First, my apologies to anyone coming here looking for posts about cartooning or art. I’ve been meaning to do a week on bodybuilding and this is it. Tune back in on Saturday or just check out the Sketch O’the Day until then.
Knowledgeable bodybuilders or trainers will tell you that you do not build muscle when you lift weights… you build muscle when resting between workouts. The act of lifting weights damages your muscles by creating slight micro tears in the fibers, causing your body to scramble to repair the tears. Your body will overcompensate, not only repairing the tears but making the muscle bigger, stronger and denser to prevent such tears in the future (meaning you have to work harder to break down the muscle tissue again). So, the time in between workouts is at least as important as the time you spend in the gym. You have to allow your muscles to recover properly, and you have to feed them so they have the raw materials to grow.
Eating is something many casual weightlifters do not pay enough attention to. Three squares a day won’t do the job. Your muscles need a constant flow of protein and calories in order to properly repair themselves. Without these materials, they will forgo repair in favor of preventing starvation. Your body is smart, and reacts to it’s condition in a proactive manner. If it senses it is not getting enough calories regularly to support it’s weight and function, it will assume that it is in a place with a poor food source and enters a starvation prevention mode. In this mode, it reduces function itself and makes an effort to take calories it would have ordinarily happily burned for fuel and turn them into fat to guard against the day the food runs out. This can happen easily when you are weightlifting because the very act of repairing muscle burns a lot of calories, and therefore eating a normal diet is not enough to build that muscle. In fact, after a short time burning body fat stores, the next thing a body starts burning for fuel after it runs out of glucose stored in the liver is… lean muscle tissue. Not eating properly will negate all that hard work in the gym. Here are a few general diet rules to follow for successful bodybuilding:
- 4 to 6 small meals per day, rather than 3 large ones
- 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily
- Calorie percentages: 50% from carbs, 35% from protein, 15% from fat
- Lean protein sources like chicken, fish, lean beef
- Good carbs like whole grains, oats, green vegetables
- Good fats like almonds, omega 3
- Drink 8-10 8oz. glasses of water per day
- Avoid sugars and bad fats
- Consume 50 to 75 grams of carbs within 30 minutes after workout
- Consume 40 to 55 grams of protein within 60 minutes after workout
- Take a good multi-vitamin
Use the 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight to figure out your total calories daily. Then listen to your body… if you are feeling your pants getting tight in the waist and your body fat is increasing, cut back on the calories a little. If you aren’t gaining any body weight (muscle), up your calories a little.
Simply put you need to let your body rest in order to repair itself. Allow each body part you work out to fully recover from the last workout before working it again. That means it should no longer be sore from the last workout. This will be different for each person. Your age, how hard you work in the gym, the type of workout you do, your natural reaction to training… these factors will all come into play in how long recovery takes.
Soreness happens in muscles that have been overloaded. Some say it is a buildup of lactic acid and some say it’s the tears in the muscle that cause the soreness, but nobody really knows for certain. Personally I am always sore for at least 3 to 4 days after working out a muscle group. It is always the worst for the first week after I change to a different workout, then after 5 weeks on the same program I find my muscles aren’t very sore no matter how hard I work. Then it’s time to change the workout again. Never train a body part that’s still sore from the last workout. Doing so will lead to overtraining, when your body shuts down and stops growing. This is a common problem for advanced bodybuilder (who don’t use steroids, anyway). Periodization and proper rest are the ways to avoid overtraining.
A good stretch after working out a muscle group in essential to minimize the soreness and help muscle recovery. It pushes fresh blood and all the nutrients it carries into the muscle tissue. It helps prevent the muscle from tightening up and really being a problem later in the week. This is especially true of legs and back. Always stretch after your workout and a good daily stretch is always a plus. Flexibility can really help a bodybuilder avoid injury and speed recovery.
You should also take a full week off of any workouts once every two or three months. No work at all. A good time to do that is right after you finish a heavy power/strength routine to give your joints and tendons a break.
Finally, try and get 8 hours of sleep every day. Real life often prevents this for me, but I try as often as I can. Notice I didn’t say 8 hours a NIGHT, but each DAY. Recent studies have shown that you don’t need to get all that sleep at once. A daily half hour power nap is a bodybuilding secret that has a long history of success.
