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Muscle Gain

  • Protein supplementation and muscle mass

    Oral administration of amino acid mixtures have been shown to stimulate post-workout muscle anabolism hence leads to lean muscle gain. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins, so do supplementation of whole protein products have the same effect as amino acid supplements?


    The answer is yes. It has been found that the supplementation of protein during exercise can enhance aerobic performance in cyclists compared to the placebo (Ivy et al 2013, International Journal of Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism); the supplementation of protein-carbohydrate drinks during resistance training can reduce muscle damage and soreness but does not improve performance (Baty et al 2007, Journal of Strength and Conditioning); protein supplementation during resistance training promotes lean body mass gain (Volek at al 2013, Journal of American College of Nutrition); and protein supplementation immediately after resistance exercise can also promote muscle protein anabolism (Reidy et al 2013, Journal of Nutrition).


    The majority of the evidence to date indicates that protein supplementation is beneficial for post-exercise muscle gain. However, different types of proteins have different amino acid compositions, and thus may have different effectiveness on muscle protein anabolism. Studies compared whey and soy proteins and found that whey protein is the more effective at promoting muscle mass gain than soy protein in resistance trainers (Volek at al 2013, Journal of American College of Nutrition; Philips et al 2009, Journal of American College of Nutrition). Compared to casein/milking proteins, whey protein supplementation resulted in a higher net muscle protein balance for 1.5 hour after ingestion; however, the effect of casein protein is more prolonged (Tipton et al 2004, Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise). Therefore, which protein product to use is really up to what works best for you.


    There is a short period (generally 30-180 minutes depends on the study) where muscle protein synthesis can be stimulated after protein supplementation. After which the muscle will become refractory to elevated amino acid concentrations. By the same token, above optimal amount of amino acid intake does not stimulate additional muscle grown compared the optimal level. This is often dubbed as the "muscle full" phenomenon. Exercise and resistance training can significant modulate the level of the muscle's capacity to utilize amino acids/proteins, but there is still a limit. Excessive protein intake can add load to your kidneys and thus should be consumed wisely.

  • Exercise and amino acid availability on muscle mass

    Amino acids are the individual components that make up a protein molecule. Amino acid supplementation has been found to be beneficial at enhancing/supporting the treatments for a range of human medical conditions. This includes muscular dystrophy, some cancers and heart issues. Athletes have long been using amino acid supplements to assist muscle gain. Is there any merit to this proactive? Lets explore.


    The secret of gaining muscle mass and strength is simply by achieving a positive tilt of net muscle protein balance, where the muscle synthesizes more protein (anabolism) than it breaks down (catabolism). Resistance training can cause a negative protein balance. However, post exercise oral essential amino acid supplementation has been shown to be sufficient to create a positive net muscle protein balance. It has also noted that the supplementation of essential amino acids only is more effective at creating this positive net protein balance than taking a mixture of essential and non-essential amino acids (Tipton et al 1999, Endocrinology and metabolism). This is a possible indication that non-essential amino acids are the limiting factor for post-resistance training muscle anabolism.


    The timing of amino acid supplementation also plays an important role. Supplementation before and after a workout can both create a positive net muscle protein balance. However, in contrary to common practices, it has been found that amino acid supplementation immediate before a work out is in fact more effective and can result in higher amino acid uptake compared to supplementation after a work out. This is caused by the increased blood flow to the muscles during a work out, hence increased amino acid delivery and uptake.


    Appropriate amino acid supplementation can assist with post-exercise muscle anabolism. For maximum result, take the supplements immediate before exercise.

  • The curse of overtraining

    The saying "No pain no gain" has its merits. It is no secret among athletes that you have to work hard in order to improve your performances and attaining your goals. Our body works like a fine tuned balance, on which everything has its designated place, timing and amount. Too much or too little of anything will disrupt that balance, and your body will eventually suffer. We all know that regular exercise is good for health, but too much exercise can also be harmful. Improvements from exercise only occur during the resting period after hard training, where your body tries to compensate the stress exerted on the cardiovascular and muscular systems by improving the efficiency of heart, muscles and energy production/utility, resulting in a higher level of performance. This process is called over-compensation, the body's way to keep itself in balance with demand.

    Doing exercise without sufficient rest will not allow the body to have enough time to recover and regenerate, and consequently preventing the occurrence of over-compensation. This imbalance between excessive exercise and inadequate rest will eventually results in fatigue, decreased performance and "staleness". If not corrected, prolonged imbalance will stress the athletes to the point where resting is no longer adequate for recovery, this state is called overtraining. The symptoms of overtraining differ from daily fluctuations in performance that all athletes experience, it is characterized by a state of exhaustion that persists even after a period of recovery.

    The most common symptom of overtraining is fatigue, but it does a lot more to your body than just making you feel tired. Overtraining can also alter your psychological state and immune system, increases the level of stress hormones in your body, decreases testosterone levels, increases muscle breakdown, and causes adrenal insufficiency. It may take from a few days up to months of resting to recover from overtraining depending on the severity of the symptoms. During this period many will experience exercise withdrawal and therefore should do moderate amount of exercise to manage the symptoms.

