Category Archives: Muscle Science

6 Tips to Protect Your Joints

When you’re working out, you should pay extra attention to your joints, especially weight-bearing joints such as knees and ankles, because they absorb most of the impact during strenuous bodybuilding training. Joint injuries are frequent in sports, and they ultimately lead to damage and disease, one of which is rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike back or hip problems that are characteristics of old age, joint problems plague people regardless of how old they are. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks that can help you stay injury free, and keep your joints healthy when you’re training.

Warm up and stretch

Joints connect two bones, and their surrounding smooth tissue, cartilage, as well as a lubricant, synovial, prevent friction between two bones. Warm-up exercises and stretching are essential for prevention of all kinds of injuries, including joint strains, dislocations, or sprains. Many people think that warming up is the same thing as stretching, which is a common misconception. These two procedures are complementary, and both are highly beneficial for improving joint flexibility and increasing mobility. A warm-up should start with joint rotations that will stimulate the production of synovial fluid. After warm-up exercises, comes stretching that will prevent joint stiffness, and ultimately injuries.

Watch your nutrition

Inflammations and excess fat are the greatest enemies of healthy joints. This means that you should eliminate sugar, processed foods, or carbonated drinks, from your diet as they stimulate inflammatory responses. Make sure to include foods rich in antioxidants, such as dark, leafy green vegetables, berries, or nuts as they can successfully fight inflammations. Orange vegetables are loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene, essential for preventing rheumatoid arthritis and similar inflammation-related conditions. Fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, important for suppressing the production of enzymes that lead to cartilage erosion.

Do yoga or Pilates

Bodybuilding lifting and yoga are, practically, match made in heaven. A demanding and strenuous exercise regimen requires some kind of antidote, that can help the body to completely relax and recuperate. Although many weight lifters aren’t actually into Pilates, this low-impact training can actually help them improve their balance, as well as joint mobility and flexibility. Yoga is composed of various stretching exercises that can do wonders for sore and stiff joints, and improve the elasticity of the whole body.

Take supplements

Supplementation is one of the essential elements of any effective exercising regimen. Apart from regular supplements aiding muscle growth, there are those used for keeping your joints healthy. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in the human body and it’s a major ingredient of the synovial fluid and cartilage, and its role is to protect your joints from injuries and make them more elastic. There are supplements that increase and retain hyaluronic acid in your joints, and they’re used to prevent injuries and disorders, as well as to treat them. A study has found that this supplement can alleviate symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. People who train a lot should make sure to take high-purity glucosamine in order to replenish the stores of this chemical compound, whose responsibility is to reduce osteoarthritic pain and swelling, increase joint mobility, and help repair the cartilage. Its production is reduced due to a natural aging process and sustained traumas, and this ultimately results in cartilage destruction, so it’s important to boost it with a high-quality supplement.  

Reduce stress

Believe it or not, but stress also contributes to joint issues and aggravate them. Namely, when you’re stressed, levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, are soaring and wreaking havoc on your immune system. Apart from setting the fertile ground for various inflammations, cortisol has a negative impact on the production of collagen, a protein that makes connective tissues, by inhibiting its production and breaking it down. When you’re stressed focus on your breathing pattern and try to breathe deeply for 10 minutes.  Yoga is also beneficial for controlling cortisol levels, as this ancient practice incorporates meditation and diaphragmatic breathing.

Choose good shoes

As an athlete, you’re aware how important shoes are for your performance. When it comes to such high-impact activities such as bodybuilding, your joints are exposed to various loads that they have to absorb, meaning that they’re under a great deal of strain. That’s why it’s important that your shoes are comfortable, and that they provide support and stability. Unlike running shoes that should provide cushioning in order to absorb impact, shoes for strength training should have a thin sole in order to improve your balance.

Joints are extremely prone to injury, so it’s of vital importance to be careful and follow these tips in order to keep them healthy. Remember that joint injury can damage your cartilage beyond repair and ultimately result in various diseases, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Luke is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped-Science.com and Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.  https://twitter.com/mrlukeidouglas

What Proteins Do For The Body?

Proteins are large molecules, composed of long strings of amino acids that perform various roles in the body. They make up approximately 20% of the total body mass, and they can be found in hair, bones, skin, muscles, nails, and connective tissues. Many crucial processes in the human body depend on proteins, and they’re instrumental in building new cells and maintaining existing tissues. In other words, they help in cell renewal and tissue repair. The human body wouldn’t be able to perform some of the most basic functions without proteins, so it’s essential to take them on a daily basis. Here’s an overview of what proteins do for the body and their benefits.

They boost the immunity

One of the most important roles of proteins is to protect the human body from various viruses and bacteria. Namely, when the immune system identifies these foreign bodies, it reacts by sending antibodies, which are basically a type of protein. Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, find and destroy the virus or bacterium, and prevent their multiplication. They’re the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens, which is why it’s crucial to strengthen the immune system. This can be done by eating high-protein foods which will help the body initiate new protein synthesis, the process necessary for the functioning of the immune system.  

They build muscle

So-called structural proteins are integral parts of every cell in the human body. As their name suggests, they provide cells with internal architectural support. Apart from the cellular level, the importance of structural proteins is to support the human body on the whole. Without them, it would be impossible to stand or move. Collagen is an example of a structural protein and it ensures the elasticity and regeneration of the skin, joints, bones, and cartilage.

