a ninety-degree angle when you hold the barbell. You should also hold the bar an inch or two above your head. You should hold the bar firmly in your palm. Remember to hold the bar tightly – imagine that you are squeezing the life out of the bar. Once you lift the bar above your head, make sure that your arms are straight. Do not lock your elbows. When you apply outward tension on the bar, you allow your muscles in the rear shoulders and upper back to the contract. This will create more stability in your shoulders, preventing any irregular hold. Bar Travel In any vertical pulling or pushing exercise, like a squat, high pull, deadlift, clean, standing press, or snatch, the bar should always be in a straight line. When you look at yourself from the side, the bar should be in a straight line. When you lift the bar above your head, it will move slightly backward relative to the position of your head and chest. You must keep your torso straight to prevent any shoulder injuries. You have to maintain the path of the
bar over the middle of your feet. This is dependent on how mobile your shoulders and spine are. Squat You must follow the same rules of every other squat when you perform an overhead squat. Always start your descent at your knees and never at the hips. Make sure that you control your descent, and always maintain a tight upper back throughout the movement. Your depth will be compromised when you perform this movement because you will need to have more hip mobility. When you move the bar above your head, the arch in your back will disappear because you will lose tightness. If you want to increase your range of motion, you should lift your heels off the ground by an inch. You can stand on thin plates if you like. Issues People who want to get bigger do not worry about mobility or flexibility. The overhead squat will need them to be on their A-game. If they have poor mobility and very little range of motion, they will hurt their back and knees. Poor Shoulder Mobility The joint in the shoulder is the ball and socket joint. The position of the joint is similar to that of a golf ball sitting in a tee. The head of the humerus bone fits into the socket or the gap called the glenoid fossa. Circumduction, or the range of motion that a shoulder can go through, is very large. It is important to train the muscles on both sides of your shoulder. This is the only way you can ensure proper balance in the muscles. Most athletes, however, do not train to improve their balance. Athletes often train only the chest, arms, and delts muscles, termed as mirror muscles, more than necessary. Given that they make this mistake, they do not train the upper back muscles, which makes it hard for the shoulder to rotate properly. This lack of shoulder mobility will prevent the athlete from lifting the bar into the right position when he or she stands or squats. The easiest way to fix this movement is to focus on muscle flexibility in the shoulder or chest. You can do this through static stretching and then focus on
mobility work and tissue quality. Trigger point rolling and foam rolling the shoulder and chest will help to increase shoulder mobility. Always remember to focus on your upper back muscles. Poor Thoracic Extension The T-spine or thoracic vertebrae are the middle sections of your spine. The T-spine is responsible for trunk movement and mobility. If you cannot extend the T-spine, it will be hard to move or rotate your shoulder, and it prevents scapular retraction and back activation. You must release the pecs to correct the T-spine extension. Use a foam roller to focus on your thoracic spine extensions. When you place the roller under your shoulder blades, you can open up the tissue and muscles at the front of the body. These muscles include the abdominals and pecs, which improve flexibility. The roller will also help you extend your spine. Technique When you perform the overhead squat, you can choose to add plate weights if you want more resistance. The weight you add to the barbell is dependent on your comfort with the movement, mobility, and strength. 1. Stand straight, and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Angle your toes outward. Start by putting your traps and shoulders directly beneath the barbell, which is mounted on the rack. 2. Place your hands on the bar slightly wider than you do when you perform a back squat. Make sure your palms are closer to the position where the plates are loaded. 3. Take a deep breath, and tighten your core. This will help you keep your spine straight. Now, bend your knees slowly without tipping your hips. 4. Drop your hips slowly, and extend your hips and knees in a powerful movement as you move the barbell above your head. You should extend your arms fully and straighten your elbows. 5. Bend your wrists back slightly so that the bar does not roll forward. You must ensure that the barbell is placed directly at the
center of your feet to maintain your center of gravity. This is the first position. 6. Always keep your core tight and your elbows fully extended. You should slowly start bending your knees and press your hips slightly backward. You should squat down like you are sitting on your heels. Make sure that you do not press your hips too far back. You must look straight and keep your chest up. Angle yourself slightly upward when you push yourself into a full squat. If you lean forward, your weight will shift forward. This will make you lose balance, and you may shift the weight of the barbell, which will affect your shoulder. Ensure that the weight is always stacked directly at the center of your feet. Inhale when you squat down. 7. Go as low as you can, even if it means that your glutes are touching your heels. The depth of the squat is dependent on your strength, flexibility, and hip mobility. You can go as deep as you can, but ensure that you maintain the perfect form. It is okay if your knees go beyond your toes. You must ensure that your knees are aligned with your toes. 8. Use your hamstrings, glutes, core, and quads when you press your feet fully, and extend your hips and knees fully when you return to the base position. You should exhale when you rise. Ensure that you remain steady when you perform this exercise. Always keep your knees angled out and aligned with your toes. 9. You should perform a full set, and bend your elbows carefully. You should finally return the barbell to your shoulders. Rack the barbell safely, and take a break. Variations and Modifications Modification If you have never performed this movement before, you cannot use an unloaded barbell. You cannot use the unloaded barbell if you have any issues with mobility in your hips and shoulders. This lack of mobility will not allow you to lift any additional weight over your head. So, try this exercise with a broomstick or a PVC pipe, depending on what you can lift. This will help you
master the correct form when you work on improving your mobility without the risk of injuring your wrist. You should perform this exercise in the same way you would if you used a barbell. The only difference is that you are lifting a broomstick or pipe. Challenge If you have mastered the correct form when you perform this exercise, you should try the dumbbell squat. The movement and the shoulder and core stability are the same, but you will use a dumbbell instead. You will raise the dumbbell over your head one arm at a time. This will help you develop unilateral strength and shoulder stability, thereby strengthening both arms. You can also remove or reduce any weaknesses present in your non-dominant arm. Precautions When you perform this exercise with the right level of resistance and the correct form, you will not injure yourself. This is, however, a challenge for most people because it is a full-body exercise, and you need to coordinate. You also need to have a baseline strength level, good mobility, control, and good stability of the important muscle groups and joints. If you are performing this exercise for the first time, you should reduce the weight on the barbell. This is the only way you can prevent any injury. As mentioned earlier, you can also use a broomstick or PVC pipe. Additionally, look at your movements in the mirror, and see if you are making any mistakes. If you see that you are making a mistake, reduce the range of motion, and focus on your body. If you perform this exercise regularly, you can develop better mobility.
Chapter 5: Barbell Deadlifts If the barbell squat is the king, then consider the deadlift as the prince because it also works several major muscle groups simultaneously, which happen to be two of the biggest groups: the legs (via the hamstrings and, to some extent, the thighs) and the back (primarily the lower back but with considerable assistance from the upper back muscles, too). You also get to work out your forearms (imagine the grip work) and, to a certain extent, your shoulders. No wonder many people who perform deadlifts regularly are quite strong and have considerably more muscle mass than those who don't. As it primarily works out the lower back muscles, performing this correctly can help you make that part of your body much stronger and, therefore, less susceptible to lower back injuries that plague many people with weak lower back muscles. While you can do this with either a barbell or a dumbbell, I believe that using a barbell will allow you to better work out your lower back and hamstrings. For one, the amount of weight you can work with using a barbell is practically limitless compared to a dumbbell. Another reason why you’re better off with a barbell is it’s easier to pick up from the floor compared to a pair of dumbbells because of its height. However, if dumbbells are your only available option at the gym, you can use them, too. Just place them on a bench for easier pickup. When using a barbell, you can use two types of grips. Overhand grips or with both hands pronated, i.e., facing your body, or alternate grips, with one hand using a pronated grip and the other using a supinated grip (hand facing away from you), which is the common grip used by professional power lifters and Olympic competitors.
Deadlift Benefits Better posture is a benefit that can also be experienced with deadlifting. This is because deadlifts work out the one of the most important muscles for good posture and general stability – the lower back. A strong lower back is crucial for being able to maintain an erect body posture naturally and for extended periods of time. With a strong lower back, risks for lower back injuries can
be significantly lowered. A very strong grip is another practical benefit of doing deadlifts. Why? It’s because the only way you can keep the barbell – or dumbbells, as the case may be – from falling to the floor is by keeping your grip on it. As you gradually increase your working deadlift weight, the stronger your grip becomes. So, you don’t just have a strong lower back; you can also have a strong grip. Lastly, deadlifts are among those exercises where the strength you develop can be transferred to real-life situations. When you become stronger and stronger at deadlifting, you’ll be able to pick up heavier and heavier things from the floor in real life, such as groceries, a sack of rice for your house, a very heavy package box, office supplies, etc., all of which will require strong lower back and leg muscles.
How to Deadlift Right This exercise works your hamstring and lower back muscles, as well as your forearms (grip) and biceps. Here’s how to deadlift the right way: 1. Assume a shoulder-wide stance just behind the barbell. 2. Keeping your lower back straight, bend down just slightly at the knees, feet, and fully from the waist to pick up the barbell from the floor. Your shoulders should be directly above your knees to minimize risks for injuries. 3. Grip the barbell with your hands, about shoulder-width apart. 4. Keeping your lower back straight all throughout, with your knees just slightly bent and with your head looking forward, lift the barbell off the floor, and bring it to touch your upper thighs or pelvic area by extending your lower back until you’re standing straight. 5. Keeping your lower back straight and legs just slightly bent at the knees, lower the barbell back down to the floor. That’s one repetition. 6. For the first 3 months, perform 3 sets with a maximum of 10 to 12
repetitions (to failure) per set. This is to give your body – as a beginner – the opportunity to build strength and muscular endurance before increasing the difficulty of the exercise via increased sets. After 3 months, and when you feel you’ve gotten significantly stronger and have mastered the proper form without even thinking, you can start working toward increasing your sets to 5.
Common Mistakes Let us look at some common mistakes made when performing the deadlift. Rounding Shoulders or Back Ensure that you always keep your back straight when you perform this exercise. Make sure there is no rounding at your spine or shoulders. You must only hinge your body at the hip. Keep your butt out and your hips down. Ensure that your abs are tight enough to keep your back straight. Lifting with Your Back or Arms As a beginner, it is important to remember to lift only with the hips and legs and not the arms, back, or shoulder. It is important to use these parts to stabilize your body, but you must keep your arms straight when you lift the barbell. If you bend your arms, you will strain the biceps. Too Heavy a Resistance When you perform a deadlift for the first time, you must ensure that you start off with a light weight until you perfect your form. You can practice in a mirror or even work with a personal trainer to help correct your form. Partial Lifts When you perform this exercise using a light weight, you can perform numerous repetitions where you can lower your bar to the floor or your shin and straighten your back without releasing the grip. It is not a deadlift repetition, but it is better to do this when you start off.
Bar Too Far Make sure that your bar is not held too far from your body to ensure that you stay safe. You can also improve the strength of your muscles.
Variations and Modifications You can perform the deadlift in numerous ways, depending on your fitness goals and levels. There are numerous variations that you can perform with alternative grip and leg positions. The possible grip types are: ●
The standard grip where you hold the bar with your palms facing down. When you lift the bar and can still see your hands, you are doing the overhand grip. This is the best grip for light weight.
● Another variation is called the mixed grip. In this grip, you grip the bar from the bottom using one hand and from the top using the other hand. This grip is the right one to use if you are lifting heavier weights. This grip will ensure that the weights do not slip from your hand when you perform the exercise. ●
The grip can either be narrower or wider on the bar. Most people choose to maintain a perpendicular position with their arms straight down to the point of the shoulder. A slightly wider grip will suit some people. This grip will use your quadriceps, and this makes it more suitable to use for heavier weights.
Modifications As with every type of exercise, if you are new to the deadlift, you should only lift lighter weights. You can also lift the bar without any weight. Make sure you use a mirror to look at your form, or hire a personal trainer. This is the only way you can correct your form. It is only when you perform it correctly that you should increase the weight. If you do not have access to a barbell or feel that the weight is too much for you, you can either use a vertical dumbbell deadlift, a lighter weight, or a kettlebell. You should grasp the object with both your hands and lift it as you would lift the barbell. Challenge
As you improve your form, you can increase the weights you use when you perform a deadlift. If you are performing this exercise correctly, you can change the grip to what works best for you. You can use a few variations that will change your routine. You can choose to switch to the sumo deadlift variant where you keep your feet wide apart, but your arms are still falling vertically inside the knees. This is mentioned in detail in the next section. If you want to use the Romanian deadlift variation, you need to keep your legs straight, and lower the weight to below your knees. This is a good exercise to do if you want to strengthen the muscles in your hips. You can also perform the Romanian deadlift if you keep your feet apart. Precautions and Safety The deadlift is a very advanced weightlifting exercise. You should speak with your physical therapist or your doctor before you begin to perform this exercise. You must find out if this exercise is appropriate for your body. You must receive the right coaching if you want to perfect your technique. Always use light weights when you begin, and stop if you feel shooting or sharp pain.
Sumo Deadlifts The sumo deadlift is one of the best ways to increase the development of muscles in the upper back, glutes, traps, and hamstrings. This movement is often used by powerlifters but can also be included in general workout and fitness plans. It is even included as a part of functional fitness plans and in Olympic weightlifting. Technique You can perform this exercise with different tools, but the most common variation of this exercise is the sumo barbell deadlift, which is discussed in this section. 1. Stand with your feet apart. Maintain a wide stance, and let your toes point outward. This stance will allow you to extend your arms downward and keep your elbows in between the knees. This stance will vary depending on mobility. You must ensure that your shins are always perpendicular to the floor, your back is straight and the bar is below your shoulders. Experts recommend that you
think you are pulling your hips down towards the bar while you maintain a tight core. Your knees should be pushed wide so that your torso is vertical when compared to the conventional deadlift. 2. When you have the right position, you should work on building pressure throughout the body so you can minimize any slack in the back, legs, and arms. You can do this by pulling slightly on the bar and pressing your legs tightly to the floor. Make sure that you do not move the bar yet. When you find the right position, steady your breath, and move to the next step. Experts recommend that you visualize that there is pressure coming out of your body when you perform this step, especially when you pull on the bar. 3. Now that there is no slack in your body, you should limit the attack by driving your feet through and pulling on the bar. The objective here is to ensure that you never let your chest fall or your hips rise when you pull the barbell. The Muscles Worked When you perform the sumo deadlift, numerous muscle groups are worked. This is similar to other deadlift variations. The sumo deadlift works the hamstrings, back or posterior chain muscles, and the gluteal muscles. There are some differences between how the muscles are worked in the sumo deadlift when compared to the traditional deadlift. These differences are discussed below. Glutes Your glutes are always targeted when you perform a sumo deadlift because you hold your hips and feet in the right manner. Your hip is always placed in external rotation. This means that you will involve the muscles in your glutes to a very high degree. This will make it easier for you to target these muscles. Hamstrings The hamstrings are not as much as focus in the sumo deadlift as they are in the conventional or Romanian deadlift. These muscles are still used to perform the exercise. If you want to target a specific hamstring specifically,
you can perform the conventional or Romanian deadlift. Quadriceps In a sumo deadlift, you will place your feet at a greater angle. This will ensure that you can bend them comfortably so you can perform the deadlift. It is for this reason that you target the quadriceps when you perform this exercise. The sumo deadlift will focus on the quadriceps when compared to other variations of deadlifts. Lower Back The lower back muscles, also called the electors, are isometrically stressed when you perform the sumo deadlift. These muscles prevent spinal rotation and flexion when you perform the exercise. When you perform the sumo deadlift, you can develop and strengthen these muscles to improve your lower back strength. The sumo deadlift, unlike the Romanian and conventional deadlift, will place very little strain on the back muscles because you can keep your torso vertical. Back Muscles The trapezius and upper back muscles help anybody maintain the right torso position. This will allow anyone to pull the barbell upward. As the sumo deadlift is a vertical movement when compared to other variations, it is a great way to develop and strengthen your back muscles.
Benefits Let us look at some of the benefits of a sumo deadlift. It is for these reasons that an athlete or trainer will include this exercise in a training program. Increasing Pulling Strength The sumo deadlift, like other deadlift variations, is used to increase overall strength and muscle mass. This exercise can be performed by employing numerous methods, using tempos, bands, and other equipment, by all individuals. When you increase the weight you lift, you can also increase the top end muscle development and strength.
Decreased Lumbar Stress This deadlift, unlike other deadlifts, will require the lifter to maintain a vertical position when lifting the barbell. This is to ensure that the feet are placed correctly. When you increase the vertical angle of your back, you can reduce the stress that you place on your lower back. This means that the sumo deadlift places lower stress on the back when compared to the conventional or Romanian deadlifts. This is especially beneficial for lifters who want to train their erector muscles and reduce the stress on their lower back. Glutes and Quadriceps Strength The sumo deadlift targets the muscles in the glutes because your hips and knees are placed at an angle. Your feet are also placed at an angle to enable hip rotation. You can use this deadlift for muscle development or if you want to target specific muscle groups to strengthen them.
Variations You can perform the sumo deadlift or any of its variations if you want to boost power and strength, improve movement, or increase sports specificity.
Deficit Sumo Deadlift A deficit sumo deadlift is a variation of the sumo deadlift that will challenge a different range of motions when you perform the movement. This movement will help you target your hamstrings and glutes and strengthen them so you can easily lift yourself off the floor. Any lifter who performs this exercise will have a stable and strong set of arms as a benefit of this exercise.
Accommodating Resistance in a Sumo Deadlift You can change the resistance when you perform a sumo deadlift using a chain or a resistance bank. These tools are a great way to increase motor recruitment, maximal strength, and force production. All you need to do is add a chain or band to your deadlift and pull on that resistance with speed and intensity.
Tempo Sumo Deadlifts
You can perform tempo training while you perform a sumo deadlift by adding a time cadence or constraint at every stage of the deadlift. When you do this, you can increase muscle hypertrophy and coordination of movement, as well as the development and strength of muscle fibers. For instance, coaches often want to lift a lower weight when they perform a sumo deadlift. They can lift for two seconds and then pause for two seconds before they lift again at a forced speed. You can increase the timer or the number of repetitions.
Alternatives Here are some of the alternatives to sumo deadlift. You can use any of these interchangeably when you train. This will improve your muscle strength.
Trap Bar Deadlift This deadlift is much like the conventional deadlift movement as it focuses on keeping the torso vertical. It also prevents the knees from bending. If a lifter cannot perform the sumo deadlift or does not want to perform that exercise, they can switch to the trap bar deadlift. This can be used to increase upper body strength, develop the quadriceps, and engage the hip.
Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift This form of a sumo deadlift is very different from the sumo deadlift and is a deadlift regression. This movement can be used to increase movement integrity, movement patterning, and also obtain the necessary skills to perform the deadlift. If the load is heavier, you can perform this exercise to increase muscle strength and endurance.
Chapter 6: Barbell Overhead Press Also called the overhead military or shoulder presses, this exercise’s main targets are your front shoulder muscles or anterior deltoids (delts). While the best way to perform this for optimal strength and muscle building is from a standing position, it should be noted that this may not be safe for people who are fairly new to lifting weights, especially those with whose lower back muscles are still weak. That’s why, as a beginner, you’ll be better off starting with the seated version of this exercise, using an inclined bench for back support. There are two versions of the overhead press: front and behind-the-back. As a beginner, stick to the front overhead press for the meantime. The behind-theneck version is relatively more difficult to perform, and as a beginner who has yet to build the necessary strength for proper form, you’ll put yourself at risk for shoulder and neck injuries if you start with the behind-the-neck overhead presses.
Overhead Pressing Benefits Doing overhead presses will help you strengthen your shoulders and triceps so you can push heavier objects above your head with greater ease and less risk for injuries. In practical terms, this can be very useful for placing relatively heavy objects in overhead compartments, such as airplane overhead bins, cupboards, and cabinets at home. When it comes to athletic performance, overhead presses can help you improve performance in sports that require throwing stuff overhead, such as the shot-put, American football, and basketball. The strength you’ll develop through overhead presses can help you throw things like balls, javelins, and shot-puts farther and faster. Doing overhead presses can also benefit another core lifting exercise, which is the bench press. Why? It’s because, to some extent, the front shoulders provide support to your chest muscles when bench-pressing. In particular, strong front shoulders provide good stability for the barbell so that your chest muscles can focus entirely on pushing the barbell up, and because the overhead press also involves the triceps, you get to strengthen your triceps
How to Overhead Press Right 1. Place palms below the barbell at slightly wider than shoulder width, and grip the barbell. 2. With your entire back pushed back against the bench’s support and your feet firmly planted on the ground in a wide stance, push the weight up until your arms are nearly straight but stopping short of locking out your elbows. By stopping short of elbow lock-out, you maintain constant tension on your shoulders and triceps for an optimal workout while keeping the weight off your elbow joints to minimize risks for injuries. 3. Lower the weight until your upper arms (biceps and triceps) are parallel to the ground before pushing back up, stopping short of lock-out. That’s one repetition. 4. For the first 3 months, perform 3 sets with a maximum of 10 to 12 repetitions (to failure) per set. This is to give your body – as a beginner – the opportunity to build strength and muscular endurance before increasing the difficulty of the exercise via increased sets. After 3 months, and when you feel you’ve gotten significantly stronger and have mastered the proper form without even thinking, you can start working toward increasing your sets to 5. 5. Return the barbell back to the rack at the end of the set.
Push Press Grip For the push press, the grip should always be outside the shoulders. If you have trouble with shoulder mobility or large biceps, you should try to use a wider grip. Lifters often use the same rack position as the standard shoulder press when they perform a push press. This position is incorrect because your body will be at a disadvantage, which will increase the probability of shoulder injury. Unlike the press, when you perform this exercise, you will
need to keep your upper arms parallel to the floor. This position is similar to the front barbell squat. Your wrist will be cocked, and if you have poor thoracic or shoulder mobility, you may hurt yourself. Prepare to Dip Unlike the press, this exercise will use the lower body to push the barbell above the head. This will require immense focus and also the need to hold the barbell differently. The objective of this exercise is to maintain a stacked spinal column while you lift the barbell with force. You can do this when you take a wide stance with your feet slightly apart. This stance will vary from one person to another, but the position is the same as that of the front barbell squat. The Dip Always take a deep breath before you dip. This will tighten your core and straighten your back. This will help you transfer energy to your legs. When you start the dip, you should flex or bend slightly at the knees and push them outward. Remember, you are performing an exercise similar to a squat. This movement should always occur quickly. You should also remember that the movement is violent and shallow. This exercise relies on the tension of your muscles to generate the necessary force to lift the barbell. If you are doing this slowly, then you are doing it wrong. The Drive In this step, you will need to redirect the force. This action depends heavily on creating some tension in the muscles in your trunk and legs while you extend the ankles, hips, and knees. You should drive the force through your heels. You will end up on your toes or the forefoot, but this is not because of any effort but only because of kinesthetics. Lifting It When you have initiated the drive, the barbell will hop upward with a zip. You may find it weightless for a few seconds before you can feel the weight. You need to use your upper body to finish this lift. Rotate your arms where your forearm will become upright. You need to rotate your wrist so it aligns
with your forearm. Now, grip the bar tightly, and press it overhead. Lowering the Bar Once your feet are stable and flat, lower the barbell back to the rack. You should absorb the weight of the bar by bending at the hip or knee. This will help you descend the load to the shoulder.
Push Jerk Technique Stand with your feet shoulder- or hip-width apart. Hold the weight at the top of your chest using an overhand grip. Place the weight on your heels, and slightly bend your knees. Do not bend forward, and keep your chest straight. Extend your hips and knees fully, and drive your body upright quickly. While you do this, extend your arms over your head. Now, drop your body slightly down, and shift your body under the bar. This will shift the weight above your head while your legs are in the squatting position. Make sure that your head is ahead of the bar. Extend your legs while the bar is overhead to finish the exercise. Tips If you are performing the push jerk exercise for the first time, follow the steps below: Always stay on your heels as this is where you can generate some power to lift the barbell. Most beginners will bend forward toward their toes because it is easier for them to lift the barbell. You should avoid doing this. Make sure that you always start light when you perform this technique. You may not be able to do it right the first time, so it is best to have a coach who can correct your form. Make sure to get your head out of the way. The bar should always move past the head without hitting your face or chin. It is for this reason that you should start light.
Always finish every rep. Always complete every movement; make sure you lock the bar and pause before you begin the next rep.
Chapter 7: Bench Press The final – but certainly not the least – of the core lifting exercises of any good strength-training program is the bench press. This exercise primarily targets the chest and triceps muscles. On an ancillary note, it also works the front shoulders and the core muscles, but only to the extent that they’re used for stabilizing the body and the weight. There are 3 variations of the bench press, with each targeting a specific area of the chest: the flat bench press, the incline bench press, and the decline bench press. The flat bench press works the entire chest area, the incline bench press focuses more on the upper chest area, while the decline bench press focuses more on the lower chest. As a beginner, focus on the flat bench press first. You can add the 2 other variants, together with isolation exercises, later on when you’ve already built the necessary strength foundation for them. As with the deadlifts and overhead presses, you can do flat bench presses using a barbell or a pair of dumbbells, but as a beginner, you’re better off using barbells first for 2 reasons. First, a barbell is much easier to pick up and start pressing because it’s rested on a rack, allowing you to position yourself directly beneath it as a starting point. All you’ll need to do is lift the barbell off the rack to start pressing. With dumbbells, you’ll have to concern yourself with having to lie down properly on the bench and hoisting the dumbbells up to your starting position, which is easier said than done. As a beginner, having to hoist up the dumbbells can put you at high risk for injuries or accidents, considering your foundational lifting strength hasn’t been developed yet. Hence, stay with barbells first as a beginner. You can add the dumbbells later on when you’ve developed enough strength.
Bench Press Benefits The primary function of the chest muscles is to push something away from you from the front or push yourself away from something that’s in front of you. That being said, it’s a great way to increase overall upper body strength, which is essential when performing many real-world tasks. On an aesthetic level, a man with a great looking chest is more attractive than one with a flat chest, or worse, bitch tits or man-boobs. For women, I don’t think any
explanation is needed as to how a bigger chest looks sexier. When it comes to sports, a strong bench press can help you throw a shot-put farther, and of course, it can help you perform better at powerlifting events, particularly the – surprise, surprise – bench press event.
How to Bench Press Right 1. Start by lying flat on your back on a bench, positioning yourself directly underneath the barbell. Your forehead should be directly beneath the bar. 2. Using a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip; hold the barbell with both hands. 3. Draw your shoulders back, and keep it that way throughout the movement to ensure that the load is carried only by your chest and not your shoulder muscles. 4. Press to lift the barbell up from the rack, stopping short of locking your elbows. By not locking your elbows at the top, you don’t rest the weight on your elbow joints – minimizing the risk of injuring your elbows – and you maintain continuous tension where it matters most – your chest muscles and triceps. 5. Bring the bar down until your triceps or upper arms are parallel to the ground, at which point, push the barbell back up to the top position, stopping short of locking your elbows out. That’s one repetition. 6. For the first 3 months, perform 3 sets with a maximum of 10 to 12 repetitions (to failure) per set. This is to give your body – as a beginner – the opportunity to build strength and muscular endurance before increasing the difficulty of the exercise via increased sets. After 3 months, and when you feel you’ve gotten significantly stronger and have mastered the proper form without even thinking, you can start working toward increasing your sets to 5. 7. Return the barbell back to the rack at the end of the set.
Push-Up Let us look at the proper push-up position. 1. Place your palms at a distance slightly wider than your shoulders. Make sure that your thumb and nipple are in a straight line. You should angle your hands in a way that is most comfortable to you. Make sure that you do not place your hands too far apart, or you can hurt your shoulders. 2. If you do not have good wrist flexibility, you should make sure that you always do your push-ups through push-up holding. This will not compromise your wrists. Alternatively, you can also use a bar to perform your push-ups. If you have been doing push-ups for quite some time now, you can do them using your knuckles. Make sure that you do this on a clean surface. 3. Make sure that you set your feet up in the right manner so that you are comfortable. Some people will want to keep their hands shoulder-width apart. Some may choose to keep their feet together. If you want, you can keep your feet apart if you want more stability. 4. Now, visualize your body as one line – right from the top of your head to your heels. Your butt should not be sagging or sticking up in the air. You should hold the plank movement until you need to perform the exercise. 5. If you have trouble with finding the right form, you should do this: clench the muscles in your butt, tighten your core, and hold your breath. This will ensure that your core is engaged and that your body is in a straight line. This is the right position to maintain when you perform a push-up. If you have been doing this incorrectly, make sure you change the position now. Watch yourself in the mirror when you perform the push-up so you can correct your position. 6. Make sure that your head is held slightly high. Do not look down when you are in this position. Remember that, when you perform this exercise, your chin should touch the floor first, not your nose.
When you look up, you can ensure that your body is in a straight line. If you believe that looking down will help you concentrate better, you can do that, too. 7. Your arms should be straight, and this means your elbows cannot be bent. This is the only way you can support your weight. You are now ready to do a push-up. 8. Now, keeping your butt clenched and your core tight, lower your body until your elbows are perpendicular to the ground. You can choose how low you want to push your body to depend on your age, flexibility, and mobility. Do not hit the floor with your nose. You should ensure that your chest hits the floor, or your chin touches the floor before you come back up. 9. Do not let your elbows go outward when you push yourself forward. You must ensure that you keep your elbows close to your body. Make a conscious effort to hold them close to your body. 10. Once your chin touches the ground, hold the position for five seconds before you move back to the plank position. If you assume this position and perfect your form, you can strengthen your shoulder, triceps, biceps, and back muscles. This is the best way to prepare your body for any bench press exercises. Tips When you perform a push-up, you should keep the following points in mind: 1. Always keep your core engaged. Make sure that you inhale and hold your breath, and keep your muscles tight. 2. Always keep your back straight. 3. Ensure that your butt is not lifted too high or sagging. You should make sure that it is in line with your back. 4. Your body should be in a straight line. Never arch your back. 5. Do not let your body sag.
If you are unsure about your form, you can record yourself, look at yourself in the mirror, or ask someone to help you out. You should also ensure that your hands are firm on the ground. This is the only way you can protect your wrists. If this is very difficult for you to do, you can start with this exercise by starting on your knees. You can move onto the actual push up once your strength improves. So, keep practicing. You must, however, ensure that you always maintain the right form.
Close Grip Bench Press Technique 1. Lie comfortably on a flat bench. Raise your arms, shoulder-width apart, and hold the bar using a close grip. Now, lift the bar from the rack, and hold it above you with your arms locked. This is where you begin. 2. Inhale, and slowly bring the bar down to your chest. You should ensure that you keep your elbows close to your chest to maximize the involvement of your triceps. 3. Now bring the bar back to the initial position. Exhale, and push the bar above your chest. Use your triceps to do this. Lock your arms, and hold the position for a second. Now, slowly inhale, and bring the bar down. Make sure that you take longer to come down than you take to go up. 4. Repeat this movement, and place the bar back on the rack once you complete the exercise. Benefits This exercise offers numerous benefits. Improved Triceps Mass and Strength This exercise helps to build mass and also develop the strength of the triceps. The close-grip bench press will be used to highlight the performance of the chest and triceps muscles. If you perform this exercise with other pressing exercises, you can target the muscles in the chest, triceps, and shoulders.
Improved Lock-out Performance Your elbows will need to withstand a lot of stress in fitness, strength, and power sports. A movement like a bench press will need elbow stability and stronger triceps. When you improve the lock-out performance and strengthen the triceps, you can reduce the stress that you place on surrounding tendons and ligaments.
Wide Grip Bench Press Technique 1. Lie down flat on the bench, and place your hands shoulder-width apart. 2. Hold your shoulder blades down, and pinch them together. Make sure you drive your shoulder blades into the bench. 3. Now, take a deep breath, and ask someone to help you lift the barbell off the rack. This way, you can maintain the tightness on your upper back. 4. Once the weight settles, ensure that you keep your back tight even after you lift the barbell off. Keep your elbows locked. 5. Now, inhale as you lower the bar slowly, and make sure that you soften your elbows. 6. Slowly lower the barbell, and let the bar touch your chest. Now, push the bar back up, and keep it in a straight line. Press your back into the bench, and drive your feet into the ground. Now, extend the elbows. 7. Repeat this process for a number of repetitions.
Chapter 8: Strength-Training Programs for New Lifters Okay, I get it. Getting into the gym for the first time could be a bit intimidating. It is easy to feel this way, especially if you see a bunch of dudes already flexing their Dwayne Johnson muscles so all that you’re probably thinking about is how far you need to go before you even get anywhere close to what they’ve achieved. Well, fret not. The truth is, even if you’re just starting, the simple truth that you showed up in the gym already says something about how serious you are about shifting a few things in your life. You are now on the road to having bigger muscles and stronger bones as you commit to increase your strength. That said, if you are going to lift weights too often or improperly, you could end up getting injured. To avoid injury, as you’ve already learned, you have complete lifts with the proper form and the correct volume. But how could you tell if you’re just a beginner and starting out? Now, this is a pretty valid question because your answer can depend on which lifts you build your routine around, what workout program you follow, how fast you bulk up, and how quickly you achieve strength gains. There are a few conventional ways of determining where to begin. The sad thing is that most of these methods do not make sense. There is a bit of logic in them, which is why they are quite popular. The first classification is based on how long one has been training. Beginner lifters are classified as those who have been strength training for 6 months. Intermediate lifters are the ones that have been lifting from 6 months to about 2 years. Advanced lifters are those who have been lifting for more than 2 years. Can you see the flaws in this manner of categorizing strength trainees? To put it more clearly, someone who’s been engaged in strength training for 10 years but who still can’t squat or deadlift is not supposed to be categorized as an advanced lifter, is he? In the same manner, someone who has been doing strength training for 5 years but hasn’t gained much strength is still not the right person to be labeled as an advanced trainee.
Another method of categorizing is using the amounts of weight lifted as the basis for strength training level. A beginner lifter could be anyone who has not lifted much weight yet while an intermediate lifter is someone who has curled 100 lbs, overhead press 135, deadlift 405, bench press 225, and squat 315. I wouldn’t even list the requirements for an advanced lifter because this method also lacks sensibleness. What if you’re naturally weak or strong? Lifestyle and genetics do play their hand in determining your strength when you start lifting, so a few guys may be able to bench 315 lbs, but for others, they could be benching the barbell.
Importance of Knowing Your Strength Training Level So, why do you even need to define your strength training experience and what level you’re currently in? First, you need to figure out which lifts are most apt for you. You need to determine whether you should do simpler lifts that are not too difficult to learn or technical lifts that pave the way for heavier loading. Second, you need to figure out how quickly you should be putting on weight while you’re bulking. Are you going to capitalize on newbie gains and add weight more quickly, or is it going to be more beneficial for you to bulk slowly? Third, you need to know how quickly the weights should be added to the bar. Do you need to lift several times every week in an attempt to quickly increase your strength, or do you need to dial it down? Once you answer these questions, you can find the ideal workout program level that will suit you best. So, how good are you at lifting? It’s time to figure out which lifts you will be benefit from the most. When it comes to building muscles, a beginner could be someone who will benefit from the newbie variations of main bulking lifts. He is someone who cannot do 20 push-ups with a full range of motion, can’t do chin-ups in a row, or get into a position that will start a front squat. With this kind of classification, the technical skills and baseline strength come to the forefront, and how far you are from your muscular potential takes a backseat.
Every experienced weight lifter will always remember the time when he moseyed into the gym, probably insecure and a bit confused. Each one of them was able to get past the initial stages because they understood what needs to be done and how to continue. You see, most quitters give up on training because they do not fully understand what they have to be doing. You can be different. Let’s compile all the misunderstandings and confusions first, and then you’ll read about a program that is so simple and can help you achieve your biggest and heaviest possible lifts by the end of it. ●
Choose Correctly: You might hear some cardio enthusiasts talk about their increased stamina and health. However, as you already know by now, strength training has much more to offer. An example is this – some twins set out to become leaner and healthier. Both of them currently weigh 200 pounds with 25% body fat. Twin A sets out to do cardio all year round, so he loses 10 pounds by the end of his set time frame. Twin B signs up for strength training and lifts weights all year long. He even consumes additional protein every day. As the year ends, he also loses 10 pounds. The only difference is that he put on 5 pounds of muscle while also losing 15 pounds of body fat. Twin B will, inevitably, look so much better than Twin A. Lifting weights is a great way to improve your body composition over time. What you need to do is to engage in a progressive overload because you want to get strong in all the rep ranges and different movements at a particular body weight.
Too Much Isn’t Correct: You might think that a two-hour strengthtraining session scheduled at six days every week is the best and most dedicated routine there is. However, this is just too much for a lot of people. Rather than logging in and tracking the amount of time that you spend in the gym, it is best to track your progress. Remember that lifting too long, too often, is counterproductive to building strength and muscles. Just think about this – you’re able to lift the weights longer because you are not lifting heavy enough. In a way, you are not challenging your muscles enough, so you do not build strength efficiently. To do resistance training more effectively, you need to put a decent amount
of stress on your muscles so that you ultimately grow them. So, how heavy is heavy enough? A good standard is to lift weights that were already challenging during the last 2 to 3 reps but not too difficult that you can no longer do it in proper form. After the last repetition, your body should feel almost maxed out but with just enough energy left to do the rest of the sets. If you have been lifting properly, then there is no need to lift for more than 1 hour. I would suggest doing 5 to 7 exercises at 2 to 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps for each. As you feel your performance deteriorating, then you’ll know that it is time to wrap it up and call it a day. Never ignore that feeling. As for the number of days that you need to train, this depends on your personal goals. Anywhere from 3 to 5 days is an awesome number, just as long as you’re resting enough in between your sessions. ● Feeling Sore Isn’t Equal to a Better Workout: I’m sure you’re heard the phrase, no pain, no gain; this approach to strength training is wrong. Soreness should never be an indicator of a good workout. On one hand, soreness of the muscles will happen occasionally, especially if you have just started a new type of exercise. What you would not want is DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness, which is muscle damage caused by strenuous physical activities. Its onset is about 24 to 72 hours after your training. So, don’t go chasing muscle soreness because if you get DOMS, then the quality of your future workouts will likely decrease and can even hinder motivation. I suggest that you keep a training log so you can track the weights, as well as the increases in strength, rather than basing your progress on how difficult it is to walk up the stairs the following day. Moreover, remember to listen to your body. Going to the next level could be a trial-and-error process, but go ahead and challenge your body, making sure that you define heavy or light according to what are heavy and light for you. What is light for your fellow weightlifter might not be that light to you when you’re just starting.
Push Yourself to the Limit: Your new commitment to do strength training is not all about going to the gym and doing a set of exercises. Showing up and going through the motions simply won’t give you the fantastic results that you are aiming to achieve. While it is not recommended that you train more than you could handle, it is, however, advisable to push yourself to finish just one more rep or add another 5 pounds to the bar. Exercising with variations will push you to keep doing better. There might come a time when you feel that your strength stagnates. This is the moment when you should analyze your form, training program, diet, sleep, stress levels, and other factors. If you’ve locked your sights on building a stronger body, then you will see your way through this plateau and ultimately improve your physique.
Be Consistent: It’s okay to start slow and then make minor amendments to your routine as you go on. This will instill habits gradually and more effectively than making daunting changes each time.
● Stability and Coordination Will Improve Over Time: Starting out, you may feel awkward or that your coordination is terrible. This can be true for compound, multi-joint lifts. Your ability to contract your muscles or make sure that certain muscles are working correctly can be difficult at first. Don’t worry because all of this will change over time. With every session, you will be rapidly increasing your coordination and stability. You will feel that with each week, the lifts feel more natural, and in 2 to 3 months, the lifts will begin to feel right. Give it a year, and you will feel more confident with your form. You will also hold better form when completing a particularly difficult set. Be sure to use strict form consistently so that your motor response becomes automatic. ●
Recovery Is Crucial to Your Success: Recovery and rest are both critical components of your strength training. When you rest your body, you are giving it time to rebuild muscles that have been broken down from working out. This is how you get stronger. It is easy to be obsessed with strength training and even neglect self-
care. However, remember that it doesn’t matter how hard you train if you don’t prioritize recovering from those workouts. If you’re looking for one surefire way to rest and recover, note that everyone responds differently to strength training. There are some general guidelines, though, that you should keep in mind, such as sleeping for a good 8 hours every night. You should also take 1 to 2 days of rest from training every week. Generally, it is a wise idea to rest the day after an intense workout. A major indicator is your body, so listen to it. If you feel tired or if your strength seems to decrease after a day, then this means that your body is already telling you it is time for some rest away from the gym. Resting also includes knowing how to properly rest between sets. The amount of time that you rest varies depending on your recovery ability, the kind of exercise that you are performing, and your goals. Squats necessitate more rest time between sets than curls. In general, you would want to wait for about 120 to 180 seconds between the intense sets for compound lower body exercises, about 90 to 120 seconds between compound upper body exercise sets, and 60 to 90 seconds between isolation exercises. Exceptions can always be made, but the point is that it can be harmful to not rest in between sets. You will sweat and feel tired during training, but it should never be your goal to maintain an increased heart rate throughout a lifting session. Your overall goal should be to build a stronger body over time. ●
Hydrate: Your muscles are made up of 75% water, so record your weight before you begin your workout and immediately after. Drink the difference in water ounces. It is also important that you drink water while exercising to maintain your body’s fluid balance. If you don’t drink, your performance may be affected as dehydration can lead to being unfocused. It can also lead to a higher body temperature, as well as muscle cramps. Focus on drinking water, and don’t rely solely on carbonated drinks. An alternative to water is any low-calorie electrolyte drink that can help restore the potassium and sodium that has been lost due to
sweating. Unsweetened iced tea that is lightly flavored with juice is another good compromise.
Starting Strength Program Starting Strength is one of the most popular weightlifting programs in the market these days. Authored by Mark Rippetoe in 2005, this book is a basic building block for bodybuilding knowledge. This program is dedicated to helping you grow stronger, add muscle, and improve your athleticism. Starting Strength is the perfect program if you’re just beginning your barbell training or strength training in general. The Starting Strength workouts are quite straightforward and easy to follow. They include a few compound exercises where proper form should be the focus. Here are two forms of the workout: Workout A Exercise Squat Overhead Barbell Press Deadlift
Sets 3 3 1
Reps 5 5 5
Sets 3 3 1
Reps 5 5 5
Workout B Exercise Squat Bench Press Deadlift
There are going to be just 4 exercises for the first part of your Starting Strength workout and only 6 for the entire program. Remember that you need to: Do 3 workouts every week.
The First Week of Your First Month Would Look Like This: ● Day 1: Workout A ● Day 2: Rest ● Day 3: Workout B ● Day 4: Rest ● Day 5: Workout A ● Day 6 Rest ● Day 7: Rest Week 2 ● Day 1: Workout B ● Day 2: Rest ● Day 3: Workout A ● Day 4: Rest ● Day 5: Workout B ● Day 6: Rest ● Day 7: Rest Week 3 ● Day 1: Workout A ● Day 2: Rest ● Day 3: Workout B ● Day 4: Rest ● Day 5: Workout A ● Day 6: Rest ● Day 7: Rest Week 4
● Day 1: Workout B ● Day 2: Rest ● Day 3: Workout A ● Day 4: Rest ● Day 5: Workout B ● Day 6: Rest ● Day 7: Rest Do not forget to begin your workout by properly warming-up. Warming-up will wake up your connective tissues, especially your muscles, which will be needed for the heavy lifting that is going to happen ahead. Do your initial warm-up set with an empty bar, then consistently progress to your working weight over a series of additional sets. For instance, if you squat 275 pounds with 5 reps, then your warm up should be a little like this: ● A 45-pound Empty Bar: 2 sets/5 reps ● 135 Pounds: 2 sets/5 reps ● 185 pounds: 1 set/3 reps ● 235 pounds: 1 set/2 reps ● 275 pounds (working sets): 3 sets/5 reps As soon as you’re warmed-up, you can begin your heavy lifting. When deciding how much weight you should lift for your heavy sets, look for weight amounts that allow you to achieve 5 reps (no more or less) while still in good form. If heavy weightlifting is new to you, then it would be good to begin with weight that is slightly lower than the calculated 5-rep maximum. You can slowly progress or increase the weights as you feel more comfortable with your current weights. Do not forget to rest for 2 to 5 minutes in between sets, and as you go to your next set, be aware of your breathing. If you’re feeling fatigued or if your breathing is heavy or jagged, then take it slow and increase your rest.