    Exercise can be chemically addictive due to its effects on hormone levels in the brain. This may result in the fixation/dependence on exercise, which can lead to overtraining. A stressful training plan that does not incorporate enough recovery periods can also cause overtraining. As with everything in health, prevention is the best guarantee to a good life. Understand your body and be discreet with your training plans will do wonders to your health. Sometimes, having a good rest won't ruin your fitness, quite the contrary, it might just be the missing ingredient required to attain your next goal.

  • The best Russian training secrets: 5 Kettlebell exercises to get ripped!

    Simple old-school Russian training is making a come back. This ultimate workout focuses on the core and posterior chain. That includes the hamstrings, glutes, lower and upper back. The shoulders, calves, and entire core work as stabilizers throughout the movement. With one or two moderately weight kettlebells, you'll be amazed at the workout you can get!

    Imaging a wrecking ball. The principle with a kettle bell is generally the same. The force of the action comes from the base of the structure and not the lever (arms). The ball is attached to a chain (arms), which is attached to the machine. With the hips snapping to apply force, the kettlebell responds. There are several basic movements which you can use. This is ideal for those looking to improve overall fitness, muscle coordination, strength and condition of the back and core, and as a way to break up a typical workout once per week without resting! 2-arm swing: the Classic beginner movement Using two hands on the kb, let your hips fall back. Remember to keep your back in a tight straight line. Create a forward momentum on the bell by snapping your hips back into full extension. Remember not to hyperextend your back or hips during this movement. Try not to "dip" into a quarter or half squat. 1-arm swing: Classic Russian swing Start with the right side or your dominant arm to get comfortable swinging with one arm. Remember to hold on tight! Keep the other arm up at your side. Avoid twisting at your hips. Be sure to keep the kb moving down your center line, not to one side or the other. 1-Arm Clean If you are familiar with a clean, then you'll know where we want this one to finish. At the top of the swing, pull the kb in towards your upper chest. At the same moment, "catch" the bell with your arm, using the top of your elbow and forearm. Confused? Check out the video! Loop each clean by dropping the bell quickly into it's original swing path. You'll have to work on coordination with a lighter kettlebell before this becomes comfortable and natural. The Windmill Ideal for those with poor flexibility and weak abdominals. 10 of these beats 100 sit ups any day! With the kb in a fully extended position, keep your knuckles facing the ceiling. Reach out with the other arm for balance. Place your feet comfortably apart, then point your toes away from the arm with the kb. (If your right arm is in use, you'll be dipping to the left, so point your feet that way!) keep the elbow locked and slowly reach towards your opposite foot. Keep your eyes on the bell! Snatch Getting used to the kb snatch takes time. Starting with a classic 1-arm swing, the bell finishes fully extended, overhead. It should be resting on the back of the wrist, having flipped around at the last moment. Use a powerful high pull on the kb during the swing. In one sweeping motion: - Pull the elbow to bring the kb towards the side of the head - Open up the hand and elbow, extending the kb upwards - Allow your hand to travel the handle, placing the bell portion on the back of the wrist Pause for a moment at the top of the snatch as the kb stops its flight. Then resume the entire swing from the very top position again! Use these techniques to perfect your strength and conditioning. Expect a stronger back, glutes, hamstrings, and a tighter, stronger shoulder girdle. Master each technique with the help of my video examples!

  • BCAAs Protein Creatine

    BCAAs Protein Creatine - How and why we stack them:

    To get your results to go from average to enhanced, you must use the right supplements as a stack. A little BCAA and a little protein will still get you results. However, big changes can come from using the right portions in a stack.

    You can always count on BCAAs for... Essentially, BCAA's are just 3 of the essential amino acids you'll need to build muscle. However, they do play the biggest role in muscle growth and reparation. If you check out the label on your protein supplement, you'll find an amino acid profile listing milligrams of amino acids in each serving. This including the BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), valine, leucine and isoleucine. Protein synthesis occurs when there is both muscle energy (ATP) and bcaas ready and available. The muscle cells are then well equipped with enough energy to actually synthesize more protein, which is just what we want. Keeping your ATP level up will be hugely impacted by diet. We don't want to minimize the very important role that natural, whole foods play in your results. These stacks will simply play a fill- in role when something is missing! As mentioned before, most protein supplements do have small doses of bcaa's. We prefer a stand-alone BCAA supplement because it offers a targeted, concentrated version to be delivered directly to your muscles. You can take this throughout the day in smaller doses to keep your bcaa level up (particularly leucine) and keep the body actively synthesizing protein. Stacking BCAAs with Whey Whey protein isolate or concentrate is perfect for the post workout phase because it delivers a wide variety of amino acids at a rapid rate to the whole body. These are needed not just in the muscles, but also the tendons, ligaments, bone structure and other connective tissue to keep it recovering effectively. Stacking BCAAs with Creatine Since creatine is a non-essential amino acid, it means it is already produced by the body. As a result, your stack should be short term when adding creatine to the mix. A 4 week cycle with creatine is more than enough to see rapid results! Creatine works by increasing the amount of ATP in the system, both directly and indirectly. As we already know, the more ATP, the more energy during workouts. Plus, more ATP means more protein synthesis. As you're likely figuring out, it works as a sort of cycle. Continuing with your solid workouts and good nutrition, you'll see accelerated results. Tips to stack successfully: - Track progress with your training journal! Jot down when you start a new supplement to know how it has effected your results. - Drink a lot of water! This is especially true when supplementing with creatine! - Stay away from sugar and processed foods to decrease bloating and insulin highs and lows! Good luck and happy training!

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