View Full Version : Thread full of info for people serious about weight loss,gain,etc..
09-08-2005, 11:34 AM
since so many of you seem to be searching for nutrional info and workout info i figured i would post links to some great info on the subjects so there wont be so much incorrect info flowing around here.
A guide to sixpack abs (http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=308125)
Fat loss article (http://www.abcbodybuilding.com/dietiing%20to%20the%20next%20levlel.php) - thanks to Red
will be updating this thread with more when i have time. if you have something you think should be posted in here let me know ill take a look and put it up with props given to you.
09-14-2005, 01:00 PM
here is another good fat loss article
BODY FAT: HARD FACTS ABOUT SOFT TISSUE
by M. Doug McGuff, MD
Fat is an amazing tissue. It has ensured survival of our species through two ice ages and never ending drought and famine. A mere pound of fat stores an astounding 3,500 Calories for delayed use at any time in the future. As dormant tissue, there is almost no metabolic cost for keeping it on the body. As a member of the human species we all owe our existence to fat. Even more amazing than fat's capabilities are the number of misconceptions surrounding this specialized body tissue.
Probably the biggest misconception regarding fat is the idea that it is unhealthy. Actually, fat is probably the main reason we are even here in the first place. Throughout human history, the ready availability of food was the exception rather than the rule. Our ability to eat when food was available and to store excess caloric energy for future use allowed us to survive when food was not available. Fat storage is the sign of good health, it signals that metabolic resources are abundant and the organism is healthy. An extreme overabundance of bodyfat places stresses on the body and can be unhealthy. However, the degree of leanness (or lack of bodyfat) that is currently in vogue is probably just as unhealthy for up to 80% of the population. Unhealthy levels of bodyfat have been increasing every decade. It seems that an adaptation that has allowed us to survive through history is now killing us in modern times.
Ask almost anyone why modern man is becoming more obese and you will get a similar answer from just about everyone. Most people believe that the labor-saving technologies of modern life have made us more sedentary, and we are much less physically active than our predecessors. Since physical activity burns calories, and we are less physically active than we once were, we are unable to burn off the calories like we used to. This argument seems logical, but the argument is incorrect for 2 basic reasons. First, physical activity burns much less calories than we have been lead to believe (we will discuss this in detail later in this chapter). Suffice to say that to survive we must be able to use our energy efficiently lest we starve to death in the process of hunting and gathering food. Secondly, our ancestors were not as physically active as we think they were. The work of anthropologists who observe primitive peoples in various regions of the globe show that a primitive hunter/gatherer lifestyle is much less physically active than that of modern man. In Australia, aborigines alternate between the modern world and traditional aboriginal life. While in their more primitive mode, these aborigines are noted to be much less active. So, despite popular opinions to the contrary, it does not appear that increased activity is the solution to modern obesity.
The real problem with modern obesity is food abundance. If I were to give you a jumbo industrial role of toilet paper and allowed you to hold it while I unraveled it, we wound end up with a very long strand of toilet paper. If I tore of the last square of toilet paper and gave you the entire rest of the strand, we could use your long strand of toilet paper to represent the length of human history where starvation was a real day to day threat. The single square in my hand would represent the length of human history where starvation was not much of a threat. Not since the end of the Great Depression and World War II has starvation not been a real possibility. We have about 150,000 generations where efficient fat storage was essential for survival, and 3-4 generations where efficient fat storage can lead to obesity. The problem is not that we are inactive, the problem is that calories are so readily available to be consumed. An hour of jogging will burn only about 150 calories above your basal metabolic rate, but it only takes about 30 seconds to eat 150 calories of cookies. We judge the value of our meals on the size of the portions we are given. When we go out to eat, we want to leave full. Studies show that there are about 1,000 Calories between being satisfied and feeling full. Even more frightening is that there are between 2,000 and 3,000 calories between feeling full and feeling stuffed. If you go out to an all-you-can-eat food bar and leave feeling stuffed, you may have consumed as many as 4,000 unneeded calories. When this happens we typically go out for a jog the next day to "burn off those calories". But to burn off that many calories would require you to jog continously for 27 hours. The problem is not that we don't burn enough calories, it's that we put too many calories down our neck.
Leptin: the genetics of fat storage
As anyone with a bodyfat problem knows, there seems to be a strong setpoint for how much body fat a particular individual has. This setpoint is controlled by a gene called the ob gene that produces a protein called Leptin. Leptin is a strong suppressor of appetitie and food intake. As your bodyfat rises, more leptin is produced and your appetite declines so that your bodyfat stabilizes. If your body fat falls, your leptin production declines and your appetite is disinhibited. It seems that we inherit a bodyfat setpoint that is most effecient for our environment and the environment of our ancestors.
Why exercise doesn't burn many calories
Go to the health club and climb on a stair stepper or treadmill. Program the machine by plugging in your weight, select your speed or program and begin your workout. As you plod along on the apparatus you are driven along by the ever-increasing number on the screen that indicates the number of calories that you have burned. Eventually you go long enough to burn 300 calories and you are left with a feeling of accomplishment. Now, as you wipe the sweat from your brow and catch your breath, let me ask you a question. Why did the machine ask you to program in your weight? If you answered to calculate how many calories you burn you are right. What you most likely failed to consider is the main reason it needs your weight is to calculate your basal metabolic rate. The average male will maintain his weight on about 3200 calories a day. That is about 140 calories an hour at rest. So the 300 calories burned are not calories burned above your basal metabolic rate, they are calories burned including your basal metabolic rate. So for your time on the treadmill, you burned about 160 calories above your baseline. If you eat just 3 cookies, you have completely undone about an hour's worth of work. Think about it...if we were so metabolically inefficient as to burn 300 calories at the rate the exercise equipment says you do, would we ever have survived as a species. The calories burned hunting and gathering would have caused us to die of starvation before we could ever have found anything to eat. At that rate of calorie burn, we would barely have enough metabolic economy to survive a trip to the grocery store. Most people have accepted blindly the information displayed on exercise equipment and as such have turned exercise into a form of guilt absolution. Have dessert (600 calories of pie) and feel guilty? Just go to the health club and work on the stepper until 600 calories tick by on the screen. Other than the fact that this simply seems pathetic, it also just doesn't work.
Let us assume that you have the determination and time to do such a workout 7 days a week. If we take the 300 calories burned and subtract out your basal metabolic rate of 140 calories, we are left with 160 calories burned. There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. If your appetite is not spurned by the exercise (as it commonly is) and you keep a stable calorie intake, it would take you 21.875 days to burn off a pound of fat with the extra activity. This is assuming that no other variables are present. Unfortunately there is a big variable that almost no-one accounts for...muscle loss. In order to exercise long enough to reach the 300 calorie mark on the stepper or treadmill, you have to perform low intensity steady state activity. Steady state activity does not place much demand on the muscles, that is why it can be carried out for so long. Rather than demanding use of a large percentage of your muscle fibers, you are actually using a small percentage of your weakest, slow-twitch fibers over and over. When you perform this type of exercise your body can adapt by actually losing muscle. Since you use such a small percentage of your muscle mass to do the work, additional muscle is perceived as dead weight, useless and burdensome. If a person persisted in 7 day a week steady state training they could easily lose about 5 pounds of muscle tissue. Muscle tissue is the most metabolically expensive tissue we have; it takes between 50 and 100 calories a day just to keep a pound of muscle alive.