Once you’re able to perform 3 sets of 5 reps in your workout with ease, then you can add 5 pounds to the current weight for the next time that you work out. For example, if you squat 200 pounds at 5 reps on your Workout A, then you can squat 205 pounds with your Workout B. If you failed to achieve your sets at a perfect 5-5-5, say, you were only able to get 5-4-3 reps on your second to third sets, then this only means one thing – the weight is too heavy for you at the moment. If you get to a point where you consistently aren’t able to increase your weight for two workouts (or more), then it’s time to do a reset on both of your workouts. You can do this by beginning with your warm-up, then doing a single set at 90% of the best 5-rep-lift for each exercise. Benefits of the Starting Strength Program The Starting Strength method uses biology and arithmetic basics that have been refined by analyses and logic over decades of testing and millions of hours in refining the program. In essence, it is strength engineering. Strength is the very foundation of human performance because it is the basis of physical interactions with the environment. So, each time that you move your feet or your hands, be it throwing a javelin or swinging a baseball bat, you are applying force to your external environment. Being able to apply more force is impossible, though, if your ability to produce a higher amount of force is more than your present physical capacity. So, being stronger, which may seem superficial, will actually always be an advantage. It contributes to your interaction with the external environment, allowing you to be more successful through improved performance. The importance of strength and performance can never be overemphasized. Whether in the gym or on the tennis court, it will always be your ability to produce force against all obstacles that will determine whether you perform efficiently or not. Simply put, increasing your strength makes you tougher, faster, more coordinated and agile, more balanced, and even less at risk for injuries. Starting Strength will also improve your endurance, body composition, bone density, and your overall health. It does this regardless of your current age. If
you don’t have plans to become stronger, then it’s time to start training. However, remember that you will never be as strong as you could be if you do not engage in a program that increases the weights that you lift incrementally. So, kickboxing, Pilates, jogging, shuffleboard, gardening, loading hay on a trailer, wood chopping, snow shoveling, and walking on the treadmill are not strength training exercises; hence, they will not make you stronger. Starting Strength is a program that will develop and increase your strength as it requires increasing force for production. It identifies your present strength level while making you more familiar with the movement patterns that you’re going to do in the program. Expect amazing things to happen. Even an older person who can squat 65 lbs instead of 15 lbs is less likely to fall. A football player who squats 455 will be far more formidable than the player next to him, and good luck tackling him. However, let’s set correct expectations here, okay? Beginner strength trainees can expect progress with every workout, and since it is possible to achieve progress frequently, then you have to do all that you can to achieve it more frequently. Once you become strong, it will get harder to get even stronger, but remember that it can be done with more complex and consistent processes. The Starting Strength method adjusts your progression by increasing in weight each week rather than each workout. Other programs can make you stronger, too. Next on the list is the 5 x 5 workout.
5 x 5 Intro If you’ve been doing weightlifting for a reasonable amount of time now, then chances are, you’ve already heard gym trainers and trainees talk about 5 x 5s. You have a certain Olympian to thank for this program. Bill Starr, a legendary Olympian and author of The Strongest Shall Survive: Strength Training for Football, once said: “The football player [in your case, a bodybuilder or weightlifter] must work for overall body strength as opposed to specific strengthening exercise.
In other words, the athlete should be building total leg strength rather than just stronger hamstrings. He should be seeking overall strength in his shoulder girdle rather than just stronger deltoids” (Starr, 1976). Starr had this so-called 5 x 5 program where he focused on three lifts, two of which you have already learned: the bench press, squat, and the power clean. By now, you should already have knowledge and understanding of the first two, and so coming up, I’ll introduce you to the power clean. 5 x 5 Benefits What’s great about the 5 x 5 workout is that it is simple. It is its simplicity that makes it easy to follow so just about anyone, from beginners to advanced lifters, can follow it to increase in size and strength. Weightlifters who follow this program do not need to worry about a long list of exercises and sets for their respective rep schemes because all you need to complete are 3 exercises, the sets, and rep schemes (don’t worry because these are easy to remember), and you are good to go. Keep this in mind: 5 sets/5 reps. Apart from its rawness, the program structure is also designed so that you can load weight, as well as use higher levels of resistance than you could if you were doing a traditional set and reps of 8 to 12 for every exercise. The more weight lifted per training session, the greater your muscle improvement, but always remember to listen to your body. Never push yourself beyond your limits, as this could result in injury or muscle damage. Also, as you complete the exercises included in this program, you will improve function in every area of your life while burning a significant number of calories.
The Power Clean This is a powerful full-body exercise that will help you in any kind of sport that you would want to participate in – as long as it is performed correctly. Just like the Olympic lifts, this exercise is quite technical and should be executed precisely so that you can achieve optimum benefits while avoiding injury.
The power clean is a dynamic plyometric exercise, such as squats, minus the impact of jumping. Ideally, a strength and conditioning coach should guide you as you learn the power clean. As this is not always possible, I am going to provide step-bystep directions on how you can perform this move, but first, let’s talk about the importance of performing a power clean. Benefits of the Power Clean Many of the Olympic lifts, including the power clean, can make you a more explosive and powerful athlete. This is crucial for those who depend on being explosive to, say, block linemen, outperform opponents for that rebound, or crush a volleyball, just to name a few. The power clean trains your hips, knees, and ankle joints (triple extension) to extend simultaneously. This is a key movement for athleticism. This exercise also improves fast-twitch muscle fibers, generating great speed and force. Athletes who need to jump would benefit most from learning and including the power clean in their training as it has been observed to improve vertical jump. You involve all muscles as you do this exercise – your core, quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes are the catalysts behind the movement, although your shoulders and traps are also engaged in the second pull. Your arms, forearms, and back muscles are also greatly involved, so simply put, the power clean exercises your entire body. Now Here are the Steps to the Power Clean: 1. The first step is the setup. Start with the bar on the floor close to your shins and over your shoelaces. Stand up, and make sure that your feet are at hip-width apart. Reach down and grab the bar with an overhand and shoulder-width grip. With the bar remaining on the floor, sit back and then stick up your chest. Bring your shoulder blades down and back and then tighten your core. Rotate your elbows to the sides, taking care that your arms are straight all of the time. Be sure to look straight ahead.
2. The second step is the first pull. Pull the bar from the floor by extending your legs. Make sure that your back remains flat, and your chest is still sticking up. Allow the bar to travel vertically in a straight line and not into you like what happens during a deadlift. 3. This is the scoop and second pull step. As soon as the bar passes your knees, shift your torso vertically, and then bend you knees again slightly. This is your scoop movement. Next, do the second pull (no less than the most powerful part of this movement) by immediately driving straight up, fully extending your hips, knees, as well as your ankles (triple extension) while also shrugging the bar using your shoulders. Let the bar stay as close to you as possible. 4. The fourth step is the catch. In this step, quickly drop to a quartersquat position, still with your back straight and your hips and knees slightly bent. Move your elbows forward, and rotate them around in front of the bar to catch the bar in a racked position across the front of your shoulders. Be sure to have your fingertips under the bar. Now stand up tall, fully opening your hips. 5. The fifth step can be referred to as the drop the bar step. From the previous position, drop the bar to the ground right in front of you. Do this only if you are using bumper plates and when you are standing on a lifting platform. Keep in mind that the power clean is not the same as a hang clean. In the power clean, you should begin with the weight on the floor, whereas the hang clean begins with the weight already held above your knees. It is best to begin performing power cleans with light weights. As it is a complex movement, you need to keep practicing to perfect it. Again, this does not mean that you should overdo your strength training. Your workouts, as you’ve already learned, need to be performed with challenging but manageable weights.
An aspect that is more important than load is your speed. You want to achieve optimum velocity with each rep. So, it is great practice to limit your rep range to 1 to 5 reps for every set. Perform every single rep with as much intensity and speed as you can. Power Clean Mistakes ● Landing with both feet too wide apart: Making this mistake limits the mobility of your hips, and it even becomes more difficult to drop properly under the bar. To fix this, land in a front squat position. ●
Core and back are not engaged before a rep: Do not round your back during the lift. Instead, you should engage it and bring your shoulder blades down and then back, and have your core tightened. Imagine that you’re about to take a punch so you prepare to take that hard blow. This will ensure that your back, as well as your core, is properly set so you are not at risk of any injury.
● Muscling up your weight: You want to launch the barbell up through a forceful extension of your hips. Keep practicing the hip extension while keeping the barbell close to your body at all times. ●
Having your arms catch the bar: This is one of the most common mistakes that newbie weightlifters commit. Catching the bar using your forearms on a vertical position limits the weight that you could lift. This can also add to the stress on your joints, making every rep more tiresome than it already is. Practice snapping your elbows through and then catching the bar transversely on your shoulders. Do this with an unloaded bar the first time or a broomstick before you add weights.
Doing too many repetitions: Power cleans are not a conditioning exercise. They are meant to train the body to use force as quickly and as much as possible. The maximum reps that you should complete in every set should be 5. Going beyond this will lead to fatigue and would compromise your technique and power output. It is also for this reason that you need to rest and reset so you can refocus and properly execute the next rep to your prime ability.
Lately, though, power cleans have become a popular conditioning exercise. This is okay as long as you only use a light weight and you keep a proper form throughout. Don’t be embarrassed to rest when you sense that your form has started to break down. Continuing with a faulty technique can lead to serious injuries.
5 x 5 Program Now, it’s time to combine power cleans with the other exercises in the 5 x5 program. According to Starr, the 5 x 5 original program looks like this: Monday (Heavy) Exercise Power Clean Bench Press Bench Press Squat Squat
Sets 5 5 1 5 1
Reps 5 5 10 5 10
The Heavy Day works by having Set 1 at 35% of your 5-rep maximum weight or the amount of weight that allows you to achieve 5 clean reps, no more. Set 2 is 70%; Set 3 is 80%; Set 4 is 90%; and Set 5 is 100% of your 5rep max weight. A 10-rep set is 80% of a 5-rep maximum weight. Wednesday (Light) Exercise Power Clean Incline Bench Press Incline Bench Press Squat
Sets 5 5 1 5
Reps 5 5 10 5
The Light Day works with Set 1 at 25% of your 5-rep maximum weight. Set
2 is 50%; Set 3 is 55%; Set 4 is 65%; and Set 5 is 70%. The 10-rep set is 55% of your 5-rep max weight. Friday (Medium) Exercise Power Clean Overhead Press Overhead Press Squat
Sets 5 5 1 5
Reps 5 5 10 5
The Medium Day works with Set 1 at 30% of your 5-rep maximum weight. Set 2 is 55%; Set 3 65%; Set 4 70%; and Set 5 is 80%. The 10-rep set is 65% of the 5-rep maximum weight. Starr further recommended that you could increase your 5-rep maxes on every exercise by 2.5% every week. This means that if you begin the program, and your 5-rep max on bench press is 225 pounds, then here is how it would be on your first week of bench pressing: Bench Press (Heavy Day) Set 1: 35% of 5RM/80 pounds Set 2: 70% of 5RM/160 pounds Set 3: 80% of 5RM/180 pounds Set 4: 90% of 5RM/200 pounds Set 5: 100 of 5RM/225 pounds 10-Rep: 80% of 5RM/180 pounds To make these work with actual bar loading, you need to round up (or down) the number by 1 pound (or less). So, 35% of 225 pounds is 79 pounds, but if you load 79 pounds on your bar, this is not feasible, so you should use 80. For Week 2, you can increase the past week’s 5RM weights by 2.5%. With the bench press as the same example, your past 5RM of 225 pounds will now
be raised to 230. Here’s how it would look: Set 1: 35% of 5RM/80 pounds Set 2: 70% of 5RM/160 pounds Set 3: 80% of 5RM/185 pounds Set 4: 90% of 5RM/205 pounds Set 5: 100% of 5RM/230 pounds By Week 3, increase your new 5RM by 2.5%, and so on. Don’t forget to include rest times in between these sets. Now What Should You Do if You Fail to Achieve Your Reps? Should this happen on any given exercise, Starr advises that you reset or deload. To reset, lower the weights to the amounts that you were doing 4 weeks ago. De-loading, on the other hand, means reducing the stress of your weekly training so you have a break from your hard training. You can properly de-load by using the same weights on your hard training, but do 30% to 50% fewer sets each week at only 2 to 4 reps each set. If you are new to weightlifting, it is recommended you de-load every 8 to 10 weeks. People who have been lifting for more than 3 years should de-load every 4 to 6 weeks.
StrongLifts 5 x 5 This is a variation of the original routine introduced by Starr. Mehdi in Belgium created it, and since its creation in May 2007, it has already been featured on Apple in their Strength ad in 2014; Google awarded it the Top Developer Badge for the StrongLifts 5 x 5 app. The app has more than 3 million downloads and 12,000+ five-star reviews. This variation is simple, and it does not require you to spend a lot of time in the gym. You also just alternate between two workouts. Just like the Starting Strength program, StrongLifts consists of two workouts. Here, you will perform 5 multi-joint barbell lifts every week: the deadlift, squat, the bench press, overhead press, and the bent-over row. This is a threeday-each-week program (as you need to do the workouts alternately)
employing an A-B split. Workout A Exercise Squat Bench Press Barbell Row
Sets 5 5 5
Reps 5 5 5
Sets 5 5 1
Reps 5 5 5
Workout B Exercise Squat Overhead Press Deadlift
StrongLifts has you complete 3 workouts every week with no less than 1 day of rest between the workouts, and given that a lot of people prefer working out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you can take on this schedule, or you can create your own for as long as you allow your body to rest one day in between each workout. Alternate between the workouts in the same manner that you do with Starting Strength: Week 1: A-B-A Week 2: B-A-B Week 3: The same as Week 1. Week 4: The same as Week 2, etc. Mehdi explains how properly warm up: 1. Begin with the bar, then work your way up with proper form, and correctly warm up your muscles and joints. You’ll feel that the 5 x 5 weight will be easier, and you’re less likely to sustain injuries.
2. Begin with 2 sets of 5 reps with the empty bar on squats, bench, and the overhead press. 3. Add 10 kg to 20 kg or 24 lbs to 45 lbs, and do the 2 to 3 reps. Continue adding 10 kg to 20 kg with 2 to 3 reps on every set until you reach your 5 x 5 working weight. 4. Do not rest between the warm-up sets so that your workout is kept short. 5. The empty bar warm-ups do not work for the barbell row and deadlift. However, as you are already doing compound exercises, your body will already be warmed up by the time that you get to the barbell row or deadlift. 6. Do not lift a heavy 5 x 5 weight if you have not performed lighter warm-up sets beforehand. The 5 x 5 weight will feel heavier, and you might even miss reps, or worse, injure yourself. Remember that pre-workout cardio is not enough to warm up properly and can even work against you. They are not squat-specific and do not move you through the full range of movement, allowing you to practice your proper form. As a result, you still need to warm up with the bar. Too much preworkout cardio could even lead to exhausted legs and difficulty squatting heavy. Warm up with the bar. As soon as you’re all warmed- up, you are more than ready to begin your heavy 5-rep sets. Every set must be done with 100% of your 5RM weights. Here, you do not progress to 100% like in Starr’s program. Progressing with the StrongLifts 5 x 5 is a lot simpler because it is linear. Just add 5lbs to your squat every week. This might seem aggressive, but it is practical and doable even for a new weightlifter. However, adding 15 lbs weekly is nearly impossible. You have to rest 2 to 5 minutes between every set, and if you fail to achieve the reps, Mehdi recommends that you de-load when you stall. The StrongLifts 5 x 5 may seem revolutionary to the new strength trainee, but
the lifting world knows that 5 x 5’s have been around for decades. Ever since lifting’s heyday, when the sole difference between power lifters and bodybuilders was their diet, lifters and athletes have been doing 5 x 5s to build stronger and bigger frames. You, too, can enjoy all the benefits that these athletes have been enjoying for many years. Remember that complexity will always be a beginner’s enemy, so start with the simplest workouts first.
Chapter 9: Strength-Training Programs for Intermediate Lifters You’re no longer a novice strength trainee, so what now? You would then be classified as an intermediate lifter when you are no longer increasing your weights weekly. Now that your newbie phase is complete, it’s time to consider a more suitable program to challenge you and keep you progressing. The best rule of thumb to keep in mind though is to make small changes and to use your recent training data so you can achieve long-term progress. I’m sure you want to continue to become even stronger then when you first got started as a newbie or, at the very least, maintain your strength. At some point, you will learn that you need to put value the methods and processes that make you stronger more than achieving PRs (personal records or personal best). However, even the most experienced strength trainees agree that achieving these PRs are the victories needed every now and then to keep you focused and motivated to keep going. So, let’s set your expectations correctly – those victories will be less immediate in this phase, and this is true for everyone. Now that you are stronger and have a foundation, your PRs are now going to be more planned rather than a secondary thing to your training. A word of caution, though: you should only move on to the next program when it is truly necessitated by your progress. If you’re in a hurry to move on, but you’re not ready, then you may slow down your development. Long-term progress stems from correct form, consistent lifting, and an organized training plan. As a novice lifter, you should have already developed the basic aptitude for strength gains, training, and the recovery processes, including some experience under the bar. Just like finishing an educational curriculum, you need to constantly adapt as more elements are brought in for you to learn. Of course, the beginner program will not sustain you for long, so eventually, you need to move past this phase, and you’re on to that phase now. However, the term novice or beginner is just a descriptive label. There is no specific
period that will determine how long you will remain a novice lifter. If you are able to comfortably complete all of your sets and reps and then repeat the process, that’s a telltale sign that you are ready for the next phase. I am going to discuss two of the most popular and effective lifting programs for intermediate trainees.
Texas Method Following a strength-training program or doing heavy barbell training for no less than a year almost always results in the need to move forward. This first intermediate lifter strength-training program is what’s known as the Texas method. Olympic weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay developed it sort of accidentally. As legend tells, Pendlay was having his lifters work out in Mark Rippetoe’s Wichita Falls Athletic Club. They were squatting 5 x 5 on Mondays and Fridays. He then heard one of the lifters moan and even complain one scorching Friday afternoon. He then gave them a challenge that if they can squat a 5-set PR, then they would only need to do one set for that day. The lifter took on the challenge, achieved the required PR, and then gave birth to this wonderful new method. So, instead of the 5 x 5 on those two days, the program just called for a 5-set PR every Friday. It may have been Pendlay who came up with the new idea, but it was still Mark Rippetoe who published it in Practical Programming. It was a huge success, and following the newbie program Starting Strength, a lot of trainees were enticed to follow the intermediate program that was being recommended. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. The Texas Method calls for 3 workouts every week, just like all the strengthtraining programs that you’ve learned so far. Mondays can be assigned for volume, Wednesdays for light weights, and Fridays for very heavy weights (go for the PRs). Here’s a sample week that you can follow for Week A: Monday (Volume) Exercise Squat
Weight Load 90% of 5 RM
Bench Press Deadlift
90% of 5 RM 90% of 5 RM
Exercise Squat Overhead Press Chin-up
Sets 2 3 3
Weight Load 70% of 5 RM 70% of 5 RM Bodyweight
Reps 5 5 To Failure 10
Sets 1 1 1
Reps 5 5 5
Weight Load PR–personal best PR PR
Friday (Intensity) Exercise Squat Bench Press Deadlift
And Here’s What You Can Use as a Template for Week B: Monday (Volume) Exercise Squat Overhead Press Deadlift
Sets 5 5 1
Reps 5 5 5
Weight Load 90% of 5 RM 90% of 5 RM 90% of 5 RM
Sets 2 3
Reps 5 5
Weight Load 70% of 5 RM 70% of 5 RM
Wednesday (Light) Exercise Squat Bench Press
To Failure 10
Sets 1 1 1
Reps 5 5 5
Weight Load PR PR PR
Friday (Intensity) Exercise Squat Bench Press Deadlift
Alternate between the two weeks so you have a PR for both your overhead press and bench press. Both the Volume and Light Days are simple and straightforward, but before exercising, you need to be sure to warm up before you go through your prescribed sets. Your Fridays are your PR days, where you go deep to lift your highest weights – ever. Specifically, you should begin each exercise with your warmup routine and then your 5-rep PR set (about 5lbs to 10 lbs heavier than your last 5-rep max). Here’s an example: Let’s say your forecasted 5-rep max for squats is at 275 lbs; this means that by Friday, you should attempt 5 reps with 280 or 285 lbs. Warming up for the Texas method is just like the routine that you completed for Starting Strength. First, do your empty bar warm-up set, and then evenly progress to your working weights through a series of additional sets. Squatting for 275 pounds for 5 reps should have this following warm-up routine: ● Empty bar (45 lbs): 2 sets/5 reps ● 135 lbs: 2 sets/5 reps ● 185 lbs: 1 set/3 reps
● 235 lbs: 1 set/2 reps ● 275 lbs: 3 sets/5 reps The Texas method encourages weekly progress instead of workout-toworkout development, and your progression is quite simple – just keep adding 5 lbs to every Friday’s single 5-rep set. This should give you a new 5rep max that you can use as a basis for calculating next week’s Monday and Wednesday workouts. Then, Friday will be your PR day once again. Doing this consistently will guide you to an increasing amount of weight to be lifted over time, and just like your Starting Strength, never forget to rest for 2 to 5 minutes between sets. Now What Should You Do if You Fail to Achieve Your Reps? If, say, you were unable to pass your Monday workout (some of your reps are not in good form), you should cut down your Monday volume to just 3 sets of 5 reps and 90% of 5RM on squats and your bench presses. You could also reduce your load by 10% to 80% of your 5RM. The bottom line is that your body needs to recover, and this takes precedence over any goals that you previously set. When you can get through Monday, but you are unable to hit your Friday PRs, then you should change your Monday workout by upping the volume or total number of reps, or you can also increase the intensity or the amount of weight that is lifted. An example of increasing your volume is to replace the 5 sets of 5 reps at 90% 5RM on the first two exercises with 5 sets of 8 reps with just 80%. When you are upping your load, you still want to maintain your volume. When you do squats of 5 sets and 5 reps with 90% of 5RM, this totals 25 reps. Increase the load by doing 8 sets of squats, 3 reps, with 95% (24 reps). As an intermediate trainee, the biggest benefit that the Texas method offers is fatigue management. The program effectively condenses the traditional block periods in one week. You need to commit if you choose to follow this program because the
weights and volumes have been predetermined for you. Yet, again, if you do fail to complete your reps, you can always follow the previous advice that I gave here on how to de-load. Texas Method Benefits Overall, there are aspects of this method that are unrivaled by any other intermediate programs. Its programmatic structure is a good step-up for the intermediate trainee who needs to maximize his or her rate of progress. The Texas method can take your strength gains and strength-training program to a whole new level. This is for you individuals who are ready to step up their strength game and who want to build even more muscle. This is a beastly strength-training program that is reserved for people who are tough and who are ready to move on from their newbie training programs. It is meant to break those plateaus so you can continue with your strength progress. Just be sure to adhere to the proper form and precautions so that your program is as effective as possible.
Wendler’s 5/3/1 Jim Wendler is the creator of the 5/3/1 program, another one of the most popular strength-training programs nowadays. It is easy to understand, so it’s perfect for an intermediate trainee. It does not require any additional equipment, and it does not even ask you to spend more hours in the gym. You can complete Wendler’s 5/3/1 by working out 3 to 4 times per week, and it asks you to complete one of the following 4 workouts on your training days: ● Squat and assistance work (exercises or lifts that assist the main lift) ● Bench press and assistance work ● Deadlift and assistance work ● Overhead press and assistance work The completion of these exercises once completes the wave. Here is how your week would look:
Day 1: Warm-up, Overhead Press, and Assistance Work Day 2: Warm-up, Deadlift, and Assistance Work Day 3: Warm-up, Bench Press, and Assistance Work Day 4: Warm-up, Squat, and Assistance Work Every 5/3/1 mesocycle (training phase that lasts for 2 to 6 weeks) has 4 waves. You will do every lift 4 times to complete the mesocycle, and then you begin all over again. Here’s How the Mesocycle Works: Wave 1 Set 1 2 3
Reps 5 5 5+
Weight Load 65% (% of 90% of 1 RM) 75% (% of 90% of 1RM) 85% (% of 90% of 1RM)
Reps 3 3 3+
Weight Load 70% (% of 90% of 1 RM) 80% (% of 90% of 1RM) 90% (% of 90% of 1RM)
Reps 5 3 1+
Weight Load 75% (% of 90% of 1 RM) 85% (% of 90% of 1RM) 95% (% of 90% of 1RM)
Wave 2 Set 1 2 3 Wave 3 Set 1 2 3 Wave 4 Set
1 2 3
5 5 5
40% (% of 90% of 1 RM) 50% (% of 90% of 1RM) 60% (% of 90% of 1RM)
If you take a careful look at the waves, you will notice that 5/3/1 works with a percentage of 90% of 1RM and not a percentage of your 5-rep max. Also, when you see the + sign, this is an indicator that you are to complete as many reps as possible. Each workout just entails the warm-up and 3 heavy sets. It is a low-volume approach that still provides dramatic results. Many people may criticize the efficacy of this low-volume program, but no one can deny that it truly works – but it’s not for everyone, though. It is not cut out for people who already have years of strength training under their belt. However, for newbies and intermediate strength trainees, this is a simple yet effective approach. This is especially true if you’re including assistance work in your core lifts. The 5/3/1 method is a hybrid style with strength training at its core, coupled with bodybuilding. How often you train will determine how your workouts should be programmed. If you’ve been training for 4 times every week, then every mesocycle is going to last for 4 weeks. Training 3 times every week will give you a 5-week and 1-day mesocycle. Let’s take the first example as a basis on how to program your workouts: Week 1 Day 1: Overhead press/Wave 1 Day 2: Deadlift/Wave 1 Day 3: Bench press/Wave 1 Day 4: Squat/Wave 1 Week 2 Day 1: Overhead press/Wave 2 Day 2: Deadlift/Wave 2
Day 3: Bench press/Wave 2 Day 4: Squat/Wave 2 Week 3 Day 1: Overhead press/Wave 3 Day 2: Deadlift/Wave 3 Day 3: Bench press/Wave 3 Day 4: Squat/Wave 3 Week 4 Day 1: Overhead press/Wave 4 Day 2: Deadlift/Wave 4 Day 3: Bench press/Wave 4 Day 4: Squat/Wave 4 Training for 3 days each week means it will take you 5 weeks and one day to complete a mesocycle, as you need to complete every single one of the 16 workouts to complete a mesocycle. You cannot double up on your exercises in one training day. Here’s how this program will appear: Week 1 Day 1: Squat/Wave 1 Day 2: Bench press/Wave 1 Day 3: Deadlift/Wave 1 Week 2 Day 1: Overhead press/Wave 1 Day 2: Squat/Wave 2 Day 3: Bench press/Wave 2 Week 3
Day 1: Deadlift/Wave 2 Day 2: Overhead press/Wave 2 Day 3: Squat/Wave 3 Week 4 Day 1: Bench press/Wave 3 Day 2: Deadlift/Wave 3 Day 3: Overhead press/Wave 3 Week 5 Day 1: Squat/Wave 4 Day 2: Bench press/Wave 4 Day 3: Deadlift/Wave 4 Week 6 Day 1: Overhead press/Wave 4 Day 2: Rest Day 3: Rest Looking at both programs, you will notice that both examples show that you need to perform every workout 4 times before you begin again. Here is how you should warm-up for your heavy lifting: Set 1: 40% of your 1-rep max multiplied by 5 reps Set 2: 50% of your 1RM times 5 reps Set 3: 60% of your 1RM times 3 reps Be sure to rest for 60 to 90 seconds between every warm-up set. Following the 5/3/1 method isn’t all about breaking your on-rep PRs. Your goal is to hit multiple PRs as you go along lifting more compared to your last mesocycle. Take note that after completing a mesocycle, you need to add 5 lbs to your 1RM for both bench and overhead press and 10 lbs to your squat and deadlift.
Then, recalculate your training weights. If you feel that you have it in you to get more reps on your hardest and final sets, then Wendler advises that you go for it. Just like Starting Strength, rest for 2 to 5 minutes between each set, and should you get stuck or lose strength on any of your exercises, finish the mesocycle, then reduce your present 1RMs by 10%, and then begin again. You just need to do this on the exercise(s) that you are having difficulty with. Just continue as usual on all the other exercises.
How to Choose Assistance Exercises Assistance work is any exercise that is done outside of the four upon which the program is developed around. The amount of assistance work that you add is up to you, but here are some items you should consider when planning the assistance exercises to add: ● To strengthen the weak parts of your body ● To increase the 4 core lifts ●
Make sure that your body develops in a symmetrical or balanced manner
● To build more muscle The following are examples of assistance exercises ideal for intermediate trainees: ● Weighted dips ● Pull-ups or chin-ups ● Barbell rows ● Dumbbell rows ● Barbell shrugs ● Dumbbell military press ● Dumbbell bench press
● Leg press ● Lunges When programming your workouts, you might want to consider the Boring But Big assistance routine that was suggested by Wendler. This works out your core, asks you to do heavy lifts, and then do 5 sets of 10 reps with the same exercise. Follow this up with another exercise of assistance work for 5 sets of 10 reps. Here’s an example of a squat day: ● Squat – Core sets ● Squat – 5 sets/10 reps ● Lunge – 5 sets/10 reps If you’re wondering how much weight you need for your 10-rep sets, Wendler highly recommends that you begin with light weights – about 40% to 50% of your 1-rep max – and then gradually work your way up from this point. How heavy you ultimately achieve all depends on you. Work up to weight amounts that allow you to have at least 8 but no more than 10 reps. 5/3/1 Benefits This method promises a basic method for steady and slow gains in strength. As it steadily increases the intensity, you can expect to progress throughout every cycle. It needs your dedication so commit to staying on the cycle so you can enjoy those steady gains.
Intermediate Training Possibilities Just like the term novice or beginner, intermediate is also a descriptive label used to describe where you are now in terms of your strength training. Now, don’t get me wrong – the whole point of this phase is not to make you an advanced lifter, rather, a trained lifter. You’re done playing catch up on your novice phase. Now, you’re going to set new targets, and your PRs are going to take on different forms. There are now volume PRs, and there are even competition PRs. The latter is an unexplored realm that you could use to keep
the fire in your strength training. Allow me to quote C.S. Lewis here to explain the trap that weightlifters sometimes create for themselves, “[The damned] enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded and are therefore self-enslaved.” You build your cage when you turn into a program hopper. This is the biggest mistake that you could probably make as an intermediate lifter. As you do this, your progress slows down, and so you keep trying something new. So, don’t start with Texas method only to skip to the 5/3/1 method, midtraining, or maybe you’re just plain tired in hitting PRs all the time, so you decide to try volume because you might be more responsive to it. Here’s a tip – just hit the heavy singles on each of your strength-training sessions. There is nothing wrong with the way that the intermediate lifter programs are structured; it is up to you to make them right for you. Also, remember that those small changes need time to work. Give ample time to observe your body’s response to the small changes that you made from your beginner to intermediate strength training. Remember that consistency will always be king. Let me repeat that – consistency will always be king. There was this 1980s Dunkin’ Donuts commercial where Fred the baker was shown leaving his house early in the morning, every single day, rain or shine. He always muttered: “Time to make the donuts.” Now is your time to make your training a part of who you are. It is not just something that you do anymore. Its value should be intrinsic to your daily schedule. So, keep going to the gym – you’ve done this long enough already – do your work, chip away at your goals, and keep being consistent. Stay healthy as well. As you already know, proper strength training means eating the right kinds of foods and adding the right kinds of supplements. Lastly, where else would your intermediate phase lead you but the advanced phase, right? These lifters comprise the top 10% of strength athletes. These are the people who compete at the highest levels, and they are the most committed to their strength training.
Are you ready to prioritize and sacrifice? This entails more than just showing up for your strength-training sessions. It requires that you not miss any of your training sessions anymore. Understand that what you do (or not do) has a huge impact on your achievements. So, are you ready to make a difference?
Chapter 10: The Ultimate Chest Workout When you start building your chest muscles, it does more than simply improving your physique by giving you bigger pecs (for men) and a more toned and shapelier chest (for women). You use your chest muscles to move your arms across the body and up and down. You also use them when you perform other movements. It helps in functions we perform throughout the day and the moves you need in a variety of exercises. Your chest comprises a large muscle group, so when you do a chest workout, you essentially do a warm-up for your other exercises and also burn calories. Let us begin by understanding the chest muscles before we look at the exercises.
The Chest Muscles Our chest muscles are made up of the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The Pectoralis major is further classified into two parts: ● The upper portion called the clavicular head ● The lower portion called the sternocostal head The former attaches the upper arm to the collarbone, and the latter attaches the upper arm to the rib cage and the breastbone. Pectoralis minor, on the other hand, is a muscle that attaches the upper ribs to the shoulder blade. This muscle is under the pectoralis major, and it moves the shoulder blade toward the middle of the chest. But why do we need to understand these muscles? Well, when you know how a muscle is tied to the skeleton, you will know the exercises that will affect it.
Things to Do to Build the Perfect Chest Target Both Upper and Lower Chest You should focus on every muscle in the upper and lower sections of your chest. The following are the best ways to do this. ● Include the close and reverse-grip bench press to your training. These
exercises work better than the standard bench press because they use all the muscles in the upper chest. ●
Include the incline bench press because research indicates that this exercise, like the reverse-grip bench press, works on all the muscles in the upper chest.
Train with heavyweights as this activates all the muscles in the upper chest, especially the pectoralis major.
Focus on Compound Exercises and Heavy Weights You can improve the strength of your muscles and stamina through heavy compound resistance training. So, if you want a defined, toned, or big chest, do a lot of heavy chest pressing and training. What is heavy pressing? You need to work with weights in the range of 70% to 80% of one repetition max, which means that your sets should be really difficult. You can also perform compound exercises as these involve multiple joints and muscles. For instance, when you perform a bench press, you will use the muscles in your pecs, elbow joints, and shoulder. You will also use your legs and back to a slight degree. Isolation exercises, on the other hand, only involve one muscle or a couple at the most. Do 1 to 3 Chest Workouts Every Week If you want to maximize muscle strength and gain, train every muscle group in your body at least twice a week. Research shows that it is not necessary for you to worry about the frequency as it does not play a major role when it comes to improving muscle strength. You need to focus on your volume of training. It does not matter if you break the workout into individual or smaller workouts. Make sure that you complete enough hard sets every week and train each muscle group. How many hard sets should you complete each week if you want to build muscles in your chest? If your workout emphasizes heavy weights, i.e., 70% to 80% of 1RM, the optimal volume of the workout should be anywhere between 9 and 15 sets. This also applies to all the other muscle groups in your body. Ensure that you get enough sleep, eat the right food, and push for progressive overload before you increase your training
frequency and volume.
Best Chest Exercises This section covers the list of chest exercises that you can perform. Flat Barbell Bench Press The flat barbell bench press is one of the few upper body exercises that allows you to train the triceps, pectorals, and shoulders. You can activate all the muscles in your upper body if you use heavy weights while performing this exercise. When you activate the muscles, you can increase your muscle strength in a few weeks or months, depending on the weight you lift. The bench press is a simple but technical exercise. That’s why learning the proper form is crucial. Experts recommend that you perform this exercise at the start of your training as it will tire your body. The foundation or base of any effective workout is the barbell bench press. It is important that you learn the right posture and maintain it when you perform the exercise. The Bench Press Setup Lie down comfortably on the bench, and ensure that your eyes are directly under the bar. Adjust your torso if you need to. After that, raise your chest, tuck down your shoulder blades and squeeze them. Imagine yourself if you were pulling your shoulder blades in your back pocket. This will help you tighten the muscles in your upper back. Once you are in this position, place your hands on the bar, slightly wider than the distance between your shoulders. Now, if you put your hands too close together, you will exercise the pecs and not the triceps. If you place them too far apart, then you will reduce the effectiveness and range of the motion of the exercise. This will increase the risk of injury. Remember to bring the bar closer to your wrists. To do this, you need to bend your wrists, so the bar settles comfortably in your palms. If you are unsure of your posture, ask a friend to help you out. He can check the position of your forearms while you perform the movement. Ask him to check the width at the
bottom of the movement. Ensure that your friend stands behind you to measure the width. Your forearms should be as straight as possible. Make sure that your index finger and thumb are close to each other when you perform this exercise. Now, arch your back slightly, and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Your feet must be shoulder-width apart. When you move the bar, your back will arch naturally when you push your chest forward. Maintain that arch. Ensure that your thighs are parallel to the floor, and the knee is in the same line as the ankle. This will help you place your heels firmly on the ground as you ascend. Now, slowly remove the bar from the rack. Lock your elbows, and move the bar until you hold it directly over your shoulders. The bar is finally in place. Now, take a deep breath, and move your knees apart. Squeeze the bar tightly, and prepare yourself to lower the bar. The Bench Press Descent Tuck your elbows properly when you descend the bar. Most people tend to push their elbows away from their bodies. This can lead to a shoulder injury. Another mistake is when you press your elbows to your torso. This position will reduce your stability and strength and can hurt your elbows. Make sure that your elbow is at a thirty- or sixty-degree angle with your torso during your descent. That will protect your shoulder from injury and provide a strong and stable position to press. Keep your elbows tucked, and lower the bar slowly to your chest. Lower the bar to a height slightly above your nipples. Move the bar down in a straight line. Do not move it toward your belly button or face. Once the bar touches your chest, you can perform another repetition. The Bench Press Ascent This exercise is termed the bench press assent, but it is more like pushing than pressing. Imagine pushing yourself away from the bar but on the bench. This movement will help you maximize your power and minimize the strain on your muscles. Press your shoulder blades down, tuck your elbows, arch your lower back slightly, and place your feet firmly on the ground and your butt on the bench while you push the bar against your chest. You should move the bar up
toward your shoulders. You are ending the movement where you began. You can move the bar in a slightly diagonal motion if you want to. This is the end of one repetition. When you are done with one set, place the bar on the rack. Before you place the bar back, you need to press it above your shoulders while your elbows are locked. Now, place the bar on the stand. Incline Barbell Bench Press This exercise is a slight variation from the one described above. Once you master the previous movement, you should perform this exercise because it builds muscle in your shoulder and upper chest. Make sure to incline the bench by 45 degrees when you perform this exercise. Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press A close-grip bench press is like the flat barbell bench press. This variation will involve the use of pecs and focuses more on the triceps when compared to the standard bench press. This is one of the most effective ways to activate the muscles in the upper chest. When you perform this exercise, you need to maintain a closer grip when compared to the regular bench press. Apart from this change to the grip, there is no other change you need to make to the exercise. You will need to follow the same steps as the regular bench press. Place your hands on the bar, and ensure that the width is slightly inside your shoulders. You also must ensure that your wrists and shoulders are never in a dangerous position. If you are uncomfortable, stop the exercise, and try again. When you dip the bar lower, you need to increase the width between your hands by one finger if you feel uncomfortable. Try the exercise again. Reverse-Grip Barbell Bench Press Most people overlook this exercise. This is a variation of the standard bench press. If you want to perform this exercise, you need to flip the grip in the bar so that your palms face you. Research shows that this press is not an easy exercise to perform. It is also ineffective if you do not perform well. The reverse-grip bench press will feel a little awkward at the start. When you begin the exercise, make sure to use less weight. People often feel that they can move more weight when they use a normal grip.
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press This exercise is like the barbell bench press, and the only difference is that you should hold one dumbbell in each hand. Ensure that you do not press the bar using both hands. This is not a great way to perform the exercise, but research shows that this exercise is effective when it comes to building and strengthening the muscles in your chest. This exercise is better than the barbell pressing exercise. Firstly, it allows you to maintain a larger range of motion. Secondly, you can position your wrist where it is comfortable. Lastly, this exercise is also easier on your joints. However, with every pro comes a con – the dumbbell bench press will require you to maintain more balance. This means that you cannot use too much weight when you perform this exercise. It also needs a fair amount of energy to get the heavy dumbbells into position. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press This bench press is identical to the flat dumbbell bench press, except that it’s performed on a 30- to 45-degree incline. It gives you a combination of the benefits of the incline and dumbbell bench press. They include an increase in the range of motion, more emphasis on the shoulders, a more comfortable grip, and a break to your joints from pounding the barbell bench press. Dip This is one of the best bodyweight exercises that you can perform to strengthen your upper body. It is a compound exercise where you grab two parallel bars, hoist yourself up, and lower your entire body by bending your elbows. It helps train your chest, shoulders, and triceps and can be loaded with a dip belt to increase difficulty levels. Avoid swinging when you perform the dip as it takes the emphasis off the muscles that you actually have to work. Try to avoid flaring out your elbows, and avoid half reps. Instead, challenge your muscles by bringing your triceps parallel to the ground and then extend them at the top. Low Cable Chest Fly
The chest fly isn’t a great chest exercise, but it is one of the better isolation exercises that you can include in your workouts. It is mainly for people who experience discomfort in their joints while performing a bench press. It places a lot of tension on the muscle through the entire range of motion, giving you uninterrupted time under tension and a huge pump, both of which help optimize muscle growth. Dumbbell Chest Fly The dumbbell chest fly is an exercise that is similar to the cable fly. This is performed while you lie down on a bench. You need to use dumbbells. The only issue with this exercise is that it is hard on your shoulders. It can be slightly difficult to perform this exercise when you begin to use heavier weights. Push-Up This is one of the most popular and possibly the oldest exercise that instructors want people to perform. You can perform this exercise anywhere, without much requirement. You can always add more variations to it if you want to make it more challenging. The only issue is that it will be harder to increase the difficulty of the exercise while you progress. This will make it an excellent way to ease your way into maintaining your fitness and improving it.
3 Good Upper and Lower Chest Workouts The exercises under this section adhere to all the criteria for effective chest workouts. These exercises also include combinations and compound exercises for both the upper and lower parts of the chest. The given workouts involve two compound exercises followed by one isolation exercise. Depending on how often you want to exercise your chest, you can pick a routine for 1, 2, or 3 days a week. Once-a-Week Chest Workout Routine Workout One
Exercise Flat Barbell Bench Press Incline Barbell Bench Press Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Triceps Pushdown
Sets 3-4 3 3 3
Reps 4-6 6 4-6 4-6
Weight Load 80% of 1 RM 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM
Twice-a-Week Chest Workout Workout One Exercise Flat Barbell Bench Press Incline Barbell Bench Press Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Triceps Pushdown Workout Two Exercise Reverse-Grip Barbell Bench Press Flat Barbell Bench Press Dip Low Cable Chest Fly
Sets 3-4 3 3 3
Reps 4-6 6 4-6 4-6
Weight Load 80% of 1 RM 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM
Weight Load 80% of 1 RM
3 3 3
4-6 4-6 8-10
80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM 70% of 1RM
Sets 3 3 3 3
Reps 4-6 6 4-6 4-6
Weight Load 80% of 1 RM 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM
Thrice-a-Week Chest Workout Workout One Exercise Flat Barbell Bench Press Incline Barbell Bench Press Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Triceps Pushdown
Workout Two Exercise Reverse-Grip Barbell Bench Press Flat Barbell Bench Press Dip Low Cable Chest Fly Workout Three Exercise Flat Barbell Bench Press Incline Barbell Bench Press Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press Triceps Pushdown
Weight Load 80% of 1 RM
3 3 3
4-6 4-6 8-10
80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM 70% of 1RM
Sets 3 3 3
Reps 4-6 6 4-6
Weight Load 80% of 1 RM 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM
80% of 1RM
If you’re new to strength training, a once-a-week chest routine is a good start, but if you want to grow your chest soon, try working out your chest twice or thrice a week.