It stands to reason that eating protein is fundamental for muscle growth, and numerous studies show that people whose diet is rich in high-quality proteins have more lean muscle mass. Hitting the gym is a must if you want to increase your strength, but only when it’s paired with an adequate, protein-rich diet. For achieving the best results, make sure that the various kinds of proteins are on your plate, such as:

  • Eggs. Start your day with a delicious omelet. However, you should be aware that eggs can lead to increased cholesterol levels, so the American Heart Association recommends no more than 4 eggs a week.  
  • Fish and seafood. These excellent sources of protein are also low in fat. Besides that, salmon, herring, tuna, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for the heart.
  • Pork. This meat is rich in leucine, a branched-chain amino acid, which helps muscle recovery after a workout.
  • Dairy. Yogurt, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, or chocolate and milk are recommended not only because they’re full of proteins, but also because they contain high levels of calcium, necessary for healthy bones.
  • Soy. Dairy intolerant people can opt for this protein source, which is also good for preventing heart disease.
  • Mixed nuts. These healthy snacks are great for the overall health as they contain unsaturated fats. Still, sometimes they can be high in sodium, so opt for unsalted versions.  
  • Chicken and turkey breast. These lean meats are extremely popular with bodybuilders as they have the highest amount of protein among poultry. Just remove the skin and brine it before cooking.  
  • Protein drinks are the best way to replenish energy after a strenuous workout, and they’re especially effective for maintaining and gaining muscle.

 

The help you lose weight

There are several ways in which protein helps you lose weight and maintain your muscle mass.

  • The fact that proteins have a high thermic effect is a game-changer for any successful diet. The body burns calories during the process of digestion, and proteins burn twice as many calories as carbs. In plain English, it’s good for you to eat protein-rich foods if you want to lose weight. This so called thermic effect is why high-protein diets are extremely effective for losing belly fat.
  • Another reason why proteins should be included in a weight-loss diet is that they’re filling, so you can eat less food and calories, and still not be hungry. Of course, this can work only when it’s accompanied by a regular fitness regimen.      
  • In order for a diet to be effective, calorie intake must be reduced so that the body can start burning the fat that has already been stored. However, in many cases, such diets lead to losing muscle mass, too. Luckily, this problem can be easily solved by introducing sufficient amounts of protein to the diet. How much protein is enough? According to relevant sources, adults should take at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of their body weight a day, while for bodybuilders, the recommended intake is 1.2-1.7 grams.  

They help prevent cancer

Although there’s no definitive cure for cancer, there are some measures that can be taken in order to prevent this vile disease. Some research studies have found that whey proteins can suppress the development of certain types of cancer, such as colon and prostate. They increase immune levels and at the same time kill cancer cells. 180,000 women in the US fall victim to breast cancer each year, so a study has been conducted on rats to test the effects of whey protein. The findings say that 100% of rats that were put on a casein diet developed mammary tumors, while only 50% of the whey-fed rats were affected by this disease. Similar results were obtained for soy protein, as the incidence of mammary tumors was reduced by 25% in rats that were put on diets containing soy protein isolate.      

They help prevent osteoporosis

There’s a misconception that a diet high in protein isn’t good for bone health. According to this theory, during the process of digesting animal protein, acids are released into the bloodstream, and in order to neutralize them, the body uses calcium, some of which comes from the bones. Still, these findings have been disputed by recent research, which shows exactly the opposite, as it says that people who eat more protein have better bone density, thus being less likely to develop osteoporosis. A lower incidence of hip fractures has been observed in women whose diet is high in protein. However, eating fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants is recommended in order to additionally reduce the impact of acids on bone density.

They improve brain functions

Certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, carnosine, creatine, and vitamin D, which are essential for the brain, can be found in animal protein, and that’s why it’s irreplaceable for the normal functioning of the nervous system. Neurotransmitters, which are used to carry messages between neurons, are composed of amino acids, and since proteins, too, are composed of amino acids, they’re crucial for the health of these biochemical messengers in the brain. This means that a protein-rich diet can improve memory and cognitive health. In addition to that, serotonin, a mood- stabilizing neurotransmitter, and dopamine, which is responsible for controlling emotions and reward-driven behavior, can’t be produced without good proteins. These two chemicals are, basically, happiness hormones, and that’s why proteins are mood-boosting foods that can help fight depression.

Proteins play several essential roles in the body, and they’re the most important nutrients for building strength and size. Their proper intake also lowers the risk of developing certain serious diseases, including cancer, osteoporosis, and depression.   

AUTHOR BIO:

Luke is a guest blogger here on Ripped-Science.com and a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
FACEBOOK / TWITTER

4 Bodybuilding Supplement Scams to Avoid

suppscam
The world of bodybuilding has its fair share of supplement companies marketing their products with hyped up claims. Some of these supplements are go-to products that many bodybuilders “think” they need, when in reality, they’re really just wasting their hard-earned cash.

We’ve compiled a short list of the Top 4 Supplement Scams out there that have grown popular. You’ve probably bought one or more of these already! Save your money and use it on supplements that actually provide you with benefits.