Let's assume the lower number of 50 calories a day. If you lose 5 pounds of muscle over time as you perform your calorie burning exercise that will result in a loss of 250 calories per day that would be used to keep that muscle alive. The 160 calories you burned would probably now be more like 100 burned because with practice, your running or climbing economy improves and requires less effort (most of the perceived conditioning in steady state activity is actually the exercise getting easier not because of improved cardiovascular condition, but because of improved economy of motion. This is why if you take a runner and have him perform another steady state activity such as cycling he will be gasping for air. Indeed, runners who train on treadmills in the Winter notice a large decrease in perceived condition when they hit the road in the Spring). So now if we do the math we will find that you burned about 100 calories above your baseline per day, but we must subtract out 250 calories due to muscle loss. For all your effort you are now 150 calories in the wrong direction. Furthermore, the stress hormones that result from such overtraining also stimulate fat storage. Anyone who has attempted such a program of weight loss can confirm...you will end up feeling washed out, moody, and (worst of all) fatter. The truth is this: you cannot use physical activity to negate excess caloric intake.
Muscle: the real key to burning calories
Remember when you were a teenager and could eat everything in sight and not get fat? Somewhere in your 30's things changed. Now it seems like just looking at food can make you fat. What happened?
The main difference for most people is that they have less muscle in adulthood than they had in their late teens and early twenties. As we age there is a natural tendency to lose muscle and we also are less vigorous in our physical activity, which results in further muscle loss. This loss of muscle tissue results in a decreasing metabolic rate. Lose 5 pounds of muscle and your calories burned per 24 hours decreases by about 250 calories. While this may not sound like much, it adds up. If you continue to eat like you did when you were younger, you will gain a pound of fat in about 14 days. Over a 20 week period you will gain 10 pounds.
09-14-2005, 01:00 PM
The key to getting rid of accumulated body fat is to get back your youthful metabolism by getting back your muscle. You have probably heard people say that "muscle has memory". Well, this is one popular saying that is actually true. With a proper exercise stimulus that dormant muscle can be reclaimed. When you get back the muscle that requires 250 calories a day to keep alive, what used to be an insidious weight-gain problem will become an insidious weight-loss technique. As you become stronger you will have a natural tendency to partake of more vigorous activities. This situation will allow you to lose weight with less attention paid to calorie counting and food selection. The more reasonable your diet can be, the greater your chance to stick with it. As you ride this spiral of success, you may be able to eat more like you did as a teenager. Putting just 5 pounds of calorie burning muscle on your body can really turn things around for you.
Proper exercise and discriminant weight loss
SuperSlow inventor Ken Hutchins was the first person to ever explain the idea of discriminant weight loss to me. He told me to picture the human body as a corporation that is run by a board of directors. He told me to assume that a body operating on a calorie deficit is like a corporation running at a budget deficit. Each of the body tissues could represent a different department within that corporation. He then presented two scenarios. In the first scenario there is a budget deficit and no department has any unusual demands. In this scenario layoffs can occur in all departments. So your body lays off some fat, some muscle, some bone and connective tissue, as well as nervous tissue . Your corporation (or body) becomes a smaller version of its former self. In the second scenario, there is a large demand placed on the muscle department. In this scenario, no layoffs can occur in the muscle department. Indeed, more muscle has to be hired on. This results in a larger layoff in the fat department. We cannot produce cutbacks in the bone or connective tissue department because we need their support because muscle is not helpful unless it is attached to strong bone by strong connective tissue. This means more fat has to be let go. We cannot lay off any nervous tissue, because our new muscle is useless unless it is innervated by new nervous tissue. This means more fat has to be let go. Under this scenario, all weight loss is shunted toward fat loss. In this scenario, your corporation (body) takes on a dramatic shape change. You have added a modest amount of shape-improving muscle and jettisoned a large amount of shape-ruining fat.
Don't put that in your mouth
It should now be evident to you that the easiest way to create the calorie deficit you need to lose bodyfat is to simply avoid putting the extra calories in your mouth in the first place. Even a very modest calorie reduction of 150 calories will result in significant fat loss over time. In the long run, the self-discipline required is much easier to produce than the effort of running on a treadmill for an hour every day (which is a losing proposition anyway). A calorie intake deficit of 500 calories a day is still fairly easy to achieve, and if you have added some muscle to your body the shape change you can produce in 6-12 weeks can be amazing. Initially, you may have to be very compulsive about counting calories, but within a few weeks you will probably learn to manage simply by controlling the portion size of the foods you eat.
Ellington Darden, PhD (Author and former Research Director for Nautilus Sports/Medical Industries) came up with this concept. The food calories that you count are actually Kilocalories or Calories. A Calorie is the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of a liter of water by one degree celsius. The calories that you count are actually just units of heat-energy.
Dr. Darden developed a program of drinking large volumes of ice-cold water throughout the day. The ice water that goes into your system has to be warmed to body temperature. Thus a liter of water at 1 degree celsius that ultimate leaves your body at 37 degrees celsius and thus requires 36 calories of heat energy. If you manage to consume 5 liters of water per day this results in roughly 180 extra calories burned.
According to Dr. Darden, superhydration helps fat loss in another way. If you are well hydrated most of your body's waste products can be eliminated through the kidneys. When you are underhydrated much of this burden is assumed by the liver. One of the liver's main functions is the processing of stored bodyfat for use as energy. If your liver is occupied processing waste products it is less efficient at mobilizing bodyfat. Superhydration not only burns calories, it allows your liver to be more efficient at mobilizing fat off of your body.
Plenty of Sleep
Dr. Darden also discovered that plenty of sleep was essential to fat loss. In his research he noted that subjects who were sleep deprived did not lose fat as easily as those who were well rested. It seems that calorie restriction is fairly stressful to the body and any further stressors can result in a protective slowing of the metabolism. My own theory is that a calorie restriction sends a biological signal of starvation and decreased sleep sends a signal that the organism is having to stay up to search for food, or it has to be vigilant because its environment is unsafe. These are probably powerful biological signals that cause a protective slowing of the metabolism.
Simple Dietary Guidelines and Recommended Diets
There are literally thousands of diet books out there. Many of these books make extraordinary claims or involve complex regimines that cannot be carried out long term. By far the best diet books written are those by Ellington Darden, PhD. His books are no-nonsense and have precise regimines that are easy to follow. Most importantly, his diets easily adapt into lifelong eating habits that will keep you lean. Some of Dr. Darden's best books include Soft Steps to a Hard Body, Living Longer Stronger, and A Flat Stomach A.S.A.P. Protein Power by Dr's. Michael and Mary Dan Eades is well written and makes a compelling argument for control of carbohydrate intake. Many of my clients have found that producing a calorie deficit on this program is easier for them than many other diets. The bottom line is that you will need to devise a system of reducing calorie intake that seems to work for you.
My own dietary guidelines for people are actually quite simple. It involves looking at your hand. You have five fingers that represent five meals to eat in a day (3 meals and 2 snacks). The serving size of any food you choose should be either the size of your palm or able to fit in the palm of your hand. Meals can have 4 servings from any categorie of food. Snacks have 2 servings. Your five fingers also represent the 5 liters of water you should drink over the course of the day. If you follow these guidelines you will limit your portion sizes so that you should be able to produce weight loss without excessive attention to detail. If you want a more detailed way of portioning your intake, I also suggest the "Food Mover" sold by Richard Simmons on his informercial (although I do not recommend his aerobics-based exercise program that comes with it).