There are a lot of bodybuilding supplement companies out there that make outrageous claims about what the latest and greatest supplement can do. “Pack on freaky muscle mass in no time”, etc. etc. etc. Most are called sensational names like “Ripped Fuel” or “The Beast” and contain compounds with long names you can’t pronounce. It is a multi-million dollar industry. Everybody wants a “body in a bottle”.
The truth is none of these will do what they say they will do, and only a few will do anything at all for the average person. There are only a few supplements that have proven to have some effectiveness in training. The basic rule of thumb is stick to the basic, proven supplements, and experiment with some others if you want to. If you don’t notice that they make a real difference for you, then don’t continue to waste you money on them. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.
The supplements you should not do without are a good multi-vitamin, protein powder and amino acids. A multi-vitamin assure your body has the necessary nutrients for good health and rebuilding that are often processed out of the foods we eat. Protein powder is almost a must in order to take in enough protein during the day… you can only eat so many chicken breasts per day. Finally, amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and are essential for building muscle. Your body manufacturers most of the 20 basic amino acids, but some you need to get from food sources and some you need more of when bodybuilding. All are important but the ones that bodybuilders need the most are arginine, glutamine and leucine. Especially glutamine. Your protein intake (especially protein from good sources like eggs, fish and lean meats and a high quality whey protein powder) will give you most of the amino acids you need. If you want to supplement more, Glutamine is the first one you should add. You can also supplement arginine and leucine if you want, but unless you are in an advanced stage of bodybuilding there is no reason to.
One supplement that has been shown to make a difference for MOST people is Creatine. Creatine is an organic acid that occurs naturally in the body, and is used by muscle cells for short bursts of energy by contributing to the replenishment of muscle ATP, the compound your muscles use to contract. Creatine has been shown to increase muscle strength and energy for short bursts, allowing someone to lift heavier weights for more reps. Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Ethyl Ester and Creatine Malate are three different sources of creatine, and each is a little different. Advances in Creatine technology has helped eliminate the need to “load” the substance (taking outrageous amounts for the first week to get started with it) , the need to do heavy cycling (starting and stopping taking it to keep your body from overloading on it) as well as increasing the efficiency of absorption so most of the Creatine you ingest actually makes it to your muscle cells as opposed to being rendered useless in the digestive tract. Creatine isn’t for everybody and I would not recommend using it until a beginner has six months of solid training under their belt.
If you are over 30 you might consider a natural testosterone booster. A healthy male’s natural testosterone levels start dropping after age 25 or so and keep dropping as you get older. Steroids and pro-hormones introduce testosterone into your system directly and are never a good idea. They are not worth it. There are substances that will help your body increase it’s NATURAL testosterone production, and they have no side effects. They are not steroids and cannot force your body to make more testosterone than it is naturally capable of making… most are only effective when your own levels have decreased naturally via age. Some of these substances include ZMA, Tribulus Terrestris, Avena Sativa and Eurycoma Longifolia Jack. This is an excellent short article on the different natural testosterone boosters out there.
All other supplements are a crap shoot. Most make outrageous claims that they can’t possibly live up to. If you have money to burn and want to try a bunch, that’s up to you. That said I do take a lot of supplements, but I have found ones that I really feel have made a difference for me though trial and error.
Here is my daily diet and supplement routine:
- 5:00 am: Alpha Male (Tribulus Terrestris), Muscle Fuel (Mooyimo), Leukic (leucine)
- 7:00 am: NO Explode (Nitric Oxide, aminos), Gakic (arginine)
- 8:00 am: Pre workout small protein shake with 1/2 peanut Butter Sandwich
- 9:00 am: Post workout Cellmass (Creatine)
- 9:30 am: Post workout proteins shake and carbs
- 12:30 pm: Lunch, multivitamin and fish oil (omega 3 fatty acid)
- 3:30 pm: mid afternoon meal
- 6:30 pm: Dinner
- 8:30 pm: Evening protein shake
- 10:30 pm: Cellmass, ZMA, Alpha Male
That’s the workout day schedule. On weekends I do not take the Tribulus as you should cycle that five days on two days off. I also take a full week off all supplements every 8 weeks to reset the system.
Back into the gym tomorrow for leg day.
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