ONE: “Advanced” Forms of Creatine

One of the most widely researched muscle compounds in existence is creatine. It’s been used by bodybuilders and athletes since the mid 1990’s and is most commonly sold in the form of creatine monohydrate.

Over the last decade, we have seen companies out there release new “breakthrough” forms of creatine that supposedly is more effective than the original monohydrate form. These “new” forms include: creatine ethyl ester, creatine hydrochloride, buffered creatine, creatine nitrate and creatine malate.

Don’t let the marketing hype fool you – not one study has ever been performed that has shown any of these “advanced” forms deliver any benefits above and beyond the monohydrate form. In fact, several studies show that certain forms, one being ethyl ester, are actually inferior.

These supplement companies will jack up their price range for their “new and improved” creatine product that delivers equal or even worse results than the original.

Save your money and stick with 3-5 grams per day of high quality, German-grade micronized creatine monohydrate.

TWO: Weight Gainers

First off, there’s nothing wrong with taking a weight gainer in controlled amounts, just keep in mind that all they really are is a basic mix of whey protein and simple sugar. Yes, that’s it!

A far better approach would be to add your own blend of carbohydrates and healthy fats to whey protein powder. You can add oatmeal, fruit, natural nut butters and healthy oils (like flaxseed or extra virgin olive oil) are all great options.

This will give you the high calorie density that you’re after while still giving your body a great dose of minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients and fiber, rather than a bunch of nutritionally void sugar.

THREE: L-Arginine (“Nitric Oxide Boosters”)

The idea behind NO2 products is to enhance oxygen delivery and blood flow to your muscles in order to increase nutrient uptake and give you a permanent pump and lasts throughout the day.

Usually, these NO2 Products are based off of different forms of the amino acid l-arginine, with l-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate being the most widely used.

This is the perfect scam for dishonest supplement companies out there since l-arginine is a dirt cheap ingredient that can be easily added to pre-workout formulas and other products to hype up labels and keep production costs to a minimum.

The problem for you as the consumer is that there is absolutely zero research showing a positive relationship between l-arginine and an increase in nitric oxide or muscular performance. That is correct, ZERO.

If you’re looking for a truly effective way to enhance your workout strength, energy and focus, one suggestion is to use a natural human growth hormone (HGH) spray like Sytropin. It’s safe and legal!

FOUR: L-Glutamine

I know you’ve heard about glutamine. It’s been a staple part of bodybuilding supplement plans for decades. Even though many bodybuilders swear by it, the concrete research on glutamine is extensive and shows minimal results.

First off, a very large portion of orally consumed glutamine never will make it to your muscles at all and is instead used as energy by the intestines. Percentages vary, but the average seems to be around 65%.

Second, around 10% of your total protein intake is already made up of l-glutamine. That means if you’re consuming 200 grams of protein per day, you’re already taking in 20 grams of l-glutamine right there. Don’t think that consuming more is better. It’s not.

Third, pretty much all of the standard claims about l-glutamine’s effects on bodybuilders have been debunked over many different studies.

Save your cash – you don’t need to add l-glutamine to your supplement list.

pityfool

Now that you’ve seen our list, make wiser choices when it comes to your supplement routine and don’t be made a fool by companies that don’t have your best bodybuilding goals in mind.

Top 10 Supplements For Bodybuilders (2016)

Ask any bodybuilder out there what supplements they are currently cycling through and you’re bound to get a different answer. What works for Joe doesn’t work for Harry. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of supplements on the market targeting the bodybuilding and weight lifting circuit. It’s easy to get lost as you try to figure out what’s legit vs. just a bunch of hype.

If you choose wisely, certain bodybuilding supplements will easily be worth more than their cost by helping you achieve hardcore results. A bodybuilder’s biggest mistake is to ignore the nutritional supplement aspect of the sport.

Here at Ripped Science, we pulled a team together and spent months researching hundreds of supplements and came down to this ultimate Top 10 list.

Are you ready for it? The countdown begins…

NUMBER TEN: GREEN TEA

pure inventions

WHICH TO BUY: If you’re looking for the best green tea extract, liquid is better than capsules. Our top pick for you is nothing other than Pure Inventions Green Tea Antioxidant Extract.

WHY USE IT: Simply stated, green tea is your tool to shred fat. Green tea elevates norepinephrine levels which prolongs thermogenesis. Translation? You will be turned into a fat-burning machine.

NUMBER NINE: MULTI-MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS

solaray

WHICH TO BUY: We zeroed in on a product called Solaray Mega Multi Mineral which contains several times the amount of amino acid content than ordinary products. This product is also “reacted” with whole rice concentrate opposed to soy or yeast.

WHY USE IT: If you’re training hard, which you should be, then consuming a multi-mineral supplement is a good idea to reduce the effects of excessive ROS and inflammation produced from the intense training. You don’t want to risk being deficient in anything, do you?

NUMBER EIGHT: FIBER SUPPLEMENTS

raw fiber

WHICH TO BUY: We’re big fans of Garden of Life products and they just so happen to have a product called Raw Fiber – Beyond Organic Fiber. It contains 15 Raw Organic Superfoods and is sure to keep you in tip-top shape…especially in the bathroom.

WHY USE IT: With all the caveman portions of protein you’re eating, it’s important to get in some good fiber to help you get rid of toxins and also to keep your digestion in line.