The Bottom Line
The bottom line for fat loss is as follows: 1) Build some calorie burning muscle through proper exercise. 2) Create a modest calorie deficit through dietary restraint. 3) Superhydration. 4) Get some extra sleep. 5) Avoid overactivity or steady-state activities that are popularly thought to "burn calories". If you have the discipline, these simple steps will prove successful beyond your expectations.
10-03-2005, 02:08 PM
this is a nice site to track your nutritional info
so here is something you guys can either 1. use directly, or 2. take bits and pieces and work off of it.
this gives you the overview of dieting, why you should eat certain things, and avoid others. rather then just telling you what to eat, its better to read why... ignore the supplements part and and pay attention to everything else
a layout of a 12 week program with sample diet. you can tweak the diet to fit you.
12 week workout program. something you can use to work off of, or use directly. includes animation so you know what exercise they are talking about.
they supplement a diet/workout, but they dont replace. some things everyone should consider supplementing are a good multi vitamin, whey protein, and some EFAs (essential fatty acids).
all other supplements, do your research, and use whatever you feel will work for you. but be sure you do your research since the supplement industry makes alot of money off dumbfucks who think miracle pills exist.
understand that this requires for you to completely cross over and change the way you live. you cant choose to turn "diet mode" on and off. it shouldnt even be a diet, it should just be a total lifestyle change. you can only truely succeed if you stick to it.
dont focus so much on what the scale says, focus more on your bodyfat percentage. thats what gets the lean/cut up look. id say weigh yourself every 2 weeks or month just to keep track of things, but check your bodyfat percentage regularly.
take measurements and before/progress pictures to help keep you motivated. seeing the change yourself really helps you stay on point.
and lastly, understand that it took you years and years of bad habbits to gain the weight you did, so the change isnt going to be instant, and the lbs arent going to come off over night. be patient..
04-30-2006, 12:04 PM
The Right Carbohydrates for Building Muscle
By Paul Cribb B.H.Sci.HMS.Hons.
Obtaining results from drug-free athletic training depends heavily on how you manage your body's secretion of the hormone insulin. The presence of insulin is critical to creating and maintaining the body's natural anabolic drive(1). The anabolic drive is the synergistic interaction of anabolic hormones, growth factors and nutrients that control muscle growth. No one has figured out exactly how it all works, however, insulin is a key component and it influences every muscle building pathway in our physiology.
Most athletes are aware that insulin facilitates transportation of nutrients into cells. However, not many know that insulin also works in tandem with growth hormone secretion and interacts synergistically with the thyroid hormone T4 within the liver to produce the potent but short-lived muscle growth factors, particularly Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (2). This is the growth factor that builds big muscle.
Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) requires lots of insulin to work and prolong its active life (1,3). Some research demonstrates that insulin enhances the entire anabolic hormonal profile after intense exercise (5). Maintaining this anabolic drive during the day, every day, is dependent upon steady-state insulin levels (3,4). Therefore your food choices every day completely and utterly govern your fat burning, muscle building results.
Poor food choices after training or a haphazard approach to your diet create surging and plummeting blood sugar and insulin levels. This short circuits your anabolic drive and stops your bodybuilding or body shaping efforts dead in their tracks.
Insulin is secreted into the bloodstream in response to the foods we eat. Foods high in carbohydrates have the greatest impact on blood sugar and insulin (6). Therefore, your carbohydrate selection during the day and night can make or break your results.
Okay, now in your best Arnold Horshack impersonation say…
"Sooow, what's a carbohydrate?"
The simplest form of carbohydrate is what is known as a single sugar molecule called glucose. To be utilized as energy in every cell in the body, all carbohydrates eventually end up as glucose. As we know, man has also done a good job of isolating glucose and adding it to many packaged foods. Chemically, glucose is known as a monosaccharide (mono= one, saccharide = sweet).
If two glucose molecules are joined together it is called a di-saccharide. Common table sugar is a di-saccharide called sucrose. Other common di-saccharides are maltose and lactose. Just to confuse you, fructose (the common sugar in fruit) is a slightly different single sugar molecule than glucose.
All carbohydrates are simply chains of the glucose molecule linked together (polysaccharides). In food, these polysaccharides are called starches. In muscle, these stored polysaccharides are called glycogen.
Dietary fibers are complex structures that contain many different sorts of sugar molecules, but they are different to starches and sugars. They cannot be digested. Humans do not possess the digestive enzymes that break apart the bonds that hold these sugar molecules together. Therefore, they pass though the system undigested.
What's wrong with today's carbohydrates?
We are the product of industrialization. Inventions ranging from Jethro Tull's seed drill (in 1709) to the high speed steel roller mills for milling cereals (19th century) are all advances in food processing to give food a longer shelf life (6). Although foods are based on our staple cereals such as wheat, oats, corn and rice, the original grain has been ground down to produce a powder-like flour, minuscule in particle size.
Food chemists know that the finer (smaller) the particle size flour, the more fluffy and delicious the food will be(7). It also extends shelf-life of the end product enormously. However, the constant refinement of the whole-food over recent centuries has resulted in dire consequences to our health that we are only now just becoming aware of. The incidence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are at all time, record-highs in human history. This is directly linked to over-consumption of refined foods.
Highly refined foods create poor insulin management. They are too rapidly absorbed and flood the blood stream with sugar (glucose). The pancreas secretes insulin into the blood in an attempt to eliminate this flood of glucose. Over a gradual period of time cells become resistant to this constant bombardment of high insulin that refined foods induce.
These high insulin levels desensitize our cells (particularly in muscle) and the pancreas has to work harder to secret more and more insulin, all to complete the job of nutrient transport into cells. After years of this physiological abuse, the pancreas gives up and fails to produce much insulin at all.
When this occurs, doctors politely term the condition "adult-onset diabetes." While some poor folk are genetically predisposed to developing this condition, adult-onset diabetes, in most cases, is completely preventable.
In fact, developing adult-onset diabetes, in most cases, is more like a trophy that says "congratulations, through years of dietary abuse, you have successfully managed to wear out your pancreas." Some trophy huh? It's one disease that has fatal implications to health and once you have it, you carry it for the rest of your days. Which, by the way, are usually reduced in number.
How do carbohydrates work?
Remember, glucose is the usable form of carbohydrate. All carbohydrates (sugars and starches) must be broken down to glucose. This process is called digestion.
Monosaccharides (fructose, glucose, galactose) are absorbed rapidly from the small intestine into the blood stream where they travel to be used as a source of energy by cells. All other carbohydrates (polysaccharides) have to be cleaved apart by digestion in the small intestine.
We used to think of carbohydrates as two different forms, simple and complex. However, this tells us little about how different carbohydrates behave in the body(8). It was widely believed that complex carbohydrates such as rice or potatoes were slowly digested and all simple carbohydrates (sugars) were absorbed rapidly. However, scientific research examining real human digestion demonstrates that these assumptions are wrong(6).
As bodybuilders and athletes, we need to forget the words simple and complex when talking about carbohydrates. We need to think in terms of low Glycemic Index and high Glycemic Index carbohydrates.
04-30-2006, 12:04 PM
What is Glycemic Index?
Because of the profound impact on our health, scientists have started to investigate the physiological response of different foods on blood sugar levels. The glycemic index (GI) of food is a ranking of foods based on their immediate effect on blood glucose (blood sugar) levels.
The GI ranks a food on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which it raises blood sugar levels after eating. Carbohydrate foods that break down quickly during digestion have the highest glycemic index rating. Their blood sugar response is fast and high. The substance which produces the greatest rise in blood sugar is pure glucose. Therefore, the GI of glucose is 100.