Common Mistakes During Chest Training The three common mistakes people make when they do chest workouts are as follows: Big Focus on the Wrong Chest Exercises People often focus only on isolation exercises and machines. These exercises do help with strengthening and building muscles in the shoulders, but they are not as good as compound exercises. Research shows that an isolation exercise like the dumbbell fly and cable crossover can activate the muscles in the chest. This does not mean that these exercises are better than compound exercises. The isolation exercises can activate the muscles in the chest, but they cannot activate the muscles for as long as a compound exercise. When
you add more weight while performing the exercise, you will find that it does not do much. You should ensure that you include compound exercises when you want to improve strength and size. One can’t get the desired chest with just isolation exercise. Heavy pressing is always involved. So, if you want to grow your chest as quickly as possible, you might want to spend more time and energy getting stronger on compound exercises like the bench press, incline bench press, and dips. Dedicate just a small portion of your work out on isolation exercises. Strong Focus on High-Repetition Training When you make this mistake, you will stunt the growth of every muscle group in your body. This is detrimental for smaller muscle groups like the pecs. You can use heavier weights to build the pectoral muscles. When your muscles reach their genetic limit, they will no longer grow. The only thing you can do is improve their strength. When you increase the number of repetitions that you perform, you need to take every set close to muscular failure. Make sure that you push your muscles as much as you can since that will force them to grow and strengthen. However, you don’t have to push as hard because you can simply train with heavier weights, which is equally effective and far less grueling. So, if you want to build your chest as fast as possible, you should focus on lifting weights. You can repeat the exercises 4, 6, 8, or 10 times. Make sure only to perform 1 to 3 sets to avoid muscle failure. Neglect Progressive Overload The rule of thumb to get a bigger and stronger chest is to progressively overload your muscles because if you don’t get that right, you will always have to struggle to develop your chest. But what is progressive overload? Progressive overload is increasing the amount of tension your muscles produce over time. The most effective way to do that is by progressively increasing the amount of weight that you’re lifting. So, make sure to add
weight or reps to your exercises over time to build muscle as quickly as possible.
Tips To get gain more strength and maximum results from your chest workouts, follow these tips. 1. When you hit the tip of your rep range, be it 4 or 6, then it is time to increase the weight. This is called “double progression,” and it’s one of the ways to overload your muscles progressively. 2. Rest about 2 to 4 minutes between each set because the important thing here is that you feel fully prepared to give your best on the following set. This also gives time for your muscles to recoup their strength so you put in the maximum effort. 3. Make sure you eat enough food, which includes both proteins, which will help you build muscle, and calories, which also play a big role. Warm up thoroughly. Take about 15 minutes of walking and jogging to visualize your workout better. Stretch out your entire body with more emphasis on the pecs to maximize flexibility. Focus! When you are training your muscles, just focus on that, and try to gain the maximum benefit out of it. Don’t use a conversation as a break because your muscles will lose all their pumps. Change your training angles. Just because the exercise calls for an incline does not mean you should stick to a 45-degree angle. Try to mix and match, and experiment a little. Adjust how you sit or place the handles if you are training on a machine.
Supplements to Grow an Ultimate Chest Supplements are not as important as proper training and diet. Unfortunately, this industry is plagued with hype, pseudoscience, misleading information, incorrect research, and advertisements. You cannot expect to build a great physique if you do not dedicate sufficient time for training. You must also focus on the type of food you eat. You must understand that companies
producing supplements often use junk or cheap products to reduce their costs. They also use marketing in the wrong way to attract clients. If you choose to take supplements, make sure to choose the right ones. What you must remember is that some natural and safe substances do help you improve muscle strength, increase muscle growth, and lose weight. That said, most products in the supermarket would not do this for you. Let us look at some supplements you can take to strengthen the muscles in your chest. Creatine This substance is found in red meat, and it improves muscle strength and helps to build muscle. This substance also reduces muscle soreness and damage and improves anaerobic endurance. Research shows that creatine does not have any harmful side effects if it is used for short periods. People with kidney issues must avoid taking this substance. Protein Powder If you include enough protein to your diet, you do not have to take any supplements. That being said, it is difficult to consume that much protein through whole foods because your body will need a lot of protein for muscle growth. You can consume whey protein if you like. Pre-Workout Drink A pre-workout drink will give you all the energy you need to work out well and train your muscles. There are some risks to drinking these, too. Most preworkout drinks have ingredients that do not improve your strength. It is for this reason that they are useless. If you want to drink a pre-workout drink, speak with a nutritionist, and ask which one is the best for you. Most people spend too much time in the gym working on their chest muscles. They may or may not even have the desired results. Women often avoid chest training because they do not want to bulk up. The only thing people need to do is make a few changes to their exercise regime so they get the desired results. Here are some tips you can consider if you want to build a stronger, symmetrical, and bigger chest:
● Perform at least 15 hard sets each week ● Target the upper and lower muscles in the chest ● Perform compound exercises instead of isolation exercises
Chapter 11: The Ultimate Back Workout Building a great back is quite hard but not impossible. It is not easy and does not happen overnight, but that does not mean you can’t achieve the back you want. Put in the required effort, and be patient. The back is one of the hardest muscle groups to train after the legs. The fact that you can’t see your back when training makes it hard to focus and correct your form. Back exercises create a sculpted back that looks good as you walk away, but they also have a deeper impact as a strong back keeps your posture pristine and your spine healthy. The reason why you should train your back muscles for posture is that most people sit for long hours at work, where our shoulders tend to roll forward.
Anatomy of the Back Muscles A huge combination of muscles makes up the back. When one refers to the upper back or thoracic spine, one is referring to the trapezius, rhomboids, teres muscles, infraspinatus, and the lats. On the other hand, when someone refers to the lower back or the lumbar spine, he or she is referring mainly to the erector spinae. Another reason why the back is a mystery is that it has a large surface area. The upper back, which is made of rhomboids and the trapezius, is very important for the scapular movement and, hence, the shoulders. The latissimus dorsi, which is the counterpart to the pectorals, attaches a little lower on the humerus and primarily contributes to retroflection, together with the triceps. The trapezius develops slowly and steadily because it is also a postural muscle, but as it is a large muscle, it takes some extra effort to stimulate it fully.
Simple Science of Effective Back Training People often make two big mistakes when working on their backs. One, they focus on the wrong exercises, and two, they do additional “pump training” and less strength training. In other words, people usually tend to spend more time on machines and
isolation exercises than on compound exercises like the barbell row and deadlift. Training to get a pump rather than getting stronger is one of the easiest ways to hit a plateau when working out your back. Now, if you want to build muscle consistently and effectively, you should focus on heavy (80% to 85% of your 1 RM) compound weightlifting. In terms of back workouts, that means you shift your attention to the heavy barbell, dumbbell pulling, and a few pull-ups and certain machines. However, what more can be done? When it comes to working on the back muscles, you need to consider genetics, workout history, and how dedicated you can be. You must train your back muscles every day, so you do not have to take any steroids to build a better back. When it comes to strengthening your back muscles, you must focus on lifting heavy weights. When I say heavy, I mean, you need to lift weights that you can only lift four or five times in one set. You must pay attention to how you perform these exercises, and also ensure that you increase the weight you lift progressively. This is called progressive overload. You must understand that you will not get bigger if you are not stronger. It is only through progressive overload that you can build muscles naturally. This means you need to increase the tension you put on the muscles over time. It is easy to do this as you only need to add more weight to the bar. So, how do you do this? You must work with a specific weight until you reach a certain number of repetitions, after which you need to increase the weight you lift. It is better to do this with some exercises than others. A deadlift is better than a standing lateral pushdown, and a front pull down is better than a behind-theneck pull down. You must ensure that you never train your back muscles too little or too much. You also need to understand that you must get the back workout right. You also must ensure that you lift the correct weight and meet your total repetition goals per week. If the volume is too low each week, you will find yourself gaining less muscle. If the volume is too high, you will fall behind when it comes to recovery. You will also struggle with muscle failure if you over train the muscles. This will mean that you gain very little muscle. It is difficult to find the sweet spot when you train your back. This is especially true when you need to perform exercises using heavy weights. All you must remember is to lift heavy weights and increase the number of
repetitions you perform in each set. You must also give your body sufficient time to rest. This is especially true for when you perform deadlifts. It is one of the toughest exercises and uses a lot of strength and energy. Many people have tried to split their workouts and change the frequency. If you are starting with weight training, it is better for you to train with heavy weights at least five times a week. Ensure that you complete 70 repetitions each week. This rule will apply to every muscle group in your body, both major and minor, and not only the muscles in the back.
The Best Back Exercises You can choose from a wide variety of exercises, but only some of them have the desired impact on the body. Deadlift This is one of the toughest exercises, but it is one of the best exercises to strengthen your back and shoulder muscles. This is one of the best exercises to perform because it works on all muscles in your body because you must lift a heavy load. You can strengthen the muscles in your back if you perform deadlifts. You must ensure that you maintain the right form and posture. People often avoid performing this exercise because they believe it is bad for the muscles in the lower body. These fears are rational when you think about it. It is difficult to lift heavy weights from the ground because you will strain your back. Research, however, shows otherwise. Deadlifts are a good exercise to improve muscle strength in the lower back to build muscle. The only thing you need to worry about is your posture. That being said, if you have issues with your lower back, you need to check with your physician to see if there is an alternate exercise you can perform. Let us now look at how to perform the deadlift. How to Deadlift This is a technical movement, and it is for this reason that people hate performing this exercise. The only thing they need to do is maintain the right form. Let’s look at it step by step:
1. Make sure to position your feet firmly on the ground. Your feet should be within shoulder-width. Slightly turn your toes outward, but stick to what is most comfortable for you. 2. Now, position the bar slightly above the middle of your feet and close to your shin. The important thing to remember is that your shoulders must be in line with the bar. You can move your shoulders slightly behind the bar if that is better for you. This will make it easier for you to pull the bar up and place it back down. 3. People often make the mistake of holding the bar very close to their bodies. They do this by placing their shoulders in front of the bar. If you do this, you will need to put too much pressure on your knees. This will affect your stability and make it seem like you will fall forward. 4. Taller or skinnier lifters generally hold the bar close to their shin or up against it because it is easier for them to do this. Shorter and heavier lifters hold the bar above the middle of their feet. 5. You should stand tall, and push your chest out. Take a deep breath, and tighten the muscles in your core. This is very important to do because it will help to stabilize the muscles in your lower back. It will prepare you for the pull. 6. You should move towards the bar, and push your hips back. Make sure that you do not squat quickly. You must arch your lower back slightly, and lower your shoulders. Do not lower the hips too much when you squat, only to hold the position. If your hips are too low or at the bottom, you must rise before you can lift the bar off the floor. You will only waste energy and strength if you do this. Make sure that your glutes and hamstrings are engaged and tight. 7. Now, place your hands on the bar, away from your shins. You can either use the over underhand or double overhand grip to perform this exercise. Regardless of how you choose to hold the bar, you must ensure that you squeeze it. You should engage the lats, and remember to keep the shoulders down. 8. Do not move your head toward either side, and ensure that you look
straight ahead. 9. You should place your heels firmly on the ground, and move your body upward. You must ensure that your body does not dip too much. When you perform the lift, you should focus on pushing your hips to the bar. Now, arch your back a little, and lock the elbows. Lift the hips and shoulders at the same time. Make sure that you do not push your hips up without moving your shoulders up. 10. Now, when you are at the top, you must push your hips into the bar, and squeeze your glutes. You must ensure that you maintain a tight core when you hold the bar on top. Remember to never release the tension in your core. 11. Make sure that you do not bend your knees. When you hold this for some time, you can descend. You first need to release your hips, and slowly squat or lower your body like you did when you were starting the exercise. 12. While you descend, ensure that you maintain a tight lower back and core. Slowly lower the bar, and move your shoulders down. The repetition is complete once the bar is on the ground. 13. Reset and recharge for your next rep.
Remember that you are performing deadlifts. You cannot use the ground to help you perform the exercise. Never let the bar bounce off the ground. Pick up the dead weight without the momentum the floor bounce offers. When you place the bar down, breathe out, and start with the next rep. Types of Deadlifts Sumo Deadlift This is like the traditional deadlift but uses a wide stance, which is about 1.5 to 2 times the width of your shoulders. This wide stance shortens the range of motion and keeps the torso more upright, which helps to decrease the shearing force that you place on the spine. This does not mean that the sumo deadlift is easier to perform than the traditional deadlift. The difference
between these two exercises is minimal, but a sumo deadlift is easier on the lower back, but it focuses more on the quads. You should choose the workout that is better for you when it comes to the sumo and conventional deadlift. It will boil down to biomechanics. Hex Bar Deadlift The hex bar deadlift is exactly what it sounds like. You must lift weights using a hex or trap bar. This is one of the easiest ways to learn how to lift weights. You do not have to put too much pressure on your hip or ankle, unlike the conventional or sumo pulling. You put little stress on your spine. When you perform this exercise, you can lift heavier weights. For this reason, this exercise is effective when it comes to helping you to improve your body strength. Barbell Row The barbell row, like the deadlift, is a staple exercise in multiple weightlifting programs because it works all the muscles in your body, from top to bottom. Pendlay Barbell Row – Most people prefer to perform this exercise because it allows for a larger range of motion. This will mean that you can work your upper back muscles better. You do not have to worry about stressing your lower back too much. All you must do is maintain the right form and perform deadlifts every week. If you do this, you will not have to row too much. You can stick to the traditional row if you cannot perform the Pendlay row. Dumbbell Row This is another compound exercise that is great for the muscles in your back, especially the lats. The dumbbell row will help to increase your muscle mass and the overall strength of the back. It will also improve your performance and increase hypertrophy and arm strength. During this workout, you will work on the latissimus dorsi or the lats. These are the major muscle groups worked on during this exercise. The dumbbell row also engages the muscles in the arms, back, and shoulders. T-Bar Row
This is another type of row that is a solid back builder. This exercise focuses mainly on the lateral muscles, but it also works on the major muscle groups in the back. These include the trapezius, erector spine, and teres major. This movement also focuses on the muscles in your shoulders and arms. This exercise is one of the best ways to build strength and power. You can also pull more weight if you want to build power and strength. You can use this exercise to lift heavier weights and build bigger and stronger muscles. However, when performing the T-bar row, have the correct form so that you can avoid a back injury. You have to maintain a neutral spine and not rely on your ligaments as it can lead to injuries. So, keep your back straight and protect it. Chin-Up and Pull-Up Chin-ups and pull-ups are a part of every type of back workout. They help train all your back muscles and also engage your biceps significantly. You can perform different variations of the pull-up exercises, but you must understand how to perform the workout before you move onto the advanced variations. Apart from the type of exercise, there are some differences between these two exercises: 1. When you perform a pull-up, you need to maintain an overhand grip. In this position, your palms will face outward. When you perform the chin-up, you can use the neutral grip, where your palms face inward. 2. There are differences in these movements. Both exercises use a vertical pulling movement, but the effect of these exercises on the back is different. When you perform a pull-up, you need to pull your elbows down to your sides. They need to go slightly toward your body. This means that this exercise uses shoulder adduction. A chin-up will use shoulder extension where the elbows must be pulled downward, but your elbows should not move to the back. Different muscles get affected in both exercises – while chin-ups hit your biceps a little harder, pull-ups affect your lats more than
your biceps. Lat Pull-down (Wide and Close Grip) The lat pull-down is a machine exercise and a variant of the pull-up, which allows you to adjust the weight you are planning to pull. This exercise is a compound exercise, and it works many muscles and joints at the same time. When you perform this exercise, you will work the lats, but the biceps and forearms also are used to help you perform the exercise. Several rotator cuff muscles also come in to help when you pull the bar down. Avoid using your forearms and, instead, use your back. Remember to perform this exercise carefully, and maintain the right form. Doing it fast needs momentum and reduces the use of targeted muscles. Seated Cable Row (Wide and Close Grip) This is another exercise that will help you build the muscles in your upper back. It is another pulling exercise that works on the back muscles, especially the lateral muscles. This exercise also works on the muscles in the upper arm and forearm, as the triceps and biceps are the stabilizers in the exercise. You should perform this exercise if you want to gain strength because it is an aerobic exercise. You must engage your core and also use your legs. Make sure to keep your back straight when you perform this exercise so you avoid straining your back. This also prevents injury. You must be cautious if you have suffered from injuries in the past. Standing Pushdown This is an extremely good isolation exercise that you can perform to train the lateral muscles. This exercise will increase your range of motion and also improve your posture when you perform any pull-down exercises. You can increase the range of motion by adding a long rope or using two handles. Remember that progression is the key. Your goal is not only to perform the exercise but also to progress on it. If you recall from earlier, we mentioned that the best way to increase the weights you lift and improve your strength is to use progressive weights. As a weightlifter, your primary goal must be to increase your strength. So, get stronger on the exercises as mentioned; eat enough food, and you will make gains.
The Ultimate Back Workout A back workout that is designed well will include compound exercises to train all the muscles in the lower and upper back. You can include some isolation exercises, but ensure they are always followed by a compound exercise. The following is a sample of a good back workout. You can perform the exercises at least five times a week for a month and see how your body responds. 1. Warm-up 2. Three sets of deadlifts with 6 repetitions 3. Three sets of barbell row with 6 repetitions 4. Three sets of wide-grip pull with 6 repetitions (gradually increase the weight after each set) 5. Three sets of one-arm dumbbell rows with 6 repetitions
Tips 1. You can choose to perform optional sets if you like. If you have been lifting for quite some time, you can perform the final three sets. You can also do this if you feel like you have more energy at the end of your workout. Nine heavy sets for every workout is plenty. You can add more weights when you meet the target range. That is how you ensure your progress over time. It’s vitally important. 2. Rest 3 minutes in between sets. This might feel like a lot of standing around, but resting is an essential part of weightlifting. It is during the resting phase that your body will recoup its energy and strength. It is only when you regain your strength that you can give your maximum strength in every set. 3. Make sure you consume enough food. People are aware that they must increase their protein intake, and that is the only way they can maximize the growth of muscles. What they tend to forget is that their caloric intake also plays a major role in helping them increase their strength.
4. Focus on the range of motion throughout the movement. You need to understand when to pause, hold, and squeeze. This will help engage your middle and upper back muscles for optimum effect. 5. Unlike with chest workouts, the grip is very important for back workouts. Use straps or chalks to strengthen your grip. 6. Avoid a sore back, but how? Consider foam rolling. It is a DIY massage, except it is not as relaxing as it sounds. It helps break down the fibroid tissue, improve circulation, and reduce muscle soreness. In many ways, back training is very similar to leg training. You’re dealing with the largest muscle group in your body, and it takes a tremendous amount of hard work to develop these muscles fully. There are no shortcuts or “secrets.” You’re not going to have the dream back in a few weeks or a few months. However, keep showing up and keep progressing with your pulling, and you will get there.
Chapter 12: Ultimate Shoulder Workout You cannot complete your upper body workout without developing your shoulders. It does not matter how big your arms, chest, or back is or even how great your legs are if you don’t have big, strong, defined delts. The reality is that anyone who claims that building impressive shoulders is on the easier side is simply lying. It takes a lot of work and patience. However, why do you need to exercise your shoulders? Strong shoulders help you with everyday tasks, such as lifting heavy objects or playing sports. You’ll also be less likely to injure yourself when you are working out. Having well-developed and strong shoulders indicates strength and good health because you have lots of upper body muscle mass. Best of all, it gives you a great deal of self-confidence.
Understanding Shoulder Anatomy Your shoulders are made of three major muscles known as deltoids – lateral deltoids, posterior deltoids, and anterior deltoids. It is very important to develop all three portions of this muscle because even if just one is lagging, it will be quite obvious. Both the posterior and lateral deltoids need a lot of work because the anterior deltoids get trained to a certain extent in a good chest workout, and nobody, mind you, nobody skips chest day. However, chest training doesn’t train the other two deltoid heads enough.
How to Make Shoulder Training Effective You don’t need to take steroids or other drugs to strengthen or build muscles in your shoulders. You only need to have the right information, patience, and a little hard work. The strategy is three-fold. Target the Posterior and Side Deltoids You must focus on the rear and side deltoids during your training. You will work your front deltoids during chest workouts, so you do not have to focus too much on them. The following are some tips you can use to target all the
muscles in your shoulders: ●
If you are working your chest out twice a week, you will already be performing the incline and bench press exercises. It is best to perform these exercises at least thrice a week.
Make sure to include exercises that involve shoulder extension and abduction. These exercises will train and work on your side and rear deltoids.
Train using heavier weights. Research indicates that this will activate all muscles in your shoulders.
Lift More Weights and Perform Compound Exercises You must remember that the focus must always be on strengthening the muscles in your body. When you do this, you can increase muscle size. You must understand that you cannot strengthen your muscles and increase their size at the same time if you do not lift the right weight. When you slowly increase the weight you lift, you can build muscles and increase their strength. You will note that the two go hand-in-hand. It is for this reason that you must perform heavy resistance and compound exercises if you want to become stronger. If you adhere to this rule, you can build and strengthen the muscles in every group. If you want defined and big shoulders, you must work on strengthening the muscles in your shoulders. You need to include heavy pressing and lifting exercises to your training program. When it comes to heavy lifting or pressing, you must work with heavier weights. For instance, if you lift 20 pounds now, you must increase the weight you lift by 80%. This will push your muscles to work harder until they reach the brink of failure. The minute you feel your muscles are failing, you must stop the exercise. When it comes to compound exercises, you will focus on multiple muscles and joints, so you need to be extra careful. These exercises are not like isolation exercises that focus only on one muscle group and joint. Add Shoulder Workouts to your Exercise Regime You should train your shoulder muscles at least twice a week to improve muscle strength and to gain new muscle. That said, research shows that the
workout frequency and the number of times you train a specific muscle group does not improve strength and help you gain muscle. What is more important is the training volume every week and the number of hard sets you perform. A hard set is one where you push your muscles by using heavier weights. You need to push your muscles close to failure and stop. If you perform enough hard sets each week and target specific muscle groups, you do not have to worry about the frequency of your workout. What this means is that you will gain the same amount of muscle if you perform 12 hard sets on Wednesday or 4 hard sets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. How many hard sets do you think you must perform to develop great shoulders? You should perform at least 15 hard sets if you want to lift heavy weights alone. Remember that this applies to every muscle group in your body. Make sure to overload progressively before you increase the training volume or frequency. You must eat enough food, and make sure to get enough sleep.
The Best Shoulder Exercises You can include numerous shoulder exercises to your exercise regime, but some show results faster than others. This chapter includes the best shoulder exercises you should include in your regime. Seated or Standing Overhead Press The most effective exercises you can perform are the dumbbell and barbell presses. These exercises help you build muscles in your shoulder because they focus on the deltoids. You can lift and push heavy weights when you perform this exercise without increasing the risk of a muscle tear or damage to your shoulders. Research shows that the dumbbell press will activate the muscles in the shoulders more than the barbell press. The overall difference, however, is very small. Barbell and dumbbell presses are similar to the bench press, and they are complementary exercises. You must ensure that you maintain the right form and posture to obtain the best results. Start off with performing heavy barbell presses before you perform dumbbell presses. The former will ensure that your body is stable while you perform the exercise, which will reduce the probability of damage. The standing and seated barbell press are two variations of this exercise. Try to perform both
exercises. You will find that it is harder to perform the standing overhead press because you do not have too much support. Experts say it is a good idea to include the standing barbell press to your workout. This exercise will help you train all the muscle groups in your body. You must also be aware of some drawbacks of this workout: a. The weight you lift will be lower b. You must be careful if you choose to increase the weight you lift c. It is harder to perfect or improve your form when you perform the standing overhead press. When you perform the standing overhead press, you will put more pressure on your back and core muscles. It is for this reason that people choose to perform the seated press. This means that you should not lift too much weight. If you have bad form, it will increase the chances of injury. So, before you choose to perform this exercise, you need to lift heavier weights. Therefore, you need to perfect the seated overhead press before you move on to the standing overhead press. Arnold Press This exercise is like the traditional dumbbell press, but it is a variation that will allow you to increase your range of motion. As the name suggests, this exercise is named so because the star used the movement to build the three key shoulder muscles. This exercise requires a rotational movement when doing the press portion of the lift. This movement will help you increase your shoulder stability and target the muscles in your shoulder at the bottom of the lift. Dumbbell Front Raise This is an effective exercise for targeting the anterior deltoid and is great for beginner training. It primarily strengthens the shoulder, but it also works on the muscles in the upper portion of your chest. This is another isolation exercise that will help you focus on the front and sides of the shoulder. It also improves shoulder flexion.
You should never sway or rock your body when you perform this exercise. Maintain a stationary and strong torso. You should also avoid using your momentum to lift the weights. This will reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise You should perform this exercise if you want to build the lateral deltoid muscles. You need to build them if you want to keep up with the anterior head. However, pressing alone won’t help. This should be incorporated into upper-body strength training routines, and they should be performed after compound exercises that incorporate the shoulder. When the muscles in your shoulders become stronger, it will be harder for you to maintain proper posture when you perform the exercise. This is especially true when you lift the dumbbells at the same time. Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise One of the weakest and smallest muscle groups is the posterior deltoid, so ensure you do not neglect this muscle group. If you want to build your shoulder muscles and strengthen them, you need to train the rear deltoids. The dumbbell rear lateral raise is one of the best ways to do this. The rear deltoid lateral raise works some more muscles like the rhomboids, which are responsible for improving your posture. This exercise will pull your shoulder blades together, thereby improving your posture. Barbell Rear Delt Row This movement targets the muscles in your shoulders and upper back. You need to perform this exercise with a lighter weight when compared to the exercise performed with a barbell row. You should only perform 15 repetitions in a set. It mainly targets the posterior deltoids. Face Pull This is a great exercise if you are looking to strengthen both your rotator cuff
muscles and posterior deltoids. When you exercise the posterior deltoids, you can build overall shoulder strength. This exercise will ensure that you strengthen every muscle equally. When you perform this exercise, you need to pull the weight toward your forehead. It is not difficult to perform this exercise. You must pay attention to your form. Include this exercise on days when you focus on your upper body. Flat and Incline Barbell Bench Press People often confuse this with a chest exercise. Research shows that the flat and incline barbell bench press is one of the easiest ways to build and grow the muscles in your shoulders. Progression is the key to muscle growth. These eight exercises will help you build strong, functional, and full shoulders. The key isn’t just doing the exercises mentioned above; it is about improving and increasing the weights you can lift.
The 3 Best Shoulder Workout Routines The workouts mentioned below check each of the important boxes that are needed for effective shoulder training: 1. Every exercise in the training will focus on all three deltoids through isolation and compound exercises 2. There is a lot of heavy lifting to do 3. The exercises will focus on the concept of progressive overload Every pressing exercise will help you train the muscles in your shoulder. You need to bear in mind that when you train your chest, you can slowly begin to train your shoulders. For example, if you are training the chest twice every week, you cannot work your shoulders twice a week, too. This will become too much for your body. It is for this reason that you should consider every pressing workout also as a shoulder workout. Once you do this, you can schedule a dedicated shoulder workout. Make sure to never include more than one shoulder workout during the week. If, however, you are training your chest once a week but want to focus on
growing the muscles in your shoulders, you can complete at least two shoulder workouts every week. Once-a-Week Shoulder Workout Routine Workout One Exercise Seated or Standing Barbell Overhead Press Incline Barbell Bench Press Incline Dumbbell Bench Press Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise
Sets 3 hard sets
Weight Load 80% of 1RM
3 hard sets 3 hard sets
80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM
3 hard sets
80% of 1RM
Reps 4-6 4-6
Weight Load 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM
3 hard sets 3 hard sets
70% of 1RM 70% of 1RM
Workout Two Exercise Sets Seated or Standing Overhead 3 hard sets Press
Weight Load 80% of 1RM
4-6 8-10 8-10
80% of 1RM 70% of 1RM 70% of 1RM
Twice-a-Week Shoulder Workout Routine Workout One Exercise Sets Barbell Bench Press 3 hard sets Seated Dumbbell Overhead 3 hard sets Press Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise Face Pull
Arnold Press Barbell Rear Delt Row Dumbbell Front Raise
3 hard sets 3 hard sets 3 hard sets
Thrice-a-Week Shoulder Workout Routine
Workout One Exercise Sets Barbell Bench Press 3 hard sets Seated Dumbbell Overhead 3 hard sets Press
Reps 4-6 4-6
Weight Load 80% of 1RM 80% of 1RM
3 hard sets 3 hard sets
70% of 1RM 70% of 1RM
Workout Two Exercise Sets Seated or Standing Overhead 3 hard sets Press
Weight Load 80% of 1RM
3 hard sets 3 hard sets 3 hard sets
4-6 8-10 8-10
80% of 1RM 70% of 1RM 70% of 1RM
Sets Bench 3 hard sets
Weight Load 80% of 1RM
4-6 8-10 8-10
80% of 1RM 70% of 1RM 70% of 1RM
Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise Face Pull
Arnold Press Dumbbell Side Raise Dumbbell Front Raise Workout Three Exercise Incline Dumbbell Press
Flat Bench Press Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise Dumbbell Rear Delt Row
3 hard sets 3 hard sets 3 hard sets
You should keep things simple. The workout routines that are shared above will help you emphasize and focus more on the muscles in the shoulders. So, you can add these workouts to your routine, depending on how often you plan to train the muscles in your chest. You can also choose how often you want to perform a shoulder workout. However, make sure to get enough recovery time in between two shoulder workouts. You should start with shoulder routines once a week when you start strength
training for the first time. If you want to strengthen the muscles in your shoulders or already have some strength training under your belt, give the twice- or thrice-a-week chest routine a try.
Mistakes Made During Shoulder Training Most people make the following mistakes when they perform shoulder workouts: Focusing on the Wrong Shoulder Exercises People often focus only on machine and isolation exercises. Understand that these exercises are not as important as compound exercises if you want to build round, big, and strong deltoids. It is true that your shoulders are a smaller muscle group. Thus, people believe they can strengthen and build muscles in the shoulders through isolation exercises. When you think about this, it does make sense. That said, isolation exercises could cause many problems. When you perform isolation exercises, you cannot lift heavy weights. It is always better to perform compound exercises because they will allow you to lift heavy weights. Further research must be conducted to understand which type of exercise is better to strengthen the muscles in the shoulders. Expert trainers say that it is better to perform exercises that include heavy pressing to build muscles. If you want to understand why heavy pressing is better, you should ask a powerlifter how he or she builds his or her shoulder muscles. You must perform some isolation exercises to target only the muscles in the shoulders, but you should never let an isolation exercise be the focus in your training. You must include compound exercises, such as the dumbbell and barbell overload presses, if you want to build rounder, bigger, and stronger shoulders. Shift the focus from isolation exercises. Only Focusing on Pump or High-Rep Training When you make mistakes during training, you will stunt the growth of major muscle groups in the body. When the major muscle groups do not grow, you will exert the smaller muscle groups. You can increase muscle strength by lifting heavier weights. The only thing you must remember is that your
muscles have a genetic limit. They cannot grow beyond a point. When you reach that limit, you should focus on increasing strength. If you want to gain more muscle or increase muscle strength, you should perform exercises until you are close to muscle failure. This is the point where you will find it hard to move or lift weights. You can do this, but it is extremely difficult. If you want to understand how this will feel, perform a set of barbell benches, but increase your usual repetitions by 10. Know when to stop. If you push yourself too hard, it can lead to muscle failure. Stop when you feel like your muscles have stretched enough. Repeat this workout at least twice a week, and continue to perform it for a few months. Imagine what this would do to your muscles. Luckily, you do not have to do this because you train using heavy weights. Forgetting about Progressive Overload One of the easiest ways to build bigger and stronger shoulders is to increase the weight you lift. You need to add some stress to the muscles. If you do not do this correctly, you will find it hard to develop your muscles. When you use the progressive overload technique, you can increase the tension and stress that you put on your muscles over time. All you need to do is increase the weight you lift regularly. You must remember to work your muscles harder during training. The objective should be to increase the strength of your body over time.
Tips Here are a few tips and tricks on how to perform these workouts: Increase the Weight Increase the weight you lift when you hit the maximum repetitions you can lift. This is called a double progression. This is one of the best ways to overload your muscles progressively. For instance, if you complete six repetitions, you can then add five more pounds to the bar on each side. If you can complete four repetitions with the new weight, you should continue to work with this weight. Remember never to push yourself only because you want to increase the weight. Understand your body. You can remove five pounds if you are unable to perform more than three repetitions.
You can then see how the next set goes. If you still can do only 3 or fewer reps, reduce the weight further. Perform at least 6 repetitions in each set. Rest for about 2 to 4 minutes in between each set. Give your body enough time to prepare itself before you start the next set. Let it feel fully prepared so that you give your best. You may think that you need to stand around for quite some time, but when you rest properly, your muscles will repair themselves. It is only at this time that you can recuperate. Remember to Eat Enough It cannot be said enough that you should eat enough protein if you want to build muscle. Moreover, take your calorie intake into account if you want to improve your stamina and strength. Train the Cuff Many people notice the rotator cuff once it gets injured, but that is not right. One of the best ways to measure the strength of the rotator cuff is to rotate a dumbbell upward when you lie down sideways. Make sure to rotate the dumbbell against your butt. If you can move at least 8% of your incline bench weight, your rotator cuff is strong. The rotator cuff should be trained once a week with inward and outward rotation. Watch your Elbows When you perform an overhead press, ensure that you place your elbows directly under the bar. This way, you will only create tension on the deltoids. Make sure to never bend your wrist backward. They should only be in a neutral position. Sit Down The next time you are doing overhead presses, set the pins at the lowest level, and settle down on the floor close to the power rack. Your delts will work harder because you need to balance yourself. When you perform this exercise, you may need to reduce the weight by 40%.
Conclusion If you want to look bigger, you need to get big, strong, and defined deltoids, and for that, you have to avoid the following mistakes: 1. Focusing only on increasing the number of repetitions 2. Focusing on the incorrect shoulder exercises 3. Never progressing or increasing the weights that you lift In the same way, you can always go the other direction if you want. You can still guarantee good results. 1. Performing more compound exercises, and supplementing those with a few isolation exercises 2. Lifting very heavy weights 3. Ensuring you are progressing over time If you follow these principles, you cannot go wrong. You should focus on the following eight exercises: 1. Barbell rear delt row 2. Seated or standing overhead press 3. Dumbbell side lateral raise 4. Arnold press 5. Dumbbell front raise 6. Flat and incline barbell bench press 7. Dumbbell rear lateral raise 8. Face pull The objective is to remember that you should not only perform these exercises but also progress on them. You need to track your weights and also add more weight and increase your repetitions if you want to.
The main takeaway here is that the best way to build your shoulders is to increase your strength as fast as possible through a few key exercises. These exercises include the Arnold press, the side press, the dumbbell press, and barbell press.
Chapter 13: The Ultimate Leg Workout It is understandable if you are tempted to skip leg day. People do it all the time, and well, they are not happy. However, if you change your ways, you might actually come to enjoy your leg workouts. The truth is that it takes quite a bit of time, work, and patience to build an impressive set of legs, and it’s not a simple matter of doing more squats. Yes, squats are an important part of your leg workout, but there is more that needs to be done. When you train all the muscles in the lower half of your body, you will develop a balanced physique and also increase your overall strength. Have a good leg work out if you want to improve your overall fitness. You should always ensure that you train each muscle group at least three days a week. Routine activities like walking, climbing up the stairs, squatting or bending, and carrying heavy loads require the muscles in your lower body to work together so you can perform the exercise. If the muscles in your legs are weak, your daily workout will take a hit. This will directly affect your physical fitness. Gaining strength and power are just some of the many benefits of a leg workout. When you train this large group of muscles, you can improve your athletic performance. This will make it easier for you to kick, turn, run, and jump. A stronger lower body will prevent any injuries. Research shows that lower body workouts will help to boost testosterone levels in men above the age of 35. If you do not like working on your legs, you should rethink this. You can build big and strong muscles in your back, arms, shoulders, and chest. You do not have to train your legs, but if you do want to maximize the results of building muscles, you should make the most of your training. Understand the importance of working your legs, too. The muscles in your lower body include the quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors, calves, and hamstrings. These muscles play a very important role in various compound movements.
Understanding the Anatomy of the Legs Before getting into the training, let us quickly review the major muscles of
the leg so you know what you need to work on and develop. Most of the leg muscles are considered long muscles because they stretch great distances. These muscles move the bones when they contract and relax, allowing you to move. A smaller muscle helps to move large muscles, rotate joints, stabilize joints, and also facilitate any other movement. The largest mass of muscle in the leg is present in your thigh and your calf. The quadriceps are the leanest and strongest muscles in the human body. These muscles include the vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis. The muscles at the front of the thigh, known as the major extensors of the knee, help to extend the leg straight. The hamstrings are made of the three muscles at the back of the thigh. They affect the hip and knee movement and include the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. They begin under the gluteus maximus. This muscle is attached to the tibia at the knee and is found behind the hipbone. The calf muscles are very important for the movement of ankle, foot, and toes. Some of the major calf muscles include the gastrocnemius i.e., the calf muscle, soleus, and plantaris. The Achilles tendon is one of the most important tendons in the body. This is present in the back of the ankle and calf. It connects the soleus, plantaris, and gastrocnemius muscles to the heel bone. This tendon also stores the energy that you need to perform physical activities like jumping and running. Several smaller muscles greatly affect your ability to train the larger muscle groups properly.
Simple Science of Effective Leg Training Balance the muscles at the back and front of your body. This is the best way to ensure muscle and joint health. When it comes to the development of the muscles in your hip or thigh, consider the following: 1. Exercising one of both legs
2. The angle of your tibia
The 3 Biggest Mistakes in Leg Workouts These are the common errors made by people working on their legs: Doing the Wrong Leg Exercises People often choose to perform isolation exercises on machines. Remember to look at these exercises only as a supplementary workout and not the core leg workout. Squatting Incorrectly Squats are possibly the best exercise that one can do. When you perform the exercise well, that is, you maintain the right posture, you can work on all the muscles in your lower body. This exercise will help to improve your posture. Most people get this exercise wrong, and it is not just the half-reps. There are plenty of other common mistakes like going only a quarter or halfway down, bowing the knees inside, coming back up on your toes, and rounding the lower back. Doing Too Much High-Rep Training This mistake stunts the growth of the major muscle groups in the body. One of the biggest takeaways from lifting and building muscles naturally is that the more you focus on compound exercises and heavy lifting (80% to 85% of 1RM and higher), the better your results.
Strategy to Build Great Legs On your journey to build a great lower body, you will need some knowledge, a lot of hard work, and a great deal of patience, but the strategy is quite simple. Focus on Lifting Heavier and More Weights If you want your legs to become strong, you should focus on the 4-6 or 5-7 rep range. The exercises in this section trigger the body to release the growth hormone
because multiple muscles are activated when you perform the weighted squat. This is one of the many reasons why you will grow faster. So, you can use your leg day to help increase upper-body gains as well. Studies show that when you add a heavy squat to some bicep curls, your body will use the extra growth hormone and build muscles. Use Progressive Overload When You Perform Leg Exercises If you want to get bigger, you have to get stronger. The rule is that you need to use progressive overload if you want to grow bigger. This means that you need to increase the weight you lift over time. However, some exercises don’t lend themselves well to heavy lifting and progressive overloading. Leg extensions, for instance, cause a lot of strain on the knees. Get the Right Volume of Exercise Another aspect you need to consider when it comes to leg training is the volume or the repetitions you complete every week. This is especially important when you lift heavy weights. The general rule is that the heavier the weight, the fewer reps you can do each week. Heavier weights need more recovery, which means you can’t do as many reps or weights every week without putting yourself at the risk of overtraining. So, when you focus only on training with heavy weights, you should perform at least 70 repetitions of the exercise every week. You can split these repetitions across five or seven days, depending on your strength. This volume does not apply only to legs but also to every other major muscle group.
The Best Leg Exercises You can choose from numerous leg exercises, but only a handful are necessary and effective. The list of the best exercises to work out your leg is quite small. It includes a variety of squats, some types of lunges, and some machine exercises; that is all.
However, before that, let’s talk about Smith machines. In terms of squatting, the main drawback of using Smith machines is that it helps make only small gains in muscle and strength than a free weight squat. The bar on a Smith machine will only move it in a vertical and fixed path. Due to this, you gain to improve your weight and strength. You need to stabilize the free weight bar so you can maintain proper posture. It will also help you stop swaying. You can use a squat stand if you want, but you need someone who can spot you. If you do not have someone around you, you need to push yourself harder. This is the only way you can avoid getting stuck at the bottom of your squat. Even if you have a lot of weightlifting experience and know when your body is going to give up, there are times when you could be wrong. You could have completed another repetition, but you may have stopped. Other times, you may push yourself too hard, and your body will give up, making it hard for you to move back to the center. That is where you need the power rack. The safety arms are what make it so useful. Make sure to place them at the right height. You can hold on to them if you fail. Barbell Back Squat This is, by far, the most effective leg exercise you can perform to build overall size and strength. Many people think that it is just a leg exercise, but it is a lot more than that. It is a full-body exercise because it engages the most major muscle groups. It is one of the main compound exercises, which means that you use more than one joint or muscle to perform this exercise as it puts a lot of stress on the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, making it one of the best exercises known to man. It also helps strengthen the joints, ligaments, and tendons around the knee and hips. This exercise helps to build the muscles in the leg and also improves your performance. When you perform this exercise, you need not only the target muscle group but also ankle stability. It is only when your ankles are stable that you can drive the movement through your heels. You can then hold the weight that you lift and also keep the bar under control. Given that a squat works on most muscles in the body, you will burn a lot of calories to help you in your weight loss goals. It also enhances your natural production of testosterone and growth hormones.