NUMBER SEVEN: ESTROGEN BLOCKERS

equalize

WHICH TO BUY: Our research pointed us in the right direction when we discovered Equalize by ACN. This product uses ground-breaking ingredients to enhance testosterone and stop testosterone from converting into estrogen. Two other products we recommend are AntlerX IGF-1 and Alphatropin for the ultimate stack.

WHY USE IT: I don’t know one bodybuilder that wants an above normal amount of estrogen. Yes, believe it or not, men do produce estrogen and it can wreak havoc on your gains. An estrogen blocker is imperative to keep your hormone levels balanced and minimize muscle loss.

NUMBER SIX: GLUCOSAMINE AND CHONDROITIN

synotrex

WHICH TO BUY: It wasn’t rocket science for us to figure out which supplement nails it when it comes to joint health. If you haven’t added Synotrex to your daily routine yet, better go grab it. NOW.

WHY USE IT: Every bodybuilder knows the importance of joint health. If you don’t support your joints, you might as well sit on the bench. Over time, if you skip joint health, it will be a huge (and I mean HUGE) regret!

NUMBER FIVE: POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY

bsn

WHICH TO BUY: The post-recovery workout powder we salute is BSN’s Amino X.  This BCAA formula supports endurance during your workout and aids in muscle recover post-training. BOOM! You need this! Blue Raz is our favorite taste of the bunch.

WHY USE IT: All you hear about these days is pre-workout and how many scoops you took that day. But, equally important (if not more), is post-workout because if you don’t recover, how will you hit it harder and make gains? You follow me?

NUMBER FOUR: ANTIOXIDANTS

swanson

WHICH TO BUY: We searched high and low and finally found the supplement to win this category: Swanson Premium’s High Potency Antioxidants delivers a comprehensive collection of powerful antioxidants – including, vitamins C, E, selenium, SOD and more.

WHY USE IT: If your immune system is suffering, so are your workouts. You need antioxidants not only improve your immune system response, but to reduce oxidative stress. It’s time to challenge free radicals and stop them in their nasty tracks!

NUMBER THREE: OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

fish oil

WHICH TO BUY: We love fish oil, but we don’t like fish oil supplements that are not tested for heavy metals or impurities. We also don’t like fish that aren’t wild-caught. Thankfully, there is a wonderful product by AMRAP Nutrition that is the Fish Oil of champions.

WHY USE IT: Fish oil is crucial to improve athletic recovery and is also an anti-inflammatory. Despite what you saw on a gym meme, you can definitely gain without the pain. Everyone knows that lubing up is always better! Your joints will thank you.

NUMBER TWO: CASEIN-WHEY PROTEIN

grow

WHICH TO BUY: You need to care about the whey you use. If you don’t use whey from grass-fed cows…you’re going to screw up your hormone levels. Thankfully, on the 8th day God created Xwerks Grow – the cleanest, nutrient rich protein you can drink!

WHY USE IT: I’m not sure this one needs an explanation. If you don’t know that this helps up your daily protein intake, and is a staple for bodybuilders worldwide, then you must be a newbie. Hit the weights, kid!

NUMBER ONE: CREATINE

creatine

WHICH TO BUY: There are so many to choose from, but after a ton (and I mean a TON) of research, we decided that Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine Powder wins the gold medal prize. It’s packed with 99.9% pure creatine with no fillers or additives.

WHY USE IT: Adding this to your supplement regime is a no-brainer for bodybuilders. I’m not sure you can call yourself one if you don’t use it. In short, if you’re ready to have insane strength and power, this stuff is for you!

 

Do You Have A Rotator Cuff Injury?

As you are probably aware, injuries to the rotator cuff are fairly common to athletes and bodybuilders. The shoulder is actually a complex series of joints that can be difficult for the average Joe to understand. As a result, many rotator cuff injuries are self-diagnosed and are likely to be something else entirely.

In the event a legitimate rotator cuff injury rears its ugly head, staying informed on how to deal with it is absolutely critical to proper healing.

First, let me describe what the rotator cuff is, which may be confusing all by itself. The rotator cuff is four muscles in the shoulder that are responsible for some of the shoulder’s motion. A lot of that motion involves the rotation of the humerus, the long bone in the arm, which is why the group of muscles is referred to as rotators. Another major role these muscles play is the stabilization of the shoulder, which is a series of joints that requires muscular stabilization to allow for greater range of motion.

rotator-cuff

When one of the muscles, or the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones, becomes torn, either partially or completely, you have a rotator cuff injury.

In one study of athletes, the research indicated that only 10% of partial tears heal completely, and another 10% heal partially. 53% of tears will actually worsen and 28% will progress into full tears, which do not heal on their own. In some cases these tears can cause long term changes to the joint itself.

The acute phase of rotator cuff treatment occurs immediately after the injury occurs and will continue until pain free range of motion (below shoulder height) has been achieved and normal daily activites are relatively pain free.

Apply cold therapy and compression wrap to the shoulder. This will help reduce pain and inflammation. Apply ice for up to 15 minutes every 2 hours, gradually reducing the frequency of applications as the shoulder improves. Posture is important and sitting upright with the shoulders back, especially when sitting at a desk or using a computer can help relieve symptoms. Also, it’s not a bad idea to add a natural supplement for joint aches and pain, like Synotrex.