Every other food is ranked between 100 and zero. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a low glycemic index(6). Foods with a high GI produce a great surge of glucose into the blood steam. This surge in blood glucose is matched by another in insulin in an attempt to control blood glucose levels.
High GI foods produce marked fluctuations in blood glucose levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood glucose and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health.
Why is the GI factor so important?
Quite simply, by selecting foods with the GI factor in mind, you will decrease the amount of insulin secreted and promote insulin sensitivity within tissues. This adds up to making insulin more effective within your body.
The GI concept was first developed in 1981 by Dr. David Jenkins (a professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto, Canada) for diabetics as an aid to food selection to help insulin management. This initial work has been expanded tremendously by scientists of the University of NSW, Sydney Australia. The GI factor is now a well renown nutritional strategy to help prevent and control type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (6).
For the drug-free bodybuilder, knowledge of the GI index of carbohydrate foods is invaluable.
It allows you to control and manipulate natural insulin secretion to obtain the maximum anabolic effect from your training.
Manipulating insulin levels in the hours after intense training will facilitate maximum nutrient transportation into muscles, accelerating recovery and cellular adaptation.
One of the hardest parts of fat loss for definition is feeling hungry all the time. This gnawing feeling is not necessary to lose fat. Low GI foods are natural appetite suppressants.
Controlling insulin by using the GI factor of foods ensures fat is burned and the anabolic drive is maintained all day, every day.
It's all in the digestion.
What makes one carbohydrate different to another in terms of its GI rating?
This all has to do with the physical state of the carbohydrate in the food. When carbohydrates are consumed in their natural packaging, such as whole or intact grains, oats, barley, whole wheat and vegetables, the food will take longer to digest (break down) and its monosaccharides will enter the blood stream slowly. These foods will have a lower GI factor.
Therefore the whole grain or unprocessed food will always have more gradual, prolonged effect on blood sugar. (There are some exceptions to this, such as potatoes and different forms of white rice.)
The other aspect that governs digestion of a carbohydrate is the ratio of two different types of starches the food has. These two starches are called amylose and amylopectin.
To put it simply, amylopectin molecules are larger, more open and easier to digest. Thus, foods that have little amylose and plenty of amylopectin within their carbohydrate will be more rapidly digested and absorbed into the blood stream and will possess a higher GI number. Some examples of high amylopectin to amylose carbohydrate foods are wheat flour and Calrose white rice. These foods have high GI numbers.
Some foods that have more amylose than amylopectin are basmati white rice, durum wheat pastas and all sorts of legumes. Therefore, these carbs possess low GI numbers.
The Sugar Myth
Many people believe a healthy diet means avoiding all sugar. Remember, sugar (sucrose) is two molecules joined together (a disaccharide). Sugar is one molecule of glucose joined to one fructose molecule.
Fructose is the one single sugar which is an exception to the GI rule. To be made usable, fructose must travel to the liver, were it is slowly converted to glucose. So the blood sugar response to fructose is very small, it has a GI rating of only 20.
So when we consume normal sugar (sucrose), half of this is glucose and half is fructose. Sucrose has a GI rating of 60-65. Pure glucose has a GI rating of 100.
Compare this to another type of disaccharide called maltose, which is two glucose molecules joined together. Maltose has a very high GI of 95-100, quite a big difference to sucrose. Therefore, it pays to know the difference between your sugars.
Contrary to popular opinion, most foods containing "sugar" per se, do not raise blood sugar levels any greater than most breads or commercial cereals. Remember however, that volume is still important.
The GI rating of a food is based on the blood sugar reading obtained from 50 grams of that particular carbohydrate food.
While 50 grams of pure glucose (a refined carbohydrate) is a few spoons, it takes 700 grams (1 and a half pounds) of carrots to obtain 50 grams of carbohydrate. So if your name's not Bugs Bunny, which food would you most easily consume excessive calories?
Weight loss and fat loss still come down to the amount of calories you take in verses the amount you burn on a daily basis regardless of GI factor. However, knowing the GI factor of carbohydrate foods makes it easier to avoid hunger pangs and stay within your caloric range and lose fat!
The GI Carbohydrate List for Building Muscle & Fat Loss
Think of the GI rating of every carbohydrate food in terms of a preference list. From the top of the list, carbohydrates with a high GI rating (between 100-60) are the carbohydrates best suited to consume in the hours directly after training as they increase blood sugar and insulin levels rapidly.
The 3-hour window after training is the best time to consume small portions of high GI foods. High GI foods are usually the sweetest tasting, most refined (packaged) and in the simplest forms such as glucose and wheat flour. Some are unsuspected foods such as baked potatoes, white bread, some forms of white rice and most commercial breakfast cereals. These are all high GI foods.
Consuming high GI carbohydrates with quality whey proteins such as VP2 Whey Isolate or VyoPro Whey Protein in the 3-hours after training stimulates insulin production even further. It also provides an abundance of readily absorbed amino acid peptides to muscle. These two factors turn the anabolic stimulus of resistance training into net gains in muscle mass.
After the 3-hour Post Training Period
Carbohydrates that produce a lower, more constant insulin response are termed low GI foods and usually possess numbers under 60. After the initial 3-hour, post-training period, to facilitate optimal nutrient transport into muscle cells and maintain steady state blood glucose and insulin levels, you should select from this category of foods.
By rule of thumb, when you examine the list you will find virtually all low GI carbohydrates are unrefined, whole foods such as vegetables, legumes and whole grains. These foods are unprocessed and naturally high in fiber. Ironically, any time man has processed a food to suit convenience it has eliminated the nutrients the food was designed to provide! This messes with our biology.
Low GI carbohydrates eaten at regular intervals during the day actually contribute to your health by increasing insulin sensitivity of cells and promote constant, steady release of energy and uptake of nutrients into muscles.
Low GI carbohydrates maintain the optimal muscle building environment by maintaining blood glucose and insulin within a low range. This prevents hunger pangs, energy slumps during the day, and promotes body fat loss.
What about a mixed meal?
Because we rarely eat carbohydrate foods on their own, Associate Professor Jennie Brand Miller and her colleagues at the Department of Biochemistry at NSW University have come up with this neat, yet simple method of how to calculate the GI factor of any mixed meal you may consume. We will be providing more information soon.
However, you don't need to get too technical if you don't want to. Just remember the following rules.
High fiber foods such as vegetables and salads tend to lower the GI rating of a meal and slow the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. For fat loss and gains in muscle, this is generally a good thing.
Foods high in protein (meats, chicken, fish) when eaten with carbohydrate foods tend to lower the GI factor of the meal. On most occasions this also is a good thing for fat loss and muscle gain.
Any food high in fat also tends to have a low GI rating. This is by virtue of its slow absorption. However, this isn't necessarily a good thing. Corn chips and ice cream will still make you fat, despite their low GI rating.
Not all carbohydrates are the same.
One common fault athletes mistakenly assume is that all forms of pasta, rice and other starches that make up our carbohydrate choices are the same. In terms of their impact on blood glucose and insulin levels there can be a huge difference.
All pastas are not the same in terms of GI rating(6). Pasta made from wheat flour has a high GI number of 80, whereas Durum wheat or Semolina makes the best pasta for athletes with a GI of 40. These are extremely hard forms of wheat and break cleanly into distinct pieces. The large particle size of this starch makes it difficult for enzymes to attack and digestion is much slower.
There is also a big difference in various forms of white rice, a staple food of bodybuilders. Calrose white rice has a starch ratio very high in amylopectin and low in amylose. This means rapid absorption. Consequently, calrose rice has a GI factor as high as 95!