However, it must be performed correctly. A bad squat form not only makes the exercise a lot less effective but also puts you at risk of a serious injury. Let’s now look at full squats. Be quite flexible if you wish to perform this exercise. For this reason, full squatting is not recommended unless you are an experienced weightlifter. Either way, full squatting is not needed to build a big, strong posterior chain. Lower body flexibility and mobility also affect your ability to squat safely, heavily, and properly. Some people do not have flexible hips. Thus, they cannot squat properly. That said, even ankle, calf, or hamstring tightness or stiffness could make it hard to squat. Fortunately for you, these problems can be fixed. Barbell Front Squat This is one of the best exercises to perform for your leg. Research shows that front squats are better than the back squats because they focus more on the quadriceps. This exercise works more on the hamstrings. It is also easier on your back and knees even though it involves the same overall muscle recruitment as back squats. This exercise focuses more on extensor movements and compressive forces. Front squats also help improve your technique and posture for a good back squat, whereas the inverse is not true. The front squat immediately assesses your flexibility because, to perform the movement with proper technique, you must be flexible in all major joints. A front squat might feel a little awkward and uncomfortable for you in the beginning, but the more you do it, the better it gets. Barbell Lunge Although a lunge is generally considered more of a quadriceps workout, research indicates that it relies more on hamstrings and glutes. So, a barbell lunge engages all the muscles of the leg, namely, the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. However, most people make lunges mainly like a quad exercise. It poses a serious challenge to all lower-body muscles and improves upperbody and core strength through maintaining good posture. Shorter steps in a
barbell lunge target the quads more, whereas larger steps target the glutes more. Thus, you must include this exercise in your leg workout. Romanian Deadlift This exercise is like the barbell lift, and it helps to develop the hamstrings and other muscles in the posterior chain. If you perform the exercise correctly, you can strengthen both your lower body and core with just one movement. When you do this movement, you will note that the work is done only by those muscles that enable your hip and knee to move. When you perform this exercise correctly, you will learn to lift using your hips and not your lower back. You will learn the biomechanics of the standing hip extension and flexion through this movement. This is the fundamental movement for squatting. You can think of it as the dynamic version of a plank. When you perform this exercise correctly, your spine muscles will maintain stability. The hips will then be used for extension and flexion. The Romanian deadlift can also improve the endurance of your deep core stabilizers. These stabilizers will maintain your posture and also strengthen the forearm flexors. These flexors will help you maintain a strong grip. Bulgarian Split Squat This humble squat is a fitness favorite ever since man decided to train his lower body and make it stronger. Most people do not perform this exercise in the gym but understand why it is good to perform this exercise. In this exercise, your rear foot is elevated. This change will increase the intensity of this movement because it will engage your core, test your balance, and place a load on your front leg. This extra load is a good thing when you are looking to increase the strength of your leg. The elevated split squat works on your quads, calves, and hamstrings. Your glutes are heavily involved in a Bulgarian split squat. So, this exercise works for anyone who is looking to perfect his or her posterior. This is a very popular exercise that most strength and conditioning coaches choose. Hack Squat Sled
This is a popular exercise used for lower-body development. It is performed on a sled that allows you to squat on a 45-degree angle, and the three muscle groups it primarily targets are your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. The sled is a staple machine in most fitness facilities. This exercise, like the front and split squats, is a good way to train the hips and legs. It also helps to minimize the stress and pressure on the lower back. Leg Press Machine This is a very popular equipment in the gym and is used to train your legs and to build quadriceps strength in particular. It is a machine exercise, and there are two types of leg press machines that are commonly found in the gyms: the standard horizontal leg press and the 45-degree leg press that has a seat that reclines while your legs press upward in a diagonal direction. While it seems like a simple exercise, learn how to use it properly. By paying attention to your form, you can maximize this exercise’s strength-building benefits and prevent injury. It allows you to reap the benefits of a barbell squat for developing the quadriceps. It also strengthens your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and calves. However, you need to be careful about your form. Don’t lift too much weight if you cannot control the movement, and don’t rush through the exercise; else, your legs will collapse at the end of it. Follow through the entire range of motion without lifting your buttocks, and remember to breathe through all of it. Do not hold your breath, and focus on constantly inhaling and exhaling. Hip Thrust This is one of the best exercises for your hamstrings and glutes. You can improve your power, strength, and speed using this exercise. The move makes you fully extend your hips and, in the process, build strength and power in the muscles that you use to do so, i.e., the glutes. Hip thrusts are also helpful if you want to increase the stability of your lower back and core. You can perform this exercise without weights. Standing Calf Raise This exercise will help to build the muscles in your calves. Place your feet on
the edge of a step and place the balls of your feet firmly on the ground. Then you have to raise your heels just a few inches so that you are on your tiptoes and then lower your heels back again to the platform. You will then feel a stretch in your calf muscles. This helps increase your ankle strength and stability. If you have strong ankles and calves, you can squat easily and lift more weights while squatting. You can also pull more weight. Strong calves ensure that you have enough power to perform movements that require triple extensions. Weak calves and ankles will damage your muscles when you jump, run, stand, pull, or squat. You can strengthen your calves and ankles by performing the standing calf raises. This will allow you to stabilize yourself in explosive, strength-based, and athletic movements. This exercise also helps you gain muscle in your calves. Seated Calf Raise This is a mention-worthy variant of the calf raise. The exercise focuses majorly on the soleus. To do it correctly, sit down on a calf machine and place the pads over your thighs. The pads should be at a 90-degree angle to your knees. Slowly lower the weight until you are at full extension. Wait for a moment. Now increase the weight you are lifting by using only the balls of your feet to contract your legs. Squeeze your legs, and count to 5. A large portion of the calf is made of muscle soleus. If you develop this well, it will change the shape and size of your calves. Calf Raise on the Leg Press You need to use the leg press machine to perform this exercise. Place the toes and the balls of your feet on the resting platform. Your heels should be off the platform. Now, push your body forward and work your calves. It helps you build much stronger and muscular calves, develops good ankle strength, and improves your running capability. Always remember, progression is the key to muscle growth. It is not only about doing the exercises. You also need to ensure that you increase the weight that you move or press over time. You won’t get any bigger if you are not stronger with each workout. Your legs will respond the way you want them to if you build strength by performing the exercises mentioned above
and eat the right food.
The Ultimate Leg Workout During a leg work out, you will perform some compound and heavy movements that focus on your hamstrings and quadriceps. The muscle group can also include glutes and calf-specific training, if necessary. Just as it is with any other muscle, your legs will benefit from a higher rep routine, but you have to focus on heavy weightlifting if you want them to continue to grow over time. To obtain the best results, you should follow this routine at least five days a week. If you have sufficient energy, you can perform the following workout program every day of the week: Exercise Barbell Back Squat
Bulgarian Split Squat
Hip Thrust (Optional) 3 Standing Calf Raise 3 (Optional)
Reps 4-6 (men), (women) 4-6 (men), (women) 4-6 (men), (women) 8-10 8-10
8-10 8-10 8-10
Perform only 9 heavy sets for the hamstrings and quads, along with glute and calf training, if required. Give yourself a 1- to 3-minute rest period between each set. This will give you muscles sufficient time to recuperate for the next set. Once you hit the top of your rep range for one set, increase the weight you are lifting. For example, if you can complete six repetitions while performing the first set of squats, you can add a few more pounds to the side of your bar for the next set. Work with this weight until you perform another six repetitions. You can continue to perform the exercise in the same manner.
Tips Remember to adhere to the principles mentioned above if you want to build muscular and strong legs. Focus on Compound Exercises for Heavy Sets Avoid performing heavy leg curls and extensions. When you continuously work on machines, you can damage your body structurally. There can also be some muscular imbalances, either of which will put you back some days from your goals. Instead, perform functional movements like squats. These exercises should be the ones that you focus on when you train your legs. Focus on getting the posture right. Improve Balance through a Unilateral Workout People are dominant either on their right or left side. When this happens during the workout, it indicates that one side of your body is working harder than the other. You should include unilateral exercises like single-leg squats or lunges to the training. These exercises will ensure that both legs are developing equally. Don’t Neglect the Stabilizers Most people forget to exercise the muscles in the hips. These muscles, called stabilizers, are a very small muscle group. They help prevent injury and correct the movements of the pelvis and hips. If these muscles do not function properly, it is dangerous to perform the workout because the other movements will also become less effective. You also need to work on the abductor muscles during warm-up. Warm-Up Properly You cannot expect your body to prepare itself for training by performing a few cardiovascular warm-up exercises. Stretch your body for at least 10 minutes before you begin your training. Use Isolation Exercises to Tone
You can use the curl and leg extension machines for this purpose. Make sure to repeat this exercise multiple times by using moderate or light resistance. This will help you define your hamstrings and quads perfectly. The machine must be set up correctly to prevent injuries to the knees.
Tips for a Speedy Recovery It is only when you work out regularly and continue to increase the intensity of your workout that you can improve your fitness. Having said that, if you want to avoid injuries and get into the best shape, give your muscles some time to recover. This section covers some tips you can use to recover. Hydrate When you hydrate, you can prevent muscle damage and fatigue, as well as reduce other complications. Ensure that you drink enough water during your workout and throughout the day. People tend to drink too much water before their workout and forget to hydrate themselves during and after the workout. Others only drink water when they are thirsty. Remember to drink plenty of water immediately after your training to reduce or eliminate the risk of ruptures, tears, and other injuries. Get Enough Sleep Get enough sleep to maintain both your mental and physical health. Lack of sleep can affect muscle recovery, thereby affecting your performance during training. Try to sleep for at least six hours every night if you want to avoid any injuries during training. Increase your Protein Intake Consume enough protein to aid in the recovery of your muscles. Remember to never consume too much protein, and avoid taking supplements if you include enough protein in your diet. So, focus on consuming whole foods like cottage cheese, eggs, and yogurt. These foods are rich in protein. You can either consume these foods as a snack or as part of a full meal. Plan your Rest Days
The rule is to ensure that you give yourself at least 24 hours before another heavy workout. This is not a universal rule, but you can choose to do this or tailor the timeline to suit your needs. Stretch your body on your rest days, even though you do not work out, to ensure that your muscles do not stiffen. Take a Cold Bath If you are unable to handle muscular fatigue and tension, you can take a cold bath. Research shows that cold baths help to numb the pain. Ice works like an anesthetic and helps to numb the affected muscles. This makes recovery easier. Another way to treat sore muscles post workout is to dab the affected areas with warm lemon water with honey. The anti-inflammatory properties of lemon will improve your muscle recovery. Stretch frequently, rest enough, and stay hydrated if you want your muscles to recover naturally. Moreover, ensure that you consume the right amount of protein. Be mindful of what you eat so you do not forget to consume the right quantity of protein. You cannot have too much of protein during your strength or weight training. You can give yourself some off days based on your personal needs. You will meet your fitness goals if you continue to follow the right approach.
Conclusion Thank you for buying this book. I hope that through this book, you have learned so much about strength training, its benefits, and more importantly, the components of a good strength-training program, including the core lifting exercises that will make you stronger and more muscular. However, more than just learning, I hope that you were also encouraged to act on what you learned as soon as possible. Why? Knowing is just half the battle for a strong and muscular body. Action, i.e., application of knowledge, is the other half. Without action, the information in this book is just trivia and will be powerless to change your physique and your life. The longer you put off action, the higher your risk for not doing anything becomes, and when you don’t do anything, your chances of failing to get strong and muscular are 100%! So, act now! Here’s to a strong and muscular you! Cheers! Now, I would love to hear what you think! Please let me know if you enjoyed this book or what I could improve on. You can do that by leaving a review on Amazon. I’ll be looking for your reviews. Thanks in advance. It’s greatly appreciated! Click Here to Leave a Review for this Book on Amazon Nicholas Bjorn
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References https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/add-strength-training-to-yourworkout.aspx http://next-level-athletics.com/5-key-elements-effective-strength-program/ https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/essential-8-exercises-to-getripped.html https://fitness.mercola.com/how-to-do-squats.aspx https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/benefits-deadlifts-you-probablynever-knew.html https://www.livestrong.com/article/98767-benefits-bench-presses/ https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-8-supplements-for-strengthathletes-and-bodybuilders.html https://stronglifts.com/stronglifts-diet-muscle-gains-strength-building-fatloss/ https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/planning-your-muscle-buildingdiet.html https://www.stack.com/a/front-squat https://barbend.com/barbell-split-squat-muscles-worked/ https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/raise-the-bar-how-to-master-theoverhead-squat.html https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-an-overhead-squat-4685854 https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-goblet-squat-4589695 https://barbend.com/sumo-deadlift/ https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-deadlift-3498608 https://www.t-nation.com/training/how-to-do-the-perfect-push-press https://athleticmuscle.net/push-jerk/ http://www.withfit.com/exercises/Push+Jerk
https://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/close-grip-barbell-bench-press https://barbend.com/close-grip-bench-press/ https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/wide-grip-bench-press.html https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/proper-push-up/ https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/healthier-ways-to-get-your-caffeine#1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744604/ https://www.stack.com/a/power-clean https://stronglifts.com/about/#gref https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/3-reasons-to-use-a-workout-schedule? page=1 https://legionathletics.com/how-to-build-a-workout-routine/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19077743 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17326698 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22032491 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14971969 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562558/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20473222 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21632481
Book 2 Supplements The Ultimate Supplement Guide for Men Health, Fitness, Bodybuilding, Muscle, and Strength 4th Edition By Nicholas Bjorn
© Copyright 2018 – 2020 – All rights reserved. In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited, and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. The information provided herein is stated to be truthful and consistent, in that any liability, in terms of inattention or otherwise, by any usage or abuse of any policies, processes, or directions contained within, is the solitary and utter responsibility of the recipient reader. Under no circumstances will any legal responsibility or blame be held against the publisher for any reparation, damages, or monetary loss due to the information herein, either directly or indirectly. Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher. Legal Notice: This book is copyright protected. This is only for personal use. You cannot amend, distribute, sell, use, quote, or paraphrase any part or the content within this book without the consent of the author or copyright owner. Legal action will be pursued if this is breached. Disclaimer Notice: Please note the information contained within this document is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Every attempt has been made to provide accurate, up-to-date, reliable, and complete information. No warranties of any kind are expressed or implied. Readers acknowledge that the author is not engaging in the rendering of legal, financial, medical, or professional advice.
Table of Contents Introduction Chapter 1: The Top 10 Supplements for Men Chapter 2: Whey Protein Supplement Overview Uses of Whey Protein Form and Dosage Safety and Precautions Counter-Indications Chapter 3: Creatine Supplement Overview Uses of Creatine Form and Dosage Safety and Precautions Chapter 4: Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) Supplement Overview Uses of BCAAs Form and Dosage Safety and Precautions Best Food Sources of BCAAs Chapter 5: Arginine Supplement Overview Uses of Arginine Form and Dosage
Safety and Precautions Chapter 6: Beta-Alanine Supplement Overview Uses of Beta-Alanine Form and Dosage Safety and Precautions Food Sources of Beta-Alanine Chapter 7: Casein Supplement Overview Uses of Casein Form and Dosage Safety and Precautions Chapter 8: Carnitine Supplement Overview Uses of Carnitine Form and Dosage Safety and Precautions Food Sources of Carnitine Chapter 9: Glutamine Supplement Overview Uses of Glutamine Form and Dosage Safety and Precautions Chapter 10: Fish Oil Supplement Overview
Uses of Fish Oil Form and Dosage Safety and Precautions Chapter 11: Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements Supplement Overview Uses of Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements How to Choose the Right MVMs Vitamin and Their Use in the Body Chapter 12 - Supplements for Your Brain Power Benefits of Brain Supplements Supplements for Better Brain Power Chapter 13 - Important Vitamins for Men’s Health Different Vitamins Risk Factors for Vitamin Deficiencies in Men Does Your Diet Provide You with All the Necessary Vitamins? Your Intake of Seafood, Eggs, Dairy, and Poultry is Rare History of Digestive Problems that Obstruct Absorption You are Taking some form of Medication Chapter 14 - Supplements Guide for Bodybuilding How can Supplements help Bodybuilders? Joint Support Vitamins Fat Burners Green food Supplements L-Glutamine Pre-Workout Supplements
Chapter 15 - Supplements for Building Endurance and Stamina Iron Cordyceps Eleuthero Energy gels Pre-Workout Supplements L-carnitine Eurycoma Rhodiola Chapter 16 - How to Boost Testosterone Fenugreek Ginger Sleep Excess Weight Loss Zinc Reduce your Sugar Intake Exercising Regularly Chapter 17: Supplement Stacks What is a Stack? Benefits of a Stack Some Precautions About Stacking Supplements Stacks for Building Size and Strength Stacks for Building Strength and Endurance Stacks for Strength Recovery Stacks for Shredding
Chapter 18: Top 5 Overlooked Supplements Magnesium Basics of Magnesium Role of Magnesium in Your Body Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Availability of CLA Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Vitamin D Benefits of Vitamin D Probiotics Benefits of Probiotic Supplements Side Effects of Probiotic Supplements Chapter 19 – Top 20 Natural Supplements Cayenne Pepper Ginger Cumin Cardamom Ginseng Fo-Ti Isoleucine Oats Coleus Forskohlii Sesamin Cinnamon Black Pepper
Green Tea Guarana Nettle Leaves Turmeric Dandelion Mustard Seeds Garlic Rhodiola Chapter 20 - How to boost HGH Levels Naturally Human Growth Hormone (HGH) How to Increase HGH Production Naturally Chapter 21 – How to Improve Insulin Sensitivity Insulin Sensitivity How to Improve Insulin Sensitivity Conclusion
Introduction I want to thank you and congratulate you for downloading this book, “Supplements: The Ultimate Supplement Guide for Men: Health, Fitness, Bodybuilding, Muscle, and Strength.” This book contains proven steps and strategies on how to choose the right supplements you need to be healthy and fit and to achieve your fitness goals. This book will teach you all about the top 10 supplements for men and how they can help you get in the best shape possible. It contains valuable information and tips for those who wish to gain lean muscle and have a strong and muscular physique. You need to remember that today’s diet may not include all of the vitamins and minerals needed to sustain good health. The health and performance of your body change over the course of your life. For example, you may not have the same amount of flexibility as you get older. Your sexual prowess may take a nosedive sometimes, and although these changes are perfectly normal within the course of a man’s lifetime, it’s unlikely that they will do much to boost his confidence. If you take the right supplements, you may be able to stem these problems and go through all of the periods of your life without having to suffer the indignity that comes with getting older. The book details the top supplements for men. There is also a section that relates to vitamins and minerals that you need to sustain good health. You should never assume that there is a “cure all” that suits everyone. Reading up on what supplements will help you under your own particular circumstances is a much healthier approach. In fact, this book gives you the backbone for looking after your body in the best way that you can. Take note of the supplements that you need, and see a clear explanation of what these are used for. It is this knowledge that may help you to stay younger for longer! In the book “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, readers were shown how behavior modifications could be made by the introduction of pills. It’s an absolutely horrifying thought. But what if your future health could be determined by your early symptoms and you could control your overall health prospects by being wise and taking the right supplements? Not quite so frightening is it, although the outcome may be that you live longer and that
you get more enjoyment out of the life that you live. Now that’s food for thought. A little knowledge goes a very long way toward helping you enjoy good health and happiness in the future. This book has taken into account that a man’s life is forever changing. This is the only book that you will need because, apart from supplements that are taken during your youth to help you to build up your muscle, the book covers all the events in a man’s life that may give rise to health issues and describes the vitamins, minerals, and supplements that will help you get through these life changes. Things that may be missing from your diet may have to be supplemented. For example, if you choose to become vegan during your youth, how can you ensure that your body is getting all the goodness that it needs? What about when your lifestyle means that you skip meals? What do you do when your love life is faltering, and it appears to be your fault? Supplements can help you with erectile dysfunction. What about when you start to worry about having prostate problems? We have you covered in those instances, too. We will also talk about lifestyle changes that you can make to help make the most of your life. We know that men worry about certain aspects of their lives and have thus tried to cover every aspect that may be worrisome for a man – showing them supplements, vitamins and minerals that may help their particular problem. Do read each section carefully, and take note of times when you should consult a doctor before taking a specific supplement, as this is important. Your health care provider will be able to advise you on whether this particular supplement can help you in your specific case, bearing in mind your medical history and any medication that you may be taking on a day-today basis. From youth right through the different phases of a man’s life, this book has you covered, and it was written specifically for men because men’s problems differ from that of the fairer sex. With this book as your guide, you can face up to those challenges and changes, and know that there is a supplement that can help you in doing so without those changes becoming too difficult to face. The teen problems when the hormones start to kick in are dealt with, as well as the kind of supplements that will help to prevent prostate cancer and other health issues that men face.
This book is a comprehensive guide, and you will find that there are recommendations made to suit all kinds of men with all manner of problems. However, do bear in mind that reading the warnings on certain supplements is also essential, and clear indication is given if you need to seek the advice of a health professional before starting on a new treatment of any kind. Your doctor knows your health history, and this may be relevant when moving toward supplementing your diet for the good of your health. Armed with the information contained in this book, you can go forward in your life knowing that you have the answers to many of the questions that you may have been asking about your growth, your stress levels, your sex life, and all of the problems associated with getting fit and staying fit throughout your life. Thanks again for downloading this book. I hope that you enjoy it and that the information available in the book would benefit you and your family and help you to live happier and healthier lives.
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Chapter 1: The Top 10 Supplements for Men You may eat as healthily as possible but find that it’s still difficult to get all the nutrition you need from food alone. Your busy schedule, limited food choices, and the occasional indulgence in pizza, nachos, beer, and other unhealthy foods can cause you to miss out on essential nutrients that your body needs to function optimally. As such, your body needs supplements. These easy-to-take capsules or pills can very conveniently fill in the gaps left by an imperfect diet. They are perfect for people whose lifestyles deprive them of the minerals that the body needs for optimal health. Other times that supplements may be useful are when you want to make a change to your health or your lifestyle. Perhaps you want to build muscle and cut back on fat. Perhaps you want to stave off the possibility of cancer specific to men. Perhaps you even want to hold back the effects of aging or hair loss. However, the question that is of utmost importance is which supplements should you take? There are literally hundreds to choose from in the market today. They all promise to address every health issue there is, from vitamin deficiency to muscular strengthening and heart health. Certain supplements also claim to cure prevalent male health issues, such as thinning hair, erectile dysfunction, and prostate gland enlargement. However, we’ve done the work for you; this means that there are no questions left unanswered. Adding to the confusion are the conflicting messages from advertisers and socalled health experts. One source may say that this particular supplement is an absolute must, but another may claim that taking it is harmful and cancer promoting. Yet another source may disclose that the supplement is no better than a placebo that does nothing but waste your money. We have checked all of our findings and are convinced that the advice given in this book is accurate and will help you in your life. After reading through all the existing research and medical literature, we present in this book the 10 best supplements for men. These are the 10 that produce the most reliable results and that have the greatest impact on men’s health. These conclusions are based on research and on feedback from people who have taken them. We have taken the hard work out of it for you by providing you with accurate information that will help you improve your life. The top 10 are supplements are given below.
1. Whey Protein 2. Creatine 3. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) 4. Arginine 5. Beta-Alanine 6. Casein 7. Carnitine 8. Glutamine 9. Fish Oil 10. Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements As the list is skewed toward men’s health and fitness, it includes a few supplements that enhance workouts and promote greater muscular strength. These supplements are different types of amino acids or proteins that will help anyone get the most from his workouts. Thus, the list is helpful, especially for men who frequently go to the gym, undergo a strengthening program, train for sports, or lead a very active lifestyle. Here are a couple of reasons to consider adding supplements to your regular diet. The commercial agriculture methods that are being used at present deplete the soil of essential minerals, and therefore, the food that’s grown in such soil shares similar nutrient deficiencies. With globalization, the food we consume is often shipped for long distances and is stored for a long time as well. This causes the depletion of certain vitamins, including some important ones like B-complex and vitamin C. Processing and preserving food lead to the depletion of nutrients in the food we consume and make it quite difficult for our body to acquire the necessary nutrition that it does from our regular diets. Most of the fruits and vegetables we are consuming these days are bred genetically to increase their crop yield and visual appeal rather than their nutritional value. This means that the food we are consuming has less nutrition than the food that our ancestors used to
consume. Irregular eating habits, insufficient chewing of food, eating while on the move, and stress all lead to poor digestion. This, in turn, decreases our body’s ability to absorb all the nutrients from the food. The use of pharmaceutical drugs leads to the depletion of essential nutrients and makes people vulnerable to several deficiencies. Owing to certain illnesses or at specific times in life, there is an increase in the need for specific nutrients in the body. Supplements are essential for handling the nutritional requirements of the body. With an increase in the levels of pollution these days, our bodies need more nutrients for detoxification than usual. In particular, the requirement for antioxidants, such as Vitamins A, C, and E, increases. Supplements are essential for supporting the building up of muscle and muscle mass. If you are interested in lifting weights and improving your stamina, you should certainly consider taking certain supplements. Moreover, depending on your age, the requirements of your body change, and the need for specific vitamins and nutrients increases. You will learn more about different supplements that will help in improving your overall health and stamina, as well as assist in building muscle. It goes without saying that this list of supplements also helps prevent many prevalent diseases in our present generation. Perfect health and a toned physique are entirely achievable with these supplements and a healthy lifestyle. To get the best out of the recommended supplements, take them regularly, and follow the prescribed use and dose. At the same time, exercise regularly, and continue to eat as healthily as possible. Taking supplements is no excuse to eat poorly and choose junk or unhealthy food over recommended staples, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, other lean proteins, and whole-grain carbs. The most careful and expensive supplementation will not even come close to compensating for a poor diet. What supplements can do is to improve your healthy diet and help you reach your fitness goals faster. They are not a shortcut to a miraculously fit physique. You have to work hard toward this, primarily by working out and eating sensibly. If you have an existing medical condition, or if you are doubtful in any way about the possible effect of a new supplement to your health, talk to your
physician. Some supplements do have adverse interactions with medicine that you may already be taking. These interactions will be amply discussed here, but to be on the safe side, also consult your doctor. The best way to start on your supplements is to discuss with your doctor whether these are counter-productive, bearing in mind your own medical history. Letting your doctor know that you are thinking about taking supplements isn’t a bad idea because your doctor will see that you are trying to improve your health and that’s always good news from his perspective. Many people think that, because supplements are available over the counter, they are perfectly safe, and there is no need to discuss them with doctors. They also feel that the doctor may question the reasons why a man has chosen to take supplements, but this is a misconception. Doctors are aware of the changes that men go through in their lives, and they are also astutely aware of which supplements they may have to advise against in the presence of current medical conditions. As a first step, therefore, getting a check up to establish the state of your health can help, along with the appropriate blood tests, to determine whether there are deficiencies in your body that may not be covered by our list of supplements. For example, do you suffer from osteoporosis? Do you smoke? Do you know how to take vitamins and when they should be taken? All of this information is something that your doctor will be able to discuss with you so that you get the most out of the supplements that you choose to take in order to improve your life. We have taken all of the life-changing events in the course of a man’s life, and we have assessed which needs they may have in the way of supplements to improve their health, and within the second part of this book, we have delved into the vitamins and minerals that are useful specifically for men, whose age may bring some related health issues. The supplements that we found to be the best for men are detailed in their own chapters, which provide information that would help you understand which are the most useful in your particular case and why. Reading through these, you will find that there are dietary considerations worth thinking about in that many of the benefits derived from these supplements can also be found in the food that you eat. Thus, if you change
your lifestyle to incorporate those foods and add the supplements, you can actually improve your muscle-building efficiency and also make sure that you have all of your body’s needs covered. Each of the top supplements comes with details of things that you need to know before purchasing them, along with recommendations in the case of those supplements where you need to seek medical advice before starting a regime that includes them.
Chapter 2: Whey Protein In A Nutshell: Whey protein is a protein supplement that enhances muscle growth and speeds up recovery after workouts. This means that it is suitable for people who want to build muscle rather than fat. This may also be something considered by men who cannot put on weight because it may help them to do so, although in a healthier manner than simply upping the types of food that they are currently eating. Others who may benefit from this are vegetarians because they are not getting the right amount of proteins from their diet. This is particularly helpful for people who want to increase their energy levels without adding too much sugar to their diets.
Supplement Overview Whey protein is a by-product of milk (the watery portion of milk is called whey). It provides the body with essential amino acids. If you work out regularly, you may not be getting enough protein from your diet, and you may need a protein supplement. As the number one selling supplement of all time, whey protein has two main advantages over other high-protein meals or supplements: whey contains fewer calories and, it is quickly absorbed. As it contains fewer calories, it is not as fattening as other proteins. Moreover, given that the muscles in the body absorb it very quickly, it makes additional fuel immediately available before or after a workout. That means that your body will perform in a better way and will not suffer an energy lag before exercise or lethargy after exercise. Thus, you will be able to include more exercise, which will consequently help you feel much healthier.
Uses of Whey Protein Supplementing with whey protein helps to improve athletic performance and promotes muscle strength and bulk. If there was only one supplement you were to take, it should be whey protein. Whey protein is also widely used as a milk alternative for people who have lactose intolerance. It is preferable over milk for people who have obesity or weight issues, those with high cholesterol, and patients diagnosed with latestage cancer. There is evidence showing that whey protein also reduces tumor
size in cancer patients. You need to understand that the way in which whey protein works is that it helps the body to have extra energy without subjecting it to excess calorific content. If you want energy, of course you can find this in fruits or sugars, but the difference between consuming these and using whey protein is that the latter isn’t going to add bulk, and the energy factor will last longer than the sugar high, such that it would not cause unstable energy levels from excessive sugar intake. Apart from these, whey protein: ● Helps to relieve protein allergy ● Reverses weight loss among people who have HIV or AIDS ● Eases the symptoms of asthma ● Boosts the immune system ●
May help prevent heart disease, bone loss, and diabetes. It may also help in weight loss by suppressing appetite and regulating blood sugar level. However, these benefits are not yet confirmed, and further research needs to be conducted regarding them.
It is worthwhile to remember that this is a very safe supplement to take. It is often administered to people who are already very ill to help them to retain weight and energy. Thus, whey protein is recognized by professionals to be the best way to help your body sustain energy. When you go through periods of your life in which you are ill, you lose weight, but you actually lose more than this. You lose muscle mass, and whey protein helps to correct that. It isn’t simply bulking up on something to make you feel full. It works to introduce the right kind of protein so that your body can react to it in a very positive manner. Your immune system gets stronger, such that you are able to stave off problems that stem from problems with the immune system.
Form and Dosage The prescribed dosage for weight lifters or bodybuilders is between 1.2 and
1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. For the regular person or athlete, about 20 to 30 grams per drink is recommended. Whey protein is often taken orally, mixed with water to make a protein drink. One to two drinks per day, or roughly 50 to 75 grams, is recommended for general use. The drinks are easy to make, and the whey powder is simple to measure. The recommended times to take protein are first thing in the morning, immediately after waking, and within 30 minutes of working out. Other ideal times to take whey protein are 30 minutes before a workout or in between meals as a snack. Those who are already sick may need to talk about the appropriate dosage with their health professional, particularly in the case of wasting diseases, such as cancer and HIV. Given that whey protein is contained in drinks given by hospitals, if you do start to take it in a hospital environment, be sure that you continue to take it at the same time intervals when you get home, unless you are advised otherwise.
Safety and Precautions Taken moderately, whey protein is safe for adults, but taking too much whey protein may lead to nausea, diarrhea, cramps, bloating, and other digestive problems. If you experience these, try drinking a lower amount of whey. You cannot make yourself build muscle more quickly than the body is accustomed to, so do not think that drinking extra will do that.
Counter-Indications Whey protein is not recommended for people who are taking Levodopa, a drug for Parkinson’s disease. Whey protein reduces the effectiveness of Levodopa and, to a lesser extent, also that of other drugs, such as alendronate (Fosamax) and antibiotics like ciprofloxacin (Cipro), Norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), and enoxacin (Penetrex). It is still possible to take alendronate (Fosamax) and whey protein, but allow at least two hours between drug intake and the drinking of whey protein. In the case of antibiotics, take them at least two hours after and four hours before drinking whey protein. Whey protein may also not be good for people who have diabetes as it can lower blood sugar levels. Caution is generally advised for people who are taking any form of medicine that lowers blood pressure, glucose level, and
even cholesterol level. As stated at the beginning of this chapter, BEFORE YOU START taking this as a supplement, you must discuss its efficiency with your doctor, who will also be able to give you guidelines as to the correct amounts needed to suit your health problems or concerns. Interesting note: At Baylor University, scientists experimented to see how effective whey really was by depriving people of 500 calories per day and then substituting these calories with whey in some cases and a placebo in others. What was interesting to note was that the tests showed that whey protein really did have an effect on muscle mass for those who were given it, whereby the placebo had little effect. Given that the placebo effect is known to show positive results in cases where there is borderline efficiency, in this case, there was a clear-cut difference between the subjects using whey and those who were not. If you are a large eater and know that you are guilty of overdoing it at the dinner table, you may also be interested in the fact that whey protein helps to cut down your hunger and may therefore diminish your appetite. That’s got to be a boost to those who know that their overeating habits are letting them down. For men who are worried about colon or prostate cancer, the use of whey can considerably reduce your chances of suffering from these forms of cancer. Together with regular screening – depending upon your family history and health history – you may just be able to stave off these cancers that are prevalent in men.
Chapter 3: Creatine In A Nutshell: Creatine is a workout supplement that improves muscle strength and size, as well as provides extra energy. This is particularly relevant to men who want to improve their body strength and stamina.
Supplement Overview Creatine is normally derived from meat and fish, but it is also produced naturally in our kidneys and liver and is then stored in our muscles. We use this creatine as an energy source that boosts muscle growth and strength. It also gives additional adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which our muscles use for energy, growth, and regeneration. The supplement comes in capsule form that is easy to swallow. If your muscles are able to contract easily without pain or stiffness, then creatine within the body may be responsible for this. However, you may find that taking a creatine supplement will help you to retain this amount of flexibility and that it will enhance your muscle performance.
Uses of Creatine The main use of creatine as a supplement is to build up lean body mass and provide quick, short bursts of energy. It is great for short, intense, and repetitive exercises, such as weight lifting, but is not as good for drawn-out aerobic exercises, such as endurance or long-distance running. Creatine is also very effective in speeding up the recovery and growth of muscles after a workout. Creatine may also possibly boost testosterone levels, lower cholesterol levels, and help in the treatment of chronic heart diseases, including congestive heart failure. In these cases, it is of course relevant that you discuss your current condition with your general practitioner and get his or her approval for taking creatine in your particular case.
Form and Dosage The recommended creatine dosage is 3 to 10 grams per day, usually after a
workout. It may also be taken together with a protein shake, before or during a workout. Trainers and coaches used to prescribe a “loading dose” of 20 grams per day for about one week at the very start of an exercise program. This is then later reduced to the usual 5 to 10 grams per day. The idea is to initially infuse the muscles with generous amounts of creatine, which become stored in them for future use. However, this practice has been mostly discontinued, as it has been found that a loading dose isn’t actually necessary. Creatine is taken orally, in pill, capsule, or powder form.
Safety and Precautions Creatine supplementation is generally safe and produces no harmful side effects. However, there are rare cases of allergic reaction, similar to that seen in people with asthma. You may also find that at the beginning of taking creatine, you may suffer from water retention, although this evens out as you continue to take the supplement. When supplementing with creatine, you need to drink plenty of water. Creatine pulls water into the muscles, and plenty of water is needed to avoid dehydration. This is a particularly useful supplement for those who know that they drink too much coffee or tea because it will encourage you to drink more water because this is needed to work its way toward muscles. Make sure, therefore, that you decrease your caffeine intake and increase your water intake to allow for this adjustment and for the water retention that may be experienced. This will prevent muscular cramps. Try to avoid taking caffeine-based drinks and creatine together. Caffeine is a diuretic that causes our bodies to excrete water from our bodies, which may decrease the benefits of creatine. In fact, if you are taking supplements, always distance the taking of supplements from the intake of coffee, and minimize your coffee and tea intake. Those who are taking blood pressure medications are cautioned away from creatine use, as this supplement lowers blood sugar levels. Discuss this with your doctor because, in your case, this may not make any difference. It all depends upon your own individual blood test results.
You are advised against taking creatine on an empty stomach, as those who have reported problems with their digestive tract – and that’s only 7% – tended to take too much and at the wrong times. In the case of taking creatine, talk to your doctor first, and then respect the dosage and instructions on the pack, which are specifically aimed at helping you to make the most of this popular and efficient supplement. There are myths that creatine leads to weight gain, but this is not true. The reason that these myths may be popular is because of the initial effect of water retention making the user feel bloated at first. However, this bloating effect disappears after regular use. It is simply the way that the product works, and you will get to overcome this initial side effect.
Chapter 4: Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) In A Nutshell: BCAAs are protein supplements that build muscle mass. Usual sources of these are meat, legumes, and dairy produce. Thus, it is possible that you are already contributing to the amount that you need although, as you will see, these are useful to help you with keeping your body trim.
Supplement Overview Although branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) may sound like some exotic, newly invented medical formula, they are just simply amino acids or proteins. They are derived from traditional protein sources in our diet, such as milk, meat, and legumes. That they are branched-chain simply refers to their chemical structure. Leucine, valine, and isoleucine are the three most important amino acids in BCAAs. These supplements are mostly used by bodybuilders and athletes for muscle growth and strength without the extra calories. BCAAs are also present in whey and other protein supplements, but they are the “leanest” and most stripped down in their own supplement form. They only contain amino acids and, as such, are preferred by people on low-calorie diets. BCAAs have another added advantage over other proteins in that they require very little, if any, digestion time. This means they are very quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Uses of BCAAs BCAAs are used mainly to build up lean muscle mass. They are exercise supplements that help reduce muscle fatigue and speed up recovery in between workouts. BCAAs are also well known for enhancing protein synthesis inside a person’s body, enabling more intense workouts. To some extent, BCAAs also help in fat loss. BCAAs are further known to help treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease (although links to lung tightness have changed professionals’ view on the usefulness of BCAAs in this particular case), as
well as hepatic encephalopathy and other brain disorders caused by liver disease. However, more research is needed to confirm whether BCAAs are indeed effective in the treatment of those diseases. Other existing (though not universally verified) uses of BCAAs are in improving mental concentration and preventing physical fatigue. Intravenous supplies of BCAAs are given to some hospital patients recovering from severe injury or infection. Patients suffering from anorexia would be treated with BCAAs to try and build them up again after the abuse the body grows accustomed to with this kind of illness and the lack of protein experienced.
Form and Dosage Tablets are the preferred form of BCAA supplements. A powder form is also available, but most people don’t like the taste when mixed with liquid. Anywhere between 5 grams and 50 grams may be consumed daily. No study has been conducted on the most optimal amount to take daily. In general, take BCAAs close to a workout: just prior to it, during, and/or immediately afterwards. They may be also be taken first thing in the morning after waking up, especially if you intend to exercise on an empty stomach. Before taking this supplement, it’s a wise precaution to talk to a medical professional because he or she will know whether this is useful for you and what dosage would be a wise one.
Safety and Precautions Like other protein supplements, leucine and other BCAAs do not interact favorably with Levodopa (a drug for Parkinson’s disease) and with glucoselowering medications. BCAAs can lower blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for persons with diabetes or for those who are prone to hypoglycemia. Those who are taking anti-inflammatory corticosteroids and thyroid hormone supplements are also cautioned against the unsupervised use of BCAAs. This is one of the reasons why it is worth mentioning that you MUST talk to a health professional before starting on a course of treatment. Even on a calorie-controlled diet, BCAAs can help you to retain muscle mass, and considerable research has been ongoing to show that this is one of the most effective means of building muscle mass, used by people not only in
competition but also in circumstances where a patient needs something that is fast acting. Given that there is no real problem digesting the product, it means that it goes to the places where it is needed right away. One thing that is important to know is that BCAAs are not produced within the body unless the diet is balanced. These come from what you eat, and if you are working out, these help in muscle growth and in your exercise routine. However, if you find yourself suffering any kind of loss of coordination, you must stop taking BCAAs immediately. These are only taken for a limited period of less than six months. Do read the instructions very carefully.
Best Food Sources of BCAAs It is essential at all times when working out that you ensure that your diet is well balanced and that you are aware of which food sources provide a good amount of BCAAs. This will help you to establish if, in fact, your diet needs adjusting rather than needing extra supplements. The types of food that would be useful and that you should add to your diet are the following: ● Chicken breast ● Lean beef ● Canned tuna ● Turkey breast ● Eggs ● Salmon If you are eating alternative meats, then replacing them with those suggested will help you to accumulate up to 36 grams a day, with eggs being the least rich for BCAAs and lean turkey and chicken breast being the richest sources. You should aim for 3 grams of leucine per meal, and it’s quite possible that you are finding it hard to reach this level, which would include eating 12 eggs or a huge portion of the one food we have not mentioned yet, such as nuts, with peanuts being the richest source of leucine in the nut family. However, for obvious reasons, you need to avoid salted nuts if you have other health
issues. You will see from these details that there is a pattern. The kinds of foods that are going to be the richest for you include lean chicken or turkey meat for most of the supplemented areas in the last four chapters, so it makes sense to include these in your diet to actually benefit the most from both your diet and the supplements that you take, which will jointly take care of your needs. Eggs are also very good for you and should be included in your standard diet, but try to avoid eating these fried, as the fats that you are introducing may be the factor that is contributing to your bad health or health issues.
Chapter 5: Arginine In A Nutshell: Arginine is a protein-like substance that dilates blood vessels and helps to protect you from heart disease and other related conditions or helps to treat these diseases if they are already present. Arginine also improves the action of protein in the body. Arginine is needed for the body to heal correctly. It is also a useful aid for the kidneys to sort useful elements from waste. It is also known to keep the arteries supple because of the contraction and relaxation of the arteries. While arginine is found in food, modern diets may be deficient in it, particularly in those already suffering heart disease.
Supplement Overview Arginine is an amino acid that is found in protein-rich food and is also produced naturally inside the body. It is converted into nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator that widens arteries and blood vessels to allow for easier passage of blood. Arginine is therefore helpful in treating many health conditions characterized by narrowed or restricted arterial passageways. These include atherosclerosis (clogged and hardened arteries), peripheral vascular disease, heart failure, heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, erectile dysfunction, chest pain, and headaches caused by the swelling of blood vessels. Research has shown that as arginine is converted into nitric oxide, it enhances muscle strength, regulates hypertrophy, and even assists in fat loss. As arginine dilates the blood vessels, it allows for more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to your muscles.
Uses of Arginine As a daily food supplement, arginine is taken for better protein production and utilization. Our body needs protein for many things: to keep bones, teeth, skin and muscles strong; produce antibodies and keep our immune system working; repair worn-out tissues and cells; heal wounds; maintain healthy levels of sperm in men; regulate acid-base balance; and transport nutrients, oxygen, and other compounds. These are vital processes, and arginine helps
to ensure that they are all carried out properly. As a workout supplement, arginine strengthens muscles, boosts energy, and repairs tissues post-exercise. It provides that extra boost that is often needed to fuel workouts.
Form and Dosage For supplementation, take arginine orally in capsule or tablet form. The dosage can be anywhere between 400 milligrams to 6 grams. A person doesn’t normally need more than 6 grams of arginine, as he can get sufficient amounts of it from food commonly included in the diet, such as dairy products, nuts, brown rice, chicken and other meats, raisins, coconut, and cereals. To gain the greatest benefit from exercise, 6 grams of L-arginine is often the recommended dose. The ideal times to take arginine are before breakfast and 30 to 60 minutes prior to working out. Additional arginine can be taken 30 to 60 minutes before bed as well.
Safety and Precautions Arginine is generally a safe supplement, but some people exhibit allergic reactions when they ingest more than 30 grams of arginine. They experience rashes, itching, and shortness of breath. This can be easily avoided by taking no more than the recommended dose. Arginine should be used with caution if you: ● Have a bleeding disorder (e.g., hemophilia) ● Have issues with his blood sugar or blood pressure levels (this includes diabetics) ●
Are prone to hyperkalemia (abnormally high levels of blood potassium)
● Have impaired kidney function ● Use phosphodiesterase inhibitors (including sildenafil or Viagra) ●
Take blood-thinning drugs (anticoagulants), aspirin, anticoagulants
(blood thinners), warfarin or heparin, or anti-platelet drugs Before taking this supplement, it may be wise to talk to your medical professional to ensure that it is suited to your particular case. The doctor may prescribe that you alter your diet to see if this will help in the supply of arginine, given that modern diets may not be giving you the supply of arginine that your body needs. Considerations taken into account will be your medical history, blood test results, and your condition at the time of inquiring. Given that there are certain people who are advised against taking arginine supplements because of prior health conditions, it may be useful for you to know where you can get healthy supplies of arginine without upsetting your health. Thus, I have included a list of the best foods to provide this, and by swapping something from your diet with any of these, you will be increasing the amount of arginine intake without risking your health. This list is by no means comprehensive, but the main foods that you may consider in a common diet are given and can be used for this and other purposes, as shown in the previous chapter. Some arginine-rich foods are: ● Pork chops ● Chicken breast ● Turkey breast ● Soy beans ● Pumpkin seeds Spirulina is also a rich source of arginine, and we will detail this later in the book. If you find, for any reason, that your body is not comfortable with the supplements – and some people do suffer stomach pains – you can of course adjust your diet and include some of the foods listed, as there are no known side effects of taking arginine from your diet. These are foods that are repeated over and over again when talking to people about the supplements that they should take and the foods that may help to contribute toward the supply of elements that are needed for optimal health.
Thus, you need to understand the importance of diet in your lifestyle. You cannot simply take supplements and hope that they will do everything for you without addressing your lifestyle and the kind of foods that you are eating.
Chapter 6: Beta-Alanine In A Nutshell: Beta-alanine is a performance-enhancing sports supplement, which is a non-essential amino acid that increases muscle carnosine levels, resulting in boosts of energy. This means that you are able to sustain exercise beyond your normal limit, which is good news for people who want to build muscle or shape and tone up their bodies.
Supplement Overview Of all the supplements in this book, beta-alanine is the only one that is exclusively a sports performance supplement. It works by increasing the concentration of muscle carnosine. Carnosine is a peptide antioxidant that prevents muscle fatigue and, therefore, enables the person to engage in highintensity workouts for longer periods. Carnosine is present in significant amounts in fast-twitch muscle fibers – the kind of muscle fibers that allow sprinters to run fast and with explosive energy. Some amount of carnosine is also available from food, especially from animal proteins like pork, beef, venison, and tuna, although supplements are likely to be efficient because it is unlikely that you would be able to measure the content that you get into your body from your food sources.
Uses of Beta-Alanine Beta-alanine is wholly a workout supplement. It is used by bodybuilders, weight lifters, short-distance runners, soccer players, boxers, and many other athletes. Beta-alanine is comparable to creatine, which provides quick and short bursts of energy. The difference is that beta-alanine appears to be able to supply more sustained amounts of energy. It is beneficial in high-intensity workouts that last for one to five minutes and that have short rest periods of less than two minutes. It is especially recommended for boxing and kickboxing routines, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and CrossFit training. There are early studies exploring the possible use of beta-alanine to improve the physical health of elderly people above age 55. It appears that the supplement can significantly help reduce muscle fatigue among them. This
research is ongoing; no definite findings are available at present. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has conducted studies on this to see if it can help older people. Their findings were interesting because it seems that this will help older people increase their capacity to exercise for longer periods without any kind of pain or cramp associated with age.