A doctor may prescribe NSAID’s or anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen) may help in the early stages although it is argued they are not as effective later on or if the injury becomes chronic. Always check with your Doctor before taking medication if you are not sure. Electrotherapy, such as ultrasound, may be beneficial to reduce pain and inflammation.

shoulder-pain

RECOVERY PHASE

The recovery phase begins when the initial pain and inflammation has dissipated, most normal daily activities are pain free and the injured arm has at least 75% range of movement compared to the uninjured one.

Aims:

  • Regain full, pain free range of motion
  • Normal upper body strength
  • Normal shoulder joint movement patterns

Range of Motion

This is achieved by wand or pole exercises which help with flexibility above shoulder height, progressing onto stretching and mobility exercises without assistance from a pole. Scapular control is progressed with balance board exercises on your hands, press up type exercises and ball catch and return exercises.

Strengthening

Exercises to isolate the rotator cuff muscles can begin including strengthening exercises which concentrate more specifically on the external rotator muscles (the ones that rotate the arm out) and the scapular stabilizers (muscles that support the shoulder blade). It is also important to strengthen the whole joint with weight training exercises such as the bench press, shoulder press (military press) and pull downs – but with very light weights. For example, aiming for 12 to 20 reps of a light weight concentrating on correct technique.

Shoulder pain

FUNCTIONAL PHASE

During the functional phase exercises which are more sports specific are introduced in preparation for returning to full training and competition.

Aims:

  • To increase power and endurance in the upper body muscles
  • Improve strength of the shoulder joint in all directions
  • Introduce sports specific shoulder exercises

Increasing Power

This is done through more plyometric or explosive type exercises and may depend on your particular sport. Sports specific exercises using exercise bands and throwing and catching type exercises with mini medicine balls can be done.

Bodybuilding 101: How Effective Are Steroids?

One question that often plagues bodybuilders is whether or not to use steroids. They want to know how effective steroids actually are compared to staying natural. Also, they are concerned by the risks. By reading this, you’re taking an important step to educating yourself prior to answering this question for yourself.

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE STEROIDS?

Simply said, a “steroid” is an “anabolic steroid” which is a man-made substance that has similar effects to the body as testosterone, including increased muscle growth, strength, leanness and recovery.

While testosterone itself is the best known steroid, there are many others that are quite popular among athletes and bodybuilders, including:

  • Nandrolone
  • Stanozolol
  • Trenbolone
  • Oxandrolone
  • Deca Durabolin
  • Dianabol
  • Methandrostenolone
  • Boldenone
  • Oxymetholone
  • Drostanolone

Each of these have unique profiles in terms of potency, toxicity, side effects and synergism. They are combined in various ways to create different types of steroid “cycles” for different purposes and goals.

As I heard one popular bodybuilder say, “It takes a lot of hard work to build a top-tier physique, but it also takes a lot of drugs.”

The fact is that you can only build so much muscle and get so lean naturally.

One scientific study performed at Maastricht University found that during a period of 10 weeks, individuals who practiced resistance training while on anabolic steroids gained 4 to 11 pounds of lean muscle mass. Individuals who did weight training while using anabolic steroids gained 16 pounds of lean muscle mass in just 6 weeks.

There have been numerous studies on steroid use. The below graphic shows the results from a study at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

43 men were divided into 4 groups
Group 1: Placebo with no exercise
Group 2: Testosterone with no exercise
Group 3: Exercise only
Group 4: Testosterone with exercise

All of the men were given a standardized diet to follow and the exercising subjects squatted and bench pressed three times per week for a total of twelve sets of six reps, with varying amounts of weights lifted in each workout. Muscle size was measured by MRI and strength was determined by actual one-rep maxes.

After 10 weeks, here’s what happened:

bodybuilding

As you can see, the men who took testosterone and exercised gained 3x the amount of muscle mass compared to the men who exercised only.

As a sidenote: the men used 600 mg of testosterone per week, which is a moderate dosage by today’s standards.

RISKS OF STEROID USE

Steroids may not be as dangerous as some people think, yet anyone who uses steroids and thinks they are safe and harmless is “whistling past the graveyard.”

Some side effects of steroid use are reversible and some are not. Permanent damage is definitely possibly.

For example, reversible changes include testicular atrophy (shrinking), acne, cysts, oily hair and skin, elevated blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol levels, increased aggression and lowered sperm count.

Irreversible damage includes male pattern baldness, heart dysfunction, liver disease and gynecomastia (breast development aka “man boobs”).

Another downside of steroid use is the risk of biological and psychological addiction. 30% of steroid users develop a dependence syndrome. This occurs due to the “invincible” feeling while on a steroid cycle, opposed to the “low” they get on an off-cycle.

Some people argue that you can mitigate or even eliminate the risks of steroid use if you properly manage your drug cycles and health, but that is wishful thinking.

Every time you inject or swallow steroids, you put a lot of stress on your body and there’s a chance something can go very wrong.

In the end, the choice is yours.