Other forms of rice such as Doongatti and Basmatti are the opposite. They have a high amylose to amylopectin ratio and consequently possess a GI factor of 40-50. This can make a big difference to your blood sugar levels, particularly if you rely on rice for energy during your dieting phase.
So learn the GI numbers and read your food packets in the supermarket before you buy. All whole-food carbs aren't the same.
The Powerful Effects of Lemon Juice, Vinegar and Sourdough
Acidity of a food or meal tends to lower the GI factor of a meal. Adding as little as 20 milliliters of vinegar to a meal is shown to drop the GI factor of a meal tremendously. Lemon juice also appears just as powerful. Sourdough breads, in which lactic acid and propionic acid are produced by natural fermentation, also appear to have a GI lowering effect on a mixed meal.
Using foods high in acidity tends to pull the brake on stomach emptying and slowing the delivery of food to the small intestine. Slower digestion means a less dramatic rise in blood sugar, no energy slumps and steady insulin secretion. So keep adding that vinegar and lemon juice to your side salads and meals. It's doing more for you than simply adding flavor.
In Summary, Making the GI Work For You
The GI approach to eating is really the way nature intended us to eat. She packaged all the nutrients we need in a slow release form. It's only modern living that's screwed around with this formula and turned many of our foods into fast release with little digestion for a more delicious, eye catching, nonperishable food supply. Now the effect of all those instant, artificial foods are catching up with us in the form of diabetes, heart disease and weight gain.
Simply by being aware of the type of carbohydrates you eat and when you eat them can dramatically accelerate your results from weight training. The food selection strategies outlined in my article The Anabolic Nutrient Timing Factor is the one period that selecting foods with high GI numbers will benefit and enhance your results from training.
Selecting foods with high GI numbers at this time will create the optimum environment to accelerate muscle growth. Then, for the other 21 hours of the day, by selecting carbohydrates from the lower end of the GI scale you will maintain steady blood glucose and insulin levels that maintain the anabolic drive and maximize your muscle building and fat loss efforts.
04-30-2006, 12:05 PM
1. Millward DJ, Rivers HPW. The concept of the anabolic drive. Diabetes Metab Rev. 5:191-211,1989.
2. Gavin LA, Moeller M. Metabolism.32:543-551,1983.
3. Philips LS, Fusco AC,Unterman TG. Metabolism, 34:765-770,1985.
4. Carroll PV, Christ ER, Umpleby AM, et al. Diabetes. 49(5):789-96,2000.
5. Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, Bush JA, et al. J.Appl.Physiol.85(4) 1544-1555,1998.
6. Brand Miller J, Foster-Powell K, Colagiuri S, Leeds A. The GI factor. Hodder Publishing 1998.
7. Heaton KW, Marcus SN, Emmett PM, Bolton CH. Am. J.Clin Nutr.48:496-502,1994.
8. Brand-Miller J, Beebe C. Presented at the 60th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association; June 13, 2000; San Antonio, Texas.
04-30-2006, 12:10 PM
How to Get Your Biceps to Peak…and Other Notions of Muscle Hypertrophy
By Jose Antonio, Ph.D., CSCS
If you've spent any amount of time in the gym, then you've heard this idea before. Your favorite gym rat will claim that "preacher curls help give me a peak to my biceps while doing standing straight bar curls are good for overall mass of the biceps." Or perhaps you've heard that leg extensions are especially good for the medial (inner) aspect of the quad, your vastus medialis muscle. The vastus medialis muscle, better known as the "tear drop" muscle can be targeted specifically by doing leg extensions. Is this true? Or is it bodybuilding nonsense?
The idea that you can induce regional adaptations in muscle is not new. However, scientific evidence supporting such a notion is relatively new! Don't get me wrong. You and I are not going to do preacher curls 'till we're blue in the face and get a peak like Flex Wheeler. Sure genetics plays a role. However, within our own limits, we can shape our muscles to look different. We in essence have our own Olympic Gold medal or Olympia-like performances just waiting to be tapped.
An EMG or electromyographic recording of muscle activity is often done to determine the extent of muscle involvement for a particular movement. An EMG signal is a recording of a muscles electrical activity from electrodes placed on the skin or within the muscle belly itself.
Using this technology, a group of Australian scientists examined the effects of different bench angles and grip widths on muscle activity around the shoulder. For example, in comparing two functionally distinct regions of the pectoralis major muscle (i.e., clavicular head and sternocostal head), they found that the clavicular head of the pec major (the part attached to the collarbone or clavicle) was more active during a narrow grip vs. wide grip, esp. during the flat and incline bench press. Relative to the sternocostal head, the clavicular head was more active during a narrow grip incline bench. On the other hand, the sternocostal head of the pec major (part attached to the breastbone or sternum) showed its greatest activity during a flat bench; however, if you wanted greater relative involvement of the sternocostal head vs. the clavicular head, a decline press with a narrow grip seemed to work best. And for best maximal involvement of the entire pectoralis major muscle, the wide grip flat bench resulted in the greatest measured electrical activity!
Another group of scientists examined how different heads of the biceps brachii muscle are activated during supination movements. If you've forgotten, supination is a movement that occurs around the radioulnar joint and occurs when you rotate your forearm such that your palms face up. And the biceps brachii is the primary muscle involved in supination! These scientists showed that when the elbow was flexed to 120 degrees, the short head (medial side) was activated more so than the long head of the biceps during supination. And the further the elbow was extended, the more the long head of the biceps came into play. Thus, if you want to stress the medial side of the biceps muscle, do supination movements at 120 degrees of flexion. Most gyms now have machines which allow isolated supination movements. So give it a shot; it'll be a good addition to your arm workout.
Further evidence for the functional differentiation within the biceps muscle is magnetic resonance imaging which demonstrate that a standing bilateral dumbell curl with your palms up (supinated) hits the medial or short head of the biceps brachii muscle more so than the lateral or long head. On the other hand, doing the same exercise with a neutral grip (slightly pronated) results in better activation of the lateral or long head.
And what about the notion that you can train your upper vs. lower abs? Here's an area where there is a big dispute concerning the role of the ab muscles. Many believe that the rectus abdominus is one muscle (which is correct) that is activated equally when you contract it (which is incorrect!). A study done at the University of Valencia in Spain compared the average EMG activity of the upper and lower abs during a curl-up and posterior pelvic tilt exercise. They found that it is true that the stomach crunch or curl does elicit greater rectus abdominus activity in the upper abs while doing posterior pelvic tilt exercises hits the lower abs better as long as they're performed correctly!
We can even examine a small forearm muscle such as the extensor carpi radialis longus (ECRL) muscle. You're thinking what the hell or where the hell is this muscle with a monstrously long name. The ECRL performs wrist extension and radial deviation (movement of the hand sideways towards the thumb). It originates at the lower end of the lateral surface of the humerus and attaches to the base of the second metacarpal. Even a muscle such as this is differentially activated depending on how you utilize it. For example, when you do wrist extension alone, the proximal ECRL is activated more so than the distal ECRL. However, when you do radial deviation, only the proximal ECRL is activated! The distal ECRL is in essence silent or inactive.
OK, EMG signals are fine and all, but does this mean that muscles can grow in specific regions. Or does a muscle hypertrophy by generally enlarging all parts? We know in animals that stretch overload will cause greater growth in the proximal and distal region while fiber number is greater in the middle region vs. other regions of the muscle belly. Also, that rats undergoing hypertrophy of their plantaris muscle (a plantarflexor) showed the greatest growth in the middle and distal region with the least in the proximal region. Furthermore, we now have evidence in humans that regional differences exist with regards to muscle growth.