Form and Dosage The recommended daily oral dose of beta-alanine is between 3 and 6 grams. However, start with a low amount of 1 to 2 grams, and increase it gradually. Trainers advise that beta-alanine should be taken consistently every day to store carnosine in the muscles and to increase absorption of the supplement. The best time to take it is just before a workout.
Safety and Precautions When taking beta-alanine for the first time, you may experience paresthesia. This is a prickling or “pins and needles” sensation often felt on the scalp or back of the neck. You may also experience it as a burning, itching, or warm sensation on other parts of your body. If the paresthesia is severe, consider switching to a lower dosage. Apart from this, there are no side effects, making this a safe alternative to help you to burn fat and to allow your body to exercise for longer. As with all supplements, we do suggest talking to your medical physician to see if he or she approves of adding this supplement to your daily intake.
Food Sources of Beta-Alanine It may be worth noting the foods to include in your diet to increase the accumulation of beta-alanine because if you are not happy taking the supplement or if there is some reason why it is ill advised, this will help you increase your beta-alanine the natural way. ● Chicken breast ● Soy beans
● Fish ● Lean Beef You can see from this list and by referring to previous chapters that these foods have multiple benefits.
Chapter 7: Casein In A Nutshell: Casein is a protein extract from milk that provides a rich supply of amino acids to the body and enhances exercise performance. Even if you do not perform exercise on a regular basis, the energy levels are increased; thus, you will find that you will be able to sustain energy through your ordinary everyday activities.
Supplement Overview Those who work out need extra protein, and casein supplements very adequately answers this need. Casein provides high-quality protein, calcium, and amino acids. It is also slowly digested; hence, it stays longer in the system and continues to provide nourishment hours after ingestion. Casein may be taken as a sports drink (the powdered form is mixed with water) just prior to going to bed or as a protein shake for a snack. As a protein, casein increases the body’s ability to maintain the structural integrity of cells, repairs damage, fights infections, promotes growth, and regenerates tissues, and transports necessary nutrients and substances throughout the body. It also provides added energy for all physical exertions, and that includes your sex life. There is a separate chapter relating to your sex life later in the book. Casein is also known as “milk protein isolates.” About 80% of the protein in milk is casein. The other 20% is whey. Good dietary sources of casein are milk and dairy products, especially cheese, although these may cause dietary problems for those who are overweight.
Uses of Casein Casein supplements are a great way to augment the protein supply of the body, but they should never be the person’s sole source of protein. Think of casein as added protein to fill in nutritional gaps, help fuel your workouts, and build up lean muscle mass. Eat healthy protein within the course of your normal diet.
As an exercise supplement, casein works long term for increased muscle retention, greater fat loss, and decreased muscle breakdown. This is useful for men who have reached middle age and who may not have been as active as they used to be. Coupled with a gentle exercise routine at first, the exercise regime can be built up during the course of taking casein, and the supplement will make this natural progression easier. An important characteristic of casein is that it is slowly digested, taking up to several hours for it to be fully absorbed in the body. Thus, it won’t work well as a pre-workout energy drink or as a post-workout recovery drink. It is best to take casein at night before going to sleep and as a snack at any time during the day. Fast-digesting proteins, such as whey, are more suitable for immediate pre-workout fueling and post-workout muscle recovery. Another use for casein that current research has discovered is that it promotes colon health. It appears that casein is more effective than meat and soy in this regard. More studies are being conducted to further explore whether casein may be used to treat colon ailments.
Form and Dosage Casein powder is available in different flavors. It can be mixed with water or other liquids to form a protein drink or shake. Anywhere between 20 and 40 grams daily is recommended. As mentioned, it can be taken just before sleeping at night or as a snack between meals. The night hours provide sufficient time for casein to be fully digested, providing much energy and nourishment ready for use the next day. Whey and casein are complementary protein supplements that can be taken together. One is rapidly digested and the other is not. Take whey right in the morning and casein before bed. Take whey just before and after workouts and casein at other times of the day as a rich snack drink. Some people mix casein and whey together to make one mighty, nutrient-dense protein shake, and this works well, too. Together, whey and casein produce appreciably better results from a resistance training program; the upshot is larger increases in lean body mass and larger decreases in body fat. When mixing casein and why together, it is recommended to be taken as post-workout shake; include 10 to 20 grams of casein and 20 to 40 grams of whey protein.
Safety and Precautions Casein is generally safe to use for everyone, except for those who are lactoseintolerant. There are isolated reports linking casein to cancer, respiratory problems, and allergies, but by and large, there is no scientific basis for such worries. Only those who have hypersensitivity to milk experience allergic reactions, as expected, from drinking casein. People who are taking medicine for high blood pressure should be cautious about taking casein supplements. These can interfere with the action of drugs for hypertension, especially close to a scheduled surgical procedure. For safety, stop taking casein about two weeks prior to a surgery.
Chapter 8: Carnitine In A Nutshell: Carnitine, or L-carnitine, is an amino acid that promotes heart health and better brain function, boosts energy, and improves sports performance.
Supplement Overview Carnitine is a substance found in almost every cell in the body. It plays a vital role in the production of energy that all cells need to function properly. It helps to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria (energy centers) of cells and takes out toxic waste from them. Three different forms of carnitine exist, and these are L-carnitine, acetyl-Lcarnitine, and propionyl-L-carnitine. While these are normally present in sufficient amounts in the body, some genetic abnormalities or metabolic diseases can cause carnitine deficiency. Certain medical conditions and the intake of some drugs can also reduce the body’s carnitine below normal levels. L-carnitine supplements are taken to boost less-than-ideal stores of carnitine in the body that may result from improper diet and the other factors mentioned above. Vegetarians especially need L-carnitine supplementation, as do those who follow a strength-training program that puts heavy demands on their protein supply. Among health-conscious people, L-carnitine is valued for its fat-burning ability during and after exercise.
Uses of Carnitine L-carnitine supplements are a must for people with carnitine deficiency. Without supplementation, people with this deficiency will continue to experience muscular weakness in many parts of the body, including their heart. More severe forms of this deficiency also cause low glucose levels, growth retardation, persistent fatigue, liver problems, and diminished brain functioning. In otherwise healthy individuals, L-carnitine supplements work to keep the
heart healthy and protect it from disease. It also appears that carnitine promotes thyroid health, male fertility, memory function, and increased fat burning with regular exercise. Other uses of carnitine are: ●
It helps type-2 diabetics better manage the common symptoms of the metabolic disorder.
It augments the diets of strict vegetarians, low-weight infants, and people who are on a low-carb or low-fat diet. Thus, it can be useful after or during illness.
● It improves blood circulation. ● It helps to lower high levels of cholesterol. ●
It enhances muscular function. As such, it is useful for bodybuilders who want to bulk up and for all athletes who wish to improve performance and endurance.
● It helps to decrease muscle soreness and damage related to exercise.
Form and Dosage Carnitine is taken orally either in tablet form or as an oral solution. There is also an injectable form that medical professionals can administer. For healthy people, the recommended daily dosage is 1 to 2 grams. If fat burning is the primary goal, then 3 grams may be taken daily. You should also be doing aerobic exercises regularly; otherwise, L-carnitine won’t do much to reduce excess body fat.
Safety and Precautions L-carnitine is generally safe to take, as it is a substance that is normally present in the muscles of the body. If such symptoms as diarrhea, nausea, or cramps are experienced, simply reduce the daily dosage. No adverse side effects have been reported when L-carnitine is used properly, apart from some reports that it gives the person a peculiar “fishy” smell.
However, there may be undesirable drug interactions with L-carnitine. People who are taking antibiotics or medications for Alzheimer’s disease and kidney problems should consult their doctor before taking L-carnitine. In all events, consulting your general physician for advice is recommended before starting to take supplements of any kind, as your doctor will be able to assure you that these supplements are not contrary to the medications prescribed to you.
Food Sources of Carnitine The best sources of carnitine are lean red meat and, therefore, lean beef would be a good source. You will also find that if you increase your chicken and turkey intake, these also supply carnitine but in smaller quantities. If your doctor does not like you taking carnitine, you can increase your intake of red meat, and this will help increase your levels.
Chapter 9: Glutamine In A Nutshell: Glutamine, or L-Glutamine, is an amino acid supplement that improves workout performance, repairs gastrointestinal injury, accelerates metabolism, and helps with fat loss and weight maintenance.
Supplement Overview L-Glutamine is naturally produced inside your body. It is stored in about 60% of all skeletal tissues. People normally don’t need supplementation of glutamine, except in times of stress, during a training program, or if they have certain disorders that glutamine intake can help treat. Taking glutamine supplements can also improve the natural production of the same substance in the body.
Uses of Glutamine Glutamine has so many uses and benefits to the body that health experts sometimes refer to it as a wonder chemical or a cure-all. For healthy individuals, glutamine is useful in the following ways: ● Providing extra fuel for workouts and quicker recovery periods ●
Enhancing fat loss and promoting lean muscle mass growth while the person is on a strength-training program
Strengthening the immune and digestive systems, which are very relevant in people recovering from illness
Accelerating growth and metabolism by increasing human growth hormone (HGH) levels
Improving mental concentration, alertness, memory, and intellectual performance
Stabilizing blood sugar levels, thus reducing cravings for sweets and alcohol
● Improving the appearance and health of skin and hair
For people with certain health or medical conditions, glutamine helps by: ● Reducing the side effects of cancer treatments, including oral sores and swelling ●
Helping people to recover from traumatic injuries and regain lost weight
Treating digestive and intestinal disorders, such as stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, and Crohn’s disease
Lessening the symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, depression, and mood disorders
Preventing muscle wasting in patients with HIV and other chronic illnesses
Many other uses of glutamine exist, but not enough scientific evidence is available to back them all up. However, in the case of existing illnesses, it is wise to seek the advice of your primary care giver.
Form and Dosage Glutamine is available in tablet or pill form and in powder form that can be mixed with other drinks. The maximum daily dosage is 40 grams. One can start by taking 5 grams and gradually increasing this up to 20 or 30 grams daily. It is best to spread out intake during the day, starting at breakfast, taking glutamine again preworkout and post-workout, and 30-60 minutes before bed. Among bodybuilders, a daily dosage of 5 to 15 grams is common.
Safety and Precautions Glutamine is generally safe, as it is a naturally occurring amino acid found inside our body. Side effects are rarely seen, and they are usually mild and not a cause for worry. Simply cut down on the dosage if you observe side effects. Caution, however, is advised for people who are taking any of these
medications: ● Lactulose (to decrease ammonia) ● Chemotherapy drugs (for cancer) ● Anticonvulsants and other anti-seizure drugs Consult your doctor if you are taking these drugs before you supplement with glutamine. Your doctor may need to adjust the dosage of these medications and recommend an appropriate glutamine dose that should work just right for you.
Chapter 10: Fish Oil In A Nutshell: Fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids, is a food supplement that offers multiple benefits, including a healthier heart and cardiovascular system, better brain function, and anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. This makes it an essential part of your dietary intake, but you can supplement it if you suspect that you are not incorporating enough in your normal diet.
Supplement Overview Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids – the “healthy fats” that are vital for brain and heart health. They also act as natural anti-inflammatory agents that help ease aching joints and heal injuries. Adequate amounts of these healthy fats are hard to get from dietary sources alone; hence, people choose to supplement with fish oil pills. Taking one or two pills each day provides more than what is in two servings of salmon or tuna, which is the recommended weekly minimum amount to get a sufficient supply of fatty acids through food. What omega-3 fatty acids basically do is to build cell membranes, but more than this, they reduce blood triglycerides (lipids or fats that make arteries harden). Thus, they play a great role in preventing atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and many other cardiovascular problems. They are also known to protect against many other common diseases, such as arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, psychosis, attention deficithyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cancers, and degenerative ailments. Fish oil supplements are typically made from fish like mackerel, tuna, halibut, salmon, and herring, as well as from cod liver and whale or seal blubber. Some supplements are derived from plants, but these aren’t as complete as those from fish sources. A slight amount of vitamin E may be present in the supplements to increase their shelf life. Certain fish oil supplements are also fortified with some minerals (especially iron or calcium) and vitamins (A, D, and B complex), making for a more complete dietary supplement.
Uses of Fish Oil
As mentioned, fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids help greatly to strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system, the brain and cognitive function, and the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of the body. Here are other uses of omega-3 fatty acids in addition to those already cited earlier: ●
They reduce pain and swelling. As such, they are helpful in relieving many problems, including arthritis, psoriasis, as well as menstrual pain and cramps.
● They help prevent blood clots. ● They aid in the management or treatment of diabetes, asthma, dyslexia, kidney ailments, and osteoporosis. ●
They improve the eyesight of older people and help treat vision problems like glaucoma, dry eyes, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
They can help prevent weight loss associated with cancer, HIV, and other terminal illnesses.
Form and Dosage Fish oil supplements are often taken in pill or soft-gel capsule form. The usual recommendation is to take 1 to 2 grams daily. Supplements made from fish are generally better than those that are derived from plants. The former usually contain the two most important omega-3 fatty acids, which are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These two components aren’t always present in plant-derived supplements. A good supplement contains at least 500 mg of EPA and another 500 mg of DHA. Just for comparison, a fillet of wild salmon can contain up to 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, but a portion of this is lost in food preparation. You should eat at least two servings of fish every week (especially salmon, tuna, and mackerel), along with nuts, flaxseeds, avocado, and other foods rich in fatty acids every day in order to get adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your normal diet.
Safety and Precautions Taking fish oil supplements is as safe as eating fish, which means that they are safe for everyone. All adults, including pregnant and breast-feeding women and elderly people, don’t have anything to worry about as regards this supplement. However, one should avoid taking more than 3 grams per day, as this can lead to excessive bleeding in case of cuts and other accidents. This can also further weaken the immune system of older people and those who are taking medications that suppress immune function. There are some minor side effects from taking fish oils, such as bad breath, nausea, belching, rashes, and loose bowel movement. To avoid these, simply take the supplements along with meals. Those who have any of the health issues listed below should consult their doctor before taking fish oil supplements. The supplements might interact with the drugs that they are taking for their disorder. ● Bipolar disorder ● Depression ● Liver disease ● Diabetes ● Hypertension (high blood pressure) ● HIV, AIDS, and other disorders that weaken the immune system Those who have these disorders can still take fish oil supplements, but their doctor might need to adjust the dosages of either their present medications or that of the fish oil supplements they’ll take. Fish oil supplements may also be taken by vegans and vegetarians who might otherwise not have the supply of fish oil in their systems. However, this is down to individual choice. If you believe that you can benefit from fish oils, do talk to your medical provider, who may be able to suggest the correct dosage for your particular case.
Chapter 11: Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements In A Nutshell: Multivitamins are dietary supplements that contain vitamins, dietary minerals, and sometimes, other nutrients, such as enzymes. You will find that these can be specific to your sex and age and that the different forms of multivitamins may be targeted toward problems that people of these different ages suffer from. You are advised not to take them with coffee or while smoking because their efficiency will be impaired by the intake of caffeine or nicotine.
Supplement Overview Also called multivitamins and multiminerals, multivitamin/mineral (MVM) supplements are taken to ensure that a person gets enough of the essential nutrients that his normal diet may not be able to provide. They aren’t intended to replace food but rather to fill in any nutritional gaps. Therefore, those who choose to take multivitamins may consider taking them because of seasonal problems but should always ensure that they follow a sensible and varied diet, which includes fruits and vegetables, as well as sources of protein. An MVM tablet or capsule can contain at least three vitamins or minerals. Of course, some MVMs contain all or most of the essential vitamins and minerals in amounts approximating the recommended daily requirement. Many multivitamins are meant to be taken once daily, while others may be taken twice or thrice alongside meals. People who have nutrient deficiencies need to take multivitamins that contain adequate amounts of the nutrient that they lack. Others have certain medical conditions that are treated or improved by the intake of MVMs. Supplements are really for everyone, as most people don’t eat completely balanced meals these days. You can ask your doctor for a blood test; if you feel that you have a specific lack of something in your body, blood tests will reveal deficiencies in iron and other minerals that may be useful. If this is the case, choose multi vitamins that do add this element to your intake. Another thing that is useful when contained in multi vitamins is magnesium, which helps you to keep
cramps at bay. If you are going to exercise on a regular basis, this is very useful.
Uses of Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements Each of the vitamin and mineral components of MVM supplements serves a specific function that is vital to good health. For instance, vitamin A improves eyesight and skin, calcium promotes healthy bones and teeth, iron strengthens the blood, and so on. A person must take the recommended daily amounts (RDAs) of these nutrients for optimum health. If he has a nutrient deficiency or a medical condition, he may need to take more than the RDA of a particular nutrient, according to what his doctor advises. Supplementation is especially beneficial if you eat poorly. This is the case if you eat mostly junk food or empty calories, if you don’t eat from all the different food groups (fats, proteins, carbs, vegetables, fruits, and so on), or if you don’t get to eat regularly for some reason. However, MVM supplementation isn’t an excuse to continue eating poorly. Supplements can never replace real food. They are taken as add-ons, not as substitutes for real food.
How to Choose the Right MVMs Choosing the right MVMs for you depends on many factors. These include your present health (if you have existing nutrient deficiencies or medical issues), your age, your lifestyle, and your health goals. Below are some general guidelines that you can follow: ●
Choose MVMs that have all the basic or essential vitamins and minerals. The ingredients should, at the minimum, include vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, folic acid, B-12, biotin, C, D-2 or D-3, E, and K, as well as the minerals potassium, iodine, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, borate, selenium, iron, molybdenum, and beta-carotene. Please see the notes below, as these show you what each of these means to your health.
● Choose MVMs that contain 100% of the RDAs of nutrients. ● Consider MVMs that have extras, such as antioxidants and enzymes.
● Remember that men and women have different nutrient needs. Men, for example, don’t need as much iron as women do. ●
Do not take more than the RDAs of nutrients, as doing so may cause toxicity and produce unwanted side effects.
If you are already taking prescription medicine, consult with your doctor about the most suitable MVMs for you. Some drugs interact unfavorably with dietary supplements. Their dosage or timing may need to be adjusted, and your doctor is the one who can decide on this.
● Take MVMs with meals to lessen any gastrointestinal side effects. ● Research indicates that the nutrients most men miss out on are zinc and vitamin D, so be sure that your multivitamins include these two nutrients. ● Research also shows that the nutrients that are already present in most men’s diet, and that they don’t need much supplementation of, are vitamins C, A and beta-carotene, E, and B6. Unless your doctor advises you to take these vitamins specifically, you probably can do without them as supplements. ●
In addition to MVMs and the nine other supplements discussed in earlier chapters, also consider taking dietary supplements containing probiotics (good bacteria for digestive health and a stronger immune system), glucosamine and chondroitin (to ease joint pain and pain from injuries), coenzyme Q10, saw palmetto, and ginkgo biloba. These are additional substances that promote men’s health, especially in the more advanced years (age 40 onwards).
Remember that you’ll be healthier if you eat well and exercise regularly. Never rely on multivitamins or supplements alone for good nutrition. Nothing beats eating complete, well-balanced meals – except perhaps complete, well-balanced meals that are supplemented with MVMs and the vital supplements discussed in this book.
There are sets of vitamins that are targeted toward different age ranges, and this is important to note because this relates to the bodily needs of men going through that phase of their lives. When choosing, be sure to read what the
values of the contents are, as some are more beneficial than others.
Vitamin and Their Use in the Body Vitamin A – If your diet is varied, then it is unlikely that you need to supplement your vitamin A, as most of the needs that your body has are supplied by the food that you eat. Vitamin A in excess is harmful to your health, so it isn’t a recommended vitamin for people unless suffering from cystic fibrosis, in which case they will not retain sufficient vitamin A for their bodily needs. B Vitamins are building blocks for red blood cell production. B-12 is the one that stands out as being very useful to men. This helps to regulate the nervous system, as well as helps produce red blood cells. A blood test from your doctor may come up with results based on which your medical provider may suggest taking B-12 or other B vitamins to help balance out your blood work. Vitamin B-1 and -2 are going to help with your eyesight, and you may even find that you have an improvement in memory from taking these because they work on the neurological system. You find this naturally in cereals, dark green vegetables, and in dairy foods. Vitamin B-6 helps the body to release serotonin, which can be useful to help you stay young and to protect your neurological system. Folic Acid – This acid is a soluble one, which is useful for the digestive system. It helps the liver function and also assists when someone is suffering from low blood pressure. Vitamin D – This is essential for calcium to reach the bones, which is why it is important for men suffering from osteoporosis. The overview of the different vitamins that are needed for your health should help you decide on which multivitamins suit you. However, do be aware that some online sources are questionable and that you should always purchase from a reputable source. LabDoor.com has conducted a survey on all of the multivitamins available. These have been tested and the results are interesting. Among the top-rated multivitamins for men, there was a clear winner. Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Men was voted as being the top multivitamin, based on the criteria used for all tests, which are:
● Product purity ● Nutritional value ● Ingredient Safety ● Projected efficacy It was ranked number 1 when compared with 74 other similar products. Rainbow Light Men’s One was voted number 4 out of the 75 and is also worth considering. High in zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin D, this would seem to be the ideal supplement to take if suffering the initial effects of osteoporosis or if trying to stave off the same. OptiMen Optimal Nutrition also rated very high in all of the above criteria, with high levels of vitamins A, D, zinc, and calcium, making this a good alternative for men seeking to retain bone strength and optimal muscle strength. Of course, muscle strength is determined by the level of exercise, and supplements should not be depended upon to replace lifestyle choices, such as good food and exercise, as well as drinking water regularly. There are many choices out there on the market, but if you are interested in reading the lab reports on multivitamins, these can be read on LabDoor’s Website (https://labdoor.com/rankings/multivitamins) by specifically targeting those intended for men and following up by seeing what the lab report came up with. At least, this will give you good guidelines as to which products have specific issues, as this is also shown on the lab report as well. It was noted during my research that some of the multivitamins are associated with health issues, and you need to read the lab report to the end to see which in particular have problems. However, those mentioned above did not and seemed wise choices based on content, efficiency, and purity of the ingredients, as well as the suitability for men and the problems that they may encounter during their lives.
Chapter 12 - Supplements for Your Brain Power Supplements for the brain are also known as nootropics, and they have been making waves in the fitness industry! Yes, you read it correctly! It seems quite unlikely that supplements for the brain can help with overall fitness. It is true. Lifting weights might seem like a physical feat, but your brain needs to exert a massive influence on all the muscles involved. In addition to the supplements required for building your muscle power, you can take certain brain supplements that will help in powering up your training regimen. Caffeine makes you feel energetic, doesn’t it? Did you ever have a cup of coffee or a can of red bull before working out? If you did, then you would be aware of the positive influence that caffeine has on your ability to focus and on your ability to train as well. Caffeine is just one particular ingredient that is considered to be a nootropic that is used to improve your brainpower, affecting things like your focus and lethargy or weakness. Supplements for the brain offer plenty of training benefits as well. They function as cognitive enhancers and are best known for their ability to have a positive effect on your overall mental performance; some even help in improving your memory, energy levels, and your ability to focus. Think of these benefits as gains for your mind!
Benefits of Brain Supplements Including brain supplements in your daily supplements can help you reap the benefits mentioned in this section. Memory support: Nootropics help in supporting your regular memory, thus making it easier to go about doing your daily chores. Some of the most commonly used memory enhancers are creatine, choline, and piracetam. Do you like having a cup of coffee when you feel like you aren’t able to concentrate? This is because caffeine is the most popular nootropic, and it helps in improving attention and the ability to focus. Therefore, it does make sense that this particular group of supplements helps in increasing alertness and acts as stimulants. A combination of nootropic supplements helps reduce reaction time and decreases the feeling of fatigue associated with exercising.
Reduction in fatigue: Nootropics also help in reducing the fatigue you feel by enabling the efficient production and usage of energy. You will be able to work efficiently and for longer if you don’t feel tired. Creatine and Rhodiola Rosea are two supplements that help in making you feel energetic. Lighten the level of stress: A bout of intensive exercising will lead to an increase in the levels of cortisol in the body, and this can be unfavorable to your gains. Nootropics are specifically designed to support the regular cortisol response and help in preserving your muscle gain. The highest level of cortisol response can be noticed when you exercise for prolonged periods of time, so if you have increased your workout time, this supplement can help with your gains.
Supplements for Better Brain Power Typically, nootropics are single compounds, and while single-ingredient supplements have several benefits, some of these compounds can be combined to achieve better results. Let us take a look at the best compounds and combinations that you can make use of. Phosphatidylserine This is an important chemical, and it has several functions in the body. It is essential for the maintenance of cellular functions in the body, especially the ones that take place within the brain. It also helps improve the cognitive functioning before exercising. By supplementing this essential chemical, you can derive better results from exercising, and at the same time, you can develop your mental functions, and it helps elevate your mood as well. A general benefit of this supplement is that it helps enhance your cognitive functioning. So, if you are struggling with calculus, then maybe you should take a Phosphatidylserine supplement. L-Theanine and caffeine L-Theanine is an amino acid that is usually found in green tea leaves and can help in reducing your stress levels. This non-protein is quite potent, especially when mixed with caffeine. It can help improve your overall mood, elevate stress, and help you focus as well. This combination helps slow down
your heart rate and blood pressure levels. Adding Theanine helps negate the adverse effects associated with excessive consumption of caffeine and instead focuses on improving the positive results. Creatine Creatine is usually taken to improve your muscle mass and strength. Moreover, it helps enhance the function of your brain. Does this sound strange? The logic is quite simple. Just like any of your muscles, your brain also tends to make use of ATP to provide energy. Thus, increasing the presence of PCR or phosphocreatine in your brain will help facilitate the better synthesis of ATP and the creation of energy. Taking a creatine supplement can help boost short-term memory and reasoning skills. Huperzine A This is an herbal nootropic that helps promote the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. An increase in this essential neurotransmitter improves memory and other cognitive functions. You don’t need to have huge doses of Huperzine A to see its positive effects, and adding a little bit of this ingredient to your pre-workout and post-workout blends can be quite helpful. It helps in muscle contractions as well, and that’s why it is a great supplement to be added to your pre-workout drink. Choline This is usually found in a lot of the foods we consume but not in a dosage that would prove to be meaningful. Using a choline supplement helps in supporting memory. It also acts as a direct precursor to the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine helps in fueling your workouts by powering the process through which the nervous system communicates with skeletal muscles. Choline can help improve your physical and mental performance. Bacopa monnieri Just like choline and Huperzine, this herb helps improve the release of acetylcholine in the brain that helps enhance your memory. This is a traditional Ayurvedic herb that can be used to reduce and manage stress.
Adding a supplement of this herb to your diet can help reduce your stress levels, improve your performance, and enhance your concentration. This nootropic herb takes a while to kick in, so be patient. Rhodiola rosea This is traditionally used to prevent altitude sickness and to cope with cold climates. It also has specific anti-fatigue properties that can help the body get acclimatized to the stress of exercising. Apart from the physical benefits, this herb helps elevate the mood as well. Asian ginseng Asian ginseng is perhaps the most researched nootropic there is, and it helps improve your memory, attention span, and ability to focus. It can also help in developing your endurance levels. Adding a little bit of ginseng can assist in elevating your mood and providing you with the necessary motivation to start working out.
Chapter 13 - Important Vitamins for Men’s Health Have you ever come across the expression, “you are what you eat”? When it comes to getting sufficient vitamins, this age-old adage can’t be more apt. Eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods helps make sure that your body gets plenty of vitamins that it needs to function optimally. Vitamins are essential for the healthy functioning of the body, and they promote the normal functioning of cells, help in growth and development, facilitate better absorption of nutrients, prevent various diseases, and improve your overall health as well. Men can ensure that they are getting their daily dose of vitamins by having well-balanced meals. However, due to body chemistry, illnesses, or any other condition, the need for specific nutrients is bound to vary. Vitamin A is responsible for maintaining your healthy eyesight and immune system. Vitamin B-1 is responsible for converting carbohydrates into energy. Vitamin B-12 or riboflavin assists in the production of energy. Vitamin B-3 or niacin helps in digestion and the functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B-6 is responsible for the production of hemoglobin in the blood and various neurotransmitters in the brain that help in breaking down proteins and maintaining the blood sugar levels in the body. Vitamin B-12 helps create red blood cells that help in the maintenance of the nervous system and metabolism of the body. Vitamin C is responsible for the health of the gums and teeth, absorption of iron, and the healing of wounds. Vitamin D helps the body in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, and it helps protect the cells from damage. Vitamin K helps in the coagulation of blood. Biotin and pantothenic acid are responsible for processing proteins and carbs and are essential for the production of hormones and cholesterol. Folic acid helps create red blood cells and DNA. Zinc helps in the development of the immune and nervous systems. Vitamins are essential, and you will have realized this by now. However, men seldom get the necessary vitamins from their regular diets. On average, men need 350% more vegetables and 150% more fruits than their regular diet. Vitamins are of two types, and these are the water-soluble ones and the fat-
soluble ones. Vitamins are absorbed into the small intestine. The watersoluble vitamins have readily available transports for their absorption, which implies that certain molecules present in the intestines pick these vitamins up, and they enter the bloodstream. Given that these vitamins are soluble in water, the body eliminates them as well. The fat-soluble vitamins are the ones that dissolve in fat. Bile produced by the liver helps in digesting these vitamins, which are then absorbed in the small intestine. Once these vitamins are processed, they are absorbed into the walls of the intestines and are stored there until required. Regardless of the type of vitamin you opt for, you shouldn’t overdo it. Let us take a look at the different vitamins that you will need for maintaining optimal health.
Different Vitamins Vitamin D This is also referred to as the sunshine vitamin because it is manufactured in the body after it is exposed to the rays of the sun. Vitamin D essentially helps in balancing calcium in the body. A deficiency in vitamins can lead to several issues, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac arrest, stroke, and even muscle weakness. Men who don’t spend much time in the sun might not be able to get the necessary vitamin D from the food they eat. The only food sources of vitamin D are egg yolks, fortified milk, naturally fatty fish, and fortified cereals. Supplementation is quite simple when it comes to this vitamin. However, make sure that you are taking the right dosage and nothing more than that. Excessive vitamin D can lead to the accumulation of calcium in the body, and this can cause vomiting, kidney stones, and muscle weakness. The recommended intake is about 200 IU or 5 micrograms for men up to the age of 50 years, and you should keep increasing it by 200 IU every 20 years. A varied diet that includes Vitamin D-rich food and ensuring that you get about 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine thrice a week will help keep vitamin D deficiency at bay. If you take any multivitamins, then you should know that they usually include Vitamin D (somewhere between 50 IU and 1000 IU). Vitamin K
This has been getting a lot of attention lately. Vitamin K helps control the protein that is responsible for rebuilding bones. It also provides protection against fractures and a couple of types of cancers. It is quite crucial for maintaining overall cardiovascular health because it prevents the accumulation of calcium in the blood vessels. The primary food sources of this vitamin are green leafy vegetables, broccoli, fermented cheeses, and soy products. If you are over 19 years, then you need to take 120 micrograms of this vitamin on a daily basis. The vitamin K present in a cup of cooked kale is 1060 micrograms, in spinach is 840 micrograms, in one cup of collard greens is 840 micrograms, and in a cup of broccoli is 220 micrograms. Vitamin C This is responsible for promoting the health of muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, skin, gums, and cell membranes. If you have ever had any problems with your bone strength or your gums, then you should increase your intake of this vitamin. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is about 90 mg. If you smoke, then make sure that you are getting another 35 mg of vitamin C to compensate for the oxidative damage done by nicotine. Vitamin B-12 It is not quite popular, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t essential. Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining the regular activity that takes place in the nerves in the body. A deficiency in this vitamin causes anemia. Anemia is a condition that is caused when there is depletion in the number of red blood cells present in the body. It is a part of the B-complex vitamin group, and it is essential for maintaining your overall metabolism and energy levels. B-12 is present in meats, salmon, tuna, eggs, and cheese. There aren’t many vegetarian or vegan sources of this vitamin. If you follow a vegan or a vegetarian diet, then it is important that you start taking supplements for this vitamin. A lack of this particular vitamin can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. You need about six micrograms of vitamin B-12 daily. Vitamin A If you were ever fitted for glasses, then you might recollect your doctor mentioning vitamin A. Vitamin A is responsible for maintaining your vision.
Animal liver, free-range eggs, and milk are good sources of vitamin A. Include vegetables rich in beta-carotene, such as spinach, carrots, and cabbage into your daily diet. Using supplements for this vitamin is a good idea because the tolerance level for vitamin A is quite high. If you have any issues with your eyesight, then you should consider increasing your intake of Vitamin A. The recommended dietary allowance per day is about 900 micrograms. A balanced diet should help in preventing the buildup of toxicity in the body. Vitamin E This is perhaps the most commonly misunderstood vitamin. Just like the rest of the vitamins, it is essential to make sure that you receive this vitamin in a balanced manner. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, and therefore, it will stay in your system longer than the water-soluble vitamins. It is present in a vast array of products; therefore, it is quite important that you keep track of your intake of vitamin E. It is an antioxidant and helps reduce the risk of cardiac diseases and certain types of cancers. It is frequently used in anti-aging treatments and for treating sunburn as well. The best sources of this vitamin are nuts, seeds, and whole grains. There are plenty of vitamin E supplements that you can incorporate into your regular diet. However, make sure that you consult your doctor before doing so if you are any form of medication (something as simple as aspirin). Vitamin E works well when combined with other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and selenium. A single vitamin supplement might not do the trick, so make sure that the supplement you are opting for contains the right mix of the necessary vitamins. The recommended intake is 15 to 20 mg per day. Riboflavin Riboflavin is also referred to as the energy vitamin. For all the men on the move, this is one of the most important vitamins that you should consume. All the B-complex vitamins work well together, but this doesn’t mean that some aren’t more important than the others. Riboflavin, just like niacin, is quintessential for the production of energy. It
helps in increasing your metabolism and is essential for various cellular processes in the body. Most of the food sources that tend to contain niacin include riboflavin as well. Food items like milk, leafy veggies, liver, and yeast are all rich in riboflavin. It helps in the movement of blood and is important for men during their period of growth and muscle development. The daily of vitamin B2 requirement of an adult male is 1.3 mg. Supplements for riboflavin are available in the form of tablets and capsules, and it is usually available in combination with other types of B-complex supplements. Vitamin B-9 This is popularly known as folic acid. When coupled with B-12, folic acid helps improve heart health and is quite essential for the creation of healthy red blood cells in the body and the nervous system as well. It is usually found in all sorts of green leafy vegetables, beans, and asparagus. Folic acid is related to pregnancies. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t essential for men. It helps increase sperm count. However, there is a significant side effect of using folic acid supplements, and that’s the risk of prostate cancer. It is a really good idea to increase your intake of foods rich in folic acid instead of taking supplements for this purpose. Adult men don’t need more than 1 milligram of folic acid daily, and food is the best source of folic acid. Include foods that are rich in folate, such as green leafy vegetables, fortified grains and related foods, and animal liver. If you do want to take folic acid supplements, then make sure that the daily dosage of folic acid doesn’t go beyond 1000 micrograms. An excess buildup of folic acid in the body can cause a deficiency of vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-6 This is known as a multitasking vitamin, and it works well when coupled with other B-complex vitamins. It is often combined with vitamin B-12 and folic acid to reduce the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is associated with an increase in the risk of cardiac diseases, dementia, muscle degeneration, osteoporosis, and even depression. When taken in the right amounts, it helps reduce the risk of the conditions
mentioned above and can help improve your mood as well. For all men who are prone to kidney stones, a combination of B-6 and magnesium can be used to manage the condition. It is usually found in beef, chicken, bananas, beans, potatoes, and fortified grains and cereals. This vitamin is water soluble, and it cannot be stored in your fat cells. Therefore, it is bound to be excreted daily. Given that it cannot be stored, you will need to consume a small portion of B6 daily, and it should be a part of your daily diet. Men between the ages of 19 and 50 should have about 1.3 mg of B-6 daily, and those about 50 need 1.7 mg of B-6 daily. Magnesium Magnesium is an important mineral, and it is involved in more than 300 chemical processes. It is responsible for regulating the levels of calcium, potassium, and sodium in the body. It is also responsible for reducing the risk factor for several health conditions, such as high blood pressure, muscle spasms, headaches, and several cardiac diseases. The levels of magnesium present in modern-day food sources are declining gradually. If your stress levels are elevated, you work out frequently, or you have any form of digestive disorder, then your body’s ability to absorb magnesium decreases. Signs of magnesium deficiency include muscle twitching, anxiety, lack of sleep, trouble peeing, and so on. Make sure that you are getting plenty of magnesium-rich foods, such as leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Magnesium supplements can be used to meet the body’s necessary magnesium requirements. Omega-3 Consuming fish caught in the wild is better for health because of all the natural fatty acids present in it, such as Omega-3. Naturally fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and halibut are great sources of Omega-3, especially the ones that have been caught in the wild. Omega-3 supplements are easily available, so make sure that you include it in your daily diet. The diet of an average human being is made up of Omega-6
fatty acids that increase inflammation and do more damage than good. Moreover, most of our diets don’t have any Omega-3 fatty acids in them. The ratio of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids should be about 2:1 for men. This means you can consume twice as much Omega-6s as Omega-3s. If you are interested in neutralizing the damage done to your body by consuming all sorts of unhealthy fats, then make sure that you are following the ratio mentioned above. The advised daily dosage of Omega-3 fatty acids is 1000 mg, so don’t exceed it. Over a period, you will certainly notice a positive change in your overall health. Potassium A low level of potassium increases the risk of several cardiovascular dysfunctions, especially high blood pressure, which affects one in every three adult men these days. It is also responsible for the decline in the health of your bones, fatigue, and a decrease in your rate of metabolism, along with poor digestion and muscle spasms. Potassium deficiency is quite common in all men who are on some form of medication for treating conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or other cardiac conditions. Moreover, the regular consumption of anything that is diuretic in nature can lead to a steady decline in the levels of potassium in your body. By including foods like beans, avocadoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, salmon, and grass-fed meats, you can increase your levels of potassium. Adding some electrolytes to your regular drinking water can also come in handy.
Risk Factors for Vitamin Deficiencies in Men Research shows that the chances of vitamin deficiency are on the higher side for men whose diet is usually made up of all sorts of processed foods. A poor diet is one of the most obvious reasons for a vitamin deficiency. Men need 13 important vitamins altogether, and this list includes vitamins C, A, E, D, K, and all the other B-complex vitamins as well. Apart from this, men need certain electrolytes, trace mineral, and fatty acids for ensuring their overall health. There are certain risk factors that tend to increase the chances of vitamin deficiency in men.
One is having a poor diet that doesn’t have any fresh fruits or vegetables in it. Age plays a vital role in determining the vitamins required, and as you start aging, your appetite and metabolic rate go down, causing several vitamin deficiencies. Second is any family history of prior deficiencies. Third is following a vegetarian or a vegan diet without any supplement. Fourth includes any illnesses or food allergies that lead to the elimination of certain types of foods. Fifth is being underweight or suffering constant starvation, which leads to a severe shortage of essential vitamins. Finally, taking medication and recovering from illness can also create certain vitamin deficiencies.
Does Your Diet Provide You with All the Necessary Vitamins? You might probably be eating a solid diet and trying to include different types of nutritious foods. Are you still wondering if you could be running low on some of the nutrients discussed above? All the risk factors that have been mentioned above make nutrient deficiencies quite common in men, and it means that you should certainly start taking supplements so that your body gets all the nutrients that it needs. Certain categories of men are more prone to nutritional deficiencies than the rest and will need extra vitamins and minerals to meet all their needs.
Your Intake of Seafood, Eggs, Dairy, and Poultry is Rare Vegetarians, as well as vegans, tend to have low levels of B-12, iron, and Omega-3 fatty acids. If you stay away from animal products altogether, then it is a good idea to start including a daily supplement to your food. If you don’t consume seafood regularly, then you should opt for Omega-3 fatty oils. Iron deficiency is quite a common deficiency. People usually believe that only women suffer from iron deficiency. However, even men can suffer from anemia. Include some form of animal-based protein in your food along with iron supplements. Increase your intake of Vitamin C-rich foods to increase your iron absorption.
History of Digestive Problems that Obstruct Absorption Even if your diet is incredibly nourishing, it will not do your body any good
if it cannot absorb those nutrients properly. The absence of specific digestive enzymes and acids in the stomach can interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the body. This is a prevalent problem that those with an inflammatory bowel tend to face. Those with food allergies and those with high levels of inflammation will not be able to absorb all the nutrients their body needs. Moreover, the process of absorption of nutrients starts declining as you start aging, so take care of your health by taking the necessary supplements.
You are Taking some form of Medication Common medications can drastically decrease the level of vitamins and minerals present in your body. Antibiotics tend to block the absorption of certain important minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Antacids and other medicines used for regulating the cholesterol levels and for handling diabetes tend to alter the pH level in the upper gastrointestinal tract, and this wreaks havoc on the way in which vitamins and minerals are mobilized in your body. Get yourself tested a couple of times every year, and take the necessary supplements accordingly. A report that was published by NBC News way back in 2009 showed that around 77% of men didn’t take sufficient magnesium. Most men have vitamin D and B-12 deficiencies. Potassium and iodine are commonly ignored, but this attitude shouldn’t be encouraged. The best vitamins that men need are vitamins B-12, D, A, C, E, and K. Apart from these, men need Omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium for maintaining their overall health.
Chapter 14 - Supplements Guide for Bodybuilding When it comes to maintaining your physical health and staying fit, you will have to put in a lot of work consistently. Maintaining your optimal body weight, the necessary muscle mass, and body fat ratio is a full-time job and requires serious commitment. When it comes to bodybuilding and the desire to have more muscle, lifting heavier weights and having better muscle definition requires dedication and hard work. If you are interested in bodybuilding or like lifting weights and going to the gym regularly, then you must be aware of the importance of proper nutrients. Therefore, it is not surprising that bodybuilding and diet are so closely related. Without a proper diet, you will struggle to achieve and maintain the muscle gains you are looking for while keeping your body healthy. If you are interested in lifting weights, then your diet should have a lot of protein, fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods. Apart from the diet, there are plenty of supplements that you can take. Today, different supplements have been designed with the specific needs of bodybuilding in mind, from protein powders that will provide your body with the necessary protein to pre-workout supplements that are designed to help you get the most of each workout to recovery supplements that ensure optimal recovery after working out. Most of these supplements are quite helpful, and they have been discussed in great detail in this chapter.
How can Supplements help Bodybuilders? For lifting heavy pieces of metal, bodybuilders need to push their bodies to the limit constantly. Like you are aware, weightlifting can take a toll on the body. Taking good bodybuilding supplements will help provide your body with the necessary support and help optimize your results as well. There are plenty of benefits of bodybuilding supplements. They assist in muscle growth, better athletic performance, improved muscle pump, improved endurance, better energy levels for longer, reduction in recovery time, increase in the synthesis of proteins, reduction in the soreness of muscles, better joint health, improved health of the bones, reduction in the risk of
injury, better muscle definition, and improved in overall health. There are two ways in which bodybuilding supplements are used. You can use it before working out to improve your energy levels, endurance, and performance and, after your work out, to improve your recovery time and reduce the soreness of your muscles. Most weightlifting supplements would fall into either of these categories. As mentioned already, bodybuilding supplements offer plenty of benefits. However, some of the benefits mentioned are of a particular category of supplements, so don’t expect to enjoy all of those benefits by making use of a single product. If you are interested in weightlifting, you will need to take a combination of several products. If you are interested in bodybuilding, then you have more reasons to take supplements than an average person. Why? Well, bodybuilding requires you to do some pretty extraordinary things with your body. Lifting heavy weights might make you feel like the Hulk, but it can put your body under tremendous stress. To maintain your health while optimizing the results you obtain from the workout, taking bodybuilding supplements can come in handy. One primary reason is that bodybuilding requires more nutrients than regular exercise. For instance, those who engage in regular strength training need anywhere between 25% and 100% more protein than an average person. A couple of other nutrients like creatine and BCAAs are essential for bodybuilding because of the intensive exercises that deplete the body of these nutrients. By making sure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs, you are guaranteed that your efforts aren’t wasted and that your body will remain healthy. Even regular multivitamins are essential for weightlifting. Another reason is that developing muscle is hard work! It requires absolute dedication and a lot of time for getting in shape, increasing muscle mass, and staying in shape. Therefore, if you are toying with the idea of building muscle and lifting weights, then you will need to use supplements to achieve the desired results. For instance, creatine is a naturally available supplement that helps improve your energy levels while exercising. To define and build your muscles, you
should add supplements to your diet because strength training can be brutal on your body. Intense exercising can lead to several short-term problems like muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, and so on, as well as several long-term problems, such as joint pains and injuries. For short-term relief, taking whey proteins, Omega-3 supplements, BCAAs, and the like can help reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time. For long-term prevention, multivitamins and joint support mixtures can help ensure your overall health. Let us take a look at the best bodybuilding supplements available these days.