4 Muscles Not To Ignore In 2016

On occasion bodybuilders train large muscle groups such as legs and chest very intensely, often to the exclusion and neglect of other body parts. This selective training can result in muscular imbalance in which some muscles become stronger than others. This increases the risk of injury. From an aesthetic standpoint, the physique looks fitter and more proportional when all muscle groups are developed to their fullest potential.

DON’T NEGLECT THESE:

GLUTES

Glutes / Gluteus Maximus - Anatomy MusclesThe key to developing the glutes is to perform specific exercises that isolate the major muscles of this area: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus.

Here are several exercises that directly work the glutes:

Glute squat: Take a stance slightly wider than shoulder width. Descend slowly – past the point at which your thighs are parallel to the floor – while keeping your weight on your heels. Sit back as you move through the exercise. This action keeps the leverage and emphasis off the frontal thigh and squarely on the glutes. Slowly return to the starting position. Keep your glutes tight throughout the exercise.

Reverse hyper-extensions: Lie face down on the hyper-extension bench so that your legs are extended off the bench and form a right angle to your torso. Keeping your glutes tight and your legs together, lift your legs upward in an arc. Squeeze your glutes even more tightly as you reach the contracted position. Lower the legs in an arc.

Leg press with glute emphasis: To work the glutes on the leg press simply take a wide stance and place your feet high on the platform. Press up and down in a single, continuous movement. Keep constant tension on all working muscles as you push through the exercise.

Stiff-leg deadlift: This exercise is a pure glute-isolation movement. To begin the exercise bend forward and arch your back. Stretch your hamstrings at the bottom as you pick up the weight. Keeping your legs straight or slightly bent, slowly lift the bar.

At the top of the movement tighten your glutes, drive your hips forward and lock your knees. Then slowly return to the start position, pushing your abdominals toward the floor. Pivot at the hip joint and not with your lower back. Keep everything tight in the process.

ERECTORS

pain in back.Medical concept

These muscles border each side of the spinal column. In people with poor abdominal tone, the erectors can become weakened and inflexible – a condition that can increase the inward curve of the back. This tends to lead to back strain and ultimately lower-back pain. Because strong abdominal muscles help support the spine and keep the back in proper alignment, a good idea is to regularly strengthen the abs as well as the erectors so that lower-back conditioning can be achieved and maintained.

Here are two exercises that will accomplish this:

Ab isolation: The type of abdominal exercise I recommend requires a partner and a slant board. Get into position by first hooking the insteps of your feet under the padded roller or bar at the top of the board. Then have your training partner lie face down behind you on the slant board. This position forms a cushion for your lower back and also secures the hip joint and lets you better isolate your abs during the exercise.

Clasp your hands behind your head and lift your torso up toward your knees. Keep your ab muscles completely tight and pulled in as you curl forward. Crunch down at the top of the movement. Then return to the starting position using the strength of your erector muscles. Be sure to pivot over your partner and not at your hip joint. Get a good stretch at the bottom of the movement.

Hyper-extension: This exercise is an excellent one for strengthening the lower back. Hook your heels under the hyper-extension apparatus so that your torso can move freely up and down. Clasping your hands behind your head, lower your torso toward the floor. Then slowly lift it up until your torso is parallel to the floor.

TRAPS

Trapezius - Anatomy Muscles

The trapezius muscles (known as the traps) are kite-shaped muscles that extend from the base of the neck down to the middle of the back. The traps deserve extra attention in training because they help support the shoulders and can be seen from the front of the physique.

The three best exercises for developing the traps are shrugs, lateral raises and behind-the-neck presses.

Shrugs: This exercise directly stresses the trapezius. Take a dumbell in each hand and hold them on each side of your body. Lift the dumbells while imagining being able to make your shoulders shrug as high as your ears. You can also perform shrugs with a barbell. Lift the weight using the strength of your traps. Be sure to squeeze your traps hard at the top of the movement. Lower the barbell and repeat the movement.

Behind-the-neck press: Sit on a bench or seat and take a wide grip on the barbell. Drop your shoulders and flex your lats. Press the weight to an overhead position and straighten your elbows. Then push the weight back slightly but without arching your back. This entire action isolates your delts. All the emphasis is right on your shoulders and traps. Lower slowly and repeat.

Lateral raise: With a dumbell in each hand and arms held along the sides of your body, lift the weights upward to about shoulder level. Keep your elbows rotated back. At the top of the movement lower your shoulders. Together the elbow and shoulder positions keep the stress firmly on your deltoids. Lower the dumbells and repeat.

FASCIAL STRETCHING

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To continue making gains you should incorporate my technique of fascial stretching – intense stretching between sets when the muscle is fully pumped – into your workouts. By opening up the area between the fascia (a protective sheath of connective tissue) and the muscle it surrounds, fascial stretching dramatically enhances muscular growth, size, separation and strength.

When the fascia is stretched the muscle underneath has more room to develop. Stretching also gives the muscle better shape, with more convolutions. As a result, muscular separation improves too. The overall effect is larger muscles and better separation between muscle groups.

Fascial stretching elicits responses in muscle groups that have reached sticking points in training. If you have a certain muscle that still seems at a stalemate in size, strength or appearance, then stretching that muscle will help you overcome these frustrating plateaus.