In a study done at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, twelve weeks of training the elbow flexors in elderly men resulted in regional response with regards to hypertrophy. The greatest increase in cross-sectional area occurred in the distal belly of the elbow flexor muscles with little if any change proximally (near the origin of the muscle). This demonstrates that muscle does not respond in a uniform manner! In fact, you could say that training seemed to produce a more "lop-sided" muscle!! Is this a normal response? Did a specific exercise cause this? It's hard to say since these subjects performed various arm exercises (barbell curls, dumbell curls, hammer curls, etc.).
Moreover, a Japanese group examined five men after 16 weeks of unilateral triceps brachii exercises (consisting of the French press exercise) found that maximal muscle growth occurred at the distal end of the arm vs. the middle and proximal regions.
A study done in the United Kingdom examined ten young adults (5 men and women) and had them perform leg extension exercises concentrically with one leg and eccentrically on the other leg. They trained three times per week for twenty weeks doing four sets of ten reps with a minute rest between sets. The measured the cross-sectional area of the quadriceps muscles at two levels: at 25% and 75% of the femur's (thigh bone) length measured from the knee joint. Interestingly, both the concentric and eccentrically trained leg produced increases in muscle cross-sectional area, but only in the upper region of the quad with no change occurring closer to the knee. Although, it is generally accepted that it is the eccentric part of a muscle contraction that is "more important," it is apparent that at least in previously untrained persons, concentric contractions alone may provide a sufficient hypertrophic stimulus.
In a similar study done at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, they trained previously untrained male college students to perform six sets of 10 reps of unilateral knee flexion/extension and elbow flexion/extension of the non-dominant limbs concentrically on a isokinetic device three times a week for eight weeks. The contralateral limb served as the control. They found that there was regional hypertrophy within the same muscle! For instance, the elbow extensors (triceps brachii) experienced growth at the proximal and middle levels but not distally (near the elbow) with the greatest changes occurring in the middle. For the leg extensors (i.e., quads), only the rectus femoris (at all three levels), the vastus lateralis (middle level), and vastus intermedius (middle level) increased in cross-sectional area. For the leg flexors (hamstrings), the biceps femoris (middle level) and the semitendinosus (distal level) increased in size with no change in the semimembranosus.
It isn't clear why certain muscles grow while others did not. Furthermore, it is difficult to make comparisons between studies since they often use different exercise protocols and different technology to analyze changes in muscle growth. It isn't clear why within the same muscle, only certain parts grow. But what is clear is that you do not get a generalized of muscle in response to exercise. For instance, the University of Nebraska Medical Center study demonstrated how difficult it was to induce growth in one of the hamstring muscles, the semimembranosus. Why is this muscle such a hardgainer? Is there a better exercise for that part of the hamstring muscle group?
04-30-2006, 12:11 PM
THE NUCLEAR DOMAIN
In order to understand why or how muscle can respond regionally, it is important to understand the underlying biology of muscle cells or fibers themselves. An individual muscle is much more than just fibers attaching at tendons or bones with a single muscle-nerve interaction. Neuromuscular compartments, which can be described distinct regions of a muscle, are each innervated by an individual nerve branch and therefore containing motor unit territories with a unique set of characteristics. In other words, different portions of one muscle may be called into play depending on the task demands of the situation.
Furthermore, this compartmentalization is evident at the subcellular levels. There is something that muscle biologists refer to as the DNA unit or nuclear domain. The nuclear domain can be defined as the theoretical volume of cytoplasm associated with a single myonucleus. In English, that means each nucleus controls its own little territory. What happens in one part of a muscle fiber does not necessarily happen in other parts of a muscle.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
Does this mean we can all shape our bodies to look like Lee Labrada? No! But we can still shape our muscles to some degree. It may take some tweaking here and there. Mere comparison of the physiques of Olympic weightlifters and bodybuilders demonstrate what effects different training regimens have. You don't normally see a large teardrop (vastus medialis) muscle or prominent sartorius (long strap muscle that starts at the hip and crosses the front of the thigh) muscle on Olympic weightlifters, do you? Certainly, diet and genetics plays a role in the size and shape of the muscle. However, the issue of androgen use may negate any differences in the type of training performed. So at this point, all we can really say is that the different athletes in the strength/power sports demonstrate strikingly different phenotypes or physiques and that these differences are due to many factors (i.e. training, diet, genetics, drugs).
However, if you're a natural bodybuilder (somewhat of an oxymoron), the use of different angles, grips, and exercise selection may produce different hypertrophic responses in different muscles as well as within different regions of a muscle.
PRACTICAL ADVICE ON HOW TO TARGET A SPECIFIC REGION OF MUSCLE
Keep in mind that the following recommendations are based on the limited data available; and it would behoove you to utilize the principle of variation in your training regimen. Nonetheless, you add these variations to your training program as part of an overall training scheme:
1) pectoralis major - if you're interested in developing the upper portion (clavicular head) relatively more so than the sternocostal portion, it is best to do a narrow grip incline bench; if you want to target the sternocostal region relatively more than the clavicular region, a narrow grip on the decline bench is best. And furthermore, for the greatest activation of the entire pectoralis major muscle, then the wide grip bench press is the king of the chest exercises.
2) biceps brachii - if you want to target the short head (medial side), you can do supination exercises with your elbow flexed to ~120 degrees (bend your arm so that your forearm is nearly touching your biceps) or you can do unilateral dumbell curls with your palms up; if you want to target the long head more, try doing unilateral dumbell curls (i.e. hammer curls) with your palms in a neutral position or you can do supination movements (turning of the palms upward) with your elbows extended past 90 degrees (i.e. your arm is between a right angle and fully straightened).
3) triceps brachii - to target the distal portion of the triceps brachii group, French presses (dumbell press overhead) will do wonders; interestingly, isokinetic elbow extensions seem to target the proximal and middle portions of the triceps.
4) rectus abdominus - for the upper abs, curl-ups or crunches are best; for the lower abs, posterior pelvic tilt exercises will help tremendously!
5) quadriceps femoris - the "quads" are actually four separate muscles each having the same function, except the rectus femoris, which also performs hip flexion. Although, regional adaptations occur in each of these muscles, it isn't clear which exercises target each region the best; however, for maximal stimulation of the "entire" quad, doing leg extensions with the leg outwardly rotated (toes pointed out) seems to work best!
The previously described exercises are to be used as an adjunct to your training program. They are not meant to be the exclusive exercises for these bodyparts. It is evident that your muscles are much more complex than just a bunch of fibers attaching at an origin and insertion. In order to maximally stress the muscle unit as a whole, it is imperative that you do a variety of exercises. Of course, if you're in a performance sport such as powerlifting, emphasis should be placed on those exercises specific to the sport; but in bodybuilding or general fitness, you've got more room to experiment with different exercises. So get back to the lab more affectionately known as the gym and do some experimenting!
Alway, S.E. et al. Regionalized adaptations and muscle fiber proliferation in stretch-induced- enlargement.
Journal of Applied Physiology. 66:771-781, 1989.
Antonio, J. and W.J. Gonyea. Muscle fiber splitting in stretch-enlarged avian muscle. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 26:973-977, 1994.
Barnett, C. et al. Effects of variations of the bench press exercise on the EMG activity of five shoulder muscles. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 9:222-227, 1995.