Joint Support Vitamins What are joint support vitamins? Joint support vitamins are designed to support the health of your joints. These usually consist of a mix of different vitamins, minerals, and several other ingredients that work together to improve and strengthen your joints. The common ingredients that these supplements contain include calcium, MSM, zinc, chondroitin, and other nutrients. How do these vitamins help in bodybuilding? Weightlifting does put your body through a lot of strain. Lifting heavy hunks of metal daily does take a toll on your body. Muscle pain and other muscle problems are quite common; however, the one problem that can cause longterm damage is joint damage. While bodybuilding, joint damage is bound to happen from time to time; it could be a result of wear and tear. To make sure that your body is healthy in the long run, it is best to take a couple of preventive steps to protect your joints. Joint support vitamins will help in protecting your joints, lubricating them, reducing any joint pain, and significantly reducing the risk of injury, which will allow you to exercise continuously and improve your overall health and wellbeing. You should keep in mind that joint support vitamins are just one piece of the puzzle, and you need to take other preventive steps as well. The most important thing that you should keep in your mind is to learn the proper form when lifting weights; otherwise, you are increasing your chances
of getting injured. Remember to stretch and warm up, and give your body sufficient time to recover. How to take these vitamins? These are usually available in the form of capsules or tablets and should be taken once or twice daily. Timing is not that important when it comes to these vitamins, but they need to be taken with a meal. Possible side effects to watch out for Most people wouldn’t notice any side effects when taking these supplements. However, a couple of minor side effects that you should watch out for are any gastric discomfort, gas, and slight nausea.
Fat Burners What are fat burners? These are just what they sound like – supplements that facilitate fat burn. Essentially, these supplements contain certain ingredients that will help naturally boost the metabolic rate and induce thermogenesis, thereby leading to an increase in the number of calories burned and assisting in weight loss as well. Some products are designed to target fat, and then there are those that help in weight loss. How do these supplements help in bodybuilding? If you work hard on building your body, then you would want to show it off, right? However, at times, it can feel as if fat and unnecessary bulk are hiding away your precious muscles. Especially after cycles of bulking up, muscle definition is never what it could be, and most of those who take up intensive weight lifting start looking for ways to shed fat while maintaining their muscle definition. At the same time, opting for a restrictive diet while you are trying to improve your muscle mass is not a good idea. Limiting your intake of calories will lead to a loss of muscle mass. Therefore, fat burners or thermogenics are a good idea if you are trying to build muscle and shed extra fat. Fat burners
have several health benefits, such as increasing overall metabolic rate, assisting in burning more calories, improving thermogenesis, helping in weight loss, burning fat, improving muscle definition, and helping get rid of fat while maintaining muscle mass. As you can see, these supplements have plenty of benefits and can help you achieve the perfect “beach body” that you can show off! How to take fat burners Fat burners are usually available in the form of pills and capsules. The dosage would vary, and you should examine the supplements along with the instructions before taking them. Usually, one to three 3 doses of these products are recommended per day. Make sure that you aren’t taking them on an empty stomach to avoid any gastric discomfort later on. These products tend to have caffeine and other stimulants in them, so avoid taking these before your bedtime. Natural fat-Burning Foods Conjugated Linoleic Acid: Also known as CLA, it is present in fatty acids. This isn’t produced by the body, and it is a type of polyunsaturated fat. It is present in whole milk, cheese, butter, and beef. CLA helps control inflammation, facilitates changes in metabolism, improves the insulin response of the body, and regulates lipid levels in the body. It also helps burn fat. Grapefruit essential oil: The active ingredients present in grapefruit help boost your body’s metabolism, reduce your appetite and unhealthy cravings, and provide some extra energy. You can rub a few drops of this oil into your skin or even diffuse it in the room you are working in. Green tea: Green tea not only helps improve your energy levels but also gives your metabolism a nice boost and reduces inflammation as well. Green tea helps burn fats as well. Catechin is an antioxidant present in green tea. It reduces your body weight and speeds up recovery after a workout. Having a cup of green tea 30 minutes to an hour after working out can provide you a nice energy boost and improve the burning of fats. There are different herbal teas that you can indulge in as well.
Probiotic foods: There is a form of good bacteria that is present in your body and is referred to as microbiome. These “good” bacteria are present in the intestinal tract, and they help improve your immunity, digestion, and hormone regulation. This, in turn, has a positive effect on your metabolism. Probiotic foods help regulate your appetite and the storage of lipids. Consuming probiotic food can help in weight loss! So don’t forget to include some yogurt and cultured vegetables into your normal diet. Fat-burning foods: Foods rich in fiber (chia seeds, flax seeds, berries, and vegetables) help burn fat in the body. Cherries, apple cider vinegar, bone broth, and coconut oil are natural fat burners, too. Certain spicy foods like cayenne pepper help improve your body’s fat-burning ability. They suppress your hunger and control your glucose levels. Side effects to keep in mind Fat burners are made up of a variety of ingredients, and each recipe is different. People don’t usually notice any side effects after using fat burners. The most common side effects would be sleeplessness and dehydration, which are caused by the caffeine present in the fat burner. Drink plenty of water and avoid taking these supplements before you go to sleep.
Green food Supplements What are green food supplements? These are health supplements that have concentrated amounts of different nutritious vegetables and greens. They are made up of a variety of healthy ingredients, such as spinach, broccoli, green tea, spirulina, and much more. Primarily, these products are designed to provide all the nutrients that the body needs by using natural ingredients instead of chemically synthesized ingredients. These supplements can be easily mixed into smoothies for the sake of convenience. How do these supplements help in bodybuilding? These supplements can benefit anyone, but the reason why they are really good for bodybuilding is because of all the different advantages they offer. Green food supplements can help reduce the levels of cholesterol, improve
your overall energy levels, reduce recovery time after working out, lower your blood pressure, maintain your blood sugar levels, and enhance your immunity and overall health. Greens can indeed help speed up the process of recovery, and it comes in really handy if you are interested in bodybuilding and weightlifting. They also ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. Given that most of us tend to lead extremely hectic lifestyles, you might not have the time to cook healthy meals, and this supplement really does come in handy. How to take these supplements These supplements can be taken at any time. They help with post-workout recovery, but you shouldn’t take them immediately after working out, as greens tend to restrict insulin from being released to the muscle. If you are using greens as a post-workout recovery drink, then make sure that you are giving yourself at least three hours before taking this supplement. Apart from this, you can take it whenever you want during the day. You can have it as a snack or turn it into a healthy breakfast smoothie. The timing doesn’t matter, as long as your body is getting all the nutrients it needs for its better functioning. These supplements have an earthy taste to it because of all the fruits and vegetables that go into it. There are no side effects of this supplement because all the ingredients used in it are from natural sources. So don’t worry about any side effects, and take plenty of green supplements.
L-Glutamine What is L-glutamine? This is an amino acid, and it is found in the human body. It helps in strengthening your muscles, and it plays a significant role in maintaining your overall health. Glutamine is found in the muscle tissue in the body. The most popular glutamine supplement is L-glutamine, and it is usually taken by athletes and bodybuilders to improve the growth of their muscles, enhance protein synthesis, and improve the functioning of their immune system. How does it benefit bodybuilding?
There are different benefits that it offers. From improving the body’s ability to synthesize proteins to speeding up recovery time, this is one amino acid that you should consider taking if you are interested in bodybuilding. A couple of benefits of L-glutamine are that it helps improve recovery time, reduces muscle breakdown, supports the growth of new muscle, helps metabolize fat, improves protein synthesis, lends support to the immune system, increases the production of human growth hormone, and helps improve workout results. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that L-glutamine is one of the best bodybuilding supplements. This amino acid is naturally found in the body, and a supplement just helps enhance its functioning and replenishes the stores of this quintessential amino acid to improve the health and strength of the muscles. How to take L-glutamine While working out, the natural stores of this amino acid are exhausted, and ideally, they should be replaced as soon as possible after working out. Therefore, this supplement should be taken within 30 to 60 minutes after working out. The standard dose of administration is about 5 grams, and this can be taken multiple times during a day. You can easily mix it with milk, water, or juice. What are the common side effects? Given that it is a naturally occurring amino acid, there are no usual side effects that it causes. However, a couple of minor side effects are gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches, and even joint pains when taken in large doses. So don’t overdo your intake of this supplement. As long as you take this supplement as directed and don’t take too much of it, you shouldn’t experience any side effects. If you feel any adverse reactions, contact your doctor immediately, and stop using it.
Pre-Workout Supplements What are pre-workout supplements? Pre-workout supplements are potent bodybuilding supplements that will help give your workout performance a nice boost. These supplements increase
energy, improve muscle pumping, enhance endurance, and even improve strength for a little while. Most of these supplements make use of a blend of ingredients, such as caffeine, creatine, and so on. As the name suggests, this needs to be taken right before working out. How do these supplements help with bodybuilding? These supplements are really good for bodybuilding, and they help enhance your performance, as well as improve the results you desire. By improving the different aspects involved in working out, these supplements will allow you to optimize your performance. It helps increase energy, provides better focus, enhances endurance, enhances the process of fat loss, and improves the overall efficiency of the workout. By improving the quality of the workout, the results from it can be improved as well. If you make use of a good preworkout supplement, you will improve the quality of your workout. How to take these supplements These supplements should be taken right before you start working out. Ideally, take these supplements about 10 to 30 minutes before your exercise routine. This will provide your body with sufficient time to absorb these ingredients to provide good results. Most of these supplements are available in powder form and can be easily turned into a delicious drink. Are there any side effects? There are a couple of potential side effects, but most people won’t experience any. The side effects also depend on the composition of the pre-workout supplement, and given that there are different combinations available, it does get really difficult to make an exhaustive list of all the potential side effects. The most common ones that you should look out for are sleeplessness, anxiety, and some bloating. The other supplements that you can make use of to improve your muscle strength are multivitamins, BCAAs, Omega-3 fatty acids, and beta-alanine. The dosage and usage of these supplements have been thoroughly explained in the previous chapters. So refer to those chapters to get all the information you need.
Now that you have read the list of best supplements that you can take for bodybuilding, we hope that you are prepared to perform at your absolute best! All the supplements mentioned are quite beneficial for you, and depending on your diet and goals, you can select those that best suit your needs. Always check with your dietician or medical practitioner before you think about adding any of these supplements to your daily diet if you have any medical conditions.
Chapter 15 - Supplements for Building Endurance and Stamina When you think about health and fitness, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Perhaps you want to develop your strength, reach your ideal weight, or hit your best time. There are two things that not many of us think about when we think of fitness, and these are endurance and stamina. Not many people think about improving their endurance and stamina. By making sure that you are effectively increasing your endurance and stamina, all your other fitness goals will soon follow suit. Your endurance has an obvious impact on your performance, and this, in turn, affects the results you achieve and how you feel about it. If you are interested in reaching your potential, then you should first focus on improving your stamina. No magic pill will help you develop your stamina overnight. However, there are certain things that you can do, like combining cardio with strength training to achieve better results. Apart from regular exercise, there are certain endurance and stamina supplements that you can take to achieve your desired results. Different fitness supplements are created with the aim of improving your stamina and endurance. These are effective and will help you with different aspects of attaining your fitness goals. Some of these supplements help in overcoming certain nutrient deficiencies, some help in improving your body’s performance, and others help in improving your overall health. Moreover, certain supplements will help in enhancing your energy levels, as well as support your muscle performance and growth. As mentioned earlier, no magic pill will turn you into a marathon runner overnight, and there is no magic supplement that will provide you with epic endurance. However, there are certain supplements that you can take to give you a competitive edge. Hard work and effort, when combined with the right number of supplements, can certainly help you improve your overall endurance as well as stamina. Supplements can help improve your overall health, and this leads to better physical performance and stamina. They can also help enhance certain
aspects of physical performance, such as muscle contraction. Supplements can be used to improve your overall energy levels, endurance, and stamina, reduce the level of exhaustion you feel, support better muscle contraction, provide proper nourishment, prevent several nutritional deficiencies, improve the absorption of nutrients, enhance performance, and help achieve your fitness goals quickly. Every supplement tends to work differently, and some products use a combination of ingredients to produce better results. These supplements help develop overall endurance and stamina permanently. They also help improve your body’s natural ability to keep performing for a longer duration. You are probably thinking about taking up different supplements to improve endurance and stamina. Here are some reasons why you should opt for these supplements. When it comes to fitness training, endurance is quintessential regardless of the kind of training you opt for. For instance, you will need good endurance to run an extra mile or to lift for a while longer. Good endurance takes a while to develop, and it isn’t an easy task. It does take time, and apart from that, you will need to have sufficient stamina to support yourself along the way. Taking these supplements will help provide you with the necessary push in the right direction and take you a step closer to your goals. At times, deficiency of different nutrients can reduce your endurance as well. While increasing endurance isn’t an easy process, at times, it becomes almost impossible because of specific deficiencies. For instance, a deficiency in iron can lead to fatigue, and it hinders your physical performance as well. Most of these conditions can be remedied by just adding a supplement to your regular diet. The supplements used to improve endurance can provide you with the extra energy that you need to improve your performance at the gym. The energy boost they provide will help you keep going for longer, and you will benefit from it. Extra energy is a wonderful bonus that no one would complain about. The stamina supplements mentioned in this chapter are useful for improving your overall health as well. It is not just your stamina and endurance that will increase, but your overall health as well. You can achieve your fitness goals while improving your general health as well.
In this chapter, you will learn about 10 effective supplements that can be used to improve your endurance and develop your stamina.
Iron What is iron? It is a very common mineral that’s found in our food and dietary supplements, and it is naturally present in the human body. Iron assists in the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to different tissues in the body. It is also one of the important elements of metabolic health and is responsible for maintaining your energy levels, growth and development, and much more. One of the most common nutritional deficiencies is that of iron. The common symptoms of iron deficiency are constant tiredness, weakness, headaches, and so on. How can it help in improving your endurance? It can be quite difficult to maintain your endurance levels if you have an iron deficiency. Rectifying this issue will have a positive effect on your physical performance. Here are a couple of ways in which iron can help in improving your endurance: It helps improve your physical stamina, and energy levels, prevents iron deficiency of iron, enhances overall metabolism, reduces feelings of tiredness and weakness, improves your overall health, and develops muscle tissue. Iron is quite helpful for a lot of people; however, if you are already getting plenty of it from your regular diet, you may not experience much change by introducing an iron supplement to your diet. You can increase your consumption of iron-rich foods, such as meats, dairy products, and all sorts of green leafy vegetables. If your body is experiencing even a slight iron deficiency, improving the iron levels can help improve your physical endurance, which is why iron is considered to be among the best supplements to enhance your endurance. How to take Iron Iron comes in the form of tablets or capsules, and you just have to follow the instructions printed on the product you are using. Usually, it is advised that
iron supplements should be taken with a meal to improve absorption. Follow the proper dosage instructions given, and you are good to go. Possible side effects When iron supplements are taken according to the specific dosage, it shouldn’t cause any side effects. A couple of likely side effects are gastrointestinal issues, such as discomfort in your gut, nausea, diarrhea, and so on. You should take the iron supplement along with food if you want to reduce the likelihood of these symptoms. Taking more than the required dosage of iron does have other serious complications, so don’t do that.
Cordyceps What are Cordyceps? Cordyceps are a kind of fungus and are considered to be a species of mushrooms that have several medicinal benefits. This species of fungus grows only in specific mountainous regions, and it grows on particular bugs like caterpillars. It is a type of parasite that lives off wild critters but is quite beneficial for human beings in different ways. Cordyceps have been used in traditional medicinal preparations for a long time, and they have received public attention quite recently. This fungus is quite popular for the anti-aging and performance boosting traits it possesses. How do Cordyceps help in increasing endurance? Cordyceps have been used in Chinese medicine for a long time, and these days, they are quite popular with athletes and runners who are looking for ways to improve their endurance. The positive effect offered by cordyceps is derived from its ability to increase the rate of transfer of oxygen from the red blood cells to the mitochondria. Mitochondria are considered to be the powerhouse of the cells because they help synthesize energy. By increasing the speed of this transfer, cordyceps help increase the generated energy and provide the body with better endurance that will allow you to keep going for longer. Apart from acting as an energy booster, they help improve your performance, enhance your stamina, support your immune
system, develop better health, increase the supply of oxygen in the lungs, improve the respiratory system, help regulate the levels of cholesterol, support good cardiac health, help in the detoxification of the body, have antiaging properties, and improve your overall health. All in all, cordyceps are quite wonderful supplements and should be taken if you are interested in improving your stamina and endurance. How to take Cordyceps These are usually available in the form of tablets and capsules. You can take them as directed by the instructions given by the manufacturer or your doctor. Most cordyceps supplements contain somewhere between 500 and 1500 mg in every serving. The possible side effects As long as you take the supplement according to the given instructions, you don’t have to worry about any side effects. A couple of minor side effects that users rarely experience are dryness of the mouth, nausea, and even diarrhea. With all that being said, there haven’t been any clinical trials to check the long-term effects it might have on health, if any. As long as you take this supplement as directed and don’t take too much of it, you shouldn’t experience any side effects. If you feel any adverse reactions, contact your doctor immediately, and stop using it.
Eleuthero What is Eleuthero? The scientific name of Eleuthero is Eleutherococcus senticosus, and it is usually referred to as Siberian ginseng. It is an herb that has been commonly used in traditional medicines for generations. Eleuthero is used to reduce fatigue, and preliminary clinical trials have shown promising results. It is an adaptogen compound, which simply means that Eleuthero has specific properties that help elevate the stress that a person experiences in the body. What are the benefits of taking Eleuthero?
Eleuthero is an adaptogen, and it can help in strengthening the body during times of stress, as well as in improving athletic performance and endurance. This herb increases the intake of oxygen, lung capacity, and physical performance of a person while reducing recovery time. Apart from this, Eleuthero helps improve stamina and reduces post-workout recovery time. It is a great supplement if you are trying to improve your overall endurance. Siberian ginseng has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine and is quite effective. Given that it is a natural supplement, you don’t have to worry about any chemicals harming your body. How to take Eleuthero These supplements are often available in the form of root or stem extracts or even packaged capsules. The leaf extracts of Eleuthero can be used as well, but they aren’t as common as the other forms. The dosage can vary from 300 to 1200 mg, but it shouldn’t exceed 2000 mg per day. What are the possible side effects of Eleuthero? The side effects of this herb are quite rare. However, when they do occur, you might experience slight drowsiness, mood swings, and muscle spasms. If you experience any severe side effects, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Energy gels What are energy gels? Energy gels are fitness products that provide a quick burst of energy during a workout. They are often packed into small sachets that can be easily squeezed into your mouth even while working out, regardless of the kind of exercise you might be doing. They are usually made up of a mix of carbs, amino acids, and other important nutrients that will provide your body with an essential burst of energy that will keep you going. Some gels tend to contain some caffeine in them as well. These gels help improve your overall stamina and are a great way of sneaking in that much-desired energy boost. What are the benefits of using energy gels?
Essentially, these energy gels have been designed to provide you with an extra boost of energy, which helps you push yourself physically. Energy gels do this through the carbs present in it that helps restore the glycogen levels in the body. They are designed with convenience in mind, and they can be taken even in the middle of the exercise. These gels are absorbed quickly because they can be digested easily. They help in restoring the depleted levels of glycogen in the body because the carbs used in them are easily digestible. They help improve your endurance and physical performance. They take about 3 to 10 minutes to take effect, they might contain some caffeine, and they certainly help in providing energy that can be used immediately to improve your stamina. These are really good for athletes undergoing endurance training. The bonus ingredient used in these gels is amino acid, and this is really helpful in providing a mid-workout energy boost to keep you going. These are small and can fit into your pocket quite easily. How to take energy gels These can be taken as and when needed, regardless of what you are doing. The absorption time is between 3 and 1o minutes. So keep this in mind while you are timing your usage of this gel. Using it cannot get any simpler than it already is. You just have to squeeze the contents of the sachet into your mouth, and wait for it to get absorbed. Once it does, you can immediately feel a burst of energy. What are the side effects of using energy gels? These are food products, so they don’t have any typical side effects. However, watch out for any allergic reactions. To avoid any such reactions, go through the list of ingredients to check whether or not you are allergic to any of the contents of the energy gel. Caffeine is usually present in most of the gels. The obvious side effects of caffeine are trouble sleeping, some jitteriness, and so on. So check the ingredients before using it. If there is any caffeine in it, then time your usage of the gel accordingly. Try avoiding caffeinated products before going to bed or late in the afternoon.
Pre-Workout Supplements What are pre-workout supplements? Pre-workout supplements should be taken before you start working out. They help increase your energy levels, focus, and drive that lead to better and longer workouts. They usually contain certain stimulants like caffeine, amino acids, and different ingredients that help improve your performance. What are the benefits of using these supplements? They help improve your energy levels, increase your ability to focus, reduce the effort you put in, improve your performance, develop endurance, exercise harder, and develop your overall stamina as well. How to take pre-workout supplements These supplements ought to be taken just before you begin working out. Preferably, take these supplements around 10 to 30 minutes before your practice schedule. This will give your body adequate time to absorb these nutrients and to provide more energy. A significant number of these supplements are accessible in powder form and can be effortlessly transformed into a tasty and healthy drink. What are the side effects of these supplements? Here are two or three potential reactions; however, most won't encounter any prominent symptoms. The symptoms additionally rely on the structure of the pre-exercise supplement, and given that there are distinctive blends accessible, it becomes difficult to make a comprehensive list of all the potential reactions. The most widely recognized ones that you should pay attention to are restlessness, slight anxiety, and bloating.
L-carnitine What is L-carnitine? This is an amino acid that is present in the body naturally. This helps in metabolizing energy in the body and offers protection to the mitochondria. It
is capable of being synthesized in the body, but it is better to take additional supplements if you are interested in improving your energy levels and endurance. What are the benefits of this supplement? This amino acid usually helps in weight loss and is used to improve athletic performance. It can also help reduce fatigue and keep up the levels of body metabolism. It will allow you to exercise for longer and reduce the tiredness you might usually feel after strenuous exercise. This supplement helps convert fats into energy and gives the immune system a nice boost. Moreover, if you are interested in improving the muscle definition in your body, then you should consider including this supplement in your regular diet. How to take this supplement? It is available in the form of powder and capsules. Neither of these types is necessarily better than the other one, and it is up to you to decide the form that you want to opt for. The most important thing is to follow the instructions regarding usage that have been given on the product packaging. Follow them carefully, and don’t take a large dosage. This supplement shouldn’t be taken on an empty stomach. It should be taken with food if you want to improve its absorption. Take it with your meals for best results. What are the possible side effects? As long as you take this supplement as directed and don’t take too much of it, you shouldn’t experience any side effects. If you feel any adverse reactions, contact your doctor immediately, and stop using it.
Eurycoma What is Eurycoma? The scientific name of Eurycoma is Eurycoma longifolia, and it is commonly referred to as Tongkat Ali. It is an herbal remedy that has been frequently used in traditional medicines for ages. It is quite popular in Southeast Asia
and is considered to be an energy booster and a stress buster. It is slowly gaining popularity as a stamina booster in the Western world. What are the benefits of this supplement? It helps regulate the levels of two key hormones in the body, namely, cortisol and testosterone. It is essential to keep these levels in check if you are interested in improving your performance. It helps improve your endurance while developing your stamina and is quite effective. Owing to its favorable impact on the production of testosterone, it is typically used as a male enhancement herb in the west. How to take this supplement It is usually available in the form of a capsule that contains powdered root or the stem of this herb. It is advisable to take this supplement with food to achieve best results. The usual dosage is between 200 and 300 mg per day. Always follow the instructions that have been given on the product, and if you notice or experience any discomfort, consult your doctor as soon as you can. What are the possible side effects? As long as you are taking this supplement according to the guidelines provided with the product, you certainly don’t have to worry about any side effects. Take it with food to further reduce the chances of any side effects, such as minor GI discomfort.
Rhodiola What is Rhodiola? The Latin name of Rhodiola is Rhodiola Rosea. It is an herb that’s frequently used in Chinese and Scandinavian medicine to improve physical and mental vitality in men. This is considered to be among the best supplements available to improve your stamina. How does it help?
It can used to prevent fatigue, reduce the effects of stress while exercising, improve the delivery of oxygen in the body, provide adaptogenic properties, and is a good antioxidant as well. This herb increases the intake of oxygen, lung capacity, and physical performance of a person while reducing recovery time. It is an excellent herb to develop your endurance and stamina over a period. How to take this supplement This is available in the form of capsules. You merely need to follow the instructions given on the product you are using and stick to it. A dosage of Rhodiola is about 500 mg, and taking it in smaller doses is equally effective. This supplement is best absorbed into the system when you take it with food. So, take it along with a meal. What is the possible side effect? The most common side effects that have been reported are drowsiness, dizziness, and dryness of the mouth. As long as you take this supplement as directed and don’t take too much of it, you shouldn’t experience any side effects. If you feel any adverse reactions, contact your doctor immediately, and stop using it.
Chapter 16 - How to Boost Testosterone Low levels of testosterone can cause some severe damage to your physique, your mood, and your performance in the bedroom as well. However, taking a couple of supplements can help reverse this process. Having a low level of testosterone is usually associated with a decline in sex drive and lower muscle mass. A low level of this hormone can cause mood swings and can lead to depression as well. Don’t you worry about this because this problem can be fixed quite easily. Strength training helps increase the level of this hormone produced in the body, and even your lifestyle can play a major role in balancing these levels. This hormone plays a vital role in men’s overall health. It helps maintain the muscle mass, bone density, and sex drive as well. The production of testosterone is quite high during a man’s early adulthood, and it starts declining thereafter. When the body is not capable of producing a sufficient amount of testosterone, the condition is called hypogonadism, which is usually referred to as “low T.” Men who have been diagnosed with this condition can improve their testosterone levels by following a couple of remedies mentioned in this chapter.
Fenugreek This is a very popular herb that has several health benefits. One of the major benefits it offers is that it can be used to improve the levels of testosterone. If you feel that your sex drive is on a downward spiral, then make sure that you include some of this herb into your regular diet. This can be used as a flavoring agent in curries and teas. If you feel like it, you can take supplements like TestroVax.
Ginger Ginger is a versatile root that can be added to sweet and savory dishes alike. It is a wonderful condiment that can work wonders for your health. Add some ginger to your meals regularly to increase your testosterone levels.
Sleep Getting a good night’s sleep can help improve your testosterone levels. Lack of sleep leads to a decline in these levels, and it can lead to several physiological problems. A low level of testosterone often leads to a decrease in your general sense of wellbeing. Make sure that you can get at least 7 hours of good sleep every night.
Excess Weight Loss Losing more weight than what is required can also lead to a drastic decrease in the T levels in the body. Middle-aged men who are fighting obesity and prediabetes also tend to have low levels of testosterone. Losing weight is a good idea. However, losing more weight than what is desirable can lead to a drastic decline in your testosterone levels. Maintain your ideal weight, and exercise regularly to keep your T levels optimal.
Zinc Men who tend to have hypogonadism also have zinc deficiencies. Zinc also helps regulate testosterone levels in men. Therefore, make sure that you are consuming plenty of zinc-rich foods to improve your levels of testosterone, and opt for sources like oysters, red meats, and poultry. Different types of beans, nuts, and whole grains can also be helpful. Adult males need about 11 mg of zinc daily.
Reduce your Sugar Intake Reducing your sugar intake is a good idea. Taking zinc supplements isn’t sufficient to ensure that your body is getting all the nutrition it needs. The human body is a very complex machine, and it needs different types of vitamins and minerals to maintain its optimal functioning. An increase in your consumption of sugar not only leads to several health problems like diabetes, prediabetes, and obesity, but it also reduces the amount of testosterone produced in your body.
Getting some old-fashioned exercise can help improve your testosterone levels. Try some strength training exercises, and it is bound to improve your T levels, along with your overall health and mood.
Chapter 17: Supplement Stacks The effectiveness of your workouts is hugely enhanced by taking great supplements. Supplements complement your hard work and commitment at the gym in a great way, making your journey to health, training and fitness a lot of fun and far more effective than otherwise. Nevertheless, there is another way to improve the effectiveness of your supplements themselves further, and that is by combining two or more supplements. This process, called stacking, derives its advantages from how some supplements complement each other perfectly when they are combined.
What is a Stack? A stack is nothing but a combination of two or more supplements that work excellently when they come together. For example, you can combine whey protein with a pre-workout supplement. This will become a supplement stack that enhances the effectiveness of your workout in a much better way than if you used any one of them alone. The pre-workout supplement will help your body prepare itself to handle the rigors of the workout, and the whey protein supplement will enable your muscles to gain optimum benefit from the workout.
Benefits of a Stack There are several reasons to go in for stacks instead of single supplements, and some of them include: It helps you achieve fitness targets more efficiently than before – Working out well and eating right are the two most basic elements of being fit and healthy and building a great body. However, including supplements in your daily routine takes this journey to an entirely new plane. Stacks take you to next level above single supplements. Stacks give you new possibilities when it comes to taking advantage of supplements – You really don’t need to be highly knowledgeable about the various benefits of supplements to take advantage of stacks. A basic knowledge is good enough. Moreover, there are stacks targeted specifically
for various fitness goals, such as muscle building, endurance, etc. Stacks can help you save money – Purchasing stacks can potentially save you money as collections or combinations of supplements are usually priced cheaper than single items. Using stacks is a highly effective technique to take your fitness regimen a few notches higher.
Some Precautions About Stacking Supplements An ideal time you can use any stack is between six and eight weeks, after which it is imperative that you go off stacks for about four to six weeks. It would be unwise to go beyond this period before taking a break. Check with your doctor for any preconditions or health issues before taking the stacking route. Strictly adhere to the recommended dosage. Beware of taking too much supplements or stacks. For example, some people get skin rashes or blisters if Vitamin C is consumed in excess. Avoid excesses of all kinds, and listen to your body.
Stacks for Building Size and Strength Stack # 1 – combines protein, multivitamins, creatine ethyl ester, nitric oxide, glutamine, and a test booster. Let us look at each element in greater detail to understand how the various supplements complement one another to produce great results for you. Protein – An essential element to fitness and bodybuilding, you can include proteins in any one of the following forms: Whey Protein Isolates – This is the purest form of protein consisting of only 5% to 10% of fat and/or lactose, with the balance of 90% to 95% bring protein. Whey Concentrate – While this form is not as pure as the isolates, the hydrolyzed versions enable easy digestion as the protein is broken down into peptides.
Metamyosyn Protein Blends – These blends combine the power of casein and whey, giving you the blended power of slow- and fast-acting proteins in one solution. Milk-Based Protein – This is a slower digesting protein and is great when you know that you are going to be without a protein source for some time, such as sleeping times. Multivitamins – This element ensures that your body gets all the essential nutrients needed to keep it fit and achieve your fitness goals. Many vitamins are connected to different aspects of the muscle-building process. Multivitamin tablets are to be taken once a day along with a meal. Creatine Ethyl Ester – This form of creatine is absorbed much more easily than the standard creatine monohydrate. This needs to be taken twice a day – once immediately after you finish your workout and another six to eight hours either before or after. As proteins hinder absorption of creatine ethyl ester, you must wait at least 30 minutes after a dose before you eat a meal or have your protein shake. Nitric Oxide – This enhances the pump and increases size and strength. The dosage of nitric oxide is three to four tablets or capsules thrice a day on an empty stomach. Glutamine – Glutamine forms the largest percentage of amino acids in your muscles. The recommended dosage is 20 grams a day – 10 grams added to the pre-workout drink and another 10 grams added to the post-workout drink. Testosterone Booster – The testosterone formula that you take should contain several of the following herbs/nutrients: Tribulus Terrestis – Protodioscin is the active ingredient in this herb and is used in nearly all the popular testosterone formula products. Check the label to see at least 45% protodioscin. Moreover, check for “standardized extract” in the label to ensure potency of the active ingredient. Long Jack – This is an herb found in the rainforests and is known to have a direct impact on the production of testosterone in your body. Zinc – This is an essential element that is needed to synthesize testosterone and proteins, too.
There are many more herbs and nutrients that have found their way into testosterone formula products. It is wise to stick to an established and accepted brand. Any product that contains two or more of the below-listed elements will help boost testosterone production. These elements work in a natural way by increasing your body’s ability to release this hormone. Omega-3 fatty acids – This is involved in the production of hormones and also helps in lubricating joints, which facilitates easy movement. Joint Formula – A glucosamine-based joint formula is to be taken three times a day, although limited to 1500 mg glucosamine and 1200 mg of chondroitin. You can adjust the daily dosage depending on the strength of the product you use. Cortisol blocker – Cortisol or phosphatidyl-serine is a catabolic hormone because it breaks down muscles. When you block cortisol production, you are effectively increasing the production of testosterone. This needs to be taken one to three times a day along with your meal(s). Here is a sample of how this stack can be consumed: ● Wake-up time – a quick protein shake ● 30 min later – creatine/nitric oxide ● Breakfast – testosterone and joint formulas, omega-3, multivitamins, cortisol blocker ● Between breakfast and lunch – a protein shake ● An hour after lunch – nitric oxide ● Between lunch and dinner – a protein shake ● Dinner – testosterone and joint formulas, omega-3, cortisol blocker ● An hour later – creatine/nitric oxide ● Before bed – a protein shake On the days you work out, take the pre-workout supplement along with nitric oxide about 45 to 60 minutes prior and creatine after the workout; 30 minutes later, take the post-workout drink. Stack # 2 – The items listed in stack # 1 are extremely effective and expensive, too. So here is another stack that is more economical and still
good enough to build size and strength. This stack is more popular than the one mentioned above owing to the difference in pricing. ● ● ● ● ●
Protein Multivitamins Creatine ethyl ester Nitric oxide Test booster
This stack has a few elements removed as compared to stack # 1. This will cut down costs for you while still delivering good results. The same guiding principles and schedule as stack #1 exist for this stack, too. Simply ignore the schedule of the eliminated products/formulas. Stack # 3 – This stack consists of the following: ● ● ● ● ●
Protein Multivitamins Creatine Monohydrate Nitric oxide Tribulus
You can save money with this stack because of the switching of the following products: ● The single product Tribulus instead of testosterone formula ● Creatine monohydrate instead of creatine ethyl ester Tribulus is the core herb used in nearly all the testosterone formula products, and hence, using it by itself will be fairly effective for you while cutting costs considerably. By replacing the more expensive creatine ethyl ester with the standard creatine monohydrate, an economical plain white powder, you will get decent effectiveness for size and strength while cutting costs. When you use the standard creatine monohydrate, it is important to start with this routine: 5 grams mixed with about 6 to 8 oz. of either apple or grape juice to be consumed four times a day for four days. After the first four days, you can reduce it to one to two times a day. Moreover, protein does not compete with creatine monohydrate for absorption, unlike creatine ethyl
ester. For stack #3, here is a recommended schedule: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Wake-up time – a quick protein shake 30 min later – creatine Breakfast – tribulus, multivitamins Between breakfast and lunch – a protein shake An hour after lunch – nitric oxide Between lunch and dinner – a protein shake Dinner – tribulus An hour later – creatine/nitric oxide Before bed – a protein shake
Stack # 4 – This is a great beginner stack and is easy on the wallet. You can use this simple yet good stack to begin with, and then increase the complexity and the number of formulas gradually. Stack #4 consists of: ● Protein ● Multivitamins ● Creatine Monohydrate
Stacks for Building Strength and Endurance Endurance requires you to spend hours doing continuous activity, whether it is running 40 to 50 miles every week or cycling 150 to 200 miles every week or swimming innumerable laps in the pool. Building endurance requires you to focus a lot more on what you are eating, as these kinds of physical activities can put extreme demands on your body. Here is a list of supplements you must consider to include in your strength and endurance-building stack. Beta-Alanine – This wonder supplement is known to delay fatigue and improve performance during high-intensity activities. It is also a great supplement for building endurance despite the misplaced belief that building endurance happens only with low-intensity workouts. Endurance techniques also include lifting, race pace, and tempo runs, for which beta-alanine is a great supplement for improved performance. This is how beta-alanine works: When you perform high-intensity exercises
and regimes, a lot of hydrogen ions are accumulated in your body. These hydrogen ions lower the pH of your body, resulting in fatigue. Beta-alanine is a derivative of amino acid. It is known to build up intramuscular carnosine content. This carnosine helps the body to build a buffer against the action of hydrogen ions, thus delaying fatigue and improving performance. Recommended dosage: Beta-alanine is to be consumed in doses of 800 grams throughout the day limited to a total of about 3 to 6 grams a day. The staggered dosage helps reduce the effects of paresthesia, a temporary numbness or tingling sensation similar to a limb “falling asleep.” Side Effects of Beta-Alanine Supplements – While oral intake of beta-alanine has no reported side effects, high doses could result in tingling and flushing. Caffeine – This has been in use to build endurance and strength for a long time now. It provides a quick-acting pick-me-up that is usually needed to overcome the effects of sleep but also reduces the perception of effort, thereby making longer regimens more bearable. Additionally, caffeine has the potential to increase fat oxidation, thus helping in weight management. Caffeine reaches the maximum concentration in blood about 60 minutes after consumption; it is recommended that caffeine be consumed about an hour before your exercise regimen so that you can receive its full benefit. While caffeine is known to be a diuretic, which means it increases the production of urine in the body, there are studies that prove that consuming caffeine does not reduce exercise-heat tolerance and does not result in any electrolyte-water imbalance in your body. Recommended dosage: about 1.3 to 2.7 mg for every pound of body weight to be taken about an hour before your exercise regimen Side Effects of Caffeine – Oral caffeine intake is mostly safe for most adults. Fairly high doses can cause insomnia, restlessness and nervousness, vomiting and nausea, stomach irritation, increased respiration and heart rate, etc. Glutamine – Although glutamine is the most predominant amino acid present in your body, intense workouts can drain your glutamine reservoir faster than the rate at which your body can replenish it. This will cause your body to break down its own muscles, resulting in a catabolic state. When glutamine is at very low levels in your body, your immune system can be compromised,
leading to increased risk of infections. Glutamine supplements are known to help in recovery and boost immune function after an intense workout session. Glutamine reduces your vulnerability to infections, thereby allowing you to train longer, which, in turn, builds strength and endurance. Recommended dosage: 20 grams per day Side Effects of Glutamine – Oral doses of up to 40 grams per day is mostly safe for adults. There are no reported side effects. Creatine Monohydrate – Although creatine is not something that is usually associated with endurance and is more popular for building size and strength, there are multiple studies that prove the value of this component in building endurance through indirect ways. Creatine supplements offer plenty of benefits to marathoners, cyclists, triathletes, and other endurance athletes. The reason is that hill training, interval workouts at the lactate threshold, and speed work are common and extremely enervating techniques used for building endurance. These techniques are very helpful in improving performance times and efficiency. The more efficient you get with these techniques, the better and faster are your performance. Multiple studies have revealed that creatine supplements decrease recovery times during interval workouts and increase output at the lactate thresholds. As you improve your speed, running economy, and power, your endurance levels are bound to increase as well. Recommended Dosage: 3 to 5 grams per day without the need for loading that is usually done with creatine supplements. A point to note is that there could be an initial weight gain because of increased water content in your body, leading to reduced performance. However, this will ease out with regular use of creatine. Side Effects of Creatine Supplements – When taken orally for up to five years, creatine supplements are considered mostly safe. However, in high doses, there are some concerns regarding a negative impact on heart, kidney, and liver function. Creatine supplements also could cause nausea, stomach pain, muscle cramping, and diarrhea.
Protein – Protein is essential to building endurance and strength. Although carbs are taken to be the more important nutrient between the two for endurance athletes, protein is essential for the repair, maintenance, and construction of your muscles. Moreover, endurance building invariably leads to long periods of workouts during which your body will turn to its protein reservoir for additional energy. This usually happens after a two-hour mark and is referred to as muscle cannibalization, leading to the deterioration of lean muscle mass. This is an even more important reason to include protein supplements to build endurance as you don’t want to lose hard-earned muscle tissues to deliver energy to your body. It is better to consume protein supplements with carbohydrates, as this combination of macronutrients leads to improved rates of glycogen and protein synthesis. Recommended dosage: You need approximately 0.5 to 0.7 grams protein per pound of your body weight. During high-intensity or high-volume workouts, you can increase the intake to 0.9 mg per pound of body weight. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) – To understand the function of BCAAs, you need to understand how fatigue works in your body. One of the primary facets of fatigue is free tryptophan crossing the BBB (blood-brain barrier). Tryptophan facilitates the production and release of some neurotransmitters like serotonin. This has a direct effect on moods, sleep, arousal, etc., all of which cause fatigue. Now, tryptophan and BCAAs compete for the same protein carrier. Thus, when you increase BCAA concentration, the amount of tryptophan going over the BBB is reduced, thereby delaying fatigue. Additionally, BCAA is known to reduce lactate production, thereby increasing endurance. Recommended dosage: 3 to 6 grams during or before an exercise regimen Side Effects of BCAA supplements – This is mostly considered safe for oral consumption, and there are no reported side effects. As usual, avoid high doses. Sodium Phosphate – Sodium phosphate is a common preservative to preserve various foods and meats. It has been proven to increase time to
exhaustion and aerobic capacity by increasing the RBC’s ability to deliver oxygen faster and more efficiently to active muscles. Recommended dosage: 3 to 5 grams per day taken in doses of 1 gram each throughout the day Side Effects of Sodium Phosphate – A mild side effect of sodium phosphate supplements is diarrhea. However, if the diarrhea is severe or you have difficulty breathing or experience seizures, you must stop at once and call your doctor. Other common side effects include vomiting, nausea, joint pain, headache, dizziness, increased thirst, and tingling/numbness. Iron – There are some studies that reveal that endurance building can increase the risk of anemia because of the loss of iron that takes place during excessive sweating. While iron-rich diets can solve some of your endurance training problems, it may not be enough, and you might need iron supplements. However, excessive iron in the body can be dangerous, too, and hence, it is advised to take iron only under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner. The above supplements are all great for endurance and strength building, and you can mix and match them to suit your needs. For example, you can combine beta-alanine, glutamine, and caffeine, or choose another combination. Of course, proteins are an essential part of your supplement stack no matter which one you choose.
Stacks for Strength Recovery After an intense workout, it is natural for you to reach for a post-workout shake as soon as you are out of the gym. Your muscles are broken down and hungry and are highly receptive to nutrients. When you take in good nutrition at this point in time, the nutrients go straight to rebuilding and recovering stressed out and tired muscles. Thus, it is essential that you know the right supplement stacks to use so that you can maximize this opportunity with solid nutrition for your recovery process after a hectic and strenuous regimen where your muscles have undergone huge amounts of stress. Here is a list of essential supplements that will help you in the recovery process.