In addition, stretching loosens tight muscles, which tend to trap lactic acid. Lactic acid is a waste product that accumulates in muscle cells during hard training. When lactic acid builds up, muscular fatigue is the result. Stretching helps release lactic acid from muscle cells into the bloodstream so that lactic acid doesn’t interfere with muscular contraction. This loosening effect of stretching also helps you breathe better during workouts, thereby increasing your oxygen utilization for improved energy levels.

Fascial stretching is not a gentle, touch-your-toes type of exercise you might associate with conventional stretching. As the stretch begins the body part being trained is guided into position, stretched past the point of pain and then held in that position for about 10 seconds. You should exhale and relax as you go into the stretch. Do not hold your breath.

Bottom line: Pay more attention to your forgotten muscles, adding fascial stretches into your workout, and you’ll start making greater gains in size and symmetry in no time at all.

8 Stupid Gym Mistakes To Avoid

Every time you walk onto the weight floor, you’ll see guys using bad form or doing exercises that make you cringe. Those are just two of the many possible ways that lead to huge setbacks in terms of gains. We all make mistakes in the gym, yet some are not as obvious as others.

To save yourself time, get faster results and make your workouts more effective, avoid these following 8 mistakes:

1. WAITING FOR EQUIPMENT

Lines at the gym are bound to form during peak workout hours. The best option is to head to the gym during off-hours either early in the morning or after 7 p.m. once the after-work crowds have finished. No matter how busy the gym is, you should never have to stall your routine in order to wait for equipment. Come prepared with a Plan B routine to stay moving rather than wasting your time waiting for a bench to open up.

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2. SKIPPING THE WARMUP

Dodging the pre-workout warmup is a surefire way to injure yourself when you hit it hard at the gym. Have a dedicated warmup that involves bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats, pushups and jumping jacks to elevate your heart rate prior to attacking the weights.

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3. CARDIO BEFORE LIFTING

Cardio can be detrimental when done at the wrong time. Completing a 30-minute job before a set of heavy squats may increase your heart rate and act as a warm-up, but by the time you get under the bar, you’ll be fatigued which can lead to poor form or potential injury. Get your form-intensive lifting session done first, then hit the cardio area.

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4. NOT TIMING REST PERIODS

According to Jason Ferruggia, head strength coach at Renegade Strength and Conditioning, “most guys should be in and out of the gym in 60 minutes, including warm-up, cool-down and a good lifting session.” To make that possible, avoid wasting precious moments in between sets of an exercise. Wear a stopwatch or use an app on your phone to limit yourself to under a minute. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you finish your workout.

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5. WORK CORE AT THE END

If you leave your core work until the end of your workout, you’re likely to cut it short. When you’re tired and nearing the end of a lifting session, the last thing you will want to do is multiple sets of planks, side planks and leg raises. Instead, get the core training out of the way early by incorporating the same moves in between exercises.

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6. FORGETTING YOUR WATER BOTTLE

Although it may seem trivial in terms of your overall routine, leaving your water bottle at home forces many guys to head to the water fountain in between sets. The result – wasted time in between exercises. To keep your workout going strong, bring your own bottle and fill it up beforehand.

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7. NOT PLANNING AHEAD

Walking onto the weight floor without a plan for your workout is like heading into the grocery store without a shopping list. You’ll end up aimlessly wandering back and forth, spending way more time than necessary. Your plan of action should be well-thought out in advance. Include the exercises, sets and reps as well as the order you want to do them in so you can plan your route around the gym floor.

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8. SAME MACHINES, SETS & REPS

Doing the exact same workout week after week will prevent new gains and lead to burnout. Failing to impose any new challenges on your muscles – such as increasing the weight you use or number of reps your perform – simply helps keep them the same size, whereas pushing yourself harder than you’re accustomed to will actually motivate new muscle and strength.

It’s not too late to correct your mistakes and push the gas pedal to speedy muscle growth. Knowledge is power. You now know 8 stupid mistakes to avoid in the gym. Now it’s time to learn about the 8 ways to lose muscle: read now

Tristan "Lucky"

Written by: Tristan “Lucky”

8 Ways to Lose Muscle

If you’re weight training, your goal is to gain muscle, not lose muscle. Unfortunately, some guys make disastrous mistakes that cost them precious gains. If you’re hitting it hard at the gym and not seeing the muscle growth you should be seeing, read this list. You may recognize that you are guilty of some of these.

healthy lifestyle, diet and people concept - close up of male hands with food rich in protein on cutting board on table

1. YOU DON’T EAT ENOUGH

While extra calories can mean extra belly fat, if you’re lifting consistently and correctly, most of what you’re taking in should be converted into muscle. The truth is that your muscles will never grow without a surplus of calories. For a lean guy looking to put on muscle mass, 2,000 calories a day won’t cut it. In fact, this kind of restricted diet is actually the ideal recipe for losing muscle tissue and sparing fat as it causes the body to shift into starvation mode and shed calorie-consuming muscle. It also makes you store fat for emergency energy. And the less protein you eat, the less of a chance you give your muscles to recover after a workout.

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Running Outdoors

2. YOU AMP UP YOUR CARDIO

There are three ways that cardio typically cancels out muscle gains: doing it too often, doing it for too long or doing it on an empty stomach. In general, daily cardio sessions simply burn too many cumulative calories to allow you the surplus you need for muscle mass. The same can be said for sessions that last 45 minutes or more.