Brown, J.M.M., C. Solomon, and M. Paton. Further evidence of functional differentiation within biceps brachii. Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology. 33:301-309, 1993.
Carey Smith, R. and O.M. Rutherford. The role of metabolites in strength training. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 71:332-336, 1995.
English, A.W., S.L. Wolf, and R.L. Segal. Compartmentalization of muscles and their motor nuclei: the partitioning hypothesis. Physical Therapy. 73:857-867, 1993.
Hall, Z.W. and E. Ralston. Nuclear domains in muscle cells. Cell. 59:771-772, 1989.
Housh, D.J. et al. Hypertrophic response to unilateral concentric isokinetic resistance training. Journal of Applied Physiology. 73:65-70, 1992.
Kawakami, Y. et al. Training-induced changes in muscle architecture and specific tension. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 72:37-43, 1995.
Narici, M.V. et al. Changes in force, cross-sectional area and neural activation during strength training and detraining of the human quadricpes. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 59:310-319, 1989. Roman, W.J. et al. Adaptations in the elbow flexors of elderly males after heavy resistance training. Journal of
Applied Physiology. 74:750-754, 1993.
Sarti, M.A. et al. Muscle activity in upper and lower rectus abdominus during abdominal exercises. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 77:1293-1297, 1996.
Signorile, J.F. et al. Effect of foot position on the electromygraphical activity of the superficial quadricpes muscles during the parallel squat and knee extension. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 9:182-187, 1995.
Tesch, P.A. Muscle Meets Magnet. published by Per. A. Tesch, Stockholm, Sweden. 1993.
05-08-2006, 06:32 PM
John Berardi's Gourmet nutrition ebook
05-08-2006, 06:33 PM
Underground mass secrets
When you hear the word “SQUATS” do you think of an early eighties Dutch punk rock band, or of one of the most demanding, resulting producing exercises known to man? Hopefully you associate with the latter, but in any case the full squat is one of the best overall movements for producing both strength and development not only in the legs, but for the overall body.
Full Squats are something that you must learn to do with the mind as well as the body. A proper combination of mental and physical energies will ensure that you will be able to squat using a total effort and nothing less. I often look back at my training log of 25 years and I observe an exact correlation between squat progress and overall progress, meaning that I made the best overall gains in strength and development when my squat was progressing the most. Another thing I have always found to be true about squats is that you can almost always make increases, for example, I have often gone into the gym, totally confident and ready for my session--and I load the bar to do upper body work, such as bench presses--and there are some days, when no matter how hard I try, no matter how hard I push, the reps that I am attempting to make just wont happen. But with the squat the desired reps almost always came. I think that is because the legs are so much stronger than we even imagine and there is always some reserve strength to get another repetition.
Squats and Systemic Growth
You may be wondering, "Just exactly how do squats promote growth throughout the body?" To begin with, the squat involves multiple joints and muscles which in turn increase the level at which the nervous system must coordinate movement in conjunction with the lifter's muscle-skeletal system. In the squat there are numerous muscles of the body working simultaneously to provide the stability and mobility needed for this exercise. It has been estimated that there are up to 200 muscles involved in the squat.
The hormonal or endocrine system combined with the nervous system makes up what is known as "neuroendocrinology". This term describes the relationship of chemical substances that have both neural and hormonal functions. The endocrine glands are stimulated to release hormones by a chemical signal received by the receptors on the gland or by neural stimulation, which is what occurs during weight training. Ever wonder why you feel particularly upbeat and euphoric after a hard workout, even if you are physically drained?
It’s because of the increased presence of hormones in your body, hormones that also influence our moods. This is similar to the “runner’s high” experienced by long distance runners.
The increase in anabolic hormone levels observed after a hard workout can increase hormonal interactions with various cellular mechanisms and enhance the development of muscle protein contractile units. On neural stimulation from an alpha motor neuron to initiate a muscle action, various signals (electrical, chemical, and hormonal) are sent from the brain and from activated muscles to a number of endocrine glands. Hormones are secreted during and after the workout in response to the physiological stress of resistance exercise. This simply means that the nervous, muscle-skeletal, and hormonal systems are responsible for the effects promoted by exercises like the squat.
There are various hormones, which produce this effect, and the one that most people are familiar with is testosterone. It's been demonstrated that testosterone serum concentrations can increase with exercises such as the squat.
Squats can increase growth throughout the entire body because they use numerous muscles and this means they stimulate more muscle fibers than say an exercise such as a leg extension or a leg press. The greater the fiber recruitment, the greater the process for potential growth and development in the muscle. Only muscle fibers that are recruited by resistance training are subject to adaptation and the more muscles used in an exercise like the squat the more the muscle fibers are stimulated.
Your squat workout should begin about an hour after the completion of your most recent squat workout. Take the time to sit down with your training log and some good post workout nutrition, and enter your last workout’s sets and reps into the log, along with any particular training notes for that day. Then, begin outlining some training goals for the next workout. You have to set specific goals and have a game plan to achieve them. Once your next workout outline is done, write it on a post-it note, stick it on your day planner or your bathroom mirror, any place where you can glance at it a couple of times each day and by the time your next workout arrives, you will be mentally prepared to complete the required sets and reps. Try to eat a high complex carbohydrate meal the night before a squat workout—whole-wheat pasta with a ground turkey and marinara sauce works very well. Take the time to properly warm-up, which can consist of some stretching and mobility exercises such as five minutes on a stationary bike pedaling at a moderate pace.
If you are going to make decent progress in the squat, you have to be properly equipped and probably the most important gear is a decent set of shoes. I often see people lifting in shoes that provide little in the way of support for the foot and ankle, in fact most “running shoes” are mushy and cause the ankles to buckle slightly inward as the lifter is descending with the bar. Buy a pair of high-topped training shoes, preferably with the ability to tighten the lace around the ankle. If you use the shoes only for your training, they should last for years. Using a lifting belt is a personal decision, though it should be used sparingly and mostly with heavy weights/low rep type sets. The last vital piece of lifting equipment is a strong abdominal region. Having a strong, well-developed trunk region will do wonders for your overall strength. Train the abs in order to make them functionally stronger by doing exercises such as weighted crunches, side bends and frog kicks.
Squatting is a very natural movement; In most of the world—especially Asia and Africa—people squat to rest, to eliminate, and to perform many tasks including giving birth. I was in the gym last week and a guy approached me and told me he was frustrated with his lifting, etc. I asked him about squats and he told me that he was unable to squat. I told him that must be really tough when you have to have a bowel movement! Human bodies are designed to squat! Having said that, there is a certain learning curve associated with the full squat and it’s very important to learn and implement the technique correctly. There is an abundance of squatting technique information available in books, videotapes and websites, but the best way to learn is in person. If you need to improve your squat form, find an experienced lifter somewhere near you and ask them for help and advice. You may have to drive several hours to find someone, but it will be time well spent. The experienced lifter does not have to be a world-class athlete to give you quality instruction. You will find that the majority of experienced lifters are very generous with their time and will gladly help someone who truly has the desire to learn. Be sure you listen and take notes on the instruction you receive. You may even want to offer to pay for a steak dinner afterwards.
I advocate the full barbell squat as one of the core exercises in most any weight-training program. If you are an aspiring powerlifter, then you will need to spend some time performing squats in a powerlifting style in order to prepare for competition. I believe that the full squat will be of tremendous value in laying down a proper strength foundation. There are individuals who may have structural problems (knees, back, etc) which prevent them from squatting at the present time. If this is the case, then those problems need to be properly evaluated and some type of corrective or rehabilitative action taken. When it comes to your health, don’t be afraid to get a second or even third opinion. I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in health care professionals whose only advice is to avoid exercise or activities as I fail to see the positive benefits of physical atrophy of the human body.