Whey Protein Powder – This tops the list of the supplement stack you will build for your recovery process. Whey protein powder is immediately and easily digested, and it feeds your muscles with the nutrition needed for rebuilding and recovery. Whey supplies your body with all the essential amino acids it needs to start rebuilding and repairing muscles, including the three BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids): iso-leucine, valine, and leucine. Importance of BCAA in muscle building and recovery Before we go into BCAA, let us look at amino acids from a general perspective. Muscles simply cannot grow without proteins. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids, which are of 20 different types. Out of these 20, eight are not produced by our bodies, and we need to include them in our foods and supplements. The eight amino acids that have to be consumed are leucine, isoleucine, methionine, lysine, threonine, phenylalanine, valine, and tryptophan, and together, they are referred to as essential amino acids. Now, BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs are used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve performance and lean mass. How do BCAAs work? Multiple studies have proven that BCAAs reduce the production of serotonin, which is one of the important factors leading to mental fatigue. Stimulating the growth and refueling of muscles at the cellular level is essential to recovery. BCAAs make up almost one-third of muscle protein and helps in reducing muscle fatigue, recovering speed, and decreasing the loss of other amino acids. The BCAAs compete with one another for absorption and, therefore, need to be available together to ensure optimum absorption of all the three amino acids. Consuming BCAA with or immediately after a workout lowers the production of cortisol, which destroys muscles, thus helping in the recovery and muscle building process. In summary, BCAA supplements are critical for muscle growth because they: ● Increase muscularity and strength ● Delay fatigue and improve performance during a workout ● Cannot be made by your body and have to be taken through diets and supplements
● Maintain and repair muscle tissues during and after strenuous workouts ● Being anabolic agents, they allow the body to burn fat instead of muscle for energy Whey protein powder is a great source of BCAAs to build and repair muscles and is, therefore, an important component of your recovery supplement stack. Additionally, the peptides present in whey protein powder send more blood to the muscles, thus helping in the rebuilding and recovery process. Recommended dosage: Ideally, you need to consume about 40 grams of whey protein powder within the hour after finishing your workout. It would be great if you can choose a whey protein powder that has whey protein hydrosylates or whey protein isolates as these are smaller fragments that make digestion faster and easier. Fast-Digesting Carbs – Fast-digesting carbs spike the production of insulin, an essential hormone to drive muscle growth and recovery. Insulin uses a multi-pronged approach to kick-start the muscle building and repair process. First, it pushes protein into the muscles, where protein synthesis begins to take place, resulting in repair and rebuild. Second, it pushes amino acids, carnitine, and creatine into the muscle cells, enhancing their uptake and resulting in improved muscle building and repair. Fast-digesting carbs are important for another reason and that is to quickly replenish the loss of glycogen from your muscles during workout. As you work out, the primary source of body fuel is glycogen, which is nothing but the stored form of sugar/glucose, in the muscles. The glucose from this glycogen chain generates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy carrier that carries chemical energy to the muscles to aid in the contractions needed for the workout. Multiple studies have proven that the best way to replenish lost glycogen from muscles during workout is by consuming high-glycemic (fast-digesting) carbs soon after a workout. This quick restoration of lost muscle glycogen aids immensely in the recovery process. Therefore, fast-digesting carbs should be in your supplement stack for recovery. Recommended dosage: about 60 to 80 grams of fast-digesting carbs in the
form of sports drinks or white bread or any carb drink that can be mixed with your post-workout supplement or shake Casein Protein Powder – Casein protein powder digests quite slowly yet plays an important role in rebuilding muscle cells and facilitating the recovery process. It works just like whey protein powder. In fact, experts recommend combining casein and whey protein powders to take after a workout instead of taking either one alone. Micellar casein is the slowest digesting casein, and therefore, it makes sense to choose a product that contains this for maximum benefit. The other primary form of casein is casein hydrolysate, which is a predigested form and is quickly absorbed and is thus not recommended in this context. Moreover, casein protein powder is a great bedtime snack. Owing to its slowdigesting and slow-releasing capabilities, this “time-release” protein prevents catabolism as you sleep, which is when it is highly likely that your muscle proteins are being broken down for energy. This also helps in the recovery and muscle rebuilding process. Recommended dosage: about 10 to 20 grams of casein powder added to your post-workout shake Creatine – This is one of the best supplements for boosting muscle growth and aiding recovery. There are multiple studies that prove this wonder supplement’s efficacy to facilitate recovery and enhance muscle growth. Here are some amazing health and bodybuilding benefits of creatine: ● Creatine helps your muscle cells produce and release more energy – By increasing the phosphocreatine reservoir in the muscles, creatine enhances energy production in muscle cells. Phosphocreatine facilitates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), one of the most important molecules used in energy production and distribution and in other basic life functions. ● ATP is constantly broken down for energy production and release during your workout. The re-synthesis of ATP happens more slowly than the breaking down, resulting in fatigue and excessive use of muscle tissues. Creatine supplements help in closing this gap so that ATP is resynthesized at a faster level than otherwise to continue producing more energy and maintaining muscle health.
Creatine is used for other muscular functions as well – Creatine supplements stimulate important biological processes that help in muscle building and repair. Creatine speeds up growth of muscles – Taking creatine for just four to six days significantly increases lean mass both in the short term and the long term. Bodybuilding experts and scientists believe creatine to be the most effective supplement for building, repair, and maintaining of muscles. Creatine reduces fatigue – Creatine is known to reduce fatigue induced by lengthy and intense workouts. Creatine provides your brain with increased energy and also helps enhance the levels of dopamine to achieve reduction in fatigue. Creatine is very safe for use – Despite its several benefits, creatine is safe for use and is quite economical, too. Therefore, using creatine as part of your recovery stack makes a lot of sense. When you take creatine after your workout, it helps in building muscle and increasing size by taking in more water than before into the muscle cells. This water stretches muscle cells, which facilitates growth in the long term.
Recommended dosage: 2 to 5 grams of creatine mixed with your postworkout shake Glutamine – This amino acid is found in the largest percentage in your muscle, and therefore, the reason for its presence in the recovery supplement stack is fairly obvious. Other than that, glutamine offers multiple benefits, including: ●
Glutamine is important for protein metabolism, for cell volumizing, and also for preventing catabolism, which helps in the prevention of muscle breakdown. ● Taking glutamine after workouts helps enhance the leucine levels in the muscle fibers, which prevents breakdown and also encourages glycogen storage, which, in turns, helps in muscle growth and repair. Moreover, the water held by glycogen makes your muscles fuller. ● Glutamine is needed all through your body for optimal physiological performance. ● Small intestines need glutamine for proper functioning.
During workouts, the immune system is compromised, and glutamine is needed to restore the efficacy of the immune system. This helps prevent susceptibility to illnesses caused by a compromised immune system. ● Glutamine is known to increase the production of the growth hormone, which metabolizes body fat and facilitates muscle growth and increased muscle strength. Recommended dosage: 5 to 10 grams included in the post-workout supplement stack Here is an example of a post-workout supplement stack to aid in muscle growth and recovery: ● ● ● ● ● ●
Whey protein powder – 20 to 40 grams Casein protein powder – 10 to 20 grams Glutamine – 5 to 10 grams Creatine – 2 to 5 grams BCAAs – 5 to 10 grams Fast-digesting carbs – 40 to 80 grams
Stacks for Shredding A shredded look is achieved when your body fat is at very, very low levels, usually around the 5% mark. Here are some great supplement stacks for shredding. Stack # 1 – This is great if you are on a budget and if buying a pre-made stack is more than what your wallet can afford. The following three fat burners are economical but also highly effective. Stack # 1 for shredding consists of: ● Green Tea Extract – 500 to 1000 mg thrice a day before your meals ● Caffeine – 100 to 300 mg every morning, an hour before your workout ● Capsaicin – 40,000 to 80,000 Scoville thermal units thrice a day In fact, green tea extract and caffeine are key components in nearly all readymade shredding supplement stack owing to their effectiveness in this regard. Benefits of Green Tea Extracts
Green tea extract is a rich source of catechins, an antioxidant that enhances the antioxidant capacity of your body and protects it from oxidative stress.
● Green tea extract facilitates weight loss, an important element to achieve shredding, by increasing the calories burned by your body through thermogenesis. ●
Green tea extract is known to protect your body against oxidative stress brought on by intense workouts, resulting in improved workout performance and recovery.
● Green tea extract can be found in capsule, liquid, or powder form and can be used in any form to facilitate shredding Benefits of Caffeine ● Consuming caffeine before workouts gives you an energy boost that helps promote increased volume and intensity of your training, resulting in increased fat burn. ●
Caffeine enhances fat loss in your body. Caffeine blocks the inhibiting effect of adenosine on the release of fatty acids, resulting in increased fat mobilization and utilization for metabolism.
Benefits of Capsaicin – Capsaicin is proven to have the power to suppress appetite, leading to weight loss. Stack #2 – This shredding supplement stack helps you lose fat and build muscle. The supplements in this stack boost fat loss and simultaneously increase the amount of testosterone and its functioning efficacy in the muscles. Let’s look at the stack first: ● Carnitine – 1 to 3 grams with each of your meals, including breakfast, preworkout meals, post-workout meals, and nighttime meals ● Yohimbine – 2 to 10 mg thrice a day with one dose half an hour before the workout ● Forskolin – 20 to 50 mg taken two to three times a day before meals Carnitine does the dual job of pushing fat cells to the places where they are
burned and increasing testosterone receptors in the muscles. Similarly, yohimbine and forskolin also burn fat and enhance testosterone levels in your muscles. Benefits of Carnitine Carnitine, in conjunction with Omega-3 fish oil, is the easiest thing you can consume to burn more fat and increase energy levels. Here are some more benefits of carnitine: ● Improves high-intensity workouts ● Enhances athletic performance ● Facilitates faster recovery from high-intensity exercise regimens More about Carnitine How does carnitine help you burn fat? Carnitine is a composite of amino acids consisting of methionine and lysine. Carnitine actually carries the fat molecules to the place where they are burned to get energy. Therefore, by increasing the intake of carnitine, you are supporting the fat-burning process. Burning fat is a far more efficient way of processing fuel for your body’s energy needs and, therefore, your energy levels are raised, too. Other ways carnitine helps in improving physical performance through fat loss are by sparing the use of glycogen for fuel, by clearing muscle lactate leading to a delay in the onset of fatigue, and maximizing hormone levels. There are studies that prove that carnitine is great for ridding your body of visceral belly fat, extremely difficult-to-lose fat tissues that lead to fat gain in other critical organs of the body, including the liver, heart, and muscles. More about Yohimbine and its Benefits Originating from the forests of West Africa, the Yohimbe bark, with Yohimbine as the active ingredient, has been used by native civilizations for many centuries. While Yohimbine was initially used only to make male aphrodisiacs, today, it has found its way into supplements owing to its ability to facilitate fat loss. There have been studies conducted recently that prove that Yohimbine intake has an impact on weight loss. Combining Yohimbine with caffeine is also proven to result in more weight loss than using Yohimbine alone.
More about Forskolin and its Benefits What is forskolin? Forskolin is the most active ingredient in coleus, an herb of the mint family extensively used in African and Asian countries, such as Uganda, India, and Thailand. Coleus has a long history of use in ancient medical systems, such as the Ayurveda, to support urinary, lung, and heart health. In the supplement industry, forskolin is used in formulations used for burning fat and increasing energy levels. Forskolin is proven to have a direct and impactful effect on the functioning of enzyme adenylyl cyclase, which helps in fat burning for the fuel requirements of the body. Stack #3 – The combination of supplements in this stack is meant to help you lose fat, along with curbing your appetite and improving mood. You are bound to feel more energized with this stack. ● Beta-phenylethylamine - 100 to 500 mg once or twice daily ● Synephrine - 200 to 600 mg of citrus Aurantium containing standardized 5 to 20 mg of synephrine twice or thrice daily per day before meals ● Caffeine - 100 to 300 mg one hour before workouts More about Beta-phenylethylamine and its Benefits Beta-phenylethylamine (PEA) is produced in our brains and is known to be a natural mood booster. It is an important element needed for the proper functioning of your body. PEA is made with phenylalanine, an amino acid, and therefore, most protein-based foods are excellent sources of this “lovedrug,” as it is commonly called. However, supplements are a good way to get this element into your system. In addition to improving your mood and reducing anxiety and depression, PEA gives you a boost in energy, thereby helping you improve performance and resulting in increased fat loss. More about Synephrine and its Benefits Synephrine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in plants and abundantly in bitter oranges. The alkaloid has been used in Chinese medicines for thousands of years and obtained from orange peels. Synephrine acts on the adrenal system and enhances the basal metabolic rate. Metabolism accounts
for nearly 70% of calorific expenditure in your system. Synephrine is proven to increase metabolism, leading to weight management and fat loss. To lose fat and weight, you must burn more energy than you consume. Synephrine helps your body do this by increasing the metabolic rate, leading to increased energy outgo. Synephrine is proven to get rid of stubborn fat as well. Let us understand how this happens. Catecholamines are important chemicals in your body that participate in the fat-burning process. Catecholamines bind themselves to receptors found in the fat cells to release energy stored in them. The problem with stubborn fat is they are highly resistant to mobilization and do not respond as easily to catecholamines as the non-stubborn fat. This is explains the phenomenon of why you lose fat faster in certain areas of your body like the arms, face, and chest while the fat remains unyielding in other parts, such as the thighs, hips, and stomach. This is especially so during the initial days of a fat-loss exercising regimen. Let us understand further why this happens. There are basically two types of catecholamine receptors, namely, alphareceptors and beta-receptors. These two receptors function in diametrically opposite directions. Thus, beta-receptors enhance fat mobilization, whereas alpha-receptors hinder it. Therefore, fat cells with a higher percentage of beta-receptors are easier to burn than those with a higher percentage of alphareceptors. Synephrine blocks the hindering effect of alpha-receptors, thereby enhancing the mobilization of fat cells in stubborn fat. Moreover, increased activity of catecholamines is known to suppress hunger as well. Therefore, synephrine helps in keeping hunger in check, too. More about Caffeine in Coffee and its Benefits Coffee has a lot of important ingredients, which find their way into the final drink that you make for yourself each day. These include: ● Caffeine – a stimulant that impacts the central nervous system ● Theophylline and theobromine – other stimulants related to caffeine ● Chlorogenic acid – slows absorption of carbs
Caffeine is the most potent of these three active ingredients in coffee. Caffeine blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter, adenosine, which results in increased production and release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. The stimulation of the central nervous system by caffeine sends signals to fat cells directly to break them down. Caffeine also enhances epinephrine levels in the blood. Epinephrine or adrenaline travels through the blood stream to the fat tissues and sends signals to break the fat cells down and release them into the blood stream. Caffeine enhances the metabolic rate, leading to increased weight loss. Metabolism is also increased significantly by burning fat. Stack # 4 – This stack consists of amino acids that burn fat. The three important amino acids used to burn fat include: ●
Arginine – 3 to 5 grams about 30 to 60 minutes before breakfast, before workouts, and before bedtime ● Glutamine – 5 to 10 grams along with breakfast, with pre- and postworkout meals, and before bed ● BCAAs – 5 to 10 grams along with breakfast, with pre- and post-workout meals, and before bed More about Arginine and its Benefits in Fat Loss Arginine is being heralded by experts as the warrior to fight obesity. Arginine supplements are proven to enhance the use of fat in your body as an energy source. This translates to more fat loss and a leaner look. Shredding involves losing fat without losing out on muscles. Arginine helps with this by ensuring that your body uses fat for energy while leaving muscles as intact as possible. More about Glutamine and its Benefits in Fat Loss There are several studies that connect intake of glutamine supplements and weight management and fat loss. Glutamine, like other amino acids, such as arginine and methionine, stimulates the production of certain fat-burning hormones, an important one being the growth hormone also referred to as somatotropin. This growth hormone is produced when we sleep, and it enhances fat
oxidation while stimulating protein synthesis. You need to increase the levels of growth hormone if you want to cut fat. Glutamine supplements are great options to stimulate increased production of somatotropin, which will help in fat loss. Stack # 5 – This stack for shredding is based on the power of certain minerals to help burn fat in your body. While most often, minerals are treated alongside multivitamins to be taken only for health purposes, there are certain minerals that are great for fat cutting. Getting a sufficient amount of calcium, for example, is known to suppress the functioning of a fat-gaining hormone. Selenium keeps thyroid production at a balanced level. Zinc helps in increasing body metabolism. Hence, these three minerals are great for cutting fat. ● Calcium – 500 to 600 mg two times per day along with your meals ● Selenium – 200 to 400 mcg daily taken with your meals ● ZMA – This delivers 30 mg of zinc, to be taken on an empty stomach, about half an hour to an hour before bedtime Stack #6 – About a decade or two ago, most nutritionists were stressing the importance of keeping fat intake at a minimum to lose fat. Well, things are changing, with more studies that prove certain fats are great for burning fat in your body. Three of them include gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), fish oil, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). ● Fish oil – 1 to 2 grams taken twice or thrice daily with meals ● CLA – 2 to 3 grams taken twice or thrice daily with meals ● GLA - 1 to 3 grams taken twice or thrice daily with meals Supplement stacks are designed to provide you with a more efficient and effective way of building your body, being fit, and remaining healthy than using supplements singly.
Chapter 18: Top 5 Overlooked Supplements This chapter deals with five top minerals and vitamins that play important roles in bodybuilding, health training, and fitness regimens. These are the top 5 overlooked supplements: 1. Magnesium 2. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) 3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 4. Vitamin D 5. Probiotics Let’s look at each of them in a bit of detail.
Magnesium There are ample studies proving that magnesium supplements are very important not only for basic functions but also for bodybuilding and training. While iron, calcium, zinc, and sometimes even chromium are known to all and sundry, magnesium, unfortunately, is relegated to the background in terms of its importance for fitness, health, and for building a great body. More people are unaware of the importance of this forgotten mineral, and in fact, its consumption has reduced considerably in the last few years. Now, scientific studies have proven that not only is magnesium critical to living well, but shortfalls can also create impediments to your athletic and training performance.
Basics of Magnesium Pure magnesium is a metal that is silvery white in color. If you recall your school chemistry, you will remember that it burns with a brilliant white flame. After potassium, magnesium is the next abundant mineral found in the human body, in which it does not exist in metal form but as magnesium ions. These positively charged magnesium ions are not found in a free state but either combined with other tissues like the bone tissues or in solutions.
The normal amount of magnesium found in a typical human body is about 2 oz. About one-fourth of this is in muscles, about three-fifths in bones, and very little (less than 1% of the total body magnesium) is found in the blood stream. The magnesium in the blood serum is further divided into proteinbound, free ionic, and complex-bound portions. Whole-grain and unrefined cereals are rich in magnesium. It is also found abundantly in nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, lentils, and beans. Refined foods, meats, fish, and fruits do not have a good amount of magnesium in them. As magnesium is a very soluble mineral, boiling vegetables results in a significant loss of magnesium. In cereals, it is found in bran and germ, and therefore, it is obvious why refined cereals have very low magnesium content.
Role of Magnesium in Your Body Magnesium plays multiple roles in different body functions. It is needed for numerous enzymatic reactions, including the synthesis of nucleic acids, proteins, fats, etc. It is needed for muscular activities, neurological activities, bone metabolism, cardiac activity, and more. Magnesium in ATP Metabolism – Magnesium plays a very important role in both aerobic and anaerobic energy production. It is particularly important in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) metabolism. ATP is the energy currency of our system. Synthesis of ATP is dependent on ATPases, which are magnesium-powered enzymes. No more than 3 oz. of ATP is stored in the body at any point in time. Thus, during strenuous exercises, ATPases work extremely hard to increase the turnover of ATP so that sufficient energy is available in your body to do work. Insufficiency or absence of magnesium will impair the functioning of ATPases, resulting in poor workouts due to non-availability of sufficient energy to complete the workouts well. Magnesium Deficiencies – These could result in impaired cardiovascular health, including electrocardiographic abnormalities. Insufficient magnesium in your body could result in altered carbohydrate metabolism driven by decreased insulin secretion or insulin resistance. High blood pressure is
another symptom of magnesium deficiency. Diseases associated with magnesium deficiency include: ● ● ● ● ● ●
Coronary heart diseases Neuromuscular disorders Asthma Kidney-related disorders Premenstrual syndrome Migraines
Magnesium Deficiency in Bodybuilders and Athletes – There have been studies conducted that have revealed that magnesium deficiency can impact optimum exercise and training capabilities in athletes and bodybuilders. These studies have proven that magnesium deficiency impairs the effective and optimal training functioning of people. It is very easy to fall short of this important mineral as they can be lost in the cooking and food-refining processes. Additionally, it has also been proven that magnesium absorption can be impaired by the following reasons: ● Excessive intake of sugar ● Alcohol consumption ● Diets rich in calcium, fats, and proteins Not only is magnesium absorption impaired, but such foods could also result in the excessive secretion of magnesium from the body. Even a 2000-calorie diet can cause some shortages driven by one or more of the above issues. If you are into weight loss and maintenance regimes, then insufficient magnesium can be a bigger cause for worry. Considering all this, getting the right amount of magnesium in your system for optimal performance can be quite a challenge. Low-Magnesium Eating Habits – The following eating habits are bound to get you very low amounts of magnesium: ● Eating white flour products and not enough wholegrain cereals ● Low consumption of green leafy vegetables ● Eating very little nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils
● Regular consumption of sweets and other sugary products ● Drinking alcohol regularly ● Eating a low-carb diet with too much proteins and restricted calories Possible Symptoms and Signs of Low Magnesium ● ● ● ● ●
Muscle cramps, tremors, and twitches Excessive or regular fatigue Feelings of lethargy and/or irritability Frequent mood swings, with depressive feelings Restless legs during sleep
Considering that low magnesium can impair performance and body functions, it is imperative to take magnesium supplements to overcome shortfalls. While small changes in your diet through the inclusion of green leafy vegetables, a commitment to wholegrain cereals, avoiding alcohol consumption, etc., can facilitate increased magnesium levels in your body, supplements are also a great option. Moreover, magnesium supplements are very safe and non-toxic. Most of the magnesium supplements are highly tolerable by all. Some supplemental forms like magnesium oxide are alkaline forming and could interact with stomach acids, creating digestive problems. It is better to either avoid these supplemental forms or remember not to take them during meals. It is important not to consume more than 350 mg of magnesium per day. Magnesium is best absorbed when taken in small doses. So if your daily intake is 300 mg, it is better to take 100 mg thrice a day instead of 300 mg in a single dose. Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements – Magnesium supplements, when taken orally or injected under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner, are mostly safe for consumption. For some people, magnesium supplements could cause nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Keeping the dosage less than 350 mg per day is quite safe for nearly all adults. Taking more than this daily amount could result in magnesium accumulation in your body, which could cause harmful effects, including low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, slowed breathing, confusion, coma, and
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) CLA is a combination of primarily geometric and position isomers of linoleic acid. It is usually found in abundance in meat and dairy products. While research work on this mineral is still in the nascent stage, there are multiple studies that prove its efficacy and benefits for athletes and bodybuilders. Conjugated linoleic acid is a slightly different from of linoleic acid, which is an important Omega-6 fatty acid derived from meat and dairy products. CLA is not produced by the human body and has to be included in your diet. It is available in butter, whole milk, lamb, and beef. In addition to being a powerful enhancer of your immune system, CLA is a potent anti-catabolite, anti-oxidant, and anti-carcinogenic. CLA is known to help in fat burning and, therefore, is usually an element in shredding stacks. It is also great for building and maintaining lean muscle, another prerequisite for shredding stack. Benefits of CLA – Here are some amazing benefits of CLA. It increases your metabolic rate – This is a great benefit for all people involved in bodybuilding and high-intensity training. It is wonderful for weight management and body composition as well. It enhances muscle growth – Muscles facilitate fat burning, which in turn increases metabolism and is, therefore, very useful for weight loss and/or management. It reduces triglycerides and cholesterol – Elevated triglycerides and cholesterol are a common issue among many people today, and CLA supplements can help overcome this. It reduces insulin resistance – Reduction in insulin resistance is known to prevent and/or delay the onset of adult diabetes and also helps to manage weight. It reduces risk of food allergies – Food allergies can create a big challenge while managing weight loss and living on a bodybuilder diet. CLA’s ability to reduce the risk of such allergies will come in handy here.
It builds your immune system – This is a great benefit from CLA considering that we are constantly surrounded by elements that are lowering the effectiveness of our immune system. Using CLA supplements is also known to increase the ratio of lean mass to body fat. It achieves this through the reduction of stubborn body fat, especially around the abdomen, and increasing lean mass. CLA enhances insulin sensitivity, which drives glucose and fat cells out of muscles and issues, resulting in improved lean mass to fat ratio. In addition, CLA has been proven to help fight diseases while promoting metabolic function in your body. Today’s foods lack sufficient quantities of CLA largely because of modern-day unhealthy cattle-feeding habits. CLA’s richest source is dairy and meat, and therefore, cattle feeding habits have a direct impact on the availability of CLA to humans. CLA production is optimized when cattle are fed on grass instead of using artificial means to fatten them up. Multiple research findings prove that grassfed cattle deliver a lot more CLA than those that were fattened up with artificial feeding lots. Given that CLA has a direct impact on fat loss and lean mass, it is highly possible that the increased obesity in the present generation is linked to this sad fact of wrongly fed cattle that cannot produce sufficient CLA. Bodybuilders employ CLA supplements to push glucose into their muscle cells to get energy from anabolic reactions. Dieters can also leverage this power of CLA supplements to prevent glucose from being converted into body fat. Although CLA is a different form of linoleic acid, in certain cases, the two seem to be operating in opposing directions. For example, linoleic acid stimulates or triggers the formation of fat through the process of lipogenesis. However, studies have proven that CLA inhibits the formation of fat. A second area of difference between the two lies with tumors. Research studies prove that linoleic acid promotes tumor growth, whereas CLA inhibits this, which makes it a potent anti-carcinogenic. Finally, linoleic acid enhances oxidation susceptibility of cholesterol, whereas CLA tends to stabilize cholesterol. Taking into account these vast
differences, having excessive linoleic acid with little or no CLA can have farreaching physiological effects on your body, especially when you are working so hard to sculpt your body, train your body vigorously, and achieve great levels of endurance and fitness. It is, therefore, essential to include CLA supplements in your diet to help you in your journey.
Availability of CLA CLA is available in various dairy and meat products, including: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Lamb Homogenized cow’s milk Butter Cottage cheese Fresh ground beef Cheddar Chicken Pork
CLA supplements can also be bought from stores. The reason why supplements are a better option for CLA than trying to consume it through normal diet is that you would need to eat 500 grams of mostly saturated fat to get the recommended dose of 3 grams of CLA each day. These 500 grams of fat translate to over 4500 fat calories just to get CLA into your system. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to boost your CLA intake to meet the required recommendations by resorting to supplements that are easily available with hardly any side effects to worry about. When choosing supplements, it would be wise to stick to one that is closest to the naturally occurring form. This form is what is usually available in stores, and it contains predominantly the t11, C9 CLA isomer. However, there is another one that predominantly consists of t10, c12 CLA isomer. While this is proven to have a larger fat-burning capability as compared to the t11, c9 isomer, the unanswered health-related questions about this isomer are quite significant. It is prudent, therefore, to stick to the supplements with the better known and less risky t11, c9 CLA isomer.
Side Effects of CLA supplements – There is a dearth of research findings on the side effects of CLA. Presently, there are no major side effects except, perhaps, gastrointestinal upsets. Nearly all available drugs do not interfere with or are impacted when combined with CLA.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is found abundantly in oily fishes living in cold waters and in seaweeds. DHA is commonly found as supplements in various stores. Moreover, DHA is produced by and in our body in small quantities. DHA is commonly used in alternative medical therapies to treat: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Allergies Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Asthma Depression Dementia High blood pressure Heart disease High cholesterol Raynaud's syndrome Rheumatoid arthritis Psoriasis Type 2 diabetes Ulcerative colitis
Moreover, DHA is believed to fight against macular degeneration brought on by advancing age, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Health Benefits of DHA – DHA is an important element that is needed for the proper functioning of the brain. DHA is very important to be given in the first few months after a baby is born as it helps in developing a stable and robust central nervous system. In fact, DHA is found abundantly in breast milk for this specific purpose. DHA is also known to possess a lot of medicinal and health benefits, including improved heart health and anti-inflammatory properties.
Heart Diseases – Consuming DHA and EPA in a combined form is known to reduce the risk of heart diseases. DHA supplements are believed to improve your body blood pressure moderately. Studies also prove that DHA supplements can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Several studies have proven that EPA and DHA supplements significantly reduce fatalities from heart diseases. Brain Health – Studies on Alzheimer’s have revealed that DHA supplements can protect against macular degeneration driven by advancing age. DHA supplements could treat mild cognitive impairments. Depression – Studies conducted in depressed people have revealed that they are likely to have low levels of DHA. These studies reveal that DHA supplements could help in treating depression or, at least, reduce the effects of depression. Availability of DHA – DHA supplements are available in many online and brick-and-mortar stores. Many of these supplements are usually combined with EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), another Omega-3 fatty acid. Fish oil is an extremely rich source of EPA and DHA. Side Effects of DHA Supplements – When taken orally, DHA supplements are mostly safe for adults. Some of the possible side effects include intestinal gas, nausea, prolonged bleeding, and bruising. If consumed as fish oil supplements, other side effects could include belching, fishy taste in the mouth, loose stools, and nosebleeds. It is better to take DHA supplements with meals, as many of these side effects could be reduced.
Vitamin D Vitamin D is an under-consumed and overlooked micronutrient. Nevertheless, it plays a very important role in maintaining your overall health and improving your performance in the gym. Commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” it helps to maintain the health and strength of your bones, or so it is believed by most people. Well, vitamin D helps in a lot of other ways. Yet, many of us do not have sufficient quantities of vitamin D, leading to deficiency issues and other related problems. During your training regimen, missing out on this important element in any of your stacks can lead to a lot of problems, including reduced overall health
and less-than-optimal gym performance.
Benefits of Vitamin D It is time that we focused on the many benefits offered by this wonderful vitamin. Vitamin D makes our bones stronger – Calcium is usually the element that comes to mind when you think of bones, right? Vitamin D is not commonly associated with bone strength. However, vitamin D is a new addition discovered by scientists. Vitamin D is the primary stimulator for calcium to be deposited into your bones to enhance their strength. In the absence of sufficient vitamin D in your body, calcium does not get deposited in the bones. The deposition initially slows down and soon completely stops. Finally, when vitamin D reaches really low levels, calcium from the bones gets drawn out and gets into the blood stream. Lack of calcium deposition into the bones and withdrawal of calcium from the bones make them weak and brittle, increasing the risk of fractures. Vitamin D improves the functioning of muscles – Insufficient vitamin D in your body could lead to the weakening of muscles and interfere with strength gain. Moreover, athletes and bodybuilders are commonly deficient in vitamin D, which reflects in the form of weak muscles and atrophy. It is essential to include vitamin D supplements to improve muscle strength and to prevent weakness. Vitamin D offers protection against cardiovascular diseases – While the classic function of vitamin D is to help in calcium deposition into the bones, it is also proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering blood pressure, improving the elasticity of your arteries, and helping in glycemic control. People with vitamin D deficiency are known to be at an increased risk for heart diseases, high blood pressure, heart failure, and even fatalities associated with these risks. Vitamin D decreases risk of type 2 diabetes – We are all well aware of the long-term complications associated with type 2 diabetes. Diabetics are at a higher risk to get nerve damage, heart diseases, vision loss, and other eye damages. There are multiple studies that have proven that vitamin D reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially for those who already have an increased
risk. Multiple studies have revealed that vitamin D helps improve insulin sensitivity, beta cell functioning, and body inflammation, leading to lowered risk for getting type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D reduces risk of cancer – There are several research findings that back vitamin D’s capability to reduce risk of different types of cancer, including breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancers. Vitamin D is believed to be a powerful inhibitor of the growth of cancer cells. It reduces cancer risks by increasing the absorption of calcium and cell differentiation while preventing metastasis. How much of Vitamin D is needed? The recommended daily requirement is about 600 IU per day for people between the ages of 9 and 10. However, there are experts who believe that this amount is too little, and ideally, an adult should get a maximum of 4000 IU per day. Going beyond this daily recommendation could lead to excess intake. Availability of Vitamin D – There are three simple ways to get ample vitamin D in your body, and these are: The Sun – This is the cheapest and easiest way to replenish vitamin D in your body. Just get out into the sun, and nature will do the rest for you. The UVB rays from the sun trigger the formation of pre-vitamin D in your skin, which is then shuttled into the blood stream. This pre-vitamin D is then carried to the liver, where it gets converted into vitamin D. Production of pre-vitamin D in your skin is optimized when you are out in the sun for about 10 to 15 minutes. Darker skin colors require longer exposure than lighter skin colors. However, you must also bear in mind that extended stay in the sun could also result in the creation of other useful byproducts as well, such as lumisterol and tachysterol, which could be nature’s way of preventing toxicity. Diet – Another way to ensure a sufficient supply of vitamin D in your body is through your diet. While there are fewer foods that have naturally occurring vitamin D than other vitamins, oily fish like trout and salmon, eggs, dairy products, fungi, and plants contain different amounts of this wonder vitamin. Moreover, today, many foods like cereals and breads are fortified with vitamin D.
Supplements – Nearly all multivitamin supplements have the minimum RDA value of 600 IU per day to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Supplementing vitamin D is very important during the winter months when you are likely to get less exposure to sunlight as compared to the summer months. While the exact amount you need could be uncertain, there is no denying the fact that Vitamin D is an essential component for overall health, for fighting diseases, and for improving training performance. Side Effects of Taking Excessive Vitamin D Supplements – Here are some unpleasant side effects of getting too much vitamin D into your system: ●
● ● ● ● ●
Vitamin D levels higher than 100 mg/ml are considered dangerous and could cause harm. However, these toxicities take place at very high levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream and are usually associated only with mega doses. Excessive intake of vitamin D could result in excessive calcium absorption, which could cause harmful problems. High doses of Vitamin D can lead to lack of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Again, very high doses can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation for some people Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption. However, excessive Vitamin D could interfere with the function of vitamin K2 and cause bone loss. Excessive vitamin D intake is not good for the health of your kidneys as it can damage healthy kidneys and also create more problems for existing kidney issues.
Again, I would like to remind you that excessive vitamin D can happen only with mega doses. Thus, it does make sense to include this important element in your supplement needs to get the benefits of this wonder vitamin.
Probiotics Your gut is safeguarded by a variety of flora and fauna. There are several studies that now reveal managing your digestive tract flora and fauna could help in improved nutrition uptake and performance. Although the term “probiotics” is relatively new, different cultures have been
consuming live flora and fauna for centuries. Examples of old-fashioned yet powerful probiotics include yogurts, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, fermented soy products, and other fermented foods. While the main purpose of fermentation was to preserve food, it did not take long for these ancient civilizations to connect fermented foods with health. The probiotic industry was started by some innovative dairy producers in Western countries when they introduced milk products fortified with acidophilus. This opened the floodgates, and probiotics has become a common element found in all households. There are companies that boast of having products with millions of live organisms that help maintain your gut health. Researchers have also been working on creating and finding ways to bring the power of gut flora in a packet so that the common man, athletes, and bodybuilders can leverage the advantages in a convenient way. Gone are the days when probiotics were focused on countering flatulence, bloating, bowel regularity, etc. Today, probiotics are known to have beneficial effects on your immune system, on your nutrient absorptive powers, and for improved mood and focus. How do probiotics work? Your body is like a petri dish carrying millions of microorganisms of various types. These microorganisms flourish all over your body, from the skin to the gut and everywhere in between. While some of these organisms are harmful and toxic, there are many that are beneficial. In fact, some of the microorganisms are not just beneficial but also very crucial. The name says it all. Probiotics means “for life,” and therefore, these organisms are essential for life. There are over 5600 species of these probiotics that exist right through the digestive tract, helping you digest and absorb the food you eat for maximum benefit. The most famous types include those from genus bifidobacteria (found predominantly in the large intestine) and genus lactobacilli (found primarily in the small intestine). These rod-shaped bacteria are most commonly included in all probiotic supplements and foods. These helpful species are constantly battling with harmful species for resources in your gut. When the latter runs riot, your nutrition uptake,
immune functions, and digestive issues take a big hit. This battle between good and bad bacteria is happening and will continue to take place throughout your life. You can only support the beneficial bacteria in ways such that harmful bacteria are not allowed to run riot too often for your own good. You can increase the size of beneficial bacteria by consuming more bifidobacteria and lactobacilli through probiotics supplements. Alternately, you can consume foods that these beneficial bacteria like or prefer. These carbohydrate food sources of beneficial bacteria are collectively referred to as “prebiotics.” Today, there are supplements that effectively combine probiotics and prebiotics to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their function. Postbiotics – Like all living organisms, probiotics also die. However, just like an old tree continues to provide goodness in the forest ecosystem even after its death, probiotics after death become postbiotics or “after life,” and continue the good work for us. Postbiotics is the term given to the sum total of all the peptides, enzymes, organic acids, and bacteriocins that probiotics accumulate right through their lifecycle. This collection is a bounty that comes into play for you only when the probiotics die. When these microorganisms die, their membranes break open, and these postbiotics spill into your digestive tract, ready to pass on benefits to improve your gut health. Postbiotics are like a nutritive broth that washes your entire gut with goodness. Postbiotics for trainers, bodybuilders, and athletes – First, the assorted organic matter, the peptides, and the enzymes from the postbiotics improve the absorption of nutrition in your gut, especially for certain amino acids and minerals. A healthy gut helps in improved nutrient absorption. Assimilating nutrients optimally is critical for health and performance, and therefore, postbiotics are extremely helpful.
Benefits of Probiotic Supplements ● Probiotic supplements help restore the natural balance of microorganisms in your gut, thereby improving your overall digestive tract health. ●
Regardless of the cause(s) of your diarrhea, probiotic supplements help
treat this issue effectively. It can reduce the risks and severity of diarrhea. ●
There are studies that reveal that the consumption of probiotics supplements improve moods, reduce anxiety, and helps overcome depression.
● Some strains of probiotics are known to help improve your heart’s health by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and also by moderately lowering blood pressure. ● Probiotics could potentially reduce the risk and severity of some allergies, such as eczema. ●
Probiotics could potentially reduce bowel disorders, such as necrotizing enterocolitis, ulcerative colitis, and IBS.
Probiotics help improve your immune system and protect your body against infections.
Side Effects of Probiotic Supplements While probiotic supplements are designed to help improve your gut health, some people could be affected by negative side effects, too. Some of the side effects include: Mild bloating and gas – Paradoxically, some people could feel these side effects despite taking probiotic supplements to overcome them. Additional infections in the intestines – This could happen to people who already have an underlying infection in their gut. Taking probiotics could aggravate the situation. The symptoms for such side effects could be in the form of bloody stools, fever, and skin rash. Abdominal Pain and Diarrhea – Some people could develop abdominal pain and diarrhea. These five overlooked supplements are great additions to your fight against diseases and can improve overall health by helping you get better at your gym, training, and athletic performances.
Chapter 19 – Top 20 Natural Supplements Staying healthy and leading a disease-free life are considered as important today. With the amount of processed and junk food we consume, our body’s biological clock is completely confused, thereby weakening our immune system and allowing various acute and chronic diseases to creep into the body. Our busy lifestyle and the compulsion to keep up with the competitive world have completely forced us to get addicted to unhealthy food habits, leading to nutritional deficiencies. If we are fortunate enough to get to know about deficiencies before any disease crawls into our body, then we should be able to repair our system by administering the necessary supplements required. As long as you have a healthy, well-balanced diet, there is no need to worry. If your body gets the required nutrients, there won’t be any need to pop in those supplements regularly. It is vital for every one of us to consume our vitamins in their pure form as food rather than swallowing them in the form of a pill. Why does one take a supplement? The only purpose of a supplement is to rectify or repair a deficiency. If you keep taking supplements and eat an unhealthy diet, then the purpose is nullified. Fill those nutritional gaps with a combination of a healthy, well-balanced diet and regular physical fitness regimen. Mother Nature has given humanity all the essential health benefits they need. All we need to do is consume those spices, herbs, fruits, nuts, and vegetables nature has given us. These natural supplements can work wonders for our body and save us from unwanted deficiencies and diseases. These spices, herbs, or nuts help maintain your body weight by either increasing or decreasing the weight as required. It can build muscles by improving your metabolism, shrinking those fat tissues, and repressing your appetite. It also carries additional benefits, as some of these herbs or spices are rich sources of antioxidants and can help fight heart disease, premature aging, and many other chronic diseases. Don’t blindly buy any product without conducting research about the same, and never forget to review the nutritional label if it has one. There are various organizations like the Natural Products Association, the Food and Drug
Administration, and the Office of Dietary Supplements, which have the required information about different products. It is always better to follow the dosage recommendations and not overuse the same, as it can be dangerous. It is advisable to consult your physician before introducing any of the below mentioned natural supplements into your regular diet, especially if you have a medical condition. Let us look at the top 20 natural supplements in detail: -
Cayenne Pepper Ginger Cumin Cardamom Ginseng Fo-ti Isoleucine Oats Coleus Forskohlii Sesamin Cinnamon Black Pepper Green tea Guarana Nettle leaves Turmeric Dandelion Mustard seeds Garlic Rhodiola
Cayenne Pepper What is Cayenne Pepper? Cayenne pepper is closely related to bell peppers and jalapeno peppers and has a fiery hot flavor. It is 10 to 25 cm long, thin, and red, with a curved tip. It is also known as red-hot chili pepper, guinea spice, cow horn pepper, or bird pepper. This pepper got its name from the city of Cayenne in French Guyana. It is said to have originated from Central and South America and
was initially used for decoration before people realized its importance as a medicine and spice for cooking purposes. Cayenne pepper contains a large amount of capsaicin (the component that gives it the fiery hot flavor). This particular component makes this pepper a much-sorted spice for its medicinal benefits. It is a rich source of vitamins A and C, along with other nutrients, such as manganese, potassium, B6, and flavonoids. This red hot pepper doesn’t contain any cholesterol. Benefits of Cayenne Pepper Cayenne pepper can be used as an anti-cancer food and also helps in relieving joint aches, aiding digestion, boosting metabolism, improving the heart’s health condition, and clearing congestion. It also has benefits for your hair and skin. The capsaicin component in the pepper represses the appetite, as it gives a feeling of fullness once you consume it, thereby reducing your hunger pangs. It improves and enhances the digestive process by helping the stomach increase the production of digestive fluid and defends stomach infections. Given that this pepper helps in opening up the blood vessels and improving blood circulation, it is good for people with blood pressure issues. The component capsaicin can also reduce pain, which is why most pain-relief ointments have capsaicin as one of their ingredients. This component’s ability to induce apoptosis (killing cells in the controlled environment naturally) makes it a super food for the anti-cancer diet chart. It also improves the health of our heart and works well in clearing congestion. It acts as a good detoxifying and antioxidant agent. How to take Cayenne Pepper This pepper can be used like black pepper in its powdered form by adding it as a spice to your recipes. You can use it as homemade dressing by mixing the pepper with vinegar oil and other seasonal flavors, like oregano, etc. If you love hot chocolate, spice it up with a pinch of cayenne for a twist in flavor. Make your salad more interesting by sprinkling cayenne pepper over the vegetables and fruits.
Cayenne Pepper and its Side Effects Some people may experience mild irritation in the stomach, throat, nose, eyes, or skin. Excess consumption of this pepper can cause a burning sensation in your throat and stomach and can also lead to liver or kidney damage. In case you are undergoing any surgical process, it is strictly advisable to stop consuming this pepper, as it can increase bleeding.
Ginger What is Ginger? Ginger is a thick underground stem (rhizome), which sprouts shoots and roots. It has its origin in Asian countries, especially India, China, and Japan. The ginger root is taken off the central plant and can be used as an edible element for cooking and medicinal purposes. It has its origins in Southeast Asia and has been a part of medicinal history for thousands of years. Ginger is cultivated in warm damp areas in India and China and, in recent times, in Australia and Jamaica, too. It is also used a food flavoring agent and is considered to be the primary herb for curing many stomach-related ailments. It also acts as a pain relief component and works well on the skin for treating burns. Apart from being used in food and medicine, it is also used as a fragrance substance in cosmetics and soaps. Benefits of Ginger Ginger comprises chemicals that work primarily in the intestines and stomach; it can also reduce inflammation and nausea. Ginger is a natural medicine that has a place in everyone’s kitchen because of its proven effects on treating stomach illness (upset stomach), vomiting, nausea, morning sickness, dizziness and osteoarthritis. Ginger’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties naturally help in pain relief and can play a role in cancer prevention. Zingibain, an enzyme in Ginger, helps in digestion, thereby working wonders on an upset stomach. The anti-bacterial property of ginger works on stomach ulcers and decreases nausea. It encourages the body to dispose of the fat instead of storing it inside.