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Young Man Working Out Back

3. YOU FAVOR BODY-PART WORKOUTS

Breaking your training down into chest days, back days and arm days overworks some muscles and neglects others. It’s an old-school way to train, meaning it’s incredibly outdated. Most guys still do it and may make gains for awhile, but their progress eventually comes to a halt usually due to injuries. Body-part routines also prevent your biggest muscles from ever learning to work together in the kinds of coordinated effort you need to lift really heavy weights.

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Strething exercise after workout

4. YOU DON’T STRETCH

Boring? Definitely. But stretching has been shown to speed up recovery and increase a muscle’s range of motion, making more room for muscle fibers to grow. Simply lifting weights will increase your risk for injury and severely limit your ability to move athletically and with proper form.

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Dinner plate with clock face on wooden table

5. YOU EAT SPORADICALLY

It’s true that eating infrequently is nearly as bad as not eating at all. When you go more than three hours without food, your metabolism slows significantly. When that happens, every time you do get a meal, there’s a good chance that a large percentage of it will be stored as fat. Why? Blame your body. Without food, your body slips back into starvation mode and starts to think it needs to hold on to every calorie it can get.

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close up of man drinking protein shake

6. YOU DON’T DRINK SHAKES

Chugging a protein-and-carb mixture after your workout starts the recovery process immediately, replenishing lost glycogen (your muscles’ energy stores) and providing the nutrients your body requires to repair muscle and grow more of it. Skipping the protein shake and casually waiting an hour or more for your next meal is like ignoring a cry for help.

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sleepyhead

7. YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Sleep is when muscle repair happens. Getting 6 or fewer hours of shut-eye a night limits your body’s natural production of crucial muscle-building chemicals, such as growth hormone.  Too much activity outside of your workouts, such as playing sports, all-night parties and extra stress – which are fine in moderation, but dangerous in excess – also cut into muscle gains.

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Routine written on multiple road sign

8. YOU RARELY ALTER YOUR ROUTINE

Doing the exact same workout week after week will prevent new gains and lead to burnout. Failing to impose any new challenges on your muscles – such as increasing the weight you use or number of reps your perform – simply helps keep them the same size, whereas pushing yourself harder than you’re accustomed to will actually motivate new muscle and strength.

It’s not too late to correct your mistakes and push the gas pedal to speedy muscle growth. Knowledge is power. You now know 8 ways to lose muscle. Now it’s time to learn about the 5 forgotten muscles you can’t ignore: read now

Tristan "Lucky"

Written by: Tristan “Lucky”

Do You Even Lift? You Might Be Wasting Gains

Even if you hit the gym every day, if you aren’t lifting properly, you’re losing out on massive gains. Some guys who have been lifting for years claim to be lifting experts. While that may be true for some, we can certainly argue that the wisdom of others may be lacking.

While old-school lifting methods have been proven time and time again over the years, the fact is that there is a new biology to get bigger muscles. With the power of science, we are learning that the “big lifts=big gains+greater intensity=greater results” may not be as good as it gets. lift2

Old Way: Go Hard or Go Home
NEW WAY: DO LESS WORK, BETTER

To get the results you desire, you don’t have to push your body past its limits. Training actually will eventually become less effective as you tire and your form breaks down. After that threshold, gains dwindle and injury risk increases. The key is to figure out the dose that helps you meet your goals without putting your health at risk.

How to do it: Hold off on doing more than a total of 22 good sets in a workout if you’re looking to bulk up. Limit yourself to 4 sets per exercise. Australian researchers found that more than 4 sets offers diminishing results. I doubt you want that.

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Old Way: Lift Heavy Always
NEW WAY: GO LIGHT, GROW BIG

High weight, low reps is the age-old mantra of guys trying to pack on size and strength. Science has revealed that lifting lighter weights for more reps can boost growth as much as lifting heavy weights.

How to do it:  Including both high and low rep sets in your workouts ensures that you hit both your fast and your slow twitch muscle fibers. First, do 3 sets of up to 30 reps. Then, load a bar with a weight you can squat, press, or lift 12-15 times and do those reps. Without letting go of the bar, set it down, take two breaths, and do 1-or-2 more repetitions. These are called “breathing reps.” Continue this process until you reach 20 reps. That’s 1 set. Do a total of 3 sets.

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Old Way: Count Your Rest Period
NEW WAY: MAKE YOUR REST PERSONAL

Exercise affects everyone differently and scientists have confirmed that over the years simply by finding that people differ significantly in their recovery needs. Without proper recovery, performance suffers, especially if you’re doing circuits. Use a heart-rate monitor to customize your rest. Wait until your heart rate reaches a safe level of true recovery between workouts.

How to do it: Determine your maximum heart rate. Then, multiply your age by 0.7 and then subtract that number 207. Then strap on a heart rate monitor and track your pulse between circuits. An example if your 30 years old: (30 x 0.7 = 21 and 207-21 = 186) Wait until your pulse lowers to a target HR zone which would be between 95-160 beats per minute.

These three simple methods will help your body take advantage of extra gains that you potentially could be missing out on. Now, go out there and share your new-found wisdom with your gym buddies.

Tristan "Lucky"

Written by: Tristan “Lucky”