Many fitness experts warn against performing squats past the point of parallel for fear of potentially damaging the knees. As a general rule I disagree with those experts though there are certainly individual exceptions. When the full squat is performed correctly and with total control through a complete range of motion, the knees are strengthened, not weakened. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, an estimated 50 million North Americans have suffered or are suffering knee pain or injuries and six million of them will visit a doctor for knee problems each year. The majority of these problems are degenerative in nature and are the result of disuse of the knee joint. Squatting keeps the knee joints mobile and free of pain. There are several joint facets on the inside of the kneecap that are all used only when an individual squats.
When the squat is performed to a parallel depth, it is the knees, which take the majority of the stress involved in stopping the downward momentum of the squat. When the squat is performed to a full depth, this same “braking” stress is transferred to the larger, powerful muscles of the hips, hamstrings and buttocks. It is obvious that the squat must be performed with a great deal of control and that any type of rapid “rebounding”, whether it is done at parallel or at full depth will be detrimental to the knees.
The full squat is very similar to the way a baseball catcher squats down to receive a pitch, with the exception that your feet are flat on the floor, rather than on your toes. I keep a baseball mitt in my gym bag and I often take it out and have people practice the “catchers squat” when instructing on squat technique. To perform the squat, take a medium stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Place your hands on the bar at approximately shoulder width, get underneath the bar, take a deep breath and expand the chest and stand up with the bar. Take small steps backwards until you reach the place that you wish to squat. Your head should be looking straight ahead with your eyes fixed on a point directly in front of you. If you begin by bending at the knees, your knees will go beyond your toes, which can put them at risk. Sit back, keeping your upper body as upright as you comfortably can, and keep your knees over, but not beyond your toes. Descend into a full squat, staying tight and controlling the weight all the way down without bouncing at the bottom. Then stand up strongly, pushing against the weight and exhaling as you rise. . Keep your abdominal muscles and lower back tight and contracted throughout the movement. Whether you are doing 5, or 20 reps, think about doing “5 sets of perfect singles” or “20 sets of perfect singles” this will help you maintain proper form throughout the entire set.
One final technique tip: The toughest part of the squat is from about 30 degrees to the bottom. One method to help get through this is the use of your arms to assist the lower body in driving the legs past this sticking point. As you are descending with the bar and reach approximately the 30 degree point, begin pressing upwards with your arms just as if you were doing a behind the neck press. Continue to push upwards as you reach the bottom and begin driving upwards. At about the 30 degree mark (this will vary from one person to another) you can relax the pressure as you feel yourself getting past the sticking point. I only use this on the last few reps of a heavy set or when I was squatting in competition. I know this sounds a little odd but give it a try.
Squats and Flexibility
The primary reason for problems with squatting is lack of flexibility in the hips, knees, soleus, calves and ankles. This can easily be resolved by performing high repetition deep knee bends (another word for squats) with bodyweight only. When I began incorporating high repetition bodyweight squats into my training regime, I immediately noticed a difference in my lower body training. I recovered more quickly from leg workouts, all of those little “pops and cricks” that have been with me for years disappeared and I was able to run and play sports without discomfort in my knees, ankles and feet.
The second thing you can do is to develop a habit of squatting instead of sitting whenever you can. Obviously, you cannot do this at a business meeting or at church, but you can work it into daily habits such as petting the dog or picking up something from the ground. Do this a dozen times a day for about two months and you should notice a marked increase in your comfort and confidence in the bottom portion of the squat.
High Repetition Squats
I first became aware of the value of high repetition squats (20 or more reps) when I was serving aboard a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine. We had very limited space and my workout area was in the missile compartment, between two ICBM tubes and a set of forward storage lockers. There was just enough room for a loaded Olympic barbell with perhaps four inches of clearance in the front and in the back. There was no room for any kind of squat racks, so I would round up 2-4 guys to work as spotters and would deadlift a loaded barbell to lockout, then would have my spotters grab hold of the ends, then I would let go of the bar, crawl underneath it, assume the squat position at the bottom, stand up with the weight-then do my set of squats, then reverse the procedure to set the bar back on the deck. This process obviously limited the amount of weight I could use, so I had to settle for high repetitions. At the time, I figured that although the high reps were “better than nothing” I would still lose ground in terms of strength and development. Much to my surprise I found that my legs, my overall strength and my overall body grew like they never had before. From that moment on, high rep squats became a staple in my training program
20 rep squats are tough and demanding, both physically and mentally. They require total focus and concentration and an all out effort. When I am doing 20 rep squats, I find that when I hit number 13 or 14, it is impossible to think about doing another 6-7 reps. I can only focus on getting just one more rep, then one more, then just another one until all of the reps are completed. You may have to use certain mental tricks such as counting the reps backwards or mentally grouping the reps in two’s or three’s to complete the entire set. As tough as they are, your body will eventually grow accustomed to them and will actually thrive on them. I have found that when people can break through the pain barrier on 20 rep squats, they are then able to train harder on other exercises—probably because they finally are aware of what hard work and intensity is all about.
You can perform high repetition squats alone or you can combine them with low and medium rep programs. Just about any routine will work provided you work hard and give it time. The key to growth is progression and overload. I don’t care how a workout makes you “feel”, how pumped you get, how much your thighs “burned”, etc. if you are not adding weight and reps to the exercise over a period of time then you will make little if any progress. My first recorded squat workout was 65lbs for eight reps and it was hard and heavy. A little over thirteen years later, I did 600 for eight reps and it was just as hard and heavy—weight is a relative issue.
The majority of people reading this could probably take their best squat for 4-5 reps and with some goal planning, hard work and determination, squat the same weight for 20 reps by the end of the year. This would be more geared to the beginner to intermediate lifter. This will change your entire body, and not just the legs--this will of course take adequate food, water and rest. A 160lb guy could easily add 10-15 SOLID, lean pounds of muscle after a year, and there is a HUGE difference between gaining 10-15 pounds and gaining 10-15 lean pounds. You will also find that 20 rep squats will change your base metabolic rate, which should allow you to burn fat more efficiently 24/7. There are not many people who are willing to do this, but the rewards will be worth it.
You have to develop and maintain the proper mental toughness and discipline which is necessary for you to reach your own potential. This toughness is largely the ability to deal with pain, fatigue and discomfort associated with hard and progressive training. There are tens of thousands of people who want better strength, development and conditioning and they are totally committed to spending two or more hours a day, six days a week in training, they are willing to buy supplements, equipment, they are willing to do just about anything……except to include and embrace pain, fatigue and discomfort as necessary in their training. In fact, everything they do, everything they buy, every excuse they make is to avoid pain, fatigue and discomfort at all costs. The closest thing that I know to a "lifting secret" is this: Once you are willing to be uncomfortable at times in your workout, it does not take long for you to get used to it, in fact you may look forward to it and thrive on it. This is when you will embark on the journey to achieving the potential that lies within you.
I hope a few people take this challenge.
TOM HANKS: “Why are you quitting”?
GEENA DAVIS: “because it just got too hard”
TOM HANKS: ‘It’s supposed to be hard, if it was easy,
everybody would do it…it’s the hard that
makes it great”
“A League of their Own”
Written By Keith Wassung
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