How to take Ginger Consuming ginger orally can do wonders for your body. Ginger can be used in its fresh, dried, preserved, or pickled form. You can add tiny slices of ginger to your food recipes to enhance its taste and flavor. It can also be consumed raw for a sore throat, as it gives instant relief for the same. Ginger tea acts as an energy booster and provides a soothing relaxation when you are suffering from a severe migraine or a headache. Drinking ginger juice (boil sliced fresh ginger in water and add sugar) once or twice a week can help in smooth bowel movement and healthy stomach function, and it acts as a good body cleanser. Ginger is very common in Asian countries and is an essential spice in most food recipes. Ginger and its Side Effects Ginger is usually safe when taken orally, but excess consumption might result in slight stomach discomfort, heartburn, or diarrhea. Ginger extract applied to skin burns might cause short-term irritation. For diabetes patients, ginger might lower the blood sugar and increase insulin levels, so it is advisable to check with your physician before adding it to your food regularly. It is said that consuming more than 5 grams a day is considered high dosage and can cause gas, mouth irritation, and heartburn or upset stomach.
Cumin What is Cumin? Cumin is an herb that is native to the Middle East Asian region. They are brown, flat, long seeds that are used as a flavored substance in most food recipes in India. Mexicans and North Americans love to use it in their dishes to add color and flavor. This seed can be used as a whole or in its ground form. It also carries rich medicinal benefits. It is used as a flavoring agent in foods, beverages, etc., and its oil is used as a fragrance in cosmetics. It is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E; it also has antioxidant properties. Benefits of Cumin The most important benefit of cumin is its anti-flatulence property and its
ability to address indigestion issues. It solves fluid retention, diarrhea, gas, and bowel spasms. It is also said to increase sexual desires. This small seed works well on anti-respiratory disorders and is quite helpful for curing sleep issues (insomnia), as it works as an expectorant and relaxant, respectively. Cumin seeds help detoxify enzymes from the glands and is said to have few anti-cancer properties. How to take Cumin Cumin is used as an essential spice in most recipes in Asian countries. It is used as frequently as salt and pepper in cooking. It is mostly added as a flavoring agent because of its natural property of enhancing the taste and flavor of food. Cumin seeds can be gently roasted before adding them to recipes, and if you are using powdered cumin, it can be sprinkled on food to give a spicy, peppery flavor. Drinking cumin tea before going to bed can help in having a sound sleep. Cumin and its Side Effects Cumin might lower blood sugars in a few people, so it is advisable for diabetes patients to monitor their sugar levels before consuming the seeds. These small seeds can make bleeding disorders worse in few cases, as they might slow blood clotting.
Cardamom What is Cardamom? Cardamom is an herb that is used as a popular spice in India and middleeastern countries. It has a strong, flavored aroma with a sweet flavor. There are two types of cardamom – green cardamom and black cardamom. Green cardamom is one of the expensive spices by weight and is available as whole, crushed, or dried pods, as well as in powdered form. Green cardamom has a thin papery green pod with black seeds inside and is mostly used to add flavor to sweet dishes and savories, whereas black cardamom has a thick, rough, sizeable brown pod filled with black seeds that are often used in savories and spicy dishes like biryani.
Since the early 1800s, this herb has been used as a medicine, mouth freshener, and digestive aid, as well as to clear infection. The seed was used in a variety of dishes, and the oil (essential oil) was used in perfumes. It contains a chemical component that helps treat intestinal spasms and stomach disorders; it also enhances food movement through the intestine and gets rid of gas. Benefits of Cardamom Cardamom seed is a wholesome fiber food, which provides the body with ample fiber. The seeds also carry medicinal benefits for digestive issues, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal spasms, constipation, and loss of appetite. It is also said to give relief to people suffering from liver or gallbladder complaints. It also works wonders on a sore throat, dry cough, and severe cold. Cardamom has a detoxifying property that helps the body in eliminating toxins, excess water, and salt through the kidneys, fighting infections, and cleaning the urinary tract. It also helps get rid of bad breath and works as a mouth freshener. Traditional medicine identifies cardamom as an aphrodisiac, which can help in curing erectile dysfunction. Having cardamom tea when depressed or stressed is said to give a refreshing feeling by rejuvenating the mind and body. How to take Cardamom Cardamom can be used in its whole or powdered form. Its aromatic flavor and rich add-on taste are stronger when used as a pod because when it is used in powdered form, it loses its flavor and fragrance too soon. It is recommended to use green or black cardamoms that are cultivated using organic farming methods. It is known to be the “queen of spices” in India. It can be included in bland foods to add depth, in sweets to enhance the sweetening property, and in coffee to increase acidity. It goes well with ginger and turmeric when used in food. Cardamom and its Side Effects Taking high amounts of cardamom can trigger gallstones and spasmodic
pain, as the sediments of cardamom get deposited in those areas, leading to gallstone formation. Few may experience respiratory trouble or allergies, such as shortness of breath, throat or chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. It is advisable to avoid using cardamom if you are taking medicines for gallstones, liver infections, bowel syndromes, etc. If you are taking antidepressants, anticoagulants, aspirin, or HIV drugs, please avoid consuming cardamom.
Ginseng What is Ginseng? Ginseng is a light-colored herb that has large, fleshy, fork-shaped roots with a long stalk and oval-shaped green leaves. It is said to have originated from China, and due to its high demand, it is now found in certain cooler regions of Asia and North America. The root holds the most medicinal quality and is used in its dried, sliced, or whole form. Although the leaf is not used often, it does contain certain beneficial qualities. It has been used as traditional medicine for hundreds of years and is known for its adaptogenic qualities. It was consumed in oral form as an energy drink. Benefits of Ginseng Ginseng roots can strengthen any part of the human body and has been used to treat bleeding disorders, hardened arteries, and colitis. It also relieves the symptoms of cancer and premature aging. It is used to manage diabetes as it reduces blood sugar levels, helps in stimulating neural activity due to its antioxidant properties, helps in weight loss, improves hair health, reduces stress, and is a recommended solution for erectile dysfunction. How to take Ginseng Ginseng roots can be dried and powdered for regular consumption. Notably, 0.5 to 3 grams per day should be consumed to gain the benefits of ginseng. It can be added to hot beverages and used in energy drinks. Ginseng tea is the best way to help your body reap its benefits. You can also mix ginseng powder with water and consume. Ginseng capsules are also available in the
market if you would like to take it in its concentrated form. Ginseng and its Side Effects Ginseng is a potent spice and can cause certain discomfort to the body if consumed in excess. Few people may experience mild side effects, such as allergic reactions, sleep deprivation, upset stomach, headaches, irritating sensation, diarrhea, dry mouth, seizures, and bleeding. It is better to take the advice of your doctor before adding it to your diet in case you are taking any particular medications.
Fo-Ti What is Fo-Ti? Fo-Ti, similar to ginseng, has its origin in China and is known popularly as an “anti-aging herb,” as it promotes longevity and boosts your stamina. Fo-Ti (known as He Shou Wu in China) increases energy levels, tones the kidney and liver meridians, and builds sexual potency for both the genders. It tastes slightly astringent and bitter and is mildly sedative. It is a known Chinese medicine for gray hair reversal. Fo-Ti is processed for human consumption in four different ways – raw, steamed, cured, and wine. Raw and cured Fo-Ti are the most imported forms in countries like the U.S. Benefits of Fo-Ti Fo-Ti is said to be a possible cure for skin eruptions, itching, and sores when applied to the skin directly. Fo-Ti extract is used as an ingredient for skin care and hair products. It helps in treating high cholesterol, insomnia, hair loss, tinnitus, constipation, etc. It works well on lower back and knee soreness. Early researchers suggested that taking Fo-Ti roots with ginseng can improve memory in older people and also helps avoid memory-related diseases like Alzheimer’s. How to take Fo-Ti
Fo-Ti can be consumed in two forms – as teas and tinctures. Tinctures are medicines made by dissolving the drug, i.e., Fo-Ti roots, in alcohol. It is also available in the form of capsules. Fo-Ti and its Side Effects Excessive use of Fo-Ti might cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal trouble. It is advisable to check with a physician before consuming this herb in its processed form.
Isoleucine What is Isoleucine? Isoleucine is one of the three BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), which are incorporated in the protein in food. It cannot be made from other molecules and is considered to be the building block of proteins. This particular component is usually needed during intense weight training sessions, as it is used as fuel by the muscle cells. Benefits of Isoleucine Isoleucine is important for strengthening the body’s immunity, synthesizing hemoglobin, detoxifying nitrogen wastes, and healing wounds. It can be converted to glucose and ketones. It is one of the important supplements required for building muscles. It promotes the healthy growth of tissues, lowers blood sugar levels, and provides the necessary energy to your cells. How to take Isoleucine Isoleucine is found in foods, such as soy milk, legumes, wheat germ, baker’s yeast, chickpeas, seaweed, red kidney bean, peas, cabbage, lentils, flaxseeds, soybeans, chia seeds, basil nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, almond, spinach, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, rice bran, oat bran, and corn. Isoleucine and its Side Effects
People who are taking medicines for maple syrup urine disease, propionic academia, and methylmalonic acidemia should completely avoid using isoleucine. Excess consumption of this component will lead to depression, liver disease, and excessive urination.
Oats What are Oats? The seed (oats), leaves and stems (oat straw), and bran (outer layer of the whole oats) are used from the oat plant for food and medicinal purposes. They are whole grains that are high in nutrients and used as cereal or grain for food. Oats are full of protein with low-fat content, including beta glucon, and are also a rich source of fiber, which ultimately make it “the superfood.” The whole form of oats, also known as oat groats, is rarely used nowadays, as the cooking time for oat groats is longer than that for processed oats. Rolled, steel-cut, crushed, and instant oats are available. Consuming oats regularly gives a filling sensation to your tummy and also boosts your energy levels. This filling sensation ultimately reduces your hunger pangs, thereby controlling your urge to fall victim to compulsive eating. Benefits of Oats Oat bran is used to control high cholesterol, high blood pressure, bowel issues, constipation, and diarrhea. It is said to help prevent stomach cancer, heart disease, gallstones, and colon cancer. It also reduces blood sugar levels for diabetic patients when used regularly. Oat straw is used for coughs, swine flu, joint pain, frostbite, bladder disorders, impetigo (a form of skin disease), and eye ailments. Oats can also be applied topically to the skin for liver disorders, osteoarthritis, chicken pox, skin itchiness, etc. Using it as a footbath for tired feet will give a soothing effect. It is good for weight loss as it is very low in calories. How to take Oats
Oatmeal is a porridge that can be consumed regularly for breakfast or dinner. Boil oats in water to a semi-solid consistency, and have them for breakfast. This is considered to be the healthiest option. Oats can also be included in cookies, granola bars, muffins, baked goods, etc. You can get creative by adding oats to your regular food diet, and make your oatmeal interesting. Oats and their Side Effects This fiber-rich food doesn’t have any active side effect, but people who have chewing problems because of stroke or any form of paralysis attack are advised to avoid eating oats, as poorly chewed oats can cause intestinal blockage. Instant oats don’t provide the same health benefits as whole oats because instant oats are highly processed.
Coleus Forskohlii What is Coleus Forskohlii? Coleus Forskohlii, a member of the mint family, is an herb that is native to India and is cultivated in Nepal, Thailand, and the southern parts of India. It is a known herb in Ayurveda, as this is extensively used to increase testosterone levels and works as an anti-inflammatory agent. It is well-known among fitness freaks, as it is currently being used as a fat-burning natural supplement. Forskolin is the active ingredient in this herb that helps in dilating the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, increasing thyroid hormone functionality, and increasing body metabolism. Benefits of Coleus Forskohlii Coleus Forskohlii helps in weight loss, as the “forskolin” in the plant burns the fat in the human body. This particular ingredient relaxes the smooth muscle tissue and is found to be potentially useful in treating asthma. A concentrated form of forskolin helps in treating an eye condition (Glaucoma). Eye drops with forskolin as a key ingredient are administered to people who have this particular condition.
It is also used as a natural dietary supplement for sports players, as it boosts the body’s metabolism and acts as an energy vitalizer. How to take Coleus Forskohlii This is available in the market as fat burners and dietary supplements. If you are on a weight-loss program, it is advisable to consume 250 mg twice a day with 10% of forskolin in the supplement. Coleus Forskohlii and its Side Effects Coleus Forskohlii might increase your heart rate, leading to difficulty in breathing, chest pain, increased pulse rate, or fainting. For some, it may cause indigestion, heartburn, and nausea due to the increase in the amount of acid in one’s stomach. There are cases where one may feel dizzy, experience blurring vision, sense a lack of concentration, fatigue, or fainting sensation, as this plant may lower your blood pressure.
Sesamin What is Sesamin? Sesame seeds have a lignin compound known as sesamin, which is a plant estrogen. For centuries, sesamin has been used widely because of its fatburning property. Sesame plants originated from Africa and have been proven to support kidney and liver health. They can alter the body’s metabolism and use fat as an energy resource. Benefits of Sesamin Sesamin reduces vitamin E degradation in the body and acts as a potent antioxidant. It oxidizes fat and prevents it from getting stored in the body. It reduces cholesterol, increases insulin sensitivity, prevents damage caused by free radicals, and helps improve kidney and liver health. When sesamin is combined with Omega-3 fatty acids, it improves the fat oxidizing property to a large extent. Sesame oil is rich in antioxidants and gets absorbed easily by the skin when applied. It nourishes the skin from deep inside and promotes soft, supple skin.
How to take Sesamin Sesame seeds are the best source of consumption for making sesamin available to your body. You can add raw sesame seeds to your food by mixing it with flour while making flatbreads or flat pancakes. Soak a cup of sesame seeds in a glass of water, and leave it overnight. Blend it well the next morning, cool it, and drink it. Retaining the fiber without straining the blended residue is considered a healthier option. Sesamin and its Side Effects There have been no noted side effects of sesamin apart from the mild skin rashes few people might experience.
Cinnamon What is Cinnamon? Cinnamon is a tropical evergreen tree, which has its origin in Ceylon and is well known for its soothing sweet scent. Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon are the two kinds of cinnamon available on the market. Ceylon cinnamon is produced in Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, and Madagascar, whereas Cassia cinnamon is from China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Cinnamon is produced from the bark of the tree and is available as wood chips, rolled sticks, and in powdered form. Cinnamon leaves and the bark stem from the trunk of the tree are steam distilled into oil and used as essential oil. Benefits of Cinnamon Since ancient times, cinnamon has been known for its health benefits and has also been used as fragrant scents. This spice can come in handy for treating flatulence, upset stomach, diarrhea, and arthritis. Cinnamon has high amounts of calcium, fiber, and manganese. It also has antimicrobial activity and prevents blood coagulation. It helps to lower bad cholesterol and manages type 2 diabetes by keeping it under control. Consuming cinnamon regularly can help in treating certain
types of headaches and arthritis pain. It also treats digestive issues and respiratory illness. It enhances metabolism and assists in blood sugar regulation. How to take Cinnamon Cinnamon is available as sticks, oil, and in powdered form. Roasting the cinnamon stick for a spicy food recipe or adding a pinch of cinnamon powder to sweets or savories will be the best way to add this particular spice to your regular diet. It is a common spice used in India, along with ginger, cardamom, and turmeric. Cinnamon tea is a tasty beverage and gives a refreshing sensation when consumed. Adding cinnamon powder while baking and toasting would make the food delicious. Cinnamon is the primary spice required in most ethnic Mexican, North African, and Indian food. Cinnamon and its Side Effects A component by the name of Coumarin is found in both Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon, and when this segment is consumed in extremely heavy doses, it may cause liver damage. Some may get mouth sores, breathing issues, etc., when too much cinnamon gets into the body. Low blood sugar for diabetic patients may be a common side effect. Few may experience skin reddening and irritation when cinnamon oil is applied to the skin.
Black Pepper What is Black Pepper? Black pepper, otherwise known as the “king of spices,” has its origin in South India. This spice comes from peppercorns, the small white blossoms that become berries. These berries are picked up and dried before they fully mature, making them turn dark to become black pepper. In ancient days, this particular spice determined the wealth of a person and was the reason for many battles in the history.
It is cultivated in India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and China. This small black seed is still worth billions of dollars. This particular seed was used for medicinal purposes centuries ago and later became a vital part of most ethnic cuisines in Asia and North America. Black pepper can be used in its whole, crushed, or powdered form. Benefits of Black Pepper The component “piperine” found in black pepper blocks fat cell formation and is helpful in weight loss. Black pepper and capsaicin together can burn as many calories as possible, which can be equated to the calorie loss you can get from a 20-minute walk. It improves the bioavailability of other foods, helping your body to access as much nutritional value as possible from the foods you are consuming. This spice helps prevent cancer, as it has antioxidant properties that can remove harmful free radicals from the body and protect you from deadly diseases. Since ancient days, this black spice is said to cure cough, a cold, and flu and stimulate a smooth digestion process. This spice improves circulation of the blood and provides a smooth flow of oxygen supply to the skin, giving the skin its natural glow. It is also known to help cure a skin disease known as vitiligo. How to take Black Pepper Black pepper can be used in its whole or powdered form. Sprinkling black pepper on salads, Chinese dishes, etc., enhances the taste of the food. You can also use freshly crushed black pepper in soups, pasta, noodles, etc. Eating raw black peppercorns (one or two) can work efficiently on sore throat and severe cold. Black pepper and its Side Effects Children under the age of 10 should not be given black pepper, as there are chances that it might accidentally get into the lungs if not appropriately chewed, especially when peppercorns are used in food. Excess use of black pepper might cause stomach burn or gastrointestinal issues because of its fiery hot flavor.
Green Tea What is Green Tea? Green tea is prepared with “less processing” and is one of the healthiest categories of tea with the most antioxidants. It is said to have originated from China and India and later became popular across the world for its rich health benefits. Green tea is one of the major components used in Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda. It is currently cultivated in India, China, Sri Lanka, Japan, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Carolina, and Hawaii. Benefits of Green Tea The polyphenols in green tea are said to have the ability to kill cancerous cells, thereby stopping them from growing. It also helps in treating cardiovascular diseases, reducing bad cholesterol, lowering the risk of stroke, etc. Though green tea is globally known for its weight loss property, this drink has very minimal benefits on the same. A combination of a healthy diet, proper exercise, and regular consumption of green tea can help maintain body weight, but drinking green tea alone will have a very minimal effect on weight loss. Green tea is also said to enhance brain functions, thereby reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and enhancing memory function. How to take Green Tea Green tea is available in the market as crushed leaves or in powdered form. This can be consumed the way one would have a normal tea. Boil the green tea leaves or the powder in water, and serve hot. It is also available as green tea bags. Green tea and its Side Effects Green tea doesn’t have many side effects, but it does have the following effects on a few people: -
Upset stomach, irritability, insomnia, and nausea due to its caffeine
content People taking drugs for blood thinning should avoid consuming green tea. It can also increase heart rate and blood pressure when taken with other drugs.
Guarana What is Guarana? Guarana, a climber shrub that originated from the Amazon forest in Brazil, has twice the amount of caffeine as a coffee bean. The Brazilian tribes used the fruit of the plant by drying, roasting, and grounding it into paste. This paste was then mixed in hot water and used as an energy drink. It was also used as a medicine to treat dysentery and malaria. Guarana is available in the market in powdered form and is an active supplement used by athletes for weight loss and for boosting their energy levels. Benefits of Guarana Guarana helps in weight management, as the components of this shrub doesn’t allow fat cells to accumulate but breaks them down and uses them as fuel to be a source of energy for the body’s metabolism. The caffeine in guarana improves mental focus, thereby boosting the mind to stay awake. The antimicrobial and antioxidant property of guarana works as a natural antibiotic and prevents the body from contracting diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. It is put to best use by sports athletes, as consuming guarana can help the body muscles recover faster. Being an appetite suppressant, it helps reduce stress eating. How to take Guarana Guarana is available in the market in powdered form. Consumption of 1 gram of guarana in water or fresh juice regularly works as a stimulant to the body. Guarana and its Side Effects
Excess usage of this shrub can cause insomnia and nervousness if you are sensitive to caffeine. In case you are administering medicines for anxiety issues, heart problems, diabetes, glaucoma, and digestive issues, it is best to avoid consuming guarana.
Nettle Leaves What are Nettle Leaves Nettle leaves, otherwise known as stinging nettle, is a shrub that has its origin in the colder regions of Asia and Europe. It got its name, “stinging nettle,” because it releases an irritating chemical when the fine hair-like material in the stems and leaves touch your skin. This shrub has been said to play a significant role in herbal medicines for centuries. It is used as an active ingredient in soups, stews, pasta, herbal tonics, juices, and beverages. Benefits of Nettle Leaves Nettle leaves act as a natural body cleanser, as they help in cleansing the blood and burning down excess body fat. The antioxidant property and nutrients, such as vitamins K and C, promote good health. In traditional medicine, nettle leaves have been used to increase blood circulation, heal wounds, and improve fertility for men and women. It also helps in treating allergies, such as excessive sneezing or itching, urinary tract infections, arthritis, eczema, liver or kidney issues, muscle pain, nosebleeds, etc. How to take Nettle Leaves Nettle leaves are mostly available as dried leaves, root extracts, or tinctures. You can add one or two spoons of dried nettle leaves in hot water and drink the same after 15 minutes. You can prepare it just like any other tea and consume the same. Nettle Leaves and their Side Effects
Nettle leaves are non-toxic and safe for oral consumption. Some may experience upset stomach, excessive sweating, and skin rashes if the powder is made from nettle roots. If you are taking medicines for blood pressure, have blood platelet issues, diabetes, etc., it is better to avoid consuming nettle leaves.
Turmeric What is Turmeric? Turmeric, also known as the golden spice, has its origin in India and has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. It comes from the turmeric plant and is a common ingredient in most Asian ethnic food recipes. The component “curcumin” gives the yellow color to the spice and also provides various therapeutic benefits. Curcumin burns fat in the body. It has a warm, bitter taste and takes the role of a primary spice in the kitchen, along with other spices and herbs that are used for cooking. Benefits of Turmeric The antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties of this spice helps in treating stomach infection, external injuries, irritable bowel issues, cold, headaches, lung infection, itchy skin, etc. Topical application of turmeric paste to the skin can help cure sprains, wounds, swellings, bruising, skin sores, gum issues, acne, eye infections, etc. The essential oil made from turmeric is used in perfumes and skin creams (both cosmetic and medicinal purposes). Regular oral consumption of turmeric can reduce high cholesterol. How to take Turmeric Turmeric is available as whole turmeric root and in powdered form. Adding a pinch or small spoonful of turmeric powder to your food regularly can do wonders for your body. Consuming the famous “golden paste” daily can help prevent gastric discomfort and can improve the antibacterial property of the body. A golden paste is made by blending fresh turmeric roots, then boiling the blended paste, and finally adding black pepper and coconut oil to the
mixture. Turmeric is an antiseptic, which can strengthen your immunity and can help heal internal injuries. Turmeric and its Side Effects Turmeric doesn’t have many side effects, but the only thing that should be kept in mind is to avoid taking turmeric with an empty stomach as it may cause gastric discomfort due to the acid reflux reaction. Excessive consumption of turmeric might cause diarrhea.
Dandelion What is Dandelion? Dandelion is an herb that is used in its edible form for health benefits. It is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin K1. It is a well-known nutritional supplement for weight loss. This herb contains chemical components that decrease inflammation and increase urine formation. Dandelion is used as a salad green and is also an active ingredient in soups and wines. Roasted dandelion roots are used as a substitute for coffee. Benefits of Dandelion Dandelions have been used to control diabetes and reduce liver disorders. The juice of dandelion leaves can be helpful in treating skin diseases and for bile flow stimulation. It also works well on upset stomach, constipation, and flatulence. How to take Dandelion Dandelion is available as a tincture, extract, in powdered form, and as an herbal supplement. Tonic made from dandelion root is good for digestive issues. Dandelion can be prepared as tea and consumed – 9 to 12 grams a day should be good. Dandelion and its Side Effects
Gastric discomfort and mild allergies are the reported side effects when dandelion is consumed in excess.
Mustard Seeds What are Mustard Seeds Mustard seeds are tiny round edible seeds taken from mustard plants. India, Canada, Pakistan, Nepal, the United States, and Hungary are a few of the significant producers of the mustard seeds. The mustard seeds and the oil extract are used for medicinal purposes. They are the most common spices that add taste and flavor to the food, along with other spices like turmeric, pepper, etc. It is also said that black mustard has chemical compounds that help reduce pain when applied to the skin. Benefits of Mustard Seeds Mustard seeds are said to boost the body’s metabolism by 25% and can also burn body fat. It works well on a cold, joint aches, indigestion issues, lower back pain, etc. The topical application of mustard plaster (mustard blended well with very little water) on the forehead can reduce severe headaches, but it can cause severe skin irritation when applied for only mild headaches. Mustard seeds have rich nutritional benefits, as they are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, copper, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B-1. Recent studies proved that consuming even a little of these seeds regularly can burn 45 calories of fat in an hour. How to take Mustard Seeds You can add two to three teaspoons of mustard seeds to your curry while cooking. It can be roasted in oil and added to the food recipes. You can also make the paste of mustard seeds and add it to your diet regularly. Mustard seeds and their Side Effects There are no notable side effects while consuming black mustard seeds.
Consuming a large number of black mustard seeds orally might cause throat damage, diarrhea, breathing issues, and drowsiness. Topical application of mustard seed paste can cause severe skin irritation and blisters.
Garlic What is Garlic? Garlic is a plant species that contains a sulfur-based enzyme, similar to onion. It has a rich scent and flavor when cooked and a pungent flavor when consumed raw. These tiny cloves are packed with nutritional benefits, like selenium, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamins B1, B-6, and C. Benefits of Garlic Garlic has antioxidant properties that help in lowering bad cholesterol, regulating blood sugar levels, and maintaining normal blood pressure. It has very low calories, and it boosts the immune system. It is a common traditional medicine for treating a cold, sore throat, and stomach upset. It is an excellent detoxifier that can cleanse the body from toxins when consumed regularly. According to a study, garlic could reduce the incidence of a cold by 63% and reduce the average length of cold symptoms by 70%. How to Take Garlic Garlic can be consumed in its raw or cooked form. The cloves can be crushed or sliced and added to food while cooking. You can also make it into a paste, along with ginger, and add it to your food recipes. Garlic is also available in the following forms: freeze-dried, powdered, in pills, and oils. Garlic and its Side Effects As far as garlic goes, it is an extremely safe natural supplement. Consumption of raw garlic may lead to heartburn, bad breath, and gas.
Supplements can also lead to related side effects; however, raw garlic is a much stronger contender for these side effects.
Rhodiola What is Rhodiola? Rhodiola is a plant that is native to the arctic regions of Asia, Alaska, and Europe. It has historical evidence of being used as medicine by the Europeans and the traditional Chinese. It is said to have the potential for improving memory, regulating heartbeat, and strengthening the nervous system. Benefits of Rhodiola Rhodiola acts as an adaptogen and helps the body to adapt to and resist environmental, chemical, and physical stress. It increases stamina and strength and improves mental health. It boosts the body’s metabolism, thereby improving the performance of athletes. How to consume Rhodiola It is often advised to take the rhodiola supplements at least 15 to 20 minutes before a meal. It is better to take the advice of a physician or follow the instructions mentioned in the supplement on dosage. Side Effects of Rhodiola It may cause dry mouth, anxiety, dizziness, and an unstable blood pressure if the appropriate dosage is not taken. As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, it is better to avoid artificial supplements, and switch to natural supplements by including the spices mentioned above and herbs to your regular diet. Your health, fitness, and muscle strength will improve faster than usual when you add these natural supplements to your food, along with your regular fitness regimen.
Chapter 20 - How to boost HGH Levels Naturally HGH or Human Growth Hormone is a popular word you get to hear in the gym or during training sessions when you are on your weight-loss or bodybuilding mission. Is it really necessary to boost HGH levels? Why do we need to do that? To answer these questions, let us understand what HGH does.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Human Growth Hormone is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland; it is necessary and vital for your body’s growth. This hormone is an essential component of the human endocrine system. Hormone secretion in the human body takes place in the small gland located at the base of the brain known as the pituitary gland. During childhood and adolescence, the HGH hormone is the one that helps you grow. Why does a body need hormone? What is a hormone? A hormone is a substance produced in a species, which is then transported to various parts of the body through blood vessels or sap to trigger certain tissues or cells to action or function. The hormones in your body regulate tissue function, digestion, respiration, sleep, stress, metabolism, mood, etc. These hormones in the body can be a steroid compound or a form of protein. Testosterone and estrogen are present in the body as steroid compounds, and HGH is available in the body in the form of protein. During adulthood, this hormone is responsible for maintaining certain important tasks in your body, such as: -
Reducing fat accumulation and giving a lean physique Promoting more hair and nail growth Bone-strengthening activity Protecting organs from age-related issues Improving blood circulation Maintaining healthy cholesterol
Unfortunately, as we get older, natural HGH production decreases, leading to fat accumulation, especially in the tummy region. This is also the reason for
the reduction in bone mineral density and the high risk of cardiovascular issues. For most of us, this starts when we reach our 20s. To make it simple, when HGH declines, you start looking and feeling older.
How to Increase HGH Production Naturally Diet, aging, exercise, stress, and emotional excitement can all affect HGH production in your body. It is essential to analyze your body and do the necessary interventions to work on your HGH production. Let us take a look at the following ways: Adequate or more sleep Like food, sleep is an important thing that is required by your body. Proper sleep will help you bid goodbye to most diseases or ailments. Give your body the required hours of rest to pump its revitalizing energy for the next day. You usually go through various cycles of sleep – from light sleep to deep sleep; light sleep usually gives a disturbingly low amount of sleep, thereby tiring your mind and body equally. Sound sleep or deep sleep, called the slow-wave sleep cycle, gives you undisturbed good sleep. This is when your body releases the most amount of HGH. A good eight hours of sleep regularly will keep your HGH production in place. GABA GABA or Gamma-amino butyric acid is said to give a 200% to 400% increase in HGH production. It is a neurotransmitter that helps in boosting your HGH levels. You can take 1.5 to 3 grams of GABA supplement before you go to sleep. You can get GABA from food sources, such as spinach, lentils, almonds, broccoli, rice bran, oats, potato, oranges, bananas, brown rice, walnuts, and whole wheat. High-intensity exercise High-intensity exercise or training is one of the natural ways to boost your HGH. This training will push your heart rate to burst above the anaerobic threshold, thereby engaging superfast twitch muscle fibers that in turn release HBH naturally. For example, a 30-second intense running, cycling, or
swimming sprint with 1-minute rest between each sprint will make your workout so intense that you would gasp for oxygen, finding it difficult to talk without flatting out completely. Avoiding sugar When you consume sugar with fructose content within two hours of your workout, your HGH production will decrease because of the release of somatostatin caused by the hypothalamus. Intermittent fasting Choose three days in a week, and consume less food than your usual intake, as this can spear HGH release. The concept is that when your body goes into fasting mode, the HGH hormone mobilizes your body fat and converts it into fuel for boosting energy to ensure that your body doesn’t feel tired. Body fat level reduction HGH production is directly related to the amount of body fat you have. So when your body has more fat, especially belly fat, HGH production decreases. It is vital for you, especially men, to keep your body fat under control by managing your diet and doing those regular ab sessions. Melatonin Melatonin helps in increasing the HGH level by 150% to 157% when the supplement is taken orally. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland of your brain that helps in regulating the wake and sleep cycles. Notably, 0.5 to 5 mg of melanin before going to bed can give you a sound, undisturbed sleep. To boost melatonin naturally in your body, you can add tomatoes, barley, sweet corn, oranges, bananas, pineapples, oats, and rice to your regular diet. Studies have proven that pineapple, bananas, and oranges can increase melatonin level in the body by 260%, 180%, and 47%, respectively High-quality protein intake
The amino acids in the protein will help boost HGH naturally. A high-protein and low-carbohydrate snack before going to bed will trigger the body to do its work. Glutamine According to the study conducted by Louisiana State College of Medicine, consuming 2 grams of glutamine could increase HGH levels. Notably, 2 to 10 grams of glutamine before going to bed or after your workout session would do good for your body. Avoid eating too much before going to bed The body is said to release a good amount of HGH during the night, and when you have a heavy dinner, the body is forced to spend more energy to perform the digestion process, thereby increasing insulin levels. This increase in insulin can potentially block the HGH release in the night. To avoid this problem, have your dinner three hours before you go to bed, as insulin levels tend to decrease two to three hours after eating. There are a few other supplements like glycine, creatine, L-dopa, and ornithine that can also be consumed to increase the HGH levels considerably. The right combination of a balanced diet, strict fitness regimen, and natural supplements on a regular basis can help maintain a lean body and develop those extra muscles for an attractive physique.
Chapter 21 – How to Improve Insulin Sensitivity Insulin sensitivity is referred to as “the responsiveness of your cells to the insulin in your body.” Improving insulin sensitivity can reduce resistance to insulin and avoid the risk of contracting many chronic diseases, such as diabetes. To understand this concept better, let us be clear on what insulin is and why we need it.
Insulin Sensitivity Insulin is an important and essential hormone in your body that keeps your blood sugar level under control. The pancreas produces this hormone, which is needed for moving the sugar from the blood to the cells for storage. The problem of an “increase in the level of blood sugar” occurs when your cells are resistant to insulin. In such instances, your pancreas can sense a spike in your blood sugar, thereby producing more insulin to overcome the cells’ resistance and helping to reduce the blood sugar levels. If this continues over a period, then the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas get exhausted, leading to pancreas depletion (common in type 2 diabetes). If the high blood sugar keeps on continuing, it can lead to damage to the organs and nerves. In simpler terms, when your body has low insulin sensitivity, it is referred to as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance will force your pancreas to secrete more insulin to keep your blood sugar stable, i.e., your body is facing difficulty in maintaining blood glucose, which can pave the way for high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. When your body circulates more insulin from your blood to the other cells, it is said to have high insulin sensitivity, which is the opposite of low insulin sensitivity. High insulin sensitivity leads to blood vessel damage, obesity, heart failure, osteoporosis, and cancer. Maintaining normal insulin sensitivity is very important to lead a disease-free life.
How to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
If you are insulin resistant or have low insulin sensitivity, it is essential to improve insulin sensitivity to avoid inflammation in your body, which can be the reason for a whole lot of other health issues that you wouldn’t want to deal with. Let us look at a few natural ways to improve insulin sensitivity: More exercise Regular combination of aerobic and resistance training can increase insulin sensitivity. Weights, sprints, and full body workout will work well. More sleep When you don’t sleep properly even for one night, the level of stress hormone “cortisol” goes up, causing a decrease in insulin sensitivity. Cravings for high-carb foods go up, leading to a reduction in glucose levels. It is always advisable to have a good 8 to 8.5 hours of sleep to improve your insulin sensitivity. More soluble fiber Consuming foods with soluble fiber can help reduce appetite and lower cholesterol. It feeds the friendly bacteria in your abdominal region, which is linked to improving insulin sensitivity. More fruits and vegetables Antioxidants are necessary to neutralize molecules called free radicals that can be the reason for harmful inflammation in the body. Colorful vegetables and fruits are not only nutritious but also provide health-boosting benefits to the body. These fruits and vegetables are rich in plant compounds, which have antioxidant properties. These plant compounds also help improve insulin sensitivity. Add more cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, to your diet. More green tea The powerful antioxidant properties in green tea can reduce blood sugar and
improve insulin sensitivity. Less added sugars Natural sugars are nutritional sources found in fruits and vegetables that do not harm the body’s health condition. However, added sugars are too dangerous for the body as they are highly processed with two main components – sucrose and fructose. Fructose intake can increase insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk of diabetes and liver damage. It is better to avoid cakes, sweets, candies, cookies, pastries, and beverages (with sugar sweeteners). Consuming a large amount of liquid fructose can lead to an increase in belly fat. Avoid sports drinks that have HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) as one of its ingredients. Less Carbs Carbs comprise the main stimulating agent that causes blood sugar level to increase. When your body digests the carbs you consumed, the carbs become sugar, which in turn is released to the blood, making the pancreas release more insulin to help in transporting these sugars from the blood to the cells. If your carb consumption is on the higher side, you will need to take measures to reduce the intake. Low glycemic index (GI) carbs are the best form of carbs as they slow down the release of sugar into the blood, thereby giving insulin more time to work efficiently. Sweet potatoes, quinoa, and brown rice are sources of carbs with low GIs. Less stress Stress will trigger your body to get into “fight or flight mode,” which paves the way for the production of stress hormones like glucagon and cortisol. These hormones will, in turn, break down a form of stored sugar called glycogen into glucose, which will enter your blood vessels in the body. This will increase the blood sugar level, making your body insulin resistant. When you are completely stressed out and this continues for a long period, the level of stress hormones goes high, preventing the nutrients from getting stored in the body but making them available in the bloodstream as an energy
source. People who are under severe stress will have reduced insulin sensitivity, which can be a dangerous sign. Good sleep, the right amount of exercise, and other forms of relaxation therapy like yoga or meditation can help in significant ways to improve insulin sensitivity. Shed those extra pounds It is better to shed those extra pounds, especially in the abdominal area, to avoid getting into a state of obesity. Excess weight often leads to insulin resistance in the liver and muscles, thus causing as higher risk of diabetes. A combination of a well-balanced healthy diet, strict exercise regimen, and positive attitude toward life can help in maintaining an active body mass. Welcome herbs and spices into your kitchen The best form of natural supplements is found in most herbs and spices that can improve your health condition abundantly. Herbs and spices were traditionally used for medicinal purposes before they became an active part of cooking. Ginger, turmeric, garlic, and fenugreek seeds are clinically proven to improve insulin sensitivity. The active component “gingerol” in ginger, the antioxidant property in garlic, the component “curcumin” in turmeric, and the “soluble fiber” in fenugreek seeds help in controlling blood sugar, reducing fatty acids, making sugar receptors available on muscle cells, and improving insulin secretion. Add cinnamon The plant compounds in cinnamon help by making the receptors available on the muscle cells for efficient sugar transportation. It can increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. Consuming 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon regularly can help keep blood sugar levels stable, both on a shortterm and long-term basis. Add apple cider vinegar Apple cider vinegar is making headlines in the weight-loss area. Consuming apple cider vinegar makes the stomach delay its food releasing function to the intestines, thereby giving the body more time to absorb the sugar in the
bloodstream. There was one particular study that proved that consumption of apple cider vinegar showed an increase in insulin sensitivity by 34% in insulin-resistant individuals who were on high-carb diets. Another set of people who were affected by type 2 diabetes had also shown an increase in insulin sensitivity by 19%. Whey protein Whey protein is a unique supplement that can improve insulin sensitivity and manage blood sugar effectively in people who have high insulin resistance. Whey causes a large increase in insulin, which is more than the expected normal quantity based on the composition of amino acids, thereby improving glucose tolerance to a significant level. High protein intake Higher protein intake can give you a filling sensation that, in turn, reduces your cravings for high-carb foods. High protein usually causes a moderate increase in production of blood glucose, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity. NO to refined products Instead of munching on highly processed foods like pasta, sweet bread, crackers, chips, etc., during your snack sessions, go for healthier options like vegetable salads, fruit salads, or fresh and cold pressed juices. Processed foods are usually high in insulin because of the high fructose content they carry. Try making your salads interesting by having a combination of raw and boiled veggies seasoned with black pepper, turmeric, and oregano for refreshing taste and a healthy appetite. NO to processed vegetable oils Avoid refined or processed vegetable oils, and look for healthier options, such as extra virgin oils or unprocessed oils. The fat contents are on the higher side in these refined oils, which thus cause an increase in insulin resistance.
NO to late-night eating Most of the time, when you end up eating late night, it is mostly those highcarb foods or processed foods that go into your stomach, which increases insulin and disturbs your body clock. Eating during late nights on a longer term will result in hormonal imbalance. Avoid sitting for long hours Take breaks every 30 to 45 minutes, and walk around if you are someone whose work hours require you to sit for long periods. Sitting for long hours often leads to fat accumulation, especially in the abdominal region (belly fat), which reduces insulin sensitivity to a large extent. Magnesium intake Magnesium is a mineral that has a positive effect on the receptors in the body cells that naturally increases insulin sensitivity. Add leafy greens, broccoli, almonds, cashews, pumpkin, and sesame seeds to your regular diet. NO to trans fats Artificial trans fats are found in processed foods, such as doughnuts, pie, fried fast foods, steaks, etc. Accumulating these trans fats in your body will increase the risk of insulin resistance and poor blood sugar maintenance. Nuts and seeds Adding nuts and seeds to your regular diet at a moderate level can help improve insulin sensitivity to a large extent. Avocado, cold pressed olive oil, walnuts, almonds, etc., can be added to your diet. Vitamin K2 In clinical trials conducted in 2011, vitamin K2 was found to improve insulin sensitivity to a major extent. Green leafy vegetables, Natto (fermented soy), sprouts, spring onions, and cabbages are the natural foods that are rich sources of vitamin K2.
Small portions Instead of having three full heavy meals, split your portions evenly into six. Have six smaller portions of meals regularly. Sometimes, it so happens that you tend to miss one meal and compensate for it by having a heavy lunch or dinner. This will disturb your body clock, which leads to digestion issues, thereby resulting in body fat accumulation. When you go for smaller meals, you are consciously aware that you are not going hungry, and your stomach gets the required amount of nutrients in the food you consume. Given that insulin is an important hormone that plays a major role in the human body, you must be aware of your insulin sensitivity and the risk it can pose if not maintained at the required level. Prevent those deadly diseases from creeping into your body by improving your insulin sensitivity naturally. There are many ways to improve your insulin sensitivity naturally, and we have just seen a few in this chapter.
Conclusion Thank you again for downloading this book! I sincerely hope that you received value from it and that you will continue to derive help from the book throughout your life. This book has been devoted to men because their problems are different from those experienced by women, and the supplements that have been included are recommended to help you through those difficult phases of your life and to help you to make the most of your exercise routine. We have worked through the areas of life that affect all men. If you are young and want to build muscle, we would suggest that you talk to your parents about your wishes rather than being tempted to take supplements that may not be suitable for you during your growing years. Unfortunately, sometimes, these can cause more harm than good during a period when your body is growing. More and more kids are trying to bulk up when all it takes is working on your diet and exercise routine, without the aid of dangerous supplements. Time’s website (http://healthland.time.com/2012/11/20/muscle-madnessmore-teens-are-bulking-up/) has a disturbing report that you may find useful, and you will find that there are safe alternatives that you can take in conjunction with your parents’ and doctor’s consent that will not harm you. It also helps you to be able to talk to your parents, and although you believe that they may not understand, you need to remember that they went through childhood as well and may have faced very similar problems to those that you are experiencing at this time. I really hope this book was able to help you and educate you on the 10 most useful and beneficial supplements for men. Your body needs the vitamins and minerals that are provided by a healthy diet and lifestyle. However, not everyone is able to live life to the fullest, and we have made allowance in our book for these extremes so that you can still work toward good health and know what actions you need to take to make the most of your body. The next step is to start including these supplements in your daily arsenal of health foods and drinks. If you do this, you’ll achieve your fitness goals in no time and become the fittest version of yourself that you can possibly become. Before you do so, do talk to your primary health care professional, and seek
his or her guidance as these are the people who know your health history and who will be able to tell you whether the chosen supplements are suitable for your individual case. Finally, if you enjoyed this book, then I’d like to ask you for a favor. Would you be kind enough to leave a review for this book on Amazon? It’d be greatly appreciated! I want to reach as many people as I can with this book, and more reviews will help me accomplish that! Remember that your health and happiness may depend upon knowing the information that is included within the pages of this book. If it can improve your health, imagine how much it would help others; so help make sure that people know that this guide includes enough information for men to go through their lives informed. Click here to leave a review for this book on Amazon! Thank you, and good luck!
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